My Two Border Towns by David Bowles; illustrated by Erika MezaEvery other Saturday: a little boy and his dad drive from their home in Texas to Tamaulipas, where they share breakfast, shop at the mercado, and visit loved ones, including a family of refugees who are "stuck between countries."
Read it for: the warm, lively illustrations; the combination of English and Spanish words; and the emphasis on caring communities.
Further reading: Yuyi Morales' Bright Star, which offers a more nature-focused view of the borderlands between the United States and Mexico.
Bird Boy by Matthew Burgess; illustrated by Shahrzad MaydaniWhat it's about: Quiet Nico's interest in watching bugs and birds at recess earns him the nickname "Bird Boy," prompting Nico to daydream about fluttering, diving, and soaring like a bird.
Art alert: The gently shaded watercolor and pencil art of Nico's world provides an inviting backdrop for his avian visions, drawn in a whimsical, childlike style.
Why kids might like it: it provides a reassuring ending, in which Nico's authenticity leads to understanding friendships.
I Love Insects by Lizzy RockwellWhat it is: a friendly debate between two children with diverging opinions about insects. One kid thinks that bugs are pretty, helpful, and musical, while the other thinks they're ugly, pesky, and noisy. Who's right? That's for readers to decide!
How it's told: through short sentences of dialogue in large type that's tailor-made for beginning readers. However, clear, bright artwork also makes it a good pick for sharing aloud, as does the interactive insect seek-and-find activity.
Chez Bob by Bob SheaStarring: scheming alligator Bob, intent on luring tasty birds via a birdseed restaurant on his snout.
Change of heart: After Bob lets his first patron fly away to spread the word, Chez Bob grows so popular that it spawns a bustling community, turning the would-be predator into a respectable neighbor -- he even coaches the bird basketball team!
Who it's for: Packed with sly absurdity and dynamic, modern illustrations, Chez Bob is a toothsome treat for kids and grown-ups alike.
The Longest Storm by Dan YaccarinoWhat it is: a portrait of one family's quarantine experience, told through the metaphor of a storm.
What happens: While a fearsome storm rages outside, one family (dog included) hunkers down indoors, trying their best to weather their fears and frustrations.
Is it for you? While it may be too soon for some to engage with stories that reference the ongoing pandemic, others may be comforted by the depiction of resilience in the face of uncertainty.
Grandma's Purse by Vanessa Brantley-NewtonWhat it's about: a little girl's exploration of her Grandma Mimi's oversized purse, which is filled with a variety of objects just as beautiful and fascinating as Grandma Mimi herself.
Who it's for: anyone looking for a bright and upbeat story about intergenerational bonding.
Further reading: Families whose elders are a bit prickly may prefer Vaunda Micheaux Nelson's Don't Call Me Grandma.
Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel; illustrated by Shane W. EvansWhat it is: an affirming reframing of the often-scary phrase "hands up."
What's inside: textured pastel illustrations of an exuberant Black girl raising her hands in all kinds of positive ways: in play, in dance, in worship; to answer a question, reach for a book, or hold up a hopeful protest sign.
Try this next: Marilyn Nelson's Lubaya's Quiet Roar or JaNay Brown-Wood's Imani's Moon.
Where Are You From? by Yamile Saied Méndez; illustrated by Jaime KimThe question: When kids ask "where are you really from?" and don't accept the response of "from here," a little girl asks her abuelo for insight.
The answer: With pride and vivid imagery, Abuelo describes the beauty of the Pampas in Argentina; and, pointing to his heart, he reminds his granddaughter that her ancestors' love is where she truly comes from.
Why kids might like it: Where Are You From? offers a culturally specific perspective with universal resonance.
My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero; illustrated by Zeke PeñaWhat it is: an exhilarating, wind-in-your-hair ride through Corona, California, from the perspective of an adventurous girl on the back of her papi’s motorcycle.
Art alert: With kinetic lines, muted ice cream colors, and a detailed cityscape, the book’s illustrations feel just as vivid and authentic as its bilingual dialogue.
Try this next: For a quieter but equally joyful visit to an urban neighborhood, try Windows by Julia Denos.
The Night is Yours by Abdul-Razak Zachariah; illustrated by Keturah A. BoboWhat it's about: an adoring father watching his daughter and her friends play in the neighborhood courtyard on a summer evening.
Why kids might like it: Lyrical language and dusky, moonlit hues evoke an atmosphere of wonder among the excited kids, as well as the parent who knows his child can "show everyone else how to embrace the night like you."
About the illustrator: You might recognize Keturah A. Bobo's luminous painting style from Grace Byers' bestselling I Am Enough.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 0-8!
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