Little Excavator by Anna DewdneyIt's tough being the smallest vehicle on the construction site, especially when you're as eager to help as Little Excavator. Tiny, yellow, and bursting with can-do spirit, Little Excavator keeps trying to join in the park-building process, but the bigger vehicles just keep telling him "not yet." Rhythmic and bursting with machine sound effects that are "just begging to be read aloud with dramatic effect" (Kirkus Reviews), this tale of a pint-sized helper in search of a job to match is a crowd-pleaser that may rival the late author's popular Llama Llama series. For another exuberant, anthropomorphic construction vehicle, try Candace Fleming's Bulldozer series.
A Place to Read by Leigh HodgkinsonIn this eye-catching picture book, a book-loving kid gets comfortable with reading -- literally. Depicted in multimedia collage art, the child's search for a comfy, cozy reading spot features everything from a floral chair (too many bees buzzing 'round) to a monster's lap (too itchy and growly) before the child finally realizes what many young readers already know: the best reading place is any place that you share. Those who relish this bookish twist on the Goldilocks story may also appreciate author/illustrator Leigh Hodgkinson's earlier (but very different) spin in Goldilocks and Just One Bear.
Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio; illustrated by Christian RobinsonGaston the puppy lives with his poodle siblings Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, and Ooh-La-La. Antoinette the puppy lives with her bulldog siblings Rocky, Ricky, and Bruno. Even though they don't look like their families, both Gaston and Antoinette are loved and happy in their homes. When their parents discover that the two puppies were switched at birth, they attempt to switch them back…only to realize that family is about much more than biology. Chunky, stylish illustrations pair perfectly with this sweet story that will resonate with anyone who's found comfort in a chosen family. If you love Gaston, don't miss the sequel, Antoinette.
Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman; illustrated by Zachariah OHoraNobody will listen to Dot. The little bunny warned her parents about adopting a wolf cub -- "HE'S GOING TO EAT US ALL UP!" -- but in their eyes, Wolfie can do no wrong. They let the drooling (yuck!) Wolfie follow Dot around and allow him to eat his way through their carrot supply. Dot, however, remains vigilant. Yet when Wolfie finally pounces, it's not for the reason Dot expected. While adults will appreciate Wolfie the Bunny's playfully modern details (the bunnies shop at a local co-op), kids will be drawn to its bold, colorful artwork and relatable family situations.
Mother Bruce by Ryan T. HigginsAn unexpected family forms after dinner plans go awry in this offbeat picture book. Grumpy, dumpy, and wearing a permanent scowl, Bruce the bear doesn't like anything -- except for eggs. After stealing -- er, collecting -- some "free-range organic" goose eggs from a nest, Bruce prepares to dine…only to discover that the eggs have hatched, and the goslings are convinced he's their mother! How does one crotchety bear cope with raising four stubborn goslings? Find out in this "visually beautiful, clever, edgy, and very funny" (Kirkus Reviews) book that's just right for reading out loud.
Quackers by Liz WongEveryone knows that Quackers is a duck. He lives with the ducks at the duck pond -- so what if he's scared of water, and has orange fur instead of white feathers? It's not until Quackers spends time with a "strange duck" (a cat) named Mittens that he understands why he feels different. But as much as Quackers enjoys fitting in with the cats, he misses his fowl family. What's a conflicted critter to do? Addressing issues of family and identity in a kid-friendly way, Quackers will appeal to young nonconformists, who might also enjoy Sharon G. Flake's You Are Not a Cat or Andrea J. Loney's Bunnybear.
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