Fire Chief Fran by Linda Ashman; illustrated by Nancy CarpenterWhat it's about: From training to school tours, fire chief Fran and her crew stay busy at the station. But when the alarm goes CLANG!, they don their gear and dash off to deal with first aid, brush fires, fallen trees, and more.
Don't miss: the concluding "Fast Facts About Firefighters," which provide answers to common questions.
Kids might also like: Andrea Zimmerman's Firefighter Flo! or Mike Austin's Fire Engine No. 9, two equally exciting and eye-catching books about firefighters.
Too Early by Nora Ericson; illustrated by Elly MacKayWake up! Being careful not to wake the baby, a curly-haired, pajama-clad child rouses Mama and Daddy in the wee hours. Though Daddy grumbles that it's too early, he joins the child on the porch for a quiet sunrise snuggle.
Read it for: text packed with sensory details, plus dimensional cut-paper illustrations that capture an early morning blend of light and shadow.
Reviewers say: "Cozy, sumptuous, and stirring -- the perfect way to greet the dawn" (Kirkus Reviews).
Polar Bear by Candace Fleming; illustrated by Eric RohmannWhat it's about: a year in the life of a mother polar bear and her two cubs as they journey across the frozen landscape hunting for food, dodging wolves, and coping with rapidly melting ice floes.
Art alert: Lush, finely detailed paintings give kids an up-close glimpse of polar bear life while offering sweeping views of their Arctic habitat. (Don't miss the striking fold-out scene!)
Try these next: Honeybee and Giant Squid, also by married duo Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann.
I Don't Care by Julie Fogliano; illustrated by Molly Idle and Juana Martinez-NealWhat it's about: On opposing pages, two feuding friends describe all the ways they "really don't care." They can't stay mad long, however, and by the end they've realized what's important: "I care that you're you and I'm me, and I care that we're us and I care that we're we."
Why it stands out: The rhythmic text in this thoughtful story is just right for reading aloud, and the expressive illustrations (by a pair of real-life friends) provide visual cues to underscore the emotions.
My Fade Is Fresh by Shauntay Grant; illustrated by Kitt ThomasWelcome to: Chrissy's barbershop, where everyone has an opinion on one little girl's next hairstyle. Onlookers suggest waves, twists, spikes, and cornrows, but this kid knows what she wants: "THE FRESHEST FADE UP ON THE BLOCK!"
Why kids might like it: Playful rhymes and vibrant illustrations offer infectious energy, and the heroine's choices are affirmed and respected.
For fans of: Derrick Barnes' Crown.
Geraldine Pu and Her Lunchbox, Too! by Maggie P. ChangWhat it's about: Geraldine's jarring first "lunchbox moment," when the new kid at the lunch table starts making fun of the tasty Taiwanese food packed by Geraldine's Amah.
How it's told: in easy-to-read graphic novel panels narrated by Biandang, Geraldine's beloved, sticker-covered lunchbox.
Don't worry: Geraldine rediscovers her confidence and cultural pride in this upbeat 1st in a series.
Gigi and Ojiji by Melissa IwaiWhat it's about: Gigi is thrilled about meeting her Ojiji (grandfather), who's moving from Japan to the U.S. to live with Gigi's family. But when Ojiji arrives, he and Gigi keep misunderstanding each other. Maybe she needs a change of plans...
Who it's for: newly independent readers who can handle longer sentences, or those who might gain confidence from reading along with a caregiver.
Try this next: Meg Medina's Mango, Abuela, and Me, another tender tale of connection across cultural and generational lines.
See Bip Grow! by David MilgrimWhat it's about: Green alien Zip "zaps" his companion Bip so that the smaller alien can grow bigger. But then Bip gets really big -- SO BIG that he starts to float away like a balloon!
How it's told: through cartoony illustrations and short, rhyming sentences -- plus an opening list of words for emerging readers.
Series alert: See Bip Grow! is the 4th in the Adventures of Zip, but kids can jump right in with this goofy, high-flying tale.
Tag Team by Raúl the Third; colors by Elaine BayWhat it's about: Wrestling partners El Toro and La Oink Oink triumphed in the ring last night, but can they tackle clean-up in the arena?
Read it for: the energetic, comic book-style art and warm cooperation between friends.
Series alert: Along with the companion book Training Day, Tag Team kicks off a series of bilingual (Spanish/English) easy readers set in the same town as ¡Vamos! Let's Go to the Market.
I'm On It! by Andrea TsurumiMeet: Goat, who dramatically hops onto a stump and declares "I'm ON it!", and Frog, who can't resist leaping onto a rock and saying "I'm ON it too!"
What happens: Each friend tries to one-up the other in being ON, IN, BESIDE, or BETWEEN, until things get so hilariously precarious that both animals agree they're "OVER it."
Try this next: Laurie Keller's We Are Growing!, an easy reader that approaches superlatives with the same zany attitude as I'm On It! approaches prepositions.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 0-8!