Windows by Julia Denos; illustrated by E.B. GoodaleDescribing the plot alone -- a child in a red hoodie takes his dog for a walk at twilight -- doesn’t do justice to the arresting, sunset-hued illustrations or the lively urban neighborhood depicted in Windows. City-dwelling kids, as well as anyone looking for a comforting read, will find lots to love in this "gorgeously understated celebration of everyday enchantment" (Booklist).
Belinda the Unbeatable by Lee Nordling and Scott RobertsBold Belinda strides into the school gym with her diverse classmates, confident that she can hold her own in a game of musical chairs. So what if the music notes come to life with an attitude, and the gym transforms into a technicolor dreamscape? Nothing can stop Belinda…except maybe helping a friend. No words are needed to convey the excitement in this comic for very young readers.
After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again by Dan SantatHumpty Dumpty's "great fall" is notorious, but what happens after the hapless egg is reassembled? It turns out that not everything can be fixed with bandages. Can Humpty Dumpty conquer his newfound fear of heights, or is he permanently grounded? Find out in this quirky, modern nursery rhyme homage. For another tale of overcoming fear, try C. Roger Mader's Tiptop Cat.
I Want That Nut! by Madeline ValentineMouse and Chipmunk are BFFs until they spy a new "friend": a beautiful acorn. Both want to lay claim, and soon the pair is locked in a devious battle, each trying to snatch the nut for their own exclusive activities (such as dance parties, tic-tac-toe, and tea-time). Told through earth-toned artwork and speech bubbles, this tiny power struggle will resonate with kids who are navigating their own friendships.
Small Walt by Elizabeth Verdick; illustrated by Marc RosenthalCozy, old-fashioned illustrations perfectly capture the warm relationship that forms on one snowy day, when driver Gus decides to take a chance on little red Walt, "the smallest snowplow in the fleet." Vehicle-obsessed children longing for further tales of plucky plows will also want to check out Steven Savage's Supertruck and Virginia Lee Burton's classic Katy and the Big Snow.
Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie; illustrated by Yuyi MoralesThunder Boy Smith Jr. HATES his name. He looks up to his dad, but he wants to be unique. Brainstorming new names yields some interesting suggestions -- maybe he should he be called "Mud in His Ears," or "Can't Run Fast While Laughing"? -- before dad finds the right name for his spirited son. Illustrations that crackle with color underscore the connections between a child's dreams, culture, and family.
Hiawatha and the Peacemaker by Robbie Robertson; illustrated by David ShannonHiawatha, a Mohawk, is filled with grief and anger over the loss of his family in raid by Onodaga chief Tadodaho. Despite this, he follows his spiritual guide, the Peacemaker, on a mission to bring unity to the five clashing tribes that would form the Iroquois Nation. Concluding with historical notes and a song on CD, Hiawatha and the Peacemaker is a vivid, authentic tale that older readers won't soon forget.
My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith; illustrated by Julie FlettUpbeat but never sappy, this mixed-media board book is framed by a repeated sentence: "My heart fills with happiness when…" Completing that sentence are a range of life's simple joys, both universal (seeing the face of a loved one) and specific (smelling baking bannock), leading to a concluding question that children can consider after the last page has been turned: "What fills your heart with happiness?"
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