Noisy Night by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Brian BiggsYou may want to warm up your vocal cords before attempting this "wild and interactive read aloud" (Horn Book Magazine) set in a ten-story apartment building. It begins with a child on the first floor gazing upwards and wondering "What is going LA LA LA above my head?" Readers get an intriguing visual tease of the upstairs neighbor's identity before the page turn reveals a wild-haired opera singer. As a pattern of rhyming sounds and loud neighbors (including cowboys, cha-cha dancers, and sheep) builds, each page gives kids an opportunity to guess what's next -- right up until the 10th-floor resident brings the raucous evening to a peaceful close.
Dad and the Dinosaur by Gennifer Choldenko; illustrated by Dan SantatSomeday, Nicholas hopes to be as brave as his dad, Big Nick. Until then, he's got his toy dinosaur to keep his fears at bay. The pocket-size toy looms large in Nicholas' imagination, fighting his battles and giving him courage. When the dinosaur goes missing, however, Nicholas must mount a daunting night-time retrieval mission (with some help from Big Nick, of course). Expressive and heartfelt, Dad and the Dinosaur can be shared alongside classics like Kevin Henkes' Sheila Rae the Brave or Mo Willems' Knuffle Bunny series to remind kids that whether they're searching for a lost toy or facing fears, a little back-up always helps.
Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper"There was a cat who lived alone. Until the day a new cat came." The older white cat quickly takes to the new black kitten, and, with a careful balance of dynamic motion and quiet elegance, shows it how to eat, play, and (importantly) nap. The two grow closer as they grow older, and when the white cat leaves and doesn't return, the black cat grieves -- until a white kitten turns up, restarting the cycle. With clean lines and minimalist style similar to Nikki McClure's How to Be A Cat, this gentle tale is sure to delight cat fanciers and comfort those who've lost a feline friend.
Bird, Balloon, Bear by Il Sung NaForest newcomer Bird is desperately shy, but he's equally desperate to make friends. It feels like kismet when he spots Bear through the trees, yet before Bird can marshal his courage, Bear's attention -- and soon, his friendly affection -- is captured by a bright red balloon. Abstract, rounded shapes underscore the sweetly earnest tone as Bird tries his best to get noticed, resulting in an explosive meet-cute that will leave young readers smiling. With its low-key emphasis on patience, this relatable friendship story is "as simple and soft as a hug" (Kirkus Reviews).
Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz; illustrated by Brian FlocaBoring books, tedious exercises, and three baths a day -- Princess Cora's parents claim these things will make her a good queen, but Cora's not so sure. Frustrated yet unable to speak out, Cora writes to her fairy godmother, who sends an unconventional response: a humongous pet crocodile! Though he's far from cuddly, the croc is fiercely loyal -- and perfectly willing to don a dress and mop-wig to impersonate the princess so that she can take a day off. Simultaneously silly and sophisticated, this lengthy collaboration between two award-winning creators is perfect for emerging chapter book readers or for sharing as a family.
One Word from Sophia by Jim Averbeck; illustrated by Yasmeen IsmailTiny, tutu-clad Sophia wants only one thing for her birthday: a pet giraffe. Convincing her family, however, will take all of Sophia's powers of persuasion. Carefully, the clever girl makes her pitches, each one customized for her mother (a judge), her father (a businessman), her uncle (a politician), and her grand-mamá (who's notoriously strict). Will her lengthy arguments be successful, or is short and sweet the way to go? Pairing loose, lively illustrations with delicious vocabulary-building words such as "loquacious" and "verbose" (defined in a handy glossary at the end), One Word from Sophia may prompt one more word from kids: "Again!"
Building Our House by Jonathan BeanWhile his award-winning picture book At Night was set in the city, this winsome offering from author and illustrator Jonathan Bean is pure country. A young girl's family lives in a trailer while they slowly build their new home from scratch. Bean, who based the story on events from his own childhood, offers readers a highly detailed account of the house-building process (from laying the foundation to hosting a frame-raising party) as well as a moving portrait of a family whose mutual work creates tight-knit bonds.
A Letter for Leo by Sergio RuzzierLeo the weasel is a mail carrier, but he's never received a letter. Depicted in soft watercolors, Leo's cozy community is clearly friendly -- he often chats or plays games with the other animals -- yet none of them write to Leo. One day, Leo opens his mailbox to find not a letter, but a lost baby bird named Cheep. Cheep and Leo soon form a close friendship, and though the return of Cheep's bird family is bittersweet, it results in a pitch-perfect conclusion that's sure to make you smile. Gently wistful and simply told, A Letter for Leo is just right for beginning readers or for exploring one-on-one.
All the World by Elizabeth Garton Scanlon; illustrated by Marla FrazeeExpressing both how cozy and how big the world can seem, this evocative book follows a diverse cast of characters through a day’s worth of activities, moving from tightly framed scenes to expansive panoramas. There's fun on the beach, a visit to a farmers' market, a picnic beneath a big, old tree, the hustle and bustle of getting caught in a sudden rainstorm, and more. Children will appreciate the simple, rhythmic rhymes and the gorgeous pictures packed with details; adults will be drawn to the philosophical, interconnected feel of the whole package.
Three Bears in a Boat by David SomanAfter accidentally breaking their Mama's beloved blue seashell, three bear siblings named Dash, Charlie, and Theo sail away in search of a replacement. Although they meet other bears in boats, explore an island, encounter enormous whales, and get caught in a sudden storm, finding another blue shell proves more difficult than they expected. Using the exhilarating sweep of the ocean as a backdrop, Three Bears in a Boat combines visual drama with gentle humor to create a high-seas adventure -- one with a reassuring ending that may remind readers of Maurice Sendak's classic Where the Wild Things Are.
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