In the Night Garden by Carin BergerWhat it is: an elegant, evocative bedtime story that takes readers on a winding path through the outdoors at dusk, guided by a black cat.
Art alert: Delicate cut-paper collage art uses found items and layers of differing patterns, creating a lively backdrop for the spare, soothing text.
Want a taste? "In the night garden fireflies look like fallen stars. Moonflowers unfurl and release their intoxicating perfume."
The Skull by Jon KlassenWhat it is: a deliciously eerie reimagining of a Tyrolean folktale about Otilla, a young runaway who befriends a talking skull in a remote old castle.
What's inside: strikingly minimalist art, deadpan humor, a poignant friendship, and a warmhearted heroine with nerves of steel.
Who it's for: Jon Klassen fans who appreciate the subtle menace of his Hat trilogy or the quiet suspense of The Rock from the Sky, as well as any readers who relish the macabre.
See the Ghost: Three Stories About Things You Cannot See by David LaRochelle; illustrated by Mike WohnoutkaWhat it's about: The titular characters from See the Cat and See the Dog return for several laugh-out-loud encounters with mischievous invisible characters (visible only via their speech bubbles).
How it's told: in three short chapters, each featuring easy-to-read words in a beginner-friendly format.
Why kids might like it: Reading the words independently and understanding the more sophisticated visual humor may give new readers a sense of accomplishment.
Martina Has Too Many Tías by Emma Otheguy; illustrated by Sara PalaciosWhat it's about: In this riff on the Caribbean folktale of La Cucaracha Martina, little Martina escapes the sensory overload of a visit from her exuberant tías by embarking on a magical journey.
For fans of: the sweet, silly intersection of familial love and need for personal space in Vera Brosgol's Leave Me Alone! or Adam Rex's Oh No, the Aunts Are Here.
Why Did the Monster Cross the Road? by R.L. Stine; illustrated by Marc BrownStarring: Hunny, a spiky monster who's feeling down-and-out, and Funny, a google-eyed monster determined to crack jokes until the unamused Hunny cracks as well -- a smile.
Why kids might like it: Depicted in textured, hilariously yucky collage art, the monsters are just plain fun to look at, eye-rolling punchlines and all.
Book buzz: Written by legendary Goosebumps author R.L. Stine and illustrated by beloved Arthur creator Marc Brown, this book is sure to be in demand both before and after spooky season.
Graphic Novels for Beginning Readers
Don't Worry, Bee Happy by Ross BurachIntroducing: vivacious pranksters Bumble and Bee, and their dour, deadpan friend Froggy.
What happens: In three short chapters, Bumble and Bee use some unorthodox problem-solving techniques to coax a smile out of Froggy, help him lose his hiccups, and encourage him to join their “Waggle Dance.”
For fans of: the madcap humor and easy-to-read speech bubbles in Mo Willems’ Elephant & Piggie series.
Fox & Rabbit by Beth Ferry; illustrated by Gergely DudásIntroducing: pals Fox and Rabbit, who embark on five everyday adventures that test their camaraderie (though good humor and friendship always win out).
Who it’s for: Told mostly through speech-bubble banter, this inviting graphic novel is just right for comics-loving kids who are outgrowing easy readers, but aren’t quite ready for chapter books.
Series alert: Kids who love the warm friendship and spirited, full-color illustrations in Fox & Rabbit are in luck -- it’s the 1st in a series.
The Flamingo by GuojingWhat it's about: While visiting her Lao Lao, a young child is enthralled by Lao Lao's recollections of raising a baby flamingo when she herself was young.
Art alert: With very few words, this graphic novel soars on the strength of its intricate, expressive illustrations. Cozy, muted tones indicate the main storyline, while vibrant hues light up the memories and stories-within-the-story.
Read it for: the sense of wonder that permeates this tale of connection across time and distance.
Baloney and Friends by Greg PizzoliMeet: friendly pig Baloney and his friends: Peanut (a kindhearted horse), Bizz (a reasonable bee), and Krabbit (a cranky bunny), all debuting in this 1st entry of an ongoing series.
Why it stands out: Super-short sections will prime readers for chapter books, while generously sized panels make this comic book suitable for reading aloud as well as independently.
Who it's for: fans of Bob Shea's Ballet Cat who want to level up while sticking with a similar style.
Shark and Bot by Brian YanishStarring: Shark, a great white, and Bot, a Model R-2300 Cutting Robot. They're not the likeliest of friends, and they don't even have fists to bump. But they share a love of the same doughnut superheroes, and when faced with playground bullies, they agree on the best solution: dance battle!
Series alert: Kids who are drawn to this playful and interactive graphic novel easy reader will be pleased to know that it's the 1st in a series.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 0-8!