An Awesome Book About Friendship and Acceptance

Zombelina: School Days by Kristyn Crow is an awesome picture book about celebrating differences and being welcoming of a new student. Zombelina is an enthusiastic, friendly and quirky protagonist. She loves to dance and share her talent with her classmates.

One day a new student named Morty joins Zomeblina’s class. At first he has some trouble fitting in. Zombelina and her best friend Lizzie do their best to make him feel welcome and included.

 

There are so many things I love about Zomeblina as a character. She is an extrovert and confident. She embraces her weirdness and doesn’t allow her differences to bring her down. This allows her to make real friends and make the most out of each experience. Not to mention that Zombelina is a zombie and she is constantly chasing after different body parts and struggling to keep herself physically together, which adds the perfect comical element to the story.

The story is written using a fun end rhyme scheme and there are lots of clever puns throughout. Click here to purchase a copy of Zomeblina: School Days (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

 

Finding the Perfect Spot to Read

A Place to Read by Heigh Hodgkinson is a special picture book about a boy looking for just the right place to read. It should be comfy, but not itchy, fuzzy or even stinky. The young boy is very excited to read his book. Somewhere free of distraction, where he can become fully immersed in reading. On each page, he describes the ideal reading location and gathers another friend who is also interested in hearing the story.

Ultimately the boy learns that it doesn’t matter where he reads, the best book is a story that is shared with others.

A Place to Read is a fantastic picture book for children ages 2-6. The main character loves reading and is so excited about settling down with his book. The illustrations are whimsical and imaginative. They capture the worlds that we are ofter transported to by a good book. It is reminiscent of The Good Little Book by Kyo Maclear and A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers.

Click here to purchase a copy of A Place to Read (affiliate link).

For more books that promote a love of the act of reading click here!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

Dare to Imagine

In the last year or so there has been an explosion of picture books that encourage young readers to imagine and dream. This is a niche that I just can’t get enough of. As an upper elementary school teacher, I work with students ages 9-11, who are experts at being in school and knowing how to navigate the day and what is expected of them. It is only now that I have a one-year old daughter, and I see how much she learns through hands-on exploration and being genuinely wonder about things, that I start to ask, “How do we hold on to imagination and curiosity in kids as they get older and begin to navigate school and the education system?”

Imagine That! by Yasmeen Ismail is a terrific book about the imagination of childhood. Lila’s mother is preparing for a visit to Grandpa’s house. Little Lila seems very distracted, in reality she is very busy quietly imagining the different adventures.

For example, instead of putting on her shoes, she’s struggling to tame the fearsome octopus so that it will become her faithful pet. The contrast between what the mother bear sees, and what Lila imagines is portrayed by flawless watercolors. In the everyday version, the story is set in realistic setting, and Lila fumbles with her shoes under a table. The text consists of simple dialogue and short answers. In the pages that represent Lila’s imagination, color is everywhere, the text is written in delightful rhyme, and even the font dances across the pages.

The mother bear remains unaware of what Lila is actually doing. She is focused on getting her daughter safely to meet Grandpa.

It is Grandpa who takes the time to notice and ask Lila what she is doing. Though imagining alone is fun, having opportunities to be creative and involve others is even better.Will she find a companion to imagine along with?

Imagine That! is a great picture book for encouraging young children to imagine and playful. The energy and excitement are contagious. It teaches grown ups to also be aware of the power of imagination and to leave room for it despite our tendencies to want to remain on a schedule.

Click here to purchase a copy of Imagine That! (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

A Delightful Counting Picture Book

Counting with Barefoot Critters by Teagan White is a visually stunning picture book that infuses counting and numbers within the daily activities of a cast of forest creatures. It begins with a single fox enjoying solitary activities, including reading a good book in one’s own home. Once she finishes her story, it’s time to bake pancakes as a pair.

One page flows to the next with lovely rhymes, that prepare the reader to say the next number. The characters participate in a variety of outdoorsy activities that involve imagination and collaboration. They are inclusive and playful, all while having lots of fun. This is the perfect picture book for encouraging young kids to play with one another and to welcome others in their games and activities.

The story comes full circle, after a day of adventure fox returns home to her bed and has the opportunity to reflect on the events of the day.

Counting with Barefoot Critters is a about so much more than numbers, though that part I love too. It’s about making the most out of each day and being a positive, inspirational, good friend. This book teaches resilience, collaboration and independence simultaneously, all in a wonderful way!

Click here to purchase a copy of Counting with Barefoot Critters (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Invisible Bill

Bill is a young boy, who also happens to be the middle child, who is tired of feeling invisible. His mom is a busy woman with an important job. She is always checking her whatchamacallit for messages. His dad is an important man with a busy job who is constantly answering his thingamajiggy. His big brother is a brainiac who is always reading and spewing out facts. His sister is very athletic. Each member of his family is consumed by their own lives and ideas that nobody stops to pay attention to Bill.

The final straw is when Bill asks somebody to pass him to potatoes at dinner and nobody does. Then all of a sudden, Bill turns invisible!

The next morning Bill’s mother does what any mother whose child has turned invisible does, she takes him to the doctor. Instead of having a conversation with Bill to figure out what is going on or why he might have turned invisible, he receives a treatment plan of, “A strong dose of permanent markers.” Then life for his family returns to normal for his mother, father, sister and brother, and Bill continues to feel invisible.

He decides to wipe off the permanent marker, write a letter to his family to say that he is leaving, and watch what happens.

InvisiBill by Maureen Fergus is an honest story that explores how sometimes kids can feel unappreciated or unnoticed. It encourages readers and families to take time to really enjoy one another’s company and be present in the moment. It also provides an opportunities to talk about frustrations kids may experience when they feel unheard.

The illustrations by Dusan Petricic are perfect. Each character occupies his own rectangle, which shows how disjointed they are.

Click here to purchase a copy of Invisibill (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

 

A Sentimental Read

Little Blue Chair by Cary Fagan is reminiscent of The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.  A young boy named Boo has a special relationship with his little blue chair. When he outgrows the little blue chair, his mother places it on the lawn along with a sign that reads Please Take Me.

 Just like that begins the journey of the chair from one place to the next, serving a specific purpose until the user no longer needs it and places it out for someone else to take. The little blue chair becomes a stool for a potted plant to sit upon and a seat for children to take rides on an elephant.

Wherever the little blue chair goes it solves a problem, encourages imagination, and brings people together. One imaginative little boy ties a bunch of balloons to the chair so that it may carry him up into the sky, but before he sits down it flies away. Landing in the yard of a long lost friend who has the perfect use for it.

 Little Blue Chair is a beautiful story that pays homage to a simple household item that plays an important role in one’s life. When the person no longer has a use for the item, it is passed along to someone else who can repurpose it and treasure it in his own way.

Madeline Kloepper’s gorgeous illustrations include minute, hidden details and multiple scenes on a page which compliment the text perfectly. At times the movement from left to right across the page captures the passage of time in a subtle and thoughtful way.

Click here to purchase a copy of Little Blue Chair (affiliate link).

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

Free Rain!

Free Rain written by Daniel Wentzel and illustrated by Jose Lucio invites a conversation about the treatment of farm animals and what free range actually means.

The story starts out with 6 chickens, each a different color from which its name is derived, living in cages. Rumors begin to circulate and somehow the cages disappear and the chickens are allowed to roam free. Each chicken responds differently to this change, from excitement to fear and anxiety. It forces the reader to ask, is it natural for a chicken to be pent up in a cage?

Free Rain follows the journey as each chicken musters the courage to venture outside of the cages that once held them prisoner. They learn to enjoy their freedom and time spent outside.

Free Rain is an impactful story with a powerful message. I love that Daniel Wentzel and Jose Lucio want to engage kids in a dialogue about the treatment of animals and where food comes from, whether that’s the chickens themselves or their eggs.

Click here to purchase a copy of Free Rain (affiliate link).

I received a complimentary copy of Free Rain in exchange for my honest review.

Heave Ho!

A young worm is on his way outside to play when a hungry bird sees him. A second worm comes to the first worm’s rescue. The bird calls for help, and a cat joins forces with the bird (an unlikely partnership). Just when the worm thinks his fate is sealed, a third worm joins in. The expressive face of the first worm lets you know when he’s feeling hopeful versus hopeless.

The phrase Heave Ho! is repeated throughout this delightfully playful picture book. Readers of all ages will wonder how this story will turn out. Will all three worms survive? Will the unlikely teamwork among bird, cat and dog last?

Heave Ho! is Jose Lucio’s first book as author and illustrator. We are excited to see what other clever and fun books he comes up with!

Click here to purchase a copy of Heave Ho! (affiliate link).

 

Picture Books about Waiting

For kids and for adults waiting can sometimes be a challenge. I love picture books that teach the importance of slowing down and being patient. Check out these two new books that teach this important life skill to even the youngest of readers.

Tractor Mac: Worth the Wait by Billy Steers is the latest in this wonderful farm-themes series for kids. Farmer Bill is examining the garden at Stony Meadow Farm and admiring this watermelons. He thinks aloud, that with any luck one of the watermelons will be good enough to enter in the annual Fruit and Vegetable Show. Tractor Mac and the pigs Pete and Paul are determined to help Farmer Bill by speeding along the process.

Though their intentions are good, they learn the hard way that the best way to grow a watermelon is to give it time. This is a wonderful story that kids will relate to easily. Not to mention there is an entire website dedicated to this fun series with great activities for young readers (http://www.tractormac.com/index.html).

What Are You Waiting For? by Scott Menchin is an adorable picture book about good friends badger and rabbit on the quest for something special. Badger encounters Rabbit early one morning and asks what he is waiting for. Rabbit remains intentionally vague and inquisitive Badger asks a ton of questions to try to figure out what he is waiting for.

The illustrations by Matt Phelan are fun and dynamic and compliment the text beautifully. Overall, What Are You Waiting For? is a terrific book about friends spending the day together and sharing some pretty special moments together as they wait.

Click here to purchase a copy of Tractor Mac: Worth the Wait and What Are You Waiting For?

*I received complimentary copies of these books in exchange for my honest review.

 

Building a Community Garden

Green Green: A Community Gardening Story by Marie Lamba and Baldev Lamba is a wonderful picture book for promoting environmental awareness for young readers ages 2-6. Written in simple, poetic form and accompanied by vibrant, dynamic illustrations, Green Green follows the transformation of the land and the way a group of community members work together to restore some elements of nature.

The story starts with a group of kids playing in an expansive field, filled with beautiful flowers and butterflies.

Gradually, the natural landscape evolves into a cityscape and the green and brown are replaced by browns and grays of digging and construction. The green in each scene is reduced to a small potted plant here and there or a solitary tree.

The members of the community see the potential for creating a community garden on a small plot of land. They work hard to remove litter and garbage to restore a small piece of nature among the hustle and bustle of the busy city.

Green Green is the perfect picture book for exposing young children to the concept of environmentalism and showing them some simple ways that they can feel empowered to make a difference. The illustrations by Sonia Sanchez are breathtakingly beautiful, subtle yet powerful. They bring the simple yet impactful text to life and give readers a lot to talk about.

Click here to purchase a copy of Green Green A Community Gardening Story (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.