Gr 1-5–On a dark night, a white cat slinks through a stone abbey until it reaches a monk’s candlelit chamber. There, each spends the late hours absorbed in patient work—the monk over his books, the cat outside a mouse’s hole—until they welcome the dawn together. Adapted from the anonymous Irish poem “Pangur Bán,” the simple, lyrical text combines with shadowy ink and watercolor images into a beautifully illustrated ode to companionship and the pursuit of knowledge.
K-Gr 2–Every day at the seashore, a man works at a lonely job: finding glass bottles and traveling great distances to deliver the messages they contain. Then he finds a mysterious party invitation, and while attending the event, he discovers connection and community. The heart-tugging, contemplative story is extended in Stead’s dreamy, poignant illustrations, which evoke both the foggy landscape and the vulnerable charm of the characters. A perfect pairing of text and art.
PreS-Gr 1–One autumn night, a young owl awakens and goes for a brief moonlit flight while his parents and siblings slumber. Godwin’s text—a spare reverso poem comprised of a few sight words per page—and Dunlavey’s breathtaking illustrations, dominated by lush hues of blue, combine for a serene, lyrical tale that’s bound to instill a love of poetry in children.
PreS-Gr 1–The star of two previous showstoppers, Flora returns in another inventive, deceptively simple title. Here, Flora meets not one but two birds—a pair of peacocks who inspire dancing, drama, and, finally, reconciliation and friendship. Both vibrant and spare, Idle’s artwork once again dazzles as it tells a layered story without a single word.
PreS-Gr 1–Isadora explores common sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures from a preschooler’s perspective in this winsome sensory tour. Combining short, declarative sentences with colorful ink and watercolor vignettes, the cheerful spreads showcase a cast of diverse, expressive kids in their everyday worlds. A final page, featuring the titular pickle, cleverly ties everything together into a delicious whole and invites repeated sharing.
PreS-Gr 3–In this capper to Klassen’s delightfully sly “Hat” trilogy,” two wide-eyed tortoises covet a 10-gallon hat. The economy of words, simple shapes, and rich textures highlight the stark beauty of the desert landscape and allow readers to appreciate the understated drama and humor. A surprisingly tender ending—with just the barest hint of surrealism—emphasizes the power of sacrifice and the endurance of friendship.
PreS-Gr 2–Brimming with personality, two independently minded felines named Verne and Stevenson prove to be reluctant readers until their determined owner finds “just right” books for his pupils. Charming full-page and spot watercolor paintings offer readers clues to the tales these appropriately named pets might enjoy.
PreS-Gr 1–With simple doodles, Medina adeptly transforms photographs of sumptuous fruits and vegetables into an array of cheery animals. The author counts her enchantingly quirky creations (“one avocado deer,” “two radish mice”), resulting in an exuberant, mouth-watering medley that’s sure to have children eager to master their arithmetic skills—and bound to inspire budding gourmands. The concept book has never been so fun.
PreS-Gr 2–Sibling rivalry just got real. Niño returns for another round in the ring, but this time his opponents are his incredibly rude baby sisters. Readers will delight as the innocuous-looking hermanitas attack with moves like the Poopy Bomb Blowout and cheer for Niño as he and his fellow técnicos counter with a Look-and-Book Diversion. With comic book–style speech bubbles and action, Morales offers an endlessly entertaining and ultimately sweet selection on sibling bonds and the power of storytelling.
K-Gr 4–Lessons learned and shared between a boy and his dog cover many subjects, from science (mud, burdocks, ticks, and skunks) to math (the number of biscuits a dog deserves and the percentage of a boy’s bed it requires) in this picture book that’s as joyful as a meander through the woods with a curious canine. A truth extracted from the art lesson: “Every picture [and book] is better with a dog in it.”
PreS-Gr 1–Newly constructed Frederick Douglass Elementary is preparing to open his doors. He’s a bit anxious and wonders if he’ll pass the biggest test of all and win the approval of the swarms of kids who arrive as the school year begins. Rex’s warm, funny, and emotionally resonant text is superbly complemented by Robinson’s engaging and vivacious collage artwork. A clever and playful look at first-day jitters.
PreS-Gr 2–A duckling taking a walk stumbles upon a book only to discover it contains no pictures (the outrage!). However, the duckling decides to give the pictureless book a chance, and embarks on a journey through a landscape of familiar and unfamiliar words. The pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations expand in color and imagination as the value of reading becomes clear. Humorously tender and always sympathetic, this title captures the magic of a child’s first venture into independent reading.
PreS–Donning mittens, scarves, and boots, five little penguins ready themselves for a romp in the snow, then return inside to prepare for bed, with guidance from Mama. Robinson’s utterly enchanting acrylic and collage illustrations, relying on blocky shapes, pair splendidly with Rylant’s straightforward yet enthusiastic text, conveying the pure joy of a winter excursion as well as the simple pleasure of the familiar bedtime routine.
Gr 1-4–A young child recounts her experiences as war comes to her once-peaceful nation, claims her father’s life, and forces her mother to give up everything they know to seek a better, safer future for her children. The innocent voice and dramatic graphic-style illustrations tell a harrowing, haunting, yet hopeful story of a family’s search for a place to call home.
K-Gr 2–In spreads that begin wordlessly, scratchboard and watercolor images introduce a child as she says good-bye to her mother, an airline pilot. Then snow mounts, rendering travel impossible, and the mother returns home in time for a full day of sledding and indoor coziness. With remarkable artwork and poetry, two multi-award-winning children’s book creators elevate a simple family scenario into a profound celebration of love, shared comfort, and the sparkling, transformative beauty of winter.
K-Gr 3–With the unassuming conceit of a woolgathering walk with his dog, Stead provides readers with snapshots of his creative process as he synthesizes seeds of ideas, conversational tidbits, and artful suggestions from the natural world in surprising and delightful ways. The illustrations—a mixture of Polaroid images, monoprints, and collage—are sheer Stead and simply brilliant.
PreS-Gr 3–Readers see the world through a different set of eyes thanks to Wenzel’s whimsical and eye-catching artwork as a child, a fox, a worm, and others look on as a tabby saunters through a variety of environments. Each distinctive and imaginative spread features a shape-shifting perspective—such as a bee’s pointillistic view of the feline—set to a stripped-down, rhythmic text.
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BEST OF 2016 SPONSOR
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