Gr 1-4–A girl is accompanied by a large (possibly imaginary) lion through the streets and hills of an unspecified Latin American country. Yockteng’s muted but jewel-toned illustrations offer layers of meaning that hint at the underlying themes in Buitrago’s spare and lyrical text, making this a highly discussable work that readers will return to again and again.
PreS-Gr 1–A solitary cat takes a kitten under its paw, and the two become inseparable, partaking in a pattern of life that repeats itself by the story’s end. Set against vast white space and featuring minimally drawn thick black lines, this quiet, profound book about loss and acceptance is a stellar example of economical storytelling.
K-Gr 2–In this wordless drama punctuated by calls of the wild, a lost little girl and a tiny wolf cub stumble across each other in a raging snowstorm and, through acts of bravery and kindness, are reunited with their families. The loose line and watercolor paintings capture the stark and forbidding landscape, the breathtaking action, and the oh-so-satisfying resolution.
K-Gr 3–Undefeated warriors Rock, Paper, and Scissors seek worthy opponents, and when their paths cross, the showdown of a lifetime ensues. Brimming with attitude and energy, this uproarious picture book does triple duty as a pourquoi tale, a battle of epic proportions, and an utterly enchanting spin on a classic hand game.
PreS-Gr 2–In order to bring peace and quiet to the raucous town of La Paz, the denizens select Don Pepe as their mayor. He outlaws singing, and the village is never the same. Enter the title character, who will not be silenced. With vibrant and hilarious art and simple but stirring text, this is a timely and fablelike tale about the power of one voice to resist and inspire many.
PreS-Gr 1–Told in the rhythm of a relentless child’s rapid-fire inquiries, this infectious and effervescent selection touches on all of the hopes and dreams that go into a perfect birthday celebration. Robinson’s clever and endearing cut-paper illustrations are the icing on the cake. A delicious offering to be savored throughout the year, but especially in the weeks leading up to that red-letter day.
PreS-Gr 1–First came the egg—well, four eggs. How they all hatch (one takes considerably longer than the others) and become friends is the heart of this spare, pitch-perfect picture book, told largely in graphic novel–like panels, with a few surprises along the way. The use of line, simple shapes, and a gentle palette all contribute to the impressive whole by Henkes, master of the page turn and storyteller eggs-traordinaire.
PreS-Gr 1–A comedic escapade of a kitty exploring the world outdoors. The frisky feline encounters a range of critters, and the nearly wordless narrative leaves it to readers (problem-solvers, that is) to connect the sleepy-eyed dragon to the letters “Dd,” for example. Cleanly designed art in pen, ink, pencil, and watercolor, this is another gem from McDonnell and a madcap (or should that be cat) spree.
PreS-Gr 3–“Hey Black Child/Do you know who you are/Who you really are” begins this exuberant and lovingly crafted celebration of black children. Collier’s stunning collage artwork captures a spirit of playful joy and creativity as black boys and girls paint, dance, play the piano, and more. Perkins’s spare verse looks toward the future: “And tomorrow/Your nation/Will be what you/want it to be.” Black excellence, indeed.
K-Gr 2–A night just like any other forms the basis of this quiet tale of a father and son fishing for food. Phi expertly conveys the warmth and seriousness of this late-night outing, balancing the child’s happiness at an opportunity for adventure with the weight of history and hunger. Bui’s graphic novel–like artwork provides the narrative with a sense of measured time; each moment is simultaneously distinct and a part of the whole.
PreS-Gr 2–Pinkney gives the classic story a subtle, artful twist with this cinematic, textured treatment. The pencil and watercolor artwork pops with personality, and the selfish green troll receives less of a comeuppance and more of a lesson in the art of empathy. The iconic author/illustrator sets a new benchmark for the Norwegian tale.
K-Gr 3–Beautiful muted ink, watercolor, and gouache art with thick brushwork re-creates a once-flourishing way of life in Nova Scotia: coal mining. The blend of the subtle, resonant text and illustrations evokes a boy’s life as he waits for his father to return from work—from the sound of seagulls to the lace curtains rustling in the wind to, perhaps most of all, the presence of the looming seascape.
PreS-K–Sidman offers a fresh way to view shapes (and the natural world) through the circular objects surrounding an inquisitive young girl’s jaunt through nature: oranges, eggs, tree rings, lily pads, and her dad’s hugs. Told in the first person and featuring mixed-media art, this picture book easily doubles as an early, and celebratory, introduction to science—roundly winning.
PreS-Gr 3–In this poignant prayer, a black mother lists her hopes and dreams for her young son, tempered by the reality that black boys are so often targets of hatred and fear: “I will pray that the world sees you as a child of God;…as a vessel to be steered/rather than a figure to be feared.” Weatherford’s bold verse proclaims, “Black lives matter. Your life matters,” while Pinkney’s swirling lines and translucent layers of colors radiate warmth and love.
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