Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

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Originally published in: 2010

What it’s about: A little pea who must finish dinner before he can have dessert.

What made me pick it up: Amy Krouse Rosenthal was a prolific author with a distinctive style but I don’t feel like I’ve sampled enough of her work. So I checked this out.

My favorite things: The illustrations are great. It’s like a more mature and subdued Veggie Tales. It was the story that I enjoyed most though. This pea doesn’t like what’s for dinner, and has to force himself to choke it down, even though dinner is CANDY! I enjoyed so much that it tips common child-hates-dinner experience on its head. In the end (spoiler!) Little Pea finishes his candy so he can have his favorite dessert – spinach!

Who it’s great for: Littles who don’t like what’s for dinner or have trouble eating their veggies. Parents who want a brief, humorous story to read.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this book at Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

Where Do I Sleep? by Jennifer Blomgren

Originally published in: 2002

What it’s about: A picture book about animals of the Pacific Northwest and where they spend their nights.

What made me pick it up: It had otters on the cover.

My favorite things: This has lovely illustrations and sweet rhymes that provide a catchy method for teaching kids a little bit about nature – mostly the names of baby animals.

Who it’s great for: Fans of otters puffins, moose, wolves or other creatures. Parents looking for a lyrical bedtime story.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Pick up a copy at Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

Teacup by Rebecca Young

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Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: A boy is set adrift on an ocean with only his backpack and his teacup of dirt from home.

What made me pick it up: It was on a list of books for children about refugees and the illustrations looked amazing.

My favorite things: I was not mistaken. These illustrations are, exactly as they are described in the cover blurb, stunning. The story of a boy adrift looking for a new land with only the things he can carry is very moving and simply told so that even young children will understand. It reminded me strongly of a children’s version of The Life of Pi, but this focused much more on hope.

Who it’s great for: Fans of beautiful illustration. Parents who want to talk about refugees with their children.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Pick up a copy at Amazon (affiliate link) or are your local library.


 

Out of Wonder by Kwame Alexander

Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: A picture book of poems written in the style of famous poets to celebrate those poets’ work.

What made me pick it up: I had read two of Alexander’s other books and enjoyed them so when I saw he was releasing this project I put my name on the list.

My favorite things: The illustrations in here are amazingly vibrant, not surprisingly since Ekua Holmes’ first illustration project was given a Caldecott Honor in 2016. These images manage to channel each poet just as much as the writing does. And the writing is quite good. I wasn’t familiar with all the poets but the ones I was, I can say for certain that these tribute poems are well done and match the style.

Who it’s great for: Young readers who want to know more about poetry and poets. Fans of exquisite illustrations.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Get a copy of this book at Amazon (affiliate link) or your local library.


Lost and Found Cat by Doug Kuntz & Amy Shrodes

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Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: A touching picture book about one refugee family’s experience fleeing their home, and the even more unbelievable story of the cat they took with them.

What made me pick it up: It was on a list of children’s books about refugees and as a cat person it piqued my interest so I placed it on hold.

My favorite things: This book beautifully illustrates the hardships that face many families fleeing areas of the world like Syria. I may have been having an emotional day, but it brought me to tears how much something so universal as the love of a pet helped bring people together across countries to reunite this pet with his family.

Who it’s great for: Young readers who want to learn more about refugees. Cat lovers. Those who want a perfect example of how much good there is in the world.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find Lost and Found Cat on Amazon (affiliate link) or at your local library.


A Poem for Peter by Andrea Davis Pinkney

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Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: Children’s book author Ezra Jack Keats and his creation of the iconic book The Snowy Day.

What made me pick it up: I saw it in the Children’s section of the library and it reminded me of the book on e.e. cummings I had read recently. I enjoyed that so I checked this out.

My favorite things: This book mimics Keats’ beautiful illustration style which makes it both nostalgic and engaging. It was interesting to learn about the hardships he faced as an artist before he became the prolific author we know him as today. I also liked how the story of Keats’ life was being told to Peter.

Who it’s great for: Keats fans. Snowy Day fans. Kids who want to learn more about an author.

Erica’s rating: four-shells.


Find these books at Amazon (affiliate links): A Poem for Peter; The Snowy Day or your local library.


 

The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm by LeVar Burton

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Originally published in: 2014

What it’s about: A young mouse who is scared of a storm listens to her grandfather read a book about a brave rhino who overcomes a challenging situation.

What made me pick it up: LeVar Burton! Literacy hero and host of one of my favorite shows from childhood Reading Rainbow. Also, Jordy. Once I found out he had written a book, I checked it out immediately.

My favorite things: This book is really well done and perfect for complex situations and emotions kids may experience. It is a story within a story, so it’s a bit meta, but the mouse reading about the rhino learning how to handle an overwhelming situation with support and understanding from his community is well done. There are a lot of one liners that would make great mantras for little ones. I also really enjoyed the illustrations.

Who it’s great for: Kids learning about or struggling with big emotions. Young ones going through tough times that are hard for them to understand. Families to read together. Burton fans of any age.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this book at Amazon (affiliate link) or your local library.