Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

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Originally published in: 2017

What’s it about:  A little boy facing his fears and jumping off the diving board.

What made me pick it up: It looked summery and fun.

My favorite things: I really like the father-son relationship. The dad is supportive of Jabari’s struggle for independence but lets him know he can take his time getting there. I really liked Jabari’s sense of adventure, even when he was afraid. The realistic depiction of fear was also nice. I liked the message that you can do things you are afraid of and that sometimes that takes more time to warm up to than you might think.

Who it’s great for: Littles trying to be brave. Intrepid swimmers. Young adventurers.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


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


 

Bad Guy by Hannah Barnaby

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Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: A picture book about a young boy determined to be bad.

What made me pick it up: I like Barnaby’s work. I’ve only read her YA novels and was excited to get my hands on this, her first picture book. I heard her talk about the process of writing it a few years ago and am excited to see the finished product.

My favorite things: This book will remind you what it was like if you used to be a headstrong, mischievous child. The little boy hellbent on becoming a villain is fun. My most favorite part, though, is the end where he discovers a partner in crime in the most unexpected person. I also enjoyed the subtle send up to Bond villains in the illustrations.

Who it’s great for: Bad kids who grew up. Good kids who think they are or wish they were bad. Anyone with a healthy sense of imagination.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


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


 

Last Stop On Market Street by Matt De La Peña

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Originally published in: 2015

What it’s about: A young boy and his grandma taking the bus through their city.

What made me pick it up: I actually got a few pages into this a year or so ago but didn’t get to finish it. When I saw it available in our Overdrive collection I checked it out.

My favorite things: This has vibrant illustrations and a powerful message of community. I liked the grandmother’s openness to all the people around them and how that rubbed off on her grandson. It is a simple, beautiful story.

Who it’s great for: Littles who want things they can’t afford. Anyone seeking a story of community. Readers who try to find beauty wherever they look.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


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


 

If You Ever Want to Bring a Circus to the Library, Don’t! by Elise Parsley

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Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: A picture book about a child who promises to use her indoor voice and not make a mess if only she can bring her circus into the library.

What made me pick it up: I was looking for new books with faces on them for #bookfacefriday when I saw this and grabbed it off a cart to read because libraries.

My favorite things: This is hilarious! I totally understand the spunk of the main character and all of her sincere, if misguided, attempts to make a circus library friendly. Turns out the library isn’t the best place for a circus, but I loved the message of how reading stories is a good alternative. It also has vibrant illustrations.

Who it’s great for: Fans of libraries or circuses. Children who have great, if ill-advised, ideas.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


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


 

Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus

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This post contains affiliate links.

Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: The is a celebration of America, its diversity, and its flag.

What made me pick it up: I really like this illustrator, Kadir Nelson — he did Henry’s Freedom Box and If You Plant a Seed although I didn’t realize that until I got the book. It must have been reviewed well somewhere or sounded intriguing, so I placed a hold on it.

My favorite things: The illustrations are beautiful! Combined with the spare prose this is a powerful book. It really conveys the message of the American flag across history and throughout the vastness of the country, its people, and its customs. I enjoyed such a simple, yet positive, message.

Who it’s great for: Anyone who needs a small reminder of why America is great, especially when it might not feel that way. Readers who enjoy great illustrations and want to feel briefly that they are in an art gallery while reading a book.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this book on Amazon or in your local library.


 

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.