Picture Books

When the Beat Was Born by Laban Carrick Hill and Illustrated by Theodore Taylor III

When the Beat Was Born by Laban Carrick Hill and Illustrated by Theodore Taylor

When the Beat Was Born, by Laban Carrick Hill, is a stunning example of just how wonderfully diverse the world of children's biographies is getting. This picture book offers a look into the life of DJ Kool Herc, one of the founders and innovators of hip-hop music.

Hill's words, when combined with Theodore Taylor III's crisp, colorful illustrations, depict how a boy named Clive left Kingston, Jamaica, for the Bronx. Clive wanted to be a DJ, slinging an arsenal of records and getting crowds amped up at parties.

It's an Orange Aardvark! by Michael Hall

It's an Orange Aardvark by Michael Hall

It's an Orange Aardvark! follows a few imaginative carpenter ants as they peer out of a soggy tree stump. Orange fills up the stump's interior. According to the insects, aardvarks always turn orange when they are hungry for ants. Judging by the intensity of the color, this one seems mighty famished. As one ant gnaws more holes in the stump, different colors stream in, and the colony lets their imaginations run wild.

Next they see blue, so the aardvark must be wearing blue pajamas! A splash of red leads them to suspect that their predator is wielding a gigantic bottle of ketchup! From there, things get even stranger.

Mustache Baby by Bridget Heos and illustrated by Joy Ang

Mustache Baby by Bridget Heos and illustrated by Joy Ang

Mustache Baby builds upon a cute visual gag with a grand display of wit and verve. When Baby Billy is born, his parents are surprised to find a fully-grown mustache adorning his upper lip. The nurse informs them, "You'll just have to wait and see whether it is a good-guy mustache or a bad-guy mustache."

Prudence Wants a Pet by Cathleen Daly

Prudence Wants a Pet by Cathleen Daly

Prudence Wants a Pet explores the troubles of a pet-yearning girl with dry humor and simple, fun imagery. We already know what Prudence desires, but her parents are in no mood to sacrifice money or peace and quiet in exchange for a kitty or a puppy. So Prudence decides to take matters into her own hands.

Happy Birthday to the Delightful Bruce Degen

One of children’s literature’s most beloved authors and illustrators was born in June. Bruce Degen created Jamberry and illustrated the hugely successful Magic School Bus series.

Super Hair-O and the Barber of Doom by John Rocco

Super Hair-o and the Barber of Doom by John Rocco

Super Hair-O and the Barber of Doom is John Rocco's story of his enormous, bushy hairdo as a boy and how he imagined it giving him special abilities! According to our unkempt crusader, "every superhero gets his powers from somewhere," and what better place than the top of your own head?

29 Myths on the Swinster Pharmacy by Lemony Snicket and Illustrated by Lisa Brown

29 Myths on the Swinster Pharmacy by Lemony Snicket

As Lemony Snicket gets further from the series that brought him notoriety, he finds himself exploring terra icognita, or unknown territory. He finds new ways to craft stories, experimenting with what children's books are capable of. 29 Myths on the Swinster Pharmacy is a fascinating if challenging example of these efforts. The book follows two children as they investigate the mysteries of a peculiar business. They obsessively list what they have learned from their research, casing the joint like bank robbers.

1. We are very curious about the Swinster Pharmacy. We travelled all the way from the next town to find out what it sells.

Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton

Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton

George has a problem. He wants to be good. He knows how good dogs are supposed to act. They are not supposed to devour entire cakes that have been left on the table. They should probably leave any cats alone...dirt, too. George knows what he should do. He just doesn't do it. Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton, brings his eternal struggle to life.

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

"Everyone was perfectly fine with the way things were. Everyone but Mr. Tiger."

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild takes on proper behavior and tears it to shreds. At the beginning of Peter Brown's picture book, four-legged animals walk stiffly upright, wear suits, dresses, top hats, and bonnets. Elephants, bears, and deer all have perfect posture. Every house on the block looks exactly the same, and our striped protagonist is sick of it.

Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales

Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales

Niño is one remarkable little boy. He may look like an ordinary child playing with his toys. When he picks up his red mask though, Niño Wrestles the World.

Yuyi Morales has combined the two disparate worlds of children's literature and Lucha libre to create an unforgettable book.  Niño is great both as a multicultural read and as just a fun romp.