Picture Books

Knuffle Bunny Free by Mo Willems

Knuffle Bunny Free by Mo Willems

All good things must come to an end. This includes books, toys, and especially books about toys. After two previous adventures of missing bunny mayhem, Mo Willems has gracefully ended one of his strongest series with Knuffle Bunny Free.

The first two Knuffle (pronounced ca-nuffle) Bunny books, young Trixie and her parents deal with the loss and determined effort to find her favorite stuffed animal. It’s a fairly straightforward conflict that parents immediately recognize. Trixie was a baby in the first volume, and school age in the second effort. This last installment visits her a few years later on a trip to Holland to visit her grandparents. This time, Trixie leaves her beloved rabbit on the plane.

Here Comes the Garbage Barge! by Jonah Winter and illustrations by Red Nose Studio

Here Comes the Garbage Barge!

On a blazing summer's day, there's nothing quite like the aroma of piping hot...garbage. It's gross, slimy, and we each make about four pounds of it per day. The one thing that everyone can agree on is that no one wants to deal with garbage, and that notion is exactly what Here Comes the Garbage Barge!  is all about.

In 1987, over 3,000 tons of Long Island, New York's garbage was loaded onto a barge and pulled by the tugboat Break of Dawn.  The plan was to unload the cargo in North Carolina, where poor farmers had been paid to bury the waste. But when the barge and its captain arrived, they met a police boat which refused to let them dock there under any circumstances. So began a wild goose chase up and down the coast to find a place to store the disgusting floating dump.

LMNO Peas by Keith Baker

LMNO Peas by Keith Baker

LMNO Peas, by Keith Baker, will bring a smile to parents who have heard their children slur the middle letters together as they sing the alphabet song. This engaging book is populated by lively Peas whose occupations and activities match the letters of the alphabet. These little “pea-ple” are acrobats and explorers, parachutists and X-ray doctors.

Baker’s colorful illustrations bring the peas to life as they bicycle across the pages to the finish line, dive underwater or juggle dishes. The images are simple and clear, perfect for reading aloud to a group, but with plenty of detail to invite closer looking. Parents will enjoy such hidden treasures as “The King” singing for the kayakers. See if you can find the ladybug hiding in every two-page spread. 

Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes

Kitten’s First Full Moon

Have you ever mistaken an object for something other than what it truly is? That is exactly what happens to sweet, hungry and unlucky Kitten in Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes. She mistakes the first full moon she has ever seen for a big bowl of milk in the sky. She tries numerous methods to capture the bowl of milk, such as pouncing, chasing, and climbing a tree to reach it, but all attempts lead to dismal results. Then, Kitten becomes overwhelmed with excitement when she believes she has found an even bigger bowl of milk in the pond. Not realizing it is the full moon’s reflection in the water, Kitten leaps into the pond and gets soaked! Throughout the story Kitten is relentless. As the author says multiple times in the book “still, there was the little bowl of milk, just waiting” and Kitten is determined to get it. Readers will delight in Kitten’s unrestrained and enthusiastic spirit.

Happy Birthday, Monster! by Scott Beck

Happy Birthday, Monster!

There's a lot more to Happy Birthday, Monster! than just monsters. Sure, there is a mummy, a skeleton, a vampire, and a ghost involved, but there's an alien and a robot too. That is not a problem. Diversity is great, especially when dealing with guys and gals like these.

This bunch is just looking to have a good time at their friend Doris' (a lizard creature of sorts) birthday. Devilish Ben is throwing the bash, and early on we see him brushing and flossing his teeth... and then brushing and flossing his horns.

The fun of Scott Beck's book is seeing how each of these very different characters interact with each other.  The book explores what happens when the ghost slow dances ("You're very light on your feet.") or when the robot falls in love with an ordinary houselamp.

Shark vs. Train, by Chris Barton and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

Shark vs. Train

The unlikeliest foes of all time are put to a series of tests. One is a fearsome predator, the other a powerful example of human innovation. Contests, races, and video games are all necessary when trying to figure out who is better. It's teeth vs. wheels. It's beast vs. machine! It’s Shark vs. Train!
 
What starts as two boys’ simple search through a toy box spirals into the possibilities of pitting these very different opponents against each other and predicting what might happen. Now I know what you are thinking: there are a million differences between a shark and a train, and that is part of the fun. This book is the extreme equivalent of comparing apples to oranges.

Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World) by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Dan Santat

Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World)

A bright young girl runs through the chaos of demolished streets. Plumes of black smoke rise from the rubbled buildings. No one else is in sight. Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World) is a life lesson that everyone should receive: always take responsibility for your actions, particularly when they involve a ginormous hulking robot with the power to crush cars and shoot lasers every which way.
 
Usually when my school science projects went wrong, it was more of a mild disappointment than anything else. My baking-soda-and-vinegar volcano did not erupt. I received a C- instead of an B+. These are minor hiccups when compared to our main character’s situation. Oh No! allows us to think about our own mistakes and say, “Well, it could have been worse…much, much worse.”

A Pirate's Guide to First Grade by James Preller and illustrated by Greg Ruth

A Pirate's Guide to First Grade

School is almost out, but pirates are most definitely still in, which is why it is wonderful to come across a picture book like A Pirate’s Guide to First Grade. In it, a young boy gets ready for his first day of school, accompanied by all of his imaginary pirate friends. He awakens to his scurvy dog happily licking his face, but there’s no time to wait! Ye must set sheets to the wind and sail!

The text, all in pirate talk, might be a bit distancing at first, but with a glossary in the back and the clear illustrations, I think most young first mates will be able to figure out what’s going on. A parent could even make up a game with their child, figuring out what “Gangway me hearties!” could possibly mean.

 

Paris in the Spring with Picasso by Joan Yolleck

Paris in the Spring with Picasso

Imagine receiving an invitation to a soiree at the home of Gertrude Stein--number 27 Rue de Fleurus in Paris.  If you read Paris in the Spring with Picasso, by Joan Yolleck, you will feel as if you have.  This is an imaginary tale written by the author after a trip to the library where she passed the time reading about Stein.  She created a story about famous artists and authors as they prepare for an evening's festivities.  The young reader is introduced to such characters as Pablo Picasso and Alice B. Toklas.

Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld

Cloudette

In Cloudette, by Tom Lichtenheld, a smaller than average cloud is happy and well-adjusted to her life in the sky. Being small gives her all sorts of advantages such as cute nicknames, great hiding places and the best view of the fireworks. But when the big clouds sail off to create storms and to water the fields, Cloudette gets the urge to do something big and important, too. So off she goes to find a job.

She could work at the firehouse or the garden center or even at the car wash. But nothing works out until she comes across a dry, barren patch of ground that used to be a pond. Cloudette has an idea! She puffs herself up until she becomes a rain cloud and finally discovers a job just right for a little cloud.