I got behind in my picture book reading last year and took some time around the holidays to get caught up. There were so many good books! I was going to try to come up with some clever overarching theme to describe this group of books but decided to scrap that idea and just say that each of these books is enjoyable for its own special reasons.
The Blue House by Phoebe Wahl
Leo and his dad love their blue house, even though the paint is peeling, and there are leaks. It is the perfect house for building blanket forts, baking pies, and dancing in the living room. As the neighborhood around them falls under construction to build apartments, Leo and his dad watch from the Blue House. Leo believes the Blue House will be theirs forever, but his dad is worried. One day, his dad tells Leo the Blue House is going to be torn down, and they have to leave. Leo is angry, and so is his dad. Leo kicks and screams, then he and his dad dance and stomp and rage together in the living room, and afterward they feel a little less mad. Their new house doesn’t feel the same, and Leo is still sad, but, little by little, they get settled, and Leo realizes his heart has room to love a new home.
Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away by Meg Medina
Having a best friend is often the most important part of a child’s world. When that friend moves away, it can be devastating. Evelyn Del Rey is Daniela’s best friend, and they do everything together. But Evelyn is moving away, and, on moving day, the two friends do their best to pretend everything is normal. They run up and down the stairs like they always have. They play with empty boxes and hide under furniture. But all too soon, it is time for Evelyn to leave with her family. Sonia Sánchez’s gorgeous illustrations practically breathe with the energy and love of this childhood friendship. Even though it ends with a friend moving away, this book is really a celebration of the special power true friendship holds.
Flash and Gleam by Sue Fliess
Light is high in the sky and stretches all the way to the earth to warm the dirt below our feet. There is light in flashes during storms and in the spectrum of colors that comes afterward. There is light in fireworks and fireflies and in celebrations for Hanukkah and Diwali. Lyrical, rhyming text reminds readers of all the places light is found and the impact it has on our lives.
Looking for Smile by Ellen Tarlow
Bear and Smile are always together. Smile is there as soon as Bear wakes up and stays with him through all his adventures. But one morning, Smile is not there. Smile does not come for breakfast and isn’t anywhere in the house. Bear tries to find Smile by looking in all their favorite places and by doing all their favorite activities. But Smile cannot be found. When Bear sits down to take a rest, he is joined by his friend Bird. Bird doesn’t offer suggestions for how to find Smile; she simply sits by Bear and keeps him company, eventually singing a song. When Bear joins Bird in singing, he feels Smile start to return.
Packs by Hannah Salyer
There are many different words for the groups that animals form. Lions gather in a pride, bison in herds, penguins in huddles, dolphins in pods. Packs describes the fascinating lives animals lead when they gather together—the work they get done, the bonds they form, and the responsibilities they share. From wildebeest to bees, from coral to flamingoes, being in a group helps these animals thrive.
Darcie Caswell is the Youth Services Coordinator at CRRL. This column originally appeared in The Free Lance-Star newspaper.