Fall is one of the busiest times in the publishing industry, with a flurry of new books being released for all ages (take note and start adding to your holiday gift lists!). I’ve been taking a dive into the new picture books, and, though I'm not even close to being finished reading them all, I've already come across a few that I think are special.
Before We Sleep, opens a new window by Giorgio Volpe and Paolo Prioetti
The days are getting shorter, and the leaves and grass are turning brown, which makes Little Red happy because now it will be easier for her to hide. But it also makes her sad because shorter days means that it will soon be time for her friend Hazel to hibernate. When Hazel hibernates, Little Red won’t have anyone to play with, and it will be very lonely. Little Red tries everything she can think of to keep Hazel awake because she wants them to stay together always. Hazel reassures Little Red that when spring arrives she will be there, and they will play again. This gentle story is a sweet reminder of how love endures and makes a good fit for bedtime, with the message that “I’ll be here when you wake.”
The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess by Tom Gauld
Fairy tales are a favorite of children, and it is exciting to read a brand-new addition to the genre. Gauld’s story retains familiar characteristics of classic fairy tales while adding just enough modern pieces to make it feel fresh. In The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess, the king and queen long for a child. The king goes to an inventor for help, while the queen goes to a witch. The inventor creates a wooden robot prince, and the witch creates a princess out of a log, and the two are instantly best friends as well as brother and sister. As with many fairy tales, trouble befalls the royal siblings, but, rather than an unknown hero saving the day, it is their love and dedication to each other that allows them to find their way back to their parents.
Mister Fairy by Morganne de Cadier and illustrated by Florian Pigé
Mister Fairy does not fit in with the other fairies. The other fairies have special jobs like waking up the forest animals or healing boo-boos. But every time Mister Fairy waves his magic wand, weird things happen like treetops turning into pink fluff or the forest animals breaking into giggles. Feeling like he’s not good for anything, Mister Fairy leaves the forest and heads to the city. The city is dark and gray, and the people there never smile. He doesn’t know what he could possibly do to help, but, on a whim, he waves his wand. Splashes of color appear in the city which make the people smile. He waves his wand again, and people start giggling. Now understanding what his special fairy powers are, Mister Fairy goes back to the forest, where he finds his friends have been very unhappy since he left. Mister Fairy waves his wand and shares his gift of bringing joy and happiness.
Tad Lincoln's Restless Wriggle by Beth Anderson and illustrated by S.D. Schindler
This picture book brings to life the story of a lesser-known White House resident, President Lincoln’s youngest son Tad. Tad had trouble speaking (likely due to a partial cleft palate), had too much energy to sit down for school lessons, and ran wild through the White House (and the White House lawn and the White House stable). Pretty much everyone frowned on this behavior, but President Lincoln found Tad’s energy amusing and appreciated his warm heart. Tad accompanied President Lincoln to visit soldiers in the hospital, brought home stray dogs, and even saved the life of a turkey who was destined to be Thanksgiving dinner.
Darcie Caswell is the Youth Services Coordinator at CRRL. This column originally appeared in The Free Lance-Star newspaper.