It Fell from the Sky by The Fan BrothersWhat it's about: After a mysterious sphere falls into their garden home, all the insects have theories about what it might be. Spider, however, claims the wondrous object, turning it into an attraction the others can visit -- for a fee.
Read it for: the sumptuously shaded illustrations, striking pops of color, and charming critters.
Try this next: For another imagined insect culture, try Carson Ellis' Du Iz Tak?; for another modern fable about greed, try Vera Brosgol's The Little Guys.
Change Sings: A Children's Anthem by Amanda Gorman; illustrated by Loren LongWhat it is: an uplifting ode to creating change, told through rhyming couplets and brilliantly colored illustrations featuring kids who come together to make music and support their community.
Author buzz: Poet Amanda Gorman enchanted audiences with her performance at the 2021 U.S. Presidential inauguration, and this, her debut picture book, is already in demand.
Want a taste? "I can hear change humming in its loudest, proudest song. I don’t fear change coming, and so I sing along."
Norman Didn't Do It! (Yes, He Did.) by Ryan T. HigginsStarring: Norman, a porcupine, and his BFF Mildred, a tree.
What happens: Norman loves spending time alone with Mildred, playing games and having endless (if one-sided) conversations. When a sapling intrudes on their solitude, however, Norman bristles with jealousy. How could it be possible to have more than one friend?
Why kids might like it: Beyond the inherent silliness of an anthropomorphic porcupine befriending a typical tree, kids may also appreciate Norman's cartoonishly expressive face and relatable anxieties.
Bright Star by Yuyi MoralesWelcome to: the Sonoran Desert, where a whitetail fawn experiences the wonders of nature, the safety of love, and the fear of a border wall dividing its habitat.
Don't miss: the moving conclusion, which emphasizes how the humans constrained by borders are just as precious -- and as vulnerable -- as their animal neighbors.
Why it stands out: Along with lyrical text in English and Spanish, award-winning creator Yuyi Morales uses a panoply of materials to create breathtakingly lush and textured visuals.
Nina: A Story of Nina Simone by Traci N. Todd; illustrated by Christian RobinsonWhat it is: the true story of how Eunice Waymon -- better known as Nina Simone -- went from a three-year-old piano prodigy to a multi-genre musician and outspoken civil rights activist.
What's inside: Author Traci N. Todd's evocative words describe how Nina channeled her experiences into "a raging storm of song," and artist Christian Robinson's collages powerfully juxtapose Nina's music with historic events.
Further reading: Patricia Hruby Powell's Josephine, another Robinson-illustrated biography of an iconic Black performer.
Daniel's Good Day by Micha ArcherThe question: "What makes a good day for you?" asks curious young Daniel of every neighbor he meets as he walks to Grandma's house.
The answers: range from polite passengers (a bus driver) to birthdays (a baker) to napping babies (a nanny). Such hopeful responses, along with lively, intricate illustrations of Daniel's diverse neighborhood, make this book a feel-good read.
Series alert: Daniel's Good Day is a companion book to Daniel Finds a Poem, though both can be enjoyed as standalones.
A Friend for Henry by Jenn Bailey; illustrated by Mika SongWhat it's about: Henry's hoping for a friend among his classmates, but it's tough when so many kids are too loud, or too messy, or they misinterpret Henry's kind actions. A shared moment by the goldfish bowl with quiet Katie, however, seems promising…
Who it's for: Autistic Henry's experiences might resonate with kids on the spectrum, as well as with anyone who's searched for a kindred spirit.
Kids might also like: Sally J. Pla's Benji, the Bad Day, and Me.
Leila in Saffron by Rukhsanna Guidroz; illustrated by Dinara MirtalipovaWhat it's about: Leila feels down on herself until a family dinner at Naani's house helps her understand that she's a part of her family's multifaceted beauty.
Why kids might like it: Leila uses her senses and emotions -- noting the scent of ghee, the clink of bangles, the joy of a smile -- to invite readers into her world.
Art alert: Aligning with the dinnertime setting, the book's illustrations are food-inspired, with hues of pomegranate, cucumber, and saffron.
A Stone Sat Still by Brendan WenzelA single stone: remains perfectly still over time as it's observed by a variety of animals, each one experiencing it differently.
Many points of view: such as an enormous moose, who sees the stone as a pebble; a raccoon, who feels it in the darkness; and a coyote, who smells traces of the other animal visitors.
Kids might also like: They All Saw a Cat, author Brendan Wenzel's earlier foray into the power of perspective, also featuring attention-grabbing, science-infused artwork.
Home in the Woods by Eliza WheelerWhat it is: the captivating, bittersweet, Depression-era tale of eight siblings and their widowed mother learning to survive (and eventually thrive) in the only home they can afford: an abandoned tar-paper shack in the Wisconsin woods.
Reviewers say: "warm without being sappy or overly nostalgic, successfully making a bygone era meaningful today" (Booklist).
Based on a true story: Home in the Woods is inspired by the childhood of author Eliza Wheeler's grandmother.
Contact your librarian for more great picture books!
Carrollton Public Library
1700 Keller Springs Road, Carrollton Texas 75006
4220 North Josey Lane, Carrollton Texas 75010