The Ring Bearer by Floyd CooperJackson's mama is getting married! It's a big day, and while Jackson's a little bit anxious about how his household will change after the addition of stepdad Bill and little stepsister Sophie, he's mostly nervous about his role as ring bearer. It's a long way down the aisle -- what if he walks too slowly? Or trips and drops the rings? Floyd Cooper's soft, lifelike chalk illustrations capture the warmth between family members both old and new as a pep talk from Grandpop -- and some surprising inspiration from Sophie -- help Jackson conquer his wedding-day worries.
The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt; illustrated by Adam RexThree mighty warriors search for worthy opponents in this crowd-pleasing readaloud. Squat, scowling Rock gets "no joy" from smooshing Apricot; curly-edged Paper bests Computer Printer with a single move; and wide-eyed Scissors skillfully snips through an army of Dinosaur-Shaped Chicken Nuggets. Each despairs of ever meeting their match…until they battle each other, and a legendary game is born. With a cast of anthropomorphized objects spouting "bombastic, full-volume" (Publishers Weekly) dialogue, The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors begs to be read in your most arena-worthy voice. Kids who crave further epic match-ups will also be thrilled by Yuyi Morales' Niño Wrestles the World.
A Letter to My Teacher by Deborah Hopkinson; illustrated by Nancy CarpenterShouting in class, making jokes when she's called on to read aloud, and causing mayhem on field trips -- as the grown-up narrator of this picture book writes a letter describing her childhood classroom antics, she's aware that she was often "exasperating." Yet she also remembers how her second-grade teacher patiently redirected her energy and encouraged her strengths, helping her transition from troublemaker to leader. Muted illustrations (punctuated with pops of color) and a thoughtful tone make this inspiring read best suited to older readers and adults who share the narrator's ability to look back at the moments that shaped her.
Goldfish Ghost by Lemony Snicket; illustrated by Lisa BrownDeath is only the beginning in this quirky read about a newly deceased goldfish in search of a friend to share his afterlife. Bored with floating upside-down above his fishbowl, the spectral hero -- drawn in eye-catching white against a colored background -- floats out the window to explore the seaside town. Sadly, no one in town seems interesting, not even the ghosts of other aquatic creatures. But wasn't there a rumor that the lighthouse was haunted? Similar to Mac Barnett's Leo, this tale of a lonely ghost who finds companionship will charm readers who are looking for something offbeat and a teensy bit spooky.
Ice Boy by David Ezra SteinBlending science and storytelling, Ice Boy puts a face (and a pair of blue-and-white socks) on the water cycle. Ice Boy's freezer-dwelling family tells him that it's an honor to be "chosen" for drink or a cold compress, but Ice Boy knows he's destined for something bigger. Venturing outside, he heads for the ocean, kicking off an adventure that transforms him from ice to water to vapor and (eventually) back to ice. Speech-bubble dialogue and goofy wordplay add whimsy to this "comical caper with a stealthy dose of basic science concepts" (Booklist).
Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Kevin CornellIn this raucous picture book from the author of Extra Yarn, readers are encouraged to count the monkeys -- except that the monkeys are all hiding from a king cobra. Good thing those two mongooses ("or is it mongeese?") chased the cobra away. But what about the three crocodiles? Readers will have to hum, roar, and wave their arms to fend off the increasingly goofy creatures who frighten the monkeys. Hilariously tongue-in-cheek and bursting with "Saturday-morning-cartoon cheerfulness" (Booklist), Count the Monkeys is an irresistible read-aloud. For another interactive jungle adventure, check out What to Do If an Elephant Stands on Your Foot by Michelle Robinson.
8: An Animal Alphabet by Elisha CooperWhat's so special about the number eight? Why, eight is author/illustrator Elisha Cooper's favorite number, and he shares his admiration through this interactive book. On the first page, readers find a menagerie of watercolor-illustrated animals beginning with the letter A -- alpaca, aardvark, anteater, etc. -- including eight little ants to find and count. Every letter of the alphabet gets the same treatment, with eight matching animals in every mix. (In case you've never heard of critters such as quolls or xeruses, there are quirky factoids about every animal at the end). Combining counting, matching, animal info, and the alphabet, 8 is hard to define…and hard to put down.
City Shapes by Diana Murray; illustrated by Bryan CollierA little girl with a kaleidoscope looks out from the cover of this book, inviting you in: "The city is bursting with shapes of each kind. And if you look closely, who knows what you’ll find!" Indeed, there are circles, ovals, squares, rectangles, triangles, diamonds, and stars to seek and find among the full-page collage illustrations, which combine photorealistic detail and bright watercolors. Alongside the rhythmic text, the images create a busy, expansive sense of the girl's New York City world. More than just a concept book, City Shapes is a sure bet for quiet reading or sharing out loud.
Before, After by Anne-Margot Ramstein and Matthias Arégui How do you communicate concepts like time and change without saying a word? In this elegant, digitally illustrated book, it's accomplished by perfectly grouped images. Some groupings are process-oriented (a beehive and a jar of honey; ingredients, a cake, and a half-eaten slice); some offer teachable moments (a carrier pigeon and an airmail envelope); and some boast clever visual humor (the progress from volcano to King Kong is especially priceless). No words are needed to make Before, After appealing: with a clean design that invites inquiry and interaction, it's a thought-provoking read for all ages.
Mix It Up! by Hervé Tullet; translated by Christopher FranceschelliHervé Tullet, author of the popular Press Here, offers another inventive, engaging book that gives instructions directly to the reader. Focusing on color, Mix It Up! begins with a series of primary-colored dots. Readers are then encouraged to touch, smear, shake, and tilt the book in order to reveal new color combinations on every page. Tullet's minimal (but paint-spattered) illustrations are wonderfully tempting, vividly evoking the texture of actual wet paint. "Rivaling an iPad for its sheer fun and interactive elements" (School Library Journal), Mix It Up! is a mess-free way to teach kids about color mixing…though it's sure to send them running for the real paints!
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