The Wall in the Middle of the Book by Jon AgeeStarring: a knight who's certain that the brick wall dividing this book is all that protects him from the (supposedly) vicious beasts and (probably) dangerous ogre on the other side.
What happens: Chunky, soft-hued illustrations allow readers to see that the knight's real peril isn't his across-the-wall neighbors, but his own limited perspective.
Read it for: sly visual humor and an evergreen message of inclusion.
Carmela Full of Wishes by Matt de la Peña; illustrated by Christian RobinsonWhat it's about: On her 7th birthday, Carmela finds a fluffy white dandelion, just right for wishing. But what should she wish for?
Art alert: Carmela's imagined wishes appear in a papel picado style, adding a culturally distinct note to the mixed-media illustrations that lovingly depict her neighborhood.
Reviewers say: This lively and hopeful book offers "another near-perfect slice of life" (Kirkus Reviews) from the award-winning creators of Last Stop on Market Street.
Zola's Elephant by Randall De Sève; illustrated by Pamela ZagarenskiWhat it's about: When a red-headed girl spies her new neighbor Zola moving in with a gigantic box, she makes the obvious conclusion: Zola has a pet elephant. And with an elephant for company, who needs new friends?
Why kids might like it: While poring over the lavish colors and patterns in the illustrations, readers can join in the girl's fanciful visions of Zola's elephant pal, as well as peek at what's really happening at Zola's house.
Pearl by Molly IdleWhat it's about: Though pink-finned mermaid Pearl longs for a big, important job, her mother asks her to look after a tiny grain of sand.
Read it for: soft, swirling, jewel-toned illustrations, plus an ending that reminds readers that "the smallest of things can make a great difference."
Who it's for: mermaid fans of all ages, as well as kids who love author/illustrator Molly Idle's Flora books.
Thank You, Omu! by Oge MoraWhat it's about: When Omu cooks her thick red stew, the mouth-watering aroma draws all the neighbors to her door. Everyone gets a steaming bowlful...except for Omu herself.
Why kids might like it: they'll be reassured by the cheery, textured collage art, as well as the heartwarming way in which Omu's neighbors return her kindness.
Try this next: For further stories about communities sharing food, try Gaetan Doremus' Empty Fridge or Atinuke's Baby Goes to Market.
One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree by Daniel Bernstrom; illustrated by Brendan WenzelWhat it's about: In the leafy shadows of a eucalyptus tree, a little boy is gobbled up whole by a giant yellow snake. Yikes! But it's not the end for the resourceful boy, who encourages the greedy snake to eat more...and more...
Read it for: rhythmic wordplay, big, busy illustrations, and a satisfying conclusion.
For fans of: There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly -- either the traditional song or Simms Taback's modern classic picture book.
Hello Goodbye Dog by Maria Gianferrari; illustrated by Patrice BartonStarring: Moose, an exuberant dog who looooves "hello."
What happens: In search of more hellos, Moose keeps following her human friend Zara into school -- and every time she does, it takes more and more people to convince her to say goodbye. Luckily, Zara's got a solution that works for everyone.
Who it's for: animal lovers, as well as anyone in search of a heartwarming story with a diverse cast of characters.
It Is Not Time for Sleeping (A Bedtime Story) by Lisa Graff; illustrated by Lauren CastilloWhat it is: the elaborate bedtime routine of one reluctant kid, with each step building on the next.
Want a taste? "When dinner is over and the dishes are scrubbed and I’m squeaky-squeak clean and zipped up to my chin and my teeth are shiny and I’ve said good night to Jasper...I climb into bed."
Art alert: Crayon-like lines bring a cozy solidity to this gentle, upbeat bedtime story.
Bug on a Bike by Chris MonroeWhat happens: "It's time to go now!" announces a helmet-clad ladybug. Despite no stated destination, the bike-riding bug gradually gathers a parade of friends, including a chimp in a hat, a scruffy orange cat, an athletic pickle, and a shiny, round nickel.
Kids might also like: Ginger Foglesong Gibson's Tiptoe Joe, another sweet story about an animal who collects a crowd for a surprising purpose.
And Two Boys Booed by Judith Viorst; illustrated by Sophie BlackallWhat it's about: Although he begins each page by saying, "On the morning of the talent show, I was ready to sing my song," the narrator of this picture book gets more and more anxious as he watches his classmates perform and counts down to his own moment in the spotlight.
Art alert: Once the cumulative countdown is done, clever interactive illustrations provide readers with a peek into the boy's on-stage confusion, as well as his eventual confidence.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 0-8!