Lizzy and the Cloud by The Fan BrothersAn unusual pet: On a visit to the park, Lizzy buys a fluffy cloud on a string from the Cloud Seller. She happily cares for her new companion (a cloud needs regular watering and lots of walks), but when things start to get stormy, Lizzy starts to consider what's actually best for a cloud.
Art alert: Softly shaded gray drawings with occasional hints of rainbow hues enhance the whimsy in this sweet, wistful twist on traditional overgrown-pet stories.
Uncle John's City Garden by Bernette G. Ford; illustrated by Frank MorrisonWhat it's about: Tomatoes, corn, lima beans, onions, and okra -- L'il Sissy and her siblings choose which seeds to sow in their Uncle John's city garden patch. Then they water and weed, watching the life cycle of plants unfurl day by day.
Don't miss: the verdant, stylized illustrations and the succotash recipe at the end!
About the author: This semi-autobiographical story is the final book from author and publishing pioneer Bernette G. Ford, who passed away in 2021.
Gigi and Ojiji by Melissa IwaiWhat it's about: Gigi is thrilled about meeting her Ojiji (grandfather), who's moving from Japan to the U.S. to live with Gigi's family. But when Ojiji arrives, he and Gigi keep misunderstanding each other. Maybe she needs a change of plans...
Who it's for: newly independent readers who can handle longer sentences, or those who might gain confidence from reading along with a caregiver.
Try this next: Meg Medina's Mango, Abuela, and Me, another tender tale of connection across cultural and generational lines.
Luli and the Language of Tea by Andrea Wang; illustrated by Hyewon YumWhat it's about: A potentially awkward and multilingual playdate among the kids of adult English language learners turns into a joyful sharing session when Luli brings her tea set and brews enough to give every kid a steaming cup.
Languages featured: Arabic, German, Hindi, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, and Turkish, with English transliterations.
Kids might also like: Donna Jo Napoli's Words to Make a Friend.
The World Belonged to Us by Jacqueline Woodson; illustrated by Leo EspinosaThe setting: a Brooklyn neighborhood, "not so long ago," where school just let out for the summer and the kids are "free as air."
What's inside: Retro-style illustrations overflow with verve as they depict a multilingual group of kids sharing ice cream, making chalk drawings, chanting jump-rope rhymes, and staying out until the streetlights come on.
Try this next: Abdul-Razak Zachariah's The Night Is Yours, another joyful celebration of free-range kids in a caring community.
Happy Right Now by Julie Berry; illustrated by Holly HatamWhat it is: a gentle story about emotional intelligence, told through easy-to-understand text and inviting mixed-media illustrations.
What happens: A little girl dreams up ideal scenarios for happiness -- like if she were popular, or if she had a unicorn -- only to realize that it's okay to feel her feelings as they happen, as well as reach for happiness in the present.
Series alert: Cranky Right Now, by the same author/illustrator duo, takes a similarly mindful approach to bad moods.
See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog by David LaRochelle; illustrated by Mike WohnoutkaWhat it's about: When Max, an unassuming yellow dog, realizes that the story's unseen narrator is describing drastically different things than what appears on the page, he gets frustrated...and then he takes matters into his own paws.
Why kids might like it: The simple, instructional style of a typical easy reader is played for laughs in this metafictional romp.
Why? by Adam Rex; illustrated by Claire KeaneWhat it's about: Supervillain Dr. X-Ray starts his quest for world domination at the local shopping mall, where his criminal career is abruptly halted by an even more powerful force: a little kid who won't stop asking him "why?"
Who it's for: kids who enjoy jokes taken to their most absurd conclusions, and caregivers who are all-too-familiar with the tenacity of an inquisitive child.
Reviewers say: "a storytime home run" (Booklist).
Mr. Nogginbody Gets a Hammer by David ShannonStarring: egg-shaped, bowler-hatted Mr. Nogginbody, whose successful hammering of one loose nail kicks off a wild spree to hammer anything remotely nail-like, including a lamp, a showerhead, some daisies, and some quick-thinking prairie dogs.
Read it for: gleeful slapstick chaos with a side of empathy, plus the conclusion that most problems can't by fixed with force.
Kitties on Dinosaurs by Michael SlackWhat it's about: After climbing every possible object on Kitty Island, three altitude-obsessed kitties set their sights on taller, toothier summits: the dinosaurs on neighboring Dinosaur Island.
If the title alone doesn't sell 'em... the cautionary tone of the narrator, who directly addresses the foolhardy felines ("Close call, furballs"), is sure to provoke some giggles.
Art alert: The story's goofy surrealism gets a boost from the bright, cartoony illustrations.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 0-8!