I Just Like You by Suzanne BloomWhat it is: a heartwarming celebration of differences among a group of animal friends. Whether they dress differently (a scarf for llama, a parasol for elephant), get around differently (a wheelchair for wombat, a unicycle for squirrel), or pace themselves differently (tiger is speedy where porcupine is steady), nothing can divide these devoted pals.
Want a taste? "You don't look just like me. You don't see the things I see. You don't walk just like me... You just like me!"
Take Your Octopus to School Day
by Audrey Vernick
Feeling constantly outperformed by his classmates even though his teacher says that the school activities are not competitive, Sam excitedly incorporates the characteristics of his pet octopus, Thurgood, into a hat for Silly Hat Day.
The Epic Adventures of Huggie & Stick by Drew Daywalt; illustrated by David SpencerWhat it is: the alternating travelogues of pessimist Huggie (a toy bunny) and optimist Stick (an actual stick) as they go on an accidental voyage across all seven continents.
Who it's for: A far cry from a geography lesson, this giggle-inducing adventure will appeal to kids who like odd-couple friendships and offbeat humor.
Got to Get to Bear's! by Brian LiesWhat it's about: Izzy is determined to answer Bear's urgent summons, but with a howling blizzard hampering her journey, the stalwart chipmunk must rely on help from her other animal friends.
Why kids might like it: Detailed depictions of fur, feathers, fabric, and swirling snowflakes provide a satisfying sensory experience.
Try this next: For further stories about cold weather and warm interspecies friendship, try Matthew Cordell's Wolf in the Snow or Philip C. Stead's Samson in the Snow.
The Wall in the Middle of the Book
by Jon Agee
Starring: 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.
King & Kayla and the Case of the Missing Dog Treats by Dori Hillestad Butler; illustrated by Nancy MeyersStarring: King, a golden retriever who solves mysteries with his human friend, Kayla (even though she can't understand anything he says).
What happens: When someone steals some of Kayla's freshly baked dog biscuits, King has to prove his innocence by finding the true culprit.
Series alert: With charming illustrations and easy-to-read sentences, this volume kicks off the ongoing King & Kayla series.
It's Shoe Time! by Bryan CollierWhat it's about: As a little girl tries to decide which shoes to wear, the shoes themselves -- all rowdy and googly-eyed -- vie for her attention.
Read it for: whimsical wordplay (the title should tip you off), easy-to-follow speech balloons, and eye-catching collage illustrations.
Book buzz: Though it tells a standalone story, this easy reader is part of the Elephant and Piggie Like Reading series, in which each book is introduced by Mo Willems' beloved duo.
Good Night, Knight by Betsy LewinWhat it's about: A sleepless knight and a weary horse go on a nighttime quest in search of golden, delicious cookies.
Why kids might like it: Repetition, homophones, and onomatopoeia make the text accessible for emerging readers, while playful illustrations -- Knight sleeps in full armor, and Horse's expressions are priceless -- add a light comic touch.
Kids might also like: Shelley Moore Thomas' Good Knight series.
I See a Cat by Paul MeiselWhat it is: The spare, sweetly expressive observations of a dog as he gazes longingly through a window at the animals outside.
Why kids might like it: Each sentence begins with "I see...", and though some of the words that follow are more difficult than others ("squirrel" is more of a stretch than "bee"), the simplicity and repetition may help tentative readers gain confidence.
Charlie & Mouse by Laurel Snyder; illustrated by Emily HughesIntroducing: brothers Charlie and Mouse, who are having a busy day: after waking their parents, they throw a neighborhood party, try to sell some rocks, and wheedle their way to an extra bedtime snack.
Series alert: Kids who enjoy the easygoing tone and likeable characters in this series opener can follow Charlie and Mouse's ongoing antics in Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 0-8!