Daisy by Jessixa BagleyStarring: shy warthog Daisy, who walks with her eyes downcast after the other kids make fun of her appearance.
What happens: Looking at the forest floor reveals a world of hidden beauty to Daisy, and soon her collection of forgotten and discarded treasures leads her to something even more valuable: an understanding friend.
Art alert: Soft springtime hues emphasize the quiet wonder in this "ode to the art of paying attention" (Horn Book Magazine).
Early One Morning by Mem Fox; illustrated by Christine DavenierWhat it is: an idyllic vision of farm life featuring a pink-cheeked boy who takes the scenic route -- visiting the red tractor, the green truck, the haystack, and various farm animals -- as he searches for a tasty addition to his breakfast with Grandma.
Why kids might like it: Toddlers will enjoy the warm, textured artwork, as well as pointing out each of the boy's favorite spots and reciting along with the soothing, repetitive text.
Where Wonder Grows by Xelena González; illustrated by Adriana M. GarciaWhat it's about: Through the words of a grandmother and the eyes of her three granddaughters, readers are invited to explore the ways in which “magic rocks and relics from nature" are "alive with wisdom."
Art alert: Grandmother's lyrical tales about crystals, volcanic rocks, coral, and meteorites are accompanied by vibrant, sweeping, full-page paintings that evoke cosmic awe and familial warmth in equal measure.
Try this next: All Around Us, another awe-inspiring, intergenerational tale by the same pair of creators.
Wolfboy by Andy HarknessWhat it's about: Wolfboy is on the prowl! He's "HUNGRY and HUFFY and DROOLY and GROWLY" and he's hunting high and low for rabbits. When he finally finds them...well, we won't spoil the ending, but you can expect giggles, not gore.
Why kids might like it: With stunning, three-dimensional clay artwork and LOTS of ALL-CAPS text, Wolfboy makes a riveting read-aloud.
Kids might also like: Drew Brockington's Hangry, which features a different monster in need of a snack.
Happy Dreams, Little Bunny by Leah HongWhat it's about: When Little Bunny, clad in a yellow onesie and towing a stuffed toy elephant, is too anxious to sleep, Mommy is there to provide calm reassurance by redirecting the child's thoughts towards flights of fancy. With Mommy's encouragement, Little Bunny drifts off to dreams of riding on bumblebees and visiting the moon.
Read it for: the gentle validation of childrens' worries, and the fantastical, pastel dreamland conjured up in the illustrations.
When Otis Courted Mama by Kathi Appelt; illustrated by Jill McElmurryWhat it's about: Though his Mama and Daddy live in different parts of the desert, coyote pup Cardell likes his life the way it is. When kind-hearted neighbor Otis comes calling, Mama seems interested, but Cardell is skeptical.
Read it for: the charming, folksy writing and the expressive artwork.
Who it's for: kids who are adjusting to family changes, as well as anyone who enjoys a good yarn.
Cat Dog Dog: The Story of a Blended Family by Nelly Buchet; illustrated by Andrea ZuillWhat it's about: the growing pains of a newly combined household consisting of two humans, two dogs, and one cat.
How it's told: With minimal text -- primarily clever re-arrangements of the words "cat" and "dog" -- the illustrations are what truly sell this story, using actions and expressions to depict the furry stepsiblings' emotions as they learn to cohabitate.
Kids might also like: Jeff Mack's Ah Ha! and Look!, which also feature dynamic artwork, limited vocabulary, and winsome animal characters.
The Ring Bearer by Floyd CooperWhat it's about: Jackson's mama is getting married! While Jackson's a bit anxious about how his household will change with 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...
Art alert: Floyd Cooper's soft, lifelike chalk illustrations capture the warmth between family members as a pep talk from Grandpop -- and some surprising inspiration from Sophie -- help Jackson conquer his wedding-day worries.
Maya and Annie on Saturdays and Sundays / Los sábados y domingos de Maya y Annie by Gwendolyn Zepeda; illustrated by Thelma Muraida; translated by Gabriela Baeza VenturaStarring: Vietnamese American Annie and Hispanic American Maya, two best friends who don't go to the same school but love spending weekends together -- especially after they learn that their parents are getting married!
How it's told: in two different languages (English and Spanish) and from both girls' perspectives, providing readers with insight into Maya and Annie's excitement as they join in each other's cultural celebrations, try new-to-them food, and become sisters.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 0-8!
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