Thunder and Cluck: Friends Do Not Eat Friends by Jill Esbaum; illustrated by Miles ThompsonIntroducing: towering, toothy Thunder and tiny, tenacious Cluck, two dinosaurs who look like opposites, but who might become friends (at least if Cluck has anything to do with it).
Who it's for: beginning readers who enjoy other cartoony graphic novels about unlikely friendships, such as Sergio Ruzzier's Fish and Sun.
Series alert: This funny, energetic volume begins the Thunder and Cluck series, which continues in The Brave Friend Leads the Way (out this month).
Cat Problems by Jory John; illustrated by Lane SmithWhat it's about: the innumerable inconveniences of being a housecat -- as narrated by the cat.
The struggle is real: From inconsiderate sunbeams to scolding squirrels to the dreaded vacuum cleaner, this kitty's over-the-top litany of woes will provoke giggles from even the most incorrigible complainers.
Further reading: Kids who are tickled by this whiny feline might also enjoy the grumpy grousing in Penguin Problems and Giraffe Problems, both by creators Jory John and Lane Smith.
Best Day Ever! by Marilyn Singer; illustrated by Leah NixonWhat it's about: the highs and lows of a day in the life of one exuberant little dog.
What happens: A romp through the park with her human best friend elicits many declarations of "best day ever!" from the speckled pup; not even a rebuke and bath can dampen her spirits for long.
Read it for: sunny colors, a sweet friendship, a matter-of-fact depiction of a kid using a wheelchair, and exclamatory dialogue that begs to be read out loud.
All We Need by Kathy Wolff; illustrated by Margaux MeganckWhat it is: a reassuring ode to sharing the resources we need most: water, food, air, shelter, learning, and each other.
How it's told: through luminous, soft-toned illustrations of diverse communities, and through stanzas of gentle, rhyming verses each ending with "all we need..." followed by a page-turn reveal of an essential resource.
Try this next: Elizabeth Garton Scanlon's All the World and Matt de la Peña's Love.
Lala's Words by Gracey ZhangWhat it's about: Frenetic city kid Lala loves sitting in the dirt of an empty lot, where she pours her boundless energy into praise and encouragement for the scraggly weeds that grow there.
Why kids might like it: The results of Lala's loving attention will remind readers (of all ages) that words have power, and that we all need support to grow.
Art alert: Black-and-gray backdrops allow Lala's yellow dress and green plants to shine all the brighter.
How to Read a Book by Kwame Alexander; illustrated by Melissa SweetWhat it is: a heartfelt how-to guide in verse that invites children to go beyond basic words on a page, instead engaging with reading as an immersive, sensory experience.
Why it stands out: Newbery Medalist Kwame Alexander's poetry portrays reading as something to savor ("Your eyes need time to taste. Your soul needs room to bloom.”), and award-winning illustrator Melissa Sweet's mixed-media collages provide added dimension through riotous colors, eye-catching patterns, and interactive elements for kids to unfold and peek through.
The Book Hog by Greg PizzoliStarring: the Book Hog, an avid collector who loves the look, feel, and smell of books -- but who doesn’t know how to read.
Who it’s for: With cheery pastel colors and minimal text, this feel-good book is a strong choice for sharing aloud, as well as for beginning readers (who may identify with the porcine protagonist).
Don’t miss: the way the titles on the Book Hog’s books only become clear after he learns how to read them.
Turning Pages: My Life Story by Sonia Sotomayor; illustrated by Lulu DelacreWhat it is: a thoughtful, bookish autobiography, in which U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor describes how comics helped her through childhood diabetes, how library books comforted her after her father's death, and how encyclopedias fueled her quest for knowledge.
Why kids might like it: While Turning Pages will be most interesting for kids who look up to Justice Sotomayor or who are curious about the childhoods of powerful people, it might also inspire older readers to consider the impact of reading on their own lives.
This Book of Mine by Sarah Stewart; illustrated by David SmallWhat it is: a gentle, affectionate ode to books and the people who love them.
What’s inside: softly ink-washed artwork depicting all the different ways in which books and readers interact, alongside rhyming text that’s framed as a vow: “I take this book to be my friend.”
Who it’s for: young bibliophiles who demand to hear their favorite books again and again and again...
I Am A Story by Dan YaccarinoWhat it's about: humankind's enduring drive to tell stories with words and pictures, from cave paintings and oral storytelling traditions all the way to TV and ebooks.
Who it's for: With streamlined, stylized illustrations and simple, one-sentence-per-page text, this picture book is both inviting and accessible for very young children, while also offering some big ideas for older kids to mull over.
Look for: the little red bird that appears in every spread of pages.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 0-8!