Samson in the Snow by Philip C. Stead

Samson in the Snow

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Children’s lit

Medium: Hardcover

Synopsis: Samson meets a red bird who is looking for yellow flowers for her friend.  Later, when the snow falls, Samson wonders whether the red bird made it to her destination or not…

Review: What a sweet story about commonalities and friendships!  And not to mention perseverance and kindness–this book seems to have it all!  Friendships seem to occur in funny ways, and maintaining them can be even funnier.  Filled with Stead’s great narrative and beautiful illustrations, this is a perfect book to cozy up with in the middle of winter, hot cocoa in hand.

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Greetings from Sandy Beach by Bob Graham

Greetings from Sandy Beach

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Children’s lit

Medium: Hardcover

Synopsis: A family goes to the beach, but there are some other beach-goers who might ruin their time…

Review: I absolutely love books about various groups of social identities coming together and having a great time despite their differences!  From a family, to bikers, and to campers, all groups have a great time, and overcome whatever sort of stereotype one might hold about the other.  This is a great book for learning not to judge a book by its cover–for the scariest people can be the kindest, and members of groups can be the most individual of them all.

Wolves by Emily Gravett

Wolves

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Children’s lit

Medium: Hardcover

Synopsis: Wolves are only the bad guys in fairy tales…right?

Review: Okay, everyone I knew was raving about this book, and I see why!  What a fun, metafictive book that breaks the fourth wall!!  From the artwork to the narrative to the second ending, every bit of this book kept me entertained and ready for more.  And, of course, I should say here–no rabbits were harmed in the making of this book, just in case y’all were worried.

Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky

Z is for Moose

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Children’s lit

Medium: Hardcover

Synopsis: This ABC book features animals for every letter of the alphabet!  Except…Moose is a little impatient.

Review: This ABC book is a laugh-out-loud riot!  Perfect for grabbing children’s attention when they’re learning (or supposed to be learning) about the ABCs.  Filled with Bingham’s humorous narrative and Zelinsky’s hilarious illustrations, this book is the “just right” of all ABC books.  This is definitely a book I’m going to get for my mom’s classroom!

Shoe-la-la! by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Shoe-la-la

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Children’s lit

Medium: Hardcover

Synopsis: These four friends are going shoe shopping, so they try on every single shoe that fits them…and some that don’t.  But it isn’t until the end of the day that they realize that the best shoes of them all are the ones they can create themselves!

Review: I love this book so much, and I love LeUyen Pham’s illustrations so so much.  I don’t think I’ve ever held a book that teemed so much with happiness and excitement to the point that I felt like I was on some type of sugar buzz.  And it was marvelous.  The voices and the illustrations are bright, vibrant, and exude sweetness on a whole other level.

But on a more serious note, I think that this book does a great job at recognizing that femininity isn’t bad or good or anything inherently positive or negative, and that it can be really, really creative.   I know a lot can be said on that topic, so I’ll leave it at this because in all honesty, it just really warmed my heart that this was a book that allowed these girls to be feminine without any negative connotations.

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Children’s lit

Medium: Hardcover

Synopsis: Philippe Petit wanted to do something daring.  The year was 1974, and he felt inspired.  So he planned a tightrope act between the Twin Towers.

Review: Finally!  A book about the twin towers that isn’t about 9/11!  Don’t get me wrong–that was definitely an important date in United States history, but the history of the towers has got to be more than just that one date.  And then, at last, I got my hands on this book about a man who plans a secret performance between the towers.

What a riveting, exciting, and death-defying picturebook!  I think I held my breath for the last half of the book, afraid of the worst.  That Philippe Petit would get caught, that he’d be arrested, or worse: he’d fall.  But, it’s a good thing that Petit isn’t just any tightrope walker.  Perhaps he’s the most talented one of them all.

And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin E. Stead

And Then It's Spring

Rating: ★★★★

Genre: Children’s lit

Medium: Hardcover

Synopsis: A little boy and his dog plant some seeds.  But how long will it take for them to notice change?

Review: This was such a sweet story that built up its anticipation and climax in a way that was both engaging and excitable.  I mean, as an adult reading this, of course I knew that the seeds were going to sprout, but also, like…what if they didn’t?  This is a great story for teaching children about the changing of a season and being patient.

Smoky Night by Eve Bunting, illustrated by David Diaz

Smoky Night

Rating: ★★★★

Genre: Children’s lit

Medium: Hardcover

Synopsis: Smoke came into the apartment complex one night, and everybody escapes and hopes that their homes will still be there in the morning.  And their cats.

Review: I absolutely fell in love with this book.  What a sweet, exciting story!  When a group of people who hardly know each other must spend the night together due to a fire in their apartment complex, everyone’s on edge.  Especially since some pets are missing.  But what could have been a tragedy becomes a night to remember in which two neighbors decide to become friends and hash out their differences.  And, with Diaz’s work, this book is definitely something to remember.

The Boss Baby by Marla Frazee

The Boss Baby

Rating: ★★★★

Genre: Children’s lit

Medium: Board book (I was too lazy to find the hardcover)

Synopsis: The boss baby has just entered a family domain, and he’s about to set everything straight.

Review: This book was so, so fun and definitely makes a lot of sense once you plunge into it.  Marla Frazee truly does it again, both with the story and the artwork.  And for those wondering–while the movie was definitely based off of the book, the two are hardly alike, save for the basic premise of the plot (both have vastly different interpretations).  The book is something I’d definitely get for new parents, or for young children who are expecting a sibling.  In the end, it’s ultimately lighthearted and very sweet.

Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh

Funny Bones

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Children’s lit, nonfiction, biography

Medium: Hardcover

Synopsis: Jose Guadalupe Posada was famous for his funny bones–illustrations of skeletons doing human things in celebration for the Day of the Dead.  Were they supposed to be funny?  A social commentary?  Political?  Either way, Tonatiuh enlightens his audience with the man behind the bones.

Review: If you like skeletons, learning about different cultures, and the history of illustration and artwork, this is the picturebook for you.  Posada’s “funny bones” were never something I was familiar with, but now I’m so glad I am!  I especially loved Tonatiuh’s illustrations and narration of Posada’s artwork, and his explanation of how the artwork was created–who knew that artwork was more than just the linework?  Honestly, the way that the publication and reproduction of artwork has transformed is phenomenal…but, back to the book.  This is definitely a great book that celebrates well-known artwork and its lesser known artist.