Delightful Picture Books for Spring
By Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager
The spring offerings from children’s book publishers have been delighting librarians with some unusual characters paired with the perfect text and outstanding illustrations. Here are a few titles to put on your list to share with the young children in your life.
“The Big Umbrella” by Amy June Bates begins with a dreary raincloud, and a sleeping red umbrella by the front door. When opened, the umbrella becomes the star of the story, smiling and spreading its arms wide as a child in a raincoat and blue boots leads it on an adventure. Children’s faces are obscured by hoods or the umbrella, but you can see interesting legs added to the umbrella’s shelter – an athlete, a ballerina, an enormous chicken? There’s room for everyone, even Bigfoot. Bates’ simple text, accompanied by sweet watercolor illustrations, gets an important message out: “Some people worry that there won’t be enough room under the big umbrella. But the amazing thing is…there is.” The story beautifully highlights our best qualities – friendliness, acceptance, generosity and positivity. It’s perfect to share with a toddler or in a group setting.
“Petra” by Marianna Coppo features another unlikely main character, a rock. Petra isn’t just any rock: Petra is a “fearsome, fearless, mighty, magnificent mountain!” Until the next scene, that is, when a dog shows up and carries the gray, round, small stone away in his mouth. The rock then explores being different things – an egg, an island, or a child’s painted elephant. Who knew life for a rock could be so adventurous? This is a quietly silly story that kids can relate to, and they will probably want to go find a pet rock to paint after reading time is over.
Brendan Wenzel’s new picture book, “Hello Hello,” is an artistic gem. Vibrant animals with texture, movement and personality are displayed on every spread. Sparse text accompanies the creatures as they greet each other: “Hello Beauty, Hello Bend, Hello Neighbor, Hello Friend.” The rhythm and rhyme make it perfect for a read-aloud, but kids will want to go back to the book to check out each critter more closely. You can’t help but smile when you look these animals in the eye. Wenzel, who just received a Caldecott Honor for his 2017 book “They All Saw a Cat,” has produced another winner for kids.
“Sheep 101” by Richard T. Morris, with art by LeUyen Pham, will soon become a bedtime favorite. Imagine counting sheep to fall asleep and you’ve already reached 100, but that Sheep 101 throws a wrench in the process. This story begins with Sheep 102 breaking the fourth wall, talking to the reader (who is also the sleepless sleeper), and not in a nice tone, either. “Do you see we’ve got a sheep down?..I’ve got my eyes on you, sleepyhead.” Sheep counting digresses until the Lego helicopter crew flies in to save the night. Whumpa-whumpa-whumpa. “Uh, Land of Nod, this is Sandman, over. We have a visual on 101.” If giggles give your littles ones good dreams, you will want to end with this prize every bedtime.
“Honey” by David Ezra Stein is about a young bear, only in his second year, and his favorite thing: “Warm, golden, sweet, clear, slowly flowing, spicy, aromatic, sparkling with sunlight – Honey!” It is also a story about waiting, because when bear rouses from his winter sleep, it is too soon for honey. While he waits, bear experiences other pleasant things in his surroundings, which momentarily take his mind off the sweet, sticky, gold treat he desires. He dances in a rainstorm, swims in a pond, and plays in a waterfall where he was “very busy for a long time.” Finally, honey time arrives, and of course it was “just as good as he’d remembered.” This story follows Stein’s first book about the bear, “Leaves,” and I can only hope there will be more to come for this loveable character.
To receive a list of great new picture books each month, sign up for Email Book Lists from the library’s webpage at www.mhklibrary.org/books-and-more.