Fantastic Children’s Books from 2018
By Laura Ransom, Children’s Services Coordinator
I have the great privilege of seeing hundreds of new children’s books at our library each year. Here are a few stand-outs from 2018 that you won’t want to miss.
I Lost My Tooth by Mo Willems is the first book in the new series Unlimited Squirrels by Willems. His previous books include the bestsellers Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and the Elephant and Piggie series. This new book features a large cast of energetic squirrel friends, including Zip Squirrel, Zoom Squirrel, and Research Rodent, just to name a few. One of the squirrels lost his tooth, and before he has time to elaborate, the squirrel gang is ready to investigate this new mystery. This book is perfect for children who are just beginning to read on their own but would also be a fun read-aloud for younger folks.
My Friends Make Me Happy! by Jan Thomas is another excellent book for beginning readers. Sheep, Duck, Dog, and Donkey are the best of friends, but sometimes they forget how to listen to each other. The animals learn about taking turns in this story, which is part of a new series by Thomas called the Giggle Gang. Our children’s librarians had the pleasure of meeting Jan Thomas a few years ago when her book Is Everyone Ready for Fun? was featured as the Kansas Reads to Preschoolers selection. Her exuberance and love for children is evident in all of the books she’s written.
Although picture books often feature happy characters and energetic themes, I’m Sad by Michael Ian Black is a welcome exception to the genre. A pink flamingo tells his friends that he is feeling sad, and they offer encouraging words and wisdom to cheer him up. They don’t offer a quick fix for his sadness, however, and that is why I would highly recommend this book.
A Parade of Elephants by Kevin Henkes is another stellar story with colorful elephants bounding across the pages. Henkes includes simple counting skills and introduces readers to the concept of opposites: over, under, up and down. Besides being cute and colorful, the elephants also have a magical ability to trumpet stars from their trunks! It is a truly lovely read-aloud for toddlers and preschoolers alike.
Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora is a stunning debut by this new author. “Omu” is what Mora called her grandma in her Nigerian family. At the start of the story, Omu is cooking a fragrant pot of thick stew. The aroma is so enticing that a little boy stops by and asks for a sample! Omu gladly shares with him, but he isn’t the only one who wants to try her stew. A policewoman, a baker, the mayor, and several others are drawn to the stew, and Omu is happy to feed all of them. When she realizes that the stew has been steadily devoured by all of her visitors, she is saddened that there is none left for her to eat. But when she hears a knock at her door, all of the people she fed are back with their own food to share. What a heartwarming story about generosity and building a community!
Imagine by Juan Felipe Herrera could be the crown jewel of the entire year. Herrera writes about his childhood as a son of migrant farm-workers. This isn’t a heavy story, however; he describes the struggles from his younger years with optimism and hope for the future. Illustrations by Lauren Castillo add to the dreamy quality of the story. Herrera never stopped imagining what could be possible, and he flourished as an adult, becoming the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017. Imagine really shows us what children’s books are all about: inspiring the little ones from the next generation to dream big dreams.