Picture Book

Sophie’s Squash Go to School By Pat Zietlow Miller and Anne Wilsdorf

Sophie's Squash Go To School book cover: an illustration of young girl in pigtails walking on road towards school building with a squash in each arm and wearing a backpack“Sometimes growing a friend just takes time.”

Sophie’s parents said she’d have fun at school. But she didn’t. The chairs were uncomfortable, the milk tasted funny, nobody appreciated her two squash friends Bonnie and Baxter, and Steven just won’t leave her alone! Sophie isn’t interested in making new friends when she already has her squash friends from her garden. But what happens when her food friends start to rot?

School is a huge part of children’s lives, and along with that come dealing with new friendships. For some children who are sensitive, this is no easy task. In this book, Sophie repeatedly rejects any extension of friendship from other children. Until through her own eyes and experiences, she comes to the conclusion that friends are all different, and in the end, worth it.

Sequel to Sophie's Squash.

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Naomi, Kids World

My Baby Crocodile by Gaetan Doremus

My Baby Crocodile book cover: line coloring illustrations of a reddish crocodile holding a knight whose head armor makes him resemble the crocodile"He may be a bit different, but I’ll protect him. He’s my baby after all."

Stumbling across a ‘baby crocodile’ in the swamp, a farsighted but well-meaning crocodile decides to take care of it. This is no simple task since the ‘baby’ is actually a tiny knight wearing armor. Unable to understand why the baby can’t swim, hunt, and even starts to rust after a while, Crocodile tries ever harder to take care of him. But what happens when Crocodile realizes his mistake?

This picture book has a wonderful message of acceptance no matter what you are, or where you’re from. Riddled with mistaken well-meaning, amusing misunderstandings. The Baby Crocodile even addresses the conflict of those who struggle to understand and learn about others they might be confused by. We all may be different, and that’s okay. What matters is what we decide to make of it. Great read-out-loud for pre-school and early elementary families to share.

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Naomi, Kids World

School's First Day of School by Adam Rex

School's First Day of School book cover: illustrations of a school building with houses around it and children in front of it“It's the first day of school at Frederick Douglass Elementary and everyone's just a little bit nervous, especially... the school.”

Have you ever considered how the school feels about the first day of school? This school, newly built, has no idea what to think about "children" coming but it soon finds out and learns a lot in one day.

I recommend this book for kids ages 3 - 10 who are just starting school or switching to a "new" school. Readers of all ages will enjoy the humor of the familiar back-to-school tale voiced from the school building's point of view.  

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Mary Jo, Kids World

My Old Pal, Oscar by Amy Hest

My Old Pal Oscar book cover shows an illustration of a bacl and white dog at the beach and a childin a raincoat with a yellow umbrella playing in the surf"Hello, you."
"No tags."
"No name."

While building a sandcastle on the beach an unlikely visitor joins a young boy. A small puppy, with no collar, hops up on to the boy's castle and just watches, the pup appears to be a stray.  This doesn't faze the boy as he simply walks away. The young boy had already once had a dog, the best dog he could possibly have, his name was Oscar. Oscar had  already won the boy's heart and still had it even tho he had passed. The boy thought that no one else could ever take his old pal', Oscar's, place. The small puppy with "big black eyes," is relentless and keeps finding his way back to the boy.

My Old Pal Oscar is a touching story about a boy learning how to open his heart up once again, after the loss of his first dog. Through the story the reader can see how much love an owner may have for their pet; and one may never replace the original, but someone can come along and patch up their heart. This read is recommended for a family read-a-loud with younger elementary school kids who loves dogs, or for anyone that has lost a pet.

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Gilly, Kids World

Wolf Camp by Andrea Zuill

Wolf Camp book cover: image showing a pet dog looking a wolf with a wooden sign for "Wolf Camp" between them“My name is Homer. I am a dog... but sometimes I am very wolfish.
Often I've wondered what it would be like to live as a real wolf.”

Homer believes that all dogs have a bit of wolf in them, so when he finds a flier for Wolf Camp "Where every dog can live as a wolf for an entire week!" he jumps (and howls!) at the opportunity. He follows his people around until they relent and let him go to Wolf Camp. Guided by his wolf instructors, Fang and Grrr, Homer and the other domestic dogs are ready to to howl, hunt, and sleep like real wolves! As with most wish-fulfillment tales, things aren't all sunshine and rainbows as our leading pup imagined, and returning to domestic life might hold more reward than his initial call to the wild. Or will it?

Wolf Camp is a fun picture book read that would entertain children of all ages who have pets, especially dogs, at home.

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Brittany, Kids World

Big Friends by Linda Sarah & Benji Davies

Big Friends book cover: image of three friends in a soapbox derby car going down a hill“Two cardboard boxes,
big enough to sit in, hide inside.”

Birt and Etho know that all you need to have fun is this: a friend and a big cardboard box. The friends spend their days on Sudden Hill imagining grand adventures with the help of their boxes. Their "two-by-two rhythm" is unparalleled. That is, until Shu shows up on Sudden Hill one day, toting his very own cardboard box. The dynamic duo becomes a troubled trio when Birt, feeling alienated, smashes his box to pieces and stops going to the hill. Will Etho and Shu go on adventures without Birt, or will Birt come to see that friends and adventures are even better when shared?

The whimsy of childhood play is captured spectacularly in charming painted illustrations, and a "the more the merrier" messages shines. Recommended for all readers in preschool through approximately third grade, especially those who may be having a difficult time sharing a best friend.

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Brittany, Kids World

Where's the Elephant? by Barroux

Where's the Elephant? book cover scene of the forest with various animals hidden among the leaves“Where's the elephant?
Where's the parrot?
Where's the snake?”

Take a look at the big, colorful forest and do your best to find the elephant, the parrot, and the snake. With each turn of the page, the forest shrinks smaller and smaller as the encroaching buildings grow taller and taller. With no forest left to hide behind, the trio of animals find themselves trapped behind the bars of a zoo. Will the animals ever be free again, or will the new city hold them hostage in its concrete jungle? And what will become of the earth without its forests?

Mimicking a search and find format, this title features brightly colored painted illustrations that grow starker as the animals' freedom becomes more and more limited. Serving as a wonderful jumping off point for discussions on the environment and deforestation, this title is recommended for all readers in preschool through approximately first grade, especially for animal lovers and budding environmentalist.

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Brittany, Kids World

Horrible Bear! By Ame Dyckman

Horrible Bear“Bear got an idea. It was a Horrible Bear idea.”

Mistakes are easy for anyone to make, and I mean anyone. A young girl and a bear cross paths through a misunderstanding, leading them to both think the other to be horrible. But is that really the truth?

Parents will love the social skills that ‘Horrible Bear’ teaches in a fun and engaging way. From making a mistake, to saying sorry, it also covers what to do when accidents happen and how to mend relationships. Very young readers will enjoy reading parts of the book aloud with their adult, there is plenty of opportunity to yell ‘Horrible Bear!’ or ‘RAWR!’ together for added fun.

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Naomi, Kids World

The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield

The Bear and the Piano book cover depicting a bear cub whose paw is on the keyboard of a standup piano in the woods, red theater curtain frame the sceneWhat happens when a bear finds a piano in the woods? He learns to play it, of course. And what happens when a father and daughter from the big city hear a bear playing a piano in the woods? They offer to bring him to Broadway to star in his own show. Torn between the home and friends he loves and seeing the world, the bear chooses to see what stardom holds. What will the bear’s old friends say when he becomes home sick and returns to the woods?

A heartwarming tale of following your dreams and remembering where you came from, The Bear and the Piano will be enjoyed by budding musicians and big dreamers in preschool through approximately first grade.

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Brittany, Kids World

Batman's Dark Secret by Puckett

Batman's Dark Secret book cover: illustration shows batman from the waist up with a horde of bats flying in the air above him“Nothing scares Batman. Nothing at all, not even the dark.”

This picture book tells the story of a young Bruce Wayne learning to be afraid of the dark and then overcoming his fear.  Be forewarned: the book does cover the death of Bruce's parents, but it handles the traumatic event with eloquence and grace. The focus is not on the individual who committed the crime or even the crime itself, only on how it affected Bruce's perspective of the dark. "First he heard loud noises, then a bang. There was a flash of light, and the smell of smoke. And when he came out of the dark, he was alone. His parents were gone!"

The basic plot is the traditional "origin" one- no new ground broken here. However, that should not be a deterrent for preschool and early elementary aged Batman fans. The concept of self-reliance and overcoming fear is one most kids can relate to. In particular, moving beyond the fear of the dark is often a timely discussion with that age group.

Without a doubt, the real draw is the illustrations by Jon J. Muth, perhaps most noted for his Zen Panda series. Rather than the usual blunt "comic book style" art, the images are soft with the edges often a bit blurred. These gentle illustrations keep the focus on "childhood fear" and facilitates in drawing in the reader.

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Celeste, Kids World

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