Picture Book

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

I'm New Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien

I'm new here book cover: three drawing reminescent of school photographs of children from  ethnic/culture backgroundsMaria, Jin, and Fatimah are new to this country. They feel lost, alone, and voiceless. Back home, they each thrived in their schools, but here things don’t make sense. Maria, Jin, and Fatima poetically tell their versions of what it is like to live in a foreign land. Maria and Jin discuss the difficulties of speaking and writing a new language, while Fatimah tells how she can’t find the rhythm of her new class. Gradually they begin to grow into their own with the help of friends and teachers.

This picture book is perfect for anyone who may feel out of place and for those who don’t, so that they can glimpse the experience of being the new kid. Early elementary students may find this particularly enjoyable.

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Rose, Kids World

Firebird written by Misty Copeland

Firebird book cover: chose an african american ballerina in mid leap“even birds must learn to fly
like me, you’ll grow steady in grace
spread an arabesque of wings
and climb”

Misty Copeland is the first African American female Principal Dancer with the prestigious American Ballet Theater. In her first picture book, a young girl looks at a successful ballerina, intimidated by thoughts that she can never be as great. The successful ballerina, in turn, assures the novice that with work, she can be great, too. After all, weren’t we all beginners once?

Beautifully illustrated with torn paper and paint collages, reading this title is an inspiring visual dance. Firebird is suitable for every age of dreamer, most highly recommended for those just beginning their journey in a specific passion.

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Brittany, Kids World

Mummy Cat by Marcus Ewart

Mummy Cat by ewart book cover shows a mummified cat coming out of a decorative box"A cat who moves without a breath: a mummy cat, who's passed through death."

Mummy Cat loved his owner Hat-shup-set more than anything else. However that was all in the past. Currently, Mummy Cat is a mummy himself, roaming alone in the pyramid where his human was laid to rest. Recounting fond memories of what's really important in life and the bond they shared, Mummy Cat waits for his lonely time to be over.

Mummy Cat is a book that approaches the harsh topic of death in a gentle and educational manner. Told through historical fact (with a twist of fiction) it tells a beautiful story about love and friendship that’s easy to identify with. While not its’ intended purpose, Mummy Cat is also an opportunity to open a dialog between parent and child about the basic concepts of this life-changing event that affects us all.  A brief overview in the back reveals how mummies were made and their importance in ancient Egyptian culture, along with a hieroglyph search and guide. Mummy Cat is a multifaceted book for several reasons, and a sweet tale for any age to enjoy.

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Naomi, Kids World

Shake to Assemble by Calliope Glass

Shake to Assemble book cover: Hulk holding up title words"Let's assemble the rest of the team."

With that invitation, the reader is encouraged to tap, shake, and scream at the book to draw out each of the seven Avenger team members in turn. This interactive book is the perfect treat for young superhero fans- who will most likely giggle as they poke and tickle Dr. Banner in order to get him mad enough to change into the Hulk. This title works will work best for one-on-one sharing or in very small groups so that everyone can take a turn.

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Celeste, Kids World

Bernice Gets Carried Away by Hannah E. Harrison

Bernice Gets Carried Away book cover: cat in a pink dress has a grumpy face"It was a horrible, dreary day, and it suited Bernice's mood just fine.

Bernice is at a birthday party, and it is not going well. Everyone gets extra frosting on their cake and candy from the pinata, but not her. She didn't even get a turn at swinging the bat! Finally, when the balloons come out, Bernice has had enough being left out. She takes them all. Unfortunately, she is a small kitty, and the balloons take her up into the air. The good news is as Bernice shares balloon after balloon, the day begins to turn sunny - literally.

Bad days are bad days, and the concept of being left out because of being small will be one many pre-schoolers are familiar with. As Bernice shares balloon after balloon, the readers will see that bad days can be turned around.

Great for kids who struggle with "that's not fair" as well as those who need examples of sharing.

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Celeste, Kids World

My Dog Is the Best By Laurie Ann Thompson

My Dog is the Best book cover: pencil drawing of a young boy peering over a dog with long ears who has a ball in front of it"My dog is the best. He does tricks."

What could be more enchanting than the relationship between a child and their beloved pet? ‘My Dog Is the Best’ is a tale of unconditional love that’s accented by simplistic illustrations, leaving readers with that warm and fuzzy feeling that’s so dear to any pet owners’ heart.

An excellent book for beginner readers, parents will love the easy words and repetition that lets children try reading aloud. So why not read this book with your pet at home? Then you can decide if My Dog Is the Best is the best book for you!

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Naomi, Kids World

Uh-Oh Octopus! by Elle van Lieshout & Erik van Os Mies van Hout

Uh-Oh Octopus book cover: water color scene of ocean, a yellow octpous is center with fish, jelly fish, seahorse surrounding him"Octopus lived in a cozy home under the sea. He had nothing to complain about. He could make himself a decent meal. He had a wonderful view."

Everything is perfect for Octopus until the day a very large and mysterious tail is found sticking out of his cave. All the fish have different ideas of what to do, but will Octopus have the best idea of all?
 
Told with both soft, impressionistic watercolors and crisp ink that show off the details of Octopus's underwater home and the variety of wildlife; both real and imaginary, readers of all ages will find something in this picture book to enjoy. 

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Jennifer Palermo, Kid's World

The New Small Person by Lauren Child

The New Small Person book cover: Shows a the side of a staircase, a young boy of color wearing a green striped outfit sits at the second to the top stair while an older sibling wearing a pink striped outfit sits on the bottom of the stairs. There are various toys on each step."The small person followed Elmore Green everywhere.  It wanted to sit next to him; it wanted to copy everything that Elmore did. It wanted to be everywhere that Elmore was."

Elmore is an only child and things are just the way he likes them.  But then the new, small person arrives and interferes with Elmore’s routine.  This charming picture book portrays Elmore’s feelings toward the new baby and how they soften over time.

The lively drawings incorporate collage materials such as fabric and wood, which add energy and coziness to Elmore’s world.  The book’s layout adds more dimension to the story, with text sometimes tilted or otherwise stylized to emphasize words or Elmore’s feelings.  The fact that this picture book portrays non-Caucasian characters is a plus.

Elmore’s story might add a bit of levity at your house, especially if your “only” child has or is about to become your “oldest”.  This engaging picture book is recommended for ages 3 and up.

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Mary Jo, Kids World

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