Never Show a T-Rex a Book!, by Rashmi Sirdeshpande/Illustrated by Diane Ewen, (Jan. 2021, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-68464159-8
In this adorable nod to cumulative favorites like Laura Numeroff’s If You Give a… series, Never Show a T-Rex a Book! warns readers against letting their T-Rexes get hold of a book… because then they’ll want more, naturally! A little girl starts the story off, reading to her dinosaur toys, when her imagination takes her on a thrill ride: her T-Rex becomes real, and demands a trip to the library – and an all-night reading marathon that will result in a VERY clever dinosaur. Which could lead to the first dinosaur in government, the education of other dinosaurs, and a WORLD DINOSAUR TAKEOVER. Imagine? Giggle-worthy, with illustrations that show the power of books exploding all over the spreads, Never Show a T-Rex a Book! is all about imagination and embracing the fun of reading. We get frightened librarians and towering T-Rexes holding stacks of books (pshaw, I say; like we’ve never seen dinosaurs in the library before); dinos holding court in classrooms and in Parliament, and demanding luxuries like larger seats in the movie theatre! Get your dinosaur toys out and let them read along with you as you take your Kiddos on this cartoonish, wild, book-loving adventure.
Watch Me: A Story of Immigration and Inspiration, by Doyin Richards/Illustrated by Joe Cepeda (Jan. 2021, Feiwel & Friends), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250266514
Author and advocacy powerhouse Doyin Richards brings his father’s story to children with Watch Me. As a child in Sierra Leone, Joe dreamed of going to America. People told him America wouldn’t accept him with his accent and his dark skin. Joe smiled and said, “Watch me”. It was a phrase he repeated often as he arrived in America and experienced racism and people questioned his intelligence. And Joe succeeded. More of a conversation than a one-sided narrative, Doyin Richards asks readers to think about times they were told they were different, or came up against things they couldn’t control. He asks them to think about times they may have seen kids at school be treated differently, or walk by themselves in the hall at school. He encourages readers to put themselves in Joe’s position – in the position of that classmate, eating lunch in the library alone – and to maybe consider a kind word, a smile, a simple act of kindness. As Richards says, “This land is your land. This land is my land. There is enough for everyone”. There’s no place for racism here. There is enough of everything for everyone; all we need to do is share. Beautiful oil and acrylic artwork makes each spread look like a portrait-worthy painting. A perfect readaloud for children.
Watch Me has a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Doyin Richards is a TEDx speaker who has spoken on anti-racism, and his book and blog, Daddy Doin’ Work, became a book that encouraged women to help dads become more engaged, hands-on fathers.
Wolfboy, by Andy Harkness, (Feb. 2021, Bloomsbury Children’s Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781547604425
A fussy, drooly, growly Wolfboy storms through the forest, howling for rabbits. The rabbits scramble around in the background, evading him… but what happens when Wolfboy finally catches up with them? In this adorable, claymation-illustrated story, things aren’t what they seem. Award-winning art director Andy Harkness creates a funny, cumulative tale that will have little readers giggling and howling along with the hungry, hangry Wolfboy. Wolfboy is relatable to anyone – who doesn’t get cranky when they need something to eat? – but toddlers and preschoolers, who can turn from happy to hangry on the turn of a dime, will see themselves in the bright blue figure. Repetitive phrases and cumulative, emphasized words (“Hungry. Huffy. Drooly. Growly. Fussy.”) offer opportunities for readers to chime in. If you have the space, stomp and fuss along! Bold artwork features claymation figures that will delight littles. There’s gorgeous texture and bright color; story text is yellow and pops nicely against the black pages. Sentences are short, easy to read, and perfect for new and emerging readers. Absolute fun for storytime! If you have money for Play-Doh in your budget, consider little grab and go kits so storytime attendees can create their own Wolfboys and rabbits.
Wolfboy is an Indie Next choice and has a starred review from Kirkus.
Perdu, by Richard Jones, (Apr. 2021, Peachtree Publishing), $17.99, ISBN: 9781682632482
Perdu is a pup with no home. He’s hungry, cold, and lonely, and wanders the city trying to find something to eat. When he slips into a restaurant, he smells wonderful smells… but gets into terrible trouble. Will anyone find this poor pup and give him a home? Perdu – the French word for “lost” – pulls at the heartstrings in a big way; he’s small, cute, and author/illustrator Richard Jones makes him look so sad, alone with his little red scarf, the only thing he has to call his own, that readers won’t be able to help but want to take him home and cuddle him. The cruel language others yell at him – “Get out! Go away! Shoo!” – increases Perdu’s feelings of isolation, and when, out of desperation, he tries to get food in a restaurant, the public’s increased reaction causes a scared, aggressive reaction that Richard Jones masterfully illustrates with Perdu against a completely red background. Sharp-eyed viewers may notice Richard Jones’s Snow Lion on one page. This is Richard Jones’ debut as an author and illustrator, and he nails it on both counts. His artwork always communicates emotion and depth, and his gift for words creates a heartaching, and then, heartwarming story of a dog searching for a forever home. A good storytime choice.
Let’s Get Sleepy!, by Tony Cliff, (Aug. 2020, Imprint), $17.99, ISBN: 9781250307842
A group of kittens are trying to track down a mouse they call wee Sleepy, the Prince of the Night. Where can he be? This adorable seek-and-find adventure does double duty as a rhyming bedtime story that will have your Kiddos joining the kittens in their search for Sleepy. Searching their neighborhood block, a weekend parade, the beach, Mount Snow, even a swamp, slug caves, and the moon, Sleepy always manages to stay ahead of the kittens – will Sleepy stay ahead of your Kiddos? Tony Cliff, the author-illustrator of the Delilah Dirk graphic novel series, is an Eisner, Shuster, and Harvey award nominee and brings his talent for creating fun, fast-paced cartooning to this children’s adventure. The crowd scenes have movement and a sense of delightful play, and the rhyming text has repetitive phrases like, “Is this where he’ll be? We’ll search and we’ll seek and we’ll ask friends that we meet”, and – naturally – “Let’s Get Sleepy!”, that encourage readers to chime in along with you as you’re reading. You ask them to guess if the cats will find him on the next spread, or where he could be hiding – and then seek him out. An amusing brainteaser for bedtime, Let’s Get Sleepy is a nice addition to smaller storytime groups (or virtual storytimes) and bedtime reading.
Publisher Macmillan has a free, downloadable activity kit with instructions on making a felt bed for Sleepy, a Make Your Bedtime checklist, and more!
So Big and So Small, by John Coy/Illustrated by Steph Lew, (Oct. 2020, Beaming Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781506460581
A young boy considers perspective: he’s so big next to a baby, a puppy, a kitten, or a bumblebee; he’s giant compared to a seashell or a speck of sand. But when he goes to the zoo, he’s so small compared to the animals, or next to a tree or waterfall. Compared to a mountain or the universe? He’s so tiny! But when he considers his place within his family, he’s the perfect size. A sweet concept story that celebrates a child’s place in the world and in his world, So Big and So Small has charming illustrations of characters with expressive, friendly faces, and sweetly present the concepts of big and small. The large-scale illustrations of mountains, waterfalls, and the night sky are beautiful and give us a real sense of our place in the world. There’s so much to think about, and so much to talk about with our Kiddos here. A nice addition to concept collections.
No! Said Rabbit, by Marjoke Henrichs, (March 2021, Peachtree Publishing), $17.99, ISBN: 9781682632949
A young rabbit’s mother tries to get Rabbit to listen to her, but Rabbit wants to do things his way, when he wants to: “Time to get dressed,” said Mom. / “NO!” said Rabbit. / “But that is my faorite top and my pants with the big pockets…” Parents and caregivers will recognize the magnificent art of deflection here: Mom seems to have Rabbit’s favorite things within eyeshot whenever he’s ready to say no to her; he’ll see his juicy orange carrots on the table, then he’ll decide to eat breakfast; see his favorite boots, and decide to go outside. Toddlers and preschoolers will joyfully holler “NO!” along with Rabbit, making for a fun readaloud, and appreciate Rabbit’s struggle for independence alongside their own. Is there anything that can make Rabbit say yes, you wonder? Of course! Cuddles from Mommy always get a yes! But there’s one more “No” to be had, and it’s adorably sweet. Colorful mixed media artwork looks will appeal to kids; the A joyful, humorous look at a toddler’s growing independence, and a good choice for storytimes and bedtimes.
Stella’s Stellar Hair, by Yesenia Moises, (Jan. 2021, Imprint), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250261779
Stella is a little girl with a fabulous head of hair! She wakes up on the morning of the Big Star Little Gala, though, and her hair is just not doing what she wants it to – so her mother sends her off across the solar system to get some hair advice from her aunties on all the different planets, and the sun! Every auntie has their own gorgeous style: twists, braids, buns, all beautiful, but not quite what Stella has in mind. Sun-dwelling Auntie Solana has the best advice of all: “there’s really no such thing as hair not acting right – your hair just wants to be a little more fun today. / And that’s okay. / You don’t have to change a thing. / Just be yourself”. A wonderful celebration of loving oneself, Stella’s Stellar Hair is the definition of Black Joy and Black Girl Magic. The story celebrates the different styles of Black hair, using the back matter to describe the type of atmosphere on each planet and how each hairstyle would be best adapted to it.
Can I have a moment to gush about the vibrant colors? The cartoon artwork is adorable, and the deep colors are just a wonder to look at. The blues and purples that run through most of the book are incredible, and then bright yellows come in to add a glow to the pages, and come together to create a reading experience that kids will return to often. I love this book.
Stella’s Stellar Hair has a starred review from Kirkus.
We’ve all been there. We open the dryer, we start sorting the socks… and there’s one missing. Where could it have gone? You know you put all the socks in at the same time, right? Well, friends, Conor McGlauflin has the answer for you…
Sock on the Loose, by Conor McGlauflin, (Feb. 2021, Roaring Brook Press),
$18.99, ISBN: 9781250304575
Sock on the Loose is about all the adventures our socks are having while they take a break from being stuck in our drawers or on our feet. They’re learning to tie bow ties and hiding out in watermelon caves! Riding moose and dancing the polka! Watercolor and gouache artwork show colorful socks in a variety of pastimes, and his rhyme is infectiously cheery. Get some socks of your own – you know you have a pile of mismatched ones at home – and wash ’em again, either handing some out for sock storytime or decorating for your own virtual storytime use. TwistyNoodle has printable sock coloring sheets for you to hand out – let your kiddos decorate them, cut them out, and send them on their own adventures! Publisher Roaring Brook Press also has a free, downloadable Sock On The Loose Activity Kit that includes a maze, matching game, and draw your favorite sock activities.
If you wander over to Twitter (@roesolo) or Instagram (@roesolo), you’ll find out what my own sock has been up to – Roaring Brook Press and Conor McGlauflin have been kind enough to send me a sock of my very own to chronicle adventures.
Pickerton’s Jiggle, by Riya Aarini/Illustrated by Mariana Hnatenko, (Feb. 2021, Independently Published), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1735347332
Pickerton is a fastidious little pig who greets each day with a smile. He scrubs up and gets ready for school, only to step in a mud puddle! Poor Pickerton is very upset, but realizes that a little dirt doesn’t change who he is. He’s still the same, lovable Pickerton, and sometimes, things happen. He shakes off the mud, and with it, the bad feelings, and goes about his day, ending on an upbeat note about loving and accepting himself for who he is. The rhyme scheme is fun and upbeat, and the illustrations are colorful and cheery, with an animated cartoony pig that kids will enjoy. Author Riya Aarini’s website has more information about her books, including her Ollie series.