The Best Place in the World, by Petr Horácek, (Feb. 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536212853
Hare lives in a beautiful meadow, surrounded by his friends, but he wonders if it is the best place in the world. All of his friends say it is, but he’s not convinced. Owl suggests that Hare set out and see the world for himself; Hare discovers green fields, rivers and waterfalls, and a setting sun that looks like a pot of honey. Individually, they may be the best place in the world for some, but something is missing. Hare heads back home, realizing that the best place in the world is the place where your friends are. A gentle story about what makes a place a home, Petr Horácek uses mixed media illustrations to create textured, colorful spreads. Warm yellows, dusky reds, verdant greens, all come together to tell a warm, wonderful story about friendship and togetherness while the meditative text encourages readers to think deeply about what means the most to them in their homes, their communities, their families. A lovely storytime that encourages kids to think and share.
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.
Anthill for Sale, by Johnny Ray Moore/Illustrated by Zuzana Svobodova, (Nov. 218, Big Belly Book Co.), $10.95, ISBN: 978-1-7325541-1-5
This whimsical rhyming tale tells the story of Alvin, an ant, who puts his home up for sale… but has some reservations about the whole thing. We meet a hilarious group of potential buyers, including a stinkbug, a mole, and a centipede, all of whom want to remodel the home in their own fashion. Each one gets a hearty heave-ho from Alvin, who has so many memories much invested in his home, that it’s almost impossible to think of having someone else living there. He and his wife raised their family in that anthill, after all; and entertained countless family and friends there. He finally turns to his wife and says, “This anthill is full of our dreams. They have made us so happy, day in and day out, They have taught us what life really means”.
With bright, bold illustrations and a relaxing cadence to the rhyme, parents will relate to Alvin’s reluctance to sell his longtime home, and kids will understand how memories form who we are. This one is an nice additional purchase to picture book collections. The Not-the-Mama-Dad Blog has a great interview with author Johnny Ray Moore, where he talks about his inspiration for the story.
Windows, by Julia Denos/Illustrated by EB Goodale, (Oct. 2017, Candlewick Press), $15.99, ISBN: 978-0-7636-9035-9
Recommended for readers 3-8
“At the end of each day, before the town goes to sleep, you can look out your window…” A child of color puts on a red hoodie sweatshirt and takes the dog for a walk around the neighborhood. Each set of windows reveals a different story; the neighborhood holds its own sights to behold. As child and dog return home, mom is waiting at the window, ready for a cuddly storytime.
Windows is beautiful storytelling. EB Goodale’s ink, watercolor, letterpress and digital collage illustrations provide texture and warmth to Julia Denos’ gorgeous words: the windows look like “a neighborhood of paper lanterns”; windowpanes provide a bath of “squares of light” for a raccoon; an empty house waits to be filled with new stories. The child can be male or female; the red hooded sweatshirt evokes memories of Peter, the star of Ezra Jack Keats’ classic, The Snowy Day. The warmth of home brings child and dog back to a loving caregiver, a story, and a comfortable rug. I just want to wrap myself in the warmth of this book with my 5 year old and a mug of hot chocolate; I’m sure you will, too. Add this one to your bedtime rotation with Akiko Miyakoshi’s The Way Home in the Night.
Windows has multiple starred reviews: Kirkus, Booklist, School Library Journal, The Horn Book, and The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books.