Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The Pineapple Princess is a benevolent ruler… kinda.

Pineapple Princess, by Sabina Hahn, (May 2022, Roaring Brook Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250798367

Ages 4-8

“I am deeply, deeply misunderstood.” Who hasn’t felt like this? The little girl in this story just knows she’s a princess, but no one wants to believe her. So what does she do? She carves her own crown out of a pineapple and pronounces herself The Pineapple Princess! She’s got some devoted subjects, too: a swarm of flies surrounds her, drawn to her sticky, sweet pineapple-y self. At first, she’s delighted to have the attention, but she quickly tires of having bugs follow her around; turning to more tyrannical measures, she decides that she doesn’t want to be a princess anymore… she’s evolved into a warrior queen. Witty, with a touch of chaotic hilarity, Pineapple Princess touches everyone’s – kids and adults alike – inner benevolent dictator. Sabina Hahn’s illustrations give an impish wink to the reader as the princess sets about carving her rule, certain that her deniers will rue the day they didn’t listen to her. And, in the most playful, childlike way, we see her tire of her Pineapple Princess persona, and change gears to something more fun. It’s a perfect storytime book, and embraces the joy of childhood imagination and endless summer days.

See Sabina Hahn’s storytime video here, and download a free storytime kit here. Visit Sabina Hahn’s website and her Instagram page for more of her illustration work.

Pineapple Princess has a starred review from Booklist and is a Kids Indie Next pick.

Posted in picture books

Spring and Summer stories to make you smile

With Spring and Summer come a lighter type of picture book: open spaces, verdant greens, cheery yellows, happy colors and stories about enjoying the outdoors. I’ve got a few picture books here that are perfect for those longer, warmer days.

Free, by Sam Usher, (April 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536217049

Ages 4-7

The boy and his grandfather from Sam Usher’s Seasons With Grandad series are back! In Free, the boy and Grandad care for a sick bird who returns to them every day. Grandad looks up new ways to get the bird to reunite with other birds, but it looks like their new feathered friend needs a bit of help, so they gather their equipment and strike out to find a tree for their new friend. Sam Usher brings his touch of magical realism to this story of a boy, his grandfather, and a little bird that needs their help, elevating it from sweet to simply extraordinary. Ink and watercolor illustrations are expressive and provide a soothing, intimate feel to the storytelling and the relationship between Grandad, Boy, and Bird. Riots of color in strategic moments make for a delightful surprise.¬†I love Sam Usher’s books, so this one is a definite buy for me.

Free has a starred review from Kirkus.

(UK edition image taken from the US edition notes that one of the birds “was sick”.)


Sweet Pea Summer, by Hazel Mitchell, (April 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536210347

Ages 4-8

A girl’s her father brings her to spend the summer with her grandparents when her mother has to go into the hospital. To keep her occupied, her grandfather invites her to help in his garden, asking her to look after his snow peas. She learns to care for them and nurture them, taking great pride in the growing pods, and her grandfather suggests she may even get to enter them in the flower show when the season ends. So what happens that causes the flowers to start dying? Stumped, the girl tries multiple fixes until she discovers the reason. A gently told story of love, nurturing, perseverance and determination, this is a beautifully illustrated story, with colorful spreads of the English countryside and cheery gardens. There are so many details to discover in the sprawling townscape and countryside, from bustling businesses and commuters to the playful garden animals hopping and frolicking around the greenery. A book that encourages readers to endure hard times and embrace the support around them, Sweet Pea Summer is a good warm-weather read. Have some sweet pea coloring pages handy for an accompanying storytime activity. Pair with Zee Grows a Tree for a storytime about the love between nature and kids.

Visit Hazel Mitchell’s author webpage for more information about her books, her artwork, and a host of printable activities about her book, Toby.


William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, retold by Georghia Ellinas/Illustrated by Jane Ray, (April 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536217735

Ages 4-8

The companion to last year’s William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a dreamlike, picture book interpretation of the famous Shakespeare comedy, great for new audiences. The Fairy Kingdom is up in arms as King Oberon is in a disagreement with his wife, Queen Titania; a group of young nobles arrive in the magical forest from Athens, all in love with the wrong person; and Puck, a mischievous servant of King Oberon’s decides to stir up some trouble just for the fun of it. Retold from Puck’s perspective, this is a very readable, enjoyable breakdown of the hilarious story of mistaken identity, love, and mischievous fairies. Shakespeare’s famous ending, “If we shadows have offended…” closes the story. The artwork is a tapestry of beautiful color, artwork that captures the playful spirit of the play and the otherworldly characters in the story. Moonlight figures heavily in the artwork, a glowing sheen adding illumination and bringing out the details in each character. A great read-aloud idea for older classes (1-3 grades, for instance), consider an Introduction to Shakespeare display for your Children’s Room with books like Anna Claybourne and Tilly’s Where’s Will?, The Stratford Zoo Midnight Review series by Ian Lendler and illustrated by Zack Giallongo, and Mabel and the Queen of Dreams, by Henry, Joshua, & Harrison Herz. Visit ilustrator Jane Ray’s website for free printable coloring pages.


Posted in picture books

Paper Planes keep a friendship together

Paper Planes, by Jim Helmore/Illustrated by Richard Jones, (March 2020, Peachtree Publishing), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-68263-161-4

Ages 4-8

A warm story about friendship, Paper Planes is the story of Mia and Ben, two best friends who spend their days making paper planes and dreaming of the day when they make a plane that will fly across the lake where they live. But Ben moves away, and Mia is distraught and angry until she has a wonderful dream where the two friends fly together. When she awakens, a surprise from Ben awaits her, and the two realize that distance means nothing to true friendship. The story is touching and compassionate, showing the conflicting feelings of anger and sadness that come when a friend moves away. Illustrations¬† and done in paint and Photoshop are soft and dreamy. It’s a story with a touch of magic and it’s a good title to have on hand for talking about friends or family who live far away.

The publisher has a free, downloadable sheet on making paper planes. You can find more templates for some familiar planes here, too.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Dandelion’s Dream is a wonderful daydream

Dandelion’s Dream, by Yoko Tanaka, (Feb. 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536204537

Ages 3-7

In a field of drowsy dandelions, one flower becomes a real lion! Dandelion’s Dream is a dreamlike, wordless picture book that takes readers on a little flower’s dream adventure. Overjoyed at its new circumstances, the dandy-lion rides a train and a sheep; sails on a ship, experiences a sometimes scary day in a big city, and enjoys a movie at the theatre. At day’s end, the city lights fade into tiny dandelion wishes floating in the air; the dandelion joins its mates and flies into the sky, in the shape of a lion.

The black and yellow charcoal/digital illustration gives the story a soft, dreamlike feeling and the movement throughout is gentle, almost drowsy, taking readers on a wonderful ride into a magical dream world; as the dandelion’s adventure comes to a close, the story gently returns readers to the present, with dimming city lights becoming flying dandelion wishes. Let your readers blow a pretend wish into the air at the story’s conclusion and add a little dream magic to your storytime.

Dandelion’s Dream has starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal.