1. A Lion in Paris by Beatrice Alemagna
A dissatisfied lion ventures to Paris on a quest to find fulfillment. After exploring the city (and viewing many famous sights along the way) he finds where he belongs: as a statue at Place Denfert-Rochereau.
What kind of reader is it for? Someone who knows how it feels to be a stranger in a new city; anyone who would enjoy paging through a large, beautifully illustrated book.
2. Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell, illustrated by Christian Robinson
A portrait of Josephine Baker told in verse by Patricia Hruby Powell (and splendidly illustrated by Christian Robinson).
What kind of reader is it for? Anyone interested in learning about the performer and civil rights advocate who was both a spectacle and an inspiration.
3. The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
Did you ever wonder where imaginary friends come from? This book is the origin story of one such friend: Beekle.
What kind of reader is it for? Anyone who has ever had a friend that only they could see.
4. The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak
This book is ridiculously fun to read aloud and — thanks to that trait — it’s also ridiculously fun to listen to.
What kind of reader is it for? Someone who realizes that words are as important as images when it comes to picture books (and someone who is ready to laugh — a lot).
5. Time for Bed, Fred! by Yasmeen Ismail
A lovable “time for bed!” type of story featuring the hijinks of a shaggy dog named Fred.
What kind of reader is it for? Someone who is as reluctant to climb into bed as Fred is. Maybe this book will convince them to climb in under the covers! Maybe this is the key to stopping the stalling! Maybe.
6. Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters by Oliver Jeffers
You don’t frequently come across collections of short stories for children, but this one by Oliver Jeffers would be a standout even if you did. Each story is dedicated to a letter of the alphabet, and the characters introduced in one reappear throughout — it’s delightfully interconnected. Read them all at once to a child with a longer attention span, or do a few a night with someone who can’t sit still for very long.
What kind of reader is it for? Someone who already knows the alphabet, but would like to think about that oft-repeated series of letters in an entirely new way.
7. 100 Bears by Magali Bardos
Picture a counting book. Take whatever you’re picturing and (appropriately) multiply that by 100. Now you’re starting to get an inkling of an idea in regards to how awesome this particular counting book is. Numbers + bears = a glorious pair.
What kind of reader is it for? Number lovers who pay attention to the details: You’ll find something new on these pages each time you read them.
8. Hug Machine by Scott Campbell
There’s a face that people make when they say “aww,” and you’ll be making it while reading this book. You may even be making it now, just looking at the cover.
What kind of reader is it for? Someone who is (in fact) a hug machine.
9. Tippy and the Night Parade by Lilli Carré
The sun is down and Tippy is having a crazy time: There’s a peacock in her room! Mice are dancing on her headboard! What is going on!?! Here’s what: a nocturnal outing as illustrated by award-winning cartoonist Lilli Carré.
What kind of reader is it for? Boys and girls who go on adventures at night (if only in their dreams).
10. Some Bugs by Angela DiTerlizzi, illustrated by Brendan Wenzel
Do you hate bugs? Do you shriek when you see them? Angela DiTerlizzi’s rhyming words and Brendan Wenzel’s marvelous illustrations may just change your mind.
What kind of reader is it for? Anyone who likes snooping around under rocks in search of creepy-crawly creatures.
11. Peggy: A Brave Chicken on a Big Adventure by Anna Walker
Peggy the chicken never alters her typical routine… until one day when a gust of wind tosses her out of her normally scheduled plans and into the unexpected.
What kind of reader is it for? Someone who may need to kindle their own appetite for adventure.
12. The Mermaid and the Shoe by K.G. Campbell
Older mermaid fans have the Emily Windsnap books, and now the younger mermaid enthusiasts have a mermaid of their own: Minnow (one of King Neptune’s fifty daughters). Each of Minnow’s many sisters seems to excel at something, but it seems that Minnow’s only talent is asking questions… until she finds a mysterious object.
What kind of reader is it for? Anyone who has ever felt like they were living in a sibling’s shadow.
13. Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton
Another delightfully vibrant book from Chris Haughton (author of Oh No, George! and Little Owl Lost). A quartet of wannabe sneaks tiptoe through the woods on the way to carry out their master plan. Spoiler alert: It keeps getting foiled.
What kind of reader is it for? Anyone who will find joy in some slapstick humor.
14. Countablock by Christopher Franceschelli, illustrated by Peskimo
As wonderful as it is solid (this is definitely a book that toddlers shouldn’t throw at unsuspecting siblings), Countablock is a fanciful introduction to counting.
What kind of reader is it for? Number learners who are too industrious to bother with counting books that only go up to 10: This book is for those who want to master all the two-digit numbers as well.
15. And Away We Go! by Migy
Migy’s debut picture book is a treat and reminiscent of the classic tale The Mitten (only with a filled-to-bursting hot air balloon instead of the knit accessory).
What kind of reader is it for? Someone ready to hear about some silly moonlit escapades before nodding off to sleep.
16. Emily’s Blue Period by Cathleen Daly, illustrated by Lisa Brown
Emily is an artist who learns about one of her peers: Picasso. Picasso creates works of art that are all mixed up and Emily’s home life happens to be all mixed up at the moment, so (like Picasso) she enters a blue period.
What kind of reader is it for? Aspiring artists and anyone who has separated or divorced parents.
17. Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen
Two pals (and their trusty dog) grab their shovels and start to dig. And dig. And dig.
This book is deadpan and dead-awesome.
What kind of reader is it for? Anyone who appreciates the dirt-flecked joy of digging a hole.
18. Go to Sleep, Little Farm by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
A serene and poetic picture book that couldn’t possibly be better suited for bedtime reading.
What kind of reader is it for? Rather hyper individuals who need something soothing to listen to before bed (as well as anyone who appreciates A+ illustrations of worms).
20. At the Same Moment, Around the World by Clotilde Perrin
Bulgaria, Senegal, Peru, France: These are but a few of the countries featured by Clotilde Perrin in this story that depicts the passage of time all over the world. This book would be worth purchasing for the gorgeous illustrations alone, so the educational subject matter is an added bonus.
What kind of reader is it for? Curious children who wonder what life is like for people in other countries.
21. Day Dreamers: A Journey of Imagination by Emily Winfield Martin
If you look at things the right way, you’ll find that dragons, unicorns, and griffins are all around you.
What kind of reader is it for? Dreamers ready to let their imaginations run wild.
22. My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.) by Peter Brown
Sometimes it’s hard to remember that teachers are people too. Bobby comes to realize this after running into his monster of a teacher in the park: Soon she doesn’t seem quite so scary. A book that teaches a lesson with laughs (and in a way that isn’t didactic in the slightest).
What kind of reader is it for? A child who may have a somewhat grumpy person in their life who can tend to seem like a monster in disguise.
23. Telephone by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jen Corace
Remember playing Telephone? Here’s a bevy of birds caught up in a clever interpretation of that classic game.
What kind of reader is it for? Anyone ready to giggle as one message after another keeps getting muddled and misinterpreted by the silly birds.
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