Are You Sleeping Little One by Hans-Christian Schmidt & Cynthia Vance – An adorable bedtime board book to add to your toddler’s collection: The illustrations are cheerful, sweet & simple – even the snake is cute! The baby animals are all given appropriate names (joey, owlet), so there’s some sneaky learning involved, and (because I am the literal worst when it comes to rhyme schemes and needing the meter to be ab.so.lute.ly perfect, and “flamingo” is pushing it a bit too far syllable-wise,) 9/10 points for the rhythm and rhyme consistency.
An Armadillo In New York by Julie Kraulis -This book, with it’s charming black, grey and yellow scale sketches, is a love letter to New York City. It’s also apparently part of a series because armadillo gets around more than I do and travels to Paris as well, but this New York installment is lovely, and full of letters filled with the armadillo’s adventures in the city that never sleeps. Along with the required tourist attractions and picturesque spots, Arlo wanders by pretzel carts and churro vendors on his trek to find the elusive Lady Liberty. Filled with little tidbits of trivia and historical information, Arlo’s adventures in New York are well worth sharing with the young school age, early readers in your crew: It’s still technically a picture book, but the vocabulary is pretty advanced, so that’s a nice challenge.
Noni Speaks Up by Heather Hartt-Sussman – (Which is also apparently part of a series, the first book being Noni Says No, about Noni’s people-pleasing ways, which is also quite interesting, and worth a read.) This second book is about bullying, and standing up for what you know is right, in the face of friends, and the fear of the resulting social isolation. Noni’s a good kid who has great manners and practices kindness, but “when she sees the kids bullying Hector at school, Noni freezes. She does not budge. She cannot get out a single word.” Of course, she knows what’s happening is wrong, but she’s afraid of what might happen if she says so… she likes being accepted, having friends, and if all her friends hate Hector, how does she oppose them? “On the way home, Noni isn’t very proud of herself.” She imagines all the potential pitfalls of saying that Hector is a pretty cool dude and they should all be nice to him, like having to sit by herself at lunch, or having her friends turn and laugh at her. The text is so relate-able, and so relevant, that any kid will understand Noni’s dilemma. While the ending is abrupt, and seems slightly unfinished, it might be a good conversation starter, a place to get kids thinking about what might happen after Noni does do the right thing, and how she/they could respond.
Solutions for Cold Feet (& Other Little Problems) by Carey Sookocheff – Warm colors, soft drawings, blankets, cocoa, slippers, and – of course – dogs. Everything snuggly you need to get through a particularly chilly day. Few words, but a nice, simple story.
Narwhal, The Unicorn of The Sea by Ben Clanton – A good beginning level graphic novel, with simple drawings, adorable characters, and quick wit. Plus narwhals, a jellyfish friend and… waffles. How can you lose with waffles? (Leslie Knope (and NTE) approved!)
These books were provided to me over the course of the year by Netgalley, although most of them are available for purchase now.