It’s an accepted fact that elephant seals (who can weigh between 2,000 pounds for females and 8,000 for males) live their lives by and in the ocean, where they eat squid, cuttlefish and even small sharks. But as a young boy named Michael and the rest of the friendly folks in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, find out, there are always individuals—whether humans or seals—who prefer doing things exactly their own way.
Three picture books about racing use the excitement of competition to introduce themes of cooperation, collaboration and sharing.
Alan Rabinowitz is a champion of wildlife conservation. He is president and CEO of Panthera, a nonprofit wildlife organization devoted to protecting big cats. As he shares in his charming picture book for children, A Boy and a Jaguar, Rabinowitz's passion for defending wildcats comes from the struggle to find his own words as a child.
BookPage Children's Top Pick, May 2014
I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that Shaun Tan’s books are breathtaking—just consider his wordless graphic novel, The Arrival. But the effect is even more astounding when he puts words and images together, as he’s done in Rules of Summer. There is an underlying beauty to his work that transcends our everyday lives. His design sense is striking, and he pushes the boundaries of picture books in delightful ways.
Let’s hear it for the where-do-babies-come-from picture book of the 21st century, Sophie Blackall’s The Baby Tree! If any author-illustrator working today is going to address this topic—the one that makes parents squirm the most—I’m glad it’s Blackall. She does so with wit and honesty, never once talking down to children. And she executes it with her distinctive Chinese-ink and watercolor illustrations—and with good humor to boot.
The city of Hamburg has become a prison for its smallest citizens. Where once they ate their fill and ran the streets freely, the invention of the mousetrap has forced mice underground. Some flee by ship, but the ports are now guarded by cats, and owls watch from every steeple. One mouse has a revelation when he sees bats flying overhead: They’re little more than mice with wings, so who’s to say a mouse can’t fly? The adventures in Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse are ready for takeoff.
Featuring creatures with outsize personalities whose slightly subversive behavior is hugely hilarious, the picture books featured below are about defying expectations and bending the rules. Young readers, show the world who you really are!
“Is it time?” asks Little Blue, who can’t wait to start the blue whales’ summer migration to their feeding ground. In this companion to Meet Me at the Moon, Gianna Marino’s tale of a mother elephant and her child, fathers now have their day.
In our information-rich world, Mark Pett’s wordless picture book, The Girl and the Bicycle, is a refreshing change. This is Pett’s second such book, following The Boy and the Airplane. Somehow, by omitting words, the story seems more powerful; perhaps because instead of reading about events, we see and feel what’s happening.