The storyline of Leigh Hodgkinson’s Troll Swap is familiar, but her playful language and hilarious illustrations bring freshness to a simple story of children who don’t quite fit in with their families.
Children who linger over the cover of Lola M. Schaefer’s One Busy Day will see that they’re in for a grand adventure: A brother and sister sit outside. She’s wearing a crown, they’re in front of an elaborate sand castle, and behind the boy a dragon lingers. Toys are strewn everywhere. Clearly, the siblings have had a day of exhilarating play.
No matter that Cuckoo, an adorable light gray bird with stripes, doesn’t look like his polka-dotted mother and siblings. All’s well until they open their beaks in this latest pet book by Fiona Roberton, also the author of Wanted: The Perfect Pet and The Perfect Present. While the other birds give a soothing tweet, the aptly named Cuckoo responds with a definitive “cuckoo!” that his family doesn’t recognize. Cuckoo is no ugly duckling, though; he’s not interested in becoming a swan, just finding a friend who will understand him.
Whether you’re an adult or a child, this new picture book biography gives an informed overview of intriguing nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale. It’s not a surprising subject choice for gifted author-illustrator Demi (born Charlotte Dumaresq Hunt, nicknamed by her father because she was half the size of her older sister). Demi is well known for her biographies of historical and spiritual figures, as well as her fairy tales, folk tales and stately art.
There’s something enchanting and timeless about the art of Barbara McClintock. Where’s Mommy? is a lovely follow-up to Mary and the Mouse, the Mouse and Mary, her previous collaboration with writer Beverly Donofrio. In the first book, Mary formed a friendship with a mouse; now, Mary’s daughter Maria has a secret bond with Mouse Mouse, unbeknownst to their moms.
Maple loves her name. It’s a perfect fit for her friendship with her favorite tree. Maple sings and sways for her tree and watches its leaves dance for her in return. As Maple grows and experiences all four seasons, so does her tree. In the fall, she gives the tree a jacket to ward off the autumn chill, and in the winter she introduces it to a snowman friend . . . even if the friendship doesn’t last beyond the spring thaw.
Tracey Fern is no stranger to well-crafted picture book biographies, having released a handful of well-reviewed ones in recent years. In her newest, Dare the Wind, she tells the true story of Eleanor “Ellen” Prentiss, born in Marblehead, Massachusetts, in 1814. Ellen, “born with saltwater in her veins,” spent her days at the shore and learned at a young age from her father how to navigate a ship and operate a sextant.
Kristy Dempsey revisits a watershed moment in performing arts history in her sparkling new book, A Dance Like Starlight. The story’s spirited young heroine, an African-American girl who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer, lives with her mother in Harlem. The year is 1951.
Sarah Rector was born on March 3, 1902, near Twine, I.T. (Indian Territory). Sarah and her family were “Creek freedmen”—black members of the Creek tribe. Like most Creek freedmen, Sarah, her parents and her three young siblings were extremely poor, living together in a ramshackle two-bedroom cabin. However, that would all soon change. In Searching for Sarah Rector: The Richest Black Girl in America (ages 10-14), Coretta Scott King Honor-winning author Tonya Bolden tells the story of Sarah’s meteoric rise to wealth, and the whirlwind of drama it created.
No part of Malcolm X’s life was free from conflict and contradiction, including his childhood. Raised in a spiritual and pacifist home, Malcolm grew up to espouse a more violent philosophy in pursuit of social justice and died violently himself. Malcolm Little tells the story of his early years as part of a large, loving family whose lives were torn apart by racial aggression. This lovely, inspiring book reveals how young Malcolm was able to draw on inner resources to find himself.