Welcome to the Neighborwood by master paper craftsman Shawn Sheehy is at once a breathtaking work of interactive art and a fact-filled exploration of the great outdoors. Young readers learn about the habits and survival skills of seven different creatures through pop-up models of the places they call home. Each burrow and nest bursts from the page in 3-D form, and Sheehy complements these visual astonishments with information about each animal. In easy-to-absorb prose, he explains the ways in which they adapt to the wild, construct homes and flourish.
Owls are stealthy predators known to swoop through the night to surprise unsuspecting prey. This isn’t quite the case with Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise. In this clever book for preschoolers, Hoot is as cute as can be, with bright, bold and simple illustrations by French artist Jean Jullien.
Young Elmore Green’s life seems perfect and orderly until one day when “somebody else came along,” and that someone happens to be The New Small Person. This new creature, whom Elmore refers to as “it,” squawks during Elmore’s favorite cartoons and once “actually licked Elmore’s jelly-bean collection, including the orange ones.”
Is There a Dog in This Book? had me hooked right from the start, when three adorable, hip cats (Andre, Moonpie and Tiny) welcome readers with a warm greeting on the title page. The trio continues to chat with readers as they notice with alarm that someone has drunk their milk and played with their toy.
If the picture book world has celebrities, Mac Barnett (author of Oh No!) and Jon Klassen (author-illustrator of I Want My Hat Back) are two of the biggest. So when the two of them team up, it’s kind of a big deal. The last time it happened, the result was Extra Yarn, which received a Caldecott Honor, among many other accolades. Now the two have paired up again with Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, another wryly subtle, unexpectedly funny picture book about two brothers in search of something extraordinary.
These days it seems dogs are everywhere. We have dog detectives (Spencer Quinn’s delightful Chet and Bernie mystery series for adults), lost dogs (Chris Raschka’s Caldecott-winning A Ball for Daisy) and even, apparently, dogs with blogs. So, do kids (and adults) need another dog book? The answer, as any dog lover will tell you, is a resounding yes, especially when the book is created by the talented David Ezra Stein, who won a Caldecott Honor for Interrupting Chicken.
The young dinosaur heroes of Gigantosaurus could hardly be cuter. They look like characters right out of an animated feature film―which is no surprise, as creator Jonny Duddle was a concept artist for the Hugh Grant film The Pirates! Band of Misfits. (He’s also the creator of books such as The Pirates Next Door.)
There are lots of picture books about children who worry, ones that try in various ways to reassure children that everything, in the end, will be OK. But I can promise you that you haven’t seen one quite like Anthony Browne’s What If . . . ?
When you open a children’s book, it’s not fair to expect the characters to be ready every time. This is especially true if it’s by Hervé Tullet, the New York Times best-selling author of Press Here. When you open the equally inventive Help! We Need a Title!, you find a princess and a pig tossing a ball together until they notice that you, the reader, have arrived. “Hey! Someone’s watching us! . . . And they’ve opened our book!” The full cast of characters appear and realize that—of course—you would like a story.
The Farmer’s Away! Baa! Neigh!, written and illustrated by Anne Vittur Kennedy, uses rhythmic animal sounds and clever drawings to show that “when the cat’s away, the mice will play.”