Every year I am so excited to see the amazing books that are published for kids. We have certainly come a long way from the “Dick and Jane” era of children’s literature. There is such a huge variety from biographies and other non-fiction, to fairy tale retellings, to fabulous stories that will make you feel good to read them. I am always in awe of the authors who find a way to approach sensitive topics in such an unintrusive way and illustrators who can say a thousand words with one stroke of paint. This is by no means an exhaustive list but, here are some of the best picture books of 2018.
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“A collection of African wisdom gorgeously illustrated by artists from Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Canada, the United States and more.
Aphorisms are universal. They give guidance, context and instruction for life’s issues, and they help us understand each other and the world around us. We use them every day, yet never think about where they came from or why they exist. More…”
“From the picture book dream team behind I Am Yoga and I Am Peace comes the third book in their wellness series: I Am Human. A hopeful meditation on all the great (and challenging) parts of being human, I Am Human shows that it’s okay to make mistakes while also emphasizing the power of good choices by offering a kind word or smile or by saying “I’m sorry.” At its heart, this picture book is a celebration of empathy and compassion that lifts up the flawed fullness of humanity and encourages children to see themselves as part of one big imperfect family—millions strong.”
“Allie’s crayon broke.
She was suddenly . . .
furious, fuming, frustrated . . .”
Have you ever felt mad enough to stomp, smash, and crash? Allie has! Meet one angry little girl and see how she calms down, bit by bit—with the help of her understanding big brother. More…”
“As the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor has inspired young people around the world to reach for their dreams. But what inspired her? For young Sonia, the answer was books! They were her mirrors, her maps, her friends, and her teachers. They helped her to connect with her family in New York and in Puerto Rico, to deal with her diabetes diagnosis, to cope with her father’s death, to uncover the secrets of the world, and to dream of a future for herself in which anything was possible. More…”
“While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: a butter-yellow curtain for his tail, the fronds of a potted fern for his headdress. More…”
“Dude! You have to read this book.
It’s totally about this platypus and this beaver who are friends. They want to go surfing but dude, there’s this shark who’s in the ocean, too.
But don’t worry. This shark approaches and you’ll never guess what happens.”
“A mom goes to great lengths to rescue her son’s favorite doll in this delightful tribute to treasured toys—and mothers.
Teddy has a lot of cool toys. But his very favorite doll has the best manners, the sickest fighting skills, and a fierce sense of style.
Then one morning, something truly awful happens. And there’s only one woman fierce enough to save the day. Can Teddy’s mom reunite Teddy with his favorite toy?”
“Learn all about Holi, the Indian Festival of Colors, in this lush picture book from bestselling mother/son duo Surishtha Sehgal and Kabir Sehgal.
Spring is here, and it’s almost time for Holi, the Indian Festival of Colors. Siblings Mintoo and Chintoo are busy gathering flowers to make into colorful powders to toss during the festival. And when at last the big day comes, they gather with their friends, family, and neighbors for a vibrant celebration of fresh starts, friendship, forgiveness, and, of course, fun!”
“In 1994, Yuyi Morales left her home in Xalapa, Mexico and came to the US with her infant son. She left behind nearly everything she owned, but she didn’t come empty-handed.
She brought her strength, her work, her passion, her hopes and dreams…and her stories. Caldecott Honor artist and five-time Pura Belpré winner Yuyi Morales’s gorgeous new picture book Dreamers is about making a home in a new place. Yuyi and her son Kelly’s passage was not easy, and Yuyi spoke no English whatsoever at the time. But together, they found an unexpected, unbelievable place: the public library. There, book by book, they untangled the language of this strange new land, and learned to make their home within it. More…”
“Inky had been at the New Zealand aquarium since 2014 after being taken in by a fisherman who found him at sea. Inky had been getting used to his new environment, but the staff quickly figured out that he had to be kept amused or he would get bored. Then one night in 2016 Inky, about the size of a basketball, decided he’d had enough. He slithered eight feet across the floor and down a drainpipe more than 160 feet long to his home in the sea.
Acclaimed author Sy Montogmery reminds readers that Inky didn’t escape—but instead, like the curious animal he is, wanted to explore the rest of the vast ocean he called his home.”
“Sojourner Truth was born into slavery but possessed a mind and a vision that knew no bounds. So Tall Within traces her life from her painful childhood through her remarkable emancipation to her incredible leadership in the movement for rights for both women and African Americans. Her story is told with lyricism and pathos by Gary D. Schmidt, one of the most celebrated writers for children in the twenty-first century, and brought to life by award winning and fine artist Daniel Minter. This combination of talent is just right for introducing this legendary figure to a new generation of children.”
“The World’s Fair in Chicago, 1893, was to be a spectacular event: architects, musicians, artists, and inventors worked on special exhibits to display the glories of their countries. But the Fair’s planners wanted something really special, something on the scale of the Eiffel Tower, which had been constructed for France’s fair three years earlier. At last, engineer George Ferris had an idea―a crazy, unrealistic, gigantic idea. He would construct a twenty-six-story tall observation wheel. More…”
“A stunning debut picture book that encourages kids to look beyond first impressions by sharing unexpected details about seemingly scary wild animals like gorillas, rhinoceroses, and more.
Spiders are creepy. Porcupines are scary. Bats are ugly. Or are they…?
This captivating book invites you to learn more about awe-inspiring animals in the wild. After all, it’s best not to judge a beast until you understand its full, lovely life. Includes backmatter with additional reading suggestions.”
“What do you do when you have an incredibly annoying little sister? Write her letters telling her so, of course! From New York Times bestselling author Alison McGhee comes a wickedly funny, illustrated, heartwarming, and deeply honest collection of letters from an older brother to his little sister.
Whininess, annoyingness, afraid of the darkness, refusal to eat lima beans, and pulling brother’s hair. This is the criteria on which little sisters are graded. Inspired by the notes Alison McGhee’s own kids would write each other, this heavily illustrated collection of letters and messages from an older brother to his little sister reveal the special love—or, at the very least, tolerance—siblings have for each other.”
“We’ve all heard of the Itsy-Bitsy Spider right? But have you heard of the the Hugely-Wugely Spider? He’s just like Itsy-Bitsy except he’s a little―no―a lot bigger.
The Hugely-Wugely Spider went up the water spout, well not really, because he wasn’t invited by the other spiders. And maybe because his size was bit of an issue . . . But that didn’t stop him from trying. The Itsy-Bitsy Spider and his friends get into a bind when down comes the rain and threatens to wash them out, and only the Hugely-Wugely Spider can save them. With his quick thinking and huge thorax, Hugely-Wugely clogs the drain and saves the day.”
Can you guess what’s making this giraffe self-conscious? Could it be . . . HIS ENORMOUS NECK?? Yes, it’s exactly that–how on earth did you figure it out?
Edward the giraffe can’t understand why his neck is as long and bendy and, well, ridiculous as it is. No other animal has a neck this absurd. He’s tried disguising it, dressing it up, strategically hiding it behind bushes–honestly, anything you can think of, he’s tried. More…”
“Little Brown is one cranky canine because no one ever plays with him at the animal shelter. Or maybe no one ever plays with him because he is cranky. Either way, Little Brown decides today is the day to take action, so he takes all of the toys and sticks and blankets from all of the dogs at the shelter and won’t give them back. But what will happen now?”
“In this heartwarming story about friendship and imagination, a boy named Wendell dreams of getting a pet walrus. Together, they’d ride bikes, tell jokes, and have a grand time. If only he could find one!
But looking for a walrus turns out to be its own adventure, one with an unexpected and happy result.
Acclaimed author Lori Mortensen and New York Times-bestselling illustrator Matt Phelan have created a sweet, playful, memorable book in If Wendell Had a Walrus that kids are sure to request again and again.”
“Three students are immigrants from Guatemala, Korea, and Somalia and have trouble speaking, writing, and sharing ideas in English in their new American elementary school. Through self-determination and with encouragement from their peers and teachers, the students learn to feel confident and comfortable in their new school without losing a sense of their home country, language, and identity.
Young readers from all backgrounds will appreciate this touching story about the assimilation of three immigrant students in a supportive school community. More…”
“This book is a beautifully illustrated introduction to the shared custom of head covering. Using accurate terminology, phonetic pronunciations and bright, beautiful imagery, Hats of Faith helps educate and prepare young children and their parents for our culturally diverse modern world. The book celebrates head coverings from faiths including: Christian Jewish Muslim Rastafarian Sikh Hats of Faith is a 12 page, 18cm x 18cm sturdy board book, perfect for rough and tumble babies and toddlers.”
It’s time for the Indian festival of Raksha Bandhan, the celebration of the special lifelong relationship shared by brothers and sisters everywhere. Join two sisters as they lovingly make rakhi—thread bracelets adorned with beads, sequins, sparkles, and tassels—for their brother. And then see their brother present them with toys and sweets and special gifts! More…”
“Meet a special group of superheroes: they have homes, families, and very important jobs. These are the Superhero Parents and their powers are diverse: Super Nurse Mom takes care of sick children, Super Vets are a mom and dad duo making sure pets are healthy, and Super Scientist Mom sends spaceships to outer space before coming home to read stories to her kids. Brilliantly illustrated and with simple and quirky text, Do You Know a Superhero? is the ideal primer to show babies and toddlers all about what parents do during the day.”
“The classic story of Rapunzel gets a fresh twist in this vibrant Indian spin on the beloved fairy tale!
Once upon a time, there was a girl with long, long hair, who lived in a tall, tall tower…
The classic tale of Rapunzel gets a fresh twist in this third book of a brand-new board book series, Once Upon a World. With India as the backdrop, and vibrant artwork from illustrator Archana Sreenivasan, Rapunzel is still the same girl who lets down her beautiful hair—but she’s totally reimagined. Once Upon a World offers a multicultural take on the fairy tales we all know and love. Because these tales are for everyone, everywhere.”
“Tiger is fast asleep. But — oh dear! — she’s completely blocking the way. Just how will the animals get past without waking her up? Luckily, Frog has an excellent idea. Holding his balloon, he floats right over sleeping Tiger! Fox is next, followed by Tortoise, Mouse, and Stork, but it will be tricky for them all to get past without Tiger noticing. It’s good that the reader is there to help keep Tiger asleep, but where exactly are the animals going with all those big shiny balloons?”
“Travel around the solar system and celebrate what makes each planet unique! From Neptune to Mercury and all the planets in between, each one is different and each one is happy to be what they are.
Old slow Neptune looks a bit behind.
Orbiting the Sun takes an awful long time.
But the 8th little planet doesn’t need to worry.
It spins on its axis in a really big hurry!
Vibrant, joyful art, playful verse, and a fun die-cut shape are sure to have astronomers of all ages celebrating their own uniqueness while they party with the planets.”
“Parents Magazine’s “Best Book that Champions Kindness” of 2018!
This simple yet powerful picture book–from a New York Times bestselling husband-and-wife team–tells the story of one girl who inspires a community to stand up to bullying. Inspired by real events, I Walk with Vanessa explores the feelings of helplessness and anger that arise in the wake of seeing a classmate treated badly, and shows how a single act of kindness can lead to an entire community joining in to help. With themes of acceptance, kindness, and strength in numbers, this timeless and profound feel-good story will resonate with readers young and old.”
“Aidan Cassie’s Sterling, Best Dog Ever, is a heartwarming and hilarious debut picture book for dog lovers about a dog in search of a forever family.
Sterling the dog has always wanted a home. But no home has ever wanted him. So when Sterling sees a sign on the side of the Butlery Cutlery Company advertising free “shipping to homes around the world,” he is determined to become the most terrific fork ever! For what home doesn’t need flatware?
Sterling is delivered on time and undamaged to the Gilbert family’s front door. He is not, however, what they ordered. . . . But he may be exactly what they need. Here is a humorous, heart-tugging picture book about finding a family who wants you just as you are.”
“An unexpected friendship forms between a girl and her pet rock in this charming story that’s perfect for fans of What Pet Should I Get?
Charlotte has always really wanted a pet, so when her parents present her with one for her birthday she expects a cat, dog, or maybe a bird. Instead, she receives a rock. Rocks can’t cuddle, fetch, or even help her eat her vegetables, but that doesn’t stop Charlotte from loving her rock as if he were real. If only he could love her back…or can he?”
“Family, friendship, sharing, vacations, and apartment living are just some of the things that are celebrated in this charming children’s book!
Fergus Barnaby is so excited! Mom, Dad, and Fergus are about to go away on vacation for a few days of fun in the sun. But first… Dad tells him to pack everything he needs, and now Fergus has a problem. Fred has his bucket and shovel, Emily Rose has his swimming goggles, and Teddy has his kite. Fergus lives on the first floor, but his friends—and the toys he let them borrow—are all upstairs. So many stairs, so little time! Will Fergus and Daddy remember to pack everything they need to bring? (Hint: this story ends with a surprise and a big laugh!) Lots of bold illustrations and an enchanting story about friendship and life in the city will make Fergus Barnaby one of your child’s favorites.”
“From the creator of Goodnight Goon, a laugh-out-loud friendship story that perfectly captures the high and low moments of a typical playdate!
Pete couldn’t be more thrilled when a monster shows up in his bedroom. Now Pete has someone to play with! And the hungry monster couldn’t be more thrilled to be there, either. Now he can . . . EAT PETE!”
“Just when William is ready to fall asleep in his cozy cabin, there is a tap on his window. A chilly chipmunk asks to stay, and Will scooches over in bed. “There’s room for two–I’m sure we’ll fit.” The chipmunk is just the first in a parade of mammals, each bigger than the last, until the bed is full. Then a note is slipped beneath the door: “Do you have room for just one more?” William tugs the door to see who’s there . . . only to find a great big BEAR! Is there enough space to spare? Will the other animals be willing to share?”
“Equipped with a camera and determination, a little girl sets out to track down an elusive red fox. But foxes are sneaky, and it proves more difficult than she thought.
Nilah Magruder’s debut picture book charmingly tells the story of what it means to not give up and how sometimes what you’re looking for is closer than you think.”
“In Tinyville Town: I’m a Mail Carrier, Rita the mail carrier makes sure everyone gets their mail, rain or shine.
The Tinyville Town series is set in a cozy community where the people are kind, everyone says hello, the bus is always on time, and all the townsfolk do their part to keep things running smoothly. Everyone has a job to do in Tinyville Town. With a nod to the busy world of Richard Scarry and the neighborhood feel of Sesame Street, this new series will become a favorite read for preschoolers and is ideal for story time and class discussions about occupations and community helpers. Tinyville Town is a growing, thriving city full of interesting people. They can’t wait to show you around!”
“Pull the tabs—and meet some happy animal families!
With this fun novelty book, kids will love learning about adorable animals and their habitats. Each spread features a mommy, daddy, and baby, labeled with their names, as well as tabs to pull that reveal hidden family members. Join fox, vixen, and kit in the forest; rooster, hen, and chick on the farm; billy and nanny goat with their kid in the mountains; and other friendly creatures.”
“A beautiful picture book that simultaneously explores shapes, Islam, and the cultures of the Muslim people.” – Kirkus Reviews
Toddler book of shapes and Islamic traditions: From a crescent moon to a square garden to an octagonal fountain, this breathtaking picture book celebrates the shapes-and traditions-of the Muslim world.
“Mo Willems delivers a smorgasbord of hunger, hubris, regret, and redemption as a Busy Creature hilariously chomps and chews its way from A to P and then to Z.”
“Count along with Mother Duck as her ducklings try to waddle across the bridge. When a sudden gust of wind sweeps one of Mother Duck’s ducklings into the river, she doesn’t know what to do. With four ducklings on the bridge and one below, Mother Duck is torn as to which way to go. Suddenly, a second duck falls and Mother Duck grows more panicked. Should she stay on the bridge or fly down to her ducklings in the river?”
“Hannah is feeling just a bit peckish and knows exactly what she wants to eat: an A to Z sandwich on thick whole wheat bread! From avocado to zucchini, Hannah’s whims throw Mr. McDougal at the cafe into a sandwich-building frenzy. But what happens when Hannah discovers the towering sandwich isn’t quite what she ordered? This messy romp through the alphabet will have readers in fits of giggles from beginning to end.”
“A touching and timeless story about finding friendship in unlikely places from the award-winning creator of Extraordinary Jane
Rupert is a rhinoceros of refined sensibilities. Levi, the new tickbird in class, is not. He burps the alphabet, tells corny jokes, and does really embarrassing air guitar solos. Worse, he lands right on Rupert and is determined to be Rupert’s symbiotic best pal! Rupert wants him gone.”
“Look over there — the cat is between a table and a chair with a tear. But now look again: the cat is on top of the dog, who’s between the floor and the cat (and not too happy about that!). As you wander through the delightfully detailed illustrations, the more you look, the more you’ll see — including colors made from a mix of two others, hybrid implements such as a spork, warm nooks that are neither too cold nor too hot, even a cross of a zebra and cow that makes a . . . zebrow? In an engaging and utterly stylish debut, rising star Priscilla Tey leads readers on an addictive exploration of the in-between, a surprisingly far-reaching and everywhere concept.”
“Inspired by a true event! In the summer of 2015, an adorable new species of octopus was discovered on the ocean floor―this picture book story imagines how this cute creature got his name.
Deep down in the water lives an octopus small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. But he doesn’t have a name! Anglerfish is named for his hook like an angler, Mimic Octopus for her ability to change shape and color, and Giant Squid is GIANT! But this little guy doesn’t have the same abilities as the other creatures. What could his name be? With Marisa Polansky’s sweet text and Joey Chou’s dynamic illustrations, Hello, My Name Is… imagines how the cutest creature in the sea got his name. The story includes a note from a scientist about the naming process and more information about Adorabilis.”