Kids books are always a bit difficult for me when I am looking for something new. Often there is wonderful illustration and the story is really lacking or the story is great but the illustrations are lack luster. Some favorites for others seem to really miss the mark for me with the flow of the story, the excessive verbiage or even the moral of the story. We scoured through books to find both picture books and middle-grade fiction that we are really excited to read.
Books We Read and Can’t Wait for YOU to Read
The Dollmaker of Krakow by R.M Romero – A creatively told tale about Krakow during WWII featuring a doll that’s come to life. Chapters alternate between the doll’s life in Krakow and the German occupation and her former life in the Land of Dolls. When the Dollmaker and his magic toy befriend a Jewish man and his child, the story tackles some very scary issues in a sensitive but meaningful way. *
Do Not Take Your Dragon to Dinner by Julie Glassman I don’t know what it is about this book that makes it so completely adorable. I love the rhyme (I’m a sucker for rhyming) and the illustrations are fantastic- bright, humorous and so cute. This book reminds me of another series about dinosaurs but I enjoyed this book more. There is a little lesson at the end about proper manners that is a nice bonus but, it’s more the rhyming and illustrations that really pull this book together. *
Mr. Crum’s Potato Predicament by Anne Renaud This is a hilarious and adorable story that is inspired on a true story of the man named George Crum who is believed to have invented the potato chip. When a man comes into the restaurant demanding a plate of just potatoes, Mr. Crum thinks that this will be an easy customer. Boy is he wrong. As he tries to figure out the perfect potato dish, he inadvertently creates one of North America’s favorite snacks. It’s a very cute story and the illustrations are fantastic. The alliterations in the book are wonderful along with the hilarious choice of words. This is a must buy on my list. *
Tricky by Kari Rust – Gorgeous illustrations and a funny synopsis make this book a must for any little one’s library. Tricky is a dog who learned to do the bidding of his mean and tricky master, but when he starts to feel guilty, he decides to turn the tables on his owner! *
Click’d by Tamara Ireland Stone – A perfect read for the techie in your family. Allie creates an app that allows people to meet and befriend those who have similar interests, but when a glitch is uncovered, she needs the help of her competitor to fix it before it’s too late. *
Ban This Book by Alan Gratz – A wonderful tale about a little girl’s fight to stop books from being banned in her school. The clever tale about the perils of censorship, the story was a hit for me because of the growth of the main character from a shy, mousy girl to one who isn’t afraid to stand up for what is right. *
Max and Bird by Ed Vere –I reviewed this book previously and I love it. The pictures are adorable and the message a friendship is an adorable one. Add a bit of humor and it’s a sure winner.*
Under the Bed Fred by Linda Bailey – A chapter/picture book combo about a boy, the monster under his bed, and the unlikely bond they form. Similar themes to Monsters Inc. with illustrations that are details and fun. A cute lesson in not judging others at first glance.*
Cinderella and the Furry Slippers by Davide Cali – A girl power princess story for the ages. A funny take on Cinderella featuring furry slippers, a prince with bad breath, and a heroine who decides to forget about romance and head to the girl-power job fair instead. I adored it!*
Middle Bear by Susana Isern – Stark pictures and a simple tale address the hardships of being a middle child. Not the biggest, not the smallest, but sometimes the just-right-sizest. A lovely story celebrating the specialness of everyone.*
Tobor by Guido van Genechten – This book features an unlikely friendship in the form of a talking robot and his five-year-old owner. Tobor and Ben teach on another, play games and go on many adventures as they become best friends.*
The Cycling Wangdoos by Kelly Pulley- The illustrations are sweet and the book itself is funny. Each member of the team of cyclists decides that they are doing the most work and decide to stop peddling their 6 seat bicycle. This team of winners loses the race. However, the yak on the back, who does his job wins the race. I feel like this book missed the mark a bit with the moral/ ending. The yak on the back doesn’t actually do anything but sit o the back of the bike. It seems nonsensical to me that when the cyclists sit and do not peddle they lose but the yak can sit on the back of the bike and win. Despite all that, there is something about this book that is funny and enjoyable.*
Where Oliver Fits by Cale Atkinson This is an adorable book about being yourself. Oliver, the puzzle piece cannot seem to find his place. He tries to change himself to fit in but it doesn’t quite work. It just does not feel right. This is a sweet story about accepting who you are and finding your place. I am sure that there are many children who can relate to the situation that Oliver is in. I think the authors addressed a difficult topic with respect and sensitivity. Children will be able to relate to Oliver and rejoice with him as he finds the place that makes him happy.*
*Thank you to Net Galley for advanced copies of these books in exchange for an unbiased review.
Books We Can’t Wait to Read
Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kitties by Dav Pilkey
He was the best of dogs… He was the worst of dogs… It was the age of invention… It was the season of surprise… It was the eve of supa sadness… It was the dawn of hope… Dog Man, the newest hero from the creator of Captain Underpants, hasn’t always been a paws-itive addition to the police force. While he can muzzle miscreants, he tends to leave a slick of slobber in his wake! This time, Petey the cat’s dragged in a tiny bit of trouble — a double in the form of a super-cute kitten. Dog Man will have to work twice as hard to bust these furballs and remain top dog!
Uni the Unicorn and the Dream Come True
The Land of Unicorns is in trouble — it has been raining and raining for what seems like forever. This is a big problem because there are only three ways that unicorns can get their magic: from the golden sun, from magnificent rainbows, and from the sparkle of believing. Luckily, Uni the Unicorn has always always always believed…that little girls are REAL. Join this very special unicorn and the little girl who believes right back as they finally meet and work together to save a magical land and all who live there!
Duck & Goose, Honk! Quack! Boo! by Tad Hills
Duck is going as a spooky ghost. Goose is going as a brave superhero. And Thistle’s costume . . . well, that’s a secret. But what will Duck and Goose do when they hear a very scary swamp monster is looking for them?
The Bad Seed by Jory John
This is a book about a bad seed. A baaaaaaaaaad seed. How bad? Do you really want to know? He has a bad temper, bad manners, and a bad attitude. He’s been bad since he can remember! With Jory John’s charming and endearing text and bold expressive illustrations by Pete Oswald, here is The Bad Seed: a funny yet touching tale that reminds us of the remarkably transformative power of will, acceptance, and just being you. Perfect for young readers, as well as anyone navigating their current world, The Bad Seed proves that positive change is possible for each and every one of us.
The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match by Elizabeth Eulberg
Being friends with a super sleuth isn’t easy, especially when she’s nine years old and four feet tall, and full of attitude. But for eleven-year-old aspiring writer John Watson, being friends with Shelby Holmes is just the adventure he’s looking for. In the few weeks since moving to Harlem with his mom, Shelby has been training John in the art of observation-a skill that comes in handy on the first day of school. John’s new teacher, Mr. Crosby, is acting suspiciously, and Shelby knows this is a mystery worth investigating. But as Shelby and John dig deeper, they discover that there may be someone unexpected involved–someone who may have Shelby beat.
Sam, the Most Scaredy-cat Kid in the Whole World by Mo Willems
One day Sam, the most scaredy-cat kid in the whole world, makes a terrifying discovery. It’s not Frankenthaler the monster. It’s her friend-Kerry! Kerry, the second most scaredy-cat kid in the whole world, also makes a terrifying discovery. It’s not Leonardo the monster. It’s his friend-Sam! “AAAAH!” yells Sam. “EEEEK!” yells Kerry. Something has to be done. Something BIG. But what?
Littler Women a Modern Retelling by Laura Schaefer
Thirteen-year-old Meg March and her sisters Jo (twelve), Beth (ten), and Amy (nine) are a close-knit group who share in one another’s hopes and dreams, as well as struggles and frustrations. Over the course of one year they get to know their neighbors the Lawrences, attend school dances and sleepovers, have first crushes, and grow closer as sisters despite their differences. This sweet, contemporary take on part one of the beloved novel Little Women is the perfect introduction for young readers to the March family. With a craft project or recipe at the end of every chapter, Littler Women is sure to become a cherished favorite.
Drake and the rest of the Dragon Masters are searching for Lalo the baby Lightning Dragon! Lalo was kidnapped by Eko — Griffith’s first Dragon Master. Eko ran away with her Thunder Dragon, Neru, years ago. Now she’s back and she wants to kidnap every dragon in the kingdom! Can Drake and the other Dragon Masters rescue Lalo and stop Eko before it’s too late?
Runny Babbit Returns by Shel Silverstein
Runny Babbit, the lovable star of Shel Silverstein’s New York Times bestselling poetry book, is back. Runny Babbit Returns, a collection of 41 never-before-published poems and drawings, features Runny and other woodland characters who speak a topsy-turvy language all their own.
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood “wishtree”—people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red’s branches. Along with her crow friend Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red’s hollows, this “wishtree” watches over the neighborhood. You might say Red has seen it all. Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red’s experiences as a wishtree are more important than ever.
Bruce’s Big Move by Ryan T. Higgins
After the events of Hotel Bruce, our favorite curmudgeonly bear shares his home with not only his four geese, but three rowdy mice besides! Fed up with their shenanigans, Bruce sets off to find a rodent-free household. But as usual, nothing goes quite according to plan. . . A hilarious sequel for fans of the previous Bruce books, as well as a standalone discovery for new readers, Bruce’s next reluctant adventure is sure to keep kids giggling.
I Know Numbers! by Taro Gomi
How do we love numbers? Let us count the ways: They’re on street signs and bus stops, featured on phones, thermometers, chalkboards, and scales. They show the time and the date, and help us to measure distance, sizing, and so much more. This spirited picture book by beloved author-illustrator Taro Gomi will charm and inform the youngest of readers, offering them a unique—and useful—look at a key concept we count on. Plus, this is the fixed format version, which looks almost identical to the print edition.
Dawn and the Impossible Three by Ann M. Martin
Dawn Schafer is the newest member of The Baby-sitters Club. While she’s still adjusting to life in Stoneybrook after moving from sunny California, she’s eager to accept her first big job. But taking care of the three Barrett kids would be too much for any baby-sitter. The house is always a mess, the kids are out of control, and Mrs. Barrett never does any of the things she promises. On top of all that, Dawn wants to fit in with the other members of the BSC, but she can’t figure out how to get along with Kristy. Was joining The Baby-sitters Club a mistake?
Thank You, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony
Generous Mr. Panda is giving away presents to all his animal friends, including a mouse, an octopus, an elephant, and a lemur, but they aren’t being very grateful about the gifts they receive. It may be because the presents aren’t quite right. Mouse receives a sweater that’s too big, and Octopus gets six colorful socks even though he has eight legs. Fortunately, thoughtful little Lemur knows that even if the present isn’t perfect, it’s the thought that counts most of all.
Buildablock by Christopher Franceschelli
In this companion to Alphablock, Countablock, Dinoblock, and Cityblock, readers are introduced to more than 24 construction machines. As in the previous books, Buildablock features die-cut shapes on every other spread and the charming art of British design team Peskimo. Alphablock was chosen one of Parents magazine’s 10 Best Children’s Books of 2013 and one of ALSC’s Notable Children’s Books of 2014.
Flora and the Ostrich by Molly Idle
Inspired by Caldecott Honor book Flora and the Flamingo, this series of board books is perfect for the very youngest Flora fans. When a new feathered friend seems so different from her, Flora discovers that opposites, in fact, attract! Featuring fold-out pages and Molly Idle’s graceful artwork, this adorable book of opposites will delight young children as they master new words and concepts.
The Bad Mood and the Stick by Lemony Snicket
Once there was a bad mood and a stick.
The stick appeared when a tree dropped it.
Where did the bad mood come from?
Who picked up the stick?
And where is the bad mood off to now?
You never know what is going to happen.
Ghosts of Greenglass House by Kate Milford
Welcome back to the irresistible world of Greenglass House where thirteen-year-old Milo is, once again, spending the winter holidays stuck in a house full of strange guests who are not what they seem. There are fresh clues to uncover as friends old and new join in his search for a mysterious map and a famous smuggler’s lost haul.
Peanut is going over the river and through the woods to his grandmother’s house for Christmas, but getting there is a food-filled adventure for this little nut! First he gets stuck in a traffic jam (make that a traffic jelly), then the bridge is closed so he has to take a (gravy) boat across the river, where he gets lost in a forest of (cookies shaped like) Christmas trees! But while the delays dismay his friends and family, Peanut embraces his role as the Merry Christmas Nut to cheer them up.
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Glaser
The Vanderbeekers have always lived in the brownstone on 141st Street. It’s practically another member of the family. So when their reclusive, curmudgeonly landlord decides not to renew their lease, the five siblings have eleven days to do whatever it takes to stay in their beloved home and convince the dreaded Beiderman just how wonderful they are. And all is fair in love and war when it comes to keeping their home.
Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Race by Chris Grabenstein
Everyone’s favorite game maker, Mr. Lemoncello, is testing out his new FABULOUS FACT-FINDING FRENZY game! If Kyle can make it through the first round, he and the other lucky finalists will go on a great race—by bicycle, bookmobile, and even Mr. Lemoncello’s corporate banana jet!—to find fascinating facts about famous Americans. The first to bring their facts back to the library will win spectacular prizes! But when a few surprising “facts” surface about Mr. Lemoncello, it might be GO TO JAIL and LOSE A TURN all at once! Could Kyle’s hero be a fraud? It’s winner take all, so Kyle and the other kids will have to dig deep to find out the truth before the GAME is OVER for Mr. Lemoncello and his entire fantastic empire!
Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai
Malala’s first picture book will inspire young readers everywhere to find the magic all around them. As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil. She would use it to make everyone happy, to erase the smell of garbage from her city, to sleep an extra hour in the morning. But as she grew older, Malala saw that there were more important things to wish for. She saw a world that needed fixing. And even if she never found a magic pencil, Malala realized that she could still work hard every day to make her wishes come true.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: The Illustrated Edition by JK Rowling
For twelve long years, the dread fortress of Azkaban held an infamous prisoner named Sirius Black. Convicted of killing thirteen people with a single curse, he was said to be the heir apparent to the Dark Lord, Voldemort. Now he has escaped, leaving only two clues as to where he might be headed: Harry Potter’s defeat of You-Know-Who was Black’s downfall as well. And the Azkaban guards heard Black muttering in his sleep, “He’s at Hogwarts . . . he’s at Hogwarts.” Harry Potter isn’t safe, not even within the walls of his magical school, surrounded by his friends. Because on top of it all, there may well be a traitor in their midst.
In the third book in Rick Riordan’s epic Norse mythology series, Magnus and his friends take a boat trip to the farthest borders of Jotunheim and Niflheim in pursuit of Asgard’s greatest threat. Life preservers are mandatory for this wet, wild, and wondrous adventure.
Twelve-year-old Alice Mayfair has a secret. She’s not human. But who—or what—is she? While Alice goes in search of her past, her best friend Millie Maximus, a tiny Bigfoot with a big voice, prepares for her future. Together they plan to sneak off to New York City, where Millie hopes to audition for The Next Stage, the TV show she’s sure will rocket her to stardom and free her from the suffocating expectations of her tribe.
Meanwhile Jeremy Bigelow’s Bigfoot research has put him on the radar of a shadowy government organization led by a mysterious man named Trip Carruthers. The Bigfoots have something, a chemical so powerful and dangerous that the government will do anything to obtain it. And Jeremy is tasked with securing it once and for all.
In an unexpected twist of fate, Jeremy, Alice, and Millie find themselves facing off at a crossroads. But in order to determine where they’re going, they have to first figure out where they come from—and draw the line between what is good, what is evil, and what it means to be a hero.
Harry Potter – A History of Magic: The Book of the Exhibition by British Library
Harry Potter: A History of Magic is the official book of the exhibition, a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration between Bloomsbury, J.K. Rowling and the brilliant curators of the British Library. It promises to take readers on a fascinating journey through the subjects studied at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry – from Alchemy and Potions classes through to Herbology and Care of Magical Creatures. Each chapter showcases a treasure trove of artefacts from the British Library and other collections around the world, beside exclusive manuscripts, sketches and illustrations from the Harry Potter archive. There’s also a specially commissioned essay for each subject area by an expert, writer or cultural commentator, inspired by the contents of the exhibition – absorbing, insightful and unexpected contributions from Steve Backshall, the Reverend Richard Coles, Owen Davies, Julia Eccleshare, Roger Highfield, Steve Kloves, Lucy Mangan, Anna Pavord and Tim Peake, who offer a personal perspective on their magical theme. Readers will be able to pore over ancient spell books, amazing illuminated scrolls that reveal the secret of the Elixir of Life, vials of dragon’s blood, mandrake roots, painted centaurs and a genuine witch’s broomstick, in a book that shows J.K. Rowling’s magical inventions alongside their cultural and historical forebears. This is the ultimate gift for Harry Potter fans, curious minds, big imaginations, bibliophiles and readers around the world who missed out on the chance to see the exhibition in person.
Harry Potter – A Journey Through A History of Magic by British Library
An irresistible romp through the history of magic, from alchemy to unicorns, ancient witchcraft to Harry’s Hogwarts – packed with unseen sketches and manuscript pages from J.K. Rowling, magical illustrations from Jim Kay and weird, wonderful and inspiring artefacts that have been magically released from the archives at the British Library. This spellbinding book takes readers on a journey through the Hogwarts curriculum, including Herbology, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Astronomy, Divination and more. Discover the truth behind making the Philosopher’s Stone, create your very own potion and uncover the secret of invisible ink. Learn all about the history of mandrake roots and dragons, discover what witches really used their brooms for, pore over incredible images of actual mermaids and read about real-life potions, astronomers and alchemists. The perfect gift for aspiring witches and wizards and any Harry Potter fan. Celebrating twenty years of Harry Potter magic, and produced in association with the British Library to support their major exhibition, Harry Potter: A History of Magic.
Mouse by Zebo Ludvicek
A hungry mouse discovers the alphabet, nibble by nibble, in this playful tale.
When the letter M comes upon a hungry little mouse with a delicious-looking cherry, he can’t help but ask for a bite. The mouse reluctantly agrees, only for the M to devour the entire thing! In exchange, the M offers the mouse some of itself, but after a few bites the M has suddenly become an N. So begins the mouse’s journey through the many letters of the alphabet thanks to some creative nibbling and imaginative illustrations from debut author/illustrator Zebo Ludvicek.
Illustrated Fantastic Beasts and Where They Came From: Illustrated Edition by JK Rowling
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Newt Scamander’s classic compendium of magical creatures, has delighted generations of wizarding readers. With this beautiful, large-scale new edition illustrated in full color, Muggles too will have the chance to discover where the Runespoor lives, what the Puffskein eats, and why shiny objects should always be kept away from the Niffler. Proceeds from the sale of this book will go to Comic Relief and J.K. Rowling’s international charity, Lumos, which will do magic beyond the powers of any wizard. If you feel that this is insufficient reason to part with your money, one can only hope that passing wizards feel more charitable if they see you being attacked by a Manticore.
The Getaway (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #12) by Jeff Kinney
Greg Heffley and his family are getting out of town. With the cold weather and the stress of the approaching holiday season, the Heffleys decide to escape to a tropical island resort for some much-needed rest and relaxation. A few days in paradise should do wonders for Greg and his frazzled family. But the Heffleys soon discover that paradise isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. Sun poisoning, stomach troubles, and venomous critters all threaten to ruin the family’s vacation. Can their trip be saved, or will this island getaway end in disaster?
The Splendid Baron Submarine by Eric Bower
Pirate treasure? A top secret mission? A terribly rude monkey with personal boundary and hygiene issues? Two out of three of those things sound like a dream come true to the young, clumsy, and terribly unscientific Waldo “W.B.” Baron, when his clever inventor parents are hired to go on a secret treasure hunt. The Baron family dives into adventure with their steam-powered submarine, but they aren’t prepared for the complications that occur during their trip, which include shark attacks, deep sea diving mishaps, and even a pirate’s curse, all of which W.B. is lucky enough to discover, one stumble, trip, and fall at a time.
Pillowland by Laurie Berkner
Laurie Berkner’s treasured song “Pillowland” is now a beautiful picture book! Featuring magical, lush art by Camille Garoche, Pillowland carries readers away to a feather-fluffed dream world where bedtime is always a grand adventure.