Best New Picture Books | April 2017
The Children’s Book Review | April 3, 2017
26 New Release Picture Books
Charlie and Mouse has to be one of our favorites of the entire year, so far. It so easily elicits giggles! And from there, we have 25 other new picture book suggestions for you to read your way through. From a wonderful read-aloud by Julia Donaldson, to an unconventional mudpie cookbook, to a gentle story about the importance of sharing, to a touching story of friendship and love, and a charming celebration of embracing differences and standing out in a crowd, our selection of best new picture books will give you plenty of outstanding reading material! Which one are you going to read first?
Written and Illustrated by Ryan T. Higgins
Publisher’s Synopsis: All Rupert the mouse wants is to star in a beautiful, wordless picture book. One that’s visually stimulating! With scenic pictures! And style! He has plenty of ideas about what makes a great book, but his friends just WON’T. STOP. TALKING.
Ages 3-5 | Publisher: Disney-Hyperion | April 4, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1484731628
Written by Anne Marie Pace
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Publisher’s Synopsis: When the summer moon is full, a beach trip is an epic way to spend the night. With her signature poise, Vampirina and her clan gear up for a festive time at the beach. Keeping her ballet lessons in mind, Vampirina demi-plié’s on a surfboard, leaps for a volleyball, and finishes each competition with style, even if she doesn’t always come out on top. Readers will shout “Brava!” for this third gracefully ghoulish picture book by duo Anne Marie Pace and LeUyen Pham.
Ages 3-5 | Publisher: Disney-Hyperion | April 4, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1484773420
Written by Julia Donaldson
Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
Publisher’s Synopsis: Two of the world’s most celebrated picture book creators, Julia Donaldson and Helen Oxenbury, team up for the first time in this jaunty animal fable for fans of Room on the Broom and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.
Rabbit arrives home one day to hear a loud voice coming from inside his burrow:
“I’m the Giant Jumperee and I’m scary as can be!” shouts the stranger.
Rabbit’s friends Cat, Bear, and Elephant come to help, but they’re no match for the mysterious, booming voice. But who is the Giant Jumperee? Find out in this new read-aloud classic from internationally bestselling author Julia Donaldson, beautifully brought to life by award-winning illustrator Helen Oxenbury.
Ages 3-5 | Publisher: Dial Books | April 18, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0735227972
Written by John Cage
Illustrated by Lois Long
Publisher’s Synopsis: In the mid-1950s, legendary avant-garde composer John Cage and artist Lois Long created a truly marvelous object. Part artist’s book, part cookbook, and part children’s book, Mud Book is a spirited, if not satirical, take on almost every child’s first attempt at cooking and making. Through the humble mud pie—add dirt and water!—Cage and Long encourage children to explore their imagination and to get their hands dirty, and they offer this warning: “Mud pies are to make and look at, not to eat.”
A unique hybrid of art book, unconventional cookbook, and inspiration for young makers, this new edition of Mud Book will delight children and parents alike, and makes a charming gift for all ages.
Ages 3-6 | Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press | April 4, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1616895525
Written by Maureen Wright
Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand
Publisher’s Synopsis: Big Bear’s forest friends eye his berries hungrily, but he doesn’t notice as he digs into his delicious snack. When the old oak tree says, “Share, Big Bear, share,” he thinks the tree has said, “Hair, Big Bear, hair!” One comical scene follows another as Big Bear keeps misunderstanding the old oak tree’s message until things finally get sorted out. Whimsical illustrations highlight the humor in this gentle story about the importance of sharing something special with friends.
Ages 3-7 | Publisher: Two Lions | April 25, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1503951006
Written by Sandra Markle
Illustrated by Fabricio VandenBroeck
Publisher’s Synopsis: Elephants never forget.
During a drought in Tanzania, Grandma Elephant is in search of water for her herd. Little Calf follows along and mimics her grandmother at each stop on their journey. When Grandma leads them to a watering hole she recalls from years before, the elephants are overjoyed and Little Calf splashes about with her tender leader. Grandma’s persistence and powerful memory is something Little Calf will never forget. Based on true events.
Sandra Markle’s acclaimed nonfiction writing takes on a more lyrical style alongside Fabricio VandenBroeck’s gorgeous illustrations making this story of animal behavior accessible for younger readers.
Back matter includes further information about the phenomenon of a herd of elephants that survived a drought, as well as fascinating elephant facts.
Ages 3-7 | Publisher: Charlesbridge | April 4, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1580896344
Written and Illustrated by Marty Kelley
Publisher’s Synopsis: Grandmas fart. Teachers fart. Terrifying creatures fart. But . . . is there someone who DOESN’T fart?
With sly humor, this fun picture book looks at a subject that’s sure to make children laugh: farting. With silent farts, farts like horns, and rainbow farts from unicorns, Almost Everybody Farts comically captures the gassy scene. And only one person insists she’s fart-free: MOM! But is she? Kids will insist on reading this rhyming story again and again.
Ages 3+ | Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books | April 4, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1454919544
Written by Susanna Isern
Translated by Jon Brokenbrow
Illustrated by Daniel Montero Galán
Publisher’s Synopsis: Each day, the old mailman faithfully delivers special letters to the forest animals. But the mailman has never received any letters of his own. Then one day everything changes. This touching story of friendship and love will delight readers and letter writers of all ages.
Ages 3+ | Publisher: Cuento de Luz | April 11, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-8416147984
Written by Dashka Slater
Illustrated by Sydney Hanson
Publisher’s Synopsis: Bonjour! Escargot is a beautiful French snail who wants only two things:
1. To be your favorite animal.
2. To get to the delicious salad at the end of the book.
But when he gets to the salad, he discovers that there’s a carrot in it. And Escargot hates carrots. But when he finally tries one―with a little help from you!―he discovers that it’s not so bad after all.
Ages 4-6 | Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux | April 11, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0374302818
Written and Illustrated by Morag Hood
Publisher’s Synopsis: Colin is tall. He’s orange. He’s a carrot! He’s nothing like Lee, a round green pea. He can’t do any of the things Lee and his pea pals can do. How can Colin and Lee ever be friends? A charming celebration of embracing differences and standing out in a crowd.
Ages 4-7 | Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers | April 4, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0544868427
Written and Illustrated by Victoria Turnball
Publisher’s Synopsis: Pandora lives alone, in a world of broken things. She makes herself a handsome home, but no one ever comes to visit. Then one day something falls from the sky.
. . . a bird with a broken wing.
Little by little, Pandora helps the bird grow stronger. Little by little, the bird helps Pandora feel less lonely. The bird begins to fly again, and always comes back—bringing seeds and flowers and other small gifts. But then one day, it flies away and doesn’t return. Pandora is heartbroken.
Ages 4-7 | Publisher: Clarion Books | April 4, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0544947337
Written by Emil Sher
Illustrated by Qin Leng
Publisher’s Synopsis: Love shines through in the sticky notes shared between a mother and daughter in this picture book about making time for family in the midst of our busy lives.
Between work and school, homework and housework, a mother and daughter don’t always get to spend as much time together as they’d like. Add to that a little girl’s fears about leaving home for the first time, and the need to stay close through handwritten notes becomes even more important. As the camp departure date gets closer, Mom does her best to soothe her daughter’s nerves. A visit from her grandmother helps to calm her fears and convince her that she’ll have a good time, even away from her mother and beloved cat. Camp ends up being a wonderful adventure – but nothing is sweeter than a back-at-home reunion.
Qin Leng’s watercolor illustrations are the perfect complement to Emil Sher’s simple text. This nuanced story about a parent and child’s unconventional way of connecting is full of humor and affection. Young readers will enjoy spotting Lester the cat as he paws his way into the story.
Ages 4-7 | Publisher: Groundwood Books | April 11, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1554984831
Publisher’s Synopsis: When Holland is arrested for the thirty-seventh time for stealing beautiful things, he must make a very difficult decision. A police officer says that he must either go to jail or become a soldier. He chooses to join the army and is sent south, where he finds himself surrounded by beautiful things: palm trees, parrots, flowers and big blue waves…and fish!
Holland starts painting pictures of the fish, which he sells at the market on the weekend. Soon, he has money to send home to his parents. They are worried that he’s gone back to his stealing ways, so his father writes to ask if he earned the money honestly. Holland writes back to reassure him that he has decided to paint instead of steal because “not everything that’s pretty can be stuffed in your pockets!”
Based on a true story about JonArno Lawson’s uncle, and accompanied by Natalie Nelson’s collage illustrations, this quirky picture book is about making choices – and art.
Ages 4-7 | Publisher: Groundwood Books | April 11, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1554989294
Written by Vanina Starkoff
Illustrated by Jane Springer
Publisher’s Synopsis: Boats of all shapes and sizes travel on the river, through the seasons, toward the sea. Who will you meet on the river?
This vibrant picture book from Brazil depicts the joy of the journey, showing in simple yet detailed illustrations the people you might meet along the way, the sights you might see and the food you might eat. Readers will delight in identifying recurring details when rereading. Reminiscent of the highly acclaimed Jimmy the Greatest!, which received six starred reviews, Along the River is a celebration of community bonds and shared experiences.
With strong social studies curriculum connections, Along the River introduces young children to an alternate form of transportation, as well as to some of the customs and culture of Brazil.
Ages 4-7 | Publisher: Groundwood Books | April 11, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1554989775
Written and Illustrated by Ian Falconer
Publisher’s Synopsis: Everyone’s favorite pig is about to have a birthday…but will her penchant for eavesdropping lead to more than presents?
Olivia’s birthday is days away. Plans must be made. Who makes plans? Moms! Who simply must know the plans? Olivia, who is NOT above eavesdropping. But when she not-so-accidentally-but-kinda overhears her mom talking about her not-so-squeaky-clean-and-possibly-very-bad-behavior, Olivia’s imagination runs wild…because it sounds like not only will there be no birthday, but Mom might just be sending her to military school instead. What a BAD birthday that would be!
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books | April 4, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1481457958
Written by Joseph Kuefler
Publisher’s Synopsis: A stunning picture book about sharing, friendship, and kindness in a playground setting from Joseph Kuefler, the author/illustrator of Beyond the Pond. Perfect for fans of Jon Klassen and Oliver Jeffers.
One morning, Jonah decided to become ruler of the playground.
Everyone agreed to obey his rules to play in King Jonah’s kingdom . . .
Everyone except for Lennox . . . because she wanted to rule the playground, too.
A gloriously rendered, hilariously deadpan tale of playground politics.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Balzer + Bray | April 18, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0062424327
Written and Illustrated by Corinna Luyken
Publisher’s Synopsis: Zoom meets Beautiful Oops! in this memorable picture book debut about the creative process, and the way in which “mistakes” can blossom into inspiration.
One eye was bigger than the other. That was a mistake.
The weird frog-cat-cow thing? It made an excellent bush.
And the inky smudges… they look as if they were always meant to be leaves floating gently across the sky.
As one artist incorporates accidental splotches, spots, and misshapen things into her art, she transforms her piece in quirky and unexpected ways, taking readers on a journey through her process. Told in minimal, playful text, this story shows readers that even the biggest “mistakes” can be the source of the brightest ideas—and that, at the end of the day, we are all works in progress, too.
Fans of Peter Reynolds’s Ish and Patrick McDonnell’s A Perfectly Messed-Up Story will love the funny, poignant, completely unique storytelling of The Book of Mistakes. And, like Oh, The Places You’ll Go!, it makes the perfect graduation gift, encouraging readers to have a positive outlook as they learn to face life’s obstacles.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Dial Books | April 18, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0735227927
Written by Dana Smith
Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
Publisher’s Synopsis: Gentle verse and sweeping, majestic artwork set imaginations soaring in a handsome and illuminating ode to the ancient art of falconry.
Join a young girl and her father, the falconer at a medieval castle, as they experience the joys of taking a goshawk out for a training flight. The girl leads readers through all the preparations and equipment needed for the flight — from the hawk’s hood and bells to the falconer’s gloves — culminating in a dramatic demonstration of the hawk’s hunting skill. Bagram Ibatoulline’s masterful illustrations capture the vivid details and beauty of a day spent hawking, while Danna Smith’s poetic storytelling will make readers long to experience the art and sport of falconry firsthand.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Candlewick | April 11, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0763679927
Illustrated by Adam Rex
Publisher’s Synopsis: From New York Times bestselling creators Drew Daywalt, author of The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home, and Adam Rex, author-illustrator of Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, comes a laugh-out-loud hilarious picture book about the epic tale of the classic game Rock, Paper, Scissors.
You’ve played the game. Now read the legend of how it all began . . .
Long ago, in an ancient and distant realm called the Kingdom of Backyard, there lived a warrior named ROCK.
Meanwhile in the Empire of Mom’s Home Office, a second great warrior sought the glory of battle. And his name was PAPER.
At the same time, in the Kitchen Realm, in the tiny village of Junk Drawer, lived a third warrior. They called her SCISSORS.
These three were the strongest, smartest, and fastest in all the land. Time and again they beat the most fearsome opponents they could find: an apricot, a computer printer—even frozen, breaded, dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets! But when the warriors finally meet each other, the most epic round of battles begins . . . and never ends. That is why, to this day, children around the world honor these worthy adversaries by playing ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS!
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Balzer + Bray | April 4, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0062438898
Publisher’s Synopsis: Dog park? Let’s go! Percy may be a small dog, but he more than makes up for it in attitude and energy. Holding tight to his precious toy ball, he makes his way to the dog park, coming across three friends along the way—Molly, with her kerchief; Oatmeal Cookie, with his Frisbee; and lovable giant Fluffy, with his bone. At the park, the four friends have fun running, digging, and sniffing—until a sneering, jeering squirrel dares to challenge Percy, causing him to drop his beloved toy. Percy’s ball sails through the air, flying so high that he might lose it forever… but an unlikely hero dashes in to save the day! Told from the perspective of a way-too-big-for-his-britches Jack Russell Terrier, and paired with humorous, quirky illustrations, this hilarious, original story from New York Times best-selling author Alison McGhee is brimming with enough personality and wit to keep children and adults alike giggling from start to finish.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Carolrhoda Books | April 1, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1467798433
Publisher’s Synopsis: Can a young boy figure out how to turn an obstacle into an opportunity in this nearly wordless picture book?
A morning of fun with Dad takes a turn for the boring when a long to-do list interferes. At first content to let Dad cross things off his list, the boy in the story soon realizes that the whole day will be spent on chores — unless he can come up with a solution. In his singularly expressive, kid-friendly style, author-illustrator Sam Zuppardi crafts a colorful celebration of the fun that can be had with just a little imagination — and a trusty green crayon.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Candlewick | March 11, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0763681463
Written by Jonathan London
Illustrated by Sean London
Publisher’s Synopsis: Watch Pup grow from his birth to first dive and from rambunctious play with other pups to a frightening encounter with a predator.
Bestselling author Jonathan London tells Pup’s story in sparse, poetic text with vivid vocabulary while luminous illustrations by London’s son, Sean London, bring the adorable Pup and his loving mother to life within the swirling sea around them.
London’s newest creation in his picture book collection about baby animals (including The Seasons of Little Wolf, Little Puffin’s First Flight, and Honey Paw and Lightfoot―about a bear cub) will entertain children with a combination of learning and fun. An author’s note at the end shares fascinating facts about this popular keystone species.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: WestWinds Press | April 4, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1943328871
Written by John McCutcheon
Illustrated by Kristy Caldwell
Publisher’s Synopsis: The moving story of a young boy who discovers the power of beauty and kindness during a time of war. Drasko helps his father sell flowers in Sarajevo, but when war threatens and his father is called to the battlefront, Drasko must take over the flower stall. One morning the boy’s familiar routine is shattered when a mortar shell hits the bakery, killing twenty-two people. The next day, a cellist from the Sarajevo Opera Orchestra goes to the crater and plays the most beautiful music that Drasko can imagine. Inspired, he looks for ways to ease the sorrow of those around him. Based on real events of the Bosnian War, award-winning songwriter and storyteller John McCutcheon tells the uplifting story of the power of beauty in the face of violence and suffering. The story comes to life with the included CD in which cellist Vedrun Smailovic accompanies McCutcheon and performs the melody that he played in 1992 to honor those who died in the Sarajevo mortar blast.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Peachtree Publishers | April 1, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1561459438
Written by Margaret Wild
Illustrated by Freya Blackwood
Publisher’s Synopsis: A moving and ultimately hopeful look at what we hold most dear — and carry with us — when we are forced to flee our homes because of war.
When the enemy bombs the library, everything burns, and only one book survives. As war rages around them, Peter and his father, alongside so many refugees, flee their home, taking with them a treasure box that holds something rarer than rubies and more precious than gold. They journey through mud and rain and long cold nights, and soon survival becomes more important than any possession. But as the years go by, Peter never forgets the treasure box, and one day he returns to find it. This moving story from celebrated author Margaret Wild is illustrated with Freya Blackwood’s subtly affecting artwork, which incorporates pages of children’s books in translation. The result is a haunting and beautiful tale of the power of stories and the resilience of the human spirit.
Ages 5-8 | Publisher: Candlewick | April 25, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0763690847
Written by Joanne Schwartz
Illustrated by Sydney Smith
Publisher’s Synopsis: A young boy wakes up to the sound of the sea, visits his grandfather’s grave after lunch and comes home to a simple family dinner, but all the while his mind strays to his father digging for coal deep down under the sea. Stunning illustrations by Sydney Smith, the award-winning illustrator of Sidewalk Flowers, show the striking contrast between a sparkling seaside day and the darkness underground where the miners dig.
With curriculum connections to communities and the history of mining, this beautifully understated and haunting story brings a piece of history to life. The ever-present ocean and inevitable pattern of life in a maritime mining town will enthrall children and move adult readers.
Ages 5-9 | Publisher: Groundwood Books | April 11, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1554988716
Written by Laurel Snyder
Illustrated by Emily Hughes
Publisher’s Synopsis: Four hilarious stories, two inventive brothers, one irresistible book! Join Charlie and Mouse as they talk to lumps, take the neighborhood to a party, sell some rocks, and invent the bedtime banana. With imagination and humor, Laurel Snyder and Emily Hughes paint a lively picture of brotherhood that children will relish in a format perfect for children not quite ready for chapter books.
Ages 6-9 | Publisher: Chronicle Books | April 11, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1452131535