Best New Picture Books | September 2017
The Children’s Book Review | September 1, 2017
32 New Release Picture Books
Yes, you read that correctly. We have 32 excellent picture books to share with you this month. And there were so many more that we could have included, too! It is such a great list (if you ask us) that it feels like Christmas. And, since we mentioned Christmas, there are even some beautiful new holiday titles that have made the list. We can’t go without mentioning the genius names of new characters Baabwaa and Wooliam (yes, they are sheep), or the wonderful message of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s It Takes a Village (gorgeously illustrated by the very talented Marla Frazee).
Of the 32 best new picture books we have selected for you to read your way through, we wonder which one you are going to want to read first?
Written by Lorin Clarke
Illustrated by Mitch Vane
Publisher’s Synopsis: What a fabulous morning to go to the market. That busker is dressed as a clown! And there’s fruit and a baker. There are people on bikes. Annabelle, please put that down . . . This boisterous family excursion is full of warmth, humor and delicious mischief.
Ages 2-5 | Publisher: Allen & Unwin | September 1, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1925266962
Written and Illustrated by Patrick McDonnell
Publisher’s Synopsis: Bestselling and award-winning artist Patrick McDonnell uses the ABC’s to tell a hilarious, high-energy alphabetical adventure.
It starts with an ALLIGATOR and a BEAR chasing a CAT. When a DRAGON (and a chicken and an egg!) join in pursuit, things start to get REALLY interesting. A wild and wacky chase through snow and ice, and to jungles and over mountaintops, leads the whole crew to a wonderful realization: They’re better off as friends.
From New York Times bestselling author and Caldecott Honor recipient Patrick McDonnell comes an exciting new take on the alphabet book for everyone who has ever wondered what’s just beyond the front door.
Ages 3-6 | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | September 5, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0316502467
Written and Illustrated by Kenard Pak
Publisher’s Synopsis: As leaves fall from their trees, animals huddle against the cold, and frost creeps across windows, everyone knows―winter is on its way!
Join a brother and sister as they explore nature and take a stroll through their twinkling town, greeting all the signs of the coming season. In a series of conversations with everything from the setting sun to curious deer, they say goodbye to autumn and welcome the glorious first snow of winter.
Ages 3-6 | Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. | September 5, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1627794169
Written by Julie Fogliano
Illustrated by Christian Robinson
Publisher’s Synopsis: In this enthusiastic celebration of all things BIRTHDAY, acclaimed author Julie Fogliano and award-winning illustrator Christian Robinson bring you the perfect birthday book! Join our excited narrator as she lists all the things that will make her birthday the BEST birthday.
when’s my birthday?
where’s my birthday?
how many days until my birthday?
i’d like a pony for my birthday
and a necklace for my birthday.
i’d like a chicken for my birthday.
i’d like a ball to bounce and bounce.
i’d like a big cake on my birthday
with lots of chocolate on my birthday
and lots of candles on my birthday
1,2,3,4,5, and 6!
Ages 3-6 | Publisher: Roaring Brook Press | September 5, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1626722934
Written by Atinuke
Illustrated by Angela Brooksbank
Publisher’s Synopsis: Join Baby and his doting mama at a bustling southwest Nigerian marketplace for a bright, bouncy read-aloud offering a gentle introduction to numbers.
Market is very crowded.
Mama is very busy.
Baby is very curious.
When Baby and Mama go to the market, Baby is so adorable that the banana seller gives him six bananas. Baby eats one and puts five in the basket, but Mama doesn’t notice. As Mama and Baby wend their way through the stalls, cheeky Baby collects five oranges, four biscuits, three ears of sweet corn, two pieces of coconut . . . until Mama notices that her basket is getting very heavy! Poor Baby, she thinks, he must be very hungry by now! Rhythmic language, visual humor, and a bounty of delectable food make this a tale that is sure to whet little appetites for story time.
Ages 3-7 | Publisher: Candlewick | September 5, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0763695705
Written by Patricia Toht
Illustrated by Jarvis
Publisher’s Synopsis: A festive read-aloud brimming with all the joy and excitement of Christmastime — beginning, of course, with picking out a tree!
Part of the magic of the Christmas season stems from the traditions that families and friends take part in every year: hanging up stockings; putting lights in the windows; and, one of the most important of all, picking out and taking home the Christmas tree. With style and warmth, debut author Patricia Toht and Jarvis, the author-illustrator of Alan’s Big, Scary Teeth, evoke all the rituals of decorating the tree — digging out boxes jam-packed with ornaments and tree trimmings, stringing tinsel, and, at long last, turning on those twinkling lights. Joyously drawn and rhythmically written, this celebration of family, friends, and the holiday season is as merry as the tradition it depicts.
Ages 3-7 | Publisher: Candlewick | September 19, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0763695712
Written by Judy Sierra
Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
Publisher’s Synopsis: A lively new picture-book biography of the most beloved children’s book author of all time: Dr. Seuss!
Have you ever wondered how the great Dr. Seuss wrote his most famous book? Did you know that for The Cat in the Hat, he wasn’t allowed to make up the fun words he was known for—like OOBLECK and IT-KUTCH and HIPPO-NO-HUNGUS? He was only allowed to use words from a very strict list!
This bouncy account of the early career of Dr. Seuss (a.k.a. Ted Geisel) proves that sometimes limitations can be the best inspiration of all.
Kid-friendly prose (with Seussian rhyme for Ted’s dialogue) and whimsical illustrations by award winner Kevin Hawkes recall the work of Dr. Seuss himself. Writing tips from Dr. Seuss and exclusive letters from the author and illustrator, detailing how they created this book, are included!
Ages 3-7 | Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers | September 12, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0553510973
Written by Melanie Florence
Illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard
Publisher’s Synopsis: The story of the beautiful relationship between a little girl and her grandfather. When she asks her grandfather how to say something in his language, Cree, he admits that his language was stolen from him when he was a boy. The little girl then sets out to help her grandfather find his language again. This sensitive, beautifully illustrated picture book explores the intergenerational impact of Canada’s residential school system, which separated young Indigenous children from their families.
Ages 4-7 | Publisher: Second Story Press | September 5, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1772600377
Written by Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrated by Brian Pinkey
Publisher’s Synopsis: A black mother expresses the many hopes and dreams she has for her child in this powerful picture book masterpiece that’s perfect for gift-giving.
When you are a newborn,
I hold your hand and study your face.
I cradle you as you drift to sleep.
But I know that I will not always
hold your hand;
not the older you get.
Then, I will hold you in my heart
And hope that God holds you in his hands.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers | September 12, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1481462938
Written by Michael Mahin
Illustrated by Evan Turk
Publisher’s Synopsis: A picture book celebration of the indomitable Muddy Waters, a blues musician whose fierce and electric sound laid the groundwork for what would become rock and roll.
Muddy Waters was never good at doing what he was told. When Grandma Della said the blues wouldn’t put food on the table, Muddy didn’t listen. And when record producers told him no one wanted to listen to a country boy playing country blues, Muddy ignored them as well. This tenacious streak carried Muddy from the hardscrabble fields of Mississippi to the smoky juke joints of Chicago and finally to a recording studio where a landmark record was made.
Soon the world fell in love with the tough spirit of Muddy Waters. In blues-infused prose and soulful illustrations, Michael Mahin and award-winning artist Evan Turk tell Muddy’s fascinating and inspiring story of struggle, determination, and hope.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers | September 5, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1481443494
Written by Dashka Slater
Illustrated by Terry Fan and Eric Fan
Publisher’s Synopsis: An inquisitive fox sets off on a seafaring voyage with a crew of deer and pigeons in this enchanting tale of friendship and adventure.
Marco the fox has a lot of questions, like: how deep does the sun go when it sinks into the sea? And why do birds have such lizardy feet? But none of the other foxes share his curiosity. So when a magnificent ship adorned with antlers and with a deer for a captain arrives at the dock looking for a crew, Marco volunteers, hoping to find foxes who are as inquisitive as he is that can answer his questions. The crew finds adventure and intrigue on their journey. And, at last, Marco finds the answer to his most important question of all: What’s the best way to find a friend you can talk to?
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Beach Lane Books | September 12, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1481451604
Written by Ariel Bernstein
Illustrated by Scott Magoon
Publisher’s Synopsis: Owl has a balloon. Monkey does not. What will happen next? Hint: this is not a book about sharing.
Owl has a red balloon. Monkey does not. “That red balloon matches my shiny red tie,” says Monkey. “I’d look fancy walking to school with a shiny red balloon. The only thing I’ve ever wanted, since right now, is a shiny, big red balloon. It would make me SO HAPPY!” But Owl does not want to give it to him. So Monkey tries to find something that Owl wants: a teddy bear, a robot, a picture of TEN balloons. Owl does not want any of these things. But then, Monkey offers him…a sock!
Hmmmmm…Owl is intrigued. Will he trade his shiny red balloon with Monkey?
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books | September 26, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1481472500
Written by Hillary Rodham Clinton
Illustrated by Marla Frazee
Publisher’s Synopsis: “What does it take to change the world?”
Former Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton’s first book for young readers, inspired by the themes of her classic New York Times bestselling book It Takes a Village, and illustrated by two-time Caldecott Honor recipient Marla Frazee, asks readers what can they do to make the world a better place?
It Takes a Village tells the heartwarming and universal story of a diverse community coming together to make a difference. All kinds of people working together, playing together, and living together in harmony makes a better village and many villages coming together can make a better world. Together we can build a better life for one another. Together we can change our world.
The book will resonate with children and families and through the generations as it encourages readers to look for a way they can make a difference. It is a book that you will surely want to read again and again, a book you will want to share and a book that will inspire.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books | September 12, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1481430876
Written and Illustrated by Nicola Killen
Publisher’s Synopsis: An enchanting Christmas story about a magical yet unlikely friendship between a little girl and a lost reindeer, lovingly told and illustrated with red foil highlights and interactive die cuts.
When a jingling sound wakes her from her sleep, a little girl’s dreams come true when she meets a lost reindeer in the forest. They set off on a magical adventure and it becomes a Christmas never to forget. Nicola Killen’s evocative illustrations are sure to enchant in this beautiful book with die cut pages, foil, and flashes of festive red.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books | September 19, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1481486866
Written by Holly Grant and K.G. Campbell
Publisher’s Synopsis: With a lyrical text and gorgeous, ethereal illustrations, here is a mesmerizing and magical original bedtime fairy tale reminiscent of Emily Winfield Martin’s Dream Animals, and perfect for reading aloud.
They say there’s a girl
Who lives by the woods
In a crooked old house
With no garden but gloom.
She doesn’t have parents.
No one knows her name.
But the people in town
Call her Wee Sister Strange.
Like Emily Winfield Martin’s bestselling Dream Animals, here is a bedtime read-aloud sure to entrance young listeners. Each evening, as the shadows grow long, Wee Sister Strange climbs from her window and runs into the woods. She talks to the owls and rides on a bear. She clambers up trees and dives into the bog. She is searching for something…. She looks far and wide, over forest and marsh. What is it she seeks? Why, it’s a wee bedtime story to help her fall asleep!
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Schwartz & Wade | September 19, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0553508796
Written and Illustrated by Peter Sís
Publisher’s Synopsis: A boy who loves adventure.
A mysterious solo journey.
A remote island wilderness.
Cast away in this beautiful dreamlike story
and discover what surprises await.
Peter Sís blends a true story from his childhood
with the fictional adventure of Robinson Crusoe to create
a magical picture book filled with heart and imagination
that readers will want to return to again and again.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Scholastic Press | September 26, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0545731669
Written by Paige Britt
Illustrated by Selina Alko and Sean Qualls
Publisher’s Synopsis: Presented as a thoughtful, poetic exchange between two characters — who don’t realize they are thinking and asking the very same questions — this beautiful celebration of our humanity and diversity invites readers of all ages to imagine a world where there is no you or me, only we.
If the first step toward healing the world is to build bridges of empathy and celebrate rather than discriminate, Why Am I Me? helps foster a much-needed sense of connection, compassion, and love.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Scholastic Press | September 12, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1338053142
Written by Sherri Duskey Rinker
Illustrated by John Rocco
Publisher’s Synopsis: In this loving tribute to Virginia Lee Burton, the New York Times best-selling creators Sherri Duskey Rinker and John Rocco pay homage to the storied life of one of the most beloved creators in children’s literature.
Everyone in Folly Cove knows Virginia Lee as “Jinnee.” With her magical wands she can draw whatever she imagines, but for her sons Aris and Michael, she draws the most wonderful characters of all: BIG MACHINES with friendly names like Mary Anne, Maybelle, and Katy. Her marvelous magical wands can make anything move—even a cheerful Little House.
Ages 4-7 | Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers | September 5, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0544715578
Written by Nnedi Okorafor
Illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini
Publisher’s Synopsis: What would you do if you woke up to find the shadow of a giant chicken passing your bedroom door? Go and investigate, of course!
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Lantana Publishing | September 1, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1911373155
Written by Susan Verde
Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Publisher’s Synopsis: When the world feels chaotic, find peace within through an accessible mindfulness practice from the bestselling picture-book dream team that brought us I Am Yoga. Express emotions through direct speech. Find empathy through imagination. Connect with the earth. Wonder at the beauty of the natural world. Breathe, taste, smell, touch, and be present.
Perfect for the classroom or for bedtime, Susan Verde’s gentle, concrete narration and Peter H. Reynolds’s expressive watercolor illustrations bring the tenets of mindfulness to a kid-friendly level. Featuring an author’s note about the importance of mindfulness and a guided meditation for children, I Am Peace will help readers of all ages feel grounded and restored.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers | September 26, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1419727016
Written by Josh Funk
Illustrated by Edwardian Taylor
Publisher’s Synopsis: Jack is not fond of the bossy narrator of his fairy tale! When Jack is told to trade his beloved cow Bessie for some magic beans, throw the beans out the window, climb the ENORMOUS beanstalk that sprouts overnight, and steal from a GIANT, he decides this fairy tale is getting out of control. In fact, he doesn’t want to follow the story line at all. Who says Jack needs to enter a life of daring, thievery, and giant trickery? He takes his story into his own hands—and you’ll never guess what happens next!
With laugh-out-loud dialogue and bold, playful art (including hidden fairy tale creatures for kids to find), this Jack and the Beanstalk retelling will have children rolling with laughter till Bessie the cow comes home.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Two Lions | September 19, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1542045650
Written by Matt Forrest Esenwine
Illustrated by Fred Koehler
Publisher’s Synopsis: Flashlight Night is an ode to the power of imagination and the wonder of books. Three children use a flashlight to light a path around their backyard at night; in the flashlight’s beam another world looms. Our heroes encounter spooky woods, a fearsome tiger, a time-forgotten tomb, an Egyptian god, a sword-fighting pirate, and a giant squid. With ingenuity, they vanquish all, then return to their tree house―braver, closer, and wiser than before―to read the books that inspired their adventure.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Boyds Mills Press | September 19, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1629794938
Written by David Elliott
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Publisher’s Synopsis: A hilarious and satisfying tale of literacy, dental hygiene, and friendship from David Elliott and Melissa Sweet that is sure to have readers in stitches from start to finish.
Baabwaa is a sheep who loves to knit. Wooliam is a sheep who loves to read. It sounds a bit boring, but they like it. Then, quite unexpectedly, a third sheep shows up. A funny-looking sheep who wears a tattered wool coat and has long, dreadfully decaying teeth. Wooliam, being well-read, recognizes their new acquaintance: the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing! The wolf is so flattered to discover his literary reputation precedes him that he stops trying to eat Baabwaa and Wooliam. And a discovery by the sheep turns the encounter into an unexpected friendship.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Candlewick | September 12, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0763660741
Illustrated by Susan Jeffers
Publisher’s Synopsis: Susan Jeffers, the Caldecott Honor and New York Times bestselling artist of The Nutcracker and The Twelve Days of Christmas, takes readers on an enchanted journey set to lyrics from the beloved holiday song.
Dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open sleigh
O’er the fields we go, laughing all the way…
Ride along with a girl, a boy, their pony, and a mischievous dog as they travel to Grandma’s house. With playful animals in their path, their journey gets a bit sidetracked. But soon enough they arrive at Grandma’s—where an unexpected visitor fills them with holiday cheer!
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: HarperCollins | September 19, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0062360205
Written by T.E. McMorrow
Illustrated by James Ransome
Publisher’s Synopsis: This jazz-inspired reinvention of The Nutcracker is a worthy tribute to the dreamlike wonder and magic of the Christmas season.
In this original retelling, set in New York City during the height of the Harlem Renaissance, one little girl finds her voice as a musician thanks to her enchanting adventures with a magical toy.
This quintessential holiday tale is brought to vivid life by debut picture book author T. E. McMorrow and Coretta Scott King Award-winning illustrator James Ransome. An author’s note at the end provides additional information about the history of the Harlem Renaissance, and about the author’s inspiration for this musical retelling.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: HarperCollins | September 19, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0061175985
Written and Illustrated by Beatrice Alemagna
Publisher’s Synopsis: All I want to do on a rainy day like today is play my game. My mom says it’s a waste of time, but without my game, nothing is fun! On the other hand, maybe I’m wrong about that…
While reading On a Magical Do-Nothing Day, one gets the sense that the illustrator became lost in her drawings, and as a reader, you will want to do the same. Perfect for fans of picture books by Julie Morstad, Carson Ellis, Jon Klassen, and Tomi Ungerer.
From the creator of The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy and A Lion in Paris! “Hands down, Beatrice Alemagna is my favorite contemporary illustrator,” said the Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator of Last Stop on Market Street, Christian Robinson.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: HarperCollins | September 12, 2017 | ISBN-13: 9780062657602
Written by Kevin Henkes
Illustrated by Laura Dronzek
Publisher’s Synopsis: Everything is yellow, red, orange.
Everything is chilly, frisky, gusty.
Everything is changing, turning.
It’s the middle of Fall.
Can you see it?
Can you taste it?
Can you smell it?
Can you imagine it?
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Greenwillow Books | September 5, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0062573117
Written by Susan Middleton Elya
Illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
Publisher’s Synopsis: The Princess and the Pea gets a fresh twist in this charming bilingual retelling.
El príncipe knows this girl is the one for him, but, as usual, his mother doesn’t agree.
The queen has a secret test in mind to see if this girl is really a princesa.
But the prince might just have a sneaky plan, too . . .
Readers will be enchanted by this Latino twist on the classic story, and captivated by the vibrant art inspired by the culture of Peru.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers | September 15, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0399251566
Written by Alexandre Lacroix
Illustrated by Ronan Badel
Publisher’s Synopsis: Young Drake the dragon is sent to the local village to cause some mischief and start a fire. But Drake has only ever breathed fire to roast a tasty caterpillar. How will be burn down a whole house? Or a school? Or even an old wooden shack? Has Drake got what it takes to make his father proud?
Dragons: Father and Son is a funny and moving story about the bonds between fathers and children, with a positive, peaceful message – and all the magic and mayhem you’d hope for in a tale about dragons.
Ages 5-8 | Publisher: words & pictures | September 5, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1910277256
Written and Illustrated by Jacques Goldstyn
Translated by Karen Li
Publisher’s Synopsis: Told entirely through illustrations, Letters to a Prisoner is a wordless story about the power of hope and the written word. Inspired by Amnesty International’s letter-writing campaigns to help free people who have been jailed for expressing their opinion, the book tells the story of a man who is arrested during a peaceful protest. In solitary confinement, he begins to despair―until a bird delivers a letter of support written by somebody outside the prison. Every day more missives arrive until the prisoner escapes his fate on wings made of letters.
Simple illustrations convey plenty of rich symbolism to provoke thought and discussion. A letter from the author provides more information about Amnesty International’s Write for Rights campaign.
Ages 5-8 | Publisher: Owlkids | September 15, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1771472517
Written by Bonny Becker
Illustrated by Kady MacDonald
Publisher’s Synopsis: Bear’s minimalist holiday celebration has an eager Mouse feeling a bit anxious in this humorous and heartwarming story about the unlikely, lovable pair.
One frosty night, Bear hears a tap, tap, tapping on his front door. “Merry Christmas!” cries Mouse. Mouse is there for a Christmas party, and Bear has never had one before, but he’s certain that pickles (preferably from France) must be an essential component, along with the reading of a long and difficult poem. The problem is, whenever Bear comes back from the kitchen with more treats, Mouse has vanished — only to be found, small and gray and guilty-eyed, scurrying under the bed or rifling through the closet. Will there be even a tiny present involved? “Hogwash!” scolds Bear. Get ready for holiday anticipation and the best kind of surprises as the curmudgeonly Bear and a hopeful Mouse return in a warm, funny tale full of holiday cheer and true friendship.
Ages 5-9 | Publisher: Candlewick | September 19, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0763649234
Written and Illustrated by Owen Davey
Publisher’s Synopsis: Did you know that the fishing cat has partially webbed paws for catching fish? Or that pumas can leap over 15 feet into trees? There are roughly 38 species of cats today, each one superbly adapted to their environment – whether that be in the rainforest or the desert!
Ages 5-10 | Publisher: Flying Eye Books | September 5, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1911171164
*Header image illustration from It Takes a Village written by Hillary Rodham Clinton and llustrated by Marla Frazee (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books 2017)