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February 2018 Picture Book Recap

March 20, 2018

WOAH! A whole lot of amazing picture books came out in February. I've hand-selected a set of books my family and I really enjoyed. These books have staying power and some of them were passed off to teacher after teacher as I was asked recommendations for books on Read Across America Day. I've deliberately left off books this month that were recently covered on the podcast (specifically WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A CHANCE? and THE FIELD) in order to leave room for other titles. I wonder if you read and loved any of these? And I wonder which books weren't included on my list for one reason or another that definitely made it onto yours. (Be sure to share in the comments below!)

 

Here's a collection of the books I can't stop thinking about from February. 

I wonder what were your favorite releases from this month? Please be sure to share in the comments below. I can't wait to read your recommendations (and I know others will be excited, too!).  

 

FEBRUARY 2018 Recap (selected picture books):

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld

 

With its spare, poignant text and irresistibly sweet illustrations, The Rabbit Listened is a tender meditation on loss.When something terrible happens, Taylor doesn't know where to turn. All the animals are sure they have the answer. The chicken wants to talk it out, but Taylor doesn't feel like chatting. The bear thinks Taylor should get angry, but that's not quite right either. One by one, the animals try to tell Taylor how to process this loss, and one by one they fail. Then the rabbit arrives. All the rabbit does is listen, which is just what Taylor needs.Whether read in the wake of tragedy or as a primer for comforting others, this is a deeply moving and unforgettable story sure to soothe heartache of all sizes.

 

Idea Jar by Adam Lehrhaupt and Deb Pilutti 
 

From the author of Warning: Do Not Open This Book comes a lively story about a teacher’s special jar where her students keep their story ideas—but watch out when those ideas go on the loose!

 

The idea jar is where students keep their ideas—anything from a Viking to a space robot to a giant dragon. These ideas can be combined to make new exciting stories. But watch out when the ideas escape the jar—they might get a little rowdy! Adam Lehrhaupt’s newest picture book is sure to inspire creativity, imagination, and adventure.

 

Neither by Airlie Anderson 
 
In the Land of This and That, there are only two kinds: blue bunnies and yellow birds. But one day a funny green egg hatches, and a little creature that's not quite a bird and not quite a bunny pops out. It's neither!
 
Neither tries hard to fit in, but its bird legs aren't good for jumping like the other bunnies, and its fluffy tail isn't good for flapping like the other birds. It sets out to find a new home and discovers a very different place, one with endless colors and shapes and creatures of all kinds. But when a blue bunny and a yellow bird with some hidden differences of their own arrive, it's up to Neither to decide if they are welcome in the Land of All.
 
This colorful, simple, and touching story promotes diversity and offers a valuable lesson to the youngest of audiences: it is our differences that unite us.

 

Teddy's Favorite Toy by Christian Trimmer and Madeline Valentine

 

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?

 

Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller and Jen Hill

 

From the award-winning author of Sophie's Squash comes a thoughtful picture book about the power of kindness.

 

When Tanisha spills grape juice all over her new dress, her classmate wants to make her feel better, wondering:

 

What does it mean to be kind?

 

From asking the new girl to play to standing up for someone being bullied, this moving story explores what kindness is, and how any act, big or small, can make a difference―or at least help a friend.

 

With a gentle text from Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor author Pat Zietlow Miller, and irresistible art from Jen Hill, Be Kind is an unforgettable story about how two simple words can change the world.

 

The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates and Juniper Bates 

 

In the tradition of Alison McGhee's Someday, beloved illustrator Amy June Bates makes her authorial debut alongside her eleven-year-old daughter with this timely and timeless picture book about acceptance.

 

By the door there is an umbrella. It is big. It is so big that when it starts to rain there is room for everyone underneath. It doesn't matter if you are tall. Or plaid. Or hairy. It doesn't matter how many legs you have.

 

Don't worry that there won't be enough room under the umbrella. Because there will always be room.Lush illustrations and simple, lyrical text subtly address themes of inclusion and tolerance in this sweet story that accomplished illustrator Amy June Bates cowrote with her daughter, Juniper, while walking to school together in the rain.

 

Vincent Comes Home by Jessixa Bagley and Aaron Bagley

 

Jessixa Bagley, author and illustrator of Laundry Day, Before I Leave, and Boats For Papa (winner of the 2016 SCBWI Golden Kite Award for best picture book text) and Aaron Bagley (illustrator of Rocking Fatherhood) have been drawing and writing together since they met in art school more than a decade ago. What started off as a courtship of doodling in sketchbooks and belching in lockers soon turned into a marriage of doodling in sketchbooks and belching with their son.

 

Their artistic partnership is a balanced collaboration of overlapping their individual styles and painting techniques--creating one cohesive language. Vincent Comes Home is their first picture book together. And much like Vincent, they have moved around a lot but their home has always been each other.

 

 

Mary Had a Little Lab by Sue Fliess and Petros Bouloubasis

 

Mary is an enterprising young inventor. Mary wants a pet, but it isn't one she can easily buy...so she makes one with the Sheepinator. Soon Mary, her sheep, and her new invention gain her popularity and friends. But when she starts making sheep for her new friends, chaos abounds.

 

I Walk with Vanessa: A Story about a Simple Act of Kindness by Kerascoet

 

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.

 

School People by Lee Bennett Hopkins and Ellen Shi

 

Welcome to school, a building of brick "full of soul and heart," eager for students and staff to fill its halls with sounds. This anthology of fifteen poems celebrates the grown-up people that children encounter throughout the course of their school day: the school bus driver with her morning smile, the teacher who inspires imagination, the rarely seen, yet caring custodian, and the nurse who heals hurts, big and small. There's even a poem about the school building. Award-winning poet and anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins has compiled this marvelous collection featuring a variety of brand-new works by well-known poets and beautifully imaginative artwork by illustrator Ellen Shi.

 

The Big Bed by Bunmi Laditan and Tom Knight

 

From Bunmi Laditan, the creator of the Honest Toddler blog, The Big Bed is a humorous picture book about a girl who doesn't want to sleep in her little bed, so she presents her dad with his own bed--a camping cot --in order to move herself into her parents' big bed in his place. A twist on the classic parental struggle of not letting kids sleep in their bed.

 

Girl Running by Annette Bay Pimentel and Micha Archer

 

The inspiring story of the first female to run the Boston Marathon comes to life in stunningly vivid collage illustrations.Because Bobbi Gibb is a girl, she's not allowed to run on her school's track team. But after school, no one can stop her--and she's free to run endless miles to her heart's content. She is told no yet again when she tries to enter the Boston Marathon in 1966, because the officials claim that it's a man's race and that women are just not capable of running such a long distance. So what does Bobbi do? She bravely sets out to prove the naysayers wrong and show the world just what a girl can do.

 

The Truth about Hippos: Seriously Funny Facts about Your Favorite Animals by Maxwell Eaton III

 

Maxwell Eaton III's The Truth About Hippos is a lighthearted nonfiction picture book, filled with useful facts about hippos that will make you laugh so hard you won’t even realize you’re learning something!

 

Blacksmith's Song by Elizabeth Van Steenwyk and Anna Rich

 

The son of an enslaved blacksmith learns that his father is using the rhythm of his hammering to communicate with travelers on the Underground Railroad.

 

When Pa falls ill, it is up to him to help others along the journey―and also lead his family's escape. Pa works hard as a blacksmith. But he's got another important job to do as well: using his anvil to pound out the traveling rhythm―a message to travelers on the Underground Railroad. His son wants to help, but Pa keeps putting him off. Then one day, Pa falls ill and the boy has to take over.

 

Moth and Wasp, Soil and Ocean: Remembering Chinese Scientist Pu Zhelong's Work for Sustainable Farming by Sigrid Schmalzer and Melanie Linden Chan 

 

The narrator is a composite of people Pu Zhelong influenced in his work. With further context from Melanie Chan’s historically precise watercolors, this story will immerse young readers in Chinese culture, the natural history of insects, and the use of biological controls in farming. Backmatter provides context and background for this lovely, sophisticated picture book about nature, science, and Communist China.

 

“The first time I saw a scientist in my village was also the first time I saw a wasp hatch out of a moth’s egg,” writes the narrator of this picture book about Chinese scientist Pu Zhelong. “In that moment I could not have said which was the more unexpected―or the more miraculous.

 

”In the early 1960s, while Rachel Carson was writing and defending Silent Spring in the U.S., Pu Zhelong was teaching peasants in Mao Zedong’s Communist China how to forgo pesticides and instead use parasitic wasps to control the moths that were decimating crops and contributing to China’s widespread famine.

 

This story told through the memories of a farm boy (a composite of people inspired by Pu Zhelong) will immerse young readers in Chinese culture, the natural history of insects, and sustainable agriculture. Backmatter provides historical context for this lovely, sophisticated picture book.

 

The Secret Kingdom: Nek Chand, a Changing India, and a Hidden World of Art by Barb Rosenstock and Claire A. Nivola

 

WAfter the partition of India in 1947, Nek Chand Saini settled in the city of Chandigarh, with nothing but stories brought from his homeland. Dismayed at his stark new surroundings, Nek began collecting river rocks, broken glass, and cracked water pots found on the roadside. He cleared a section of jungle and for seven years he stockpiled odds and ends. They were castoffs and rubbish to everyone else, but to Nek, they were treasures. He began to build a labyrinth of curving paths, mosaics, and repeating patterns: his very own tribute to the winding village of his youth, a hidden land of stories. Nek kept his kingdom secret for fifteen years, until a government crew stumbled upon it and sought to destroy it. But local fans agreed in awe: the Rock Garden had to be protected. Author Barb Rosenstock introduces readers to the outsider artist's stunning creation, while Claire A. Nivola's illustrations bring to life the land's natural beauty and the surreal world Nek coaxed from his wild landscape.

*This post contains affiliate links. Any purchases made through these links will support the costs of maintaining the podcast, webcomic, and other materials associated with this site. 

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