[Those in bold are books received for review from either the publisher, author, or illustrator. All others not in bold are either ones I purchased or checked out from the library. All links and images are Amazon affiliate links. Worldcat.org can find the book for you at your nearest library and Indiebound.org can locate the book for you at your nearest local independent bookstore.]
Ninja Mouse by J.C. Thomas — We read it daily. It is a beautifully illustrated book told in haiku that has my son asking wonderful questions like, “What does it mean to shun negativity? How do you drink the universe? If nothing is no thing, why don’t we say ‘no thing’?” It’s fun, accessible, peaceful, and profound all at once.
The Dinner That Cooked Itself by J.C. Hsyu & Kenard Pak — A wonderful folktale that follows a man named Tuan as he seeks a wife and the answer to the mystery of who is making dinner for him. Both my husband and son protested the ending despite it being a happy one, but I think it is perfect. The illustrations are stunning and prompted my son to ask, “Is that what paradise looks like?” The Chinese characters throughout the book are so well placed that my son enthusiastically points to the characters and says what they mean. I’m impressed.
Thank You, Octopus by Darren Farrell — This is one of our absolute favorites. To quote my son, “It’s about an octopus that makes a bath, but it isn’t really a bath. It’s EGG SALAD!” This book is very funny even after reading it 1,233 times. (I’m only slightly exaggerating.) Egg salad, tubas, bear hugs, and rock music hilariously demonstrate the power of surprise and assumptions. It even had my husband laughing. We quote it daily and love the illustrations. My son credits Thank You, Octopus for teaching him about the Statue of Liberty. So, thank you, Thank You, Octopus!
The Littlest Lighthouse Keeper by Heidi and Daniel Howarth — is a book we’ve been reading for a little over three years now. My son really loves it as much now as he did when he was 18 months. It is a sweet book about a mouse and his new friends as they work together to change the light bulb in a lighthouse. Wonderful illustrations and a warm, cozy, and well-lit ending. It has a little bit of excitement and only good things.
Don’t Eat the Baby! by Amy Young — is a fantastic book that was a revelation for me in how my son interprets the world. My son strongly identifies with the little boy as he fends his family off from “eating” his new baby brother. It’s funny, sweet, honest, and again, it provides important insight into a young boy’s mind as he tries to understand the silly things that adults say. My son is enthralled with this book and it helped him understand me and my husband as much as it helped me understand him. Thank you, Amy Young, for writing this book!
Rainstorm by Barbara Lehman — is a wordless picture book that perfectly depicts our deep desires for exploration and friends. A young and lonely boy goes on an adventure after finding a key on a rainy day. This book is only good and happy things. The illustrations are wonderful with each page turn impossible to resist.
123 versus ABC by Mike Bolt — is a fun new take on alphabet and number books. It is wonderfully illustrated and told completely in dialogue as the number 1 and the letter A debate whether or not this picture book is an alphabet book or a number book. Lots of laughs, a little bit of seek and find (when 18 robots are wearing 19 sombreros we spend a moment to look for the extra sombrero). This is a fun book to help children solidly establish the different between numbers and letters.
That Day in September and other Rhymes for the Times￼ by Liz Lime — I don’t think Mother Goose could have said it better herself. “Remember, remember that day in September, when chaos ruled the skies…. The danger was met, but we will never forget our memories of those whom we cherished.” These 20 rhymes work to give a grounding and framework for children (and adults) about our world ranging in topics from George W. Bush’s foreign policy to Oprah to homelessness to consumerism to September 11th — this book is an impressive display of observation, perspective, and a great conversation starter. The rhymes are appealing to young and older children. Older children and young adults will find the rhymes and topics they cover to prove discussion worthy.
Elle & Buddy by K.D. Rausin & Muza Ulasowski — An awesome book about the true story of Elle, her dog, Buddy, and her new racing wheelchair! Elle is at first timid, but when she learns about wheelchair racing and gets her own racing wheelchair — nothing can stop her. Elle is currently on the wheelchair racing team at the University of Illinois! This is such an inspiring story that encourages everyone to pursue their dreams.
Hansel & Gretel: A Fairy Tale with a Down Syndrome Twist by Jewel Kats and Claudia Marie Lenart — is an amazingly illustrated book in needle felted wool. Follow Hansel and Gretel in this completely retold and re-imagined version that is sweet, heartwarming, and empowering. My son likes this book much better than the original fairy tale where they kill the witch! Hansel may have Down Syndrome, but that does not mean he is helpless. I am absolutely enamored with the needled felt images.
A Brand New Day: A Banana Split Story by A.S. Chung and Illustrated by Paula Bossio — Divorce is never an easy thing for children, but this story, told in verse, is wonderfully illustrated and tells the story from the child’s perspective about spending time with her mother and father on different days of the week. Even though her parents are no longer together, she knows that they still love and she loves them. It strongly and only focuses on the positive — which can give a preview to a child in the middle of the divorce process that there can be a new, happy normal. For those children whose parents are already divorced, it is nice to see yourself and family reflected. I wish I had this book after my parents divorced.
Peter and the Troll Baby by Jan Wahl and Illustrated by Erik Blegvad — Peter is vacationing with his family in Norway when trolls steal his baby sister! Peter tries to tell his parents, but they don’t believe him. Peter feels terrible because he is the one that wished for the trolls to take his sister away in the first place. Peter jumps on Sigurd, his beloved horse, and sets off to save his baby sister! Oh the adventure! The suspense and danger keeps my son on the edge of his seat! Clearly my son is enthralled with tales about being the big brother — and this story is perfectly told and illustrated. He asks us to read this to him regularly. It is no longer in print, but there are several available for $4. It’s a very fun adventure with very scary trolls and a very heroic little boy! I’m personally a fan of the scenery and am going to start lobbying for our next vacation to be in Norway.
The Gobblings by Matthue Roth and Illustrated by Rohan Daniel Eason — is wonderful and very eerie. We’ve been reading and loving The Gobblings. Set in space, this is a tale about space pests eating the family’s space station. The only one who notices is the little boy — the adults are all too busy doing other things. This would be completely terrifying, but fortunately one little boy can save them! The illustrations have a vintage feel, set the tone perfectly, and are creepy and reassuring at the same time. Really, this book is brilliant. By the same team that created My First Kafka — The Gobblings is a story for those craving adventure and bravery. The Gobblings evokes my son’s sense of heroism — he wants to save us all from the monsters each time we read it.
Neo the Cool Cat by Josh Prigge and Minha Park — When Neo, a most-beloved kitty, gets sick, Miba paints a door on his stomach and walks right in. Once inside of Neo, Miba searches to find out how to help Neo get better. Her adventure is engrossing, thrilling, beautiful, and had my son jumping up and down asking me to read it to him again. Neo the Cool Cat is creative, adventurous, gorgeous, funny, and very, very sweet. It’s an amazing story that has my whole family dazzled.
There are more books I want to tell you about, but I’m running out of time for today. I hope you have a wonderful, wonderful week and Happy Reading!