ten to brighten dreary November

November feels like a hunkering down sort of month. The damper and chillier the weather, the better it sounds to light some candles and snuggle up with a good book. These ten are just the ticket. I promise you won’t want to miss a single one!

how the sun got to coco's house cover image

How the Sun Got to Coco’s House, written and illustrated by Bob Graham
published in 2015 by Candlewick Press

Brilliant as always, Bob Graham beautifully, quietly, leads us around the world, tracing the journey of sunlight. Its golden rays skidder over lonely ocean waves and tinge a snowy woodland with violet shadows. It glints off minarets and washes palely over villages.

how the sun got to coco's house interior bob graham

Finally it beams into Coco’s window, awakening her to the delights of a new day. Graham’s uncanny ability to portray a hush of wonder, to explore the simultaneous vastness and intimacy of our world, to make a puddle of sunshine feel like the miracle it is — is unrivaled. Another beauty for ages 2 and up.

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The Queen’s Hat, written and illustrated by Steve Antony
originally published in the UK; first published in the U.S. in 2015 by Scholastic Press

Queen Elizabeth herself, accompanied by one faithful corgi, are off to visit someone verrrrry special, but with a mighty swirl, the wind sweeps her favorite hat right off her royal head!

the queen's hat illustration steve antony

Follow that hat! Scamper through the streets of London, scramble up and over those Trafalgar lions, tumble over the turrets of the Tower Bridge, right along with the queen, her corgi, and a vast number of red-coated palace guards. It’s an incredibly delightful British romp!

Stylish illustrations, buckets of energy, and you will LOVE the special someone she’s rushing to visit. Ages 2 and up.

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The Tea Party in the Woods, written and illustrated by Akiko Miyakoshi
originally published in Japan; English translation edition 2015 by Kids Can Press

Little Kikko has an important errand — she’s to deliver a pie to her grandmother. Through the silent, snowy woods she struggles until she finds herself at a mysterious house.

the tea party in the woods illustration akiko miyakoshi

To her surprise, a curious party of forest creatures are gathered there, who warmly welcome Kikko to tea. Such a delicious tea, too, and afterwards the kindly animals form a merry parade, guiding Kikko straight to her grandmother’s door.

the tea party in the woods illustration2 akiko miyakoshi

It’s a richly, fanciful tale, illustrated in such loveliness it about breaks your heart. Gorgeous and magical for ages 4 and up.

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Tiptoe Tapirs, written and illustrated by Hanmin Kim
first published in Korea; first US edition 2015 by Holiday House

I’ve got a soft spot for tapirs. They were my youngest daughter’s favorite animal once upon a time, and they’re Hanmin Kim’s favorite, too! So…

tiptoe tapirs interior hanmin kim

This irresistible tale whisks us into the jungle — the noisy, raucous jungle — where only Tapir and her Little One practice a gentle quietness, tiptoe-tiptoeing their way along. How their silent ways and Little Tapir’s generous heart save the day for someone quite ferocious — that’s the jaunty tale in this book.

Energetic illustrations in watercolor, drawing ink, and marker give a marvelously bold, exotic vibe to these pages. Splendid, for ages 2 and up (with some scary, toothy parts!)

wait cover image

Wait, written and illustrated by Antoinette Portis
published in 2015 by Roaring Brook Press

It’s a typical morning for this mom and her young son — she’s in a rush to get where they’re going, and he’s in no hurry at all.

wait interior by antoinette portis

With simplicity and clarity, Antoinette Portis ushers us into these scenes. Mama remains focused on hurrying along, eyes forward, resisting all the tugging and pleading to “Wait!” Until finally, one showstopper makes even Mama agree that pausing, waiting, is a beautiful idea. I love Portis’ warm encouragement to slow down.

Masterfully rendered with a bare minimum of words, kids ages Under-Two and up will love this.

two mice cover image

Two Mice, written and illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier
published in 2015 by Clarion Books

Two little mice have three yummy cookies to share, and you don’t have to know much about math to figure out that this equals one pesky problem!

two mice interior by sergio ruzzier

That’s just the beginning of a brisk set of one-two-three adventures in this adorable book for very young children. Sergio Ruzzier’s warm, colorful illustrations are packed with personality and charm. It’s got all the right ingredients for reading again and again to Under-Two’s and up.

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What in the World?: Numbers in Nature, written by Nancy Raines Day, illustrated by Kurt Cyrus
published in 2015 by Beach Lane Books

This lovely book beckons us to look at the world, to wonder, to notice. “What in the world comes one by one?A nose. A mouth. The moon. The sun.

what in the world interior by day and cyrus

Count up to ten and set your minds to work, considering what comes in different sized sets. Plus, what comes in numbers too big to count? Striking, cool illustrations cast a spell of beauty and grandeur throughout. The whole concept begs to be turned into a wonderful way to pass the time, whether in the city or wilderness. Great choice for ages 2 and up.

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The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy, written and illustrated by Beatrice Alemagna
originally published in France; first American edition in 2015 by Enchanted Lion Books

Edith — or Eddie as she is known — is five-and-a-half years old. She is at that difficult stage in life when all the folks around her seem to be especially brilliant at something, while she does not have any particular talent at all.

the wonderful fluffy little squishy illustration beatrice alemagna

Now it’s her mom’s birthday, and Eddie is determined to find her a present. She has a hazy notion that her mom would like something Fluffy and Squishy. Well, you cannot believe the trouble it is to find something to fit that description, but Eddie does! Turns out that it’s just the best birthday gift EVER!

Beatrice Alemagna’s brilliant, and brilliantly-colored illustrations blast this slightly off-kilter story to the moon. So full of love and earnestness and that deep urge to find your place in the world. Ages 4 and up.

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The Mellops Go Spelunking, written and illustrated by Tomi Ungerer
first published in Germany in 1978; this edition published in 2015 by Phaidon Press

Our family has adored the Mellops for all these many years so I’m uber-excited that Phaidon is republishing these and I hope to goodness sake you grab any Mellop title you see and gobble it up.

the mellops go spelunking illustration tomi ungerer

They are an adventurous, warm-hearted family of Pigs, and in this episode they’re off spelunking. Stalagmites and cave paintings and glittering caverns, ho! But there’s much more to this adventure than that! Rollicking good fun, and as always, Mother’s delicious cream cake. Ages 3 and up.

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Out of the Woods: A True Story of an Unforgettable Event, written and illustrated by Rebecca Bond
published in 2015 by Farrar Straus Giroux

This strange-but-true story takes place in 1914 in the forests of Ontario where young Antonio Willie Giroux lived in a sort of hotel that his mother ran. Travelers stayed there as well as the trappers, lumberjacks, and miners who worked nearby. It was a marvelous place to spend a boyhood.

out of the woods illustration rebecca bond

But when a raging forest fire roars through the woods heading straight for the Giroux hotel, it’s a deadly serious place to be. As Antonio and the hotel folk escape to safety, an incredibly curious thing takes place which you will have to read to believe. Rebecca Bond should know…because Antonio was her grandfather.

Handsome, atmospheric illustrations will whisk you back in time and give you a front-row seat to an extraordinary occurrence. Ages 5 and up.