a stack of warmhearted books with a side of hot cocoa, please

How’s Old Man Winter treating you? A stack of warmhearted books is probably what you need…whichever way the wind is blowing.

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Grandma’s House, written and illustrated by Alice Melvin
published in 2015 by Tate Publishing

Peek through clever windows, slip through doors, and climb into the unfolding-attic in this quaint household where a young girl is searching for her grandma.

Can you see the die-cuts to spy through and flaps to peek around? So much fun!

Can you see the die-cuts to spy through and flaps to peek around? So much fun!

She often stops at Grandma’s after school, pouring up a glass of milk from the blue-and-white china cow, fetching a chocolate biscuit from the tartan tin on the top shelf. But today, Grandma is nowhere to be found, until the girl scurries through a hole in the hedge and discovers…a lovely surprise! From an acclaimed Scottish illustrator, this is an absolute delight for ages 3 and up.

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Ketzel, the Cat who Composed, by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Amy June Bates
published in 2015 by Candlewick

An adorable black-and-white kitten named Ketzel plinkety-plunks her delicate paws down the piano keyboard in this story, based on true events.

ketzel the cat who composed illustration amy june bates

Her musician-owner, Morris Moshe Cotel, listens to her miniature melody, jots down black notes on white paper, and turns that cat into a bonafide, prize-winning, composer. Read this surprising, serendipitous tale with kids ages 4 and up. Amy June Bates’ warm-as-toast illustrations will steal your heart.

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Lost. Found. by Marsha Diane Arnold, illustrations by Matthew Cordell
published in 2015, a Neal Porter Book from Roaring Brook Press

One blustery winter’s day, a burly brown bear’s cranberry-red scarf skivvers off — whoosh! — in a blast of wind. Lost.

A couple of rapscallion raccoons find it, but — whap! zoom! — they get into a tiff and race off without it. Lost. Again.

lost found illustration matthew cordell

Follow that scarf through forest and field; watch it switch hands like a hot potato until, alas!, it turns into a woeful mess.  Is there any hope of restoring its cozy redness? Madcap, humorous, and redemptively-warm illustrations by Matthew Cordell tell this raucous, two-word story. A blast for ages 2 and up.

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Where’s Walrus and Penguin? a wordless book by Stephen Savage
published in 2015 by Scholastic Press

It’s starting to rain at the zoo. All the patrons are scurrying home. Walrus and Penguin seize their chance to slip out the gate, too, and cavort around the city for the day. Can you spot them in all their tricksy hiding places?

where's walrus and penguin illustration detail stephen savage

Following his huge success with Where’s Walrus, artist Stephen Savage has created another handsome, jolly book in which we cheer for the two escapees and their savvy, silly disguises. Plus, discover the surprising turn-of-events for our tusky friend! Ages Under-Two and up will love this.

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The Story of Diva and Flea, as told and shown by Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi
published in 2015 by Hyperion Books for Children

Diva is a small white dog living in a posh Parisian mansion who very seriously guards his cobblestone courtyard.

Flea is a scrawly Parisian cat with a precise occupation –he is a flâneur. That is to say, he “wanders the streets and bridges and alleys of the city just to see what there is to see.”

When these two cross paths one felicitous day, one of the dearest, sweetest friendships results, happily documented here for our pleasure.

the story of diva and flea illustration tony diterlizzi

Read this small chapter book — 65 pages including un début, 13 teeny chapters, and a happy ending — with children 4 and up or give it to a 2nd-grade-ish reader. Tony DiTerlizzi’s retro illustrations masterfully capture the Parisian ambience ala The Aristocats, from the endpapers straight on through. Charming.

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The Bear Report, written and illustrated by Thyra Heder
published in 2015 by Abrams Books for Young Readers

If only every homework assignment could turn out like this!

Sophie’s short worksheet on polar bears feels dull and tiresome, so she zips off a few lame remarks and plops down to watch TV.

the bear report interior thyra heder

But when a glorious bear named Olafur shows up in the next-door-armchair and whirls her off for a tour of his Arctic home, Sophie’s outlook is dramatically changed.

Stunning artwork, perky personalities, and  an exquisite glimpse of the Far North. Really lovely for ages 3 and up.

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Ace Dragon, Ltd., story by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Quentin Blake
published in the UK in 1980; first US edition in 2015 by Candlewick Press

While strolling down a street, young John hears a “KLONK” coming from beneath a manhole-ish kind of lid. Turns out it’s a dragon. Wearing wellies. And what an affable dragon he is!

ace dragon ltd. interior hoban and blake

Champion battles, flying stunts, and an emergency landing on a little golden moon — all in a day for these two pals. It’s a rambunctious tale, with Quentin Blake’s marvelous, off-kilter illustrations to match, infused with a splash of Affection. Ages 4 and up.

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Mother Bruce, written and illustrated by Ryan T. Higgins
published in 2015 by Disney Hyperion

Silly and warmhearted. If that sounds like just the ticket for your brood, come meet Bruce, a grumpus of a bear who gets saddled with a brood of his own, most unwillingly!

mother bruce interior ryan t. higgins

I mean! A bear turns his back for one second and — whamo! — a batch of goslings erupt on the scene calling him Mama! What?! An Un-bear-able situation if there ever was! You don’t want to miss Bruce’s muddlesome pathway to motherhood  in this ridiculous, zippy story. Read it with ages 3 and up, and prepare to laugh right along.