ten for beach days, pool days, what’s-there-to-do days

Whether it’s wilting hot or summer-stormy, these brilliant new books are up to the challenge to entertain, tickle funny bones, provoke thought, spark imagination…

the airport book cover image

The Airport Book, written and illustrated by Lisa Brown
published in 2016, A Neal Porter Book from Roaring Brook Press

Here’s a book my kids would have completely worn out during their traveling childhood days. Tag along with this young family as they pack, move through all the steps at the airport, fly, and arrive at their happy destination.

the airport book interior lisa brown

Perfectly-pitched descriptions of air travel ins-and-outs will help kids gear up for their first flight or resonate with kids who have already logged thousands of air miles. Meanwhile, Brown’s charming illustrations fill the airport with a crowd of interesting fellow-travelers and track one Very Important Passenger’s journey. There are a few famous faces to spot and a mysterious package to wonder about. Supremely engaging for ages 2 and up. Don’t forget to peek behind the dust jacket for a look at the jazzy board illustrations.

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This is My Dollhouse, written and illustrated by Giselle Potter
published in 2016 by Schwartz & Wade

I love Giselle Potter’s work and especially the fantastic imaginations of her characters.

The little girl in this book has created her own dollhouse, crafting the house and furnishings herself using cardboard, paint, glue and copious creativity and imaginativeness. Her good friend, Sophie, has a store-bought dollhouse in which every pristine thing matches. It makes hers seem a bit shabby.

this is my dollhouse interior giselle potter

Watch what happens, though, when these two girls attempt to play with each of the dollhouses. It’s a lovely story in which imaginative, creative play triumphs and that makes my heart glad!

If you purchase the book, you’ll find lots of clever instructions on the flip side of the dust jacket for getting started with your own fabrications. As Potter has discovered, it’s often more fun to make it yourself! Ages 2 and up.

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The Not-So-Faraway Adventure, by Andrew Larsen, illustrated by Irene Luxbacher
published in 2016 by Kids Can Press

Theodora loves her Poppa, a kind, elderly man who has racked up a life time of adventurous travel, the memorabilia of which he stows in an entrancing green trunk. Theo finds his trinkets and maps fascinating and longs to be an adventurer as well, when she’s grown.

the not so faraway adventure illustration irene luxbacher

For Poppa’s birthday, Theo decides the two of them should go on a new adventure. One that’s not so faraway as those he and Nana have taken, but a delicious delight nonetheless. It’s a sweet grandfather-granddaughter story, popping with joy, gazpacho, and cupcakes, for ages 3 and up.

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The Zoomers’ Handbook, by Ana & Thiago de Moraes
first published in Great Britain in 2015; first American edition 2016 by Andersen Press USA

This isn’t a handbook for zookeepers. Nor for farmers. But for Zoomers, who look after the most extraordinary kinds of beasts!

the zoomers' handbook ana and thiago de moraes

For example, the goatrilla, who swings from trees and eats 10 cans of bananas a day — he especially loves to eat the cans. There’s also the shiger, the horsodile, the girafooster, and many more. Sheer, imaginative delight, coolly-stylish illustrations, awesome Zoomer Field Notes on the endpapers — all will propel your kids to add more entries to this fetching catalog! Ages 3 and up.

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Flying Frogs and Walking Fish, by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
published in 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

I’ve reviewed so many titles by this husband-wife team, yet each new offering of theirs is as marvelous as ever.

This time they’re exploring the surprising ways animals move. They walk, leap, climb…sure. But animals also roll, somersault, glide, or  blast off via a jet propulsion system!

flying frogs and walking fish interior jenkins and page

And also — the ones you’d think would swim, like the common octopus, like to walk. And the ones you’d assume would slither, like a snake, might choose to fly! Egads!

Enjoy Jenkins’ gorgeous paper collage and be surprised and amazed at the mobility of dozens of cool creatures. Ages 4 and up.

bear and hare where's bear cover image

Bear & Hare: Where’s Bear?, written and illustrated by Emily Gravett
originally published in Great Britain in 2014; first U.S. edition 2016 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Emily Gravett’s another of my No-Brainer authors; that’s to say, you don’t even have to wonder if you should try her new books. Just pick them up! Her Bear & Hare series is a 100% No Brainer for toddlers and up.

bear and hare where's bear interior emily gravett

This time the two pals are playing Hide and Seek. Bear, being rather ample, finds it quite challenging to find an actually-hidden hiding spot. When the tables are turned, though, and Hare hides, things take a bit of a surprising and alarming turn! Gobs of loving friendship…Gravett’s warm-as-toast illustrations…perfect for ages 18 months and older.

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Good Night Baddies, by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Juli Kangas
published in 2016 by Beach Lane Books

It’s evening in FairyTale Land and all the witches, wolves, and giants, evil queens, trolls and gnomes, are plum tuckered out from a hard day’s work being baddies.

What — you think it’s easy lurking in the mud and snarking at those three gruff billy goats?! It’s a tough job, no doubt about it! So, after a day of mucky-lurking, there’s nothing a troll likes better than a nice long scrub in a bubbly tub.

good night baddies interior underwood and kangas

Find out how all these dear baddies relax at the end of the day and feel your heart warm towards these much-maligned folk! Kangas’ warm, friendly, monstrously-clever illustrations will draw kids ages 2 and up into this big, bad world.

how much does a ladybug weigh cover image

How Much Does a Ladybug Weigh?, written and illustrated by Alison Limentani
first published in North America in 2016 by Boxer Books

Here’s another astonishing, clever look at the world of animals, sure to open new avenues of thought for you and your children.

Take a guess — how much does a ladybug weigh? But calculate your measurement, not in micrograms, but in ants. How many ants weigh the same as one ladybug? And how many of those ladybugs even out the scales with one grasshopper?

how much does a ladybug weigh interior alison limentani

Brilliant color, smart graphic design, and a cunning concept for ages 2 and up. The end papers tell you these weights in pounds and ounces, in case you’re curious!

excellent ed cover image

Excellent Ed, by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach
published in 2016 by Alfred A. Knopf

Dear Ed is such a good dog. He just can’t understand why the other members of his household are allowed to eat at the table, ride in the van, sit on the sofa, and use the indoor plumbing, while he is not.

excellent ed interior McAnulty and Sarcone-Roach

Ed decides it’s because he has nothing at which he truly excels, while Elaine, Edna, Elmer, Edith, and Ernie all have some top-notch talents. Thus begins Ed’s quest to discover his forté. He gets off to a rather poor start, but eventually makes some delightful discoveries about his areas of expertise!

 Julie Sarcone-Roach certainly excels at portraying Ed’s winning personality in her energetic, warm illustrations. Ages 3 and up.

the girl with the parrot on her head cover image

The Girl with the Parrot on her Head, written and illustrated by Daisy Hirst
published in the UK in 2015; first U.S. edition 2016 by Candlewick Press

Isabel and Simon are best friends. Squoze full of imagination, these two busily draw treasure maps, play lively games, and even collect newts. But then, Simon moves away.

the girl with the parrot on her head interior daisy hirst

Isabel is dejected, and manages her fury and loneliness by isolating herself and trying to seize control of life. It takes the arrival of Chester for Isabel to rediscover her spunk.

This charming, simple story has hidden depths which older or sensitive readers will appreciate, such as the role of the parrot and the wolf, the one representing joyful, carefree imagination and the other a snarl of fear and anger. Everyone will enjoy the vitality of Isabel and her cohorts and cheer for new friendships. Ages 3 and up.