ten for comforting reading-together moments

Bouquet of Peace 1958 by Pablo Picasso

Bouquet of Peace 1958 by Pablo Picasso

Last week was brutal. Here in the U.S. where tragedies are fresh, and of course around the world in places that hardly get a nod of acknowledgement from us over the violence that relentlessly engulfs them.

 Wherever you are, I hope that turning to the beauty, love, gentility, and wonder that children’s literature offers, can bring a respite of peace and healing and hope to you as you share these shards of goodness with the children in your life. 

you belong here cover image

You Belong Here, by M.H. Clark, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
published in 2016 by Compendium

Isabelle Arsenault’s gorgeous, whisper-lovely illustrations envelop us in beauty and hush in this quiet ode to love and belonging.

you belong here interior clark and arsenault

I can hear the gentle voice of a mother or father reading these reassuring, tender words to a beloved, drowsy child: The stars belong in the deep night sky/and the moon belongs there too,/and the winds belong in each place they blow by/and I belong here with you.

It’s a dream of a book to share with the little people you love, ages 2 and up, up, up.

hattie peck cover image

Hattie Peck, written and illustrated by Emma Levey
published in 2016 by Sky Pony Press (originally published 2015 by Top that Publishing Ltd)

Hattie Peck is a chicken with a hugely-nurturing heart! Eggs, eggs, and more eggs captivate her thoughts day and night. Yet Hattie  cannot lay a single egg of her own.

hattie peck interior by emma levey

Not to be thwarted, Hattie sets out to rescue every abandoned egg she can find. What a stupendous expedition it is! And what an eclectic household Hattie ends up with, to her great joy. Illustrated in energetic, jubilant strokes, this celebration of life, love, and family will thoroughly warm your heart. Ages 3 and up.

one hundred bones cover image

One Hundred Bones, written and illustrated by Yuval Zommer
first U.S. edition 2016 by Templar Books

I just discovered Yuval Zommer via his extraordinary book of bugs which I reviewed here. Now I’m scrambling to get ahold of his other titles held by my library.

one hundred bones interior by yuval zommer

First up is this upbeat tale of friendship, teamwork, and belonging. Scruff is a sweet, homeless dog, and an expert digger. When his excavation work unearths a treasure trove of bones, he coaxes the neighborhood dogs into helping him out. And what do they discover? One hundred bones! Find out where those bones belong and how Scruff also finds just the right place to belong. Loads of happiness. Read it again and again with ages 2 and up.

the storm cover image

The Storm, written and illustrated by Akiko Miyakoshi
published in Japan in 2009; English translation published 2016 by Kids Can Press

Akiko Miyakoshi swept in and won our hearts last year with her lovely Tea Party in the Woods. Here’s her stunning charcoal work again, with a story set in mid-summer.

the storm interior by akiko miyakoshi

A young boy has been promised a trip to the beach tomorrow, but just now a big storm looms. As he crawls into bed, wind lashes the trees and howls. Those beach plans are not looking good. Enter his ship-of-dreams as he steers for clear skies, and find out if the real weather cooperates, or not. Masterful illustration work and a story of hope against the odds for ages 3 and up.

professor astro cat's atomic adventure cover image

Professor Astro Cat’s Atomic Adventure: A Journey Through Physics, by Dr. Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman
published in 2016 by Flying Eye Books

If you can’t imagine a friendly, colorful, effervescent introduction to physics — I think you are in good company. But that’s exactly what this is!

professor astrocat interior walliman and newman

Tag along with Professor Astro Cat in this engaging, highly-readable text and learn about everything from the scientific method to mass, force, gravity, motion, electricity, nuclear physics, particle physics and gobs more. Zippy illustrations and snazzy graphic design will draw you in to this fascinating material like a magnet! For science nerds ages 5 and much older.

Clara cover image

Clara: The (Mostly) True Story of the Rhinoceros Who Dazzled Kings, Inspired Artists, and Won the Hearts of Everyone…While She Ate Her Way Up and Down a Continent!, written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully
published in 2016 by Schwartz & Wade Books

Winner of the Biggest Mouthful-of-a-Title Award is this latest offering from the supremely-talented Emily Arnold McCully.

Clara the mostly true story of the rhinoceros interior by emily arnold mccully

It’s the account of a real rhino, brought from her home in India to Europe in the mid-1700s by a sea captain. Clara became the toast of Europe, the first rhino seen by peasant or king. With her gargantuan appetite and loving temperament, she won hearts everywhere. McCully’s vibrant watercolors masterfully display Clara’s girth and warmth as well as the look and feel of 18th-century Europe. A lengthy Author’s Note and maps add to historical understanding. It’s a terrific package for ages 5 and up.

violet the pilot cover image

Violet the Pilot, written and illustrated by Steve Breen
published in 2016 by Dial Books for Young Readers

Meet Violet Van Winkle, a smart gal who loves tools and tinkering, ideas and inventing, and most especially — flying!

Watch her rivet together a hockey stick here and a spatula there, an old pickling barrel and a souped-up weed whacker and come up with The Hornet, her fantastic flying machine. Sure to win the Air Show contest, Violet thinks.

violet the pilot interior by steve breen

Also meet the dreadful Mulrooney twins who are quite full of lip. And discover how wild rivers, tipped canoes, Violet Van Winkle, and some precision flight skills result in a rare rescue and a reward. Girl power, adventure, and thrills star in this zesty story for ages 4 and up.

ABZzzz cover image

ABZzz…: A Bedtime Alphabet, by Isabel Minhós Martins and Yara Kono
originally published in Portugal in 2014; first U.S. edition 2016 by Thames and Hudson

A quirky little volume, this, with musings and directions for ambling your way to sleep through the alphabet.

C is for Cat. Can you curl up and purr like a little cat? Isn’t it cosy? 

K is for Kiss. Have you kissed everyone goodnight yet? Is anyone still awake?

ABZzzz interior by martins and kono

With it’s contemporary vibe, jaunty design, and clever questions, methinks my children would not have been lulled to sleep by this book, despite the claim that “nearly everyone is snoring by the time they reach S.” However, it’s a delightful snuggle-up and think-sleepy-thoughts book to share with wide-eyed little ones, ages 2 and up.

the uncorker of ocean bottles cover image

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, by Michelle Cuevas, illustrated by Erin E. Stead
published in 2016 by Dial Books for Young Readers

An Uncorker of Ocean Bottles. Quite an unusual vocation, wouldn’t you say? This frowsy, unassuming fellow with his mild, homely countenance lives all alone, perched on a windswept hill overlooking the sea. From whence he keeps an eye peeled for the odd bottle bobbing on the water.

Then out he rows to fetch it, uncork it, and deliver its message, no matter the journey required.

the uncorker of ocean bottles illustration1 by erin e. stead

How he longs for a message for himself. That longing, the dearth of companionship, fairly aches out of these pages in both the spare text and Stead’s gorgeous, wistful artwork. One day a most unusual message comes, and a sliver of gladness pierces the Uncorker’s world. Such an elegant, deeply-affecting collaborative effort to share with children ages 4 and older. It’s an outstanding invitation to reflect together on ideas of welcome and community.

This one hits the shelves on August 23. Look for it then or get in line at your library.


Donkey Donkey, written and illustrated by Roger Duvoisin
originally published in 1940; republished in 2016 by The New York Review Children’s Collection

Despite Donkey Donkey’s many dear friends, and his kind master, and a whole patch of delicious thistles, he is an unhappy donkey. Why? It’s his ears. He really dislikes his ears. 

donkey donkey interior roger duvoisin

He sets out to reform his looks, taking advice from others in the barnyard, but it all just makes matters worse. What will cure Donkey Donkey of his immense sadness? This classic tale from the master, Roger Duvoisin, is bursting with vintage delight in its simplicity, its lovely, sophisticated vocabulary, and the charming 1940’s illustration work. A happy read for ages 2 and up.