I’ll start this week’s list with three gorgeous books about wildlife…
Wild Animals of the North, written and illustrated by Dieter Braun, English translation by Jen Calleja published in 2016 by Flying Eye Books
This spectacular piece of work by German illustrator Braun introduces us to feathered, scaly, antlered, furry, sleek, tiny and enormous creatures who inhabit the great northern tier of the globe.
Stretching across North America, Europe, and Asia, on land, air, and sea, the 80 amazing animals in this catalog range from the unusual markhor to the well-known striped skunk; from the mysterious snow leopard to the lounging walrus.
Braun’s arresting shapes and muted, natural colors flood these pages with awe and dignity, while small patches of text converse with us engagingly about quite a number of the entries. It’s a beauty to pore over again and again for ages 3 to 100.
Animal Doctors: Incredible Ways Animals Heal Themselves, by Angie Trius and Mark Doran, illustrated by Julio Antonio Blasco published originally in Spain; English edition published in 2016 by Laurence King Publishing Ltd
Did you know that capuchin monkeys rub their fur with bits and pieces of various plants in order to rid themselves of parasites? Or that African elephants know just what to munch in order to kickstart the birth of a calf?
This fascinating book explains some of the extraordinary, clever ways creatures use nature’s pharmacy to rid themselves of fleas, clean wounds, neutralize venom, disinfect nests, and lots more! Just the right amount of information, masterfully laid out in a pleasing format, covers 14 widely-varied animals and their cool skills. A brilliant approach for curious persons ages 5 and up.
Amazing Animal Journeys, by Chris Packham, illustrated by Jason Cockcroft originally published in Great Britain; published in the U.S. 2016 by Sterling Children’s Books
Charming, pleasant illustrations make this book about intriguing migration habits a perfect fit for young children, ages 2 and older. Lovely!
Discover the forths-and-backs of some of the planet’s migration stars, from the pretty little Golden Jellyfish to the mammoths of the seas, the Blue Whale. Perfectly-pitched, brief bits of text feed the curiosities of children and make them more nature-aware.
We’re in the midst of baseball season, so here are a couple great titles for young fans:
The Kid from Diamond Street: The Extraordinary Story of Baseball Legend Edith Houghton, by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Steven Salerno published in 2016 by Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
This lively biography of a spunky gal introduces Edith Houghton who began playing professional baseball when she was — I am not making this up! — 10 years old. The focus of this story is the slice of her life from ages 10 to 13 making this immensely relatable for young readers.
Edith played for the Philadelphia Bobbies back in the 1920s and even made an epic journey with the team to Japan where they played before tens of thousands of fans. Salerno’s vivid, colorful illustrations whisk us into the 20s and around the world. Enjoy it with kids ages 5 and up.
The William Hoy Story: How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game, by Nancy Churnin, illustrated by Jez Tuya published in 2016 by Albert Whitman & Company
Perhaps you know the story of William Hoy, a ballplayer from Ohio who was immensely popular back at the turn of the century. Hoy had to overcome ridicule and unusual obstacles in order to play professional baseball. Because Hoy entered the sport before there were any hand signals used. And he was deaf.
This brief, upbeat account shows Hoy’s perseverance and the bright idea he had for umpires to use hand signals instead of only shouting out the calls. Where would baseball be without ’em?! Happy, cartoon-style illustrations keep things light. Ages 4 and up.
And a final, eclectic, fivesome:
City Shapes, by Diane Murray, illustrated by Bryan Collier published in 2016 by Little, Brown, and Company
I love the decades of work Tana Hoban did, photographing urban sights that invited children to observe and delight in their world. This new book reminds me of her vision.
Collier’s strong, vibrant collages swizzle us into summer in the city. Murray’s upbeat verse draws our attention to shapes to be spotted in those scenes. Marvelously diverse, inviting us to look and see in new ways. Great mind fodder for ages 2 and up.
Nobody Likes a Goblin, written and illustrated by Ben Hatke published in 2016 by First Second
Oh, Ben Hatke, what you do with a pen!!
Atmospheric, personality-laden, magnetizing illustration work pulls us effortlessly into this story of a plucky little goblin and his frantic search for an old friend, pursued by hosts of folks who really, really don’t like goblins!
Pandemonious delight! Read it again and again! Highly recommended for brave children ages 3 and up.
Now You See Me, Now You Don’t, a wordless book by Silvia Borando originally published in Italy, 2013; first U.S. edition 2016 by Candlewick Press
This book is a complete hoot!
Put a crew of Crayola-bright creatures onto Crayola-bright pages and watch the ones whose skin color matches the background fairly disappear. It’s camouflage like you’ve never seen before, with just a pair of eyeballs left to blink out at us.
No matter what the background color, though, there’s one creature that never seems to materialize. Who could it be? Jolly good fun for little peepers ages 18 months and older.
The Mixed-Up Truck, written and illustrated by Stephen Savage published in 2016, a Neal Porter Book from Roaring Brook Press
Stephen Savage is back with another earnest, amiable truck. You just can’t help loving these guys!
This time it’s a cement mixer who’s new on the job. His task is to mix up some white powder and water to make cement for the construction site. This is not as straightforward as it sounds. Watch, groan, smile, cheer! A delight for ages Under-Two and up.
Alfie Outdoors, written and illustrated by Shirley Hughes published in 2016 by Red Fox
Here’s another classic Alfie story, republished by Red Fox who is bringing (thank you!!!) all the Alfie stories once again into U.S. markets. No reason for any child to not know Alfie and Annie Rose!
This story fins Alfie and Dad prepping and planting a new vegetable garden where Alfie is growing carrots as a treat for a special friend of his named Gertrude.
Simple, non-electronic, outdoor play is a lovely element in so much of Hughes’ work and this certainly exhibits that. Get inspired for some gardening of your own, with ages 2 and up.