warm as toast…five to bring a smile

I’ve read a boatload of books this summer. Today’s list of five rose to the top of my stacks for their sheer, sunny, good will.  Need a dose of smiling? Settle in with these:

a dog with nice ears cover image

A Dog with Nice Ears, written and illustrated by Lauren Child
first published in Great Britain in 2017; first US edition 2018 by Candlewick Press

Funny Lola and her nice big brother, Charlie, are talking about dogs. Lola is head over heels in love with ’em and wants one with all her heart, but Mom and Dad say Absolutely No Dogs.

a dog with nice ears2 Lauren Child

What’s a girl to do? The rambly conversations these two have will warm the cockles of your heart and Lola’s solution will make you grin.

a dog with nice ears Lauren Child

Lauren Child’s iconic style, as always, jazzes up the pages of this happy story for ages 3 and up.

a house that once was cover image

A House That Once Was, written by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Lane Smith
published in 2018 by Roaring Brook Press

Another quiet stunner from Julie Fogliano, this time wandering through an abandoned house and wondering about its past as a special place for some mysterious someones.

a house that once was by Julie Fogliano and Lane Smith

I resonated with this book so much, having wandered through sagging old shells of houses myself, musing about who may have lived there and why it might have been left to molder.

a house that once was2 by Julie Fogliano and Lane Smith

Lane Smith’s multi-layered illustrations conjure up nostalgia and imagination, and though a decaying house might seem a somber subject, his compositions and colors imbue the pages with beauty, possibility, and life. Hurrah for quiet books! Try this one with ages 4 and up.

hello baby animals cover image

Hello Baby Animals, written and illustrated by Lorinda Bryan Cauley
published in 2018 by Dial Books for Young Readers

Just plain adorable.

That’s what you get in this charming guessing game, perfect for your littlest lap-sitters.


Meet over a dozen fetching baby animals by guessing who they are from a couple of clues, then turning the page to greet them in full-on-darling cameo portraits.


Irresistible! 18 months and up.

amanda panda birthday cover image

Amanda Panda and the Bigger, Better Birthday, written by Candice Ransom, illustrated by Christine Grove
published in 2018 by Doubleday Books for Young Readers

Amanda Panda is back! I fell in love when we first met her, trying to make her way in a kindergarten classroom fraught with botheration!

We’re still in kindergarten. This week is Amanda’s birthday and she is pumped to be the first in the class to turn six. She heads to class armed with invitations, ready to shine.

amanda panda birthday Candice Ransom and Christine Grove

As you might guess, all does not go according to plan. You’ll feel all of Amanda’s lows and highs, storms and smiles in this honest story full of friendship, envy, fall-out, and jubilant recovery. Ages 4 and up.

Square cover image

Square, written by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen
published in 2018 by Candlewick Press

Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen probably need no introduction if you’ve been reading kids books during the past 10 years.

Their latest title made me chuckle out loud. It’s the story of a Square with a rather mundane existence who accidentally impresses Circle and gets enlisted for a task demanding talents he’s not sure he possesses.

Square by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

That’s all I’ll tell you. Read it and be amazed at how these guys work plot twists, surprises, questions, atmosphere, and humor into this tiny tale. Ages 5 and up.