September and October are my favorite months of the year.
Rhythms return after summer days punctuated with splash and spontaneity. Cooler air approaches. Evenings lengthen with the sun heading to bed earlier and earlier. All of which makes for ideal, snuggly, bedtime reading.
Today’s five are sterling choices — lovely, gentle, thoughtful, imaginative books to amble through with a child.
Seven Pablos, written by Jorge Luján, illustrated by Chiara Carrer, translated from Spanish by Mara Lethem
published in 2018 by Enchanted Lion Books
One of my favorite titles in 2018 is this exquisite, poignant view of humanity’s differences and commonalities.
Journey throughout the Americas and meet seven young boys, each named Pablo. Alight briefly, only a moment, just long enough to glimpse a wisp of their lives. The plainspoken yet eloquent text delivers but a morsel of a boy’s story, sparks our curiosity, teases our hearts, before fluttering on to the next. Ordinary, remarkable lives, tender with love, ravished by fragments of beauty, buffeted by sorrow and tragedy, inspired by kindness.
Italian artist Chiara Carrer’s powerful graphite drawings ground each page in strength and dignity. Expressive eyes transfix us. Relationships, emotions, experiences, and personhood lasso us into connection with these boys, who represent but a handful of the many Pablos in the world. So much to wonder about.
A quiet stunner for ages 5 through adult.
Tiny Perfect Things, written by M.H. Clark, illustrated by Madeline Kloepper
published in 2018 by Compendium
Rich, saturated color and bold textures ravish us from the endpapers onward in this gem that invites us to “keep our eyes open for tiny, perfect things.”
Head out on a walk with a child and her grandpa, just an ordinary meander down the sidewalk where miracles lie in waiting all around us. A spider’s web glinting with sunlight. One apple, “red against the blue, blue sky.” A white cat sitting on the doorstep.
A final, brilliant double gate-fold unfurls the whole panorama for us to investigate and find many more tiny perfect things. Then, go explore your own world. What can you see? What can you find? Gorgeous artwork and a call to slow down and see, perfect for sharing with ages 2 and up.
Be Still, Life, written and illustrated by Ohara Hale
published in 2018 by Enchanted Lion Books
Here’s another lyrical, charming summons to a slower pace, a more observant gaze, a deeper engagement with the poetry of the world around us.
Be still. Be quiet. Take your time. Pause long enough to notice that snail snoozing, to hone in on sounds and smells and sights missed in haste.
Stir in some lovely, imaginative ideas and ticklish questions that open your mind to more wonder and wondering.
Playful, spritely, happy thoughts are matched with sunny, vibrant illustration work in this glad little book for ages 3 and up.
Niblet & Ralph, written and illustrated by Zachariah Ohora
published in 2018 by Dial Books for Young Readers
Now here’s an affectionate story of two kids, two cats, and one mighty mix-up, coming from one of my favorite illustrators.
Gemma loves her cat, Ralph. Dilla loves his cat, Niblet. These four all live in the same brownstone but only two of them are aware of this. (Hint: It’s the fuzzy ones!)
When circumstances conspire such that these cats inadvertently swap places, the universe sways a bit for their young owners. Where can their cats be? Have they been cat-napped? How will they discover the muddle and sort out cats and flats?
Neighborliness wins big in this jolly episode, illustrated in Ohora’s bold, retro stylishness. It’s a winner for ages 3 and up.
An Atlas of Imaginary Places, written by Mia Cassany, illustrated by Ana de Lima
originally published in Spain; English edition 2018 by Prestel
Finally, what do the lands of your daydreams look like, those magical, make-believe places we might wish for if a fairy turned up on our window sill?
Do they look anything like the places in this fantastical atlas? Like the jungle where a volcano pours out bubble gum lava? Or the ocean where sunken ships turn into islands of sweets?
Or what about a lighthouse stretching far into the outer reaches of space so you can perch among constellations and peer out upon planets? Fanciful dreamscapes sweep through the pages, perfect for sending your little ones off to bed to conjure up their own enchanting worlds. Ages 4 and up.