Looking for a glimmer of gladness? A morsel of merriment?
For lighthearted story times, a sunny flutter, a giggle to turn a bad day around, reach for one of these gems:
Stick, written and illustrated by Irene Dickson
published in 2018 by Nosy Crow
The sunshine beams right off that cover, doesn’t it?
And the title says it all. There are so many grand uses for a humble stick. Traipse along with this boy and his dog in the grand out-of-doors as they explore and play on a free-and-easy, delightful, day. Simply bursting with the juicy, playful lifestyle I love, for ages 2 and up.
Boats on the Bay, written by Jeanne Walker Harvey, illustrated by Grady McFerrin
published in 2018 by Cameron Kids
This vivid catalogue of boats is sure to capture the fancy of skippers and landlubbers alike with its brief, enticing text and robust illustrations.
Each page turn reveals a new sort of boat, a lyrical, one-line description, and a punchy, handsome mixed media illustration. Brilliant and absorbing for ages 2 and up.
Look, written and illustrated by Fiona Woodcock
published in 2018 by Greenwillow Books, Harper Collins
Here we have a thoroughly original, jolly choice that entertains as it teaches new young readers the double-o dipthong!
Dozens of colorful, clever pictures and snazzy typography showcase words containing the oo sound. Almost all of them use the long oo, with just a couple of examples that rhyme with “look.” Graphic design genius and loads of fun for ages 5 and up.
Bunny Band, written by Bill Richardson, illustrated by Roxanna Bikadoroff
published in 2018 by Groundwood Books
Pure, magical charm shimmies through the pages of this endearing tale, set in the forest where sturdy Miss Lavinia, a badger, has patiently, lovingly planted her vegetable garden…only to have it laid waste by a bunny thief. Grrrr.
Saving that little fella from the stew pot is the enchanting bunny band, who come with their parade-ful of instruments to make music under the silvery moon, bewitching those vegetables into a most pleasingly, giant size!
Friendly, fanciful delight for ages 3 and up.
My Dog Laughs, written and illustrated by Rachel Isadora
published in 2018 by Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin
Small balls of fluff and big droolers, cuddlers and tail waggers — come meet the dogs belonging to a gaggle of kids. There are good and not so good dogs, stinky and sweet, obedient and still-in-training, but all of them are loved and offer love in return.
Isadora’s charming, sunny spot art portrays dozens of tiny episodes in the lives of children and their dogs.
Candy for any dog-lover, ages 2 and up.
Douglas, You’re a Genius!, written and illustrated by Ged Adamson
published in 2018 by Schwartz & Wade Books
Nancy and her best pal, Douglas — the dog — are jolted from their game of back yard cricket one day when the ball, which they accidentally whacked through a hole in the fence, is returned! By an unknown, mysterious someone! Who can it be?
Efforts at communicating through the hole deepen the mystery. These folks apparently speak an unknown language! Nancy’s sequence of plans to soar above the fence and catch a glimpse of The Other Side are hilarious, requiring feats of bravery by Douglas.
I won’t spoil the happy ending. Imaginative, funny, neighborly, with a sprinkling of Spanish, for ages 4 and up.
The Mystery of the Missing Cake, written and illustrated by Claudia Boldt
published in 2017 by Tate Publishing
Harold is not your average fox. He loves solving mysteries and eating cheese. Today however, he’s got to move a bit outside his comfort zone and go to a fancy-dress birthday party.
Things are going swimmingly at the party when suddenly, in the pitch blackness of a game of monster tag — AAHHHHHH!!!!! — the cake has gone missing!
Good thing Harold is there to get to the bottom of things! Riotous fun for ages 4 and up.
The Dragon and the Nibblesome Knight, written by Elli Woollard, illustrated by Benji Davies
first published in 2016 in the UK; first American edition 2018 by Godwin Books, Henry Holt
The Dragons of Dread love nothing more for elevensies than a smackeral of knobble-kneed knights! Thus, little dragon Dram, age four and old enough now to fend for himself, is bid by his parents to “go bite a nibblesome knight” of his own.
When Dram crash lands in the duck pond he is discovered by young James, a knight in training, who has shed his armor for a lounge in the sun. After a long period of recuperation for Dram with plenty of tender loving care by James, the two of them are flabbergasted to discover that they’re meant to be mortal enemies!
A flamboyant, jovial tale of friendship, flame-breathing dragons, and loads of frosted cupcakes, for ages 4 and up.
The Little Barbarian, a wordless book by Renato Moriconi
originally published in Brazil; first U.S. edition in 2018 by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
From it’s tall, skinny trim size, to its imaginative, curious story and bombastic monsters, this clever, award-winning story coming out of Brazil surprises its readers.
An athletic Visigoth-esque fellow, dressed in olive drab and wielding sword and shield, leaps upon his steed and surges into a series of encounters with fell beasts of all sorts! Set against copious white space, we see him emerge unscathed from tangles of seething pastel snakes, toothy man-eating plants, a swarm of harpies, and one shuddersome monster after another.
So why, once the foes are vanquished, is our hero so dejected? An incredibly clever twist at the book’s end will have you turning back to the beginning and reliving the adventure with fresh eyes. Sparkling, imaginative, storytelling for ages 4 and up.
Time for Bed, Miyuki, written by Roxane Marie Galliez, illustrated by Seng Soun Ratanavanh
first published in France, 2017; English edition in 2018 by Princeton Architectural Press
Finally, a gorgeous fantasy for bedtime, suffused with lovely Japanese patterns and flavors. Every image in the book is precise, elegant, captivating.
Miyuki and her grandfather are Thumbelina-sized persons, at home in a ravishing garden. It’s time for bed, and as do children of average size, Miyuki has a list of urgent matters that need attention before she’s ready to cooperate.
Some items on her to-do list are ever so extraordinary — constructing a canopy for the visit of the Dragonfly Queen, herding up the Snail family — while some are universal — a gentle bath and bedtime story. All are richly fanciful in this hushed, wonder-filled realm. Nourish sweet dreams with this one, for ages 5 and up.