August is a transitional month for many of you. Still full on summer, yet school routines hover just around the corner.
The titles I’ve chosen for this month’s batch of books range the spectrum: some rejoicing in make-believe and fresh air, some helping kids wind down for earlier bedtimes, some fueling conversation as you launch a new school year. Hope you find something juicy for you and your crew!
Chirri and Chirra Underground, written and illustrated by Kaya Doi, translated from the Japanese by David Boyd
published in 2019 by Enchanted Lion Books
The Chirri and Chirra stories are some of my all time new favorites.
Dring-dring! Off these two go on their trusty bicycles, this time exploring fabulous underground tunnels and surprising, enchanting scenes along the way! Don’t miss this darling, imaginative series, for ages 3 and up.
The Earth Gives More, written by Sue Fliess, illustrated by Christiane Engel
published in 2019 by Albert Whitman and Company
The great out-of-doors never fails to refresh me. Lake waters sparkling in sunlight, the fresh scent of rain-soaked earth, cloudscapes, moon radiance — every day, all year long, the good Earth gives and gives.
A lyric, colorful celebration of nature in all four seasons that inspires us to take good care of our wonder-filled planet. Ages 3 and up.
My Papi Has a Motorcycle, written by Isabel Quintero, illustrated by Zeke Peña
published in 2019 by Kokila, Penguin Books
I’m smitten with the father-daughter affection, keen sense of place, warm community, fabulous artwork…I could go on and on…in this thoroughly Latinx story. When my kids were small, we had a motorcycle in West Africa. Riding around with Dad was a highlight of their young lives.
Daisy and her dad’s joyous outing and relationship is deep and true. Outstanding for ages 4 and up.
Watch Out for Wolf! written by Anica Mrose Rissi, illustrated by Charles Santoso
published in 2019 by Disney Hyperion
This cheerful, humorous, fairy-tale mash-up will have you giggling along your merry way before whirling you about for a surprise ending.
100% fun! Share it with kids ages 3 and up for a sure-fire spot of glee.
Handimals: Animals in Art and Nature, art by Guido Daniele, text by Sylvia Lopez
published in 2019, Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt and Company
Astounding and impossible to effectively describe, Daniele’s body-painting on hands of this selection of animals will have your jaws dropping.
Try to mimic the hand poses together. Learn about cool animals. Brilliant mix of art and science along with a cool message — hands should be used to create, not destroy. A marvel for ages 4 through adult.
Sweet Dreamers, written and illustrated by Isabelle Simler
originally published in France; first U.S. edition 2019 by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
Stunning scratchboard illustrations depict snoozing animals amid their wild surroundings, with just the lightest, lyrical text to enlighten us about all these sleep habits.
Astonishingly beautiful, this book should win illustration awards at year’s end. A perfect bedtime read for ages 4 and up.
The Proper way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems, selected by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Richard Jones
published in 2019 by Candlewick
Nearly three dozen small, ingenious poems woven around a delightful how-to theme, from How to Be a Mole, to How to Ride a New Bike, to How to Pay Attention.
Such a clever collection, ideally suited to instill a love of poetry, illustrated in deft loveliness. Another great bedtime choice for ages 4 and up.
The Undefeated, written by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
published in 2018 by Versify, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
I’d expect nothing but extraordinary from such a powerhouse team, yet this book’s muscular, profoundly-moving text and artwork still astonished me into silence.
Start a new school year off by immersing yourselves in their throbbing, determined voices of black equality, history, and pride in this acutely important book. Ages 4 through adult.
The Girl who Named Pluto: The Story of Venetia Burney, written by Alice B. McGinty, illustrated by Elizabeth Haidle
published in 2019 by Schwartz & Wade Books
A delightful slice of history from 1930. When Venetia Burney’s schoolteacher fills her students’ imaginations with the glory of the vast universe and the wild tales of Greek and Roman gods, 11-year-old Venetia spins the two together to make her surprising mark on the world.
A lovely back-to-school story, charmingly illustrated, for ages 6 and up.
Planet Fashion: 100 Years of Fashion History, text by Natasha Slee, illustrations by Cynthia Kittler
published in 2019 by Quarto Publishing
For back-to-school shoppers or any fashion-aware kids and their grown-ups, this fascinating, lively survey of worldwide clothing styles will wow you.
Drop in at a turn-of-the century ballroom in the UK, a ’50s diner in the USA, a Harlem Renaissance swing dance, an ’80s dinner party in West Germany. Illustration-saturated pages with brief textual remarks in a hefty, over-sized volume. Ages 12 and up.
Wishtree, by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Charles Santoso
published in 2017, Feiwel and Friends
Who better than a towering oak tree named Red to tell us a story about sheltering others, to describe the wild tangle of newcomers he’s seen arrive in the neighborhood and put down roots over the years.
Recently, an ugly refusal of welcome, a hateful word, “Leave,” has been carved into Red’s trunk, aimed spitefully at the newest neighbors. What can a tree do to bring about healing and community?
Warmly told with a folksy tone, gentle humor, and a bevy of woodland creatures with sparkling personalities, all of which soften the edges of this immensely relevant story. It’s a fast read, gentle enough to read aloud with children ages 6 and up, and a rich conversation-starter addressing the animosity being voiced in our country towards new arrivals. Great fall book club selection as well.
We Are the Change: Words of Inspiration from Civil Rights Leaders — created by sixteen different illustrators
published in 2019 by Chronicle Books
Finally, this stirring collection of quotes from over a dozen civil rights leaders — from Eleanor Roosevelt to MLK, Jr., Helen Keller to Dolores Huerta — is stunningly illustrated by sixteen of children’s literature’s finest artists.
The quotes and the artists’ brief commentary are an anthem to courage, to sacrifice on behalf of others, to love as an antidote to hate.
A thought-provoking collection to help us get into “good trouble” as John Lewis would say, for reading and discussing with ages 11 and up.