I’ve got scads of delicious stories to dish out to you just now, rising in stacks on my family room floor, so I’m going to tempt you with a dozen at one go and try to keep my comments brief.
Despite the brevity, rest assured that each one had to be outstanding to win its place in this list! I hope you can add many of them to your Cozy October Reading Stacks.
I’ll start things off with 3 books celebrating babies and 1 just right for the preschool set:
B is for Baby, written by Atinuke, illustrated by Angela Brooksbank
published in 2019 by Candlewick Press
I’m smitten with this warm, loving glimpse of one happy Nigerian baby among her doting family.
Bold illustrations glow with affection and the colors of the West African countryside. Atinuke, author of the wonderful Anna Hibiscus stories, cleverly introduces this home and family with a zesty, minimal, approach featuring the letter B. Fabulous for ages 18 months and up.
Busy Babies, written and illustrated by Amy Schwartz
published in 2019 by Beach Lane Books
Charming vignettes pepper the pages of this bustling book of busy babies.
Singing with vivid color, popping with imaginative play, happy days, and all the curiosities small persons love to explore, it’s a joy to read again and again with ages 18 months and up.
The Day of Your Arrival, written by Dolores Brown, illustrated by Reza Dalvand
published in 2019 by NubeOcho
This poignant welcome, addressed to an adopted child, radiates with love and tenderheartedness, soars with the joy of a long-awaited wish fulfilled.
Gorgeous illustrations bloom with rich colors and patterns, soothe with delicate line and curve, caress with every page turn. A lovely offering for ages 4 and up, or as a gift for adoptive parents.
Red House, Tree House, Little Bitty Brown Mouse, written by Jane Godwin, illustrated by Blanca Gómez
published in 2019 by Dial Books for Young Readers
Vibrant, bold, jelly-bean-bright illustrations invite us to look, find, count, name all manner of colorful bits and pieces in this perky town.
It’s happiness in a book for toddlers, a snazzy chance to learn colors, and a whale of a lot of fun. Plus there’a a little bitty brown mouse to spot on every page and more small puzzlers on the end papers. Jolly and interactive for ages 2 and up.
Next up, 4 titles golden with friendship and lovingkindness. Just what the doctor ordered during these fractious days…
Otto Goes North, written and illustrated by Ulrika Kestere, English translation by Julia Marshall
originally published in Sweden; English edition 2019 by Gecko Press
Possibly my fave on the list today, this quirky tale in a Far North setting charmed the socks off of me. A lynx named Lisa and a bear named Nils welcome their pal Otto, a lemur, who has cycled his way north to pay them a visit.
But the frosty weather is much too cold for Otto, so dear Lisa and Nils (a slightly-batty twosome but as loyal as you please) come to the rescue with hot blueberry soup and one festive lynx&bear fur sweater. A little wacky and a lot of wonderful for ages 4 and up.
Small in the City, written and illustrated by Sydney Smith
published in 2019 by Neal Porter Books, Holiday House
Sydney Smith’s gritty, dramatic, evocative illustration work immerses us in an urban world of soaring concrete-and-glass, anonymous crowds, girder-cast shadows — all a bit intimidating for Small Persons.
His inventive storytelling uses minimal text which lends itself to multiple interpretations. A great deal of meaning and movement emerge from the illustrations, which see us tagging along with a bundled up child on a mission. The nature of that mission unfolds very gradually and then concludes with such a surprise we’ve got to return to the beginning and feel our way along again with new understanding. Poignant, empathetic, brilliant, for ages 5 or 6 and up.
The Scarecrow, written by Beth Ferry, illustrated by The Fan Brothers
published in 2019 by HarperCollins Children’s Books
A perfect autumn read, this is the story of a faithful scarecrow whose prowess at guarding the field makes him a rather lonely fellow, until one day he chooses to shelter, rather than shoo away, a tiny baby crow.
The story of that rare friendship unreels in this beautiful book, weaving in and out of seasons, resonant with heartaches and joy, graced with the ravishing artwork of Terry and Eric Fan, two Canadian brothers who — well, you should just get anything with their names on it because it’s all sheerly gobsmacking. Ages 5 and up.
Maya and the Lost Cat, written and illustrated by Caroline Magerl
originally published in Australia; U.S. edition 2019 by Candlewick Press
Maya spies a sodden, but stubborn, cat on the rooftop one rainy night. She coaxes it down with a tin of sardines, then sets off to find Cat’s true home.
After a squelchy, plodding, far-and-wide search, a most unusual household belonging to Fritz and Irma turns out to be where Cat belongs. Just when you think your heart will break a little as Maya gives up her fuzzy charge, a wee surprise purrs into view. Delightful, wobbly, fizzy, for ages 4 and up.
Next, 1 non-fiction gem just right for autumn:
Migration: Incredible Animal Journeys, written by Mike Unwin, illustrated by Jenni Desmond
first published in Great Britain in 2018; U.S. edition 2019 by Bloomsbury Children’s Books
I might not have picked this up, but seeing Jenni Desmond’s name on it made it irresistible, and I happily discovered a real gem.
Unwin’s text, packed as it is with fascination about the mind-boggling journeys animals make by air, sea, and land, is written with both sophistication and exceptional readability. Each two-page spread features just a few paragraphs about one creature, and Desmond’s stunning artistry. A superb beckoning towards the wonder and majesty of the natural world for ages 7 to adult.
Finally, 3 books sparkling with imagination:
The Piano Recital, written and illustrated by Akiko Miyakoshi
first published in Japan in 2012; English edition 2019 by Kids Can Press
I am a huge fan of Miyakoshi’s work. In this story she enchants us with a familiar experience — one’s first music recital — and an utterly magical solution to stage fright.
As Momo anxiously waits in the wings for her turn to take the stage, she’s nudged by a charming little mouse all decked out in finery for the mouse recital taking place just through that tiny doorway. Like Alice in Wonderland, Momo wriggles into this fetching world where her nervousness evaporates in the sparkling festivities before her. Pure delight for ages 4 and up.
Fern and Horn, written and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
published in 2019 by Groundwood Books
Such a sunny, ebullient tale of siblings Fern and Horn, coming our way from our good neighbors in Canada.
Fern is a fountain of creativity and imagination, and her swell ideas draw Horn in like a moth to candlelight. The problem is, when Horn joins in, he makes as much mess as an otter in the bathtub. Dear Fern meets these disasters with admirable patience, expansive imagination, and even a batch of chocolate chip cookies. A magnanimous, marvelously-playful story for ages 4 and up.
Cornelia and the Jungle Machine, written and illustrated by Nora Brech, translation by Don Bartlett
first published in Norway in 2017; English edition 2019 by Gecko Press
Last, and certainly not least, this fabulous adventure coming to us from Norway. Just look at that cover! The same sense of drama, of towering heights with spindly ladders stretching into exotic treetops, greets you on every page!
Cornelia has just moved with her parents into a new, somewhat foreboding house, and she’s bored. Lonely. Heading out to the neighboring forest for a look around seems a good way to pass the time, and it’s there, in the mists, amidst hundreds of lanky trunks, that Cornelia discovers a very, very, very long rope ladder disappearing into the canopy.
You will adore the adventures that await her there! Inventive, fanciful, splendiferous illustrations, largely wordless, parade through the pages inviting us to linger and dream. A superb fantasy for ages 4 and up.
If you’re looking for books bursting with the fall season, check out my Autumn Stories list.
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