These are the children’s books published in April that we are looking forward to sharing with Tilly and Marian (books we especially love are marked with a double asterisk).
Books for Babies and Toddlers (0–3 years old)
Babymoon by Hayley Barrett, Illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal (Candlewick, 02 April, 2019).
Margaret’s review: A gorgeously illustrated picture book from the perspective of new parents with a newborn in the first few months. I’d never heard of the term ‘babymoon’ before, but apparently it’s sometimes used among midwives, and the author–Hayley Barrett–wrote this picture book in celebration of the idea of having a gentle and private babymoon after the birth of a child. Wow, I would never consider our first few months with Marian a babymoon! In and out of hospitals, no paternity leave, it was an exhausting mess. But I love the idea of it being a sweet time, as these lyrics and illustrations depict. It would be great if this were eventually published as a board book, to make it more accessible for the littlest hands.
Tomorrow Most Likely by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Lane Smith (Chronicle Books, 2 April 2019).
Jen’s review: Something that we’ve started doing at bedtime with Tilly is telling her about the day that we just had, and what our plans are for tomorrow. We tell her all the things she did today, and that’s why she needs to sleep because she needs to recover from her day. And we tell her the things that she will do tomorrow, and that’s why she needs to sleep so she will be well-rested and have energy for all her great adventures ahead. This book is a fun and whimsical take on the second part of our bedtime routine — a bedtime story that talks about all the exciting things that will happen tomorrow. A really fun book to read out loud with great vibrant illustrations. I love this as a bedtime book because it’s a bit different from all the other bedtime books out there.
Hide and Sleep by Lizi Boyd (Chronicle Books, 9 April, 2019).**
Jen’s review: I have realised that I am a sucker for die-cut books. I love them. This is a very interactive book where the pages are designed to be flipped back and forth as you look for animals who are hiding. And then you see almost all of them going to sleep as the sun sets and the moon rises. A playful book that is great for pointing and animal identification and page-turning. I really like the bright and vibrant style of art in this too. This is a book that has become one of Tilly’s favourites, and one she keeps going back to and flipping the pages of.
TouchWords: Food by Rilla Alexander (Chronicle Books, 16 April, 2019).**
Jen’s review: I love the TouchThinkLearn books because they are so beautiful and such fun tactile reading experiences. I was super excited about this title specifically because I love food, and the book definitely does not disappoint. A great book to touch and hold and use as a launchpad for discussion. There are bits of the book that are raised, die-cut hollows, word clusters for each item, and it has the signature simplicity and boldness of the TouchThinkLearn books.
Feminist Baby! He’s a Feminist Too! by Loryn Brantz (Disney-Hyperion, 02, April, 2019).
Margaret’s review: I do not have a copy of this yet, but as a huge fan of the Feminist Baby series, this is a must buy for us. Marian loves these books too. They’re bright, funny, and of course feminist. It’s nice to see the series branch out to boys, and also to show a brown baby. Can’t wait to add it to our feminist board book collection!
Books for Early Elementary Ages (4–8 years old)
Lenny the Lobster Can’t Stay for Dinner by Michael Buckley and Finn Buckley, illustrated by Catherine Meurisse (Phaidon Press, 1 April, 2019).**
Jen’s review: This book is incredible and inventive. It’s a choose-you-own-ending picture book about a lobster who has been invited to a fancy dinner. But is he just a guess or is he the dinner? My favourite part is actually the cover jacket — it’s reversible, so you can have either scenario as your book, and under the jacket, there is a great little joke from the story. A wonderfully designed book. I also love the story (both of them!). I’ve not seen the choose-your-own-ending style in a picture book before and this is done very well.
Georgia’s Terrific, Colorific Experiment by Zoe Persico (Running Press, 02, April, 2019).**
Margaret’s review: Georgia has a scientific brain in an artistic family, and she’s fed up with their artistic suggestions. But when she decides to work on her own, she realizes she can’t think of anything to conduct experiments about. It’s only when she opens herself up to her creative side, fostered by her artistic family, that she comes up with some amazing scientific experiments. As a SFF lover, it seems completely obvious to me that science and art are natural team mates. But was it taught that way in school, or even in popular culture? Not at all. I love this picture book not only for the way it combines art with science, but also the bright and brilliant illustrations, and Georgia is adorable!
My Forest Is Green by Darren Lebeuf, Illustrated by Ashley Barron (Kids Can Press, 02, April, 2019).**
Margaret’s review: A charming book about a little boy’s love for a forest, and the art he creates there. The text is very simple and sweet, and would probably be good for older toddlers as well as early elementary school aged children, as long as they’re not tearing pages. The illustrations look like layered collage pieces, much like the boy’s art. It’s a really pretty book, and perfect to pair with some outdoorsy arts and crafts with your little one(s).
Henry The Boy by Molly Felder, Illustrated by Nate Christopherson and Tara Sweeney (Penny Candy Books, 02, April, 2019).
Margaret’s review: I’d be curious to know how many children’s books are sold a year that have a disabled main character. It can’t be very many. Henry needs crutches to be able to walk. On the one hand, he’s constantly reminded of his need for their aid–children pointing them out, the “click-click-click” sound they make as he walks. But on the other hand, he has a rich imagination and play life with his friend Joel that isn’t defined by his need for crutches. As a disabled person myself, I know how it feels to need to be constantly aware of a physical ailment, while at the same time doing whatever that pleases me and continuing with my rich life. It’s nice to see that in this book, and I could tell by the way Henry is portrayed that the author must also have a disability (it says in the back that author Molly Felder has cerebral palsy). The art is colorful, just like Henry’s imagination. I’m not wild about how the children are drawn, but overall, this is an excellent book.
Ojiichan’s Gift by Chieri Uegaki, Illustrated by Genevieve Simms (Kids Can Press, 02, April, 2019).**
Margaret’s review: I requested this book because I’m rounding up a collection of children’s books about grandparents for Book Riot. I’d already seen a couple pictures of this one, yet the physical book is much lovelier than I expected, both in the art and in the story. Every year, Mayumi visits her grandfather in Japan and helps him with his garden. She rakes rocks and weeds and loves every minute she spends with her grandfather. But then one visit, her grandfather can’t garden with her anymore. He’s too sick, and must leave his home. This book celebrates inter-generational relationships and sharing customs and traditions.
Follow That Bee!: A First Book of Bees in the City (Exploring Our Community) by Scot Ritchie (Kids Can Press, 02, April, 2019)**
Margaret’s review: I am NOT a fan of bees or most bugs, really. However, I try to be environmentally friendly and I know how important bees are to the environment. Also, I don’t want Marian to grow up with the same fear of bugs that I have. That’s why I grab well-written bug books when I see them. And this is a perfect, informative picture book that gives so many facts about bees. I learned a few things. Apparantly, this is part of a whole series of nonfiction picture books that explore a community.
Ruby’s Sword by Jacqueline Veissid, illustrated by Paola Zakimi (Chronicle Books, 9 April, 2019).
Jen’s review: Ruby is always being left behind by her big brothers but then she finds some sticks that aren’t just any old sticks — they are swords. I’m an only child, so this was a nice insight into sibling relationships that have been explained to me but I may never truly understand. There is tension in the relationship between Ruby and her brothers, but there is also love and companionship. What I loved most about this was the message about the power of imagination. I’m a strong believer in play and pretending and understanding that of course a stick can be a powerful sword.
Luca’s Bridge/El Puente de Luca by Mariana Llanos, Illustrated by Anna López Real (Penny Candy Books, 16, April, 2019).
Margaret’s review: When Luca’s parents are deported, Luca must leave the only home he’s ever known to live with his grandmother in Mexico. He doesn’t even speak Spanish. This bilingual picture book gives the complete story of Luca’s journey in both English and Spanish. In our current political climate, it’s vital we give books to our non-immigrant children that help them see immigrants as human beings, and it’s vital for immigrant children and children of immigrants to see themselves in books. And I always love books that incorporate musical instruments. In this case, Luca brings his trumpet with him to Mexico, the bridge in the title referring to both a musical bridge between parts and Luca’s personal bridge between his life in the United States and his new life in Mexico. I’m personally only iffy on the art; however, I’m glad to have this book to read to my daughter.
Home Is a Window by Stephanie Parsley Ledyard, Illustrated by Chris Sasaki (Holiday House, 23, April, 2019).**
Margaret’s review: How do you define what home means, and what happens when you’re uprooted and move? The little girl in Home is a Window answers these questions in a lovely poem celebrating home. The illustrations are soft and warm, just like the words, and just like a good home is. Whether you have an upcoming move or not, this book is worth a place on any baby librarian bookshelves. If you’re looking for books with interracial families, this is also a wonderful pick.
I Will Be Fierce by Bea Birdsong, illustrated by Nidhi Chanani (Roaring Book Press, 23 April, 2019).
Jen’s review: A young girl takes on her day (and the world) with a simple and powerful declaration, ‘Today I will be fierce’. She puts on her armour (gets dressed), takes on monsters (neighbourhood dogs), climbs the mountain of knowledge (goes to the library), builds bridges (makes a new friend). This book is a colourful and delightful look at how even an ordinary day can be full of adventure and inspires readers to be confident, courageous, and kind.
Margaret’s review: I’m just popping in to say I also enjoyed this book. I particularly like the illustrations. There’s one image with the little girl in the rain that gives me so much joy.
Fearsome Giant, Fearless Child by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Julie Paschkis (Henry Holt and Co., 23 April, 2019).
Jen’s review: A really fun and creative book that takes you all over the world. Threads of myths and fairytales from many different countries are pulled together to create one story, and I loved seeing the connecting threads. This was a really fun one to read. Beautifully illustrated, too.
You’re Missing It! by Brady Smith and Tiffani Thiessen (Nancy Paulsen Books, 30 April, 2019).**
Jen’s review: This is a book that I feel is more needed by the parents of today than the children of today. Bright and colourful illustrations show a little boy pointing out amazing things in the world to his dad, who is missing all of it because he is busy looking at his phone. A great message and a reminder for us to be fully present more often and not be so distracted by our gadgets. The authors say that the book is semi-autobiographical and I can definitely relate. I wonder what our kids are trying to point out to us when we aren’t completely paying attention? What are we missing?
Most Marshmallows by Rowboat Watkins (Chronicle Books, 30 April, 2019).
Jen’s review: This is such a charming book. I like how it begins with the everyday and mundane (well, as everyday and mundane as you can be when you are a marshmallow), with events that no one thinks of as extraordinary like eating dinner and going to school. But imagination is powerful, and dreams can be big, and they can take you anywhere you want to go, and even though most marshmallows will lead pretty stable and steady marshmallow lives, some marshmallows can go to the moon. Love the illustrations in this too.
Pig the Stinker by Aaron Blabey (Scholastic Press, 30 April, 2019).
Jen’s review: The Pig the Pug series is great, and I love Blabey’s rhymes and illustrations. These are excellent read-aloud books. This one has been out in Australia for awhile, with the title Pig the Grub and a slightly different plot — I’m not sure why the plot had to be changed but I do like both books. In this book, Pig is stinky and messy and filthy, and he refuses to take a bath. Hilarity and hijinks ensue. (See our review of the other books in the series here.)
The Happiest Tree: A Story of Growing Up by Hyeon-Ju Lee (Fewer & Friends, 30 April, 2019).
Jen’s review: I’ve written elsewhere about how much I dislike The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, and this is a book about the life of a tree that I enjoyed a lot more. This is a sweet book about a tree growing up; it’s a lovely reminder about the people we meet and the memories we make as we go through life. If I had to recommend a book about a tree, I’d definitely pick this one over that other classic.
Books for Later Elementary Ages (9–12 years old)
The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde, Illustrated by Jeanne Bowman (Familius, 1, April, 2019).
Margaret’s review: Oscar Wilde is one of my favorite Victorian writers, and out of his repertoire, his fairytale short stories are my favorites. Thus, I love this new picture book combining his fairytale inspired short story with colorful art that depicts old school magic within a modern world. I’ve read a couple other picture books of this short story, and each artist takes different interpretations to the text. This is the first one I’ve seen with a modern touch. The children wear modern-looking school uniforms, there are street lights, posters on the giant’s fence advertise “Caspar Babypants: Live Show!” But while the world outside the giant’s garden is modern and bustling, the world within his garden is blooming with magic. A little girl perches on a tree branch, chatting with a kingfisher as tall as she, a tree and the giant have a good hug (with the giant wearing carrot and bunny pjs, which is adorable), and a giant owl breathes a cold cold wind onto a little boy. This is a must for any Oscar Wilde fans out there. And Wilde’s fairytale short stories are a great way to introduce older children to his work.
Nature All Around: Trees by Pamela Hickman, illustrated by Carolyn Gavin (Kids Can Press, 02, April, 2019).
Margaret’s review: This is a gorgeous nonfiction picture book all about trees. It discusses types of trees, tree germination, pollination, how to plant a tree, and can serve as a first field guide to trees. I’ve always been bad at identifying trees (birds are my thing), and I look forward to learning more about trees with Marian when she’s older. The artwork is colorful and reminiscent of children’s watercolors, though obviously much better executed.
Guitar Genius by Kim Tomsic, illustrated by Brett Helquist (Chronicle Books, 16 April, 2019).
Jen’s review: A great addition to a child’s non-fiction collection. It’s a biography of Les Paul but it’s not just a biography — it’s a wonderful story of invention and determination, and how imagination and engineering can take you to wondrous new places. This is a bit old for Tilly but it’s definitely a great book I’ll introduce to her when she’s older.
The Atlas of Monsters by Sandra Lawrence, Illustrated by Stuart Hill (Running Press, 23, April, 2019). **
Margaret’s review: I’m a folklore fiend, and fell in love with this gorgeously illustrated atlas of monsters the second I opened it. The pages themselves are thicker and appear to be yellowing as if they were actual pages from a map. Each section takes an area of the world and examines some popular monsters that populate that area, with an accompanying map and key of where to find the creatures. You can learn all about the Balaur of South-East Europe, the Nian of China, and the Simurgh of Iran, for example. This is a book I’m currently cherishing far more than Marian.
Two Brothers Four Hands by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Hadley Hooper (Neal Porter Books, 23 April, 2019).
Jen’s review: This is a targeted to an older audience than what we normally write about here, aimed at children aged 7–10. It’s an exquisitely illustrated biographical picture book about the Giacometti brothers, who were two iconic twentieth-century artists. The authors paint a detailed portrait of their two lives, with enough information to create what feels like a comprehensive account but is simplistic enough to be appreciated by children. The text and illustrations do an excellent job at transporting the reader into another world, another life.
What books are you looking forward to reading this April?