These are the books coming out in May that we will be reading with Tilly and Marian (books marked with a double asterisk are ones we especially loved). And we have even more 2019 books to recommend.
Books for Babies and Toddlers (0–3 years old)
Mom Loves Little Jumbo by Yasushi Muraki (minedition, 1 May, 2019)
Jen’s review: A cute board book about an elephant and his mother. Jumbo is a baby elephant and the book is all about the things that makes Jumbo’s mum the best, like how she always protects him, catches him when he falls, plays with him, and snuggles up close at bedtime. I really like the illustrations in this, but don’t entirely understand why the mum is a different colour on every page but Jumbo stays the same.
Rainbow: A First Book of Pride by Michael Genhart, illustrated by Anne Passchier (Magination Press, 7 May, 2019).**
Margaret’s review: Toddlers can learn their colors as well as the meaning behind the rainbow flag. This is a simple book with wonderful, diverse illustrations. It’s a book that celebrates community, diversity, and respect.
Up Up Up Down by Kimberly Gee (G.P. Putnam’s Sons for Young Readers, 7 May, 2019)**
Jen’s review: This book is my life right now and I love it for that. It captures the day in the life of a stay-at-home dad and his toddler, told in opposites. The words are sparse and the story is mainly told through the very cute and charming pictures. Up up up dooooown. On on on …off. Yum yum yum… yuck. Battles in toddler-dressing, feeding a toddler, fun at playtime. I spend all of my days with an 18-month-old and I can attest to the accuracy of this book.
Can You Eat by Joshua David Stein, illustrated by Julia Rothman (Phaidon, 8 May, 2019)**
Jen’s review: A delightfully fun board book that asks you what sorts of things can be eaten, told in rhyme. Can you eat… a pea, a pear? A bee, a bear? It reminds me of a more whimsical version of Leslie Patricelli’s Yummy Yucky. Both are board books that contrasts foods with similar-sounding non-foods, and are great joys to read. I also adore the illustrations in Can You Eat — they are gorgeous. This is board book as art kind of stuff.
My Art Book of Sleep by Shana Gozansky (Phaidon, 8 May, 2019)**
Jen’s review: The is the follow up to My Art Book of Love, and it is just as wonderful. Both books pair works of fine art with lyrical prose, and while the first book in the series is all about love, this one is all about sleep. Who sleeps (everyone), why you need sleep, what happens when you don’t get enough sleep, what magical things you see in your dreams… The ‘My Art Book…’ series is my favourite board book series and this book met my high expectations. These two books would also be fantastic as presents.
Books for Early Elementary Ages (4–8 years old)
When the Moon Came Down by Feridun Oval (minedition, 1 May, 2019)
Jen’s review: Little Bunny woke up in the middle of the night, hungry, but is scared of the dark so can’t go and find food. But Moon comes to the rescue, becoming his friend and lighting his way. This is a charming story about friendship and night-time fears and finding light in the dark.
The Wild Wombat by Udo Weigelt, illustrated by Melanie Freund (minedition, 1 May, 2019)
Jen’s review: A very funny and cute picture book. The zoo is getting a wombat, but none of the other animals know what a wombat is. So all sorts of rumours start flying about how epically terrifying this creature is. But it’s just an innocent wombat! I might be slightly biased because I’m a sucker for books that have a link to Australia, but this is one of my favourite picture books from this month. I guess the fact that one of my favourite animals is the wombat helps too.
The Blue Pebble by Anne-Gaelle Balpe, illustrated by Eve Tharlet (minedition, 1 May, 2019)
Jen’s review: Oli finds a strange blue pebble that everyone tells him is useless and he should throw it away. But he hangs onto it, just in case… and eventually meets a girl whose doll is missing an eye that looks just like that blue pebble. I love the lesson behind this story, of not wasting things and friendship.
Me, Toma and the Concrete Garden by Andrew Larson, Illustrated by Anne Villeneuve (Kids Can Press, 7 May, 2019).
Margaret’s review: While his mom recovers from surgery, Vincent is sent to stay with his aunt. He despairs of ever making friends, but soon enough he’s playing with Toma–a neighbor’s child–and they accidentally create a garden in the middle of a concrete neighborhood. They also make friends with an elderly man while doing so. I love how this subtly tells the story of disability, and gives an alternative family arrangement that’s not often seen in children’s books. And city garden books are always wonderful!
Red Light, Green Lion by Candace Ryan, Illustrated by Jennifer Yerkes (Kids Can, 7 May 2019).
Margaret’s review: A funny book with lots of word play and silliness. I was just talking about how I don’t see many picture books that use font and text as integral components of the book. But here’s one that does! Words hang off the page to be finished on the next, and of course they’re mostly red and green. The illustrations are deceptively simplistic, with the lion somehow portraying so many emotions with only a few lines.
Lambslide by Ann Patchett, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser (Harper Collins, 7 May, 2019).
Margaret’s review: As a Nashvillian, I get excited about any book published by Parnassus Books owner Ann Patchett. She’s the most well-known Nashville author, and is responsible for a lot of cool author events in the area. I was doubly excited when I saw she had a children’s book coming out, illustrated by the same artist responsible for the Fancy Nancy illustrations. I have yet to read Lambslide, but I’m looking forward to finding a copy and reading it!
I’m a Baked Potato! by Elise Primavera, illustrated by Juana Medina (Chronicle Books, 7 May, 2019).
Jen’s review: A lady who loves baked potatoes gets a dog and names him Baked Potato, which leads to a bit of an identity crisis. This book reminds me of a few things. The misunderstanding the dog has of his own identity reminds me of the stories of animals who think they are other animals because they were raised by them from birth. The journey he goes on when he gets lost and the perils he faces reminds me of The Gruffalo. There are even some of the same animals! And all the talk of baked potatoes just makes me hungry. I like this book for the lovely depiction of the relationship between owner and pet, how adorable the dog is and his adorable cluelessness about who or what he is, and also because I think potatoes are the perfect food.
If I Was the Sunshine by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Loren Long (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 7 May, 2019).
Jen’s review: This book reminds me of the song ‘All I Want Is You’ by Barry Lois Palisar from the Juno soundtrack (‘If I was a flower growing wild and free/All I’d want is you to be my sweet honey bee/And if I was a tree growing tall and green/All I’d want is you to shade me and be my leaves’). I can’t help but try and read this book to the tune of that song! The book is a warm and beautiful look at nature, relationships, connections, and love. One of my favourite spreads in the book is the bird: ‘if you were a bird and I was a tree you’d all me home and I’d call you free’. How delightful is that?! This book is filled with lovely prose and warm, rich pictures.
Thank You For My Dreams by HSH Prince Alexi Lubomirski and sons (Andrews McMeel, 7 May, 2019)
Jen’s review: This is a book of prayers for gratitude, and each page has a bold drawing and something that we should be grateful for. There is a strong focus on the environment, charity, and family, and it is a beautiful thing to teach children. We have a lot to be thankful for and this book helps focus on specific things we can say ‘thank you’ for. This is one book I can’t wait to share with Tilly when she’s older.
Camp Tiger by Susan Choi, illustrated by John Rocco (G.P. Putman’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 21 May, 2019).
Jen’s review: A gorgeous picture book about facing the uncertainties of growing up. The young protagonist goes on a family camping trip the summer before he begins first grade. He’s growing up, encouraged to be more independent, and on this trip he finds magic in the woods. The illustrations perfectly capture the great outdoors and make me want to go camping under the stars; the story reminds me of how great it was to be a kid. A lovely ode to childhood and imagination.
The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon: The True Story of Alan Bean by Dean Robbins, Illustrated by Sean Rubin (Scholastic, 28 May, 2019).
Margaret’s review: I have a soft spot for books that mix art with science. Alan Bean was the 4th man on the moon, and the first artist. This book chronicles his dream of going to the moon, and his development as an artist. After his moon landing in 1969, he went home unsatisfied with the many photographs he took of earth and space. But he found that through painting, the awe and beauty of space became much more present. A great book to own for any space lovers out there.
Books for Later Elementary Ages (9–12 years old)
We Are the Change, introduction by Harry Belafonte, various authors and illustrators (Chronicle Books, 7 May, 2019).
Jen’s review: A stunningly gorgeous book that many adults will appreciate. Sixteen award-winning illustrators illustrate various civil rights quotations that inspire them. The messages within the book are powerful ones, especially now (and especially as we are coming up to 2020 and another election year). The book reminds us that as individuals we do have the power to effect change and we should use that power wisely. Read this book. Choose love. Be kind. Change the world.
I Have An Idea! by Herve Tullet (Chronicle Books, 7 May, 2019)**.
Jen’s review: Another great book from the creator of Press Here. Again Tullet uses simple brushstrokes and only a few colours of paint to create a lively and expressive book. He urges us to embrace and nurture our ideas, even the crazy ones, because who knows which is the idea that will change the world? I’ve loved all of Tullet’s books I’ve read and I’m excited about this one coming out.
Cinderella Liberator by Rebecca Solnit, Illustrated by Arthur Rackham (Haymarket Books, 7 May, 2019).**
Margaret’s review: I have not read this yet, but when I heard about THE Rebecca Solnit writing a feminist version of “Cinderella,” I got soo excited! I love feminist retellings of fairytales. It’s my wheelhouse. There have been many feminist reinterpretations of “Cinderella” (maybe an idea for a post?), but there’s always room for more, especially with Solnit behind it. If you haven’t read Rebecca Solnit, she’s an adult, nonfiction essayist (she coined the term “mansplaining”). I recommend reading Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities and Men Explain Things to Me.
Birds of a Feather by Susan L. Roth (Neal Porter Books, 14 May, 2019).
Jen’s review: A book with bright and colourful collages that are a lot of fun to look at. The author, Susan L. Roth, is like a bowerbird in that they both love colourful objects, make creations out of things they find in the world around them, and use those creations to spread a bit of beauty. This book is a lovely introduction to bowerbirds (another reason I like this book — these are birds found in Australia and New Guinea, so it reminds me a little bit of home), and the art of collage. The pictures were the highlight of this book for me.
United Tastes of America by Gabrielle Langholtz, drawings by Jenny Bowers, photographs by DL Acken (Phaidon, 22 May, 2019)**
Jen’s review: This is the most beautiful book I’ve seen this year so far. As a physical object, it is gorgeous: thick, heavy paper, wonderful photos, and fun drawings throughout. This book is part cookbook, part atlas, and part food trivia book. As you read, you go on a journey through the 50 states of America, learning interesting facts about food from each state. There is also one recipe per state, with a convenient rating system that tells you the difficulty level — great for beginner cooks. I love this book so much.