This has been a great year for new children’s books. We’ve already written about our favourite books for babies and toddlers from the first half of 2019, and our favourite picture books from the first half of 2019. This post is about our favourite children’s books from the second half of 2019, but I’m going to be honest here for a moment: this list will only be one list (not two split over babies/toddlers and picture books), and this will also be a shorter list. This isn’t because there weren’t as many books released in 2019, but simply because our workloads and priorities have changed in the second half of the year. So this means if a book has made it onto this list, we REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY loved it.
Jen’s favourite children’s books from the second half of 2019
The Hike by Alison Farrell
I’ve recommended this book many times, and it is easily one of my favourite books of the year. It’s a wonderful celebration of friendship, adventure, and the outdoors, with the two added bonuses of fantastic and charming illustrations and fun and exuberant text.
Truman by Jean Reidy, illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins
What a great hero! This book has a wonderful story about friendship and bravery and adventure, and it is delightfully funny too. The illustrations are gorgeous and I loved this book a lot more than I expected to based on the synopsis.
What Color is Night? by Grant Snider
A gorgeous book that makes you really look and observe and see what colours are visible at night — night isn’t just dark and black. The colours and art are beautiful, and the accompanying lyrical text makes this a great bedtime book.
Snowy Race by April Jones Prince, illustrated by Christine Davenier
This is a lovely read-aloud book that makes me want it to be winter all the time. There is snow and adventure and a ticking clock and the cosiness at the end practically leaps off the page. I love the minimal text and really adore the illustrations.
Just In Case You Want To Fly by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Christian Robinson
Generally, I don’t like sweet books. I don’t like books that are sappy, or sentimental, or just about how a parent loves a child. I love this one though, even though it is sweet and about how a parent is always there for their child. Because not only is it sweet, it is funny, lyrical, and unexpected. The text is fun to read aloud and, as always, Robinson’s artwork is spot on. Fantastic illustrations.
Margaret’s favorite children’s books from the second half of 2019
Saturday by Oge Mora
I loved Saturday even more than Thank You, Omu!, maybe because it’s more representative of my day to day life. In Oge Mora’s second book, a single working mom has one special day to spend with her daughter–and not working–a week. So they plan special things to do together, like go to storytime at the library, get their hair done, and see puppet shows. But on this Saturday, everything goes wrong. We’ve all had those days, where all we can do is breathe and get through it. The paper collage illustrations are vivid and lovely, and both Marian and I were regularly picking this one out to read until we had to return it to the library.
Pokko and the Drum by Matthew Forsythe
I’m astonished I haven’t reviewed this one on the website, though I did feature it on our Instagram page. I’ve seen this book on every single best of 2019 list, and it’s well deserved. It’s such an interesting picture book, both dark and humorous. It’s about a father who gives his son Pokko a drum and regrets it deeply. Pokko will not stop playing on that drum! The mother is reading and doesn’t particularly notice. The father kicks Pokko out of the house, but then Pokko continues his drumming, inspiring a forest of animals to join in. Well, except that one that’s eaten. This is another library book I’m considering buying. There’s something about it that reminds me of Maurice Sendak. It’s nothing like Sendak thematically or visually. I think it’s because Pokko feels like it can exist outside of children’s literature. It is what it is and that just so happens to be a picture book. Like it’s a work of art.
Go, Girls, Go! by Frances Gilbert, Illustrated by Allison Black
I’ve seen no one talking about this book, but it’s such a fun read! We randomly picked it out at the library just last week, and now I’m met with many a “Read Go, Girls, Go! Right Now! Please!” every day. These library books Marian falls in love with are going to break the bank! This is a vehicle’s book with all-girl drivers, woot! Though of course boys can read it too! It’s catchy and sing-song and Marian loves seeing all the vehicles. I’ve been irritated about how all the vehicle books we’ve been reading only use ‘he’ pronouns. This is a refreshing and much-needed change.
Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border by Mitali Perkins, Illustrated by Sara Palacios
I’ve already reviewed this book three times on the website, and once on Instagram, so clearly it’s a favorite. It tells a unique Christmas story, one that will resonate all year long. I will say, Marian is a bit too young for it. I recommend it for children 4 and up.
Snow Still by Holly Surplice
I’m not sure if others will find this board book as charming as we do. You see, Marian has a lovey that goes with her EVERYWHERE, and that lovey is a stuffed fawn. Fawn is very precious to us. We have no pets, so Fawn is like our pet, a member of the family. Snow Still is a little poem about a Fawn discovering winter. There are maybe 12 words in the entire book. Marian has them all memorized and can read us the book. I believe it’s the first book she’s memorized word for word, although we’ve had some others that were pretty close. She tends to prefer long books too. In fact, I think this is the only board book she requests to read. The illustrations are incredibly sweet and evocative of winter. It’s a perfect winter read for toddlers!
What are your favorite children’s books from 2019?