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This second entry in Barnett and Klassen’s planned shape trilogy grapples with such topics as anxiety, the nature of art, friendship, and imposter syndrome. Heady stuff, to be sure, but in the hands of Barnett and Klassen, who are responsible for some of the best children’s books of the past decade, it’s charming, funny, and beautifully wrought. And Square, who tries everything to impress Circle and, in the process, experiences an existential doozy that would cause most to ask for a double scotch on the rocks, is a character any kid would love: fragile, but full of hope and energy.

Birth & up. Get ready for bedtime with Llama Llama! The Llama Llama Blanky makes a great companion for little ones as it combines a blanket and plush toy that is ideal for comforting hugs and snuggles. In the book, Llama Llama must splish and splash in the tub then put on his red pajamas leading up to the best part of bedtime... stories with Mama! Llama Llama books celebrate the bond between mother and child. This fun story features catchy rhymes, effortless rhythm, and adorable illustrations.… More »
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“Grandma” Gatewood is finally getting her due. Just this summer, the New York Times gave a long overdue obituary of Emma Gatewood, the first woman to hike the Appalachian Trail by herself in one season (at the ripe old age of 67). Gatewood was a mother of 11, a grandmother, and great-grandmother when she first hiked the trail. By the time she died 16 years after her first hike in 1973, she had completed the AT three times — setting the record as the first person to ever complete the trail more than once. Her story has also, finally, made it’s way to a children’s book this year, one whose clear, sparkling prose and beautiful illustrations by Jennifer Thermes give this real-life tale the inspirational platform it deserves.
The best children’s books not only help young readers understand themselves and the world better, but make them giggle, think, worry, consider, and engage all their other feelings, too. These books also tug adult readers back towards childhood, reminding us of our youth and bigger things beyond our own lives. This is no easy trick, but it feels natural when a great book pulls it off with grace. And so far, there have been dozens of releases this year that do just that.
Creating stories for the youngest book-lover is not child's play. The best books have similar traits. Life-affirming messages pitched appropriately for this audience, in a way that engages, while bringing out the best in an older reader. When it all comes together the result is a book that transcends age. We feel these are the best of the best. (Many of these are available as "board books.")
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