How do you capture love and all of its various permutations on the page, let alone make it palatable for young readers? Somehow, Pena and illustrator Loren Long are able to do both in this book. As a collection of poems about the titular emotion, this book is successful because de la Pena is a good writer and a great observer who documents love in all its forms; from a baby hearing his parents’ voices to a child looking in the mirror. The poem dances on the precipice of precious but sticks the landing. And even if you think love is a battlefield, the illustration by Loren Long will soften you enough to let this one in.

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Penelope, the classmate-eater to which the title refers, is a cute dinosaur who’s just beginning school. And, yes, she does indeed devour her classmates. But only because she doesn’t know better and, well, kids are damn tasty. When her teacher does tell her not to do it, Penelope subsequently hocks them out (they’re fine, if a bit slimy). In the clever tale that follows, Penelope learns how to act in her new environment, even if she stumbles and scarfs down a classmate a few more times.
As the illustrator to the wildly popular title Dragons Eat Tacos, Salmieri’s aesthetic has already wormed its way into your kid’s subconscious. But with his authorial debut, Bear & Wolf, the Brooklyn-based Salmieri exposes a tender side as well. The tale of an unlikely friendship, a long walk through the snowy woods, and a sad goodbye, Bear & Wolf has all the makings of a modern classic. It’s the Amos & Boris for the modern age.

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“Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? from Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle. All of my babies have loved this book. We all have it memorized and when we are in the car and the youngest one gets fussy we all start reciting the book, with the same pace and inflection I did when they were all babies. I always give it as a gift for a baby shower or first birthday.” ― Wendy Fortner
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