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.

Even if we didn’t spot the Tribe Called Quest and Mingus vinyl in the background,  Zach O’Hora’s tale of mistaken identity — Ralph for Niblet; Niblet for Ralph — has enough sophistication and nuance to amuse adult readers while the sweet simple message (be neighborly) and O’Hora’s strong illustrations (turquoise, ochre, thick black line) make it kiddie catnip.
3 years & up. Based on a true story. Join a young boy and his father on an journey from Mexico to the United States. They'll need courage to cross the border -- la frontera -- and to make a home for themselves in a new land. This story of perseverance is told in Spanish and English. Includes facts about Alfredo's story and other stories like his around the world to help parents and educators talk with children about immigration, resilience, empathy and belonging. Hardcover. 48 pages.
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.
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.
“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.
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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.
Rare is the story that’s able to nimbly explain how children process difficult feelings. But Doerrfield sticks the landing. After a toy brick-stacking tragedy strikes Taylor, the young child is approached by a variety of animals each of whom has intentions to help. However, all they do is talk at Taylor. The bear yells and tells Taylor to yell. The snake hisses and tells Taylor to hiss. They all have good intentions but it’s not what Taylor requires. What Taylor really needs, however, is someone who will listen, which is exactly what the rabbit provides. This is a wonderful story on its own, and one that becomes all the more powerful when young children are confronted with and need to work through tragedy.
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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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