As 2019 comes to an end, I wanted to focus on some of the picture books that were released late in the year, but that can’t be missed! From books about friendship, family and traditions, to celebrating nature and special places – there is something here for everyone!
The Scarecrow – Beth Ferry
He never rests.
He never bends.
He’s never had a single friend,
for all the woodland creatures know
not to mess with old Scarecrow.
And so begins “The Scarecrow”, my favorite picture book of 2019. So much to love about this gentle, heart-tugging picture book. With gorgeous artwork by the Tan Brothers (The Night Gardner) and gentle rhyming text by Beth Ferry, (Stick and Stone) readers are pulled into the wheat field where an old scarecrow has stood throughout the passing of many seasons. The local animals are naturally afraid of scarecrow and the excluded scarecrow has never known a friend. But being excluded from community doesn’t stop the scarecrow from showing kindness to an injured baby crow. And as the scarecrow cares for the baby bird and a relationship forms, the lonely scarecrow discovers purpose.
This book invites conversations about being kind to neighbors in need and that everyone is capable of loving and caring for each other no matter who they are. Will be adding this to my Powerful Understanding “OTHERS” book list! LOVE this book SO SO much!
The Cool Bean – Jory John
“It seemed like there were two types of beans in the world. There were the cool beans and the beans like me.” It’s hard when the beans you used to hang out with are now the Cool Beans and you’re just you. It happens. But it’s never easy. (I made many connections to this one!) This “too-cool-for-school” theme is the third picture book from the bestselling author of The Bad Seed and The Good Egg.
My Ocean is Blue – Darren LeBeuf
“My ocean splashes and crashes / and echoes and squawks. // My ocean laughs and hums.” Love this joyful seaside romp in the follow up to My Forest is Green. This book is filled with gorgeous paper cut illustrations and overflowing with literary techniques – similes, personification, and amazing sensory details. Great anchor for exploring nature, visualizing and descriptive writing. Not a focus, but certainly noticed and appreciated the girl exploring the ocean has a physical disability. Many reasons to add this book to your collection!
Fly! – Mark Teague
Delightful wordless picture book about a mama bird trying to convince her little one to learn to fly while the baby prefers having food brought to him. Young readers will enjoy the humorous ideas the little bird has about alternatives to flying and parents will relate to the frustration of the mama bird! Mark Teague’s illustrations perfectly capture the actions and expressions of a defiant toddler and frustrated parent.
The Love Letter – Anika Aldamuy Denise
This book is SO adorable, I can hardly stand it! Hedgehog, Bunny and Squirrel find a love letter, and each one thinks it’s meant for them. But where did it come from, and who is it for? So sweet seeing how feeling special made a difference in the lives of all the animals. Such a great read-aloud and a perfect new book for Valentine’s Day!
Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao – Kat Zhang
Perseverance and family traditions are the themes in this delightful, colorful story. This little girl is trying so hard to make the perfect bao as others in her family can do but she just can’t get it right. Charming characters and great illustrations! This would be a great book for talking about family and cultural traditions.
Sulwe – Vashti Harrison
Sulwe is a little girl whose skin color is darker than anyone else in her family. She tries to do anything she can to change the color of her skin, but nothing works. Breathtaking illustrations with a positive message in self esteem and learning that true beauty comes from within. This will be added to my Powerful Understanding “Self” book list and also a great anchor book for teaching similes!
The Favorite Book – Bethanie Deeney Murgula
This book was so much more than I expected. While its central theme is “having favorites”, it focuses more on HOW we go about choosing them and what influences our choices. LOTS to discuss here and would make a great read-aloud when teaching personal preferences.
Caspian Finds a Friend – Jaqueline Veissid
Gentle, imaginative story about loneliness and the friendship that develops between a boy and a polar bear. Absolutely gorgeous illustrations and heart-warming story. I loved this one and will be adding it to my “Friendship” book list.
Seeds and Trees – Brandon Walden
A beautiful fairy tale for older students with a wonderful message on the power of words! We always have a choice—we can speak up-lifting, healing words, or we can speak words that are dark and full of despair and hate. We also have a choice of what we do with the words that are spoken to us. Powerful message, lots to discuss, and great for inferring theme. Great book for “Action-Reaction” lesson!
The Map of Good Memories – Zuzanna Celej
When war forces Zoe and her family to leave their city, she draws a “map of good memories,” so that they will always be with her. A simple, effective refugee story and a great anchor for connecting and writing about “Special Places”. I love the idea of having students create their own “Map of Good Memories”.
I Wonder – K.A. Hale
What do clouds taste like? Do my toys miss me when I’m gone? How do clocks know what time it is? Do tires get tired? What are boy ladybugs called? Do trees dream?
A delightful celebration of wonderings and questions to ponder. The illustrations are magical. A wonderful book to inspire students to think deeply and wonder about the world! LOVE this one!
The Hike – Alison Farrell
Layers of love for this book that celebrates hiking, adventures, friendship and the great outdoors. It’s tender yet lively, poetic yet scientific, magical yet natural. Three friends and their dog head to the woods for a hike. As they wander the woods, they record their observations in a sketchbook. I love how the lyrical text is woven with detailed labelled diagrams of all that the children observe on their hike. This would be a wonderful anchor book for observing details in nature and descriptive writing. I love hiking and I love this book!
Fairy Science – Ashley Spires
Anything by Ashley Spires is sure to be a winner. This book introduces young readers to to the scientific method in an easy-to-understand way. There’s even a little experiment in the back for budding scientists to try. Esther examines the fairy world with a critical eye and tries to explain natural phenomena using science. A great anchor book for science, critical thinking and fairy fans everywhere!
The Serious Goose – Jimmy Kimmel
Late Night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel has written and illustrated this hilarious book aimed for the Pre-K and K readers. This book will have readers giggling at this very serious goose who refuses to smile and the various attempts to make him do so. Lots of fun and interaction with this one.
Who Wet My Pants? – Bob Shea
This book, while funny, includes many important themes that can stimulate connections and discussions: embarrassment, blame, compassion, and forgiveness. Reuben the bear, while delivering donuts in the campgrounds discover that “someone” wet his pants. And while he accuses his companions, one after another, of being the one responsible, his patient friends assure him that accidents can happen. Very funny read-aloud and I really like how the friends show empathy rather than make Reuben feel worse by teasing him.
The Boring Book – Shinsuke Yoshitake
An interesting exploration of what it means to be bored. We follow a young boy as he explores the how’s and why’s of being bored and eventually develops a new understanding – being bored is a choice. Great illustrations. For those familiar with my “One Word” activity for transform, this would be a great anchor book for that lesson, using the word “bored”.
Stretchy McHandsome – Judy Schachner
How can you not love a book called “Stretchy McHandsome”? How can you not love a cat with the same name? This delightful book is about the youngest of nine cats who sets out from his cardboard box to explore the world and meets a stretchy friend. For cat lovers everywhere – but you don’t have to love cats to fall in love with Stretchy McHandsome!
Thanks for stopping by! Hope you found one or two new books to add to your classroom or library collections! This will be my last post of 2019.
Happy Reading and see you in the 2020!