Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: Picture Books

Remembering Vera by Patricia Polacco

Cover image for Remembering VeraWhen a young Coast Guard serviceman finds a dog while sweeping the dock, he can’t help but adopt the dog despite the strict rules of the coast guard’s Commander “Ol’ Man.”  The serviceman names the lovable dog Vera and she quickly becomes a treasured member of the Coast Guard team.  The men, however, continue to hide her from the Commander.   One day during an emergency rescue, the Ol’ Man spots Vera!  What Vera does next is both inspiring and courageous.  This book is a true story about Vera and her heroic actions.  If you enjoy reading books about brave animals, check this one out!

Book reviewed by Caitlin B., Youth Services Assistant

I am not a chair! by Ross Burach

Cover image for I am not a chair!Here’s a super funny story about giraffe’s first day in the jungle, when all the other animals think he’s a chair! After a full day of being sat on, giraffe has had it. He’s just about to tell the next animal he sees that he is not a chair, when along comes lion and boy is lion hungry! Read the book to see what happens after that! Hint: It’s hilarious! Try reading this to preschoolers or kindergarteners  and see if they can spot the turtle at the end of the book.

Book reviewed by Keary B., Youth Collection Librarian

Life by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Brendan Wenzel

Cover image for LifeHow could you go wrong with writing by Cynthia Rylant and illustrations by Caldecott honor winner Brendan Wenzel? And really, the text and art are both winners here. The artwork, full of vibrant animals and the beauty of nature, accompanies an uplifting text about everything there is to love in life and all of life’s changes. This would be a great gift at graduations! Also, it’s recommended for anyone facing a major transition in their life, as well as those who enjoy sharing a sentimental book with a loved one.

Book reviewed by Keary B., Youth Collection Librarian

Town is by the Sea by Joanne Schwartz, illustrated by Sydney Smith

Cover image for Town is by the seaTown is by the Sea is an absolutely beautiful picture book.  This beautiful story takes us through a summer day in the life of a young boy in Nova Scotia. As the boy goes about his day in a Canadian mining town,  we see the sharp contrast of his sun filled days and his father’s dark says underground as a coal miner.  The illustrations are stunning and although this sweet story takes place at a different time, the universal feelings of family and love are timeless.  This is a quiet picture book ideal for sharing one on one.

Book reviewed by Amy S., Youth Outreach and Programming Assistant

Around the World in a Bathtub by Wade Bradford

Cover image for Around the world in a bathtub : bathing all over the globeThe book Around the World in a Bathtub by Wade Bradford shows different ways that people bathe around the world. Some illustrations show modern tubs and showers, while others demonstrate historic traditions or ceremonies, such as people in India bathing in the Ganges River. In every example there is an adult trying to get a child into the bath and a child who doesn’t want to go. The adult is shown saying “yes, yes” and the child saying “no, no” in many different languages. This book provides a window for the very young to see how people do things differently in different parts of the world, but also a mirror into their own lives. We are all different, but we all bathe!

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

A Voyage in the Clouds: The (Mostly) True Story of the First International Flight by Balloon in 1785 by Matthew Olshan

Cover image for A voyage in the clouds : the (mostly) true story of the first international flight by balloon in 1785This picture book for older readers is based on the day in 1785 when Dr. John Jeffries (an Englishman) and Jean-Pierre Blanchard (a Frenchman) set out to cross the English Channel in a hot air balloon. The two men did not always agree with each other, and the ride did not go entirely smoothly. In the middle of the flight, for example, the balloon began to fall! This book is hilarious and would make a fantastic classroom read aloud. I was laughing out loud before it even got to the part where they started urinating overboard to lighten their load!

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

The Water Princess by Susan Verde

Cover image for The water princessThis story takes place over just one day in the life of Gie Gie (or Princess Gie Gie as she likes to be called) as she and her mother travel to and from a well to get water for drinking, cooking, and washing. Verde’s words and pictures by Peter Reynolds work together to bring the African setting to life. You can almost feel the hot sun and dry dust, as well as Gie Gie’s thirst. When she finally drinks, readers will feel refreshed. This story was inspired by the childhood experiences of a model named Burkina Faso, who has worked to build more wells in Goundi where she is from. Back matter asks children to imagine their lives without water and explains that some people have to struggle to find clean water every day. The Water Princess is a satisfying story as well as a cultural lesson.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

Let’s Count Goats! by Mem Fox

Cover image for Let's count goats!The Library has many picture books about counting, but Let’s Count Goats is the only one to feature an airport goat, three pilot goats wearing goggles, and a fireman goat! This playful rhyming book is silly and colorful, with pictures done by Jan Thomas, author of the also-funny books Rhyming Dust Bunnies and Can You Make a Scary Face. Not only can you practice counting with this book, but you can also try to guess which goats could be real and which ones could not. A soccer goat? What about a mountain goat? Check out this book—you’ll want to read it a number of times!

Book reviewed by Dana F., Assistant Head of Youth Services

The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito

Cover image for The sound of silenceYoshio makes his way through the bustling city of Tokyo on his way to school, listening to all the different sounds. He asks a koto player if she has a favorite sound, and she replies that it is “the sound of ma, of silence.” So Yoshio starts looking for silence. Who knew it would be so difficult to find? Warm, rich illustrations show a variety of perspectives that you don’t always see in picture books, such as Yoshio’s family around the dinner table pictured from above. The illustrations will invite you into this book, and then you will be captivated by the story. It is a beautiful representation of daily life in another country as well as a gentle reminder for all of us to take time to pause in life. The Afterword includes an explanation of the Japanese concept of ma, or the silence between sounds.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea! by Ben Clanton

Cover image for Narwhal : unicorn of the seaMany people think that Narwhal are imaginary creatures.  Actually, like Belugas, they are a part of the whale family.  Narwhal have a horn like a unicorn, but it is more like a tusk or a tooth.

In Ben Clanton’s first book in his Narwhal and Jelly series, Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea!, readers are introduced to Narwhal and his new friend, Jelly Fish.  Together with their other underwater friends, they form a pod (that’s what a group of Narwhal is called), have parties, create imaginative stories, and eat yummy waffles.  With a lot of fun illustrations and brief text, beginner chapter book readers will enjoy this new series while learning a little bit about Narwhal, fact and fiction.

Book reviewed by Carol C., Elementary School Liaison