If You Like This Picture Book, Try This Newly Published One GIVEAWAY

New Picture Books Like Old Favorites

In reviewing new picture books, I am finding that I can shorthand a review to a friend by just matching it up to an older, well-known book.  If You Like This, Try That … kind of thing. What do you think? Does it work for you?

GIVEAWAY: I am giving away Horseplay!Let’s Hear it For Almigal, Wanda and the Oblahlahs, and You Will Be My Friend. I will choose 4 Winners from my Book List Subscribers newsletter list! If you’d like to enter this giveaway, please subscribe here and leave a comment to say that you are signed up. All existing subscribers are automatically entered!

Red Knit Cap Girl by Naoko Stoop

Red Knit Cap Girl is a little girl with a big dream — to meet the Moon.

A charming picture book for toddlers or preschoolers that would be my front-runner for a Caldecott. Older kids would love it too just for the artwork!

reminds me of …

Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes

What a night!
The moon is full.
Kitten is hungry
and inquisitive
and brave
and fast
and persistent
and unlucky . . .
then lucky!
What a night!

My mom friend Jen described this Caldecott book as the perfect book for preschoolers.


Horseplay! by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jim McMullan

Those horses didn’t sleep one bit.
They frolicked on the loose.
They joined in games like hide-and-seek,
Leapfrog, and Duck, Duck, Goose!

My kids and I love it when farm animals rebel and break out into play. Reminds me of … all kids!

same the playful sense of rioting animals-on-the-farm fun as …

Click, Clack, Moo Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin

Farmer Brown has a problem. His cows like to type. All day long he hears

Click, clack, moo.

Click, clack, moo.

Click, clack, moo.

But Farmer Brown’s problems REALLY begin when his cows start leaving him notes…Come join the fun as a bunch of literate cows turn Farmer Brown’s farm upside-down!

Did the farm animal rebellion start with this series? I’m not sure but duck is a rock star in the making and the cows are quietly charismatic.


Let’s Hear It for Almigal by Wendy Kupfer, illustrated by Tammie Lyon

Meet Almigal, a happy, spunky little girl with a big personality who feels unlucky because she can’t hear everything she wants to hear. Almigal wants to hear “every single sound in the whole entire universe” – from the robins singing outside her bedroom window to the soft music during ballet class and her friend’s teeny-tiny voice. But most of all, Almigal wants to hear her Mommy and Daddy whisper “We love you, Almigal!” when they tuck her into bed at night. Readers will rejoice with Almigal when a solution is found. Almigal’s spirit and her cotton-candy pink cochlear implants will have everyone shouting “Let’s Hear It For Almigal!” Endearing, lighthearted and informative, this book can be enjoyed by children with and without hearing loss.

It might be the illustrations or the exuberant personality of Almigal. I like how this book makes her special need secondary to her personality and, in this way, she is like a kid your child might have in class … something that kids accept as a unique trait of their friend, but not something that slows her down or gets in the way of their friendship.

bears a close resemblance to …

Fancy Nancy series by Jane O’Connor

Meet Nancy, who believes that more is ALWAYS better when it comes to being fancy. From the top of her tiara down to her sparkly studded shoes, Nancy is determined to teach her family a thing or two about being fancy.

How Nancy transforms her parents and little sister for one enchanted evening makes for a story that is funny and warm — with or without the frills.

Fancy Nancy books are great for sneaking in vocabulary words and Let’s Hear It for Almigal does the same for hearing loss special needs. It’s like getting a 2 for 1 present!


Wanda and the Oblahlahs by Joseph W. Sutton, illustrated by Jane Sutton Frawley

A charming, cautionary tale for children about the perils of going to bed with gum in their mouths, Wanda and the Oblahlahs tells what happened to Wanda when she doesn’t heed her mother. Diligent about throwing her gum away when her mother and father remind her, Wanda, left to her own devices with the babysitter when Mother puts on a red dress and goes out to dinner, leaves her gum in her mouth and suffers the consequences. The Oblahlahs, a curious group of little party animals, come to life in her mouth and take her voice, leaving her only able to say, “Oblahlah, Oblahlah,” until even her faithful dog Moldy won’t play with her anymore. When the doctor can’t save Wanda’s voice, her mother, father, brother, and even Moldy do what they can to help, but it’s up to Wanda to learn to do what’s right with her gum and get her voice back.

A fun, cautionary tale that will make kids listen to you better, I hope!

is eerily similar to …

Imogene’s Antlers by David Small

David Small’s dryly comic story of a little girl who wakes one morning to discover she has grown antlers has delighted children since it was first published 15 years ago. Now reissued in a sparkling oversize format, this classic is ready for a whole new audience.
The family doctor, the school principal, and even Imogene’s know-it-all brother, Norman, fail to resolve her dilemma. Imogene, the cook, and the kitchen maid, however, make the best of things, finding unusual uses for Imogene’s new horns. Meanwhile, the 
problem appears to be solved when Imogene awakes the next morning antler-free.
But the family (and the reader) are in for a surprise when Imogene comes down to breakfast. . . .

In truth, Imogen did nothing to contribute to her new look, unlike Wanda who ignored good advice. Both picture books have that blasé reaction of We’re-Not-Freaking-Out-Even-Though–Something-Freaky-is-Happening that kids delight in. I mean, what parent can actually pull off that attitude? It only happens in picture books sadly.


You Will Be My Friend! by Peter Brown

Today is the day the exuberant Lucy is going to make a new friend! But she finds it’s harder than she had thought–she accidentally ruins the giraffe’s breakfast and is much too big for the frogs’ pond. Just when she’s about to give up, an unexpected friend finds her, and loves her just the way she is.

This heartwarming story offers a unique and humor-filled spin on the all-important themes of persistence and friendship.


has friendship issues that require a change of plans just like …


Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems

Leonardo is truly a terrible monster-terrible at being a monster that is. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t seem to frighten anyone. Determined to succeed, Leonardo sets himself to training and research. Finally, he finds a nervous little boy, and scares the tuna salad out of him! But scaring people isn’t quite as satisfying as he thought it would be. Leonardo realizes that he might be a terrible, awful monster-but he could be a really good friend.


DinoTrux by Chris Gall

HONK! CRASH! BURP! CRUNCH! Look out, cavemen, or you’ll be lunch!

Millions of years ago, DINOTRUX ruled the earth. These mighty part-truck, part-dino demolition dynamos rumbled, plowed and bulldozed their way through the centuries. Chris Gall guides you on a safari through the wild world of these mechanical monsters of prehistoric times, from the nosy Craneosaurus and the mega-hungry Garbageadon to the big bully of the jungle, Tyrannosaurus Trux! Look out for a fold-out surprise at the end!

Dinosaurs + Trucks = Winning Combination

reminds me of …

How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mark Teague (and The Revenge of the Dinotrux by Chris Gall makes me think of The Night of the Museum by Milan Trenc)

And when you put Dinotrux in a museum and they rebel, it’s rollicking fun just like The Night of the Museum.


How to Babysit a Grandpa by Jean Reagan, illustrated by Lee Wildish

This is a hilarious and accessible picture book about a child spending time with his grandpa. Written in a how-to style, the narrator gives important tips for “babysitting” a grandpa, including what to eat for snack (anything dipped in ketchup, ice cream topped with cookies, cookies topped with ice cream) what to do on a walk (find lizards and dandelion puffs, be on the lookout for puddles and sprinklers), and how to play with a grandpa (build a pirate cave, put on a scary play). 

Filled with humor, energy, and warmth, this is a great gift for or from a grandparent, and perfect for lap reading when Grandpa comes to visit!

Without a doubt, Grandpas make the best babysitters! Just ask Little Bear!

sweet and funny like …

Little Bear’s Visit by Else Holmelund Minarik, illustrated by Maurice Sendak

Mrs. Minarik is at her superb best in depicting the charming child likeness of Little Bear’s delight in visiting his grandparents.

If we are not lucky as to supply a perfect Grandpa for our kids to enjoy, we can live vicariously through these two books.


ZooZical by Judy Sierra and Marc Brown

Winter weather is keeping children from visiting the zoo. So the animals are out of sorts—listless, grumpy, and no longer fun. All except two little friends, a very small hippo and a baby kangaroo. Their hip-hopping, toe-tapping,  and rap-rocking soon has the other animals joining in the hip-aroo beat. “Racoons danced in pairs, baboons danced in troops, and snakes joined the dancers as live hula-hoops.” Children’s favorite songs get a funny new spin—seals bark out “The seals on the bus go round and round”—as the animals create their very own musical.

Young readers and listeners will be amazed and delighted at how the animals chase the winter doldrums by getting along as friends, pooling their talents, and pushing themselves to new heights. After all, these are the same clever animals who learned to read in Judy Sierra’s and Marc Brown’s Wild About Books, an award-winning New York Times #1 bestselling picture book. ZooZical is sure to inspire some “can do” fun in kindergarten and primary grades.

a winning combination just as good the second time around as the Dr. Seuss Heir Apparent …

Wild About Books also by Judy Sierra and Marc Brown

It started the summer of 2002, when the Springfield librarian, Molly McGrew, by mistake drove her bookmobile into the zoo.

In this rollicking rhymed story, Molly introduces birds and beasts to this new something called reading. She finds the perfect book for every animal—tall books for giraffes, tiny ones for crickets. “She even found waterproof books for the otter, who never went swimming without Harry Potter.” In no time at all, Molly has them “forsaking their niches, their nests, and their nooks,” going “wild, simply wild, about wonderful books.” Judy Sierra’s funny animal tale coupled with Marc Brown’s lush, fanciful paintings will have the same effect on young Homo sapiens. Altogether, it’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys!

To view any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book or purchase at Barnes and Noble by going here.

Congrats to:

1) Anil who won You Will Be My Friend!

2) Valerie who won Let’s Hear It for Amigal

3)  Nadine who won Horseplay!

4) Kim who won Wanda and the Oblalahs


By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Valerie

    I signed up! Love this blog – my kids and I have enjoyed so many of the books you’ve recommended.

    • Hi Valerie,
      Thanks so much for signing up! I’m so glad that you and your kids are enjoying my book recs. I can’t tell you how HAPPY that makes me feel! Thank you. I had a really bad day today and your comment completely put me into a better frame of mind!

  2. Angela

    I signed up for the contest! Should Lady Luck be on my side, I will share the books with my fifth grade students!

  3. Nadine

    I’m all signed up!

  4. kim

    I am all signed up. Horseplay would be a great book for my Kindergarten class! We play a different version of Duck, Duck Goose. 🙂
    kim recently posted…If You Like This Picture Book, Try This Newly Published One GIVEAWAYMy Profile

  5. Ann

    Please enter me! Let’s Hear it For Almigal sounds so nice but I would be happy with any of the 4. Just subscribed. Wasn’t sure if I already had with a dif. email but I definitely am now! Love the if you like this book review method – there is usually a few older ones that I am not familiar with that I get excited about too! Thanks!!!
    Ann recently posted…Frequent FlyersMy Profile

    • Hi Ann,
      You got it! I’m so glad you like the If You Like This Book, Try This One. There are so many new books each month and I find that it gets confusing as to which books to try and hate to think of kids missing out of books they would absolutely love just from the confusion. Plus, my mind kinda thinks like that. I love a book more if it reminds me of an old favorite.

  6. Anil

    Just signed up!

  7. Great books as always! Love Mo Willems and Fancy Nancy, of course! I used your site today to give book suggestions to a grandmother trying to find just right books – thanks!
    capability recently posted…Papersalt – Family Friendly, Positive and Gorgeous – A ReviewMy Profile

    • Hi Capability:Mom,
      Thanks so much for the props! What did she end up picking for her granddaughter? If you want her to email me, I’d gladly make suggestions and then use it as a post.

  8. All signed up…I can’t get enough of children’s books–even as my children grow older. They are timeless!
    Britton Minor recently posted…Infinite inklingsMy Profile

    • Hi Britton,
      Thanks so much for signing up. You are entered to win. I know what you mean. I can’t seem to stop buying children’s books and I am buying more and more picture books even though 2 of my kids read independently at 5th grade and 7th grade. We all still love picture books though, which I hope becomes a family tradition.

  9. Just signed up. Love you blog and thanks for this awesome giveaway.

  10. Love the way you did the post!

    The illustrations on the book “Red Knit Cap Girl”: gorgeous. And my daughter is in serious need of having the book Wanda and the Ohblahlahs read to her for all her gum-swallowing ways.

    If I were to read please give my books to Angela, the teacher above 🙂
    Dr Rajka recently posted…I have a degree in molecular science but now I’m a mum no-one wants to employ me.My Profile

    • Hi Dr. Rajka,
      Thanks so much! I love the illustrations for Red Knit Cap Girl too. I think it deserves Caldecott nod. Did you sign up for newsletter? That is how I am picking the winners. Thanks!

  11. Susan Farb Morris

    @Dr Rajka: @Dr Rajka: Dr. Rajka, if you’d like to order your gum-chewing daughter the “Wanda and the Oblahlahs” book, go to handbooks.com. Author Joe Sutton came up with the story 35 years ago as a way to encourage his own daughter to toss out her gum at bedtime. And guess what? It worked!

  12. Jen

    I just want to say yay! So glad you nominated Red Knit Cap Girl for the Cybils! I loved that book
    Jen recently posted…When I Get Older: The Story Behind "Wavin’ Flag"My Profile

    • Hi Jen,
      Yay!!! I am so glad you love that book too! It’s such a quiet book but so beautifully done from the story to the illustrations. It’s not any potential Caldecott list that I ran across so I hope it gets noticed!

  13. SueLynn (Gram)

    I love your suggested books and love reading the to my grandchildren.

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