Today is my turn for Picture Book of the Day and I had a hard time choosing because I’ve been reading and hoarding a small pile of really great picture books.
In the end, I went with my Caldecott contenter picture book, Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by two Caldecott honored authors, Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. They both won a Caldecott honor for Extra Yarn last year when Jon Klassen also won the Caldecott medal for This is Not My Hat. Klassen also won a Caldecott honor for I Want My Hat Back.
Will this winning duo pull it off again this upcoming Caldecott?!! My money is on them!
Have you read any great new picture books lately? Please share!
Picture Book of the Day
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen
The most remarkable aspect of this picture book is how Mac Barnett manages to convey what is really a robust action adventure into a few handfuls of sentences. It’s the equivalent of distilling the Percy Jackson series into a haiku. Jon Klassen does some of the heavy lifting as well with his illustrations that show how tantalizing close the two adventurers come to finding something spectacular. In fact, this aspect might distress some kids, while others would find it humorous. It probably depends on their age and how ironic their sense of humor is!
And what makes this a Caldecott contender for me is how the ending is not the pat, boring, easy way out that I expected, but something that makes you actually read and re-read the book to shake your head twice and know that you interpreted it correctly.
I think Caldecott picture books have to work for both adult and young readers in the sense that it can be read over and over again with continued delight and this one most certainly does! [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Being Small is Still Powerful Picture Books
Little Elliot Big City by Mike Curato
Little Elliot is a small stuffed elephant navigating the big city. Sometimes he finds that he’s just to small to get things done, like being noticed at the cupcake store. It’s disheartening, but when Little Elliot discovers a mouse who has things worse, he finds that he’s big enough to help out and that the two of them together can conquer any problem. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton
Four friends — or could they be brothers or siblings? — go in search of a bird that they plan to capture. The smallest one keeps getting shushed while the others try different approaches. When the little guy finally gets his turn after the prior attempts all fail, it seems that the smallest kid’s plan which uses brains over brawn works the best. Haughton uses striking color schemes in his charming watercolor illustrations with punctuations of colors for the birds and different shades of blue for the rest of the scene. This is a picture book I’d give to the youngest of several siblings. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin by Chieri Uegaki and Qin Leng
Hana is just a beginner at violin but she signed up for the talent show anyway. Her older brothers laugh in derision. But Hana feels a connection to music because her grandfather in Japan — Ojichan — was a professional violinist and taught her that the sounds the violin makes can mimic nature. Hana is nervous the night of her performance; will her brothers turn out to be right? I’d gift this picture book to any child learning to play an instrument, particularly the violin! [picture book, ages 4 and up]
The Tooth Mouse by Susan Hood and Janice Nadeau
The tooth mouse in France is ready to retire and needs to find a successor. Sophie is smallest mouse to compete but will she be chosen? She needs to be brave, honest and, above all, wise. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
Fixing Problems Picture Books
Jumping Jack by Germano Zullo, illustrated by Albertine
Jumping Jack is a prize jumping horse but things have been going poorly lately. His owner seeks the help of a veternarian and a psychologist and they take a long, restful vacation! They try again and things are not going well again until something strange happens. This picture book is perfect for any child who wears glasses! [picture book, ages 4 and up]
The Bear’s Sea Escape by Benjamin Chaud
This oversized picture book is both a story and a Find and Seek adventure! Papa Bear and his cub are looking for a nice place to hibernate but the Opera House turns out to be the wrong choice. Little Bear ends up accidentally leaving with a young boy and his family and Papa Bear must scour the world to find him via scooter, train and cruise ship! [picture book, ages 3 and up]
Robot Picture Book Also Teaches About Outer Space
Omo and the Rocket Car Race by Jonathan Spencer Levy
Omo and his best friend Olive are big Rocket Car fans and this time they get selected to race across the galaxy starting from Earth to Earth’s Moon to Mars. Jupiter, Saturn, Nepture, Pluto and back to Earth again. What is really great about this picture book is the Nasa images that are part of the illustrations and the astronomy talking points scattered through the book. [picture book, ages 6 and up]
New Picture Book Giveaway: 3 Winners!!!!
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.