Picture Book Picks for June 2016
Best Picture Book Picks for June 2016

Intro

Of this month’s picks for best picture books, there are a bunch that I’m especially anxious to read.  The cool thing about picture books?  Devouring a stack of them is no problem.  It is entirely possibly to race through a toppling pile of unique, beautiful, wonderous books and then go back and read them again and savor the glorious details.

I can’t wait to read Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke.  Hatke is the author of the Zita the Space Girl series and Little Robot, which are graphic novels for elementary grade readers.  His books have a way of capturing the magic of everyday life, even in their fantastical settings.  Zita the Space Girl's magic is within; she is a powerful person, though she’s just a young girl.  In Little Robot, friendship is the magical element that inspires greatness.  The books also have that quality of honesty, such as in Little Robot, where a lonely girl tries to hold on too tightly to a new friendship.  I’ve never read a picture book by Hatke, but can only imagine that it will be genius, like the rest of his work.

I’m so excited to get my hands on a copy of The Storyteller by Evan Turk.  The text will be too involved for my preschooler, but ah… the illustrations!  If you have a minute, maybe check out the Amazon preview or google images of the book.  The illustrations are full of strength, motion, and mystery.  They possess an exotic quality that beckons a reader to discover their story.

I’m dying to read Excellent Ed.  The dog’s eyes in the cover illustration made me fall in love.  I was further enamored after peeking inside through previews.  Funny and full of heart, Excellent Ed tells the story of a dog who’s not sure that he measures up to other members of his family.  He goes about calculating disparities between his own and his human family members’ privileges and talents.  Teasers don’t give away the conclusion, but I have a feeling it ends well.  My son and I both love dogs, so I know this will be a hit at our house.

Finally, I am so eager to read School’s First Day of School, written by Adam Rex and illustrated by Christian Robinson.  I’m guessing you’re thinking… What?  School’s not even out yet and we’re already thinking about the first day of school?  Eesh.   There haven’t been any family adventures yet.  Everyone’s looking forward to a summer full of memories in the making.  We can think about school later. 

Well, that’s what I thought.  Then I looked closely at this book because of the outstanding critical reviews it received.  First off, Christian Robinson is the illustrator of last year’s Newbery Award winning, The Last Stop on Market Street.  The Newbery Award actually honors children’s book writing.  Robinson was the illustrator.  However, The Last Stop on Market Street was awarded a Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Honor for illustrations.  If you haven’t read The Last Stop on Market Street, please do.  There are a plethora of great children’s books out there, but The Last Stop on Market Street is absolute excellence.  The vivid characters, realistic and richly drawn create a warm story with a message that gets to the heart of humanness.  It’s a book you’ll read again and again.  It’s a book your kids will pass along to their kids.

Back to School’s First Day of School.  This book tells the story of a school that comes into being, is nurtured and kept company by a janitor, then faces its purpose – to be filled with children and to function as a place of learning (and of lunch and recess).  There are jitters leading up to the first day of school and then bumps in adjusting to all the new visitors and activity.  From previews, it seems that hesitation and reluctance gradually begin to give way to the school’s acceptance and even appreciation of the children’s presence.

School's First Day of School's illustrations are outstanding, reflecting diversity and vitality, without feeling overwhelming.  The details, such as a smiling school building are a delight to explore.  The text and the story masterfully establish the school building as a character, who seems a lot like a young boy or girl who might quietly observe the activity at school and decide how he or she feels about things, one by one.

I really like that this book shifts away some of the intensity of adapting to school.  It reminds me of how sometimes, as an adult, I approach my kids with too much force.  I’ll walk straight up and ask my son if he wants to play this game or that game.  Or I’ll ask my daughter too bluntly about her day.  With my son, I often find that interacting through a mediator gets him to open up more fully.  For example, I’ll pretend to be a car or a stuffed animal and talk with him that way.  With my daughter, the go-between might be a song playing on the radio.  Of course, finding these neutral meeting places isn’t always necessary, but when facing something emotional, such as starting school, taking some of the direct attention away from the matter can soften the situation.  So, instead of the main character being a frightened boy or girl, it’s a building, which can be a little safer to identify with.

 Seeing stars?  Professional book reviewers only award a star to exceptional books.  More than one star means experts from multiple organizations felt the book was outstanding. 

The Storyteller Book Cover
The Storyteller
by Evan Turk
published June 28, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

From Ezra Jack Keats 2015 New Illustrator Honor recipient Evan Turk comes his debut work as author-illustrator: an original folktale that celebrates the power of stories and storytelling.

Long, long ago, like a pearl around a grain of sand, the Kingdom of Morocco formed at the edge of the great,...READ MORE

Nobody Likes a Goblin Book Cover
Nobody Likes a Goblin
by Ben Hatke
published June 7, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Bulletin Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publisher's Weekly

Goblin, a cheerful little homebody, lives in a cosy, rat-infested dungeon, with his only friend, Skeleton. Every day, Goblin and Skeleton play with the treasure in their dungeon. But one day, a gang of "heroic" adventurers bursts in. These marauders trash the place, steal all the treasure, and make off...READ MORE

The Airport Book Cover
The Airport Book
by Lisa Brown
published May 10, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star ImageHorn Book Star ImageBulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Follow a family and the youngest member's favorite sock monkey through all the inner and outer workings of an airport.

In a book that is as intriguing as it is useful and entertaining, we follow a family on its way through the complexities of a modern-day airport. From checking bags...READ MORE

School's First Day of School Book Cover
School's First Day of School
by Adam Rex
illustrated by Christian Robinson
published June 28, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Star Image Publishers Weekly Star ImageHorn Book Star ImageThe Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books Star Image School Library Journal

It's the first day of school at Frederick Douglass Elementary and everyone's just a little bit nervous, especially the school itself. What will the children do once they come? Will they like the school? Will they be nice to him?

The school has a rough start, but as the day...READ MORE

Excellent Ed Book Cover
Excellent Ed
by Stacy McAnulty
illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach
published May 17, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star ImageHorn Book

Dog lovers will adore this imperfect yet lovable mutt and his quest for excellence!
 
Everyone in the Ellis family is excellent--except Ed.
 
Ed wonders if this is why he isn’t allowed to eat at the table or sit on the couch with the other...READ MORE

Wolf Camp
by Andrea Zuill
published May 3, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Kirkus Reviews  

Meet Homer, a dog who heads to camp to live like a wolf! Here’s the perfect book for the legions of kids out there who love dogs and funny books. 
 
Homer is a dog . . . but he also secretly fancies himself part wolf. So when an invitation...READ MORE

Woodpecker Wants a Waffle
Woodpecker Wants a Waffle
by Steve Breen
published June 14, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Booklist  

One day Benny the woodpecker awakens to the best tummy-rumbling smell ever and discovers it’s something called waffles. He must taste them!

He pecks on the door of the waffle house, but he gets the boot.

He tries to sneak in, but he gets swept away.

Each time Benny tries,...READ MORE

The Blobfish Book
The Blobfish Book
by Jessica Olien
published May 17, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal

Perfect for fans of Battle Bunny and Z Is for Moose, this irresistible book within a book introduces us to Blobfish, known as the “ugliest fish in the sea”...or is he actually the fish who will steal our hearts?

Did you know that the deepest parts of the ocean are over one mile...READ MORE

The Bear and the Piano Book Cover
The Bear and the Piano
by David Litchfield
published April 5, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

One day, a bear cub finds something strange and wonderful in the forest. When he touches the keys, they make a horrible noise. Yet he is drawn back again and again. Eventually, he learns to play beautiful sounds, delighting his woodland friends.            

Then the bear...READ MORE

Maybe Something Beautiful Book Cover
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood
by F. Isabel Campoy,
by Theresa Howell
illustrated by Rafael López
published April 12, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Kirkus Reviews

What good can a splash of color do in a community of gray? As Mira and her neighbors discover, more than you might ever imagine! Based on the true story of the Urban Art Trail in San Diego, California,Maybe Something Beautiful reveals how art can inspire transformation—and how even the smallest...READ MORE

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Hello there!

Hi!  I'm Sarah.  I'm a former librarian and mother of two -- a teen daughter and a preschooler son.  We love to play outdoors... and read.  :)

This site is all about discovering great books to share with kids and teens. ...Read more

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