Picture Book Picks for May 2016
Best Picture Books May 2016 Picks

Intro

I’m feeling encouraged by this month’s picks for great picture books (for preschoolers, kindergartners, first grade and second grade).  Based on some of the highly anticipated, critically acclaimed books released in the past couple of months, it seems like publishers are starting to take note of readers’ demand for more diversity in books.  It doesn't mark a cure, or the end of a struggle for inclusivity, and it's utterly anecdotal, but a few of this month’s picks gave me hope.  The books Thunder Boy Jr., Twenty Yawns, and One Day In the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree feature characters of various ethnicities and these characters are prominently shown on the books’ covers.

Thunder Boy Jr. is the book I’m most excited to read from this batch.  I LOVE Sherman Alexie’s writing.  He’s amazing.  (Have you read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian?  If not, you have to.)  Thunder Boy Jr. is about a boy who doesn’t want to just be known as Thunder Boy’s son.  He wants his own special name.  The book, beautifully illustrated by Caldecott Honor winning artist Yuyi Morales, takes readers on Thunder Boy Jr.’s quest to find a name that is uniquely his.  

With rhythmic text and humorous illustrations, I’m also eagerly awaiting reading One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree.  It’s sort of like I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, only it’s about a snake who swallows a boy.  The boy then convinces the snake to eat more and more, until the snake takes one bite too many.  I know my 3-year-old son will crack up over this one.  The expressions on the animals’ faces are funny and the writing has a perfect tempo for reading out loud.

Speaking of diversity, The Chameleon that Saved Noah’s Ark struck a diversity chord for me.  For one thing, the Noah in this book appears to be of Middle Eastern heritage, a historical matter that is not always represented in Noah's Ark stories.  I also wanted to highlight The Chameleon that Saved Noah’s Ark because it is unique for a Bible story to receive such outstanding critical reviews.  If you have a chance, take a look at the Amazon previews, the illustrations look wonderful.

On the topic of gorgeous illustrations, There is a Tribe of Kids and Flora and the Peacocks look stunning.  There is a Tribe of Kids follows a boy as he explores and imitates gatherings of different animal species.  The publisher has shared this lovely image from inside the book.  

Please don't miss the book trailer for Flora and the Peacocks, which reveals the entire book with its many surprises.  The book illustrates a dance that Flora shares with two peacocks.  The way that motion is captured in the drawings and the inclusion of imaginitive lift-a-flaps makes a magical combination. 

Finally, I’m excited to share Grumpy Pants with my son, who is in fact, a bit of a grump.  (I love him like crazy, of course, and his grumpiness is a source of endless amusement, buut… smiley )  It’s so much fun to ham up grumpy voices when reading books like this out loud.  This book would be great for introducing vocabulary relating to emotion.  The minimal text makes it a good match for three or four-year-olds.

Also, please let me know what books you and your kids are reading.  I’d love to hear!

**This post was mentioned on Literacy Musing Mondays, Mommy Monday Blog Hop, The Homeschool Link-up, and The Homeschool Nook

Chaotic Bliss Homeschooling

 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. 

Thunder Boy Jr. Book Cover
Thunder Boy Jr.
by Sherman Alexie
illustrated by Yuyi Morales
published May 10, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly Star ImageHorn Book Star Image Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Thunder Boy Jr. is named after his dad, but he wants a name that's all his own. Just because people call his dad Big Thunder doesn't mean he wants to be Little Thunder. He wants a name that celebrates something cool he's done, like Touch the Clouds, Not Afraid of...READ MORE

There is a Tribe of Kids
There Is a Tribe of Kids
by Lane Smith
published May 3, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

When a young boy embarks on a journey alone . . .
he trails a colony of penguins,
undulates in a smack of jellyfish,
clasps hands with a constellation of stars,
naps for a night in a bed of clams,
and follows a trail of...READ MORE

Flora and the Peacocks Book Cover
Flora and the Peacocks
by Molly Idle
published May 3, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

The darling, dancing Flora is back, and this time she's found two new friends: a pair of peacocks! But amidst the fanning feathers and mirrored movements, Flora realizes that the push and pull between three friends can be a delicate dance. Will this trio find a way to get back...READ MORE

One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree Book Cover
One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree
by Daniel Bernstrom
illustrated by Brendan Wenzel
published May 3, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

“A hungry snake. A beautiful brown boy. What more can a young reader ask for?”—National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson

With its striking cast of forest creatures, One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree is Daniel Bernstrom’s amusing and original tale of a plucky little boy who is gobbled up by a...READ MORE

Twenty Yawns Book Cover
Twenty Yawns
by Jane Smiley
illustrated by Lauren Castillo
published April 1, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star ImageHorn Book

From Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley and Caldecott Honor artist Lauren Castillo.

As her mom reads a bedtime story, Lucy drifts off. But later, she awakens in a dark, still room, and everything looks mysterious. How will she ever get back to sleep?

Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley’s first picture...READ MORE

Apples and Robins
Apples and Robins
by Lucie Félix
published March 8, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

All you need for apples . . . are circles and the color red. In this extraordinary book, one thing transforms into another as each page turns—a circle becomes an apple, an oval becomes a bird, winter becomes spring. Constantly surprising and brilliantly constructed, Lucie Félix's Apples and Robins is...READ MORE

The Chameleon that Saved Noah's Ark Book Cover
The Chameleon that Saved Noah's Ark
by Yael Molchadsky
illustrated by Orit Bergman
published May 3, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

It’s mealtime on the ark! 
 
Striking folk-art-style paintings illustrate this charming tale about the purpose of every creature and the harmony of nature.
 
Noah and his family work hard to keep all the animals on the ark happy and well-fed. They find just the right food...READ MORE

A Fire Truck Named Red
by Randall de Sève
illustrated by Bob Staake
published May 3, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

A young boy has his heart set on a brand-new toy fire truck, so he is disappointed when he gets his grandfather's rusty old fire truck, Red, instead. But working together, the boy and his grandfather patch Red right up while Grandpa tells his grandson all about the adventures he...READ MORE

Hare and Tortoise
Hare and Tortoise
by Alison Murray
published May 24, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist  

Alison Murray offers an enchanting retelling of a much-loved Aesop’s fable with a mischievous twist.

Hare (Leapus swifticus) can barely stay still for a minute. He’s the fastest on the farm. Tortoise (Slow and steadicus) can stay still for a very long time. She has occasionally been mistaken for a rock. So when they...READ MORE

Grumpy Pants Book Cover
Grumpy Pants
by Claire Messer
published May 1, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

Have you ever had a grumpy day and not known why? Penguin is having a grumpy day like that. No matter what he does, he just can't shake it! Sometimes the only thing left to do is wash the grumpy day away and start over. The simple text and lively...READ MORE

Comments

What a fun list! We love Apples and Robins. Looking forward to checking out some of these other books. :)

Hi Carolyn! Apples and Robins looks wonderful! We have it on hold from our library and can't wait to read it. Hope you found some others that work for your family. :D

These like interesting, colorful books that children would probably enjoy. Thanks for sharing at #LMMLinkup!

Hi Gayl! Yes, they're so colorful. Some super talented illustrators in this batch.

A Fire Truck Named Red sounds like it would really be down my toddler's alley. Thanks for sharing at the #LMMLinkup.

Hi Leslie! I think our toddler's have the same taste. :) Mine is crazy about cars and trucks of all types, but fire trucks and tow trucks are especially exciting. I also like the multi-generational aspect of A Fire Truck Named Red. Thank you for the chance to share on #LMMLinkup. :D

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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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