Picture Books for Preschool to Grade 2 April 2016 Picks
Best Picture Books April 2016 Picks


There are so many great books on this month’s list of picture books for preschoolers to second graders.  I’m telling ya; you’re in for some fun story times!

These books are really new; some actually won’t be released until later this month, which is a little bit of a pain.  I mean, I routinely check out an enormous number of books from the library and buy very few.  So… this fresh off the presses (err, some not even quite off the presses)?  Mmm… most libraries don’t have the books listed in their catalogs.  Ergo – no way to put them on hold.  Yet.  Soon though.


You know about that put-it-on-hold-at-the library button, right?  Well… just in case… From here (or other lists on this site), when you see a book you like, click on the image of the book or the “read more” link.  That takes you to the book’s page.  On the right you’ll see a button that says, “Find in a Library Worldcat.” That’s the one you want.  Here's what it looks like...This button is your friend.  Worldcat’s a totally legit, awesome site that librarians use all the time to hunt down books for patrons.  You enter your zip code – and you’ll only have to do this once – and it’ll give you a list of the libraries closest to you that have the book.  Click on your library.  Place the book on hold.  Swing by the library and grab your book(s) in a couple days.  Voila!  All sorts of free goodies.  Pretty cool, eh?

Anyhew…  Books!  I am so excited about Rain Fish by Lois Ehlert.  Ehlert won a Caldecott Honor for illustrating Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  This book is a really cool kind of whimsical.  The artwork in Rain Fish is a series of collages made out of found materials, which Ehlert demonstrates come to life in streams of rainwater as storms come in.  It’s something that I think children can really connect with because this is the exactly the sort of thing that kid’s imaginations naturally produce.  They’ll find a bottle cap or bit of lint, and to us, their discovery just seems like garbage.  Then the child explains what it is and what you do with it, and poof, the garbage is transformed into treasure!  And can you, mom or dad, ever help but smile?  I love that.

Another book I can’t wait to read is Are We There Yet? by 2015 Caldecott Medal winner Dan Santat.  Are We There Yet? promises to be a spectacular story of a boy’s imagination during a boring car trip.  The boy feels that time is going so slow, that it actually starts going backward.  He races through time to meet pirates, knights, and dinosaurs.  Expert reviewers are all saying that the book is awesome and that the format is inventive/unique/never-seen-before.  But how exactly?  Guess we’ll have to find out.  I can’t wait to read it!

Next on my list is The Night Gardener.  Ahhh, it looks awesome, beautiful, stunning, amazing.  It’s about an orphan boy whose town is transformed, one magnificent topiary at a time, by a mysterious night gardener.  The boy’s awe and wonder at these works of plant sculpture is instantly felt when viewing the illustrations.  Be sure to check out the Amazon preview and images.  Amazing.

Also, by the New York Times bestselling author and illustrator team of Wolfie the Bunny…  Horrible Bear!  When a girl discovers that Bear has crushed her kite, she shouts, “Horrible Bear!” and storms away.  This explosion upsets Bear, and the reaction is only quelled after the girl has time to calm down and apologizes.  The girl and Bear’s friendship is soon mended.  According to reviewers this burst of temper may look familiar to parents of preschoolers. J  Humor and heart – my kind a’ combo.

I’m also super excited about Spot, the Cat, which is a rich, artistic I Spy or Where’s Waldo-esque picture book.  A boy’s cat leaves through a window and the boy tries to track him down, but is always a step behind.  Intricate drawings of vibrant city life compliment the story of the search.  Apparently, finding the cat in the drawings is a genuine challenge, even for grown-up eyes.  There’s so much to love about this wordless picture book.

I’m looking forward to Be a Friend, which is a story about a boy who is a mime.  No one really gets him, until one day somebody does.  So sweet.

I also can’t wait to read The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk!  Sometimes good kids books can be heavy.  On the contrary, this nursery rhyme transformed takes readers on a joyful ride through the city streets of India.  There is so much liveliness and color in the illustrations, you’ll be bouncing along as you sing.  There’s a lot of cool cultural info in this book, but it most definitely doesn’t feel like a lesson. 

**This post was mentioned on The Homeschool Link-up, Literary Musing Mondays 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. 

Rain Fish Book Cover
Rain Fish
by Lois Ehlert
published April 26, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist  

Get to know the “rain fish” that come to life during rainstorms in this gorgeous exploration of nature with vibrant collage artwork from the Caldecott Honor–winning illustrator of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

When blue sky turns gray and it rains all day, sometimes rain fish come out and play.

Are We There Yet Book Cover
Are We There Yet?
by Dan Santat
published April 12, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat takes readers on the road trip of a lifetime!
"Are we there yet?" Every parent has heard this classic kid question on a long car ride--and after reading this astonishingly inventive new book (that even turns upside down for several pages!), you'll never look at being bored...READ MORE

The Night Gardener
The Night Gardener
by Terry Fan
illustrated by Eric Fan
published February 16, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

In the spirit of Goodnight Moon and The Curious Garden comes a stunning debut picture book filled with whimsy and creativity from brothers Terry and Eric Fan.

One day, William discovers that the tree outside his window has been sculpted into a wise owl. In the following days, more topiaries appear, and each one...READ MORE

Be A Friend Book Cover
Be a Friend
by Salina Yoon
published January 5, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Booklist

Dennis is an ordinary boy who expresses himself in extraordinary ways. Some children do show-and-tell. Dennis mimes his. Some children climb trees. Dennis is happy to BE a tree . . . But being a mime can be lonely. It isn't until Dennis meets a girl named Joy that he...READ MORE

Horrible Bear Book Cover
Horrible Bear
by Ame Dyckman
illustrated by Zachariah OHora
published April 5, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist Star Image Publishers Weekly

The New York Times-bestselling duo behind Wolfie the Bunny presents a hilarious new book about accidents, outbursts, manners...and the power of saying "I'm sorry."


Bear didn't mean to break a little girl's kite, but she's upset anyway--upset enough to shout "HORRIBLE BEAR!" Bear is indignant. He doesn't think he's horrible! Then Bear gets a truly Horrible...READ MORE

The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk
by Kabir Sehgal,
by Surishtha Sehgal
illustrated by Jess Golden
published January 12, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal

From the mother-son duo behind the New York Times bestselling A Bucket of Blessings comes a zany picture book about a wild ride on a tuk tuk taxi in India!

This picture book brings an international twist to the beloved nursery rhyme, The Wheels on the Bus, by bringing you aboard a busy three-wheeled...READ MORE

The Cow Who Climbed a Tree Book Cover
The Cow Who Climbed a Tree
by Gemma Merino
published March 1, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist

Tina isn't like the other cows. She believes that the sky is the limit and that everything is possible. But her sisters aren't convinced--and when Tina tells them she has climbed a tree and met a dragon, they decide that her nonsense has gone too far. Off they go into...READ MORE

Olinguito, de La A a la Z!/Olinguito, from A to Z! Book Cover
Olinguito, de La A a la Z!/Olinguito, from A to Z!
by Lulu Delacre
published February 15, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

With lyrical text in both Spanish and English, we travel to the magical world of a cloud forest in the Andes of Ecuador. We discover the bounty of plants, animals, and other organisms that live there as we help a zoologist look for the elusive olinguito, the first new mammal...READ MORE

Listen to Our World Book Cover
Listen to Our World
by Bill Martin Jr.,
by Michael Sampson
illustrated by Melissa Sweet
published March 15, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist

From beloved storytellers Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson and with shimmering illustrations by Caldecott Honor­ artist Melissa Sweet comes a celebration of the animals all around us!

Squawk! Hiss! Grr! Roar!

Big, small, black, brown—all kinds of animals make their home in our world. From the jungle to the...READ MORE

Spot, the Cat Book Cover
Spot, the Cat
by Henry Cole
published March 1, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews

Simple and stunning images tell the story of a cat named Spot as he weaves his way in and out of a city in this wordless picture book from award-winning author-illustrator Henry Cole.

Through this gorgeous visual narrative, Henry Cole shows us a day in the life of a cat...READ MORE


Yes! I love the artwork. My son loves Goodnight Moon too. Little kiddos seem to really love the moon and anything moon related. I wonder why that is. :)

My oldest two were born in Thailand. The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk sounds like a fun book to share with them even though they are out of the preschool range!

Hi Leslie! How cool that your oldest have that overseas connection. It seems like that would automatically encourage them to travel, especially to their birthplace. The Wheels on the Tuk-Tuk could be a fun one to share!

The Night Gardener, Spot, the Cat and Listen to Our World look particularly interesting to me! We'll be anxiously waiting for these books from our library.

Hello Mother of 3! Yes! Those look awesome. I like the connection to nature in Listen to Our World. For me it seems like something about the illustrations really seems to capture the movement and vitality of the environments it shows. :)

Hi Beth! Thank you! I'm still waiting for my copy of The Night Gardener, but we just got to read Be a Friend. It's so sweet. Ahhh. :) I hope you enjoy some of the others. If you get a chance, let us know what you think!

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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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