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


Let me just say whoa. WHOA! There are such exceptional children’s books being released right now. Putting this list together was like swimming through a sparkling sea of wonders. Everywhere I looked, some beautiful and shining treasure beckoned. It was a challenge to stay focused and choose a handful of these great picture books.

First on the list is The White Cat and the Monk. I have to mention that I struggled with whether to put this on the March picture book list. You see, it’s more a graphic novel than a picture book. Also, some respected book reviewers suggest that this book is for a slightly older audience – more like first grade (which is included in the picture book range, but on the upper end). The problem is… I HAD to talk about it.

This book looks A-MAZING! I can't wait to read it. (Happy dance.) O.K., so it doesn’t fit precisely in a box, but we won’t hold that against it, now will we? laugh

The story retells a classic Irish poem about a monk and a cat, each absorbed in a single occupation; the monk studying manuscripts. and the cat hunting a mouse. The artwork in this book is absolutely beautiful. Amazon has a preview available, and there are other images of the inside of the book sprinkled around the internet. Gorgeous.

As mentioned before, you should be aware... there are some mixed messages coming from reviewers about the appropriate age for this book. One recommendation says grades 2 to 4, one reviewer says grades 1 through 5, but two others echo the publisher's recommendation of ages 4 to 7. I almost always follow the advice of the first two (School Library Journal and Booklist – cuz these folks know their shtuff.) So, I'd probably wait until first grade. 

Be sure to use your good judgement about your own child. Some of the themes of this book will be better understood by adults -- the joys of living a life of simplicity, for example. Also, it would seem that a mouse meets an unfortunate end at the hand (or, paw really) of the white cat.

Enough about that… Did I mention this book looks AWESOME!! Well it does. wink

On a semi-side note... Have you seen the movie, The Secret of Kells (Amazon Affiliate link). Ohh, ya gotta see it if you haven't. The Secret of Kells intertwines some of the same folklore and culture as The White Cat and the Monk. The movie's tale is delightful and powerful and the animation is stunning.

Anyhow… Next on my list of so excited to read? I am so looking forward to Cricket Song and When Spring Comes. Both books communicate beautifully the wonders of nature. Perfect for this season where the natural world is waking up from a winter slumber. I’m not sure what’s happening outside where you are, but here… I’ve been hearing birds sing, crocuses and cherry blossoms are blooming. Aaah.

Now Snappsy the Alligator looks especially funny. You MUST check out the book trailer. It's so funny. Snappsy is such a character.

Also high on my list this month is Swap! I love the looks of this little person’s pirate tale. Also, I love that it’s a story of bartering. I almost forgot how crucial swapping was in elementary school. It was such a powerful thing to be able to trade your precious stuff for another kid’s tempting treasures. How children’s authors summon these essential moments of childhood I will never know. It’s magical.


And speaking of magical… The Moon is Going to Addy’s House. Oh man. This book is just amazing. Author and artist Ida Pearl uses cut paper to illustrate this gentle story about a girl and her family driving home after a visit to the city. The moon seems to follow as they make their way home. This story draws on that lure that the moon seems to inspire within children’s imagination.  Kids and adults are drawn into the intricate details of this phenomenal artistry.

**This post was mentioned on Literary Musing Mondays.

 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 White Cat and the Monk: A Retelling of the Poem "Pangur Bán" Book Cover
The White Cat and the Monk: A Retelling of the Poem "Pangur Bán"
by Jo Ellen Bogart
illustrated by Sydney Smith
published March 30, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publisher's Weekly

A monk leads a simple life. He studies his books late into the evening and searches for truth in their pages. His cat, Pangur, leads a simple life, too, chasing prey in the darkness. As night turns to dawn, Pangur leads his companion to the truth he has been seeking....READ MORE

Cricket Song Book Cover
Cricket Song
by Anne Hunter
published March 29, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews  

A poignant and beautiful bedtime book, Cricket Song connects two children on different continents through the evocation of sound and smell. Readers will love identifying various creatures portrayed in the book and watching what they are doing as the two children begin to fall to sleep in their beds on seemingly opposite sides...READ MORE

Worm Loves Worm Book Cover
Worm Loves Worm
by J. J. Austrian
illustrated by Mike Curato
published January 5, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly Star ImageHorn Book

Perfect for fans of And Tango Makes Three and The Sissy Duckling, this irresistible picture book is a celebration of love in all its splendid forms from debut author J. J. Austrian and the acclaimed author-illustrator of Little Elliot, Big City, Mike Curato.

You are cordially invited to celebrate the wedding of a worm...READ MORE

When Spring Comes Book Cover
When Spring Comes
by Kevin Henkes
illustrated by Laura Dronzek
published February 9, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Booklist Star Image Horn Book Star Image School Library Journal

The award-winning, bestselling husband-and-wife team of Kevin Henkes and Laura Dronzek collaborate for the first time since their acclaimed picture book Birds. Before spring comes, the trees are dark sticks, the grass is brown, and the ground is covered in snow. But if you wait, leaves unfurl and flowers blossom, the...READ MORE

Snappsy the Alligator Book Cover
Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book)
by Julie Falatko
illustrated by Tim Miller
published February 2, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly Star Image Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Snappsy the alligator is having a normal day when a pesky narrator steps in to spice up the story. Is Snappsy reading a book ... or is he making CRAFTY plans? Is Snappsy on his way to the grocery store ... or is he PROWLING the forest for defenseless birds and fuzzy...READ MORE

by Steve Light
published February 9, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews

An old ship. A sad friend. A button . . . An idea. Let’s SWAP!

In a young scalawag's first tale of bartering, a peg-legged youngster sets out to help his captain repair his vessel. One button for three teacups. SWAP! Two teacups for four coils of rope. SWAP! And...READ MORE

I Hear a Pickle: and Smell, See, Touch, & Taste It, Too! Book Cover
I Hear a Pickle: and Smell, See, Touch, & Taste It, Too!
by Rachel Isadora
published January 12, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star ImageHorn Book Star ImageThe Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

* “Isadora’s book about the five senses is aimed perfectly at another sense—kids’ sense of humor.”—The Horn Book, starred review

Caldecott Honor winner Rachel Isadora’s sweet and simple introduction to the five senses is perfect for the youngest children, who will recognize themselves in charming vignettes portraying a wide range...READ MORE

ABC Dream Book Cover
ABC Dream
by Kim Krans
published January 19, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Booklist  

This stunning and innovative alphabet picture book will dazzle little ones and engage the adults who share it with them! Each page is dedicated to a letter, and clever alliterations are packed into each ink-and-watercolor spread. This gem comes to us from Kim Krans, the creator of The Wild Unknown—a...READ MORE

The Moon is Going to Addy's House Book Cover
The Moon is Going to Addy's House
by Ida Pearl
published July 7, 2015
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publisher's Weekly

This gentle, poetic bedtime story about a little girl and the friendly moon is perfect for fans of Ezra Jack Keats and Kevin Henkes

After a play date in the city, Addy heads home to the country with her family. And through the long drive, the moon seems to...READ MORE

Ideas Are All Around Book Cover
Ideas Are All Around
by Philip C. Stead
published March 1, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

As an author and his dog, Wednesday, walk through their neighborhood, they look at sunflowers, say hi to Frank, a turtle, who makes quick for the water and disappears, and watch a train rumble by as they walk uphill to a big purple house that belongs to their friend Barbara....READ MORE


Great list! I just read When Spring Comes and loved it!

Hi Carolyn! Thank you. And nice! I love Kevin Henkes. He's awesome.

These look awesome! We've already been enjoying "Snappsy the Alligator" -- my 5-year-old son thought that the narrator was hilarious. I love "Secret of Kells" too, so I'll definitely have to get my hands on "The White Cat and the Monk." Thanks for sharing with the Literacy Musing Mondays Link-up!

Hi Beth! Awww... That's so cool that your son thought the Snappsy narrator was hilarious. I love books that get kids laughing. :D And, yes! The Secret of Kells. Sigh. So good. :) Thank you for visiting and for your thoughts. I hope you enjoy The White Cat and the Monk!

I just love new children's books! I had not yet heard of any of these!

Hi Mother of 3! These books are all new... Er, newish. The Moon is Going to Addy's House is actually over 6 months old, BUT aside from that... :) I'm certain though, that a few of these books are bound to become well known within the year. The reviewers and early readers are going nuts over these. :D

Thanks for sharing! I will add some of these to my list.

Hi Kristin! Excellent! Let us know what you think. :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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