Spring 2015: Don't Miss These New Picture Books!

spring 2015 new picture books a book long enough

Lots of librarians are calling this the new golden age of picture book publishing, and I think they might be right on target. We've been reading dozens of new picture books at home the last few months, and here are 10, five fiction and five non-fiction, that I highly recommend!

When Otis Courted Mama by Kathi Appelt and Jill McElmurry (ages 5-9)

It’s easy to see why Kathi Appelt has won a Newbery Honor and twice been nominated for a National Book Award. Her talent for writing chapter books channels easily into the picture books she authors. When Otis Courted Mama is a fine-tuned, well-written picture book. And the gouache illustrations, done on watercolor paper, are just as excellent as the prose. Artist Jill McElmurry has knack for catching emotions on the faces of her subjects, and adding details that make the Southwestern setting come to life. So what happens when you put together wonderful storytelling with beautiful art? You get a top-notch picture book. One that I expect to win some awards.

Cardell is a young coyote who enjoys living part-time with his mother and part-time with his remarried father. He especially appreciates the one-on-one time he gets with Mama. So far, Cardell and Mama have "agreed" that Mama dating is all well and good, as long as each suitor doesn’t wear out his welcome. But then Otis comes along and changes everything, causing a “grrr” to form in Cardell’s throat. How Otis works to win over first Mama and then Cardell, and how Cardell learns to adjust to the change of sharing Mama, form a lively, endearing tale. The development of Cardell’s relationship with his soon-to-be-stepfather is especially tender. Kids facing divorce and family blending will certainly benefit from this book, but so will children who live in more “traditional” households. Regardless of their personal situation, children will quickly warm to When Otis Courted Mama, because the storytelling is engaging and fun. The tale is sweetened by lots of Southwestern flair (Otis tells stories of horned toads and chaparrals and appears on the doorstep with ocotillo flowers for Mama), which make it an excellent read-aloud. And Cardell, Mama, and Otis are charming characters with true-to-life emotions that children will easily pick up on. 

Smick! by Doreen Cronin and Juana Medina (ages 18 months-5)

Picture books told with very few to no words are especially powerful. The longest sentence in Smick! contains three words. It’s difficult to bring such a book to life in a review. Imagine thick black lines that depict a big, happy dog who is seldom still. Then throw in a photographed flower petal (transformed by illustrator Medina into a tiny chick) and a long brown stick. And that’s it, really. Smick is one of those goofy dogs that only a hard-hearted reader couldn't love, and he will quickly endear himself to children and adults. Despite his bouncy size and personality, he manages to befriend the tiny chick without scaring it away. The heartwarming friendship between delicate bird and silly dog is particularly tender, while also comical. I still can’t get over how easy it is to love a dog that exists only in black and white on paper.   

Betty Goes Bananas by Steve Antony (ages 2-6)

When this book came home from the library, my five year old asked me to read it three times in one night. Then he said, “Mama, is this book from the library, or is it mine?” He wanted reassurance that he could keep reading it forever. (No worries, it showed up a few weeks later beside his Valentine candy.) I think he loves Betty Goes Bananas both because it’s a very funny story, and because it’s all about temper tantrums. (Did I mention my son is having a hard time not being in control of every aspect of his life lately?) 

Betty is a pink-bowed gorilla. She wants to eat a banana, but she can’t get it peeled. She ends up on the floor in frustration, kicking and screaming. After a calming toucan arrives to show her how, Betty settles down for a few minutes ... Until she gets mad because she wanted to peel the banana HERSELF. More yelling/stamping of feet later and Betty calms herself again. Then the banana breaks. You can guess what happens next. Young kids will relate to Betty’s struggles with losing and regaining self-control. They’ll also love the humorous ending in which she sees another banana she wants and the smart toucan decides to flee the premises. Read this one aloud with lots of exaggerated temper tantrum noise. You're guaranteed laughs and self-recognition from young kids.

Raindrops Roll by April Pulley Sayre (ages 3-9)

April Pulley Sayre spent a year in her yard, as well as in a neighbor’s garden, camera in hand every time it looked like rain might be near. The result is this gorgeous book of full-page photographs of rainy skies, plants, dirt, spider webs, tiny animals, and more. She pairs close ups of rain-soaked leaves and rolling raindrops with short descriptive verse. The end notes further explain each page with more details of the scientific aspects of raindrops, as well as a suggested bibliography. This is the rare kind of science picture book that kids of many ages will enjoy poring over. If you love a summer rainstorm or know a child who would like to explore a garden with a magnifying glass, this lovely book needs to make it into your lap.

A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat by Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall (ages 7-10)

A Fine Dessert introduces young readers to families in 18th century England, 19th century South Carolina, 20th century Boston, and 21st century San Diego. Although four centuries and varying circumstances separate them, each of the families are tied together by one dessert, a delicious blackberry fool. A rural family picks blackberries and strains them through muslin, then makes cream by milking a cow, and constructing a whisk out of twigs in 1710. One hundred years later, a slave girl and her mother follow similar steps, but use a metal whisk and strainer. In 1910, a young girl and her mother purchase the fruit from a stand, and use cream delivered to their doorstep and a metal rotary beater. Fast forward to modern day 2010, and a boy and his father buy organic fruit and milk and use instruments like a food processor and electric beater. Each family shares the blackberry fool at dinner tables filled with different kinds of people, from slaves serving a white family to a party featuring a 21st century interracial couple. Despite varying circumstances, each child licks the bowl clean: “Mmmmm. Mmmmm. Mmmmm. What a fine dessert.” 

I’m thrilled to see one of my favorite picture book artists involved in such thoughtfully constructed non-fiction for kids. In the end notes, Sophie Blackall relates how she made a whisk out of twigs and used it to make cream before starting the drawings for A Fine Dessert, which took a year to complete. She also put a lot of forethought into her rendition of the slave family, along with myriad other details that make this book fun to pore over repeatedly. Both Blackall and author Jenkins ensure the accuracy of the text and drawings with careful research. While the authenticity A Fine Dessert achieves is important, it also has to be entertaining to be an excellent picture book. Fortunately, Jenkins and Blackall succeed on this front. The thoughtful, rhythmic text and engagingly detailed watercolor and ink illustrations draw readers' attention in, and won't let it go. Be sure to show children that the end papers were colored with blackberry juice and don’t miss out on trying the included blackberry fool recipe.

a fine dessert a book long enough

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall (ages 4-8)

What happens when a red crayon can only create things that are blue? Strawberries, red ants, and stoplights all turn out wrong. When Red tries to create a “nice round orange” with Yellow, the resulting green mess (remember, yellow and blue make green), prompts Yellow to comment, “Yuck.” Despite help from family and friends, Red just can’t make anything red. Then Berry comes by and asks Red to make a blue ocean for her boat. Red hesitates, but lo and behold, it turns out beautifully, and Red is happily inspired to draw blue jeans, a blue whale, a bluebird, and more. Children who read this book (or to whom the book is read) will notice from page one that Red has a red crayon wrapper, clearly labeled “Red,” but that the crayon inside is blue. So it’s no wonder Red can’t create anything red! Use this book as a springboard for discussions about identity, and a subtle lesson that what’s on the inside counts so much more than outside appearances. 

Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman and Zachariah OHora (ages 4-8)

Ame Dyckman is the creative picture book author of both Boy + Bot and Tea Party Rules. Zachariah OHora wrote and illustrated No Fits, Nilson!, a favorite in my house, which I reviewed here. So when I heard that Dyckman and OHora were combining talents for a new picture book, I couldn’t wait to see it! Let’s just say that Wolfie the Bunny has lived up to my hopeful expectations. 

The Bunny family, which consists of Mama, Papa, and young Dot, come home to a bundle of joy on their front stoop. Mama and Papa are immediately smitten with the tiny wolf baby, but Dot can’t believe her bad luck. Don’t the grown ups known that wolves are dangerous? Dot’s frustration grows as Mama and Papa dote all over their new baby, and refuse to listen to her concerns, even as Wolfie grows larger and larger. Things come to a head when Dot and Wolfie encounter a giant bear at the produce market, and end up saving each other. Kids will enjoy the familiar refrain of “HE’S GOING TO EAT US ALL UP!” and those who’ve encountered a new baby in the family will relate to Dot’s frustration. A comical gem that makes a great read aloud. 

Handle With Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey by Loree Griffin Burns and Ellen Harasimowicz (ages 6-9)

We have a butterfly garden in our backyard which my kids very much enjoy, so I’m always eager to get my hands on any books on the subject. I had to wait a long time for this book, but it was well worth my patience. I am thrilled with Handle With Care, for a couple of reasons: It features striking full-page photographs, the text is the simplest I’ve seen in such detailed non-fiction, and it focuses on a different aspect of the butterfly story. Kids who read Handle With Care learn about a butterfly farm in Costa Rica, where blue morpho butterflies are carefully tended until their pupae can be shipped to a museum in Boston. This is the first non-fiction butterfly book I’ve read that bridges the gap between material for really young kids and books written for middle schoolers, and at the same time chooses an original slant to focus upon. Handle with Care is a fine example of quality science non-fiction that young elementary schoolers will very much enjoy poring over. 

A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz and Catia Chien (ages 6-10)

I missed this powerful, understated picture book until it was awarded the 2015 Schneider Family Book Award for its outstanding portrayal of a “disability experience” in children’s literature. Author Rabinowitz is both a world-famous wildlife conservationist and a spokesperson for the Stuttering Foundation of America. In A Boy and a Jaguar he relays his experience growing up with a stutter, which included being (mis)placed in a school class with learning-disabled students.

As a young boy Rabinowitz found his stutter amazingly disappeared when he talked to animals:

I know that my pets listen and understand. Animals can’t get the words out, just as I can’t get the words out. So people ignore or misunderstand or hurt them, the same way people ignore or misunderstand or hurt me. I make a promise to my pets. I promise that if I can ever find my voice, I will be their voice and keep them from harm.

A young Rabinowitz makes the same pledge to a lonely jaguar at the Bronx Zoo. As a young adult, he finally learns to control his stutter, “but nothing has changed on the inside. I still feel broken.” Only when he begins to study animals in the wild, like black bears in the Smokies and jaguars in Belize, does Rabinowitz find happiness. He’s inspired to protect the jaguars from hunters, even when it means pleading their case in front of government officials. Later he encounters the largest male jaguar he’s ever come across in the forest, one that approaches him peacefully. In a few emotionally resonant lines, the undeniable power of both the animal and human spirit becomes evident. This is a picture book biography that every child should read, not just to learn about the difficulty of being “different,” but also because the message is encapsulated in a beautiful, well-written story. In addition, A Boy and A Jaguar will speak to kids who struggle in any way, giving them hope for understanding. 

Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh by Sally M. Walker and Jonathan D. Voss (ages 7-10)

I knew that the real Christopher Robin was author A. A. Milne’s son, and that the beloved Winnie-the-Pooh was named for Christopher Robin’s stuffed teddy bear. But until I read this children’s book, I had no idea that the stuffed bear was the namesake of a live black bear who lived in the London Zoo from 1914-1934. I also learned that Winnie’s stint in the zoo is not the beginning of the story, for he first belonged to Harry Colebourn, a young Canadian soldier enlisted in the veterinary corps during World War I. Winnie traveled with the corp to its training camp in England and became a beloved mascot to the soldiers, as well as a close friend to his caretaker Harry. Children will fall in love with the real Winnie’s endearing personality, and be intrigued by the special relationship between the bear and Harry. The book is enhanced by photographs on the endpapers of Winnie, Harry, Christopher Robin, and A. A. Milne, which help make Winnie’s story more real for children. An author’s note with a bibliography means Winnie can be used both as an enjoyable story and for kids doing research. 

Dream Drum Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle and Rafael López (ages 5-9)

This picture book was inspired by the life of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a young girl of Chinese-African-Cuban descent, who grew up in 1930s Havana. Modern-day children will find a role model in the story of the Drum Dream Girl, who defies her culture (“only boys should play the drums”) to become a jazz drummer. They’ll also be quickly carried away by the bright, rhythmic poetry of Engle’s prose, which will remind them of — what else — a percussion beat. Such powerful poetry also makes Drum Dream Girl a perfect read-aloud:

When she walked under

wind-wavy palm trees

in a flower-bright park

she heard the whir of parrot wings

the clack of woodpecker beaks

the dancing tap

of her own footsteps

and the comforting pat

of her own 

heartbeat.

López’s vibrant illustrations, made using acrylic paint on wood board, are unbelievably beautiful, and bring Cuban culture to life with a warm, tropical, spicy palette of colors and a folk-art feel. Take a look at a page spread:

drum dream girl a book long enough

I can’t decide which is my favorite part of Drum Dream Girl — its artwork or its poetry. That tells me that I’ve encountered a remarkable picture book, in which art and prose meld seamlessly into perfection. No wonder Drum Dream Girl has earned rave reviews from more than one children’s book review journal! This is a wonderful book to encourage kids to pursue their dreams, no matter the obstacle.

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12 Exciting New Picture Books You Must Know About for Kids: Winter 2015

new picture books for kids winter 2015 book long enough

Oooo, I am so excited to share these amazing new picture books (some fiction and some non-fiction) with you! I've been reading a lot of really great stuff over the last couple of months and it looks like 2014 closed out as a banner year for picture books! And as far as what's been published in January 2015, things are still looking awesome. Picture books are my nearest and dearest love in children's literature, so this makes me very happy! 

And have I mentioned I am over-the-moon excited because Monday, February 2 (today for most of you reading this), is the day we find out all the award winners in children's literature published in 2014!? The next best thing to being in Chicago for the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting is watching online, here! And if you can't, no worries, I'll post the winners this week, too. I just can't wait to see if the awards committees and I are of like minds as far as which picture books, teen novels, middle grade chapter books, non-fiction, and easy readers deserve recognition. They didn't ask me what I thought, but I don't take that personally, of course.

Anyway, back on topic! Here are 12 new picture books you must not miss this winter:

Shh! We Have a Plan! by Chris Haughton

ages 2-7

My nearly six-year-old son is obsessed with this perfect picture book, which I managed to miss until about a month ago. Released last September, it’s the third American-published picture book by British illustrator Chris Haughton, who has been a huge international design (and children’s illustrator) hit for several years. Haughton is a genius at marrying minimalism (in digital art and in text) with deep moral messages couched in humor and fun. In a landscape of purples, blues, and black, three creatures with nets over their shoulders venture into the dark woods to catch a beautiful red bird. A fourth (smaller and net-less) companion follows along, and remarks “hello, birdie,” when the animal appears, only to be countered with the story’s refrain, “shh SHH! we have a plan!” out of the mouths of his larger friends. The three hunters have multiple plans to catch the bird, but each one fails with repeatedly comic results. And apparently, the littlest guy has a plan too, one that involves befriending not just one bird, but many. The very youngest readers will love the Laurel and Hardey-esque physical comedy, while older readers will catch on to an underlying message about our interactions with the natural world. Outstanding.

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach

ages 4-8

This is my first must-read picture book of 2015! First of all, the acrylic and pencil impressionist illustrations are absolutely fabulous! I just can’t stop looking at them, as they evoke movement, mystery, and warmth. Second, the storyline is very funny, because of course, the bear isn’t actually the one who stole your sandwich, as you might have already guessed, but perhaps a very naughty dog narrator is the culprit. Readers don’t meet the dog, or even know he’s telling the story, until nearly the last page. This one had better show up on some 2015 awards lists. I LOVE it, and so did my kindergartner and fourth grader. 

the bear ate my sandwich book long enough

A Bed for Kitty by Yasmine Survovec

ages 2-5

Surovec’s second picture book about cats proves that a few simple words and bright, comic book-style artwork can engage very young children time and again. A Bed for Kitty is an easy story about a cat who sleeps everywhere else but in her own bed. It’s told through the eyes of a preschool girl, and my son particularly loves the ending in which Kitty finally sleeps in her own bed, but only when she sees her young caregiver napping on the cat’s bed in desperation. The final page shows kitty curled up on top of the girl, who is sleeping on the cat bed. Very cute, very sweet, and one we’ve been reading over and over. 

a bed for kitty book long enough

Weeds Find a Way by Cindy Jenson-Elliott and Carolyn Fisher

ages 4-8

This critically-overlooked picture book came out early last year, and I completely missed it. Once I got my hands on this book, I was immediately drawn in by colorful mixed-media illustrations and hand-drawn text. I’m also a natural world/gardening fanatic, so I’m really enticed by the idea of a book that celebrates something most of us do not! The language is simple enough for a preschooler, but the end notes, which include a glossary of weeds accompanied by more beautiful artwork, make this a useful title for older elementary school kids. Kids generally find books about unlovable things very enticing (see the entire gross-out genre of science books for proof), so I think this one will have a lot of appeal. Besides being simple, the prose is also quite poetic, which makes it a lovely read aloud. Don’t miss this science/art/poetry picture book. Here’s a spread to give you a taste of the beautiful work inside:

weeds find a way book long enough

Chengdu Could Not, Would Not, Fall Asleep by Barney Saltzberg

ages 2-6

If you’ve ever encountered a child who just can’t/won’t fall asleep (and who hasn’t?), I’ve found the bedtime picture book for you! First thing, pandas. Who doesn’t love these adorable, furry, innocent-looking creatures? Second, watercolor artwork featuring only the black and white of the animals, white of a tree branch, black of the night sky, and green of surrounding bamboo. It draws the eye in and makes the pandas even cuter, as they stand in relief to their surroundings. Third, simple text that relays the struggles of a young panda who has tried just about everything he can think of (wink, nudge) to fall asleep. Chengdu’s perfect sleeping spot turns out to be on top of his brother Yuan, which the author waits to reveal until the final page, in which the reader learns that everyone is finally sleeping. Well, everyone except Yuan, of course. Clever, sweet, and perfect for nighttime reading.

chengdu could not would not fall asleep book long enough

Violet and Victor Write the Best-Ever Bookworm Book by Alice Kuipers and Bethanie Deeney Murguia

ages 5-9

If you’ve ever been at the parent end of sibling rivalry, you’re going to appreciate this creative, humorous picture book, told in the alternating voices of a brother and sister. It just hit bookshelves in December. As most kids have experienced family infighting, they too will readily relate to Violet and Victor, who are creating a story together. The two verbally hash it out as to the contents of the story, and readers get to enjoy both the process as well as the result of the siblings’ creative work. Their dialogue is portrayed in purple, while their story is rendered in kid-like handwriting nearby. The artwork in Violet and Victor is quite creative; it features graphite drawings of the main characters and tons of cool collage work to depict the imaginary story world they create. Illustrator Bethanie Deanery Murguia used book covers, maps, cut paper sculptures, origami, and even library cards (swoon) to create the double page spreads. Kids will enjoy this book on a couple of levels — they can relate to the sibling rivalry and may also be inspired to create a story of their own. Don’t miss this unique picture book!

violet and victor write the best-ever bookworm book long enough

Coming Home by Greg Ruth

ages 6-11

Books that help kids understand each other and become more compassionate are some of my favorites. Released last November, Coming Home is a nearly-wordless picture book through which kids can step into the lives (and appreciate the struggles) of other families. The good news is that it’s also enjoyable and never heavy-handed. Very few words, perhaps one or two or a short phrase per page, work alongside large-scale drawings to depict the story of a young boy at an airport anxiously awaiting a parent's return from military service. The boy, who looks to be about ten, witnesses multiple other reunions as he searches for his loved one. Tension builds, as readers feel the boy's palpable worry and excitement. The final page of boy in mother’s (not father’s!) arms, juxtaposed with a facing page of only a bit of shadow from the embracing duo and the words, “I missed you so much,” are hauntingly powerful. While some might argue that this book is directed towards military kids, I think many children can relate to having a parent away from home for work or due to parental separation. For these kids, Coming Home will resonate emotionally. It also will help all kids better understand and appreciate the sacrifices that military families make. Pair this one with Tuesday Tucks Me In, a non-fiction picture book about a soldier and his dog, which I reviewed here

coming home book long enough

Love Will See You Through: Martin Luther King’s Six Guiding Beliefs (as told by his niece) by Angela Farris Watkins and Sally Wern Comport

ages 6-11

I just received this title, which was published in January, right after MLK Day. I had used my most favorite MLK picture book ever, Martin’s Big Words (which won about a bazillion well-deserved awards when published in 2001) to teach a Sunday School lesson for MLK Day. My first thought upon reading Love Will See You Through was how well it would pair with Martin’s Big Words. The author simplifies King’s philosophy into six tenets that young kids can understand: 

  • Have courage.
  • Love your enemies.
  • Fight the problem, not the person who caused it.
  • When innocent people are hurt, others are inspired to help.
  • Resist violence of any kind.
  • The universe honors love.

Watkins explains how King’s work exemplified these guidelines, so kids get a lesson in his role in the American Civil Rights’ Movement. Comport’s multi-media artwork in shades of black, orange, purple, and blue, is full of action and rendered in a size that gives import to the universal lessons at hand. While this book isn’t appropriate for a research project, as it lacks endnotes and sources, it provides a unique perspective on King’s message, one that kids can understand and, with encouragement, perhaps carry into the world.

love will see you through book long enough

My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay by Cari Best and Vanessa Brantley-Newton

ages 5-9

This engaging picture book is also hot off the presses, having just been released in January. The author has done a fine job of creating a story that can be used as a read aloud for young kids, while independent elementary students will enjoy reading it on their own. Zulay, an African-American student, is the first-person narrator, and I like that she never tells readers that she is blind. Rather, author Cari Best lets the subtext and artwork relay this central fact. That makes Zulay’s voice more genuine and engages readers in her story. Zulay is integrated into a classroom of sighted children (all wear the same uniforms, a clever symbol that reinforces just how alike children are, despite varying "abilities"). In some ways (and like all kids), Zulay doesn’t like being different from her peers. When Ms. Turner comes to take Zulay aside to practice using her cane, Zulay balks, and is happy to put it away when the lesson is over and rejoin her friends. When field day is announced, Zulay is inspired to declare that she would like to run the race in her new pink shoes. Ms. Turner offers heady encouragement, despite the stunned silence of Zulay's classmates. Zulay’s triumphant field day race, and the hard work she engages in to “learn” to run with her cane, make for a joyful, inspiring story. One important thing I love about this picture book — Zulay is African-American, and her three best friends are African-American, Asian-American, and white. The class is full of kids and adults with varying skin tones. So Zulay’s classroom appears truly American. Because more kids will see themselves in Brantley-Newton’s artwork, My Three Best Friends is an even better picture book.

my three best friends and me zulay book long enough

Tiptop Cat by C. Roger Mader

ages 4-8

Released in November 2014, Tiptop Cat is the story of a Parisian kitty with wanderlust. The book begins with the words, “Of all the gifts she got that day, the best one was the cat.” Through realistic (and beautiful) pastel illustrations, readers watch the cat explore his new city apartment, then expand his surroundings to the balcony, roof, and chimney, where s/he encounters a magnificent cityscape view that includes the Eiffel Tower. But, uh oh, an irresistible pigeon stops by and we all know how kitties must “POUNCE!” The cat endures a long (but harmless) fall and is too scared to explore again. But then an enticing crow comes into view … Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, and School Library Journal awarded Tiptop Cat a trifecta of starred reviews. But even better evidence exists as to its appeal: My kindergartner will not stop asking me to read it! A wonderful picture book that can be enjoyed simply for fun, but also imparts a subtle message of the importance of try, trying again. 

tiptop cat book long enough

Zombie in Love: 2 + 1 by Kelly DiPucchio and Scott Campbell

ages 5-9

In this sequel to the popular Zombie in Love, two of my favorite children’s book creators (see reviews of DiPucchio’s Gaston here and Campbell’s Hug Machine here), are back for more gross-out fun. The undead couple have now reproduced (don’t worry, the hows and whys have been left out of the story!), and are having a difficult time adjusting to life with a ghoulish baby who sleeps all night and stays up all day. (Doesn’t he know that zombies like nighttime best?) He won’t even let out a bloodcurdling scream, like all good monsters do! Older elementary kids will love the sight gags and get a kick out of pointing them out. (He has your nose, Dad. Literally. It’s in his hands!) I predict a third installment about Zombie Jr.’s baby sibling, just as soon as mom and dad have lobotomies to induce amnesia as to the difficulties of newborns.

zombie in love 2 + 1 book long enough

Max and the Won’t Go to Bed Show by Mark Sperring and Sarah Warburton

ages 4-8

Max reminds me so much of my own son, who thinks bedtime means time to jump on the bed, not sleep in it. This is a clever take on the universal conundrum of settling kids down for the night, in which Max takes his reader audience (and presumably his parents) through a circus-style show. He tames a savage beast (his old, harmless dog), disappears, tries to make his pajamas float away, and even attempts to trick his mom into reading ten bedtime stories. Max finally wears himself out, but readers are reminded, “… who knows what tricks he’ll perform tomorrow?” We’re treated to a final page spread of Max at the table balancing food and plates while standing on a chair, his poor dog with three peas precariously perched on the end of its nose. The dog’s facial expression hilariously (and wordlessly) says volumes. A fun, funny romp through an avoided bedtime that kids will adore in repeat doses.

max and the won't go to bed show book long enough

Link disclosure: A Book Long Enough is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. That means if you purchase a book through an Amazon link that appears on my site, I receive a commission.