Tuesday, November 11, 2014

2014 Holiday Shopping Guide: Top Fifteen Kids' Picture Book Staff Picks

Day Dreamers, by Emily Martin
“In this charming follow up to 2013’s Dream Animals, children find their imagination taking flight. A boy lies in the grass watching the clouds form into a dragon, only to find himself taking a ride on that very dragon on the next double-page spread. Two friends walk through the halls of a museum past a medieval tapestry of a unicorn, then chase each other on black and white unicorns through the forest. Day Dreamers is a richly illustrated children’s book, and a wonderful ode to the power of children's fantasies and dreams.” —Jannis Mindel

“This picture book has it all. A boy and his dragon! Beautiful splashes of color among black and white pages! Hidden pictures! Counting different items on each page! Follow along and help find the lost dragon. Great fun for everyone! A book to be shared!” —Jen Steele

“This fabulous sequel to last year’s Journey, is sure to spark imaginations.  A wonderful rainy day book, the friends made at the end of Journey embark on a quest to save a kingdom. Their mission takes them under the ocean and through Mayan ruins, all the while using quick thinking and imagination to draw their way through the adventure.” —Amie Mechler-Hickson

“From early September through late November, when the snow finally settles on her secret world, a young girl quietly observes and sketches from a special perch in a tree the changing seasons and animals as they prepare for winter. I love this wonderful celebration of the natural world as autumn turns to winter, and the beautiful illustrations by Jim LaMarche that accompany the lyrical text. This book would make a wonderful introduction to the natural world for children, and encourage them to observe and create a record of their own.” —Pam Stilp

“In this wondrous wordless picture book a young child sets out from a tent with just a flashlight for a little nighttime exploring, while the flashlight illuminates something new on each page, the fun also lies in the many things happening in the dark as well. A gentle nighttime book with a fun twist there is something new to be seen with each viewing.” —Amie Mechler-Hickson

“I love this romp of a fairy tale with rhyming text and a refreshing, modern-day twist. The Rapunzel in this picture book pines away in an inner-city high rise where she ignores all visitors including the mailman, baker, and even her aunt who brings her food. Nothing seems to interest her--not even the Prince who shows up bearing flowers and chocolates. But then a letter arrives that brings a smile to her face because it offers her a job at the Library. She is transformed by the stimulating ideas and exciting opportunities she discovers in the books she finds there. The illustrations by Rebecca Ashdown include amusing details to pore over and picture this: Rapunzel with an appealing abundance of unruly auburn locks. I hope you will share this celebration of books and libraries, which includes the portrayal of a smart independent Princess, with all the young ones you know.” —Pam Stilp

“Nothing captures joyous noise like this new picture book about a little girl in the park with her mom. Every one of her senses speaks to the rhythm that she hears from the neighborhood drummers and a nearby boom box. Her infectious happiness leads to a diverse group of neighborhood kids, and even the adults, breaking out in dance. This is a great book for read aloud, both because of its song-like cadence, and because kids can chime along with our young heroine as she blinks, sniffs, claps, and shakes to the music. Oh, and the illustrations are just as happy!” —Daniel Goldin

“This book presents an ideal world run by kids and contains important lessons for all of us. It discusses kindness, caring for others, bullying and a hope for a peaceful world. Written and illustrated by the award winning team of Leo and Diane Dillon and is, in fact, the last book by them before Leo passed away. I love the multicultural aspect presented here and although some will find it a bit saccharine, it makes an ideal introduction to volunteerism for parents and teachers. The Afterward discusses many ideas for activities where children can work together to improve their world. it also includes ‘The four essential freedoms’ and other ideas from FDR’s Second Bill of Rights.” —Pam Stilp

“As a farmer works in his field he watches a circus train going by. Just as the train hits a bump he sees someone fly off the back. When the farmer goes to investigate he finds a small child dressed as a clown sitting in the field. In this beautifully illustrated wordless picture book, Frazee tells the touching story of friendship and kindness as the farmer welcomes the boy into his home to feed and bathe him. All ends well as the boy rejoins his clown family, but not before someone else from the circus is left behind to follow the farmer home!” —Jannis Mindel

“From the author of Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (with a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) comes Roller Derby Rivals, a classic roller derby story starring babyface Gerry Murray and heel Toughie Brasuhn. It’s 1948 and the New York 69th Regiment Armory is packed with people excited to see how the feud between Murray and Toughie will pan out before them in the banked track’s circular confines. It’s all textbook until Toughie goes for her final point pass against Murray, who sends Toughie sailing over the rail. This upbeat historic picture book is great for kids of all ages and will make you want to lace up your skates and hit the track with your favorite rival!” —Mel Morrow

“Sam and Dave decide to dig a hole with their dog alongside them. They won't stop digging until they find ‘something spectacular.’ Needless to say they tire themselves out and run out of food before they find anything. But their trusty dog doesn't stop digging and therein lies the adventure. Caldecott award winners Barnett and Klassen have created a deceptively simple book filled with clever clues that children will enjoy discovering as they read this unique adventure story.” —Jannis Mindel

“Little Elliot—a little polka-dot elephant—will win readers hearts! Being small and overlooked is no fun, and by helping a tiny mouse, Elliot’s life changes. Spectacular illustrations and a heart-warming story make this a book that will be read again and again!” —Barb

“The story opens with a beautiful sunny sky over a house by a lake. But soon a thunderstorm rolls in that doesn’t seem as if it's ever going to stop until just as suddenly it does, and the sun come beaming out from the clouds. Beth Krommes’ rich, woodcut-like illustrations are a perfect match for the simple rhyming text. This gorgeous book is a great addition for storytime or the classroom.” —Jannis Mindel

President Taft is Stuck in the Bath, is filled to the rim with Mac Barnett's comical characters whose suggestions of dairy, diets, and dynamite for removal, are ignored for a more sensible (giggle producing) solution. Presidential modesty is maintained with Chris Van Dusen's clever illustrations and some very well placed bubbles. A fabulously funny read for all and a few facts to boot!” —Amie Mechler-Hickson

Rhoda's Rock Hunt, by Molly Beth Griffin
“This is the charming tale of Rhoda—amateur geologist and avid rock hound—on her first field camp! Rhoda finds SO many lovely rocks—and quickly learns that difficult lesson that rocks jocks pay a heavy price when they insist on bringing EVERY rock home with them!” —Mel Morrow

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