By Rob McClurkan
Come September, I’m always on the lookout for quality fall-themed picture books that work well as a read aloud. There is an abundance of books with leaves, pumpkins, squirrels, or scarecrows but not a lot that will keep the attention of a classroom of kindergartners who just had fruit loops & powdered doughnuts for breakfast.
Then I came across a copy of Aw, Nuts! and figure kids will basically get hooked solely on the exaggerated frustration the title implies. Of course the squirrel narrator utters “Aw, nuts!” no less than ten times throughout the slapstick story of a squirrel who doesn’t quite understand that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
Check out the book trailer
If you like contrasting could things get any crazier/Whew! structuring of this story I would also recommend Remy Charlip’s adventurous book Fortunately (1964).
Mix it Up!
By Hervé Tullet
Chronicle Books 2014
Hervé Tullet, author of the widely lauded Press Here (2010) which resulted in a landslide of interactive picture books being published has applied that formula rather successfully to his latest offering Mix It Up.
Children now able to swipe before they walk get results similar to a handheld screen in the pages of a book. All you have to do is follow directions then simply turn the pages getting a little poof of picture book magic.
Tullet allows readers to vicariously experiment with paint as well as introduces color combining in this fantastic work that promises to be yet another bestseller.
For children continuing to learn more about working with color, I suggest pairing Mix it Up with Mouse Paint (1995) by Ellen Stoll Walsh and Little Yellow and Little Blue (1959) by Leo Lionni.
By Dorothee de Monfried
Gecko Press, 2014
A tiger gets it’s just desserts in this delightfully snarky tale of failed collaboration.
I’m curious if the teddy bear has a gluten intolerance.
The Bear’s Sea Escape
By Benjamin Chaud
Chronicle Books 2014
We meet Papa Bear and Little Bear again in this follow up to Benjamin Chaud’s The Bear’s Song. This time instead of hunting for his cub throughout an opera house, Papa Bear tails him from a snowed-in city to a faraway tropical island. Saturated colors and mountains of details to wade through make for a delightful picture book not just to read but study.
Very Little Red Riding Hood
By Heapy & Heap
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2014
The Big Bad Wolf has his work cut out for him after encountering a pint-sized girl on her way to Grandmama’s house. Very Little Red Riding Hood insists on calling him “Foxie”, she refuses to share her delicious cakes, and throws more than one tantrum before they even reach their destination. Heapy & Heap rearrange a classic in the most adorable way possible.
By Lizi Boyd
Chronicle Books 2014
Explore the world outside at night in this brilliant and original wordless picture book by the author of Inside Outside. With the aid of a flashlight, we are shown contrasting color scenes that splice through the black and silver darkness.
Pig and Small
By Alex Latimer
Peachtree Publishers 2014
Friendship isn’t always easy, and pig & bug almost give up on theirs due to having incompatible sizes. They come to realize there are more things they can do together than can’t.
By William Bee
Nosy Crow Publishing 2014
Put on your hard hat and join Digger Dog in his hunt for a bone that turns out to be much bigger than expected. Rhyming text and fold out pages make for an engaging read with a surprise ending.
Komako Sakai has cute down pat. That sort of ovary crushing pain inducing cute that you want to sleep under your pillow at night. That makes you want to have babies or go get a puppy.
First there was Emily’s Balloon, in which a small girl has a fleeting relationship with a yellow balloon. Her mom gets the idea to tie the string to a spoon so it can follow her along throughout her day. Everything’s dandy, until it gets caught in a breeze and stuck in a tree. This is where things get really painful for the sensitive reader. Emily wishes the balloon was still there with her as she has dinner, and we see as she imagines the balloon with a place at the table. As she gets ready for sleep, Emily still longs for her new friend and we see the happy balloon in a sleeping cap snuggled next to her in bed.
If that doesn’t get you, then get a peek at The Snow Day. This is probably the only instance of me thinking a bunny with red eyes is cute. Ever. Bunnies with red eyes are scary, but somehow Sakai makes them endearing. The book is slightly dark with lots of muted shades of grey and charcoal lines that capture the anxiousness that accompanies childhood. Many of the pages are wordless, letting the mood of being snowed in seep out to you.