My family’s favorite read-alouds this month cover embracing what makes you different, finding beauty in ordinary life, and coping with the death of loved ones. Read on and then make a trip to your local library!
Strictly No Elephants, written by Lisa Mantchev and illustrated by Taeeun Yoo, is a picture book about a boy with an elephant who isn’t allowed in the pet club. On a larger scale, it’s about overcoming that feeling of not fitting in, and finding friends willing to accept you as you are. Block printing brings a fun texture to the artwork and the diverse cast of characters are endearingly adorable—from the narwhal in a red wagon to the booted hedgehog.
The Tea Party in the Woods by Akiko Miyakoshi is a picture book about a girl who walks in the woods to bring a pie to her grandmother’s house but runs into an animal tea party on her way. With her whimsical adventure, Kikko learns that you’re never really alone in the woods. The illustrations are predominantly charcoal, giving the book an air of quiet mystery, brightened up by occasional pops of color.
Beyond the Pond by Joseph Kuefler is a picture book about a boy who finds another world hidden in the depths of the endless pond in his backyard. The other side of the pond is big and wonderful and scary, which brings the boy to appreciate the adventures that lie beneath seemingly ordinary things. Mixed media and photographed textures bring this story to life.
Cry, Heart, But Never Break, written by Danish author Glenn Ringtved and illustrated by Charlotte Pardi, is a picture book to help children cope with death. Death comes to visit four kids and their sick grandmother, and the children try to trick and beg Death into letting their grandmother live. Death tells them a story to show that delight is made all the sweeter by sorrow and, similarly, that life is worth so much because it is not endless. Beautiful watercolor artwork complements this heartwarming story about life and death.
My Old Pal, Oscar, written by Amy Hest and illustrated by Amy Bates, is another heartwarming picture book about death featuring beautiful watercolor work. In this story, a boy finds a puppy at the beach, but everything the puppy does only reminds the boy of his old dog, Oscar. Slowly, the boy comes to accept his grief and the new puppy. Once again, we come to learn that life moves on.
Last but not least is the freshly-released Ada Twist, Scientist, written in Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts—of Rosie Revere, Engineer and Iggy Peck, Architect fame. Ada Marie (named after Ada Lovelace and Marie Curie) starts as a quiet toddler (like Albert Einstein), but she finally breaks her silence when she has something of the utmost importance to say: why? Her curiosity gets her in trouble more than once, but we’ll come to accept that what makes Ada different is also what makes Ada great.
Have any new finds to recommend? Leave them in the comments, I’d love to hear them.