Tag Archives: picture books

The Cool Bean by Jory John

thecoolbeanby Jory John
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

Our hero once had a tight group of friends, but something happens and the other three somehow become “cool.” Our hero (who is unnamed but who I will call Garbanzo) isn’t sure what happened or how to also be “cool.” Garbanzo becomes so self-conscious and distracted that they do embarrassing things. Finally the other beans step in to help Garbanzo, and Garbanzo realizes that helping others is what really makes you cool – not sunglasses or swagger – and gets their friends back.

Sweet message, and way better than The Bad Seed, but still a bit didactic and not quite as good as The Good Egg. I was wondering who the target audience for this picture book would be. It talks about being “cool” which I don’t think the typical picture book audience would be quite tuned into. But you could probably use it with kids as young as third grade, and as old as fifth grade, depending on the class dynamics. It might even make a good all-school read to kick off the year, though again, I’m not sure the younger kids would fully grasp it, and the older kids might be too deep into the throes of coolness to listen.

Fry bread : a Native American family story by Kevin Maillard

9781626727465by Kevin Maillard
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars

This book is so gorgeous! I loved the poetic text and how sensory and concrete it is. It would be a great addition to a storytime based on senses. I also loved how the images reflect the diversity of Native American families. I’ll refer you to Debbie Reese’s glowing review, including important information about the endpapers and footnotes Maillard included.

Middle-eastern Picturebooks

by Rukhsanna Guidroz
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

Leila is from Pakistan and takes us on a very sensory visit to her Naani’s (grandmother’s) house, with smells of curry, the clink of bangle bracelets, and the lovely soft feel of her grandmother’s many vibrantly colored scarves. Leila isn’t sure she likes her knobby knees and skinny arms, but she loves how being with her family makes her feel about herself.

a1l-cwaki-l-663x800by Mina Javaherbin
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars

Mina and her grandmother are inseparable and this autobiographical picture book is just one big love note to her grandma. In addition to describing the basket delivery system they rigged up from their third-floor apartment and helping her grandma make her chadors, Mina also remembers their neighbor Annette and her grandma, who are not Muslim, but who are great friends to them. Mina and Annette also discover that their grandmas pray for each other.

screenshot_20190521-130345_chromeby Supriya Kelkar
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars

Harpreet loves his colorful patkas (cloths used to make Sikh turbans) – until his family moves across the country, away from the beach and to a place where it snows. Now all he wants to wear is his white patka because he doesn’t feel like celebrating or having courage. But when he makes a new friend, he returns to his old self, and his old interest in expressing himself through his patka’s color.

Aquarium by Cynthia Alonso

9781452168753by Cynthia Alonso
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

My cousin had asked for recommendations for wordless books for her 4-year-old daughter. I gave her a bunch of authors/illustrators like Aaron Becker, Daniel Miyares, and David Wiesner, and she came back with Cynthia Alonso and Princesse Camcam. Aquarium is gorgeous artistically, though the story is relatively simple, but imaginative and great for a 3-4 year old.

Books About Love

We are now well into wedding season here in New England, so here are a few books about love that were on display at my wedding recently!


9780395071762I Like You by Sandol Stoddard Warburg
Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars

“I like you because
you are a good person
to like.”


9781524740917Love by Matt de la Pena
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars

This one may not seem like an obvious choice, other than the title, because it gets into what happens when you experience bad things, but the explanation is that you are loved and love carries you through the bad things.


9781452126999I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars

“I wish you more ups than downs. I wish you more give than take.”


9781442436077Love is You and Me by Monica Sheehan
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars

This book seems to be about two friends, but you could take it as spouses/partners. Just lovely.


9780062394446How Do I Love Thee? by Jennifer Adams
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

The text is the classic Elizabeth Barrett Browning poem; the illustrations are delightful.

The Sad Little Fact by Jonah Winter

9780525581796by Jonah Winter
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

Oh man. I am conflicted about how many stars to give this book. If we are looking at it purely as a picture book story for kids, then I would rank it maybe a 3 out of 5 stars. But if we are seeing it as part of this moment in time and a reaction to the political climate, I would say 5 out of 5 stars! I read this aloud to my “adults who read kids’ books” book club last night and we were all in stitches. We agreed that it earns the award for “least subtle picture book” – it stole the crown from The Wall in the Middle of The Book!

The eponymous fact in this story gets ignored and then worse, the Authorities claim it is not a fact and that it must say it is a lie! But the fact cannot do that, and so they lock it up in a box and bury it underground. But there it finds the other facts that have been buried, and together they break out. When they emerge, they find that the authorities have been producing lies and calling them facts. Even more heavy-handed are the actual facts, ranging from the benign “two plus two equals four” to “humans are descended from apes” to the blatant “humans are causing the earth to get warmer.” This book is not for the politically sensitive!

Lost in the Library by Josh Funk


by Josh Funk
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars

The two lions outside the New York Public Library come to life in this sweet tale. When Patience goes missing one morning, Fortitude finally ventures into the library to try and find him, going from room to room and interacting with the various famous features of the historic building. I loved that when Fortitude reunites with his pal Patience, he learns that Patience has been reading up stories to share with him. It’s a lovely homage to the NYPL, despite the fact that the layout may be different in the near future.

I loved Josh’s previous picture books, especially Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast and How to Code a Sandcastle, and this one did not disappoint. If anything, Josh’s rhyming has gotten even more impressive, with every stanza having an ABAB rhyming scheme (as opposed to ABCB in previous books). (In the interest of full disclosure, Josh is a friend, so I am especially aware of how hard he works on his rhymes, and how hard it is to get them right!) He makes them seem effortless, and the story is solid. A bit more grounded in reality than Lady Pancake, but no less creative for it.