I have a treat for you today. Jen Pino from Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, California has ten picture book gems she recommends! Jen is a passionate bookseller and a delightful person, and I thought it would be neat to find out what picture books are on her radar right now, and have her pass them along to you!
I love that this book features ALL TYPES of jobs. When you are little, I feel like you only get exposed to the jobs your parents do, firefighters, doctors, police, and teachers. This book has so many more. This includes working for the Mountain Rescue Service, being an Operational Planner or even….a Bookseller!!
This is another amazing non-fiction title! Each page features a different way an object is made. Some examples are: a spoon, bread, and a t-shirt! The pages have basic summaries at first, then you can lift the flaps to get even more details!
This book is charming. I instantly fell in love with Sophia and her quest to own a giraffe. Several family members stand in the way of her desire, but Sophia, not one to be easily dissuaded, provides multiple arguments, complete with presentations, pie charts and stellar vocabulary, as she makes her case. Colorful, engaging pictures enhance the book’s delight. Additionally, this book serves as a tremendous resource of SAT worthy vocabulary.
Daniel Miyares has been one of my favorite illustrators for a while. Whenever he has something new coming out, I am eager to see what it’s going to be. In this, budding curiosity turns into a beautiful friendship. When the colors on the page go from black and white to warm shades, I get chills. So so good.
This is a super funny book for all the little super villains in your life. Dylan strives to be the “very best and cleverest super-villain in the whole wide world.” But will Addison Van Malice and some purple parsnip preserves stand in the way of that?
This is another book that gives me chills each time I read it. I never knew what Grand Central had to go through to be the station it is today. Furthermore, I had no idea how much work Jackie Kennedy did, over the course of 3 years, in order to save it from being demolished. I loved learning about how much Americans cared about Grand Central and how it started a movement to save other landmarks across the states.
Panda Pants by Jacqueline Davies, illustrated by Sydney Hanson ( 2016).
Baby Panda wants pants. When his father doesn’t understand why a Panda would need pants, baby Panda illustrates exactly why they would come in handy. However, even if on the surface this could be a book about choosing an outfit for the day, it’s underlying themes could be used to go even deeper. I could see Teachers and Parents using this book as a way to help children own who they are and who they want to be.
I was thrilled to see that this book features characters as diverse as an airport actually is. In calm, but informative text, this book narrates exactly the kinds of things a child might face when traveling to, entering an airport, or boarding a plane. Everything that a child might have a question about (regarding airports), is in this book.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE Kelly DiPucchio. I think everything she touches turns to gold. This book is about a terrible dragon who cannot be tamed. However, turns out our dragon has a soft side for stories! Dragon’s face cracks me up as he “pretends not to listen” to the hero and friend he could be. This is for troublemakers and softies alike.
Jen Pino works at the oldest and largest independent bookstore in Southern California, Vroman’s Bookstore. She’s worked there for almost 7 years and loves all things related to children’s books. Check out her blog: Confessions of a Starstruck Bookseller, where she shares what’s new at Vroman’s Bookstore, reviews books, features gift guides, and showcases booksellers!
Thank you, Jen, for sharing these picture book gems with us!
Bigger, also by Eleonora Marton. A super inventive foldout poster kind of book that’s also a ruler. It’s totally hands on and encourages guessing and measuring all kinds of stuff. You kind of have to see this one to understand it—but it’s great!
Me: A Compendium from Wee Society. This is a visual diary that inspires thinking, drawing, and recording.
Journal Sparks by Emily Neuburger. Emily has such a knack for bringing art and ideas to life for kids. This book is no different. It’s full of activities for noticing, for creating, for contemplating.
(Emily stopped by last summer to make potato prints with another activity book!)
Who What Where? by Olivier Tallec. This one is mind-bendingly brilliant and great for practicing observation skills.
Read All About It by Alice Bowsher. This one’s really unusual: a pamphlet that gives you everything you need to write and design your own newspaper pages! Plus, stickers. What fun (and perfect for budding journalists).
I’m giving away three of these activity books! Read All About It,Bigger, and Rosie Revere’s Big Project Book for Bold Engineers (pictured below) are all going to one lucky winer. Simply leave a comment below to be entered to win. (North America only; ends midnight PST Saturday, June 3rd.)
I adore this book! A mouse is helping Polar Bear find his lost underwear. Each page has a cut-out that shows somebody’s underwear on the next page and the reader can guess whose it is. But it’s usually not Polar Bear’s! Not until the surprising end, which feels like a magic trick. (Also, underwear is inherently funny.)
This book has a wonderful sense of scale and color as well as inventive typeface. Plus, an underdog to root for. And then, a delightful reversal I didn’t see coming on a first read. Captivating in every way.
I adore this inventive, quirky story so much. It’s all about Toto the worm trying to get a hard to reach apple in a nearby tree. Toto “gets busy” with a few different creative tricks to get closer to the apple. But the ending, well, you probably won’t see it coming, and that’s why it’s so very satisfying.
The image below kind of gives away the surprise. Essentially, you’re following all these wonderful creatures talking about what’s great and not so great about being a unicorn or Bigfoot or robot, but then it turns out the creatures were really kids, playing in their imaginations. And then, there’s a final spread that’s a pretty fun surprise for the dad in the book too.
A bunch of animals are trying to step over the tiger to avoid waking the big cat. They even enlist the use of balloons in order to float to safety! But, in the end they do wake him up. And you might not expect what happens next.
One look and I was smitten with this one. Cats! That vibrant color palette! But there’s more. Stacking cats to do math—yes!
This picture book counts cats. And stacks cats. And adds cats. And then subtracts them from the big stack they’ve tumbled out of when they do cat-like things: napping, climbing, and playing hide and seek.
Full of the cutest cats and and tons of playfulness, this one charmed me with its style, simplicity, and STEAM education applications.
BoyGirlParty is the home of Susie Ghahremani’s adorable shop full of pins and onesies and more. She’s also got a great portfolio of art and illustration as well. And now, her very own picture book.
(You can even buy a onesie with a stack of cats by Susie!)
Stack the Cats has craft written all over it. And math craft at that! Plus, the last line is: “How will you stack the cats?” That calls for clay cats to stack in order to answer.
Stack them, add them, subtract them, try to make the biggest stack you can without it toppling over—so much fun stuff to do with these clay cats, including crafting them to start.
What you need:
Clay! I used the kind that doesn’t need to harden in the oven—plastalina modeling clay.
Wax paper to make sure the surface you work on doesn’t get messy.
A butter knife (I used it to portion out the clay; take care with kids.)
There are no set instructions here. I typically started by sculpting the body. I took a portion of the clay in the size I wanted and rolled it into a ball, then squashed it flatter and kind of squared off the head a bit.
Next, the tail! Take a smaller portion of clay and roll it into a cylinder shape. Then affix it to the tail end of the body.
Next, ears. I took a small bit of clay and pinched one end to make the triangle shape, flattening out the whole piece. Time for eyes. I rolled tiny balls of clay in my hand and then pushed each onto the cat’s face until it was a disk. You can make whiskers or little noses or add embellishments to the ears and body or tail, too.
One cool effect I liked was combining two clay colors by rolling them together, then making the cat from that clay mixture (see the cat on the top of the middle stack and the middle of the far right stack).
You might also be interested in this clay Your Alien craft I made for All The Wonders a while back!