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“The Little Tiger,” “Too Much” & “Today” + others — book reviews

December 17th, 2023


“Morning Light,” photo by Rawley/use with permission only

Well, good day, friends. Here are a few cool picture books, in case you’re looking for last-minute holiday gifts.

“The Little Tiger” is the latest in the “My Little Animal Friend” picture book series from author/illustrator Nicola Killen. (A Paula Wiseman Book/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2023, ages 4 and up, $17.99.) Killen studied children’s book illustration at Cambridge School of Art, and her work is light and beautiful. Her trademark little windows are included, and kids will get a kick out of Ollie, who receives the tiger suit she wanted for her birthday and gets to go on a magical journey.

  • “Too Much: My Great Big Native Family” is a cool new picture book from author Laurel Goodluck and illustrator Bridget George. (S&S Books for Young Readers, 2024, ages 4 and up, $18.99.) This delightful book introduces us to Russell, who is over the moon to have a part in the school play. But… “It’s Family Time.” Is anyone paying attention to Russell, and his news? Vivid and playful illustrations from Bridget George (Nimkiinagwaagankwe), who is an Anishinaabe artist from Kettle and Stony Point First Nation. Great artwork that makes Russell’s story come alive. Goodluck is the author of “Forever Cousins,” “Rock Your Mocs” and other works. She is Mandan and Hidatsa (from the prairies of North Dakota) and Tsimshian (from an Alaskan rainforest).

I really loved “Today,” a powerful and sweet book about mindfulness, for children and grown-ups of all ages. Written by Gabi Snyder, with illustrations by Stephanie Graegin (“The Long Ride Home,” the Heartwood Hotel series and other titles). (A Paula Wiseman Book, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2024, $18.99.)

  • Oh, hey, Santa! “Santa’s Gotta Go!” (written by Derrick Barnes, with illustrations by Courtney Lovett, Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin Random House, 2023, all ages, $18.99). Hysterically funny picture book about the Mack family, who think they want Santa to stay at their house — until he does. Turns out, he’s a rocker, and a little bit out of hand. How will they handle all the, uh, fun? Great title to add to your Christmas book collection.

“My Block Looks Like” is a fantastic new release from author Janelle Harper and painter and illustrator Frank Morrison (Viking/Penguin Random House, 2024, all ages, $18.99). Reminds me in the sweetest, best way of John Steptoe’s “Stevie,” a book I read (until the cover and pages were tattered) when I was a kid. The author/illustrator was only 19 when the book was published, and this gave me hope, as a young writer. Author Harper, a Bronx native, is “a proud veteran public school teacher.” Yes! And thank you. Morrison, who “started his journey as a graffiti artist in New Jersey” (practice and more practice for a young artist) and has now illustrated twenty-plus children’s books. Buy this one, and make sure you put out art supplies to go along with it.

  • “First Day, Worst Day,” is a funny, sad, kooky, sweet new illustrated chapter book. It’s from the “Very Worst Ever” series, by author Andy Nonamus and illustrator Amy Jindra (Little Simon, 2024, grades kinder and up, 117 pages, $6.99). Our hero will not tell us his name, mainly because he’s kinda shy and a little embarrassed, but hello, yes. He will share his day with us. Let’s go!

#Lastbutnotleast… If you’re looking for a wacky, whimsical graphic novel, check out David Ezra Stein’s “Beaky Barnes and the Devious Duck.” (Penguin Workshop/Penguin Random House, 2024, ages 4 and up, 118 pages, $18.99.) There’s a new duck in town, and he’s tricky. Better watch out, townspeople. Check out more of Stein’s work here. He’s good at drawing! as my students would say.

Bon appetit, talk soon,


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