Four picture books for young children
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The Best Place in the World by Petr Horácek: In this story, Hare’s friends try to convince him that their meadow is the best place in the world. Bear loves the honey from the bees. Duck likes swimming in the stream. But Hare knows that other places have streams and honey, too. At Owl’s suggestion, Hare travels over mountains, by rivers, through fields, to the sea, searching for the best place. Vivid mixed-media illustrations show these locations. Finally, lying under the stars, Hare realizes he had it all along: “The best place in the world is where your friends are.” (Ages 3-7) —Lauren Dunn
Baby Moses in a Basket by Caryn Yacowitz: Curious Ibis. Mama Hippo. Mighty Crocodile. This fresh perspective on a familiar Bible story features multiple animals that help baby Moses on his Nile River journey. This approach shows children that God’s creation is a gift to humanity and teaches them the many ways God watches over and cares for them. The simple yet beautiful lyrical poetry and Julie Downing’s soothing wildlife illustrations give both adults and children a sense of God’s peace. It’s a creative retelling that parents and children can read together again and again. (Ages 2-5) —Lauren Vanden Bosch
Slow Samson by Bethany Christou: Samson the sloth has a problem. He gets invited to lots of parties, but he always arrives late: He’s slow—and too busy helping friends along the way. When Samson hurries, he isn’t there when his friends need him—and he’s still too slow. One day, his friends plan a party even Samson can be on time for. In this story about friendship and failure, joy and despair, children learn the value of kindness and taking time for others—but not the importance of punctuality. Bright and cheery jungle scenes lighten the mood. (Ages 3-7) —Chloe Baker
Phoebe Dupree Is Coming to Tea! by Linda Ashman: Abby creates a perfect tea party that goes horribly wrong. She prepares the table meticulously but spills the treats, destroying the table in the process. But Phoebe doesn’t judge her, and they become better friends because of it. Abby learns an important lesson: Messing up is OK. Alea Marley’s colorful, digital illustrations look like paper dolls, and the poetic, lilting style makes the book easy to read. It brings high tea down to a little girl’s world and teaches that you don’t have to be perfect to make friends. (Ages 3-7) —Mary Muncy
In My Day With the Panye (Candlewick, 2021), Tami Charles depicts a young Haitian girl longing to wear a panye like her Manman (mother) as they walk to the market. She discovers the secret to balancing the heavy basket: perseverance. —Stephanie Morton
Hope Lim’s I Am a Bird (Candlewick, 2021) features a young girl singing like a bird as she pretends to fly from her perch on her father’s bike. She smiles at everyone she passes until a strange woman in a blue coat doesn’t smile back. The simple story prompts questions about seeing past differences. —Addie Michaelian
In Elizabeth Rusch’s Zee Grows a Tree (Candlewick, 2021), a girl and a Douglas fir seedling grow up together. Will Hillenbrand’s mixed-media illustrations show the girl caring for her tree: pruning, watering, and protecting it during a drought. Each page displays a text box with facts about Douglas firs. —Chloe Hendon
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