Animals, Picture Books

6 Picture Books for Kids With February Birthdays

February is known for its short span, frigid temperatures, and the sagging late-winter spirits it can sometimes inspire, which is perhaps why it’s filled with so many oddball, minor holidays to gin us all up: Groundhog Day! Valentine’s Day! Leap Day! If your child enjoys a February birthday, they already know their month is one of the best. Here are 11 picture books to help celebrate the essence of the shortest month of the year.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz

Judith Viorst is a prolific author who will celebrate her 88th birthday on February 2. This is her best-known book, the beloved story of a boy named Alexander who wakes up cranky with gum in his hair to immediate skateboard-induced calamity. Alexander’s day goes from bad to worse as his friends ditch him, his mom forgets to put dessert in his lunch box, and lima beans are served for dinner. Hopefully your birthday kid will have a wonderful, spectacular, splendid, very good birthday, and reading this book will be a part of it.

 

A Birthday for Frances by Russell Hoban and Lillian Hoban

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/birthday-for-frances-russell-hoban/1101967345?ean=9780060837976#/

Russell Hoban, author of the beloved Frances books about a badger girl and her family, was born February 4, 1925 in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. Hoban died in 2011, but kids still love Frances, nearly 60 years after she first appeared in a book. In this story, Frances’s mother is busy preparing for Frances’s little sister Gloria’s birthday. Frances doesn’t like all the attention being directed away from her, but she decides to buy Gloria a present…and only eat half of it on the way home.

 

Art and Max by David Wiesner

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/art-max-david-wiesner/1102153954?ean=9780618756636

Author and illustrator David Wiesner will celebrate his 63rd birthday on February 5. In this delightful, hilarious story, two lizards named Arthur and Max meet up in saguaro-cactus dotted desert. Arthur, who has a refined, patrician air (don’t call him Art!) is painting a portrait. Max, who is bumbling and over-excited, wants to paint too. When vain Arthur suggests Max paint him, Max does so, literally, kicking off a hysterical chain of events. This book makes an excellent birthday present, especially when accompanied with art supplies!

 

Take Your Time by Eva Furrow, Donna Jo Napoli, and Laurel Molk

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/take-your-time-eva-furrow/1123426215?ean=9780805095210

Donna Jo Napoli, who will turn 71 on February 28, wrote this story of Harriet, a Galápagos tortoise, with her daughter Eva Furrow, whose insight into animals comes from her work teaching veterinary medicine at the University of Minnesota. In this charming, vibrantly illustrated tale, Harriet does everything slowly—”She was in no hurry. There was plenty to see along the way.” The mother-daughter duo based this story on a real Galápagos tortoise named Harriet who was brought to Australia in the 1800s and died in 2006 at an estimated age of 175! Over all those years, Harriet must have scored a lot of birthday cake.

 

I Spy Little Toys by Jean Marzollo and Walter Wick

 

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/i-spy-little-toys-jean-marzollo/1100569235?ean=9780545220965#/

If you and your child have ever been enchanted by the intricate creations in the I Spy series, you have Walter Wick to thank. Wick, who stages and photographs the busy constructions to accompany Jean Marzollo’s rhymes, will celebrate his 66th birthday on February 23. I Spy Little Toys is the perfect gift for birthday kids with toys on their mind.

 

Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox

Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox

Hardcover $14.95

Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox

By Susan Blackaby
Illustrator Carmen Segovia

Hardcover $14.95

Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox, by Susan Blackaby and Carmen Segovia
The spirit animal of a decent percentage of kids with February birthdays has to be the groundhog. This book, loosely based on Aesop’s fable of the fox and the cat, shows the groundhog in an august light—Brownie Groundhog not only manages to out-fox a fox, she does so with intelligence, compassion, and style. The adventure starts when Brownie wakes up on February second and decides to go out. A fox immediately sees her and declares, “I’m trying to eat you for breakfast.” Brownie convinces him it’s too late for breakfast, and dissuades him from eating her in other ways until she’s got him tied up with her red scarf to a tree. He cries in hunger as she leaves, and instead of saying, “Well, that’s what you deserve you nasty carnivore!” she shares her lunch with him. From a safe distance. While the fox is still tied up.

Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox, by Susan Blackaby and Carmen Segovia
The spirit animal of a decent percentage of kids with February birthdays has to be the groundhog. This book, loosely based on Aesop’s fable of the fox and the cat, shows the groundhog in an august light—Brownie Groundhog not only manages to out-fox a fox, she does so with intelligence, compassion, and style. The adventure starts when Brownie wakes up on February second and decides to go out. A fox immediately sees her and declares, “I’m trying to eat you for breakfast.” Brownie convinces him it’s too late for breakfast, and dissuades him from eating her in other ways until she’s got him tied up with her red scarf to a tree. He cries in hunger as she leaves, and instead of saying, “Well, that’s what you deserve you nasty carnivore!” she shares her lunch with him. From a safe distance. While the fox is still tied up.

Groundhog's Day Off

Groundhog's Day Off

Hardcover $18.99

Groundhog's Day Off

By Robb Pearlman
Illustrator Brett Helquist

In Stock Online

Hardcover $18.99

Groundhog’s Day Off, by Robb Pearlman and Brett Helquist
Maybe your February birthday kid isn’t as crafty and together as Brownie. Maybe she’s more like the groundhog in this story, who feels unappreciated. Groundhog has an important role to fulfill every Groundhog’s Day, but grows weary of people only asking about the weather. Tired of the subject—and who wouldn’t be?—Groundhog decides to take a beach vacation. While he’s gone, the town tries to find another animal to replace him in the winter-ending ritual, but none will do. In his absence, Groundhog finally discovers that he is truly appreciated, and not just as a weather predictor, but as a person—er, animal. This story is kind of like an It’s A Wonderful Life, February edition.

Groundhog’s Day Off, by Robb Pearlman and Brett Helquist
Maybe your February birthday kid isn’t as crafty and together as Brownie. Maybe she’s more like the groundhog in this story, who feels unappreciated. Groundhog has an important role to fulfill every Groundhog’s Day, but grows weary of people only asking about the weather. Tired of the subject—and who wouldn’t be?—Groundhog decides to take a beach vacation. While he’s gone, the town tries to find another animal to replace him in the winter-ending ritual, but none will do. In his absence, Groundhog finally discovers that he is truly appreciated, and not just as a weather predictor, but as a person—er, animal. This story is kind of like an It’s A Wonderful Life, February edition.

The Valentine Bears

The Valentine Bears

Paperback $9.99

The Valentine Bears

By Eve Bunting
Illustrator Jan Brett

In Stock Online

Paperback $9.99

The Valentine Bears, by Eve Bunting and Jan Brett
It seems like I barely get the Groundhog’s Day decorations down each year before Valentine’s Day rolls around. In this classic Valentine’s Day book, Mrs. Bear realizes she and Mr. Bear always hibernate through Valentine’s Day, and they’ve never celebrated it together. She determines that this year, she will make Valentine’s Day special for Mr. Bear, and makes valentines and puts aside honey for him. But when she tries to wake him up, none of her methods work, and he begs for another five weeks of sleep. She resorts to pulling his ears and fetching a can of frigid water to dump on him before Mr. Bear wakes up with a “Gift of the Magi”—worthy surprise for her too. It involves chocolate-covered ants.

The Valentine Bears, by Eve Bunting and Jan Brett
It seems like I barely get the Groundhog’s Day decorations down each year before Valentine’s Day rolls around. In this classic Valentine’s Day book, Mrs. Bear realizes she and Mr. Bear always hibernate through Valentine’s Day, and they’ve never celebrated it together. She determines that this year, she will make Valentine’s Day special for Mr. Bear, and makes valentines and puts aside honey for him. But when she tries to wake him up, none of her methods work, and he begs for another five weeks of sleep. She resorts to pulling his ears and fetching a can of frigid water to dump on him before Mr. Bear wakes up with a “Gift of the Magi”—worthy surprise for her too. It involves chocolate-covered ants.

The Gashlycrumb Tinies

The Gashlycrumb Tinies

Hardcover $11.99 $13.00

The Gashlycrumb Tinies

By Edward Gorey

In Stock Online

Hardcover $11.99 $13.00

The Gashlycrumb Tinies, by Edward Gorey
Distinctive illustrator Edward Gorey was born on Feburary 22, 1925. He’s known for his irresistible goth-Victorian pen-and-ink drawings. If your February birthday kid loves dark humor, check out Gorey’s The Gashlycrumb Tinies, an alphabet book that features 26 children who’ve met untimely demises, from “A is for Amy who fell down the stairs,” and “B is Basil, assaulted by bears,” to “Z is for Zillah, who drank too much gin.” Like I said, dark. But also witty, intricate, atmospheric and one-of-a-kind. If you or your kid can emphasize with Neville, “who died of ennui,” then you’ve already spent far too many days without this book in your life.

The Gashlycrumb Tinies, by Edward Gorey
Distinctive illustrator Edward Gorey was born on Feburary 22, 1925. He’s known for his irresistible goth-Victorian pen-and-ink drawings. If your February birthday kid loves dark humor, check out Gorey’s The Gashlycrumb Tinies, an alphabet book that features 26 children who’ve met untimely demises, from “A is for Amy who fell down the stairs,” and “B is Basil, assaulted by bears,” to “Z is for Zillah, who drank too much gin.” Like I said, dark. But also witty, intricate, atmospheric and one-of-a-kind. If you or your kid can emphasize with Neville, “who died of ennui,” then you’ve already spent far too many days without this book in your life.

That Is My Dream!: A picture book of Langston Hughes's "Dream Variation"

That Is My Dream!: A picture book of Langston Hughes's "Dream Variation"

Hardcover $18.99

That Is My Dream!: A picture book of Langston Hughes's "Dream Variation"

By Langston Hughes
Illustrator Daniel Miyares

In Stock Online

Hardcover $18.99

That is My Dream, by Langston Hughes & Daniel Miyares
One of our country’s finest poets, Langston Hughes, was born on Feburary 1, 1902. This gorgeous book, featuring luminous watercolor illustrations, introduces kids to Hughes’ poem “Dream Variations.” In this poem, the speaker dreams of relaxation, rest, and joy. “To fling my arms wide/ In some place of the sun,/ To whirl and to dance/ Till the white day is done.” In Daniel Miyares’ illustrations, set during the Jim Crow era, a young black boy notices a white boy and the distance that society keeps between them, and imagines the two of them into a friendship.

That is My Dream, by Langston Hughes & Daniel Miyares
One of our country’s finest poets, Langston Hughes, was born on Feburary 1, 1902. This gorgeous book, featuring luminous watercolor illustrations, introduces kids to Hughes’ poem “Dream Variations.” In this poem, the speaker dreams of relaxation, rest, and joy. “To fling my arms wide/ In some place of the sun,/ To whirl and to dance/ Till the white day is done.” In Daniel Miyares’ illustrations, set during the Jim Crow era, a young black boy notices a white boy and the distance that society keeps between them, and imagines the two of them into a friendship.

Poetry for Young People: Langston Hughes

Poetry for Young People: Langston Hughes

Hardcover $15.49 $16.95

Poetry for Young People: Langston Hughes

Illustrator Benny Andrews
Editor David Roessel , Arnold Rampersad

In Stock Online

Hardcover $15.49 $16.95

Poetry for Young People: Langston Hughes, by David Roessel, Arnold Rampersad, and Benny Andrews
If your February birthday kid’s interest is piqued about Langston Hughes by That is My Dream, try this one for a deep dive into the many wonderful poems he wrote that are accessible to children, as well as a biographical sketch. If your child is inspired to write poetry after reading all these examples, a terrific poetry exercise for kids is to read Hughes’ “Theme for English B,” follow its model, and replace the details the young Langston gives about his life to his English teacher—from what he likes to do to what he likes “for a Christmas present”—with the child’s own preferences. You might even ask them these questions once a year, on their birthday, and watch how their tastes evolve as the years spin by.

Poetry for Young People: Langston Hughes, by David Roessel, Arnold Rampersad, and Benny Andrews
If your February birthday kid’s interest is piqued about Langston Hughes by That is My Dream, try this one for a deep dive into the many wonderful poems he wrote that are accessible to children, as well as a biographical sketch. If your child is inspired to write poetry after reading all these examples, a terrific poetry exercise for kids is to read Hughes’ “Theme for English B,” follow its model, and replace the details the young Langston gives about his life to his English teacher—from what he likes to do to what he likes “for a Christmas present”—with the child’s own preferences. You might even ask them these questions once a year, on their birthday, and watch how their tastes evolve as the years spin by.

 What books would you recommend for February birthdays?