Attack Cats, Time Machine Beds, and Cooking for the Whole Neighborhood: 9 New Picture Books We Love

Everybody needs a friend, and several of these ten new picture books depict the many different forms that friendship can take, whether your kid’s favorite pal is another kid, a dog, a cat, or a horse. And sometimes kids need courage to overcome challenges, as several of these books address, whether that means going to sleep without being afraid, heading back to school, or seeing a military parent leave for deployment.

Moon! Earth’s Best Friend, by Stacy McAnulty and Stevie Lewis
Stacy McAnulty has a knack for making astronomy accessible and fun for kids, in her books Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years, and Sun! One in a Billion, and now this vibrant picture book about the moon. Learn about how the moon was formed, its phases, the moons of other planets, and how the tug of the moon’s gravity keeps the earth spinning gently and the ocean’s tides coming and going. The moon seems to glow right off the page in Stevie Lewis’s endearing illustrations that highlight the enduring friendship between Earth and its moon.

Dogs and Their People, by Anne Lambelet
Speaking of best friends, did you ever notice how some dogs look like their owners? Anne Lambelet has, and in this book she tells the story of a little girl who likes to take the long way home from school just so she can study dogs and their owners. Sometimes the pairs match, as does an old lady feeding pigeons with her droopy-eyed basset hound, and sometimes the pairs contrast, such as a certain tall gentleman and his little pug: “Augustus Pennyfarthing is very little, and his owner, Sir Archibald Pennyfarthing, is very big, but everyone knows which one of them is really in charge.” Lambelet’s stylish, intricate, pen-and-ink illustrations bring these pet-and-people pairs and their delightful, formal, old-fashioned world to life.

Max Attacks, by Kathi Appett and Penelope Dullaghan
If you prefer cats to dogs, it just might be because cats can so closely mimic the behavior of their wild relatives. Max, the blue, feline star of this book, lies in wait under the sofa for his chance to pounce. He’s especially interested in the family fish bowl. “Like a dozen kitty wishes, midst the bubbles swish the fishes.” But he’s not particular—he’ll chase a toy bird, overturn a basket of socks, and endlessly vex his dog companion. Penelope Dullaghan’s bright paintings convey the energy of a cat who’s always on the lookout for his next conquest…or sunbeam nap.

Pony Poems for Little Pony Lovers, by Cari Meister and Sara Rhys
There are dog people, there are cat people, and then there are pony people, specifically little people who love to beg their parents, “Can I have a pony?” Whether the answer to that question for your children is yes or no, they are sure to love this book that pairs a different pony with a different child in each rhyming poem, showcasing their unique personalities. There’s Gentle Gwen, a “giant” who is “taller than a tree,” and Nibbles, a pony who nibbles at his owner’s hair and sleeves “until a treat’s released” and Sheena, a racing pony. Kids will find a pony to match the personality of animals they know, or those they wish they knew.

Bilal Cooks Daal, by Aisha Saeed and Anoosha Syed
Good things come to those who wait in this charming book about a little boy’s favorite food, and the endless wait to taste it while it cooks. Bilal is out riding his bike in the middle of the day when his father calls him in to help make dinner. Bilal’s friends don’t understand why he’d have to start cooking so early, so he shows them. “This dish takes patience,” Bilal’s dad explains, and Bilal walks his friends through the preparation of “the best meal of all,” daal. The kids begin with lentils, add plenty of spices, and wait for the magic to happen. Bilal is worried that his friends might not like his special food—but he needn’t fret. Before the daal is ready—after a day full of hopscotch, swimming, and hiking—a whole troop of neighborhood kids are lined up to sample its savory goodness.

Back to School, by Maya Ajmera and John D. Ivanko
The summer always seems to pass too fast for kids. If your children are dragging their feet and rolling their eyes at the prospect of heading back to school, this delightful book should inspire them. Back to School is filled with photos of what school looks like for children all around the world. Children in the Amazon rain forest wear colorful headdresses and beads, some kids in India attend night school, writing on chalkboard slates by the light of a lantern, and a little girl in the Australian Outback learns her lessons through a radio. Kids in Mongolia ride their camels to school, and some in Myanmar take a boat. Despite all the different ways in which children learn across the globe, it’s clear that for all kids, school is a place to make friends, have fun, and study hard. Part of the proceeds from the sale of this book will benefit the Global Fund for Children.

The Great Gran Plan, by Elli Woollard and Steven Lenton
Fans of fairy tales will enjoy this funny, rhyming story that mashes up the tales of the Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks, and Little Red Riding Hood. The drama kicks off when the Big Bad Wolf comes to blow in the brick house of a little pig. He can’t do it, and after he leaves, the pig finds a menacing to-do list that the wolf dropped, with an ominous item unchecked: “Gobble Red Riding Hood’s gran nice and hot!” The gallant pig determines to save Grandma but learns that ladies don’t get to be Grandma’s age in fairytale land without developing a few savvy defenses of their own.

Hold Hands, by Sara Varon
Every kid knows it’s a good idea to hold hands when crossing the street. But are there other times when it’s important to hold hands? Sara Varon’s funny story answers this question with an enthusiastic yes. Her amusing illustrations feature animals holding hands for a variety of occasions, such as “when you need a pal, or when one needs you.” Or even just when you’re eating cheese. Holding hands instills safety, confidence, comfort, and joy, so why not find a pal to hold hands with right now?

It’s Not a Bed, It’s A Time Machine, by Mickey Rapkin and Teresa Martinez
Bedtime is an occasion when some kids might want to hold hands…but their parents know it’s time to detach and get some rest. As this story begins, a little boy’s mom tucks him in bed and tells him, “Be brave. You’re the boss of bedtime.” The boy isn’t so sure, but his stuffed rabbit Floppy convinces him that his bed is a time machine. “Think about it!” Floppy says. “You brush your teeth, get under the covers, and then what? Bam! It’s morning. Where did the hours go?” Floppy and his boy visit the time of dinosaurs, and when they wake up, they aren’t certain that it was a dream.

What picture books are you excited to curl up with at storytime tonight?

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