January’s Top Picks in Picture Books

Cockatoo Too

Move over Grinch, step aside Frosty and Rudolph, there’s a new stack in town! From mysterious crayon creatures and hopscotch-loving gorillas, to no-fail snooze recipes and classic Richard Scarry hijinks, our list of favorite picture books this month features every theme you need to stimulate busy little minds during the long snowy weeks ahead. Below are 10 perfectly good reasons to put “freshening up your kid’s bookshelf” at the top of your litany of well-intentioned resolutions.

Frankencrayon, by Michael Hall
Intended more for the young at heart than for the faint of heart, Frankencrayon flouts literary conventions, deeming it an extraordinary follow-up to Hall’s equally imaginative Red: A Crayon’s Story. An insidious red scribble mars the title page, and dooms the story from the start: “This picture book has been cancelled.” What follows is much more than a satisfying story about courageous crayons, as told by a wry pencil; this is a Greek drama, suffused with deadpan comedy and a brilliant plot-within-a-plot structure. And it’s probably going to be your new favorite book!

Silly Wonderful You, by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Patrick McDonnell
This fast-paced, action-packed reflection on parenthood comes, unexpectedly, in the form of a love letter from a mother to her spirited toddler. Clever rhymes underscored by ink illustrations reveal the many surprises, adventures, pitfalls, and triumphs we experience as new parents, with love as the consistent theme throughout. It’s a bedtime treat for all.

What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig, by Emma J. Virjan
Perfect for story time, or for your early reader’s solitary exploration, author-illustrator Virjan’s latest romp is not to be missed. At the outset, our unseen, unreliable narrator suggests that the story requires a pig. But we soon learn that a pig won’t be enough, and after several animals (and their inevitable antics) are thrown into the mix, the result is hilarious catastrophe, as well as a fun story of friendship and sharing.

Be a Friend, by Salina Yoon
In elementary school, being different can be isolating. Dennis is passionate about miming—and he idolizes Marcel Marceau—but he’s lonely and misunderstood. When Joy comes along, offering true friendship, Dennis begins to feel less self-conscious about his efforts to mime show-and-tell, and express himself with his hands on the playground. This tender story of individuality and friendship is as unique as it is beautiful.

Richard Scarry’s Funniest Storybook Ever!, by Richard Scarry
Filled with all of your favorite Busytown bloopers and beloved characters—from Ma Pig and Uncle Willie to Humperdink the Baker and Lowly Worm—this reprint of Scarry’s timeless classic is ready to bewitch a new generation of little readers.

Girl and Gorilla: Out and About, by Rick Walton and Joe Berger
On an ordinary day, in an ordinary city, a girl and her gorilla playmate have determined that a trip to the park is the perfect way to share their afternoon. The only hiccup is transportation—an unfortunate run-in with a trash can has demolished their shiny red bike! Resourceful gorilla has some potential solutions: Can they skip? Can they hopscotch? Will they ever get there? Walton and Berger’s simple text and digital art bring this warm tale to a satisfying conclusion.

Cockatoo Too, by Bethanie Deeney Murguia
Bring giggles back to story time with this silly, tongue-twisting romp through the jungle. Cockatoos and toucans in tutus skillfully dancing the cancan are just the beginning, for this delightful tale is brimming with clever wordplay and bold illustrations to energize and enthrall readers of all ages.

A Recipe for Bedtime, by Peter Bently and Sarah Massini
Bedtime is as easy as 1-2-3 with this adorably simple instructional manual. With nary a parent in sight, a responsible crew of forest friends undertakes the challenging task of getting a baby ready for bed, and their sweet efforts are a wonderful visual reminder to parents everywhere that anything can be done, if we simply do it one ingredient at a time.

Ella & Penguin Stick Together, by Megan Maynor and Rosalinde Bonnet
Ella can’t wait to give a set of glow-in-the-dark stickers to her pal Penguin. The only problem is that they have to go somewhere dark—by themselves!—in order to appreciate their luminescence. Will they be able to find a hideaway that’s dark and not so scary? In their delightful picture book debut, Maynor and Bonnet demonstrate that working through your fear is much better with a friend by your side.

Arctic White, by Danna Smith and Lee White
When you’re a girl growing up in the arctic, “everything is a shade of white.” That is, until you’re invited on a life-changing fishing expedition by your grandfather. The pair’s exciting journey takes them across the ice caps, as they draw ever closer to a perfect viewing place for the Northern Lights. Awash in dazzling blues and greens, their previously monochromatic world is transformed, and your little readers will be too.

What stories are you and your little ones curling up with in the new year?

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