Lost

Usher, Sam. Lost. Somerville, Massachusetts: Templar Books, an imprint of Candlewick Press, 2022, ©2021.
A new day brings new adventures despite the miserably cold weather. A little boy trots along with his grandfather and ends up on a grand journey through a snowstorm to find a lost dog. The combination of narration and conversation, the full-page expressive illustrations, the size and style of the font, the placement of sentences on the pages, the zany adventure, and the little bit of wisdom at the end all combine to create another brilliant picture book by Sam Usher. Highly recommended as a read-aloud for ages 4 to 9.

Another picture book by Sam Usher

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Wild

Usher, Sam. Wild. Somerville, Massachusetts: Templar Books, an imprint of Candlewick Press, 2021.
A picture book by Candlewick is always worth picking up. This picture book is such fun that it’s worth picking up again and again. At least it is if you know cats. And like cats. A little boy wakes up to a ‘take care of the cat’ day with his grandfather. Sounds easy. Until the cat arrives with its own ideas. Like all great picture books, the illustrations – full of delightful details – tell as much as the words. Highly recommended for cat lovers 4 to 11 years old. P.S. If you have a new baby in the house, you might like to read this book, too. 

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Mystery Bottle

Balouch, Kristen. Mystery Bottle. Northampton, MA: Crocodile Books, an imprint of Interlink Publishing Group, Inc., 2022.
What do you own that reminds you of another place, another person, another time? A boy in New York opens a package from Iran. Inside is a little bottle. And out of that bottle comes a wind that carries him from Brooklyn all the way to Tehran and into the arms of his loving grandfather. This beautifully designed picture book, a winner of the Ezra Jack Keats Award, is highly recommended for imaginative readers 5 to 9 years old. 

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A Boy Named Isamu

Yang, James. A Boy Named Isamu. New York, New York: Viking, 2021.
Do you enjoy observing the world around you? Do you like wondering about what you see? Are you ever alone but not lonely because you are busy thinking? Isamu is a boy whose imagination can fill an entire day in this elegant picture book inspired by the life of the artist Isamu Noguchi. Photographs and an author’s note at the end tell more about the Japanese American sculptor and landscape designer born in 1904. Recommended for children who are full of their own questions about the world.

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I’d Like to Be the Window for a Wise Old Dog

Stead, Philip. I’d Like to be the Window for a Wise Old Dog. New York: Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2022.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be someone else? Be something else?  What would it be like to bring joy to someone else? Bring safety to someone else? Not for fame but simply out of love. This wonderfully imaginative picture book is an extraordinary example of other-centredness. You can find endless lesson plans on empathy. Instead, read this book aloud. Then start a conversation.

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Everything by Philip Stead is lovely: encouraging, hopeful, and life-affirming. Read these books, too…

Etty Darwin and the Four Pebble Problem

Soloy, Lauren. Etty Darwin and the Four Pebble Problem. Toronto: Tundra, 2021.
Where do you like to go when you want to think about big questions? Do you have a favourite place where your imagination can fly and your mind can ponder? Etty and her father, Charles Darwin, like to take a daily walk in their garden. They observe plants and animals and talk about big questions. Like this one: Do fairies exist? Etty’s father prefers proof before believing something is real, but Etty reminds him that he can’t disprove the existence of fairies. The two of them decide to keep an open mind.
This imaginative picture book – with an afterward explaining a bit about the real life of Charles Darwin – is highly recommended for readers 6 to 11 years old who have their own curious questions about life. 

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Lizzy and the Clouds

Fan Brothers. Lizzy and the Cloud. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2022.

Another wonderfully imaginative picture book by Terry and Eric Fan. Lizzy spends a Saturday at the park, where she purchases a cloud. Not a fancy cloud – not a rabbit or a fish or a parrot – but an ordinary cloud that comes with a list of six instructions, and the first is “Name your cloud.” Lizzy carefully cares for Milo, who grows and grows until it is time to follow the last instruction: “Never confine a cloud to a small space.”
Younger readers will enjoy the whimsical creativity and laugh. Older readers can read this story as a metaphor for life. Highly recommended for all ages! 

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