The Cool Bean by Jory John; illustrated by Pete Oswald. 2019. Scanned watercolor textures and digital paint. Published by Harper Collins.
Brief summary: A bean admires his friends who are now cool beans. Everything they do is cool, and he wishes he was as cool. No matter how much he tries to match their coolness, he fails in comparison and begins to lose his self-esteem. One day, he drops his lunch in the cafeteria and was amazed that one of the cool beans helped him clean it up. He continues to have other mishaps and is helped by the cool beans. He regains his self-confidence and realizes that coolness isn’t about how one looks but about helping others.
Comments: The illustrations are hilarious. The story’s morale would appeal to young readers. Several bean puns.
These are a few others by this author/illustrator duo with funny life lessons to share:
Coming out in February 2020:
Spencer’s New Pet by Jessie Sima; illustrated by Jessie Sima. 2019. Illustrations rendered in Adobe Photoshop. Published Simon and Schuster.
Brief summary: A boy and his pet balloon dog do everything together being very careful to avoid any sharp objects. The inevitable does happen, but it’s afterwards that is surprising.
Comments: The colors used for this book are black, gray, white, and red. The beginning end pages are the 3-2-1- movie countdown. The book is divided into thirds and done in the silent movie frame style. This is a story without words.
Wordless stories are one of my favorite genres. I would share the book with the students in total silence explaining that the words are happening in our minds as I turn the pages. When the book ends, we then would go page-by-page taking turns of how the story unraveled.
For older students, I would show the book again using an ELMO this time up on the screen while they wrote the story. We would share with a neighbor.
Dude! by Aaron Reynolds; illustrated by Dan Santat. 2018. Published by Roaring Book Press.
Brief Summary: A beaver and platypus are surfing the waves when a shark approaches wanting to join them. Friend or foe? Will the mammals get to know the marine animal and become great surfing buddies?
Comments: The expressions on their faces are priceless and will bring many laughs to young readers. The only word is “dude” which is used many times with several different meanings conveyed by changing the fonts, all caps and small caps letters, and various punctuation after the word.
Teachers, librarians, and those reading to children— You will need to practice ahead of time to make sure you get the right voice tones, accents, and meanings across by saying “dude” in many ways you never considered saying before reading this book. A silly and fun read aloud.
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Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller; illustrated by Jen Hill. 2018. Published by Roaring Brook Press.
Brief summary: Tanisha spills grape juice on her dress during lunch. Everyone laughs except for one girl who remembers her mother telling her to be kind. So, she walks over to Tanisha and say, “Purple is my favorite color,” hoping the Tanisha would smile but she runs away instead. The young girl wonders what it means to be kind. What could she have done? She thinks about ways she has been kind to others and figures out how to make Tanisha feel better.
Comments: I like that this book examines HOW to be kind. Children are often told to be kind but may not necessarily know examples to follow.
Draw the Line by Kathryn Otoshi; illustrated by Kathryn Otoshi. 2017. Published by Roaring Brook Press.
Brief summary: Two boys are drawing a long line on the ground unaware of each other until they bump backs. They connect their lines and happily play with the rope they have made. One of the boys accidentally pulls the rope too hard causing the other one to fall. They end up in a tug of war with the center of their rope turning into a growing crevice separating them. They fall back to the ground with the line now on the ground with a larger canyon separating the boys as they argue with one another. One of the boys goes to where the line has the smallest gap and plays in the dirt. Delighted with getting dirty, he raises his muddy hand to the other boy who decides to join him. Soon all of the canyon is filled again as they play in the mud. They happily run off together into the sun to play.
Comments: This story without words can be easily understood by all. The four colors are black, grays, yellow(happy) and purple(angry). The illustrations often are twofold.
Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell; illustrated by Matthew Cordell. 2017. Pen, ink with watercolor. Published by Feiwel and Friends.
Brief summary: A young girl walks to school in the snow but leaves due to a blizzard. She gets lost in the whiteout at the same time a young wolf pup does too. They meet each other where she picks him up as the snow is too deep for him to walk. She follows the howling of wolves in the distance where she meets his mother. She puts the pup down before trying to head home to the lights in the distance. Exhausted, she curls up in the woods where the wolves sit around her howling back to her hound dog. Her mother finds her and all ends well.
Comments: What a great story without words picture books. Young readers will be in suspense as they wonder if the two will be able to survive the blizzard.
Robinson by Peter Sis; illustrated by Peter Sis. 2017. Pen, ink, and watercolor. Published by Scholastic Press.
Brief summary: As a boy, Peter Sis does not dress up like a pirate for the school costume party as all of his friends but instead, dresses up as his favorite adventurer, Robinson Crusoe. Excited to show everyone his great costume, he is let down by his friends’ teasing. He goes home to bed where he dreams of himself as Robinson stranded on an island. He awakens to his friends visiting with apologies and wanting to know more about Crusoe.
Comments: Good metaphor of the boy dreaming of being on an island alone without his friends just like Robinson. There is an author’s note in the back where Peter Sis shares his childhood story of him actually going to school dressed as Robinson Crusoe like the boy in his book.
The watercolors during his dream vibrantly fill the pages with several two-paged spreads.
There is a photo of Peter Sis dressed up as his favorite adventurer.
Baabwaa & Wooliam: A Tale of Literacy, Dental Hygiene, and Friendship by David Elliott; illustrated by Melissa Sweet. 2017. Watercolor, gouache, and mixed media. Published by Candlewick Press.
Brief summary: Wooliam loves to read, and Baabwaa loves to knit. The two sheep enjoy spending the days with their favorite activity until one day, Wooliam suggests that the two friends go on an adventure. They leave their trailer and have a walkabout of the field not going past the stone wall. They are just finishing their lunch of grass when a third sheep approaches with a dirty wool coat. “Run!” said Wooliam. “It’s that Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing I’ve read about.” The wolf chases but then stops, curious about what they had read about him. The sheep show him the book. After realizing the wolf cannot read, the sheep decide to teach him how to read and knit him a new coat. No good deed goes unpunished, but the three do arrive to harmony.
Comments: These two sheep decide to be kind and understanding to someone even though he has the reputation of eating them, has awful teeth, and is constantly chasing them around the field. A different viewpoint of the Big Bad Wolf.
I have the comment moderation turned on. Your comment will appear after it has been approved. Keep in mind that young readers may be reading about a picture book I reviewed, so I will not approve your comment if there is inappropriate language. Be kind; be polite. Think before you speak. No spam or ads. Because I am working as a library media specialist, it may take me a day to get back to my blog.
If you see that I made a typo or grammar error, please politely let me know. No need to be snarky. I am fully aware that I have an attention span of a hummingbird and miss things when I proofread.
Give Me Back My Book! by Travis Foster and Ethan Long. 2017. Digitally illustrated. Published by Chronicle Books.
Brief summary: Redd and Bloo argue over who is the owner of a green colored book. Bloo believes the book Redd is reading is actually his. They discover evidence indicating it actually does belong to one of them. Bookworm comes out of her hole in the middle of their arguing and steals the book from the two. She hides in her hole out of the reach of the two friends. Redd and Bloo decide after trying to get the book back from Bookworm and failing to make a better book to entice Bookworm to trade. She does and the two run off to read their book together until another argument occurs.
Comments: I believe that this book will do well in any elementary school library where fighting over books happens daily. This book could be read to students to teach how to share a book.
All Kinds of Friends by Shelley Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly. 2017. Photography. Published by Millbrook Press.
Brief summary: Through simple text, this book explores all kinds of friends one can have.
Comments: This teaches how there are different types of friends. It talks about the characters a friend could have like funny or tall. The book talks about where you may have different friends like at school or in a family. It explores the fun activities friends like to do like dress up or pretend. I liked that it explained that sometimes we can be sad or mad with our friends. I will definitely be buying this book to share with my elementary students. The photographs really caught the true facial expressions of the friends.
(I may receive a small commission for purchases made with links in this post through the Amazon Affiliate Program. Books in this picture book blog are not sent to me in exchange for a review, but instead, are checked out from a public library).