The Cold Little Voice by Alison Hughes; illustrated by Jan Dolby. 2019. Published by Clockwise Press.
Brief summary: A child shares with the young reader about a voice that is constantly negative and defeating. The cold voice constantly lists everything wrong about the child and never any positive traits. Another voice speaks up from somewhere deep inside pointing out all of the wonderful things about the child.
Comments: I think this book could really help a child find that positive self-lifting voice by addressing and discussing what to do when the negative voice tries to dominate. I noticed how the cold little voice became larger on the page as the story progressed and toke over the whole page. Those pages are illustrated with darker colors.
When the positive voice surfaces, it is yellow and warm. The pages are brighter. The voice of doubt is controlled.
This book could be shared one-on-one with a child (or even during a school’s mental health assembly) who needs a little help with self-esteem, sadness, or depression.
A good conversation starter.
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:
The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes and Vanessa Brantley-Newton. 2019. Hand drawn; colored using Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter. Published by Nancy Paulsen Books.
Brief summary: It is the first day of kindergarten for a young boy. He brushes his teeth, dresses himself, and eats breakfast with his family. He is ready to be the king of kindergarten as his carriage arrives to take him to the fortress. He meets his teacher and finds his own seat while getting to know new friends. He learns and plays with imagination throughout the day and can’t wait to go back the next day.
Comments: Royalty jargon and analogies throughout the book. This is a positive story to build a child’s self-esteem a bit before going to the first day.
The illustration are with bright colors and with happy faces. There are many two-paged layouts.
It may be necessary to remind the young reader(s) that there are other kings and queens attending kindergarten class that day too.
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.
Little i by Michael Hall; illustrated by Michael Hall. 2017. Digitally combined collages of painted and cut paper. Published by Greenwillow Books.
Brief summary: Little i’s dot fell off, rolled down a hill, over a cliff and into the sea. Little i swims across the sea to an island where he discovers !s, *s, and ,s. He finds the dot but is confused of why it does not fit anymore and goes home without it to tell his alphabet friends how the journey has changed the letter.
Comments: So stinking cute! The ending is adorable. I plan to pause a lot while reading this book to my students to make sure they see how the letters are on the page and get the little puns and play on words and punctuation. The letters spell out their words and conversations several times as well, so I suggest that the young reader is able to see the pages.
Happy Dreamer by Peter H. Reynolds; illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. 2017. Digital illustrations with pastels; hand-lettered text. Published by Orchard Books
Brief summary: A young student tells how he dreams even when the world tells him to be still. He explains how he is a loud dreamer and a quiet dreamer and can dream wherever and whenever.
Comments: There is a two page fold out with all the ways to dream. This looks like another hit for Peter H. Reynolds. The illustrations are soft and smooth with pastels. The students and teachers love The Dot and Ish at my school. I can’t wait to read this one to them.
The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do by Ashley Spires; illustrated by Ashley Spires. 2017. Published by Kids Can Press.
Brief summary: Lou and her friends love to use their imaginations together during play time and go on all sorts of adventures. But when Lou’s friends decide to climb a tree to play, she comes up with many excuses of why she cannot join them instead of admitting she is afraid or has never climbed a tree. Lou convinces herself that she really doesn’t want to climb the tree. Her friends kindly offer to show her how to climb a tree. She tries but is not successful on her attempt. Her compassionate and empathetic friends take the game to another place outside. Lou keeps working on climbing the tree leaving the reader wondering if she will be successful.
Comments: A good read aloud to encourage trying something, failing, but trying again. Growth mindset example of how we can always learn new things even if they are scary at times. Students would also see an example of compassionate friends who do not make fun of Lou but instead, encourage and help her. Ashley Spires’ The Most Magnificent Thing is also a great story of teaching perseverance and imagination. She is also the author of the graphic novel series titled Binky. I look forward to seeing more picture books by this author/illustrator.
(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).
The Ugly Dumpling by Stephanie Campisi; illustrated by Shahar Kober. 2016. Hand lettering.
Brief summary: Dumpling thought it was ugly, because it did not look like the other dumplings. A cockroach from the Chinese restaurant befriends the dumpling showing the beauty around them which led the dumpling to understand it was actually a steamed bun and fit right in with the other buns. Customers spot the cockroach causing them both to leave.
Comments: A cute and humorous retelling of the classic The Ugly Duckling. I will buy this to use for the folklore unit of study, but it could be used for friendship and self-esteem talks with the school counselor.