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Picture Books (preschool–grade 3)

It’s Our Garden: From Seeds to Harvest in a School Garden, written by and photographed by George Ancona (Candlewick)
Full-color photographs and no-nonsense prose (perfect for new readers) chronicle a year in the life of an elementary school garden; students compost soil, water plants, raise butterflies and sample edible delights. (K–3; 48 pages)

Alfie Is Not Afraid, by Patricia Carlin (Disney-Hyperion)
Dog Alfie's young owner claims Alfie isn't afraid of anything, which makes him a perfect camping companion. Readers can clearly see that the pup is the opposite of unafraid. The loyal friendship between boy and dog is apparent on every amusing page. (PreK; 32 pages)

Island: A Story of the Galápagos, by Jason Chin (Porter/Roaring Brook)
Witness the 6 million-year evolution of the Galápagos, from “birth” through “childhood” to “old age” and beyond. Gorgeous illustrations include sweeping double-page spreads and panels arranged to show dynamic changes. (K–3; 32 pages)

Shiver Me Timbers! Pirate Poems & Paintings, by Douglas Florian; illustrated by Robert Neubecker (Beach Lane/Simon)
Using typical pirate-speak, each poem explores a familiar aspect of pirate lore and takes it to a new level of rhythm and rhyme. Final lines are calculated to evoke a chuckle, and digitally colored India-ink illustrations play well with the light verse. (K–3; 32 pages)

Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey, by Mini Grey (Knopf)
Action-figure hero Traction Man and his sidekick Scrubbing Brush inhabit the fanciful world-within-a-world of a child’s creative play. Here they head to the beach for a day of scuba diving, picnic security duty and . . . makeovers? (K–3; 32 pages)

Water in the Park: A Book About Water & the Times of the Day, by Emily Jenkins; illustrated by Stephanie Graegin (Schwartz & Wade/Random)
Readers are treated to a busy day in the life of a New York City neighborhood park. Hour by hour, babies, big kids, grown-ups and animals come and go, all seeking relief from the heat in the park’s sprinklers, pond and puddles. (K–3; 40 pages)

This Is Not My Hat, by Jon Klassen (Candlewick)
In this 2013 Caldecott Award winner, a guilty-looking little fish has taken a tiny bowler hat from the head of a large sleeping fish. He explains why he won't be caught, but every claim he makes is belied by the darkly humorous pictures. (K–3; 40 pages)

Peep and Ducky, by David Martin (Candlewick)
Two bird pals meet in the park for an idyllic play date. Peep and Ducky romp in a mud puddle, have snacks, take a pee break (side by side on their port-a-potties), fight over a bucket until it breaks, apologize and dig in the sand. (PreK; 32 pages)


Take Me Out to the Yakyu, by Aaron Meshon (Atheneum)
A lucky boy gets to attend ballgames in both the U.S. and Japan (yakyu is Japanese for baseball). Spreads showcase differences between the two locales, setting up a quiet rhythm that’s thrillingly interrupted when both teams’ hitters get a home run. (PreK–3; 40 pages)

H.O.R.S.E.: A Game of Basketball and Imagination, by Christopher Myers (Egmont)
Two boys alternate describing the wildly impossible trick basketball shots they'll make — from the tops of buildings, after circumnavigating the globe and from outer space. Gouache painting and cut-paper collages encourage the imagination to take flight. (K–3; 32 pages)

The Best Bike Ride Ever, by James Proimos; illustrated by Johanna Wright (Dial)
While her parents are still delivering their safety warnings, Bonnie rides off on her new bike, climbing over bridges and mountains and visiting the Grand Canyon. In a neat twist, the homey landscapes show that the whole adventure takes place in Bonnie's backyard. (K–3; 32 pages)

Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle, by Chris Raschka (Schwartz & Wade/Random)
A young girl’s perseverance allows her to triumph over her two-wheeled vehicle. A grandfatherly figure’s encouragement makes up the second-person text; loose watercolors bespeak protection, urging, assistance and commiseration (after a fall). (PreK–3; 32 pages)

Picture a Tree, by Barbara Reid (Whitman)
“There is more than one way to picture a tree.” A series of vibrant Plasticine compositions focus readers’ attention on the shapes, colors and textures of trees; parallel to these tree portraits are interlinked human stories. (K–3; 32 pages)

Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems, by Marilyn Singer; illustrated by Josée Masse (Dial)
Poems offer two points of view on traditional fairy tales, reversing the lines of one poem to create another. Thus, the Little Mermaid’s dilemma: “For love / give up your voice. / Don’t / think twice” advises the first verse, while the second warns, “Think twice! / Don’t / give up your voice / for love.” (K–3; 32 pages)

The Dark, by Lemony Snicket; illustrated by Jon Klassen (Little, Brown)
Laszlo lives with the dark in a big house. When the comforting glow of his bedroom nightlight goes out, the dark comes to talk with Laszlo. Though the mood is ominous as the dark lures Laszlo into the basement, the resolution is bright and funny. (PreK–3; 40 pages)

Phoebe and Digger, by Tricia Springstubb (Candlewick)
Young Phoebe scores a toy truck (yay!) at the same time she acquires a baby sister (boo!). When her harried mother finally takes Phoebe and the (not-always-adorable) little baby to the park, Phoebe and Digger have a blast. Grade level: PS, K–3. 32 pages.

A Home for Bird, by Philip C. Stead (Porter/Roaring Brook)
A little wooden bird is thrown from the back of a moving truck. This bird soon meets a toad named Vernon, who seems to know that Bird is lost (even though he doesn’t speak) — and helps him find his way home as the story comes full circle. (K–3; 32 pages)

That Is NOT a Good Idea! by Mo Willems (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins)
Smarmy Mr. Fox asks an innocent-seeming goose to accompany him on a walk. As the fox lures the goose into his lair and closer to his cook pot, a chorus of goslings warns, “That is NOT a good idea!” The unexpected denouement comes with a flourish. (PreK; 48 pages)

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