Spring is for new beginnings, friendships, flowers, and sharing picture books. These four books are perfect for family reading, and for keeping kids entertained if you’re sheltering in place during the coronavirus pandemic.
Hello, Neighbor! The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers
By Matthew Cordell
Hands up if you remember the neighborhood’s clanging trolley? Mr. McFeely and his speedy deliveries? Or perhaps you were enticed by the fairytale world of Daniel Striped Tiger. In his new picture book, Caldecott medalist Matthew Cordell (Wolf in the Snow) reminds us of all the reasons we love Fred Rogers. He was adored during his TV career and now a new audience will discover him though books that tell his story. Enhanced by endnotes of fascinating facts from the neighborhood and his life, the book and its illustrations have the intriguing feel of turning pages in a family scrapbook. This lovely reminder of the quiet, compassionate television host is the perfect book to encourage children to talk about kindness, about sadness, and about acceptance. The publisher’s recommended age for “Hello Neighbor!” is preschool through third grade, but a wide audience of fans and soon-to-be-fans will appreciate this authorized biography of Rogers.
Written by Minh Lê and illustrated by Dan Santat
It's the job of young Iris to push the elevator buttons in her building. “Up or down, our floor or the lobby,” she takes to the task, shows pride in her work, eagerly awaits the ride. But when her baby brother takes over touching the buttons and her parents not only allow but encourage this insult, she feels betrayed. Then she discovers a different kind of lift button, one discarded by the repairman. This mysterious, repurposed button is a magic cupboard, Max’s boat, and Narnia’s wardrobe door all rolled into one. Now Iris can travel to places she’s only dreamed of. The story is funny, poignant, and exciting, and Dan Santat’s graphic-novel like illustrations beg to be looked at more than once. Youngsters ages 4 to 8 and every grownup who shares this special family story with them will love “Lift.” My favorite line? “After all, everyone can use a lift sometimes.”
My Best Friend
Written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
Making a friend can be so sweetly uncomplicated when you’re skipping through the park or chalking sidewalks, and award-winning author Julie Fogliano and illustrator Jillian Tamaki’s new picture book celebrates the joy of a budding friendship. In “My Best Friend” (ages 4-8), two girls discover what fun it is to have a pal to sit with beneath a big tree or to turn your hands into quacking ducks together. The story plays out in muted greens and pinks that surprisingly pop right off the page. A pickle, a creepy hand made of leaves, shared strawberry ice cream – such perfect details make this a lap book to enjoy and read again and again. Watch for a surprising turn in the end that will make both reader and listener smile.
Follow the Recipe: Poems about Imagination, Celebration, and Cake
Written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
This picture book (ages 6-11) of culinary advice and clever tips is just the thing for budding poets and imaginative cooks. But instead of actual recipes for cake, cookies, or kohlrabi, award-winning author Margaret Singer offers exuberant pages brimming with words to savor. Marjorie Price’s illustrations are the perfect complement to this collection of both free verse and traditional poetry. Turn the pages and imagine spring asparagus as “grand marshals leading the parade of green” and hear the plink-plink-plink of shelling peas. Read “Follow the Recipe” once for the poems, return for the whimsically delightful illustrations, and come back when you need a bit of sage advice. A book to dip into more than once, to relish, or to share with a friend, this one goes nicely with a plate of fresh-baked cookies.