Picture Book Reviews & Titles to Celebrate Friendship, Love & Kindness

Valentine’s Day is indeed coming up, and it’s typically a time when picture books with themes about friendship, gentle meditations on love, and stories about being kind to one another are often in higher than usual demand! I thought now would be a great time to look at some new picture books fitting the themes mentioned above, as well as make some updates to one of my book lists: Picture Book Picks: Friendship, Love & Kindness.

Let’s start by taking a look at three love and friendship-themed books, courtesy of my friends at Raincoast Books!

 

Crafty Llama: A Story About Crafting, Friendship, and the Very Best Gifts by Mike Kerr, illus. Renata Liwska. The Canadian duo of Mike Kerr and author-illustrator Renata Liwska (The Loud Book! written by Deborah Underwood, and Red Wagon) bring readers a story starring the very crafty and thoughtful Llama. One “lovely, sunny day”, Llama decides she should “do something special”, but cannot decide what that should be. As Llama takes her time to think, she spins wool and knits…and knits…and knits. A few friends see Llama knitting, and join together- each doing their own kind of crafting. When their friend Beaver- who only likes to makes things that he feels are useful- can’t decide what to do with his gifted knit, his own particular and functional way of spending thinking time leads to a few important discoveries. A story about appreciating having fun together with friends, and understanding that making things that are beautiful can also be useful, this is a sweet and gentle tale buoyed by Liwksa’s wonderfully soft, distinct art style.

Robot in Love by T.L. McBeth. The illustrator behind the wonderful Stegothesaurus (written by Bridget Heos) debuts as author and illustrator with an energetic and zany story featuring love-struck Robot. Standing on Electric Ave. one day, Robot sees something that changes everything for him. His eyes widen, he gasps, and lets readers know that he has seen someone so beautiful and so shiny…he is in love. Readers wonder who it is that has caught Robot’s heart-filled eyes and has caused such tremendous distraction in Robot’s life! As Robot’s system speeds into overload, and he declines talking to this special someone out of shyness, the curiosity about who Robot is in love with heightens and heightens…and when readers finally find out who it is (and we sure do!), it is giggle-inducing reveal, leading to perfectly oddball moments and its own particular kind of sweet- and funny- ending.

Claris: The Chicest Mouse in Paris by Megan Hess. Noted fashion illustrator, designer, and art director Megan Hess (who has taken on clients from Versace to Vanity Fair, Bergdorf Goodman to Fendi, and authored and illustrated multiple books), turns to the world of picture books with an utterly charming story told in rhyme, featuring the incredibly chic mouse Claris. When we meet Claris, she is living “in the mountains of France”, and dreaming of “moving to Paris”. A chance encounter with “a hot air balloon, like a golden soufflé, bearing two stylish frogs, one in a beret”, finally lands Claris in her dream city. It seems, however, that the new dwelling she chooses for herself- with a glorious view of the Eiffel Tower- is also home to what appears to be a scary cat with a seemingly terrible owner! Thinking that her time in Paris might be brief and disastrous, things take a turn to a wonderful and very chic surprise after Claris very bravely assists the cat in a time of distress. Claris is truly perfect for readers of any age who adore whimsy, magical, fairytale-like stories, filled with kindness and fabulous fashion in the pages of their picture books.

Now, in addition to the three titles above, here (in no particular order) are more picture book titles, board books, and readers that I would add to my Picture Book Picks: Friendship, Love & Kindness. I’ll leave a list of the titles from the original book list below!

Up the Mountain Path by Marianne Dubuc
Cyril and Pat by Emily Gravett
Drawn Together by Minh Lê, illus. Dan Santat
This Is Not a Valentine by Carter Higgins, illus. Lucy Ruth Cummins
The Unexpected Love Story of Alfred Fiddleduckling by Timothy Basil Ering
I Walk with Vanessa: A Story About A Simple Act of Kindness by Kerascoët
The Rough Patch by Brian Lies
Before I Leave by Jessixa Bagley
Dino Duckling by Alison Murray
Nugget and Fang: Friends Forever or Snack Time? by Tammi Sauer, illus. Michael Slack
How to Grow a Friend by Sara Gillingham
Two Tall Houses by Gianna Marino
Giraffe and Bird Together Again by Rebecca Bender
Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev, illus. Taeeun Yoo
We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins
I Hate My Cats (A Love Story) by Davide Cali, illus. Anna Pirolli
The Dress and the Girl by Camille Andros, illus. Julie Morstad
Luis and Tabitha by Stephanie Campisi, illus. Hollie Mengert
Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, illus. Ebony Glenn
Fox and Raccoon (Juniper Hollow) by Lesley-Anne Green
How to Make Friends with a Ghost by Rebecca Green
The Remember Balloons by Jessie Oliveros, illus. Dana Wolfekotte
Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse by Marcy Campbell, illus. Corinna Luyken
Squid and Octopus: Friends for Always by Tao Nyeu
Ida, Always by Caron Levis, illus. Charles Santoso
Yeti and the Bird by Nadia Shireen
Buddy and Earl (series) by Maureen Fergus, illus. Carey Sookocheff
My Friends Make Me Happy! (The Giggle Gang) by Jan Thomas
I Really Like Slop! (Elephant & Piggie) by Mo Willems
Will Ladybug Hug? by Hilary Leung
We Belong Together by Joyce Wan
More Than Balloons by Lorna Crozier, illus. Rachelle Anne Miller
Little You by Richard Van Camp, illus. Julie Flett
My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith, illus. Julie Flett

 

Titles on the original book list:

Scrawny Cat by Phyllis Root, illus. Alison Friend
Plant a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illus. Peter H. Reynolds
Chopsticks by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illus. Scott Magoon
Katie Loves the Kittens by John Himmelman
Chick ‘n’ Pug by Jennifer Sattler
Say Hello to Zorro! by Carter Goodrich
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, illus. E.B. Lewis
Bear’s New Friend by Karma Wilson, illus. Jane Chapman
Gossie and Gertie by Olivier Dunrea
Mr. Pusskins: A Love Story by Sam Lloyd
The Bear Who Shared by Catherine Rayner
A Kiss Like This by Mary Murphy
Oliver by Birgitta Sif
Henry in Love by Peter McCarty
I’m Not. by Pam Smallcomb, illus. Robery Weinstock
City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems, illus. Jon J. Muth
Boy & Bot by Ame Dyckman, illus. Dan Yaccarino
Friends by Eric Carle
Enemy Pie by Derek Munson, illus. Tara Calahan King
South by Patrick McDonnell
Hug Machine by Scott Campbell
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
Jennifer Jones Won’t Leave Me Alone by Frieda Wishinsky, illus. Neal Layton
A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, illus. Erin E. Stead
Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers
The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers
The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee
Princess Hyacinth: The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated by Florence Parry Heide, illus. Lane Smith
A Splendid Friend, Indeed by Suzanne Bloom
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney, illus. Anita Jeram
Very Special Friends by Jane Chapman
Boot & Shoe by Marla Frazee
A Home for Bird by Philip C. Stead
My Friend is Sad by Mo Willems
Sylvia and Bird by Catherine Rayner
Harris Finds His Feet by Catherine Rayner
Forever Friends by Carin Berger
Owl Babies by Martin Waddell, illus. Patrick Benson
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, illus. Ruth E. Harper, illus. Nancy M. Leak
Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend by Melanie Watt
The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems
Hooray for Amanda & Her Alligator! by Mo Willems
You Will Be My Friend! by Peter Brown

 

I received copies of Crafty Llama, Robot in Love, and Claris: The Chicest Mouse in Paris courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own. The titles have been published and are currently available. 

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