I don’t believe this has been done before on Fab Book Reviews, but YES! Posting two great picture book series back-to-back! I was very lucky to have a pile of library holds come in over the last two weeks, and most were gorgeous, shiny, new and new-to-me picture books. Happy sigh. I hope you enjoy!
In no particular order, here are the recommended reads: Hyewon Yum’s Grandpa Across the Ocean is a soft and deeply beautiful and poignant story about a grandfather and a grandson- who live an ocean apart- who grow closer over a summer spent together. Yum’s artwork and storytelling is as thoughtful and tender as ever; the colour pencil illustrations are achingly lovely; and the intergenerational story is perfect for those who have had a chance to read Sennah Yee and Elaine Chen’s wonderful My Day with Gong Gong. Corey R. Tabor’s Snail Crossing is a terrifically funny picture book that had my daughter and I holding our tummies from giggling. (Snail Crossing will also have you repeating the phrase “Evasive maneuvers!” while laughing). The story centres on a determined, kind, and sweetly oblivious snail’s mission to get some cabbage that goes that goes awry yet also very right in this wonderful tale. Tabor is also the author of the delightful picture book Mel Fell- seek out both is you’d like some picture book joy! Up next is The Midnight Fair by Gideon Sterer, illustrated by Mariachiara Di Giorgio, a wordless picture book, presented in a comics-style layout, that unfurls a fantastical story featuring woodland creatures and their stupendous nighttime adventures at a traveling carnival. Truly stunning, with magnificent illustrative details, this is not to be missed. Summer Camp Critter Jitters, written by Jory John and illustrated by Liz Climo is the brilliant second tale featuring the anxious animal cast from First Day Critter Jitters. Perfect for summertime (and for those of us who can relate to over-thinking worriers!) this is an extremely funny and warmhearted story. If you’re in the mood for more funny picture books, then might I suggest taking a look at Julie Rowan-Zoch’s I’m A Hare, So There!?. A ground squirrel gets much more than they bargained for when they say hello to what they think is a rabbit, but turns out to be a HARE, H-A-R-E, so there!. Humorous and sly, with a cool study of dessert animals, Rowan-Zoch’s title is a winner. Readers who enjoyed Liz Wong’s I am NOT a Penguin: A Pangolin’s Lament might especially love I’m A Hare, So There!. I Am a Peaceful Goldfish, written by Shoshana Chaim, illustrated by Lori Joy Smith, is an effervescent and serene picture book all about using our breath and turning on our imagination to bring ourselves back to calm. When emotions take over and we “can’t calm down”, we can imagine ourselves as a goldfish, an elephant, “swinging wind chimes”, or even “a gentle dragon”; take deep, calming breaths and try to breathe out as those creatures and objects might do. A lovely picture book to use for mindfulness or as a calming exercise for read aloud (or at home!). Ben Zhu’s Dessert Island is wonderful picture book that makes the most of contrasting spreads and limited text to illustrate luck- and how quickly luck can turn in a matter of moments. The changing fortunes of Monkey, who lives on a dessert island, and Fox, who lives on a desert island, show readers just how suddenly fortunes can change (whether due to environment or other factors), and the importance and unexpected serendipity of helping someone in need. Last but definitely not least, Stephanie Graegin’s Fern and Otto: A Story About Two Best Friends is a marvellous story within a story (within stories!) that features a story-writing bear and cat who decides that he and his best friend need more EXCITEMENT and adventure in their lives (and in Fern’s stories). What readers discover, however, is that while Fern and Otto go on a trek to find capers it turns out that they have oodles of fairy tale stories happening all around them- if only they (well, Otto!) would stop for just a moment! So beautifully illustrated, with the sweetest and cleverest nods to fairy tale classics, there are endless scenes to explore and revisit here. Happy reading to you all- some extraordinary reads here!