In My Library Tote: January Picture Book Reviews and Recommendations

Just as I'm sharing all books read the previous month for my own reading recaps, I'm going to start doing the same for the picture books we read. For background if you're new here, I have a son who is four and in preschool, so I choose picture books that are age appropriate for him. My daughter Violet (15 months) also loves books, but will happily read the same four board books every day. Unless you want to read about how many times a person can read Moo Baa La La La in one day, I'll spare you from her book reviews and stick with what Jona and I have enjoyed.

{january recommended picture books}

{How to Find an Elephant by Kate Banks} What to pack, where to go, and what to do; this book has it all for your next elephant-finding adventure. I love when a book's illustrations enhance the story, and with an elephant cleverly hidden in each picture, they are the real star of the show for this excellent picture book. At 4, Jona is at an age where finding hidden pictures is challenging, yet fun, so he adored this one.

{Read the Book, Lemmings! by Ame Dyckman} We are big fans of Ame Dyckman around here. We enjoyed Boy + Bot, Wolfie the Bunny, and Horrible Bear, and her newest, Read the Book, Lemmings! was also a treat. Fox is reading a book about lemmings and learning that they, in fact, do not jump off cliffs. However, the lemmings he meets are illiterate and therefore unaware of this fact, plunging into the water whenever they hear the word "jump". Jona and I both found this hilarious, and the illustrations (by Zachariah OHora) are perfect.

{Leave Me Alone! by Vera Brosgol} A grandmother of a very large family has one goal in mind: to knit sweaters for her grandchildren for the upcoming winter. However, she keeps getting interrupted wherever she goes: at her house, in the woods, and even on the moon! Will she ever get those sweaters knit? I thought this one was the perfect balance of quirky (enjoyable for me) and all-out goofy (a plus for Jona), so we loved this one.

{Terrible Storm by Carol Otis Hurst} Shy Grandpa Fred and outgoing Grandpa Walt remember the Great Blizzard of 1888 from their younger days. Fred recalls being miserable, stuck in a houseful of people, while Walt had to wait out the storm in a lonely barn. This was a surprise hit for us. Jona usually likes stories packed with silliness or lots of action, and this didn't have much of either, but he was engrossed. I think it was fun for him to imagine getting so much snow that you have to dig your way out.

{Three Little Monkeys by Quentin Blake} Tim, Sam, and Lulu are Hilda's pet monkeys. Every day she leaves and tells them to be good, and every day she comes home to a complete disaster, with three monkeys staring at her with big eyes. I questioned Hilda's sanity a bit here, as she kept leaving the monkeys at home and then acting shocked when she came home to a mess. However, I thought the over-repetitive plot was redeemed by the illustrations (done by Emma Chichester Clark). The mischievous monkeys kept Jona coming back to this one, while I happily read it for the pictures.

{Snow by Cynthia Rylant} I tend to grumble a lot about winter (it's not my favorite) so I purposefully tried to choose books this month that embrace the season. It's impossible to be mad at the snow while reading this book, which so beautifully describes the many different kinds of white flakes that fall from the sky. While this one wasn't a favorite, Jona did like it and I think it enhanced his excitement for snowy days.

{Find the Dots by Andy Mansfield} Jona received this interactive picture book for Christmas, and it reminded me a little of Press Here. Each page asks the reader to find a certain number of dots, which is done by folding, twisting, and sliding parts of the page. Some pages are trickier than others, so it was fun to do together. Jona really enjoyed this one the first few times we read it, but once he knew how to find the dots on each page (or we forgot to "hide" the dots again after finding them) it wasn't as exciting.

{First Snow by Bomi Park} A little girl wakes up to the first snowy day of the year, bundles up, and sets out on a winter adventure through her yard and beyond. It's beautifully illustrated, with short, simple text. I think this would be a great one for a child at an age between my two: Violet still can't be trusted with non-board books, and it wasn't quite enough to hold Jona's interest.

Have you found any great picture books lately? Are there any books you love to read to your children (or that you loved as a child) that are perfect for winter?

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