In My Library Tote: May Picture Book Reviews and Recommendations

At my house, you can judge a successful library haul for Jona when library books beat out superhero books in the regular reading rotation. It used to be rare, but it's happening more and more. Could it be that the superheroes are losing their powers? Or am I getting better at picking good books? Or, is it just like most everything else Jona develops an interest in: the passion is strong for about a month and then he's ready to move on to the next thing. Except Legos. The Lego-love is still intense.

Anyway, here are the picture books we read in May.

{May picture books}





{A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee} I picked this one up on a whim because it was sitting in the "Need More Books?" basket by the checkout kiosk at my library. (That basket gets me every time! The answer to "need more books?" is always, of course, yes.) Frazee also wrote The Boss Baby, which Jona loved, so I figured it was worth trying. Let me tell you, he adored this book! It's about James and Eamon, who stay with Eamon's grandparents so they can go to a week-long nature camp. It turns out that the boys are less interested in nature and the great outdoors than Eamon's grandpa hoped, but they end up having the best time anyway. It's a perfectly illustrated story of summer and friendship through a kid's eyes, and my kid couldn't get enough of it.

{The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Jerry Pinkney} I remember the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff from when I was little, so I'm not surprised that Jona loves it too. We've read another version before at Grandma and Grandpa's house, but I heard good things about the illustrations in Pinkney's book. This one did not let us down; Jona deemed the troll "scary, but not too scary" and requested to read about the billy goats just about every night. The Three Billy Goats Gruff proves that sometimes the classics are a classic for a reason.

{Spoon by Amy Krouse Rosenthal} Little Spoon is beginning to have some doubts about his place in the world. He sees Fork, Knife, and even the Chopsticks, and imagines that they have it so much better than he does. Take the lucky Knife, for example, who gets to both cut AND spread. At the same time, the other silverware is experiencing similar envy, but they're envious of Spoon and all he gets to do, like bang on pots and pans. His mother listens and reminds him of all the things that make him special. Jona's favorite part was when Spoon can't sleep and gets to "spoon" with his family--he thought it was hilarious that "spooning" is a real thing. At first I think he thought I was totally making it up!

{The Littlest Viking by Alexandra Penfold} I talked about The Littlest Viking in my May Favorites post, as it was my favorite picture book of the month. Jona enjoyed it, but it was firmly in the "like" category, not the "must read as much as possible" one that Two Boys and the Billy Goats were in. Regardless, it was still an excellent book about a little viking whose title for being the loudest and fiercest is being threatened... by his baby sister. It was equal parts funny and sweet, and the way the little viking, Sven, was able to stop the warrior princess's loud wails with a story melted my heart.


{That's How! by Christoph Niemann} The creative illustrations do all the talking in this book with few words. In it, a little girl ask how various things work and the little boy explains via the picture on the page. However, you just have to see one illustration to realize this isn't a scientific "how things work" book; instead, the inner workings of the objects, like diggers and trains, are explained in a zany yet creative way. For example, a digger clearly works because a rabbit sits inside it, holding a snake that opens its mouth to dig. I did see some criticism about this book regarding the fact that the boy is the one always providing the creative explanation, but rather than a gender dynamic, what I felt was more of an older-younger sibling dynamic. However, it would have been nice to see "little sister" come up with some explanations of her own. Regardless, this was still a fun book that we enjoyed. 

{The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle} I chose this book to go along with what Jona had been learning about plants preschool. They have a garden that the kids help plant, and they also spent a lot of time in the classroom talking about how plants grow and what they need to live. While I do think this book is great for spring and is a great accompaniment to lessons on seeds and plants, it didn't really hold Jona's interest. I got this on the tail end of their "plant life cycle" unit, and it's possible that Jona was a little tired of hearing about plants, and wanted his at-home reading to be about more exciting things, like billy goats and superheroes. 

{Room for Bear by Ciara Gavin} I had a coupon code for a free box from Bookroo, a children's book subscription service. I chose the picture book option for Jona, and this was one of the books in the box. A bear moves in with a family of ducks during the spring, but since a duck house isn't quite suited for a bear, they decide to try to find a new place together. It's a sweet, adorably illustrated story about what it means to be a family, especially an unconventional one. I loved this one, but based on lack of requests for it, I don't think it was Jona's favorite. It's quite possible that he has way too many options to choose from right now and a few are getting lost in the shuffle. 

{Pirate's Lullaby: Mutiny at Bedtime by Marcie Wessels} This was the second book in Jona's Bookroo box. It's about a little pirate who doesn't want to go to bed, and he employs his most pirate-y tactics for stalling bedtime, as all kids are inclined to do. The rhyming text makes it enjoyable for little ones to listen to, and perfect for bedtime. This is another one that unfortunately was forgotten about at my house, but I'm planning to put it on the top of the stack. I do think it's a fun one for any pirate-loving, bedtime-hating little one. 

Have you read any good picture books lately? How do you handle keeping your reading stacks fresh without overwhelming your children with options? I feel like Jona's book selection right now may be a bit out of control. I've also been checking out picture books for my children's lit library class, which only adds to the chaos (and the fun!). 

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