Valerie Koehler, owner of Houston’s beloved Blue Willow Bookshop, hand-picks the best reading selections for kids.
Young Picture Books
Mr Tiger Goes Wild
written and illustrated by Peter Brown
Mr. Tiger lives an orderly life in town with his friends, animals dressed in Victorian attire, just as he is. He suddenly decides to walk on all fours instead of two feet and to live in the wild, as we know tigers do. Brown reminds us that it’s okay to be different.
Caterina And The Perfect Party
written and illustrated by Erin Etter Kono
Caterina is a bird with lists: things she likes and things she doesn’t like. Things to do and things not to do. When she plans her party, it’s going to the best party ever and nothing will go wrong. Of course, things go wrong, and Caterina learns that who you’re with is far more important than what you do. Lively illustrations add to a very cute story that reminds us all of this important message.
written and illustrated by Adam Rex
When a girl returns home from a family trip, she finds that the moon has followed her home and taken up residence in her backyard. It stays there and prohibits the sun from rising which leads to all kinds of problems. Gorgeous illustrations so real that we think this might happen to us, too. Perfect for bedtime or any time!
written and illustrated by Jeff Mack
Frog is settling in for a relaxing day at the pond. But wait—-there are other creatures at the pond as well. And some of them are out to get Frog. Not to worry, Frog gets the last laugh. Using only two letters, Mack brings his hallmark humor to this rollicking book.
The Very Inappropriate Word
by Jim Tobin, illustrated by Dave Coverly
Michael loves words. He collects, uses and shares new ones all the time. One day, he runs across the very inappropriate word @#*! Of course, he hears it everywhere and shares it with his friend. His teacher has just the right remedy to diffuse this oh-so-common childhood situation. A very appropriate picture book!
Maria Had A Little Llama
by Angela Dominguez
The classic rhyme retold in both English and Spanish with Maria’s little white llama replacing Mary’s lamb. Dominguez accompanies the simple text with sweet illustrations that highlight Peru’s landscape and culture.
Beatrice Spells Some Lulus and Learns to Write a Letter
by Cari Best, illustrated by Giselle Potter
Beatrice wants to write the kind of letters that start with “Dear Somebody,” but she only knows how to write letters like A B C T E R I E. Then her Nanny Hannah teaches her how to put the letters together to spell words, and Beatrice takes off on a spelling spree. An ideal story for youngsters learning to read and write.
The True Blue Scouts of SugarMan Swamp
by Kathi Appelt
This is the story of Sonny Boy Beaucoup, who wants to tear down the swamp to build an alligator wrestling arena, and raccoon brothers J’miah and Bingo, the scouts who guard the forest. Appelt’s characters and details of all the swamp denizens make this one of the richest stories of the year.
The Time Fetch
by Amy Herrick
When Edward mistakes a magical object for a common rock, and Feenix steals it, just to annoy him, they unleash a swarm of “scavengers” which devours time and attracts the attention of the dark powers of the universe. Only by forming an unlikely alliance, and joining forces with the athlete, Danton, and Brigit, the silent, shy new girl, might Edward and Feenix be able to save the world.
Flora & Ulysses
by Kate diCamillo
When neighbor Mrs. Tootie Tickham sucks up a squirrel in her brand-new birthday vacuum cleaner, Flora Belle Buckman resuscitates it, using knowledge she has gleaned from one of her favorite comic books, Terrible Things Can Happen to You! This is a laugh-out-loud tale filled with heart, hope, kooky characters, and impressive vocabulary as only Kate DiCamillo can deliver!
by D.J. McHale
Tucker Pierce likes life on Pemberwick Island, where he’s lived for the last five years. He’s even on the football team, as a freshman. But all of that comes crashing down around him when the starting tailback mysteriously collapses and dies on the field, and everyone is ordered quarantined on the island, a quarantine ruthlessly enforced by a secret branch of the Navy called SYLO. A suspenseful sci-fi thriller!
Just One Year
by Gayle Forman
There is nothing better than a “love-at-first-sight-happily-ever-after-story,” especially one coupled with a little bit of Shakespeare, but because she tells her stories as companion novels, Gayle Forman is able to delve into her characters’ pasts, thoughts, fears, hopes, and dreams. Just One Year explains Willem de Ruiter—who he is, where he came from, how he came to be this attractive, romantic, seemingly untethered European gypsy—but most importantly, we discover what has happened to him and what he’s been doing since those fabulous 24 hours he and Allyson spent together in Just One Day.
Rose Under Fire
by Elizabeth Wein
Rose Justice is an American ferry pilot working in the UK. Rose flies to France and ends up accidentally landing in Germany on the return flight. Suspected of being a French resistance fighter, she is sent to Ravensbruck, a notorious work camp. You will cheer for her under the most horrific circumstances. It’s another historical hit for those of us who are fascinated with learning about our past.