By GreatSchools Staff
Mr. Popper's Penguins is one of those classic childhood books kids always remember — it ranks up there with Charlotte's Web and James and the Giant Peach. The chapter book's witty (albeit dated) dialogue, clever characters, and ethical predicament make it as enjoyable today as it was in the 1930s (it was a 1939 Newbery Honor Book winner). In fact, many teachers use it as part of their language arts curriculum. A good fit for most first- and second-grade readers, Mr. Popper's Penguins can also be read aloud to kindergartners. 139 pages.
Everybody's busy: Lulu's older brother won't let her tag along because she is too little, and Mom and Dad don't have time. What's a girl to do? Enter Lulu's alter ego: Ladybug Girl. Complete with wings and a ladybug polka-dot skirt, Ladybug Girl and her faithful sidekick, the family basset hound that is never too busy, go off on their own adventures saving the yard from danger. With wonderful illustrations accompanying the hilarious text, Ladybug Girl is one of my favorite picture books and a riotous read. 40 pages.
Preschoolers and kindergartners are sure to fall in love with this rhythmic read-aloud. If your little one is mesmerized by animals of the jungle, this book is a must-have. Travel on a jungle adventure with a small group of ants, and see what wild animals you may encounter. Could it be a lion, a zebra, or an elephant, too? Look inside and a surprise is waiting for you.
— Jennifer Thompson
Jennifer Thompson is a reading specialist for the Manassas City Public Schools in Virginia.
This gentle, rhyming story about a boy who is a regular visitor to the king and queen might well become one of your child's favorites. Each time the boy goes to visit, he politely asks to bring a friend. Each time the king and queen tell him that any friend of his is welcome — though his choice of friends will surprise and amuse your child. A Caldecott Medal winner. 48 pages.
Hilarious Seussian text and zany pictures to match — a great pleasure to read aloud. This book questions the wisdom of tampering with nature and may prompt discussions about weather. The merits of apologizing are pointed out through well-crafted writing. 48 pages.
Actual Size, by Steve Jenkins
Houghton Mifflin (2004), $8.95
Amazon / IndieBound / Powell's
There are many books about animals for children, but none that provide information about their relative sizes in such a meaningful way. Caldecott Medal-winning author Steve Jenkins uses his unique cut-and-torn-paper illustrations to show readers the actual size of a collection of animals. Smaller creatures like the atlas moth fit comfortably on the page, but the head of the saltwater crocodile requires a fold-out, and the head of the Siberian tiger extends off of two large pages! Text is minimal, usually restricted to statistics about the size of each creature, but there are additional notes about the animals at the end of the book. 34 pages.
— Ellen Phillips
Ellen Phillips holds a master's degree in library and information management and has been a librarian in California's Saddleback Valley Unified School District for 22 years.
One of the sweetest, homiest, and most quietly comforting picture books ever published. Those who know The Maggie B. count it as one of their all-time favorites. If you are just about to discover it, get ready to buy multiple copies to give to every child of picture-book age. 32 pages.
— Danielle Marshall and the Kids' Team at Powells.com
Danielle Marshall is a former longtime bookseller, most notably for Powell's Books in Portland, Ore.
Regards to the Man in the Moon, by Ezra Keats
Simon and Schuster (1981), $15.99
Amazon / IndieBound / Powell's
This high-flying adventure keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Vibrant collages reflect the limitless possibilities of a child's imagination. A revitalizing dose of fantasy for kids. 40 pages.
This reissue about a father/daughter switch (he's tired of his job in advertising; she's tired of kindergarten) is just as fresh and funny as it when it was first published 24 years ago. A new generation of parents and children will welcome the return of its tart humor and expressive, detailed pencil illustrations. 32 pages.