The Land of Forgotten Girls

Sol and her little sister, Ming, live with their abusive stepmother, Vea, in a small Louisiana town. They emigrated with the girls’ father, but their dad returned to the Philippines and hasn’t come back. Sol once believed the stories spun by their late mother about their adventurous Auntie Jove. She now knows Auntie Jove is a fantasy, but she tells the stories to Ming and Ming becomes convinced that Auntie Jove is coming to rescue them. A book that vividly depicts realities of emotional abuse and economic hardship is ultimately not about either of these things.

My Heart Fills with Happiness

“My heart fills with happiness when … ” A comforting board book offers young children the opportunity for reflection, and for affirmation, too. Moments of happiness tucked into each and every day celebrated here include time with family (“I see the face of someone I love”), self-expression (“I sing”), and the natural world (“I walk barefoot in the grass”).

Anna and the Swallow Man

Seven-year-old Anna is captivated by the tall stranger she meets on the streets of Krakow. Maybe it’s because he is kind to her; maybe it’s that he speaks many languages, like she does; maybe it’s the way he charms a small bird. On her own since the Germans took her father, Anna follows him and the two become unlikely traveling companions.


Lonely Peter’s only friend is Pax, the fox he found as an orphaned pup and raised. And Pax, who has never really known the wild world, is completely dependent on Peter. The two are separated when Peter’s dad, about to join the war, takes him to live with his grandfather miles away. Pax, abandoned on the side of the road, has to survive on his own. Peter runs away from his grandfather’s house, determined to find Pax, but an accident lays him up in the home of Vola, a reclusive veteran.

My Book of Birds

Geraldo Valério’s lifelong love of birds inspired this enticing album of 50 North American birds, many of which he’d never seen until moving to Canada from Brazil. “Learning about birds makes me happy,” he notes in his introduction. His delight is evident and infectious on every page of this volume that combines eye-catching, colorful collage art with conversational text providing brief descriptions of each bird in language that is both appreciative and precise.

Over the Ocean

“What is over the ocean? Maybe there is more ocean over the ocean.” A small girl standing on the shore of a seemingly endless sea ponders what might be on the other side. Farms? Cities full of tall buildings or small houses? Kids? If so, what might they be like? Are there animals she’s never seen, or a fair with fun rides? Is there night, and stars, or a country made of ice? Maybe there’s a beach, like the one she’s standing on.

How the Sun Got to Coco’s House

“While Coco slept far away, the sun crept up slowly behind a hill, paused for a moment, and seemed to think twice … before it plunged down the other side and skidded giddily across the water.” Bob Graham once again displays his masterful ability to extend a small series of moments into an expansive picture book, in this case one that traverses the globe describing the journey of the sun from east to west, across artic snow and frozen tundra, touching the tip of an airplane wing, meeting rain over a desert, passing over a small village in mountains.

Hiawatha and the Peacemaker

Hiawatha is consumed by thoughts of revenge after his village is burned and his wife and children killed by Onondaga Chief Tadoaho. Then a leader called the Peacemaker convinces him that unity, not fighting, is the path to take, and asks Hiawatha to help him carry his message of peace among the nations of the Iro-quois. They travel in turn to the Cayuga, Seneca, Oneida, Mohawk, and finally, the Onondaga.

Ragweed’s Farm Dog Handbook

A how-to handbook offering sage advice from an experienced farm dog begins, “Here’s the first thing you need to know: The rooster wakes the farmer early in the morning. That’s his job. That’s not your job. Don’t wake the farmer. You will really, really want to wake the farmer … If you DO wake the farmer, you can get a biscuit just to go away.” Each lesson proves to be a slight variation on this theme as Ragweed, one of the most entertaining and authentic canine narrator’s ever to speak from the pages of a picture book, lays out who does what on the farm, what not to do as a farm dog, and how doing it anyway will generally result in a biscuit (or three!).

The Marvels

Almost the first two-thirds of this hefty novel is told through black-and-white illustrations depicting generations of the Marvels, a theater family in England, from 1766 to 1900. A jump to 1990 begins the prose narrative in which Joseph, cold, wet, and sick, arrives on the doorstop of his Uncle Albert’s Victorian home in London after running away from boarding school. He doesn’t really know Uncle Albert, but Joseph’s parents are traveling outside the country, so he stays. Uncle Albert’s neighbor, a girl named Frankie, strikes up a friendship with Joseph, and the two of them begin trying to string together information about a famous theater family, the Marvels, who clearly once lived in the house, which is a living museum in their honor.