Working on writing picture books myself, I tend to gravitate toward books that incorporate humor and heart — stories that have light-hearted moments but leave children (and us!) with a relatable message and reason to come back. Here are a few favorite new picture books you may want to make room on the shelf for (or just add “build another shelf” to your spring cleaning to-do list).
XO, OX: A Love Story by Adam Rex (Ages 4-8)
For some time now I have wanted to write a letter to say how much I admire you. You are so graceful and fine. Even when you are running from tigers you are like a ballerina who is running away from tigers.
I think that what I’m trying to say is that I love you.
And so begins XO, OX: A Love Story — a story told through laugh-out-loud letters written back and forth by a gazelle-struck ox and a stuck-up gazelle with a penchant for form letters. Will this love story have a happy ending? Pick up XO, OX: A Love Story to find out. Extra love points for this book as it is illustrated by Scott Campbell, the author and illustrator of the adorable Hug Machine. *Adam Rex is also the author of School’s First Day of School – a great story about the first day of school jitters with a twist (it’s told from the school’s perspective!).
Antoinette by Kelly DiPucchio (Ages 4-8)
As a big fan of Kelly DiPucchio’s books, I was excited to see the follow up to Gaston come out this winter. Antoinette, a poodle, played a role in Gaston – but now it’s her time to shine. Antoinette is raised in a family of French bulldogs, who all have special talents, leaving her to wonder what makes her special. Follow Antoinette – in a story packed with humor (the dogs’ names alone!) and sweetness – on her quest to discover just why she’s one-of-a-kind. Oh and by the way, the setting is Paris. What’s not to love about that?
Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite by Stacy McAnulty (Ages 3-7)
Mr. Fuzzbuster (Lily’s cat) is positive he is Lily’s favorite. Well, that is until some of the other household pets (a fish, frog, bird and dog) start making the same claim. True to a cat’s curious nature, Mr. Fuzzbuster sets out to try to set the record straight (he writes a note to Lily in his “best paw writing.”) Will the outcome be in his favor? You’ll have to read this heartwarming and hilarious story to find out! Fun fact: this book is illustrated by Edward Hemingway (Ernest Hemingway’s grandson).
BunnyBear by Andrea Loney (Ages 4-8)
Bear is definitely a bear (he looks like a bear, acts like a bear), BUT, on the inside he feels like a bunny and calls himself BunnyBear, even wiggling his nose and nibbling on strawberries when alone in the forest. The bears don’t get him, and the bunnies don’t understand him either. Join BunnyBear as he tries to find a place to belong and someone who “gets” him. BunnyBear is a sweet story (the humor is more gentle in this one) about acceptance (don’t we all need more stories with that theme these days?!) that is well worth the read!
We Are the Dinosaurs by Laurie Berkner (Ages 4-8)
Earning a glowing review in Publisher’s Weekly this month, musician Laurie Berkner set her famous song to the page in this lively adaptation of her hit, We Are the Dinosaurs. Vibrant cartoon illustrations of triceratops and tyrannosaurus rex bring the story to life as the silly dinos embark on an adventure to find a new home.
By Laura Bower, an aspiring children’s book author who lives in Scarsdale with her husband and their three young children.