I recently made a list of my favorite picture books, and I realized that most of the starring characters are animals. Pooh and Piglet, of course, and a baby bird that couldn’t find its mother. A curious monkey, a disobedient rabbit, and a puppy that is always late. A mama duck tries to cross a busy city street with her babies, and a king tries to keep the mice out of his cheese. And my all-time favorite, a bull who likes to stop and smell the flowers.
My boys, too, loved books with animals, real or fantastic. A young boy’s best friend is a huge, drooling dog that is afraid of storms. A young tree snake doesn’t want to change colors and get boring. The Big Bad Wolf wants to explain WHY he ate the three little pigs. A K-9 officer upstages her partner. Cows type, frogs float on lily pads, and a beastly tyrannosaurus has no friends.
Here are some new picture books with endearing animal characters to add to the old favorites!
Have You Seen My New Blue Socks? by Eve Bunting, illus. by Sergio Ruzzier. 9780547752679. 2013. PK-1.
With a cadence similar to Green Eggs and Ham, this book tells of a young duckling that is looking for its new blue socks. When he asks his friend the fox if he has seen them, the fox replies, “I have not seen your new blue socks. Did you look inside your box? Did you ask your friend the ox?” Careful readers will see the socks before one of the peacocks points them out to the duck, who exclaims, “Thank you, thank you, dear Peacocks. At last I’ve found my new blue socks!” Also, like Green Eggs and Ham, this book is perfect for beginning readers.
Ol’ Mama Squirrel by David Ezra Stein. 9780399256721. 2013. PK-1.
You’ve heard the warning about getting between a mama bear and her cubs? Well, that’s nothing compared to this mama squirrel’s reaction to anyone getting near her babies! Cats, owls, dogs—it doesn’t matter—she will chatter and scold “Chook, chook, chook!” until the intruder slinks away. Even kites and planes and the tree-pruner receive a tongue-lashing for getting too close to her family. But when a grizzly bear shows up, Mama Squirrel might just be out of her league.
Perfectly Percy by Paul Schmid. 9780061804366. 2013. PK-1.
Percy’s favorite things in the world are…balloons! As with most kids and balloons, the fun ends with a popped balloon. But Percy has more problems with balloons than most youngsters, because Percy is a porcupine. And as author Paul Schmid says, “HAPPY little porcupines with balloons are soon SAD little porcupines.” But Percy is also a thinker, and maybe, just maybe he can solve this problem. How would you solve it?
Puffin Peter by Petr Horacek. 9780763665722. 2013. PK-1.
Peter and Paul are best puffin friends. So one day, when a big storm blows Peter out to sea, his first thought is how to find his way back to Paul. A kindly whale stops to help and asks for a description. Peter says that Paul is funny and noisy, and happily the whale says he knows just where to look. But when he and Peter arrive at an island of funny and noisy parrots, Peter adds more to his description: Paul’s feathers are black and white! The whale again has an idea—but Paul is not among the penguins. Will Peter ever be able to describe Paul well enough? This book is great for a lesson on differences and similarities.
Red Hat by Lita Judge. 9781442442320.2013. 2013. PK-1.
In this almost wordless book by the author of Red Sled, a young boy washes his red, knitted cap and pins it to the clothesline—where it is seen and stolen by the woodland animals. They chase each other—a furry mix of tag and keep away—and in the mayhem the hat starts to unravel. Then it unravels some more…and some more…and suddenly there is nothing left but string, which the guilty animals sneak back and hang up on the clothesline. What will the child do with a bunch of tangled yarn?
This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers. 9780399161032. 2012. PK-2.
Wilfred has a pet moose named Marcel. And since Wilfred prefers things to be “just so,” he has quite a few rules for his pet. Marcel is not always so good at following all the rules, unless there are apples involved. He has an especially hard time with rule # 7 : Maintain a certain proximity to home. One day while they are out on a walk, they meet up with a lady who claims that “Rodrigo” is her moose, and Marcel stays with her (she has an apple). What will Wilfred do without his pet—and friend? Marcel wanders back just in time for a rescue, and Wilfred realizes that he needs to relax his rules.
Bibliography – my childhood favorites:
Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman. 9780394900186.
Curious George by H.A. Rey. 9780395159934.
The King, the Mice, and the Cheese by Nancy Gurney. 9780394900391.
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey. 9780670451494.
The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey. 9780307103284.
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. 9780670674244.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. 9780723247708.
Bibliography – my sons’ favorites:
Click, Clack, Moo : Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin. 9780689832130.
Henry and Mudge and the Wild Wind by Cynthia Rylant. 9780689808388.
Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann. 9780399226168.
The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka. 9780670827596.
Tuesday by David Wiesner. 9780395551134.
Tyrannosaurus Was a Beast by Jack Prelutsky, (illus. by Arnold Lobel). 9780688115692.
Verdi by Janell Cannon. 9780152010287.
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