This month’s picture book favorites are meant to be shared with babies and toddlers. Created specifically for tiny hands and short attention spans, board books and pop-ups are a great way to introduce young children to a variety of topics. If you prefer e-books, there are plenty of those available as well. No matter which format you choose, little ones are sure to find their own favorites and ask you to read them again and again. Enjoy!

“Cars and Trucks” written and illustrated by Jill McDonald (Copyright 2021, Doubleday imprint of Penguin Random House) is one of many board books from the “Hello, World!” series. Each two-page spread in “Cars and Trucks” combines color-filled illustrations with bite-sized information about various kinds of cars and trucks that a child might encounter. “Hello, World!” books teach “simple concepts about science, nature, and culture” using stories that highlight some of the sights and sounds that fill today’s world. Other titles in the series include, “Birds,” “Moon Landing,” “Music,” and “Dinosaurs,” just to name a few.

“Are You My Mommy?” written and illustrated by Carla Dijs (Copyright 1990, Little Simon division of Simon & Schuster) is a vintage pop-up book from my own collection. The simple story begins with a pop-up illustration of a baby chick hatching. Each subsequent two-page pop-up scene follows the chick as she asks Mrs. Cat, Rabbit, Goose, and Sheep if they are her mommy. “No!” they each say, explaining why they are not by describing themselves. On the last set of pages, the baby chick finally asks Mrs. Hen, whose answer is “Yes!” Pop-up books are a fun, interactive way to keep the attention of a baby or toddler.

“Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?” written by Bill Martin Jr. and illustrated by Eric Carle (Copyright 2007, Henry Holt and Company) is one of the “Bears” series, which began in 1967 with “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” This installment is the story of a young bear who encounters a variety of animals while searching for its mother. Told in rhyme with repetitive text, the book puts a spotlight on ten of the many wild animals that can be found in North America. Each illustration presents a different animal in colorful collage, with the last set of pages bringing them all together and reuniting the baby bear with its mother. This timeless book is a favorite of mine that I hope will continue to be shared for many generations to come. 

If you have a favorite picture book for babies and/or toddlers to recommend, I’d love to hear about it.

I’ve decided to take a break from these monthly blog posts while I complete another writing project, but I hope to return with a focus on vintage picture books. Since they seem to be disappearing from libraries, sharing them online is one way to keep them from being forgotten.

Stay tuned 😊


This month’s picture book favorites share the distinguished honor of being Caldecott Medal winners. Named in honor of illustrator Randolph Caldecott, this annual award is given to the picture book artist who illustrated the previous year’s “most distinguished American picture book for children.” The (ALSC) Association of Library Services to Children’s list of winners goes back to 1938 and includes some personal favorites that I’ve shared in previous posts. Here are a few more of my favorite Caldecott-winning books to add to your reading and gift-giving lists. Enjoy!

“Finding Winnie” written by Lindsay Mattick and illustrated by Sophie Blackall (Copyright 2015, Little Brown and Company) is a heartwarming true story about the real-life friendship between Captain Harry Colebourn and the bear cub he named Winnie, in tribute to his hometown of Winnipeg. Harry was a veterinarian who’d been called away from home to take care of soldiers’ horses during World War I. When the train he was riding stopped at a station, Harry came across a man with a tiny bear cub. Something about the little bear touched Harry’s heart, so he bought it from the man and took it to war with him. Sophie Blackall’s stunning artwork will be your guide through this journey of a lifetime that ultimately inspired the Winnie-the-Pooh book series. Authored by Harry Colebourn’s great-granddaughter, the last few pages of the book contain an album of family photos and records that document Harry and Winnie’s unique relationship. This is one of my all-time favorite books because it speaks to the heart of its readers.

“The Snowy Day” written and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats (Copyright 1962, Penguin Viking Press) was the first book that Mr. Keats both wrote and illustrated. It won the 1963 Caldecott Medal and “broke the color barrier in mainstream children’s book publishing by being embraced across social and ethnic boundaries.” The story follows young Peter, who wakes up on a winter morning to see everything outside his window covered in snow. He puts on his snowsuit and discovers all kinds of snow-filled adventures before returning home with a snowball in his pocket. Once inside, he soaks in a warm bath before going back to his jacket to get the snowball — but is sad to see that his pocket is empty. After dreaming that the snow outside had all melted away, he wakes up to find yesterday’s snow still there with more falling. The last set of pages show Peter and a friend walking out into the falling snow together. If you’re a fan of Ezra Jack Keats, I also recommend the book “A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day” by Andrea Davis Pinkney.

 “Owl Moon” written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by John Schoenherr (Copyright 1987, Philomel Books) is about a father and daughter who spend a snowy winter’s night looking for a Great Horned Owl by the light of a full moon. This Caldecott Medal winner is beautifully illustrated using double-page spreads that bring all the sights and sounds of the story into focus. Readers experience the suspense of the search and the reward that can be found when a Great Horned Owl stares you down, giving you “the kind of hope that flies on silent wings under a shining Owl Moon.”

If you have a favorite Caldecott Medal winning picture book to recommend, I’d love to hear about it. The complete listing of Caldecott Medal and Honor books can be viewed and/or downloaded at https://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/caldecott.

Happy reading! 😊


In honor of the 150th annual celebration of Arbor Day, which was recognized on April 30th, this month’s picture book favorites are about trees. In the picture book world, trees are a topic of timeless relevance, where books that are decades old could have just as likely been written in current times. I hope you’ll look for these great books at your local library or bookstore, so you can read them for yourself and share them with others. Enjoy!

“A Tree is Nice” written by Janice May Udry and illustrated by Marc Simont (Copyright 1956, Harper & Row Publishers) is a 1957 Caldecott Medal winning tribute to trees. I am fortunate to have an original copy in my vintage collection, where I learned from the book jacket that it was also Mrs. Udry’s first book for children. She presents the story with a child-like simplicity, showing the many benefits of trees and suggesting in the end that everyone should plant a tree of their very own. Mr. Simont’s beautiful illustrations range from pencil drawings to full-color spreads, with my favorite being one of several children playing together in and around an apple tree. This sweet, relaxing book from years ago should be required reading in today’s far too complicated world.

“Pie in the Sky” written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert (Copyright 2004, Harcourt Inc.) is the perfect title for a book about a backyard cherry tree that is being observed by an unseen father and child, who are waiting for its cherries to ripen so they can make a pie. The fascinating collage illustrations, created using mixed media, feature what the child sees while patiently waiting for the pie. These items are listed in side notes on each set of pages, so that readers can interactively look for them in the pictures. When Dad finally says “it’s time,” the cherries are picked, prepared, and baked into a pie, using a recipe that is featured as part of the story. This very entertaining book about a cherry tree also teaches children subtle lessons on subjects including patience, science, and cooking.

“A Tree for Me” written by Nancy Van Laan and illustrated by Sheila White Samton (Copyright 2000, Alfred A. Knopf Inc.) is the story of a young boy’s search for the perfect tree to climb. Told in rhyme, with repetitive stanzas that make it a great read-aloud, this counting story follows along with the boy as he chooses to climb each of five trees, only to discover that he’s “mistaken, they’re already taken” by an owl, two possums, three inchworms, four squirrels, and five spiders. Returning home, he soon finds the perfect tree in his own yard and settles down for a nap. Colorful, kid-friendly illustrations are the perfect vehicle to carry readers on this fun adventure.

If you have a favorite picture book about trees to recommend, I’d love to hear about it.

Happy reading! 😊


A wise librarian once told me that the mission of a library is about so much more than lending books; it’s also about getting to know the patrons and connecting them with books they’ll want to share with others. This month’s picture book favorites feature libraries (and librarians) doing what they do best, bringing readers and books together. Enjoy!

“Bunny’s Book Club” written by Annie Silvestro and illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss (Copyright 2017, Doubleday Books for Young Readers) is about a book-loving rabbit named Bunny. All summer long, he hid in the bushes outside the library and imagined himself having adventures just like the ones the librarian read to the children. In the fall, when story time moved inside the library, Bunny missed the books so much that he climbed through the book return door to be near them. Luckily, the library was closed at the time. Before long, he came back out through the book return, bringing several books he had chosen to borrow. After many more nightly trips to the library, he shared his secret with some curious friends, who joined him for a “field trip” to see the library for themselves. They were all so busy that no one noticed the librarian coming in the front door. Shocked and scared at being caught, they prepared for the worst. The librarian explained to them that “all libraries have rules,” before she gave each of them a library card. The book concludes with a two-page spread showing Bunny and his friends during a meeting of “Bunny’s Book Club.” This sweet story, with illustrations that will have you lingering to enjoy them, is a picture book treasure.

“Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile” written by Gloria Houston and illustrated (beautifully) by Susan Condie Lamb (Copyright 2011, HarperCollins Children’s Books) is based on the life of Dorothy Thomas, whose love of books and people inspired her at a young age to become a librarian. Soon after graduating college, she married and relocated to the mountains of North Carolina. There she found plenty of friends and neighbors who shared her love of reading, but there was no library. Eventually, her friends and neighbors pooled their resources and bought a bookmobile, agreeing that Dorothy would be their librarian. She spent many years sharing her love of books while driving the bookmobile through hills and valleys to visit schools, farms, post offices, grocery stores, churches, parking lots, factories, and even the courthouse steps. When one of her patrons donated a little white house to serve as the community’s new library, people came from near and far to visit the place where Miss Dorothy would share her love of books (and people) with them. To me, this book underscores the importance of small-town libraries and the librarians who dedicate themselves to breathing life into them.

“The Children Who Loved Books” written and illustrated by Peter Carnavas (Copyright 2013, Kane Miller division of EDC Publishing) tells the story of two children, Angus and Lucy, who “didn’t have very much.” The truth was that their family didn’t have things like televisions, cars, or even a regular sized house, but they did have hundreds of books. When Angus and Lucy’s father decided that books were taking up too much space in their tiny home, he got rid of them. The distance this created between the family caused things to be different for a while, until Lucy brought a book home from the library. Sitting together that evening, the family listened as Dad read the story to them. They soon realized that the book had brought them close to each other again. The next morning, Dad took his family to the library, where they found all the books they would ever need. This simple story is a gentle reminder that books can take us just about anywhere we want to go, while bringing us together at the same time.

 If you have a favorite picture book about libraries (or librarians) to recommend, I’d love to hear about it.

Happy reading! 😊


Picture book authors and illustrators devote themselves to making books that connect with the hearts and minds of those who read them. This month’s favorites succeeded, in my opinion, because they all brought a smile to my face and laughter to my heart. I hope they’ll do the same for you. Enjoy!

“Bear Came Along” written by Richard T. Morris and illustrated by LeUyen Pham (Copyright 2019, Little, Brown and Company) is a story about a bear who finds several new friends while on an accidental adventure. When the tree Bear is sitting on breaks and falls into the river, he is joined for a log ride by the many different woodland creatures he passes during his journey. These unlikely friends find themselves sharing the wild ride of a lifetime . . . over a waterfall. They hold onto each other, soon discovering the fun times that await them when they work together in spite of their differences. The watercolor, ink, and gouache illustrations carry the emotions of the ride to a perfectly joyful, color-filled ending, reminding readers that sometimes the happiest of adventures can happen by accident.

“No Fuzzball!” written and illustrated by Isabella Kung (Copyright 2020, Orchard Books imprint of Scholastic, Inc.) is a book that will resonate with cat lovers everywhere. It is the story of Fuzzball, a self-described “queen,” who thinks that her subjects “worship her and scream her name everywhere she goes.” Although she thinks it’s her name, they are actually screaming, “No Fuzzball,” because she often creates chaos in her “queendom,” where, in her eyes, there is “total harmony.” She spends her days being entertained, fed, groomed, messaged, and showered with gifts by the family who loves her. When they pack up and leave her alone overnight, she awakens from a long nap to wonder where they’ve gone and what has happened to them. After having a pity party, she decides to prepare for their return in a way that only a cat (or dog) who has been left home alone can do. The relatable, comical illustrations tell the story as her family returns, giving her a welcome hug before they notice what she’s done to the house and scream “No Fuzzball,” which in her mind is their way of telling her they love her. This story is a funny reminder that perception is reality, especially if you’re a cat. 

“Sheep Dog and Sheep Sheep” written and illustrated by Eric Barclay (Copyright 2019, Harper imprint of HarperCollins Publishers) is the story of an oblivious little sheep, who is so busy dancing through life that she often closes her eyes and bumps into things. When she bumps into a sheep dog, she thinks he needs help. While she tries to “fix” him, he’s busy protecting her from an eagle, a coyote, and the hazards of dancing with her eyes closed. Once she’s given him the tools that she thinks he’ll need when watching sheep, she realizes that there are no sheep to watch. Considering herself an expert on watching sheep, she looks for the sheep herself, thinking he must have lost them. After a while, he explains to her that she is the only sheep, but that maybe she is supposed to be watching him instead. She agrees, concluding that since she is so good at watching dogs, she is, of course, a “dog sheep.”

“The Wonky Donkey” written by Craig Smith and illustrated by Katz Cowley (Copyright 2009, Scholastic, Inc.) isn’t just a book, it’s a container for sharing laughter and joy. This book was born when an unknown author paired with an unknown illustrator and they landed a book deal with a well-known publisher. The stars aligned again for this duo when a viral video of a Scottish grandmother, who was laughing hysterically while reading the book aloud to her grandson, turned their book into a best-seller. In the picture book world, this is like winning the lottery. But…all the attention is well-deserved because hilarity ensues as you turn the 24-pages of this book and learn why this special donkey is so very wonky. Originally written as a song, this cumulative story features repetitive wording that combines wonderfully with the comical, expressive illustrations to make this book a great tongue-twisting read-aloud. Whether you read the story for yourself or choose to watch the video (or maybe both), this book is a treasure.  

If you have a favorite funny picture book to recommend, I’d love to hear about it.

Happy reading! 😊


Each month, I check my local library’s website for newly added picture books. It’s one of the ways I keep up with what’s out there in the marketplace, while also finding new books for my reading list. This month’s favorites have the distinction of being released in the past year; but more importantly, they stood out to me in a way that made me want to share them with you. My hope is that you’ll go beyond my blog to read them for yourselves. Enjoy!

“Harry and the Guinea Pig” written by Nancy Lambert and illustrated by Saba Joshaghani (Copyright 2020, Harper imprint of HarperCollins) uses the classic style of the original team, Gene Zion and Margaret Bloy Graham, to bring vintage favorite, Harry the Dirty Dog, back for his first new adventure in over fifty years. When the children are pet sitting a neighbor’s guinea pig, Harry feels ignored. He tries to look, act, and play like a guinea pig, but ends up being sent outside for making a mess. The next day, Harry is excited to go to school with the children for show-and-tell, but becomes disappointed when he discovers that the guinea pig is also going. While no one in the classroom is looking, Harry tries to climb into the cage with the guinea pig so the children will have to notice him, but he doesn’t fit and the guinea pig escapes. Knowing the escape was his fault, Harry follows the clues and tracks down the escaped guinea pig by lunchtime, getting the attention of the children while sharing the show-and-tell spotlight for his “clever detective work.” I love that this timeless character is returning to entertain a new generation of readers!

“Share Some Kindness, Bring Some Light” written and illustrated by Apryl Stott (Copyright 2020, Simon & Schuster) is a beautifully illustrated story about acceptance and kindness. Coco has a new friend named Bear, who is not only very kind–he’s also a good dancer. Bear shares with Coco that the other animals are afraid of him because he is so big. Coco comes up with a plan, based on a saying from her grandmother, to show them that Bear is good and kind, not scary at all. The two of them decide to “share some kindness and bring some light” by baking cookies and making lanterns to give away. As they set out in the winter snow to share their gifts, Bear is scared. Coco tells him not to let it stop him from giving. Their gifts don’t seem to work and one-by-one, they are turned away by all the animals. On their way home, they hear a cry for help. Following the sound, they find Baby Deer, who is stuck in the snow. While taking Baby Deer back to her home, they encounter the other animals, who are using the lanterns they’d given them to help Mama Deer with the search. Seeing for themselves how he helped Baby Deer makes the other animals realize what a good thing it is that Bear is so “big, brave, friendly, and kind.” Bear and Coco discover that “kindness is about giving away love instead of gifts . . . doing something nice from the heart without expecting to get anything in return.” The story ends with Bear, Coco, and their new friends sharing a fun dance together in the lantern light of a snowy night.

“I Am the Storm” written by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple and illustrated by Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell (Copyright 2020, Rise x Penguin Workshop) is a colorful book about the ability of humans to seek out safety in the face of nature’s power during a tornado, a blizzard, a wildfire, and a hurricane. The illustrations, sketched in pencil and finished using Photoshop with a Wacom tablet, present people and circumstances that will be familiar to many young readers. The story uses descriptive text about what occurs during each weather event, followed by the comforting thought that they always eventually stop, and that life goes on afterward. Knowing that it’s okay to be scared, the children in the book use expressive play to empower themselves, mimicking the weather they’ve witnessed by becoming strong and powerful like the storm, then calm when it passes, “as it always does.”  The story is followed by two end-pages that briefly describe tornadoes, blizzards, wildfires, and hurricanes, so that young readers can better understand them.

“Cozy” written and illustrated by Jan Brett (Copyright 2020, G.P Putnam’s Sons imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC) is a story that was born out of Jan Brett’s visit to the Musk Ox Farm in Palmer, Alaska. The main character is named Cozy because of the soft, thick, silky coat of fur that covers him in a blanket of warmth. While separated from his herd, a winter storm causes many animals to find refuge in Cozy’s fur coat. With each new addition, Cozy adds rules that help the animals respect each other during their time together. As winter continues, and the animals make themselves more and more at home in his fur, Cozy begins wishing he could return to his family. The rules become stretched as the animals grow tired of each other’s company, and Cozy begins to shed his coat, a sure sign that spring is arriving. As his fur continues to shed, the animals also leave to look for new homes. When Cozy celebrates his freedom by leaping into the air, he sees his herd in the distance. He soon joins them, hearing the voices of his new friends on the breeze, reminding him that they’ll see him again “when the snow flies.” In true Jan Brett style, the text and illustrations complement each other seamlessly into what will no doubt be another classic.

If you have a favorite 2020 picture book release to recommend, I’d love to hear about it.

Happy Reading 😊


Until today, the only place I’ve been able to find any snow this winter is inside the pages of winter-themed picture books. Well . . . it’s finally snowing here, making this the perfect time for a warm fire, a cup of hot chocolate, and sharing this month’s picture book favorites with you. Enjoy!

“Red Sled” written and illustrated by Lita Judge (Copyright 2011, Athenium Books for Young Readers) uses pictures and descriptive words, such as the “scrunch, scrunch” sound that is made when walking in the snow, to present the story of a bear who borrows a child’s sled from outside a cabin and is soon joined by other curious woodland animals for an exciting winter’s night of sledding. Dual-page illustrations had me following along to see which woodland animals would be joining the ride next as I turned each page. The moonlit snow scenes are simply beautiful and the expression-filled faces of the animals having such a joyful time together had me laughing out loud. In the end, the bear and friends return the sled to its resting place outside the cabin, leaving only footprints in the snow for the child to find. Such a fun read!

“A Little Bit of Winter” written by Paul Stewart and illustrated by Chris Riddell (Copyright 1999, Harper Collins Publishers) is a story about two friends, Rabbit and Hedgehog, who are about to be separated for the winter. Rabbit will miss his friend, who doesn’t even know what winter feels like because he spends every winter sleeping. Hedgehog scratches a reminder into the bark of a tree asking Rabbit to save “a little bit of winter” to share with him when he wakes up. After a heavy snowfall, Rabbit leaves his warm burrow to look for food. Seeing Hedgehog’s reminder on the tree, he rolls a snowball, wrapping it in leaves “to keep the cold in” before taking it underground. When spring arrives and the two friends meet again, Rabbit unwraps the snowball, giving it to Hedgehog, who finally gets to experience the “hard, white, and cold” of winter as he holds “a little bit of winter” in his paws. The sweet illustrations are a joy from start to finish as Hedgehog receives two gifts from his friend, the coldness of winter snow and the warmth of an enduring friendship.

“Sugar White Snow and Evergreens: A Winter Wonderland of Color” written by Felicia Sanzari Chernesky and illustrated by Susan Swan (Copyright 2014, Albert Whitman and Company) is a rhyming story about a rainbow of colors made brighter against the backdrop of sugary white winter snow. Beginning with the view from a frosty window, each page-turn brings new colors into focus as a family takes a trip through the snow to visit a maple farm. The vivid details of this book’s impressive illustrations had me going back to take a second look.

“Winter is the Warmest Season” written and illustrated by Lauren Stringer (Copyright 2006, Harcourt, Inc.) displays some of the many contrasts between summer and winter to present the idea that winter truly is “the warmest season.” With examples that include snuggly warm winter clothes, wonderfully warm winter foods, the warmth of sitting by a fire, cuddled up with a good book and a warm pet, the warmth of friends and family sharing winter holidays, hot baths followed by warm pajamas, and warm beds topped with blankets and quilts. The book concludes with dreams of a summer swim, just to cool things off. This talented author/illustrator strikes a balance with colorful, happy illustrations that will have you smiling about the many ways that warmth can be found in this coldest of seasons.

If you have a favorite winter-themed picture book to recommend, I’d love to hear about it.

Happy New Year 😊  


Trying to celebrate a holiday season that includes masks, social distancing, and potential shut-downs might have you feeling like the spirit of Christmas is nowhere to be found this year. May I suggest setting aside some time to enjoy the spirit that can always be found on the pages of Christmas picture books? My Christmas wish is that this month’s picture book favorites will not only bring you some cheer, but also help prepare you for what will surely be a Christmas like no other, a 2020 Christmas. Enjoy!

“The Christmas Barn” written and illustrated by John and Jennifer Churchman (Copyright 2020, Little Bee Books) begins with an autumn storm that causes an old pine tree to fall in the forest. Farmer John and his wife, Jennifer, decide to give the old tree a new life by using it to make a “special Christmas gift” for the animals. Complemented beautifully by photo-illustration, the story follows the process, as observed by the farm animals, of transforming the fallen pine tree into a new home for them. On Christmas Eve, they are welcomed inside, where a special bed is waiting for Joy the alpaca, who gives birth that night to a tiny cria that Farmer John names Hope. The story ends with the old pine tree having truly become “a Christmas barn for everyone.” At the end of the book are two pages describing Moonrise Farm in Vermont and the true story that inspired this heartwarming book. To learn more, please visit http://www.themoonrisefarm.com.

“Mistletoe: A Christmas Story” written and illustrated by Tadd Hills (Copyright 2020, Schwartz & Wade Books) celebrates Christmas with a snow-loving mouse named Mistletoe and her best friend, an elephant named Norwell. When snow begins to fall and it finally “feels like Christmas,” Mistletoe asks Norwell to come outside and play. Norwell, thinking it’s too cold, gets her to come inside instead, where they share a warm fire, have tea and cookies, and decorate his Christmas tree together. On her way home, Mistletoe has an idea for the perfect Christmas gift for her friend. After much hard work, she finishes it just in time for Christmas. When they exchange gifts, Norwell gives Mistletoe a painting that pictures her standing in snow, because she loves snow. She gives him a colorful snowsuit that she knitted so he would be warm while they’re out walking together in the snow. This sweet book, with its cheerful illustrations that were created in the Procreate digital app, shows the fun of sharing Christmastime with friends.

 “If I Could Give You Christmas” written by Lynn Plourde and illustrated by Jennifer L. Meyer (Copyright 2019, Disney Hyperion imprint of Disney Book Group) presents some of the tastes, sights, smells, and sounds of the Christmas season as animals in the winter forest celebrate the joy that can be found in sharing them with each other. This book, with gorgeous illustrations that will have you pausing to admire them, also serves as a reminder that the best gifts of all “don’t have a bow.”  

“The Christmas Story” written by Jane Werner Watson and illustrated by Eloise Wilkin (Copyright 1952, Golden Books, renewed 1980, Penguin Random House) is a timeless vintage retelling of the biblical account of Christ’s birth, told in a storybook that is also filled with wonderfully memorable, detailed illustrations. Jane Werner Watson (1915-2004) served as the editor of the original Little Golden Books, while writing quite a few of them as well. One of my all-time favorite illustrators, Eloise Wilkin (1904-1987), illustrated dozens of Little Golden Books during her long career.  

If you have a favorite picture book about Christmas to recommend, I’d love to hear about it.

Merry Christmas 😊  


Picture books make great gifts. When you buy them to give away, you’re also helping support the talented authors and illustrators who’ve worked so hard to bring them to the marketplace. As I put a spotlight on a few of my own seasonal favorites in this month’s post, I hope you’ll consider adding picture books to your gift list this holiday season. Enjoy!

“Merry Christmas, Squirrels!” written and illustrated by Nancy Rose (Copyright 2015, Little, Brown, and Company) follows Mr. Peanuts, a squirrel who is “full of Christmas spirit,” as he goes on an adventure to visit his Cousin Squirrel’s house for some holiday fun. The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” really does apply here when trying to describe the entertaining antics captured by author and photographer Nancy Rose’s camera. Using handmade sets and hidden peanuts, Nancy expertly motivates her backyard squirrel friends into doing what they do best — being curious! For more about Nancy’s fascinating work, visit www.secretlifeofsquirrels.com, where you’ll also find a 2021 calendar for sale that was inspired by her “nutty” books.

“Tractor Mac, Harvest Time” written and illustrated by Billy Steers (Copyright 2007, Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers) is from the Tractor Mac series of picture books, whose author and illustrator happened to grow up on a farm. In this autumn-themed installment, Tractor Mac and his friends “share the work and share the fun,” of bringing a harvest of apples and pumpkins to neighboring fall festival celebrations. As an added bonus, the front and back of the book’s interior cover pages contain detailed illustrations of a cider press and a tractor with each part individually labeled. To learn more about Billy Steers or the Tractor Mac series, visit www.billysteers.com, where you’ll also find games and printable activities to go along with the books.

“The Christmas Truck” written by the staff at Thomas Nelson and illustrated by Alex Willmore (Copyright 2019, Thomas Nelson) celebrates some of the sights and sounds of Christmas as the Christmas Truck and friends choose a tree that is “just right” to bring back home and decorate together. Cheerful, color-filled illustrations complement the fun rhyming story to make this board book a great “read-to” for little ones.

“Good Night, Santa: A Magical Christmas Story” written by Dawn Sirett and illustrated by Kitty Glavin (2019, DK Publishing) is a novelty rhyming board book featuring a light-up cover of Santa in his sleigh as he travels through the night sky. Beautifully illustrated using the theme of a snow-filled garden cast in shadow by the light of the moon, it is the story of a little girl and her favorite teddy bear going on a Christmas Eve journey to find Santa and tell him goodnight. After meeting several woodland creatures and telling each of them good night, the little girl discovers that Santa will only come to visit after she is asleep.

For more holiday picture book favorites, please look back at my previous years’ posts.

If you have a favorite holiday-themed picture book that would also make a great gift, I’d love to hear about it.

Happy Reading 😊


This month’s picture book favorites demonstrate how easily a child’s imagination can change something ordinary into something fun. Creative play prepares children for the future by helping them build self-confidence, while also developing other valuable life skills such as concentration, problem-solving, patience, and sharing. The next time you hear the dreaded words, “I’m bored,” consider it an opportunity to encourage young imaginations to dream up some new, creative ways to play. Enjoy!

“National Regular Average Ordinary Day” written by Lisa Katzenberger and illustrated by Barbara Bakos (Copyright 2020, Penguin Workshop) is the story of a boy named Peter, who becomes bored with playing the same familiar games. Since he loves holidays, Peter thinks he will have more fun if he celebrates a new holiday each day. Things are going well, until the day comes when he has run out of holidays to celebrate. He solves this problem by using his imagination to make up some new ones. Eventually, Peter grows tired of holidays altogether and is bored once again. As he is sitting in a cardboard box, doing nothing, his imagination takes over, transforming the box and sending him on a variety of fun-filled adventures. Later, when a friend rides by on a bike, Peter decides to join him and the neighborhood kids for some “regular, average, ordinary games,” and soon finds that ordinary days can be worth celebrating too. This colorfully illustrated story highlights the value of imagination and creative play in the celebration of life’s ordinary days.

“What to Do with a Box” written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Chris Sheban (Copyright 2016, by Creative Editions) is described as “Jane Yolen’s poetic tribute to the humble box.” Since a box is just a box, until a child’s imagination gets involved, I think this book is also a tribute to children. When a boy, a girl, and a dog come across an empty cardboard box, magic happens. This rhyming story is complemented by cardboard-themed illustrations that show a child’s imagination turning the simple box into a portal for adventure, becoming such things as a library, a palace, a nook, a canvas for coloring and painting, a tea room for dolls, a sailboat, a race car, and a magical flying machine. For those of us who’ve ever bought a gift for a child, only to discover that they’d rather just play with the box, this story is a reminder that imagination is the greatest gift a child will ever receive.

“Bobby’s Magic Blanket” written by Helen Frances Stanley and illustrated by Haris Petie (Copyright 1973, Rand McNally & Company) is the classic vintage story of a boy, a dog, and a blanket. Bobby’s imagination brings fun and adventure as his “magic blanket” becomes a canoe, a raft, a magic carpet, a tepee, and a cave, while also helping Bobby pretend to be a caterpillar in a cocoon, a butterfly, a bird, a jet plane, and a super hero. At the end of Bobby’s day, after the blanket has been used as a knapsack for picking up his toys, it keeps him warm while he dreams of having even more adventures. I love the way Haris Petie’s beautiful illustrations show the relationship between Bobby and his pet dachshund, who seems to thoroughly enjoy being there, and ends the day curled up on the blanket next to Bobby. Although this book probably isn’t found in libraries anymore, I did see a few copies available for sale online. As you can see in the picture, my forty-seven-year-old copy isn’t in great shape, but it is still worth sharing as a timeless example of creative play.

If you have a favorite picture book that encourages creative play, I’d love to hear about it.

Happy Reading 😊