Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals
Former baby Mo Willems has worked as a Sesame Street writer and animator, and a stand-up comedian. His guide for new arrivals is as funny as you’d hope it would be, and enchanting for all ages. Babies will connect with its bold images, while the rest of us will connect with its gently profound guidance to living as a person here on Earth.
Ages 0 to 2.
Baby Loves Quantum Physics!
“Baby loves Cat! Sometimes Cat likes to hide.” A game of hide-and-seek with Schrödinger’s cat ensues. Spoiler: the cat is in the box… though for baby’s sake, the states in question are napping and awake.
Ruth Spiro and Irene Chan’s “Baby Loves Science” series also covers quarks, thermodynamics, coding, and gravity, always with a tongue-in-cheek approach. The science is legit, though, and little ones will find the the simple text and colorful images very appealing.
Ages 0 to 3.
When's My Birthday?
Ezra Jack Keats Award winner Fogliano and Caldecott Honoree Robinson have created a year-round celebration of birthday anticipation. The book’s poetic language and cut-paper collages feel simple yet exuberant. A variety of children, birthday wishes, seasons, and animals keeps interest levels high all the way to the long-awaited special day.
Ages 3 to 6.
After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again)
Caldecott Medal winner Santat follows Humpty Dumpty’s progress after The Great Fall—“It was just an accident. But it changed my life.” Though he was put together again, Humpty will be the first to tell you that not all of his wounds were healed. Children and adults alike will cheer for Humpty as he faces his fears, and in the end will be astounded by a glimpse of the next chapter in his story.
Ages 4 to 8.
“Lovely is different, weird, and wonderful.” Jess Hong’s book proposes that we’re all lovely, presenting a diverse cast of people—not just in terms of ethnicity, but in style, interests, gender expression, age, abilities, and more—along with simple labels that break the mold of labelling. “BLACK” is illustrated by a white woman dressed in black, while “WHITE” is illustrated by a white-haired black woman, and the playful juxtapositions grow from there. Lovely is a thoroughly good-natured, thought-provoking book, and another one that grown-ups can enjoy as much as kids do.
Ages 4 to 8.
The World Is Not a Rectangle
Winter’s graceful illustrations and curvy lines of text convey the magic of Zaha Hadid’s architecture. The story begins with Hadid’s childhood in Iraq, imagining “what cities looked like thousands of years ago,” and follows her career through all the challenges not only of having unconventional ideas, but of being a Muslim woman with those unconventional ideas. That Hadid ended up a superstar among architects is a testament to her determination as well as her talent, and her story, told beautifully by Winter, will provide inspiration to children whatever their own dreams may be.
Ages 5 to 10.
Her Right Foot
Why is the Statue of Liberty’s right foot—in fact, her entire right leg—in mid-stride? Dave Eggers has an idea of what this eternal movement means about freedom, courage, and welcoming immigrants. While Eggers’ name will be familiar to grown-up readers, Shawn Harris is a newcomer to picture books. His cut paper and ink illustrations brilliantly convey the spirit and vitality that Eggers urges us all to invest in Lady Liberty’s mission.
Ages 6 to 9.
This book is a planetarium
Anderson’s pop-up book for older children is full of hands-on science that’s both practical and wonderful, simple and elaborate. It includes six fully functional contraptions: a planetarium, a musical instrument, a spiralgraph, a decoder ring, a speaker, and a perpetual calendar. A “Why it works” text accompanying each pop-up outlines the scientific principles involved. This is a stylish and fascinating book, and yet another one with appeal that reaches far beyond its recommended age range.
Ages 8 to 12.
“I love people dearly, but after two hundred and sixteen rings, I still haven’t figured them out.” Red, a wise and compassionate oak tree, watches over the neighborhood, accompanied by her best friend, a satisfyingly sarcastic crow called Bongo. Red has seen many families from many places welcomed to her neighborhood—but now a new family has arrived, and they’re the object of anger instead of kindness. Red is determined to bring healing and connection, and throughout, Newberry Medalist Applegate’s message of kindness is all the stronger for its gentleness.
Ages 10 and up.
The Stars Beneath Our Feet
Lolly Rachpaul is a 12-year-old boy navigating life in Harlem after his older brother’s murder. Two trash bags full of Lego bricks, a Christmas gift from his mother’s girlfriend, set Lolly on a new course. He’s always been meticulous about following Lego instructions, but now he faces the challenge of creating something new, out of his own imagination. He finds support at the local recreation center, where a girl with autism helps him to build a metropolis. Lolly’s is an authentic, hopeful story, informed by Barclay Moore’s work at Harlem Children’s Zone and Quality Services for the Autism Community.
Ages 10 and up.