Mister Kitty Is Lost! By Greg Pizzoli
Little, Brown, 2023, $16.99
A little girl and her pup have quite the seek-and-find summer adventure as they hunt for her lost cat. Counting down from 5, each double-page spread identifies a specific number of descriptors for the missing feline. For example, one spread features five cut-out dots through which the color yellow is visible, and the text states: “Mister Kitty has 5 yellow spots. Do you see five yellow spots?” But when the page is turned, the spots are revealed to be five yellow snakes! Suspense builds with each page turn until the elusive titular character is discovered in a most unexpected way – and a whole new mystery is playfully introduced.
ages 4 – 8
Vroom, Vroom, Beep-Beep By Lezlie Evans
Illustrated by Kate Chappell
Upside Down Books, 2023, $14.95
A playful rhyming story pairs with whimsical art for a picture book perfect for families on road trips – or just trying to arrive somewhere on time and with limited fuss. Little Red Jeep is so excited to get to Cow’s party that he ignores the needs of others, pushes through a flock of sheep, and rudely snatches a birthday gift. But when his rushing sidelines him, the kind sheep come to his rescue, and he learns to slow down, consider others and share.
Desert Jungle By Jeanie Baker
Candlewick, 2023, $18.99
Luminous mixed-media art complements this lyrical tale of a boy who discovers the mysterious beauty of the Sonoran Desert when he visits his grandfather in Mexico. At first, he is wary; the landscape seems so dry and bleak. But soon his eyes open to the “wonders of the wild” – hummingbirds, coyotes, leaf-carrying ants, different types of cacti – and he returns home with this gift of greater awareness and appreciation. Jeanie Baker handles important themes of mindfulness and respect for the natural world with a light, child-centered touch.
An American Story By Kwame Alexander
Illustrated by Dare Coulter
Little, Brown, 2023, $18.99
This powerful book explores a topic often inadequately covered in classrooms: the place of slavery in American history and its continued impact on the country. Free verse by Newbery Medal winner Kwame Alexander combines brilliantly with mixed-media art by Dare Coulter to help prompt questions and open discussions. In his author’s note, Alexander expresses hope that the book will “give us a way to speak the truth to children, so we can all stop being afraid, so we can start moving closer to our better selves.” Share this book on Independence Day (July 4) and throughout the year.
The White House By Stewart McLaurin
Illustrated by John Hutton
White House Historical Association, 2023, $9.95
Ever wonder about the architect behind the iconic home of the U.S. President in our nation’s capital? This lively work of nonfiction introduces youngsters to James Hoban, an Irish immigrant hired by George Washington to design the White House, which was then erected by “Scottish stone carvers, Irish builders and enslaved persons of African descent.” John Adams was the first president to reside there, and when it was burned during the War of 1812, Hoban stepped up to rebuild it. Inspired by this book, you and your kids might wish to peek at all the historical artifacts at the White House Visitor Center or even book a tour of the White House.
ages 9 – 13
Bea and the New Deal Horse By L.M. Elliott
HarperCollins, 2023, $19.99
Acclaimed author L.M. Elliott travels back to the Great Depression, which has completely upended Bea’s life and that of her younger sister. Can Bea find a new home and happiness on a downwardly spiraling Virginia farm run by a rigid woman? Will she ever be able to win the trust of the beautiful, angry chestnut who may be their key to saving the farm? Elliott weaves a compelling historical tale about loss, horses and starting anew.
The Lion of Lark-Hayes Manor By Aubrey Hartman
Little, Brown, 2023, $16.99
A move with her family to Oregon and her parents’ plan to fix up a decaying manor house catapult Poppy into magic and danger. This richly imagined, beautifully written fantasy features a loyal flying lion, a wily water nymph and a girl who strikes a terrible bargain and then must grapple with the consequences.