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Picture Books

  • books of christmas


    Yes, any countdown in December must start at 12. Here’s our own 12 Days of Christmas picture book countdown:


    12 Washington


    by John A. Nez  




    my puppy gave to me


    by Cheryl Dannenbring   





    12 days christmas dogs


    by Carolyn Conahan 



    12 pirates christmas


    by Philip Yates 



    12 Days of Christmas African


    by Rachel Isadora (African Illustrations) 



    12 Days Cabrera


    by Jane Cabrera 





    pinata pine tree


    by Pat Mora 




    12 Days Pham


    by LeUyen Pham (around the world)   





    12 bots christmas


    by Nathan Hale 




    firefly fir tree


    by Hilary Knight 





    12 cats christmas


    by Don Daily 




    12 worst days


    by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen 




  • princesses and animals 01

    Ever wonder how librarians hone their recommendation skills? Sometimes, our librarians play a game we call the 6 Degrees of reading. The rules are simple: choose six books, each connected somehow to the book above it, with the last book in the list connecting to the first. Periodically, we like the results enough to share them with you.So, with no further ado, we bring you 6 Degrees of Reading, Princesses and Animals (picture books).

    by Leah Wilcox; illustrated by Lydia Monks

    Upon hearing a prince’s call, princess Rapunzel throws out what she thinks the prince is asking for—but from clothes to maids, Rapunzel tosses the wrong items out, much to the prince’s chagrin. 

    by Eric Litwin; illustrated by James Dean

    As Pete the Cat goes about his day, he deals with a constant problem with his clothes—his buttons keep falling off! Can Pete the Cat still keep a smile even while counting and losing his buttons?

    by Julia Durango; illustrated by Eleanor Taylor

    Ten little chimps sneak off to dance the cha-cha, and one by one, readers count down as various chimps get distracted by other types of dancing—until Mama Chimp comes to find her wayward children and send them all off to bed.      

    by Doreen Cronin; illustrated by Scott Menchin

    Told in rhyme, this book features a dog who shows little readers how to dance or wiggle before falling asleep.

    by Adam Stower

    A young girl named Lily finds a bear in her garden and assumes it is a dog. The mistaken identity causes loads of mishaps and comedy as she discovers what really makes a “silly doggy.”

    by Jonathan Emmett; illustrated by Poly Bernatene

    When a baby princess and a baby pig are accidentally swapped, the pig is raised as a princess and the princess is raised on a farm. Can the princess, pig and the rest of the kingdom ever figure out this case of mistaken identity

  • 6 degrees header 01

    So there are a lot of bunny picture books. Even better there are A LOT of GOOD bunny picture books. There are so many that I can play the 6 Degrees of Reading game just with bunny picture books! So, not only will I tell you how all these books are connected…but just keep in mind that all these books have BUNNIES in them as well. 

    bunnies bunnies bunnies 01

    by Alex Latimer

    Lion is a bully. He is mean to all the other animals. One day the animals have decided that they have had enough! So they put out an ad to hopefully find someone who will teach lion a lesson. In comes Rabbit. Lion doesn’t think Rabbit is any match for him, so Lion let’s Rabbit decide what the contest will be. If Rabbit wins, Lion will need to be nice. Only Lion’s plan isn’t going so well for Lion. He loses. Then he loses again. Finally he admits defeat to Rabbit and promises to be nice. All the other animals are happy. And while they thank Rabbit for all his hard work they realize that their perception of Rabbit was wrong—for there were really LOTS of Rabbits (not just one Rabbit). And the group effort is what saved the day.

    By Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld

    An illustration causes a lot of commotion in this book. Two unseen narrators have conflicting opinions as to whether what they see is a duck or a rabbit. Therefore readers must determine which perception is correct—is the illustration really a duck or a rabbit? With bold black lines and white space readers really will have no other clues as to what the illustration could be and therefore must use their imagination.

    by Kevin Henkes

    A little white rabbit hops along through fields. While hopping along the little white rabbit uses his imagination to think about what life would be like if he was green like the grass or as tall as the fir trees. Each moment of moving through the field sparks another thought as to what life could be like. However, when the little white rabbit notices a cat he hurries and hops back to his family where he feels safe and loved.

    by Michael B. Kaplan, illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch

    Betty Bunny is very sure about a lot of things—and she has no qualms about telling her family her opinions. One day when Betty’s mom introduces her to chocolate cake Betty is SURE that she WILL NOT like eating that strange thing. After a lot of cajoling and coaxing Betty tries the cake—and discovers that she LOVES it (enough that she wants to marry the chocolate cake). Eventually Betty learns lots of other lessons about chocolate cake (such as she shouldn’t put it in her pocket). But the biggest lesson she learns (maybe, she still is really opinionated) is that she might need to try other food that her mom suggests that she should try.

    by Jane Chapman, illustrated by Tim Warnes

    A great big scary bear stomps into a hollow and yells, “I have a great big jar of delicious honey! And it is ALL mine!” Then Bear sits down to slurp the sweet, sticky food. A mouse, two rabbit brothers, and a mole decide that they want some of the sweet stuff and start to sneak toward Bear to see if they can nip some. With a surprising (and happy) ending, readers will laugh at the conclusion and may want to play their own sort of “bear game.” Seriously, little kiddos will want to read this book again and again.

    by Ursula Dubosarsky, illustrated by Andrew Joyner

    A group of little bunnies are eating cake by a lake when all of the sudden they hear a terrible noise! The scared little creatures hightail it though the forest where they alert other animals (anything from elephants to kangaroos) why they are running for their lives. Just as they are all about to get away a big bear asks what is going on. When he declares that there couldn’t be anything that is bigger and scarier than him he bullies the smallest little rabbit to show him the horrible creature. The scared little bunny takes Bear back to the spot where they heard the horrid noise—and once again they hear it. Only this time the bear runs for his life while the little bunny realizes that he really shouldn’t be afraid of a “silly old plop.”               

  • 6 degrees header 01

    dinos and moose

    By Lisa McClatchy

    Precocious Eloise’s boring tutor takes her to the dinosaur museum, but she’s determined to have an exciting time.


    By Jane O’Connor

    Nancy, a precocious little girl, has picture day at school, and she needs the perfect look. She realizes that her hair-do will be critical for such an important day, so she sets out to curl, style, and trim until it’s flawless.

    By Margie Palatini

    Mr. Moose has more mustache than he can control. It causes all sorts of problems until the day he meets Ms. Moose, a lady with luscious locks to rival his facial hair.

    By Lisa M. Bakos

    Martha wants a pet, so she orders a moose. When her new pet arrives, they have such a marvelous time together that she throws caution to the wind and begins ordering moose after moose.

    By Dr. Seuss

    Even though a little boy and his sister want every pet in the pet store, they get to choose only one. Told in Dr. Seuss's characteristic rhyming style.  

    By Claire Freedman

    Do you really know why dinosaurs are extinct? Rhyming text reveals it was because of the Mighty Underpants War.


  • 6 degrees header 01

    Ever wonder how librarians hone their recommendation skills? Sometimes, our librarians play a game we call the 6 Degrees of reading. The rules are simple: choose six books, each connected somehow to the book above it, with the last book in the list connecting to the first. Periodically, we like the results enough to share them with you.

    This week we're turning to picture books to make our way from a duck with an identity crises, through misbehaving objects and pets, and back again! 

    Identity Crisis and Correspondence 01

    by Karma Wilson

    Duddle Puck, the puddle duck, is one farm animal who seems to be experiencing an identity crisis . Although he doesn’t seem to mind the fact that he never quacks, the rest of the farm is bothered by his clucks, oinks, honks, and neighs. Will Duddle Puck ever quack?

    by Michael Hall

    It says “Red” on his label, but every time Red tries to color, it comes out blue. He tries his best but he just can’t do it and everyone notices. Red is having an identity crisis and wants to act like the other crayons . However, perhaps he needs to learn how to just be himself.

    by Drew Daywalt

    Duncan’s crayons are writing him to let him know that they cannot keep working under the current conditions and are, therefore, quitting. Through their letters , they explain their hilarious demands to him and Duncan learns more about his trusty friends. 

    by Mark Teague

    Ike has been sent to obedience school and he is not happy about it. Through a series of letters to his owner, he makes his feelings about the situation clear. He eventually runs away from school and lives on the lamb but in the end makes his way home under exciting circumstances.

    Jennifer LaRue Huget

    A young boy explains everything you need to know if you want to run away. The boy himself runs away but his memories of home aided by his imagination are making him have second thoughts.

    Bonus connection: Two LaRues! 

    by Antoinette Portis

    A stick is not a stick. When you use your imagination, a stick can be anything. In fact, this little pig is not just a simple farm animal —it can be an artist or a weightlifter or whatever the pig chooses to be. 


  • BB 2017 FB

    Each year we put together a list of the top 60 best children’s books (according to our children’s librarians). As we have been whittling down our lists some titles are harder to take off—almost painful because they are great books. These five books are fantastic! Truly amazing! Yet they just didn’t make the list. If it was the 65 best children’s books, these titles would have been on there.

    As we keep you in suspense as to our top 60 books (which we will reveal at our Best Books program next Tuesday), take a look at these books that almost made the cut.

    2.14 The Legend of Rock Paper ScissorsTHE LEGEND OF ROCK PAPER SCISSORS
    By Drew Daywalt
    Illustrated by Adam Rex

    This is a great picture book—and I liked it so much that I even bought it! Really, it is a good book. It tells the story of Rock (who lives in the Kingdom of the Backyard) and is the strongest in the land. No one could beat Rock in any challenge. Then (in the Empire of Mom’s Home Office) there lived another warrior named Paper. Once again in this empire there was none who could best Paper. In a third place (the Kitchen Realm) there lived a warrior named Scissors who could not be beaten in all of her challenges. Daywalt and Rex put together a hilarious tale as to why these three warriors battle together (and thus explains the rock, paper, scissors game that children all over the world play). Seriously, this is a pretty funny book. 


    2.14 Orphan IslandORPHAN ISLAND
    By Laurel Snyder

    It is not often that you find a Juvenile Fiction title as divisive as this one, or one that can get as many people talking. Orphan Island tells the story of Jinny, a girl who has grown up on a secluded island populated only by nine orphans. Each year, a boat arrives to deliver a new child and the oldest is expected to leave without knowing what awaits them on the boat. But when Jinny’s boat comes, she doesn’t leave and the island – once a perfect, nurturing home – begins to change. This book is in many ways a classic “coming of age” story, but also it isn’t. This book, its setting and its plot are wildly imaginative and are bolstered by truly skillful writing – providing lots of opportunities for discussion. It’s hard to discount the buzz surrounding this book – it’s a National Book Award Longlist Title and it’s on the Mock Newbery list of anyone who has such a list – but it’s also incredible divisive with vocal people arguing about it either way. While this wasn’t one of our favorite books of the year, it’s been discussed too much to leave off our list completely. 


    2.14 Real FriendsREAL FRIENDS
    By Shannon Hale
    Illustrated by LeUyen Pham

    Shannon Hale joins up with LeUyen Pham (who also illustrates Shannon’s PRINCESS IN BLACK series) in this graphic novel memoir about making and keeping friends. Shannon and her best friend Adrienne have been best friends since they were little, but when Adrienne becomes friends with the most popular girl in school, things begin to change between them and Shannon questions whether or not she and Adrienne will be able to stay friends. This story is one that most readers will be able to identify with – whether they’ve been bullied by the popular kids or not.  Also, since Shannon Hale is a local author, it’s set in Salt Lake City which is sort of extra fun for kids from Utah. This story is honest and a little heartwarming, and though it didn’t make our final list is a great choice for Raina Telgemeir or Cece Bell fans. 


    by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm

    This is a great nonfiction title (which follows up the brilliant book Buried Sunlight: How Fossil Fuels Have Changed the Earth). Bang and Chisholm explain how water moves around the world thanks to the heat of the sun—both through the sun’s part of the water cycle and due to the sun heating various currents in the oceans. This is a book full of information and facts presented in a picture book format so even the younger scientists can understand how water works and how the sun plays a major part to what happens to the water. 


    2.14 Harry Millers RunHARRY MILLER'S RUN
    By David Almond
    Illustrated by Salvatore Rubbin

    Most juvenile intermediate books are formula books—ones where they are part of a series and you can predict that the book will (re)introduce the characters in chapter one, throw in a bit of conflict (usually of the same variety as previous books in the series) in chapter two, etc. Not Harry Miller’s Run. This book is a stand-alone story that is beautifully written AND happens to be a juvenile intermediate book. Liam needs to train for an upcoming race and so he talks to his older neighbor (Harry Miller) who happens to have run the same race when he was younger. This is a great story about something seemingly insignificant (like talking to an elderly neighbor) can actually be interesting, fun, and helpful. Plus, the way Harry Miller tells his tale, readers will almost feel like going out for a jog themselves. Almond has written yet another great story—and lucky for us this one is an intermediate book!

  • bilingual chinese


    Provo Library has a good collection of Spanish materials, and quite a few bilingual dictionaries in a variety of languages, but it does not really collect other foreign language materials.  There are, however a number of picture books that just happen to be bilingual.  The language most often represented is Chinese.  Since there are a lot of people in Provo with an interest in Chinese, especially through the dual emersion program at Wasatch Elementary, and since Chinese New Year is coming up, I thought I might post a list of Chinese/English picture books. 


    By Li Jian
    By Oliver Chin
    By Li Jian
    By Li Jian 
    By Li Jian 
    By Li Jian 


    By Belle Yang  
    By Belle Yang 


    By David Bruins 
    By Huy Voun Lee
    By Huy Voun Lee 
    By Ed Young 
    By Ed Young 
  • Jen Bryant

    According to Jen Bryant, the most important skills an author can have are patience, perseverance, a love of language, good observational skills, and self-discipline. This is reflected in what and how she writes. Jen Bryant’s many published books cover a wide variety of topics, both fiction and nonfiction, including poetry books and over a dozen biographies. She likes to find a subject that has been written about for adults and try to make that subject into something younger audiences would enjoy. In interviews Jen has said that she loves the researching process. It’s like a scavenger hunt to find the most interesting details about something true. When she researches a topic for one of her books, it is an extensive and exciting process that involves reading books and articles, watching movies, videos, and plays, giving interviews, and visiting museums, archives, special collections, and small towns where historic events occurred. Jen then takes all of this information and crafts beautiful, detailed, and personal picture books, biographies, and poems.  

    We are thrilled to host Jen Bryant at BYU’s Symposium on Books for Young Readers. Before she comes, check out some of her books.

    Written by Jen Bryant
    Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

    An inspiring picture-book biography of Louis Braille--a blind boy so determined to read that he invented his own alphabet.



    Written by Jen Bryant
    Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

    This picture book biography of William Carlos Williams traces childhood events that lead him to become a doctor and a poet.


    7.13 Pieces of GeorgiaPIECES OF GEORGIA
    By Jen Bryant

    An accessible novel in poems, Pieces of Georgia offers an endearing protagonist-an aspiring artist, a grieving daughter, a struggling student, a genuine friend-and the poignant story of a broken family coming together.




    7.14 Ringside 1925RINGSIDE 1925: VIEWS FROM THE SCOPES TRIAL
    By Jen Bryant

    The year is 1925, and the students of Dayton, Tennessee, are ready for a summer of fishing, swimming, and drinking root beer floats at Robinson's Drugstore. But when their science teacher, J. T. Scopes, is arrested for having taught Darwin's theory of evolution, it seems it won't be an ordinary summer in Dayton.



    By Jen Bryant
    Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

    Presents an illustrated introduction to the life and work of artist Horace Pippin, describing his childhood love for drawing and the World War I injury that challenged his career.



    7.13 The Fortune of Carmen NavarroFORTUNE OF CARMEN NAVARRO
    By Jen Bryant

    Inspired by the novella and opera Carmen, Jen Bryant creates a strong-minded and alluring heroine in this contemporary tale of tragic love





  • construction books


    I am the parent of a toddler. Right now, he’s pretty well obsessed with three things: dogs (Paw Patrol specifically, though he likes dogs generally), cats, and construction vehicles. Lucky for us, it’s not hard to find books to satisfy all these obsessions, especially since our children’s department has a “Things that Go” hot topic section.

    Before I get to my list of favorite books from the “Things that Go” section, let me gush a little about Hot Topics. Before I became a parent, it seemed like a good idea to reorganize a large number of our picture books by topic rather than by author. Now that I’m a parent, I realize it's genius. Kids tend to go through phases of intense interest, and it’s SO NICE to be able to go to one place to find all the construction vehicle picture books instead of having to hunt them down in the stacks with a toddler in tow. We’ve found books we probably never would have checked out and they’ve become some of our favorites. I can reliably walk out with a stack of 10-15 books and know my son will be interested in all of them. With topics like ABCs, Colors, Princesses, Super Heroes, Potty Training, and more, the Hot Topics section is one of my favorite library parenting hacks. 

    That said, here are some of our favorite books we’ve found during our many visits to the “Things that Go” section that are sure to please your construction-loving toddler.

    9.7.17 ConstructionCONSTRUCTION
    by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock

    Construction is a book about—you guessed it—construction! This great read-aloud has illustrations that I find interesting, great rhymes and rhythm, and sound effects that you get to decide how to pronounce! These are Calvin’s favorite part, though he’s at an age where he’s asking what every unfamiliar word means and I don’t really know what to say when he asks me what “Thwock” means. 

    9.7.17 DemolitionDEMOLITION
    by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock

    This is the second book in the Sutton/Lovelock construction trilogy (the first is actually ROADWORK, which is great but not quite as much of a favorite), and the things I said about CONSTRUCTION pretty much apply here too. One thing I appreciate about these books is that I feel like I learn things too. Did you know that old concrete gets crushed up and recycled into new concrete? Also, these two books are the only two books my son has actively protested returning to the library.

    by James Horvath

    This one follows a sort of “day in the life” of a dog at a construction site (where dogs are fully capable workers and not just tag-a-longs). It’s another good read-aloud, and it’s got dogs and constructions vehicles and a DINOSAUR BONE, so it’s right up Calvin’s alley.


    by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

    I’ve already written about GOODNIGHT, GOODNIGHT CONSTRUCTION SITE (which we still read often), so I thought I’d share the sequel, MIGHTY MIGHTY CONSTRUCTION SITE. Every bit as charming as its predecessor, this volume introduces some new friends to help build a building! I loved the emphasis on partnership, I love the introduction of the new trucks, and I love the way the two books complement and frame one another. 

    9.7.17 Construction KittiesCONSTRUCTION KITTIES
    by Judy Sue Goodwin-Sturges, illustrated by Shari Halpern

    I’m going to be honest: this one was not my favorite, but Calvin LOVED it. This reminds me a lot of DIG, DOGS, DIG!, from the “day in the life” aspect to the actual thing they’re building (spoiler alert: it’s a park. In at least half of the kids’ books about construction, they build parks).  But there are cats, and there are construction vehicles, and sometimes that’s all you need. He'll sometimes end the book by asking, "Can we be construction kitties?" which, of course, we can. If you need me, I'll be meowing and driving a backhoe loader. 




    cooking with kiddos

    Cooking and libraries are friends. It may not seem like it due to the fact that libraries don’t have kitchens where people can come and cook. But they do have shelves and shelves of cookbooks. Seriously, there are so many books that people can check out that teaches them how to make so many scrumptious things. And every month one of our staff members blogs about a recipe she has made from one of our cookbooks. Seriously. Check out her last Cooking the Books post. Once you read it you will know that the library loves cooking!  

    Since I work in the Children’s Department, I am interested in the cooking books we have for kids. We also have some shelves with kid cookbooks. And I know a lot of kids who like to cook. They love being “helpers” that measure, dump in, or mix ingredients (although really they specialize in making messes…). Then I got to thinking about what picture books there are that deal with cooking. These aren’t the cookbooks that have recipes to make things, but more of the stories where characters actually do some cooking.  

    Turns out there are A LOT of picture books that talk about cooking. And in looking at my favorites of these books I realized that there are quite a few specifically about making soup. Who knew?!? So next time you make soup, let the little ones dump stuff in, stir it around a bit, and then pull out one of these fun soup making books and read while dinner simmers.   

    rainbow stewRAINBOW STEW
    by Cathryn Falwell

    In this book three kiddos are visiting their grandpa. It is raining so Grandpa suggests that they make rainbow stew. This means they tromp outside in their raincoats and pick all sorts of colors from Grandpa’s garden. Then they come inside and get cooking. While the soup is simmering, Grandpa reads books to the kiddos. (See, totally a good idea, eh?) Plus as a bonus there is a recipe for the rainbow stew at the end of the book.  

    gazpacho for nachoGAZPACHO FOR NACHO
    by Tracey Kyle,  illustrated by Carolina Farías

    This is another book where a kid is cooking soup (I did warn you about that, right?). In this case it is gazpacho soup for a kid named Nacho. Nacho is a kid that is super picky. He doesn’t want to eat anything other than gazpacho—so his mom teaches him how to cook. Then Nacho realizes that he likes cooking and just maybe he should eat more than just his favorite soup. And just like RAINBOW STEW there is the bonus of a recipe at the end of the book.  

    stone soupSTONE SOUP
    by Marcia Brown

    This book is a classic! It is a tale about three soldiers who are on their way home from war. They stop in a village and try to get something to eat. Only, not many people are willing to help—until they trick them all into making stone soup! So, not only does the whole town make soup together, but this book could be a catalyst to talk to kiddos about what being nice and neighborly means to you.  


    fandango stewFANDANGO STEW
    by David Davis, illustrated by Ben Galbraith

    This is a retelling of the classic tale STONE SOUP (see above). The twist in here is that the characters and the setting have a Wild, Wild West flare as well as some Spanish words sprinkled in the text. Anyway, the grandpa and grandson in this story help the people of the town of Skinflint realize that being generous is just as important as anything else. And there are cowboy hats. Imagine cooking soup with cowboy hats! Wouldn’t that be fun?  


    is that wise pigIS THAT WISE, PIG?
    by Jan Thomas

    In this silly story Cow, Mouse, and Pig are making soup. (But you probably figured that out since all of these books have been about soup, right?) Cow and Mouse add sensible ingredients (like vegetables). But Pig is silly and tries to add things like galoshes. This book is especially fun since little kiddos will giggle at the fact that they know not to add umbrellas to soup and Pig doesn’t! Seriously. This is hilarious! If you only read one making soup book with toddlers…then this is the book you should choose to read.  

    that is not a good ideaTHAT IS NOT A GOOD IDEA
    by Mo Willems

    So, this is a bonus book for you. It is a book about making a soup for dinner—only there is a secret ingredient that might not be 100% something that you would add to your soup dinners. So, please read this. And laugh. (Just don’t blame me if the kiddos wonder if the secret ingredient is in your soup…)  


    Hopefully you and the kiddos in your life will love making soup and reading these books. What type of soup is popular in your households?   

  • bilingual

    Provo Library carries quite a few Spanish materials. On the children’s side, we often get parents wanting bilingual books in Spanish and English to help younger patrons learn a second language while they’re small. Like our patrons, our Spanish collection isn’t the biggest, but we’re growing! We even have bilingual board books to start breaking language barriers early. Here are five bilingual board books you can find in the children’s Spanish section.

    by Say and Play Bilingual

    This adorable board book taught me that “duckling” in Spanish is “patito.” Cute in both languages! This board book keeps it simple: each page has one baby animal with both its English and Spanish name.

    oink moo meowOINK, MOO, MEOW - OINK, MUU, MIAU
    by Say and Play Bilingual

    Another by Say and Play Bilingual, but this book takes it to the next level. Each page still features one animal, but it’s focused on the animal sounds. Learn that the frog says Ribbit! in English, but la rana dice ¡Croac! en Espanol. It’s a great intellectual exercise to realize that even animal sounds are portrayed differently in different languages and countries.  

    mis numerosMY NUMBERS - MIS NUMEROS
    by Rebecca Emberley

    This simple board book introduces readers to numeros uno a diez. As a bonus, each number corresponds with an everyday object. Five carrots becomes cinco zanahorias and seven stars becomes siete estrellas.  

    a color of his ownA COLOR OF HIS OWN - SU PROPIO COLOR
    by Leo Lionni

    The Chameleon realizes every animal and plant can claim a color except him. He feels pretty lonely without a color to call his own until the day he meets another chameleon who explains that they can change color together! This classic story is told in English with Spanish translations on each page.  

    by Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver

    These BabyLit classics crack me up! In board book format, each “classic” uses a notable literary work to explain a simple concept. Some focus on counting or opposites; this one highlights Spanish. You’ll learn that Don Quixote is a man or el hombre, that windmills are also los molinos de viento, and that the faithful Sancho Panza is Don Quixote’s friend or amigo. The illustrations in this series are some of my favorite.


  • fashionable

    Working at a library as a grown-up, I’m often really jealous of kids who get to read books I would have loved when I was their age but which didn’t exist yet. These days, kids interested in fashion have a bevy of books to choose from—something I will always be jealous of. Here are my favorite books for fashionable kids. 

    By Philip Hopman

    This dual biography of Hubert de Givenchy (who passed away just last week) and his most famous client, Audrey Hepburn, is a beautiful, fashionable, and colorful story of two best friends. Young readers may not appreciate the depictions of a fish-out-of-water Audrey in famous movie costumes yet, but will still enjoy the water colors of beautiful dresses. 


    By Kyo Maclear
    Illustrated by Julie Morstad

    This new picture book biography is about Elsa Schiaparelli, a fashion designer known for creating innovative dresses that were works of art. This book is inspiring—reminding young readers that they can accomplish great things and “bloom” into something beautiful—and filled with illustrations of flowers and dresses in Elsa’s signature shade of hot pink. 


    By Steven Guarnaccia

    In this fashionable and “mod” retelling of Cinderella, the titular character is transformed into haute couture by a fairy godfather who looks suspiciously like Karl Lagerfeld. Fashion aficionados will love the references to some recognizable styles of the 20th century (the end pages will help you identify them) and little fashionistas will love the bright and unique illustrations. 


    By Chesley McLaren and Pamela Jaber

    This ABC book takes kids on a simple tour through the history of fashion mentioning ruffs, chopines, flappers, and more. The swirly, often silly, illustrations enhance the goofy (and true) stories about high fashion through time. This book is a must for fashionable readers and the pink cover definitely adds to the kid appeal. 


    By Jennifer Croll
    Illustrated by Ada Buchholc

    This is the only book on my list that isn’t a picture book, but it is still filled with illustrations of fashionable ladies and the clothes that made them famous. This book tells the story of famous women who made history because they were well-dressed and not in spite of it. Slightly older readers with an interest in celebrity and fashion will love this in-depth look at the power of clothes.

  •  mother child books

    It’s Mother’s Day month and the library has a lot of books that focus on the relationship of mother and child. I can’t help but reflect on my relationship with my children and feel nostalgic about when they were really little. There are little mothering moments that I remember and cherish. Reading, of course, happens to be my favorite. These days instead of picture books, my children have the attention span to listen to a chapter from a longer novel, and it is still my favorite thing in the world. Nothing really compares to snuggling on the couch and reading all together. Right after having my first child we created a nightly ritual. It makes all the hard moments worthwhile, even though it turns “getting ready for bed” into a marathon-long nightly routine. Every so often we pick a book about the relationship of mother and child, and as the pages continue to turn, tears eventually come to my eyes because the story is that touching. With all the adorable mother-child relationship books I see, I decided to share my favorites.    

    When I Carried You In My BellyWHEN I CARRIED YOU IN MY BELLY
    by Thrity Umrigar. illustrated by Ziyue Chen

    A mother looks back and describes to her child all the experiences she had while she was pregnant, and how they helped create who she is today. The strong relationship shared between her and the child is perfectly experienced by the reader. 

    Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little ToesTEN LITTLE FINGERS TEN LITTLE TOES 
    by Mem Fox

    This simple story has always been one of my favorites. The board book version is perfect for reading with babies. It goes through the experience of babies from different parts of the world. Even though they come from different places, they are all similar in so many ways, but of course, each baby has their own special mama.    

    by Allison McGhee and Peter H. Reynolds

    Mcghee and Reynolds have captured the memorable, special mothering moments and combined them with the hopes and dreams every mother has for her own children. This sweet, simple story can be shared with children and treasured by mothers.

    The Kissing HandTHE KISSING HAND 
    by Audrey Penn

    This story is perfect for the beginning of the school year, especially for a child who is nervous about the experience. I still give my daughter a kissing hand every night before she goes to bed, and she says, “Mama loves me.” We first read this book together a few years ago, but she has carried on the nightly tradition. Penn also perfectly describes a mother’s feelings in sending a child to school for the first time. Sometimes it is just as hard as it is for the child.  

    The Runaway BunnyTHE RUNAWAY BUNNY 
    by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd

    This timeless classic continues to be a staple of every reading collection. Brown captures the lengths a mother will go to be with her child, and Hurd’s pictures perfectly accompany the story. Every other spread contains illustrations with no words, which provides time to have the children tell the story and describe what is happening along with the reader. This story is perfect for a child of any age, especially the youngest listeners.


  • covers


    I absolutely, definitely judge books by their covers. I’m always scanning the shelves (and the floor, and patron’s hands) for covers that are unique in design and childlike in sensibility. When a book’s cover catches my eye, I pick it up. That is how I choose the books I want to read. It’s not a perfect approach. But I have found that form usually follows function and more often than not, an interesting book cover contains an interesting story inside.  

    Here are five books I simply happened across in the children’s section: books I'd never heard of before, but which had graphically bold or visually detailed covers that I was drawn to. Once I opened up these books, I found stories and illustrations inside that confirmed what the covers suggested. Not all books should be judged by their covers, but it’s working out pretty well for me so far.  

    (Interestingly, all five of these books are by Japanese authors and illustrators.)              

    issun boshiISSUN BOSHI
    By Icinori    

    Issun Boshi is the first book I checked out as a librarian. I was sucked in by the cover illustration boldly rendered in orange, teal, yellow, and black with stark negative space. I picked it up partially because I couldn’t tell how old it was from looking at the cover. Like a lot of less familiar folktales, ISSUN BOSHI feels at once fresh and ancient. It is the story of a one-inch tall boy who leaves home to find adventure, armed with a rice bowl and a needle. The words and images create a striking picture book of unusual peril but also unusual subtlety.



    you are my best friendYOU ARE MY BEST FRIEND
    By Tatsuya Miyanishi    

    This cover is densely patterned, boldly colored, and full of glaring dinosaurs—which makes its sweet title intriguing. Inside, we get the story of a destructive and violent Tyrannosaurus who learns about gratitude and friendship when the Elasmosaurus saves his life. I like that YOU ARE MY BEST FRIEND is extremely aware of its audience, both in word and image. It feels like a story a child would tell accompanied by drawings a child would draw, but with the finesse and sophistication of a hugely talented adult author/illustrator.      


    annos counting bookANNO’S COUNTING BOOK
    By Mitsumasa Anno

    I liked the careful little scene on the cover of Anno’s Counting Book and was rewarded with an exceptional presentation of natural mathematics inside. The development of a village and its countryside is depicted only with pictures and numbers. The landscape and its inhabitants change and expand and multiply in patterns and sequences throughout seasons of the year. Anno’s delicate little drawings are full of life and detail. Every plant, animal, person, and building is worth discovering because each countable feature (windows, branches, petals) is significant in relation to everything else.        


    kuma kumaKUMA KUMA CHAN’S HOME
    By Kazue Takahashi  

    Sometimes just the color of a book jacket or the typeface of the title or even the size of a book is enough to make me want to pick it up. This slim little pale pink book fit so nicely in my hands - how could I resist? KUMA KUMA CHAN’S HOME is a tiny book, sweetly and simply rendered, about an imperfect but ultimately nice visit between friends. The story, like the cover art, is understated, gentle, and minimal.    


    how to draw almost everythingHOW TO DRAW ALMOST EVERYTHING
    By Chika Miyata  

    The childlike drawing style featured on the cover of HOW TO DRAW ALMOST EVERYTHING feels similar to Anno’s, which is probably why this book caught my attention. Invitingly simple but engagingly specific, this “Illustrated Sourcebook” teaches the reader how to doodle just about anything you might need to doodle. The step-by-step illustrations are encouraging and accessible and the book really does cover a huge breadth of subjects: animals, plants, faces, clothing, foods, vehicles, emotions, actions.  


  • calvin

    Whenever someone learns that I work at a library, they usually ask one of three questions:

    1. What’s your favorite book?
    2. What are you reading?
    3. What do you recommend?

    The last two are usually more enjoyable to answer than the first question, but lately those questions have been very difficult for me. I’m going to be honest here. Yes, I work at a library, but I am not a librarian. I’m also the parent of a one-year-old, and so right now between working full time and parenting that little fellow, the answer is that I read a lot of the same five books. Over, and over, and over again. I hope that some time in the next year I will learn how to get dinner on the table before 8:30 at night; I hope that I will find time and space to read for myself again; I hope that maybe Calvin will learn to like more books (he will). But for now, it’s these five. So I present to you Calvin’s (the one-year-old) favorite five books, which I somehow still don’t hate even though I read them each at least five times a day.

    by Emily Gravett  

    The premise of this book is simple: four words, combined in varied ways, create new pictures. I don’t want to spoil the jokes, so I’ll leave the description there. Calvin loves to be asked, “Where’s the bear?”; the bear looks slightly different on every page, so it feels like a challenge. Plus, I roar when he finds it, so there’s that.

    by Sandra Boynton

    This was the first book Calvin actually listened to in its entirety. And then asked to hear again. And again. In Calvin’s eyes, this book has three real strengths: first, it’s not too long. Second, it’s filled with a variety of animals. Third, as each animal represents a different emotion, the opportunities for silly and changing voices abound. This one’s a great read-aloud for little ones, and I’m still amused by the book’s final insistence that “A difficult mood is not here to stay. Unless you’re that duck. He’s always this way.”

    by Dr. Seuss  

    It’s always satisfying when your child loves a book that you loved as a child, so when Calvin willingly sat in my lap and listened as we read about all these variously positioned, colored, and tempered feet, we both felt as fuzzy inside as “fuzzy fur feet”. This book is fun for all the usual reasons that a Dr. Seuss book is fun: delightfully silly rhymes, that signature art style, the way that something so ordinary becomes whimsical. After we’re done reading, Calvin loves to open up to either the very front or very back pages (which have tons of images of the main character) and we just keep saying, “Feet! Feet! Feet! Feet!” This is a part of the story his Dad invented, and it’s his favorite.

    by Richard Priddy  

    This is probably the book we spend the most time with. Our copy is a large board book that we picked up at the Library’s Used Book Store, and Calvin loves to carry it around because his first love is carrying objects that seem much too large for him (at grandma’s house, his favorite thing to play with is her steam mop. But I digress…). This one is great for especially young kids; lots of animals, each isolated on a bright colored background (making it easy to distinguish them from one another and point to your favorites). Calvin’s favorite is the bunny. The chicken and the giraffe are close seconds. 

    by Lisa McCourt  

    I fully expect Calvin to move on from a few of these books before he can really comprehend their message, but this is one I hope he sustains interest in long enough to really understand the story. In I LOVE YOU, STINKY FACE, a child prolongs his bedtime routine by posing an escalating series of “what if?” scenarios to his patient, patient mother. “What if I smelled so bad my name was Stinky Face? What if I was a terrible meat-eating dinosaur? Would you still love me?” The book is silly and playful, but reinforces maybe the best lesson: that no amount of bad breath, big teeth, or bug-eating can stop a parent from loving their child.

  • toddler faves

    Last year I shared my son Calvin’s favorite books. He was one at the time, and was just barely at a place where he enjoyed being read to. The last year of parenting has had its ups and downs, but one thing we’ve done right is to continue to read to him. It’s now a several-times-daily activity. Calvin is branching out and learning to like new books, but he does have some tried and true favorites that he keeps coming back to.  

    Though we’ve done our best to expose Calvin to lots of possible interests, he is obsessed with trucks, trains, and construction vehicles right now. You’ll notice a strong bias in that direction.  

    goodnight goodnight construction siteGOOD NIGHT, GOOD NIGHT CONSTRUCTION SITE
    by Sherri Rinker
    Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

    This is the book Calvin asks for every. single. night. The text has a great rhyme scheme, Lichtenheld’s illustrations are just the right blend of cutesy and beautiful, but really it’s the trucks that interest Calvin. After a hard day’s work, a variety of large vehicles are tucked safely away to rest. I credit this book for my son’s ability to correctly identify an “excavator.”   Side note: before I had a child, there were basically two kinds of construction vehicles to me: cranes and bulldozers. I have now seen the error of my ways, and can tell you the difference between a front-end loader, a grader, an excavator, and a bulldozer.

    by Gyo Fujikawa

    The library doesn’t actually have a copy of this book, but we do have several by Fujikawa so you can get a sense of her illustration style. I don’t quite know what it is about this book that fascinates Calvin. The book talks about all the different things babies do (which is basically eat, sleep, repeat). He does like seeing the babies learn things like putting on shoes and eating with a spoon. Plus there are puppies and kitties and small children romping through fields of flowers. It’s a bit cutesy for my taste, but I guess this list isn’t about me.

    curious george takes a trainCURIOUS GEORGE TAKES A TRAIN 
    by H.A. Rey, Margaret Rey & Martha Weston

    The love that Calvin has for Curious George knows virtually no bounds. He has seen every episode of the show at least 7 times (I don’t know what that says about us as parents. Probably nothing good…also, I’m lying. It’s probably at least 12 times). He clapped when we finally decorated his room and put up some Curious George art; my mother gave him a Curious George blanket that he wants to take on every car ride even though he’s historically been a blanket-hater. Though I prefer the Curious George books written by Margaret and H.A. Rey (rather than the new series inspired by them), this one is pretty short and has a train, so it wins for Calvin.

    i am a bunnyI AM A BUNNY
    by Old Risom
    Illustrated by Richard Scarry

    I was surprised and a little sad that the library doesn’t own a stand-alone copy of this book, though the compilation linked here is definitely worth your time. I first became interested in I AM A BUNNY when we had some of Scarry’s original art on display in The Attic. I typically think of Scarry as the illustrator who created the worm with the bowtie, but the art in I AM A BUNNY is gorgeous. The text that follows a bunny throughout the seasons is simple; in fact, Calvin has it memorized, and I’ll usually have him complete the sentences. I challenge you to find something more adorable than a two-year-old saying, “Butterflies chase me!” in a sing-song voice. It’s the cutest thing ever.  

    freight trainFREIGHT TRAIN
    by Donald Crews

    With so much available for kids to read and watch, I’m sometimes baffled by the things that Calvin likes. “This?!? Out of all that is good and beautiful for you to love in the world, you like THIS?!?” Happily, FREIGHT TRAIN is not like that. The art is interesting and graphic and beautiful, but it’s also really accessible to very young readers. FREIGHT TRAIN names all the cars of the train (each a different color), and then has the train go until it’s going, going, gone! At the end of the book, Cal always asks, “Where’d the train go?”, which isn’t the cutest thing EVER but is amusing every time.  

    Also, I’m only talking about books here, but if you have a small person in your life that is obsessed with vehicles and construction equipment, you’ve probably got to share MIGHTY MACHINES with them. MIGHTY MACHINES features live action footage of large vehicles doing what they do with narration that is both informative and silly (why does the small crane have a terrible Italian accent? We’ll never know…). We stream it in Netflix, but the library has several compilations that will surprise and delight again and again (and again. And again. And again…).  

    Possible side effect: Your child may ask to “watch garbage” every day for a month. And you will let him, because that garbage episode is gross and fascinating and one of the bulldozers randomly sings about crushing garbage and going to the disco, which sounds like a great way to live. 

  • Dan Santat

    Caldecott Award-winning author and illustrator Dan Santat is coming to the Provo City Library! (I just did another happy dance!) If you haven’t had the wonderful opportunity to read any books by or illustrated by Dan Santat then you are missing out! He is amazing! How many exclamation marks can I add to this introductory paragraph? I mean, this is happiness on epic proportions for me!! (Was that bad that I just added two exclamation marks to the end of one sentence? Does this help you understand just how amazing this is?)

    Anyway, in honor of such a great force in children’s literature coming to our library, I am going to tell you about five of my favorite books that he wrote/illustrated. (I know, you are asking yourself the same question: How could you just pick five? And I cheated. There are a couple where I picked certain books so I could sneak a few more your way. I had to. Dan Santat has written and illustrated SO MANY good books that really five is just too few to share just how amazing he is.)

    Written by Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Dan Santat

    This is a great book. Basically this girl gets first place on her science project…only just as she is accepting her first place blue ribbon she realizes that the robot is headed out on a rampage into the city. She has to go and stop her robot! Of course she forgot to give the robot ears so it can’t hear her tell him to stop (or teach him to read for the same reason). Basically, she has to create a giant monster that can then stop the robot. (Only creating a giant monster that can take care of a giant robot comes with its own set of problems.) One of the things I really like about this book is that it is a girl scientist. There aren’t that many books that showcase just how smart girls are (not just can be) in the science fields.  And the end pages are just funny. Dan Santat totally nailed these illustrations—which is why this book is on the list. [And as an added bonus there is a sequel! OH NO! NOT AGAIN! (OR HOW I BUILT A TIME MACHINE TO SAVE HISTORY) (OR AT LEAST MY HISTORY GRADE) is also written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Dan Santat.]

    Are We There YetARE WE THERE YET?
    Written and Illustrated by Dan Santat

    This book is fun on so many levels. In this story a kid and his parents are headed to a birthday party for Grandma. Of course while on the long drive to grandma’s house there is a lot of “Are we there yet?” questions. And then the kid’s imagination starts to take over. The book’s pages are turned upside-down and the adventures are bigger and better than any road trip I have ever taken. Then eventually the family gets to grandma’s house and the party. Which means that the question soon becomes, “Can we go now?” when too many relatives start pinching cheeks.


    Written and Illustrated by Dan Santat

    Dan Santat received the Caldecott Award for this book. It is amazing! Basically in the book Beekle was born where all imaginary friends are created. He waited and waited (and waited) for someone to imagine him. Only nobody ever did. So Beekle decided to take matters into his own hands. Off he goes to the real world where he is in search of his friend—which he finds! And there is much happiness!



    Written and Illustrated by Dan Santat

    Captain Amazing is in need of a new sidekick to help him fight crime. There are a couple of candidates that really want the job—including some of Captain Amazing’s pets. Basically there is a lot of fun superhero bits to this story along with a lot of figuring out who you are (as a sidekick pet especially). I love the depth of this book. I love that it is a whole graphic novel of amazingness. I love that the solution to who the new sidekick(s) is/are. And I can’t tell you much more than that…because it will spoil the ending. Just know I love this book. And I will be asking Dan Santat to sign my copy—which will induce yet another dance of joy.


    Three Ninja PigsTHE THREE NINJA PIGS 
    Written by Corey Rosen Schwartz, Illustrated by Dan Santat

    This is my favorite book that Dan Santat has illustrated. Ever. Possibly because I like ninjas. But also because the illustrations are just plain awesome. This is a fractured fairy tale of the three little pigs (if you couldn’t guess by the title)—only with NINJAS! Basically the three siblings (two brothers and a sister) set off to learn martial arts so they can defeat the Big Bad Wolf who is quite a bully. Only the sister sticks with her training enough to inspire fear in the wolf when he learns of her power and skill. And if it wasn’t cool enough that this book existed, there are also two others in this series. NINJA RED RIDING HOOD and HENSEL AND GRETEL: NINJA CHICKS are also spectacular—though the first book will always be my most favorite! (And do you like how by telling you about this series I get to talk about three books for the price of one Friday Fave?)

    So my friends, if this round of Friday Faves hasn’t inspired you to come to the Children’s Book Festival and meet the AMAZING Dan Santat, then you need to come to the library to check out these books. Because I know that once you read them, you will love Mr. Santat’s work just as much as I do!

  • caldecott

    As you may or may not know, the winner of the Caldecott medal (given to the most distinguished picture book of the year) will be announced this weekend during the American Library Association's Midwinter Conference. Our Library Director, Gene Nelson, has served on the Caldecott committee in the past, and this Friday we've asked him to pick his five favorites to win the medal or to be named honor books. Here are his picks; we'll see how close he gets! 

    1Drum Dream Girl
    written by Margarita Engel, illustrated by Rafael Lopez
    (2015; acrylic )

    Based on the true story of young girl breaking down the gender barrier in drum playing in Cuba, this bright surrealistic picture book is eye catching


    written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes
    (2015; ink, watercolors, colored pencil)

    Previous Caldecott winner Henkes assembles an unlikely group of very patient characters waiting, but for what?


    3If You Plant a Seed
    written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson
    (2015; oil)

    Coretta Scott King winner deftly uses oils in creating a colorful fableish tale of planting seeds.


    4Lenny and Lucy
    written by Philip Stead, illustrated by Erin Stead
    (2015; mixed media)

    The 2011 Caldecott Winner is back with a story about apprehension and friendship.


    5The Whisper
    written and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
    (2015; mixed media)

    Magical and whimsical in color and style, Zagarenski does it again with a heart-warming story about story.


  •  interactive picture books

    I have memories from when I was about two or three of my grandpa reading me MR. BROWN CAN MOO by Dr. Seuss. I vividly remember him doing all the fun noises Mr. Brown does when the book itself poses the question, “Can you?” A child can’t help themselves: They have to make the noises too. The words in this book are multi-colored, enlarged, and enticing. Words like “M-O-O-O-O-O” are drawn out to make the sounds come alive on the page. When it’s time to “whisper, whisper” like a butterfly, the letters are light and tiny, visually signifying how to make the noise. I’ve made these sounds once again as an adult while reading “Mr. Brown” to my children, and I hope they cherish the memories as I have.

    Picture books are often about more than just reading—and sometimes about even more than just the pictures and the story. Children learn with all their senses. This is what makes interactive picture books so much fun for them. They involve touching, listening, seeing, moving and experiencing all at the same time. They facilitate play on many different levels: some are even specifically meant to be a game. My kids love when I bring home interactive picture books. They make sure they each get a turn reading and playing.

    These are some of our favorite Interactive picture books: 

    8.8 The Monster at the End of this BookTHE MONSTER AT THE END OF THIS BOOK
    By John Stone
    Illustrated by Michael Smollin

    This classic continues to live on. I remember this book being read to me when I was little and feeling torn as to whether we should really turn the page, since Grover pleads so adamantly not to. Grover remains his lovable self throughout and, although intense in the middle, it turns out ok in the end. 


    8.8 Press HerePRESS HERE
    By Hervé Tullet

    Tullet has created a fun, interactive experience that requires no screens! The reader is empowered to change what happens as they touch the dots. Each page gives instructions of when and how to touch the dots and it is exciting to see what happens. 

    8.8 This Book is MagicTHIS BOOK IS MAGIC
    By Ashley Evanson

    Although I believe reading is always magic, a child can become a true magician as the pages instruct the reader to “wave their hand” and recite specific magic words. As each page turns the magic is revealed! 


    8.8 Tap the Magic TreeTAP THE MAGIC TREE
    By Christie Matheson

    It begins with a tree that has no leaves. The reader is instructed to tap a certain amount to give the tree different qualities. The tree and its leaves then change through the season, each phase having its own beauty. 


    8.8 Bunny SlopesBUNNY SLOPES
    By Claudia Rueda

    You get to help the bunny go on a ski trip. You are required to turn the book at certain points to make sure the bunny goes where she is supposed to. Children and adults alike will enjoy becoming an integral part of the character’s experience.