Picture Book Roundup: Animals, Adventures and Good Eats

Posted August 3, 2022 by Richetta in Book Reviews, Children's Books / 0 Comments

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My daughter and I recently did a mini picture book reading marathon. So I thought it would be a great time to do a Picture Book Roundup of what we read. Most of the books were published in the last two years. I’ve grouped them into general categories for the roundup but they may fit into more than one. I hope you find a few for you to enjoy!

Graphic of picture book covers

Good Eats

  • Soul Food Sunday by Winsome Bingham and illustrated by C. G. Esperanza. Published November 2021. I loved this vibrantly illustrated book about a grandmother teaching her grandson how to cook Sunday dinner. This book is a celebration of African-American culture, language and tradition via food and family. Your mouth will water as Granny teaches her grandson how to make macaroni and cheese, greens, and the meats for Sunday dinner. If you want to have fun after your finished reading, there is a mac n’ cheese recipe at the end of the book that you will want to try. I plan to try it! Learning Highlights: African-American Culture & Cuisine, Food Prep Skills, Family
  • Kalamata’s Kitchen: Tastebuds in Harmony by Sarah Thomas and illustrated by Jo Kosmides Edwards. Published June 28, 2022. This is the second book in a series featuring Kalamata and her pet alligator Al Dente. This is a fun tale where Kalamata and her friends explore how different ingredients are even better when they are used together. A great analogy for the harmony her dance team wants to achieve. The story encourages readers to experience Malaysian words, foods and cuisine as Kalamata goes on adventure under her magic kitchen table. I will definitely be checking out the first book in the series, Kalamata’s Kitchen. Learning Highlights: Malaysian culture, language and food, teamwork

Animals in Action

  • Solitary Animals: Introverts of the Wild by Joshua David Stein and illustrated by Dominique Ramsey. Published March 8, 2022. Not gonna lie. I chose this book because it had the word introverts in the subtitle. This was a fun book that not only teaches you about which animals are solitary, but you will also learn the vocabulary for what each group of animal is called. For example, I did not know that a group of giraffes is called “a tower”, but it makes sense. There are questions interspersed in the text that lend to an interactive element of the book. The kids and I had fun guessing whether an animal was solitary or not. Learning Highlights: animal behavior, vocabulary
  • It’s an Orange Aardvark! by Michael Hall. Published April 2014. This one isn’t recent but it is a great book to read with preschoolers because it is tactile. The story follows a few ants drilling holes in a tree stump so they can see outside, but some of the ants are afraid there might be an aardvark outside. The fun part, the holes in the page are real! The book also gives little ones to practice their colors and numbers too. The ending had me chuckling. It might be a little hard to find, so I advise checking out your local library for it. Learning Highlights: animal behavior, colors, numbers
  • The Three Billy Goats Gruff retold by Mac Barnett and illustrated Jon Klassen. Publish Date Oct. 18, 2022. This one isn’t out yet but I am super happy Scholastic gave me an opportunity to read the ARC for it! The kids and I had lots of fun and laughs reading this retelling. The illustrations are a little gross but what do you expect a troll’s layer to look like? The repetition in the book makes it an awesome candidate for a participatory read aloud. It is currently on heavy rotation on my kids reading request list. Learning Highlights: fairy tale, creative engagement
  • Frog vs. Toad by Ben Mantle. Published July 5, 2022. This is a clever story about an argument between a frog and a toad. It begins when both characters try to eat the same fly and the fly exclaims, “I’m being eaten by two frogs!” This sets off a verbal battle between the frog and toad that to me sounded like to guys in a barbershop argument. I was cracking up! When I calmed down, I realized that the argument was a slick way of showing how frogs and toads share more similarities than differences. Learning Highlights: animal characteristics, appreciation of similarities and differences

Adventure

  • Bodega Cat by Louie Chin. Published Sept. 2019. Being mildly familiar with bodegas, I absolutely loved this book! It is packed with community and multiculturalism. This is a slice of life story told by Chip, the bodega cat. You get to follow him through the day from the early morning when his family opens the store to the evening when the father cooks dinner for the family and the Korean family that owns the store across the street. This is a celebration of bodegas, bodega cats and the communities they serve in New York City. Learning Highlights: Dominican culture, Spanish language, New York City, community, family
  • Oona by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Raissa Figueroa. Published Jan. 2021. The illustrations are what led me to this book and what kept me reading this book. I will always show up for a Black mermaid and Oona is absolutely adorable with her gorgeous afro. It’s a good story, but I’m actually a bigger fan of the illustrations. There were some missed opportunities for building in explanations for nature (the squid accident and shifting current) and science (how she made the goggles.) While the quest for the crown was fun, it was also a little confusing. But overall, I loved the representation & adventure and I’m looking forward to more books in the series. Learning Highlights: persistence, innovation
  • Ba-chan The Ninja Grandma: An Adventure with Little Kunoichi the Ninja Girl written and illustrated by Sanae Ishida. Published Sept. 2018. This is a fun adventure story of a bored little girl and her pet bunny who are sent along with her little brother to her grandmother’s house where imagination and adventure ensues. Grandma is super creative and live on an island she built herself. You will learn about aspects of Japanese culture and words as you enjoy the story. This is part of a series. Learning Highlights: Japanese culture and language, creativity and innovation

Culture & Language

  • A is for Bee by Ellen Heck. Published June 14, 2022. I already reviewed this one separately, so check it out here: Review: A is for Bee. I loved this celebration of language and the exposure it gives kids to different languages. Learning Highlights: multilingualism
  • Kapaemahu by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson and illustrated by Daniel Sousa. Published June 7, 2022. This bilingual book tells the Indigenous Hawaiian legend of the four Mahu who taught the people of Waikiki science and healing. The Mahu are a mixture of both male and female “in mind, heart and spirit.” It is written in Olelo Niihau and English. In addition to the beautifully illustrated book, I recommend listening to the dynamic audiobook as you read along. The narrator reads the story in both languages and the background sounds and music add to a theatrical delivering of the legend. the end matter of the book provide additional historical context and details for those who want to learn more about the original inhabitants of Hawaii. Learning Highlights: Indigenous Hawaiian culture, legends and language

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