These new picture books are creative and unique and make for fantastic storytime, even on vacation.

Max and Bird

By Ed Vere; Puffin; 32 pages; $17.99

From Ed Vere, The New York Times best-selling creator of Max the Brave, comes kitten Max’s latest adventure, Max and Bird.

This black ball of energy with huge, expressive eyes longs for a friend but also wants a tasty snack. He meets little Bird, who asks Max to help him learn to fly. Though Max and Bird both know kittens are supposed to chase birds, they are sidetracked long enough to focus on the task of learning to fly, and then the task of being good friends.

A trip to a library to read books about flying encourages them to “flap their wings” with fervor till they’re both exhausted. They dream of flying and finally get Pigeon to show them how, which benefits Bird, of course, but not Max. By then, their mutual love and respect is cemented.

Max and the Bird is an irresistible, hilarious tale of friendship and perseverance.

Superbat

By Matt Carr; Scholastic; 28 pages; $14.99

Preschoolers love superheroes, and they also love bats. Matt Carr’s vividly colored book, Superbat, combines both with a zesty story about Pat, the bat that wants to be special.

When Pat dons a cape and realizes he has super powers like flying and navigating through the dark, his friends laugh and tell him all bats do those things. Pat becomes discouraged, but when his supersonic hearing picks up a family of mice being held captive by a cat, Pat speeds through the city using his power of echolocation and saves the mice. He also realizes his superpower is courage.

With a bit of real bat factoids in the story and at the back of the book, and an engaging, positive tale of empowerment and courage, Superbat is perfect for anyone who’s ever felt out of place.

Hannah Sparkles: A Friend Through Rain or Shine

By Robin Mellom; illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton; HarperCollins; 32 pages; $17.99

Bubbly Hannah was born happy — very happy, in fact. When she meets a new friend who’s shy and says no all the time, she can’t believe the girl’s name is Sunny Everbright.

Hannah does everything happy she can think of to make Sunny smile, from pompom shaking to daisy decorating to cheering to dancing. Then, it rains, and Sunny smiles and laughs playing in the mud.

Hannah’s mom reassures her by saying, “We all find happiness in different ways, Hannah.”

Hannah Sparkles: A Friend Through Rain or Shine is a fun, sparkly tale is gleefully illustrated and written with zest and love.

I Saw Anaconda

By Jane Clarke; illustrated by Emma Dodd; Nosy Crow/Candlewick Press; 20 pages; $14.99

The preschool and kindergarten crowds, and even first-graders, love pop-up books. I Saw Anaconda is a rhyming, singsong-y story that begins with “I saw Anaconda swallow a tick.” Readers can then lift up a flap to see the tick on the snake’s tongue. The story then reads: “It made her tummy hop and kick! Will she be sick?”

More flaps reveal that the hungry green snake swallows a “frog, fresh from the bog, still on his log!” She then proceeds to eat a piranha, and so on.

With sturdy flaps to life — one shaped like a wound-up snake — and pages that open in different directions and a pop-up of all that the anaconda eventually throws up, Jane Clarke’s interactive book is truly funny, lively and innovative.

— Lee Littlewood writes the Kids’ Home Library column for Creators. The San Diego wife and mom’s pure love of children’s literature helps her stay interested in words and pictures meant for tots to teens. Click here to contact her, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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