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

Frankie’s Magical Day

By Michelle Romo; Abrams Appleseed; 22 pages; $12.99

Frankie’s Magical Day is the perfect sturdy, tote-along, busy-bee book for tots. It introduces a friendly round-faced girl who plays in the garden, shops in the grocery store, walks to the park and more.

Frankie’s Magical Day

On every big, bold page spread, Frankie discovers lots of new words, many secretly magical. A helper gnome in the garden is labeled “secret,” and there are other secret items in every scene.

A fantastic, upbeat, mod, colorful journey for kids just learning words, this book, subtitled “A First Book of Whimsical Words,” is loads of fun.

Max and Bird

By Ed Vere; Sourcebooks Jabberwocky; 32 pages; $17.99

From The New York Times best-selling creator of the “Max” series (Max the Brave) comes kitten Max’s latest adventure, Max and Bird.

With huge expressive eyes, black ball of energy Max 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 on being good friends.

A trip to a library to read books about flying encourages the friends 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, though, their mutual love and respect is cemented.

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


By Matt Carr; Scholastic; 28 pages; $14.99

Preschoolers love superheroes; they also love bats. Matt Carr’s vividly colored book, SuperBat, combines both in a zesty story about bat Pat, who wants to be special.

When Pat dons a cape and realizes he has superpowers, such as flying and navigating through the dark, his friends laugh and tell him all bats do those things. Pat becomes discouraged until his supersonic hearing picks up a family of mice being held captive by a cat. Pat then speeds through the city using his power of echolocation and saves the mice.

He also realizes his superpower is courage.

With an engaging, positive tale of empowerment and courage and a bit of real bat factoids, plus more at the back of the book, 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. But when she meets a new friend who’s shy and says no all the time, Hannah can’t believe the girl’s name is Sunny Everbright.

Hannah does everything happy she can think of to make Sunny smile, from pom-pom shaking to daisy decorating to cheering and dancing. But then it rains, and Sunny smiles and laughs while playing in the mud. And Hannah’s mom reassures Hannah by saying, “We all find happiness in different ways.”

Hannah Sparkles: A Friend Through Rain or Shine is a fun, sparkly tale 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, a lift-the-flap story that follows in the rhyming, sing-songy footsteps of “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly,” begins “I saw Anaconda swallow a tick.”

Readers can then lift up a flap to reveal the tick on the snake’s tongue. They read on: “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!” a piranha and so on.

Sturdy lifts to flap, one shaped like a wound-up snake, pages that open in different directions and a pop-up of all that the anaconda eventually throws up make Jane Clarke’s interactive book 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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