These new picture books are creative and make fantastic story times, even on vacation.

Max and Bird

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

From The New York Times bestselling creator of 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 of being good friends.

A trip to a library to read books about flying encourages Bird and Max to both “flap their wings” with fervor, until 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 has been cemented.

A hilarious tale of friendship and perseverance, Ed Vere’s Max and Bird is irresistible.


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, a bat 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 that 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 and saves the mice using his power of echolocation. He realizes his best superpower is courage.

With a bit of real bat factoids, plus more at the back of the book, and an engaging, positive tale of empowerment and bravery, SuperBat is perfect for anyone who’s ever felt out of place.

Hannah Sparkles

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 makes 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 every happy thing 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 then laughs playing in the mud. Hannah’s mom reassures her, “We all find happiness in different ways, Hannah.”

A fun, sparkly tale subtitled “A Friend Through Rain or Shine,” Hannah Sparkles 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 crowd, even first-graders, love pop-up books. I Saw Anaconda, a cumulative lift-the-flap story, following in the rhyming, singsong-y footsteps of “The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly,” begins with “I saw Anaconda swallow a tick ...”

Readers then can lift a flap to reveal what’s in her mouth, see the tick and the snake’s tongue and read on, “It made her tummy hop and kick! Will she be sick?”

More flaps reveal that the hungry green snake has swallowed a “frog, fresh from the bog, still on his log!” and she proceeds to eat a piranha, having “swallowed the piranha to catch the frog,” and so on.

Sturdy flaps to lift — 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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