Picture books that enthrall and excite should be kept on bookshelves in every home and school library. These new releases are unique, cool and special, and sure to please not only young children but also adults.

My Wild Family

By Laurent Moreau; Chronicle Books; 32 pages; $17.99

First published in France, My Wild Family is an oversized visual treat that equates one girl’s family members with various animals.

One older brother is strong and respected like an elephant. Her grandmother, sweet and generous, is an owl watching TV. Father, who’s hairy and sometimes fierce, is a lion relaxing at the beach.

Laurent Moreau’s use of vintage colors and mod pictures make each scene worth gazing at again and again. They are thought-provoking and intelligent.

Kids will think of their own family members and how they are like animals. They’ll look at animals differently, too, like how they’re similar to humans because they have families.

Best of all, kids may ask themselves what makes them special and learn to appreciate animals even more.

Goodnight, Firefly

By Gabriel Alborozo; Henry Holt & Co.; 32 pages; $16.99

Two wonderful things are happening in Goodnight, Firefly, an all black-and-white — with a touch of yellow and red — picture book.

First, a little girl soothes herself on a scary night by finding a firefly to light up her room. Second, she eventually realizes it’s time to give back to her new friend by releasing him into the wild, where he flourishes and thanks her by lighting up the sky with other fireflies.

Dramatic, bold illustrations paint a slightly spooky nighttime, although the glowing spots of color add some warmth. Goodnight Firefly will give young children comfort about the wonders that exist outside at night. Readers will nod in agreement when young Nina realizes her firefly’s light is fading and he needs to be released from the jar.

This marvelous bedtime read empowers kids and introduces them to one of summertime’s glowing joys. Gabriel Alborozo’s gem of a picture book is A-OK.

Yak and Gnu

By Juliette MacIver; illustrated by Cat Chapman; Candlewick Press; 32 pages; $14.99

All kinds of clever rhyming and wordplay fill Yak and Gnu, a fun-to-read-aloud treat. From “Yak has a kayak, Gnu a canoe. Yaki’s is black. Gnu’s is blue,” to “I saw ... a stout pig afloat on an outrigger boat, and a rat and her clan on a catamaran,” Juliette MacIver’s ode to water fun will reverse the end-of-summer blues.

Yak and Gnu believe they are the sole floaters on the river until they spot a goat in a boat, a calf on a raft and a whole flotilla of gorillas. They are happy buddies in this carefree whale of a tale.

This book is a super fun ode to friendship filled with whimsically hilarious illustrations.

The Big Ideas of Buster Bickles

By Dave Wasson; HarperCollins; 40 pages; $17.99

From morning to night, Buster Bickles is full of big ideas. He battles the laundry monster, sticks fried eggs on his eyes for “eggs-ray vision” and makes robots out of cardboard boxes. But he can’t thrill those in his classroom.

He goes to consult with his mad-scientist uncle. When Buster tests the “What-If Machine,” his big ideas become reality. His robot dinosaur and wacky underwater creations are scarier than they first imagined.

Buster eventually returns to class with tuned-up versions of his and Uncle Roswell’s nutty ideas, which are now big hits, especially the unicorns and endless ice cream.

Dave Wasson’s mod-animated, pop-art picture book, The Big Ideas of Buster Bickles, is high-energy and bright. It’s a budding inventor’s and science-lover’s dream.

Boy, Were We Wrong About the Weather!

By Kathleen V. Kudlinski; illustrated by Sebastia Serra; Dial/Penguin; 32 pages; $16.99

Sebastia Serra’s illustrations, with a retro, midcentury modern look, bring a lot of fun to Boy, Were We Wrong About the Weather!, a tale about weather myths. Kathleen Kudlinski has concocted a charming picture book with the intent of debunking crazy tales about weather, which is sure to thrill budding scientists.

Kids will learn how the ancient Sumerians did rain dances to appeal to the weather gods, and how the ancient Chinese thought that a dragonfly flying up and down instead of sideways was a sign of impending rain. Old weather myths were funny, if not crazy.

This book offers lots of quirky facts and useful information. Boy, Were We Wrong About the Weather! is perfect for kids fascinated by the natural world.

— 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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