One of my favorite things to do is hang out in a neighborhood book store and check out the new picture books. As a matter of fact, when my husband asked what I would like to do on my recent birthday (besides getting the best donut in town and coffee), I suggested hanging out at the little book store in town that we had just discovered, Pomegranate Books, curl up on their comfy chairs and read new picture books. Here are some great new finds for home or the classroom:

How to Light Your Dragon by Didier Levy and Fred Benaglia

“Has your pet dragon’s fire gone out?” This dragon’s persistent and ingenious owner is up for trying everything to relight his friend who can’t produce “even the tiniest flicker of flame.” From lifting the dragon’s back legs and giving a shake, bouncing up and down on his tummy, tickling him with a feather duster under his arms, or offering him a cake full of candles to blow out, this persistent owner can’t seem to get his pal to blow fire again. Giving up he sits down and remembers all the fun adventures they have shared, and comes to the conclusion that he loves and will always love his dragon, fire or not! He can’t help but plant a big kiss of acceptance on his dragon’s nose which brings about a delightful ending to the story. Filled with large print and capital letters, this book invites new readers to move through the colorfully illustrated pages. A perfect read-aloud for the classroom or bedtime story time, this book invites kids  to predict the next attempt to get the dragon to breathe fire or even invent their own solutions, building reading and writing skills.

Available on Amazon. Click here

Hum and Swish by Matt Myers

I love a story about a child discovering the wonder of the beach. It begins “Jamie and the sea are friends. Jamie hums. The waves swish.” She collects rocks, shells, sticks, seaweed and feathers and explores the tide pools creating figures, animals, sand towers and designs from her finds. Absorbed in her pretend world, passersby each question her about what she is making and how long until she’ll be finished. “Hum Swish,” She doesn’t know, but continues to create. Finally someone arrives who understands the mind of an artist in residence, setting up her own palette, brushes and paint and doesn’t question or name Jamie’s miniature world in the sand. This beautiful book celebrates the child who loves to explore and discover using nature as her setting and props, drawing the characters from within herself, needing no input from others! That is how good storytellers are born.

Available at Amazon. Click here

Fern and Horn by Marie-Louise Gay

“Fern and Horn” is a delightful story about twins who are play companions whose similarities diverge when their imaginations take off.  Fern leads the way in play as she loves drawing flowers, butterflies, birds, bees and caterpillars, but Horn is every bit as imaginative. A step behind, Horn tries to keep up. Borrowing Fern’s crayons,  trying to duplicate her cheerful drawings, his flowers look like purple pancakes and caterpillars like striped socks! Fern’s stars cut with scissors became confetti when Horn attempted to make them. Finally Horn starts to follow his own creative path. Fern “builds a magnificent castle with turrets and a dark dungeon” from cardboard boxes and a gold fish bowl for the moat. Horn sneaks out in a fire-breathing dragon costume to attack the fort. Peace is restored with a picnic of cookies shared by the dragon and the king. This story if filled with opportunities for discussion, describing the brilliant, lively illustrations as well as what it means to follow your own creative path and enjoy another’s by your side! This was a fantastic read-aloud at my grandson’s kindergarten. Whenever Horn failed to copy Fern, “He has another idea.” The kids in the class started to call that phrase out in unison as if cheering him on to forge his own path. This would be a wonderful  book for a teacher to read to the class before a writing assignment, encouraging kids to be confident in their own ideas, and celebrate the differences in classmates’ stories.

Available at Amazon. Click here