The days are shorter, the children go to bed early. To ease the transition from summer, we’ve found kid-worthy fiction and non-fiction stories that will fuel their imaginations and minds while reading before bed and cuddling.
FICTION (picture books)
Be good, peanut butter” By Nicole Helgate, illustrated by Erin MacLean (River Horse Children’s Books, $18.99)
Minnesota Helgate, an author of books for children and adults, is a manuscript coach and consultant who lives on a farm in southern Minnesota. Peanut Butter is a dog who finds himself alone for the first time when his family rushes out of the house on the first day of school. Bored and curious, he sneaks out of the house in search of adventure, encounters new animals, explores new places, and smells new scents. He even makes a friend. When he realizes the day is almost over, he has to race home before the kids get there and find out he wasn’t a good dog. Illustrator McClean, who lives in Northern Ireland, loves to draw attractive, lively characters and incorporate bright colors and traditional textures into her work. (Posted October 4th)
“Finding Bunny” By Rene Paula, Illustrations by Jess Bircham (independently published, $16.99)
Nothing creates more drama in the family than a child who has lost a stuffed animal. Elle loves her best friend, Bunny, but when mom leaves and dad takes over, Bunny is nowhere to be found. Just when Elle’s tears started, my mom came home and pulled the bunny out of the washing machine. This is a charming story that every kid who loves clogging can relate to. The illustrations are clean, simple and appropriate for youngsters. Minneapolis-based Bolla left her career as a retail executive (recently at Target) to pursue her dream of becoming a self-published author. She writes books for her three daughters, each unique to the girl’s personality and real-life experiences. “Finding the Rabbit” is her first appearance.
“Save the Night” The Story of David Hitbas, written by Matty Caron, illustrated by Bill Tierney (BookBaby, $32.99 hardcover)
Mate Caron, who grew up in St. Paul, tells the story of a young prince who is afraid of the dark and shares his adventures with a mushroom, chrysanthemum, eagle and wolf, all of whom depend on darkness to thrive. It’s a story told to the first author by his late friend David Hittbass 30 years ago. It’s a little complicated story for young children, but former kindergarteners should have enjoyed it. Bill Tierney’s paintings are almost like photographs and make for a very beautiful book.
“Sprinkles” by Alison Wood, illustrated by Samuel Waddell (independently published, $20.99 hardcover, $10.99 paperback)
Julia and her father walk to the bakery on a nice day to get cakes before Grandma comes to visit. The baker allows Julia to choose just one for herself and she chooses “beautiful, rosy, super-sprayed.” At home, she eats her own food and there are sprinklers everywhere, even on her cat. Just in time, she and her father are cleaning up, and when Grandma arrives she has a big box of donuts – with sprinkles. Wood is a primary English teacher at St. Paul Public Schools. Waddle’s playful illustrations complement the light text.
Some with a message
Minneapolis-based Free Spirit Publishing is an imprint of Teacher Create Materials and the leading publisher of learning tools that support young people’s social, emotional, and educational needs. Three Free Spirit books published this year ($14.99 – $16.99) do the job.
“You wonder all the time,” Written by child development expert Deborah Farmer Kris and illustrated by Jennifer Zivwin, it is the latest addition to the All the Time series. Drawing on questions from real children (where do the colors go at night?), the book is written from the perspective of an adult speaking to a child, helping young children know they are worthy of love through the ups and downs of life.
“Sometimes when I’m bored” By award-winning psychologist Deborah Cerani, illustrated by Keira Tess, sometimes adding to the Free Spirit collection when collecting this answer to this complaint, “I’m bored.” The text describes a child’s experiences with boredom and loneliness, and along with the main character, young children learn to recognize boredom and see opportunities for imaginative play or new activities.
“we accept no” Written by Lydia Powers, illustrated by Isabel Munoz, it is the fourth book in the We Say What Okay series.
This one teaches respect for personal boundaries, following on with Jamin, who gets upset when his friend Zakia doesn’t want to share a “big hug and extra stress” at the end of the day. Parents and teachers can use the story to teach why it is important to accept “no” as the answer, what children can do with their sad and angry feelings, and what they can do when someone does not want a hug.
Another Minneapolis publisher, Beaming Books, has a similar title, Hattie hates hugs. ($17.99), where a young girl attending a family get-together wants to play horseshoe with her aunt and uncle but is cuddled by older relatives.
Her stomach ‘squirts’ when she hugs her, and the great-grandmother finally helps her use clear body language – raised hands – to indicate no more hugs. She asserts her right to consent or refuse physical touch – she even wins horseshoes.
Written by Sarah Hovorka, and drawn by Heather Brockman Lee. Beaming Books is an imprint of 1517 Media, dedicated to helping children thrive emotionally, socially, and spiritually.
“Be a bridge” By Erin Latham and Charles Waters, illustrated by Nabila Adani (Carrolloda Books, $19.99), focuses on two school-going children eager to find ways they can be a bridge to others.
They welcome a new student, and kindness spreads in the class. Students invite their classmates to join the music, talk when another classmate is teasing and listen respectfully when someone else is talking. They comfort a friend when things go wrong. The day ends with an art project that builds connections between students and their community. At the back of the book is the Bridge Builder Undertaking, as well as Bridge Builder activities and more books for building bridges.
The author and illustrator’s previous collaboration was “Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship.”