I only finished one book this week (The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon- it’s super cute!) so I thought instead of a normal weekly update I’d talk about that book in next week’s roundup and focus on some of Sammy’s current favorites this week.
Harriet Gets Carried Away by Jessie Sima- My friend Jenny from Reading the End turned me on to this one! I think it was Christmas time and I was flooding her DMs with book recommendations for her toddler godson. Suddenly she was like “KATIE! Someone sent me this rec and it’s the Katiest kid book EVER!” She was, as usual, 100% correct. Harriet is a little girl living in NYC who looooooooves costumes. One day while prepping for her birthday party (a costume party, naturally), she wears her penguin costume to the store with her parents and runs into a flock of REAL penguins buying ice. She gets, as they say, carried away, and ends up hopping a hot air balloon to head home with the penguins. It’s so cute! It’s so full of imagination and fun. The other night Jim was reading it to Sam and did a quick double take- “wait does she have two dads?” And I was like “yup.” And he shrugged and carried on reading. I love when representation is so casual like that. It’s not a book about having two dads. It’s a book about a kid being a kid and the parents are in the background like they are in every other book ever. They just happen to both be men. Also one of the dads is Black and one is white. Harriet herself is either Black or biracial, but again, it’s just… There. Being normal. Issue books are super important, but so are Black kids having adventures with penguins with their two dads in the background. Normalize the joy!
You Don’t Want a Unicorn! by Ame Dyckman, Illustrated by Liz Climo- Remember when my friends threw me that excellent baby shower? This book was a gift from the co-hostess behind the color coordinated photo op. Angie is one of my favorite people in the history of the universe and she happens to love unicorns, hence this book. It’s only been in the last few months that Sam has REALLY gotten into the more complex story books, and he loves this one. A kid tosses a coin in a fountain, and despite the advice of a benevolent voice begging him to reconsider, he wishes for a unicorn. (Yeah, the protagonist is a little boy. In a unicorn book! BOYS CAN LIKE UNICORNS. Take several seats, toxic masculinity.) Then he suffers the consequences. It’s cute, it’s fun, and it’s occasionally kind of gross, all of which mean that my kid LOVES it. There’s also a unicorn with what has to be an intentional Rainbow Brite vibe, which my 80s born self very much appreciates.
We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T Higgins- This one is HILARIOUS. Penelope Rex starts school only to discover that her classmates are NOT other dinosaurs like she expected, but tasty, tasty children. Penelope’s learning to control her impulse to eat the kids in her class is an excellent lesson in impulse control for little kids. Plus it’s really funny AND it’s got the added gross-out factor of the kids being covered in drool after Penelope spits them out. The real villain is Walter, the nefarious goldfish. I for one have never trusted fish. I will wade in the ocean near the shore, but otherwise will pass on swimming in any body of water containing fish. Give me chlorine or give me dry land. Since I’ve been pointing it out in the other books, Penelope’s classmates are a very diverse group of kids, which, even in characters who are continually getting eaten, is nice to see.
Sunny’s Tow Truck Saves the Day! by Anne Marie Pace, Illustrated by Christopher Lee- A family of four sets out for a picnic at the park, only to have their plans derailed by a flat tire… And a flat spare. They need to call a tow truck for help, and Sunny’s Tow Truck eventually comes to the rescue. Sunny, the titular tow truck driver is a woman, and she gets the family (that happens to be biracial) and their car troubles all squared away. The rhyme scheme is on point, and even though the family ate their entire picnic while they waited for roadside assistance, Sunny helps out by pointing them to an ice cream stand so they can still have their picnic experience in the park. It’s my personal “fan” theory that Sunny is getting kickbacks from the ice cream stand… Gotta respect that hustle though.
Trucks Galore by Peter Stein, Illustrated by Bob Staake- Reading this one over and over will get you to that giddy stayed-up-too-late point of having a word start to lose all meaning feeling. You know that middle school sleepover 3 am moment where everything is hilarious and weird? It’s like that, but with the word “Truck.” This is a really fun rhyming book, and for kiddos who are extraordinarily fond of things with wheels (like a certain Samuel I know) it’s a big hit.
Reading with my kiddo is pretty much my favorite thing ever! Classic kids books are all well and good (well, usually, anyway), but there’s SO MUCH EXCELLENCE out there in kid-lit now. Branch out. Give yourself a break from Dr. Seuss for a minute and try something new. You and your kids (or students, nieces, nephews, niblings, friends, neighbors, pets, or plants) will benefit from new, fun stories. Yes, I did just recommend reading to your pets and plants. Why not?
Alright, Bookworms, I’d love to hear about your adventures in kid lit. What are some of your favorites?
If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Links in the post above direct to Amazon, but if you’re interested and in a position to do so, please consider making a purchase from a local independent book store. IndieBound and Bookshop make it easy to do just that without having to leave your home!