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Picture Books That Show the World Through a Child’s Eyes


MY BEST FRIEND
Written by Julie Fogliano
Illustrated by Jillian Tamaki

Two small girls spend a perfect day together in the park, making chalk drawings, twirling until they fall, sitting peacefully under a big tree. “She is my best friend / I think,” one says. Slowly, and hilariously, we realize they have just met. Fogliano (“A House That Once Was”) has a poet’s ear and a psychologist’s awareness of little ones’ inner lives. With Tamaki’s (“They Say Blue”) buoyant, scratchy illustrations in shades of rose and green, this joyful book may inspire you to rush up to someone who has a pre-school-age child — or a talent for making fast friends — and press it into her hands.

32 pp. Atheneum. $17.99. (Ages 3 to 7.)

EVERYONE’S AWAKE
Written by Colin Meloy.
Illustrated by Shawn Harris.

This madcap rhyming bedtime story from Meloy (the frontman of the indie-rock band the Decemberists and author of the Wildwood series) and Harris (“Her Right Foot”) reads like an updated riff on the 1980s favorite “The Napping House.” “The dog’s into the eggnog; / Mom’s tap dancing to Prince / while Dad is on the laptop / buying 10-yard bolts of chintz”: The exuberant nighttime household chaos, well conveyed in Harris’s witty, sloppy style with thick strokes of saturated blues and blazing orange, will make many a sleep-deprived parent laugh between shouts of “Settle down!”

48 pp. Chronicle. $17.99. (Ages 4 to 8.)

DANDELION’S DREAM
Written and illustrated by Yoko Tanaka.

With each dreamy page in yellow and charcoal grays that fade to black, this solo debut by Tanaka (“Sparrow Girl”) is wordless, and wonderful. A dandelion is thrilled to discover it has bloomed into a real lion. Setting off boisterously across a field, it hops a ride on a train, leaps onto a fuzzy sheep, joins a sea gull on a sailing vessel. There’s a scary interlude on a city street and the novelty of a movie before it flies back home, becoming a fluffy white seed head. The seeds waft upward, forming a leaping lion and stoking sublime thoughts of cosmic connection.

32 pp. Candlewick. $16.99. (Ages 3 to 6.)

WE ARE WATER PROTECTORS
Written by Carole Lindstrom.
Illustrated by Michaela Goade.

An Ojibwe girl confronts a grave situation by channeling age-old wisdom in this powerful book inspired by the movement that brought Indigenous nations together to protest with the Standing Rock Sioux. The “black snake” of an oil pipeline was set to cross their land, endangering their water supply, and in her culture women must protect the water, men the fire. “We fight for those who cannot fight for themselves: the winged ones, the crawling ones,” she says. Goade’s illustrations combine a mystical mood with the lovely fierceness of a child seeking justice.

32 pp. Roaring Brook. $17.99. (Ages 4 to 8.)

I VOTED: MAKING A CHOICE MAKES A DIFFERENCE
Written by Mark Shulman.
Illustrated by Serge Bloch.

What does it mean to vote, and how do we do it? I admire picture books that use entertaining narration and appealing art to teach children about things we assume — often wrongly — they understand. Shulman starts in school (“Imagine you’re choosing a classroom pet”) and moves on to the nuts and bolts of selecting our government. Bloch’s frisky line drawings make democracy look like a ton of fun, and the coveted “I Voted” sticker, of course, provides a brilliant ending.

32 pp. Neal Porter/Holiday House. $18.99. (Ages 4 to 8.)

STORY BOAT
Written by Kyo Maclear.
Illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh.

Even among many excellent recent picture books about refugees, Maclear’s (“It Began With a Page”) story stands out, showing how comfort and routine can be found on an uncertain journey. The children don’t know why they’ve left or where they are. “Here is just here,” and “here” is the family singing, drinking from a familiar cup and waiting. Kheiriyeh’s (“Saffron Ice Cream”) gorgeously playful illustrations add to the humane, hopeful message.

40 pp. Tundra. $17.99. (Ages 4 to 8.)

THIS IS NOT THAT KIND OF BOOK
Written by Christopher Healy.
Illustrated by Ben Mantle.

When a story lover starts to realize that many of her favorite books are following — aha! — a formula, this one will be riotously satisfying. We start with a letter A doing the alphabet-book thing. He’s interrupted by a red-cloaked girl declaring that the book is actually a fairy tale. The pair proceed until they’re stopped by a robot, then a talking animal, and so on. The ingenious upshot: It’s a friendship book, about bonds between all different types.

32 pp. Random House. $17.99. (Ages 4 to 8.)

THE SPIRIT OF SPRINGER:
THE REAL LIFE RESCUE OF AN ORPHANED ORCA
Written by Amanda Abler.
Illustrated by Levi Hastings.

This beautiful book tells a suspenseful, heart-rending true story. In 2002, a baby orca was found swimming alone next to a Seattle ferry. Restoring her to her pod, near Vancouver, and finding her a foster mother, involved scientists, a marine wildlife agency and the First Nations people who welcomed her. Read over your kid’s shoulder if you like; adults, too, will enjoy the elegant details.

48 pp. Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch. $18.99. (Ages 6 and up.)

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