New picture books for kids perfect for the new year
“The Little Snowplow”
- By Lora Koehler
- Illustrated by Jake Parker
- Best for ages 3 – 7
If you crossed “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel” with “Katy and the Big Snow,” you’d come pretty close to this fun tale from new author Lora Koehler.
“The Little Snowplow” follows a small blue snowplow as he joins the big trucks of the Mighty Mountain Road Crew. The seasoned crew questions the little guy’s abilities, which just motivates him to train.
When a blizzard sweeps through town, the little blue snowplow goes to work. Soon, he realizes the job is far too big for one vehicle. It doesn’t take long before the entire crew finds that they need each other to keep the town safe and clear.
While this is a wonderful tale of hard work and perseverance, it also covers humility and forgiveness. Children will love the action and friendly illustrations. “The Little Snowplow” will make a good addition to story time collections.
What’s good: Humorous illustrations and a timeless message.
What’s bad: Not much; it’s a well-told, well-structured story.
“Star Wars Jedi Academy: Attack of the Journal”
- By Jeffrey Brown
- Best for ages 6 – 8
With the force clearly reawakened with the release of the latest “Star Wars” movie, I thought I’d highlight something a little different for this column — a journal. Several graphic novel-style book series have put out journal editions in hopes of encouraging kids to write and be creative. Brown does a good job with his attempt using the Jedi Academy series. This interactive journal takes a lot of pressure off children by directing them with humorous illustrations and activities throughout. There is plenty of room for creativity, but no blank pages. Lessons include drawing stick-figure comics, filling in dialogue on well-drawn comics and story starters. Each page guides children to be creative and let the force guide them.
What’s good: The humor draws you in. The guidance keeps you going.
What’s bad:Journals are always a hard sell to kids.
“Sunny Side Up”
- By Jennifer L. Holm
- Illustrated by Matthew Holm
- Best for ages 8 – 12
In recent years authors have used graphic novels to tackle some pretty edgy topics — divorce, homosexuality, depression and more. “Sunny Side Up” is the next in line. Jennifer and Matthew Holm use real-life events from their childhoods and family to weave an entertaining and poignant tale about the effects of substance abuse.
“Sunny Side Up” is not a depressing tale. It’s filled with fun and humor moments. In 1976, 10-year-old Sunny goes to live with her grandpa in Florida for the summer. She’s disappointed she can’t go to the family beach house like usual, but has high hopes her grandpa will take her to Disney World instead. Lies, deceptions and secrets circle throughout the story and reveal themselves in skillful flashbacks that culminate in a defining moment of pain and courage.
Preteens will relate to Sunny and her situation, whether they have a similar issue in their family or not. Her emotions and actions are universal to all children growing up in this confusing world.
What’s good: Humor keeps thisstory from getting bogged down in the serious topic.
What’s bad: It’s written in a comic book style, but it’s not a comical topic.
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