Listed here are ten picture book titles – all terrific. The cast of characters for these varied recent publications includes a frustrated little witch, a group of young explorers,  a boy’s nighttime journey guided by light, a frightened leaf, a brother and sister dealing with mental health issues in their home, two young immigrants learning belonging, and racism,  two children venture out and skate on the winter ice of Lake Superior and a girl who loves loves loves good books! Unless marked otherwise, these titles are 2024 releases. 


BROOM FOR TWO by Jennifer Murano; illus. Scot Ritchie

A young witch-in-training has to deal with a ruined broom in order to pass  her flying test. With determination and a bit of magic, Little Witch resolves to get back in the air and dip and doodle her way to success (with a little help from her new friend Ramshackle Rat.  Words and pictures work together to offer young readers an entertaining story about never giving up. 


While taking her test, Little Witch: 

Dipped and doodled

Rose and Sunk

Flew in a circle

And landed BUMP1



A shy young girl, finds friendship in the books that she reads. Book provide her with comfort and magic even though it means spending time alone while others are playful outgoing and loud.  Eventually she comes to find others who are as devoted to reading as she is. This title is a tribute to children’s book lovers, young and old.  What clinched the purchase of the picture book was the fantastic display of picture book and fiction titles, old and new. As a keen book lover, I was thrilled to see such titles as The Snowy Day, Goodnight Moon, The Little Engine that CouldThe Phantom Tollbooth, Harriet the Spy, Pax , featured on the front cover.  Page by page of Good Books Make Good Friends, it was great to encounter hundreds of titles that I have been part of my life. (I think I’ve read 90% of the books that have been recognized). Jane Mount – you and I are book friends!



After being charged with the mission of delivering a valuable parcel, a group of young adventurers set out for the ‘wild country’ where they  beat insurmountable odds on their great expedition – in their own backyard.  Through engaging illustrations and adventurous recounts, Peter Carnavas presents a sure-to-please story of problem-solving and perseverance.


I TOO, AM HERE by Morgan Christie; illus. Marley Berot

Inspired by the Langston Hughes poem, ‘ I Too’, I Too, Am Here is an exploration of immigration, racism, and belonging. A young girl celebrates her shines a light on her home environment and honours the stories her family tell. Grandma tells of arriving in a new home and confronting racism  (In bright red paint someone had written GO HOME in big letters around her fence).  Dad recounts his first experiences with snow and encountering bullies who taunted “Go back where you belong!”. Mom tells her story of growing up in the south where Black people were not treated equally. The girl recalls a time at school when someone didn’t want to hold her hand because of her rich dark skin. Langston Hughes poem which made the girl feel beautiful, strong, and loved. This is a salute to people who have come from all over the world with stories and cultures that shape the places they call home. I Too, Am Here is a heartwarming story accompanied by vibrant illustrations.  


I sing out beyond the winding roads and buildings that touch the sky. 

The street I live on is made up from families from all around the world.

Our cultures twirl through the neighbourhood like spinning leaves spreading pieces of us all around. 


THE LIGHT FROM MY MENORAH: Celebrating Holidays from Around the World by Robin Heald; illus. Andrea Blinick

A young boy, celebrating the miracle of Hanukkah, follows his menorah’s light which carries him off into  an adventurous night sky journey. On his travels he witnesses families from around the world celebrating their own special holidays with the glow of a lamp or candle flame: diyas (Diwali); kinaras (Kwanzaa); candles (Sacandanvian St. Lucia Day) krathongs (Loy Krathong in Thailand) and strings of light (Christmas).  This is a tory, and informational text that illuminates celebrations and worships from around the world. Andrea Blinick’s illustrations capture the wonder and magic of shining light zigzagging North South, East and West. 


THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING I HAVE EVER SEEN by Nadia Devi Umadat; illus. Christine Wei (2023)

When war strikes there were loud noises everywhere that made a young girl’s mother cry. Mother packs up her family and they board a shiny airplane taking them to somewhere new home. Slowly adjusting to life in a new country, new seasons, a new apartment, a new school,  and new friends eventually leads to a special day when the family is given citizenship. On that day Mama cries happy teacrs and it is the most beautiful thing the young girl has ever seen. This is very very special story of moving to a new land. 


POETRY COMICS by Grant Snider (graphically illustrated poetry)

I often seek out new publications that feature poetry. I often seek out new publications that are presented as graphic texts. Poetry Comics is a wonderful hybrid of poetry and art. Most pieces are presented in a full page grid, each panel featuring a short line of text and a whimsical illustration. The book is organized into four sections, each represe ting one of the four seasons. In the classroom, this book can serve as a source for students to illustrate existing poems in graphic format, to encourage non-rhyming poetry writing, to create comics and to pay observe and reflect on their everyday experiences. (note: This  is an ideal book for reinforcing the comprehension strategy  of VISUALIZING. Delightful! 

Sample: “How To Write a Poem #1”

Find a quiet place/ A sharp pencil/ A blank page / Sti still/ Keep quiet / Wait / A poem will rush in to fill the space

Sample: “Other Oceans”

The wind makes waves in new wheat.

Clouds foam and froth like surf.

Night in the country is a sparkling sea. 


UPS AND DOWNS by Nancy MacNairn; illus. Doruntina Beqira

Life is full of ups and downs, highs and lows. This is the story of a young girl and her mother who has bipolar disorder. Even though her mother’s moods fluctuate, the girl never doubts her mothers love for a second. Even though times are sometimes difficult, Mom is ‘super great’ . This is a very important book about mental health issues that young people can learn about and think about. 


… my mome has bipolar disorder. It affects her mood and energy. It is not something taht she or I can control. Even though things are UP and DOWN, they are not all or nothing. Mom can’t always do things for us, but she tells us “I love you” a lot.


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I’M AFRAID, SAID THE LEAF by Danielle Daniel; illus. Matt James

I’m very fond of  both Danielle Daniel’s publications (Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox; Sometimes I Feel Like a River, You Hold Me Up) as well as Matt James titles (I Know Here, The Funeral, Tadpoles).  This great partnership of these two award winning author has produced what is certain to be at the top of my list of 2024 favourites. Through simple text and glorious paintings, the Daniel and James have produce a book  of empathy and interdependence. The book is inspired by the belief that “all living things rely on each other for support and survival (jacket text). By reading I’m Afraid, Said the Leaf, readers will help readers of all ages think about that we are better and stronger when working together. Five out of five stars. 


I’m so cold, said the horse. / I will warm you said the sun. 

I’m so hot, said the bear. / I will cool you said the creek.

I’m so hungry, said the squirrel. / I will feed you said the nut. 



SKATING WILD ON AN INLAND SEA by Jean E. Pendziwol; illus. Stewart (2023)

Two children wake up to the winter song sung by Lake Superior. They venture out into the cold and encounter tracks set by fox, deer, hair, mink, otter and wolf. Ravens croak, a blue jay scolds  before lacing up their skares and venture off to the surface of theice where the voice of Lake Superior vibrates beneath their feet and “hums a haunted meoldy, the song of water, held captive by winter, mysterious magical music as old as teh earth, rising up from her depths, echoing up and up”.  This is a staggering picture book achievement, a hybrid of lyrical poetic writing, narrative, and informational text. The art work by printmaker Todd Stewart is the best of the best of recent picture book illustrations. Skating Wild on an Inland Sea  is the perfect marriage of words and visuals. Staggering.