Some new (and a few old titles) came my way this September.   Canadian, U.S. and a great British picture books are featured in this list. (Shout out to Pajama Press * for new Fall 2020 titles)




The subject of big vehicles, the rhyming verse, bright photographs make this an appealing title for young readers. The bonus learning of the book is the delight in finding geometric shapes hidden among excavators, bulldozers, road signs and cranes. (Crane Crane / coming through! / I spy a square – /How about you!)

WHAT GREW IN LARRY’S GARDEN by Laura Alary; illus. Kass Reich

OK, I don’t grow a garden but still a book with my name in the title is appealing. And Larry is a teacher. Larry is Grace’s neighbour and together they embark upon the pleasures and hard work of growing flowers and plants. This Canadian title was inspired by the story of a teacher and his tomato project where the children in Larry’s class spread seeds of kindness in the community.

SNOW DOVES by Nancy Hartry; illus. Grimard

While snow is piling up, a young girl befriends her new neighour, who does not speak his language.  A story of belonging, kindness and the joy of winter play.

SNOW DAYS by Deborah Kerbel; illus. Miki Sato*

The joys and wonders of winter as seen through the eyes of a small child.  Told in couplets (Second snow sicks around/ Time for angels on the ground with happy , textured three-dimensional illustrations.

TEACHING MRS. MUDDLE by Colleen Nelson; illus. Alice Carter*

It’s the first day of kindergarten and Kayla,  is worried that things won’t fall into place. Her problems are nothing compared to her teacher, Mrs. Muddle who mixes up name tags, takes the children to the wrong classes. and has difficulty finding the bathroom. Kayla, the student, becomes Kayla the teacher and together Mrs, Muddle and her student find comfort in each other. What student hasn’t felt like Kayla? What teacher hasn’t felt like Mrs. Muddle? A school adventure sure to make connections and draw laughter.

THE LIBRARY BUS by Bahram Rahman; illus. Gabrielle Grimard*

Pari, a young girl helps her mother run Kabul’s local library bus for the first  time and learns that opportunities to go to school aren’t the same for everyone. Pari learns to hand out notebooks and pencils at villages and refugee camps and when she learns that Mama  teaches young girls to write in English, she becomes more determined to go to school and learn all there is to know. This is a worthy title to add to books that help students understand social justice, diversity and equity issues

A FAMILY FOR FARU by Anitha Rao-Robinson; illus Karen Patkau*

When Tetenya and his mother find Faru, a baby rhinoceros, they are determined to find rangers who will protect local herds in rhino sanctuaries. Tetanya bravely sets out to  find refuge for Faru and along the way they meet animals of the savannah. This exceptional  picture book is inspired by the work of conservationists and takes readers on a journey into African habitat at the same time as inspiring thoughts about poaching and extinction.

WHAT KIDS DID: Stories of Kindness and Invention in the time of Covid-19 by Erin Silver

Shout out to SECOND STORY press for releasing  up with this up-to-the minute picture book  which shines a lighton the creative thoughtful and kind ways that 25 young people from all around the world helped to make a difference in their communities during the pandemic. Let’s celebrate six-year-old Callaghan who set up a neighbourhood joke stand, ten-year=old Chelsea who sent thousands of art kids to kids in shelters and foster care, and Jorge who printed #-D plastic visors to help health-care workers and Stephen Wamukota of Kenya, who who invented a semi-automatic wooden hand-washing machine.

I TALK LIKE A RIVER by Jordan Scott; illus. Sydney Smith

A moving story about a boy who wakes up each morning with words stuck in the back of his mouth because of a stuttering problem. Drawn from the author’s persona; experiences, the boy receives comfort from his father who says he ‘talks like a river’ ` bubbling, churning, whirling, crashing.  Master illustrator, Sydney Smith, has outdone himself with powerful watercolour images of the boy and the river.

A WORLD OF MINDFULNESS.  by Editors and Illustrators of Pajama Press*

The creative team of A World of Kindness shine a light on the importance of mindfulness practice helping young readers to become mindful citizens by observing their own senses. (The sun is warm on my face. It is millions of miles away, but we are still connected. /I can hear birds and breezes and a dog barking. Even with my eyes closed, I know where I am).




I hesitate to buy books by popular bestselling adult authors who cross over into the world of children’s literature, but this book by Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code) takes readers on a musical journey where they Maestro Mouse introduces them to a menagerie of animals that includes Woodland birds squawking, tweeting, cooing and cheeping, s boar twirling and dancing about with chasing butterflies, an eager elephant (Ta ta-da! Ta ta-de!), Bouncing kangaroos (Ka-boing! Ka-boing) and a wondrous whale who can do a wondrous thing underwater – he can sing! Readers can listen to music while they read the book or scan a QR. to download a free app to listen to wild symphony accompaniment to each of the 20 joyous poems. Maybe a bit too overloaded, but withhappy Animals, puzzle surprises, coded messages, orchestral movements, rhythmic  poetry, amusing adventures, lively illustrations…Wild Symphony is a picture book treasure, guaranteed to be on Children’s Books top ten lists for years to come.   Great that Dan Brown is able to honour his parents who were musicians and teachers and brought music to the authors life. Hooray that Dan Brown is donating all US royalties due to him to support music education for children worldwide. I’m glad I bought it and look forward to gifting this unique book many times.

TEACH US YOUR NAME by Huda Essa; illus. Daina Cococaru

Her name, Kareema-lay-yes-seen-a-deen has 20 letters. A grade one girl needs to overcome embarrassment and take pride in her long name that is hard for people to say. When she learns from Grandma Sittee that her name means ‘excellent guidance’ and the young girl realizes she needs to guide others to correctly say her name.  This is a good story to add to my collection of name stories and one that can inspire readers to tell stories of their names and thus significance to their identities.


This classic title has been in my collection since I began teaching. I succumbed to buying this commemorative edition celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of these two iconic literary friends. Bonus: Author’s notes and sketches appear as an appendix to the book.

CAN I PLAY TOO? by Mo Willems

For a course I’ll be teaching in the fall (Play, Language and Learning), I’ve seeking out titles of picture books centred on child play. Mo Willems Elephant and Piggie stories lead the pack. In this story, best frends, Gerald and Piggie meet a new friend, Snake who wants to join them in a game of catch, but can a snake play catch. A story of playing, problem-solving, and considering inclusion. Another ‘perfect’ Willems title.


I AM EVERY GOOD THING by Derrick Barnes; illus. Gordon C. James

The creators of award-winning titleCrown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut celebrate and uniqueness  and contemplation of spefial things that make you, you. The poem is told  through the eyes of  Young Afro-American boy is a nonstop ball of energy. / Poweful and full of light. I am a go getter. A difference maker. A leader. This is a must-read source for any teacher who wants to inspire students to write their own “I Am…” poems.



by Julia Donaldson; Sharon King-Chai

This is the best alphabet book for young readers I’ve come across in recent years. Of course, we’re in the hands of British guru children’s author Julia Donaldson (The Gruffalo) but still, the question and answer format and the staggering, colourful art work and cut out pages make this a fine fine picture book specimen that can sit proudly alongside Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle’s Brown Brown Bear, Brown Bear to help build reading power and book love for early readers. I love this book!

Who has more wrinkles than a hedgehog?

An iguana.

Who is more wobbly than an iguana?

A quail.

Who has…