Spring into the season with these delightful picture books

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Growing up, holidays were always an excuse to get new books. Whether you are looking for something to celebrate Easter or just welcome the changing season, the following books are a great option for the young reader in your life.

BOARDBOOK

FIRST STORIES: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, Feb 7, 2017 by Dan Taylor, Silver Dolphin Books, Feb. 7, 2017, Boardbook, $8.99 (ages 1 -4); FIRST STORIES: CINDERELLA by Dan Taylor, Silver Dolphin Books, March 14, 2017, Boardbook, $8.99 (ages 1 -4); FIRST STORIES: RAPUNZEL, by Dan Taylor, Silver Dolphin Books, March 14, 2017, Boardbook, $8.99 (ages 1 -4)

Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and Rapunzel come to life in Silver Dolphin Books’ First Stories series by Dan Taylor. These are the classic tales you know and love simplified in scope but embellished with push, pull and turn elements.

At 3, my daughter has almost outgrown boardbooks, so it takes something really enticing to get her to open one. The minute she saw these three books, she took them away and figured them out on her own. She went through each one at least twice before moving on to something new. I think these books will enter into our “gift rotation” for a couple of nieces and nephews who are on the way.


AGES 2 AND UP

What Will GrowWHAT WILL GROW? by Jennifer Ward and Susie Ghahremani, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, Feb. 14, 2017, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 2-5)

Seeds can be big or small, round or pointy, and all sorts of colors. They can become flowers, trees, fruits, or vegetables, and they sprout all times of year, during spring, summer, fall, and winter. But all seeds have one thing in common–inside each is a new plant life waiting to emerge. What kind of plant will bloom? Wait and see what will grow! —Synopsis provided by Bloomsbury Children’s Books

What Will Grow is the perfect book for this time of year. At our house, we started tomatoes, peppers and eggplants inside at the beginning of March. This weekend we planted peas, shallots and strawberry starts in our new raised garden beds. Our 3-year-old helped us with the whole process.

I can’t think of a better way to reinforce the idea that flowers, trees, fruits and vegetables come from seed rather than the grocery/home store. Our daughter loves the charming illustrations, including a ladybug on almost every page (her favorite!), and the pull-out gatefolds that make What Will Grow more than a book. There’s a fact section at the end of the book detailing when and how to plant the seeds featured and a chart showing the stages from seed to plant.

Pair What Will Grow with a packet of seeds to create an awesome gift. This could make for a really fun family activity that continues throughout the summer.

Going on an Egg HuntWE’RE GOING ON AN EGG HUNT, by Laura Hughes, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, Feb. 14, 2017, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 2-5)

We’re going on an egg hunt.
We’re going to find them all.
We’re REALLY excited.
Hooray for Easter Day!

Join a family of bunnies as they set off on an lift-the-flap Easter egg hunt. There are ten eggs to find and count–but watch out for the obstacles along the way . . . Lambs, chicks, bees, and ducks await, and there’s even a wolfish surprise, so be careful! —Synopsis provided by Bloomsbury Children’s Books

A very small part of me groaned when I first read this book. That’s because it feels very much like another book — We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. It reads like it, too: “Oh, no —BEES! Can’t go over them. Can’t go under them. Can’t go around them. Got to go through them… Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!” We’re Going on an Egg Hunt is a definite riff of the original.

But beyond that, I can’t complain. Readers are invited to help find eggs in a lift-the-flap-style layout. And the repetitive nature of the text keeps the story moving forward. I particularly like Laura Hughes’ sweet illustrations, which bring the story to life.

Play With MePLAY WITH ME! by Michelle Lee, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, Jan. 24, 2017, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 2-5)

Playtime means very different things to these two spirited friends. Pip is full of ideas for what to play: Dress up! Magicians! Dolls! Only, Nico doesn’t want to play any of them, and Pip gets mad. REALLY mad. But don’t worry—Nico finds the perfect way for them to play together. —Synopsis provided by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Learning how to play with other children is hard. I’ve spent a lot of time watching 3-year-olds play next to each other or follow one another around. They don’t quite grasp how it works, and often want to do different things. Hilarious illustrations paired with simple text help little ones see the big picture.


AGES 3 AND UP

RAIN by Sam Usher, Templar, March 28, 2017, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 3-7)

Sam wants to go out, but it’s pouring rain, so Granddad says they need to stay inside until the rain stops. Sam drinks hot chocolate and reads his books and dreams of adventures while Granddad does some paperwork. When Granddad needs to mail his letter, it’s time to go out—despite the rain and floods—and Sam and Granddad have a magical adventure. The follow-up to the acclaimed Snow, this is the second title in a four-book series based on the weather from creator Sam Usher. —Synopsis provided by Templar

I can’t tell you how much I adore Rain. It’s as if Sam Usher met my 3-year-old daughter and wrote a book about her. She’s just hit that magical stage where her imagination and the real world collide. And there’s nothing she likes more than splashing in puddles.

Usher has done a superb job balancing text and illustrations, allowing each to speak for themselves or play a lesser role when needed. His bright and imaginative illustrations pop off the page. This is the perfect book for spring.

I Will Love You ScholasticI WILL LOVE YOU, by Alyssa Satin Capucilli and Lisa Anchin, Orchard Books, March 28, 2017, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 3-5)

In the very first moment, when you came to be,
I looked at you, and you looked at me.
I whispered these words as I held you near,
for all time, for all space, for the world to hear
I will love you.”

This is a story of precious mother/daughter moments. Every parent wants to reassure they will always be loved. —Synopsis provided by Orchard Books

I Will Love You celebrates a mother’s love for her daughter. Together they travel vast landscapes while exploring honing in on simple things — a rainbow, butterfly wings, dandelion seeds. Alyssa Satin Capucilli’s silky text begs to be read aloud, and Lisa Anchin’s detailed illustrations quickly draw you in. This would be a good choice as a Mother’s Day gift for moms new and old.

Charlotte and the Rock DialCHARLOTTE AND THE ROCK, by Stephen W. Martin and Samantha Cotterill, Dial Books, March 14, 2017, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 3-5)

Charlotte has always really wanted a pet, so when her parents present her with one for her birthday she expects a cat, dog, or maybe a bird. Instead, she receives a rock. Rocks can’t cuddle, fetch, or even help her eat her vegetables, but that doesn’t stop Charlotte from loving her rock as if he were real. If only he could love her back…or can he? —Synopsis provided by Dial Books

Oh, my gosh! The surprise twist at the end of Charlotte and the Rock is awesome! As a parent of a child who loves pets, but can’t have one, I totally understand where Charlotte’s parents are coming from. I also love how Charlotte is able to see beyond an inanimate object and really fall for her rock as a friend. This is a sweet story and the illustrations are great.


AGES 4 AND UP

Happy Dreamer Peter ReynoldsHAPPY DREAMER, by Peter H. Reynolds, Orchard Books, March 28, 2017, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 4-8)

While the world tells us to sit still, to follow the rules, and to color inside the lines, Happy Dreamer celebrates all those moments in between when the mind and spirit soar and we are free to become our own true dreamer maximus! This picture book reminds children of how much their dreams matter, and while life will have ups and downs, he enlists readers to stay true to who they are, to tap into their most creative inner selves, and to never ever forget to dream big! —Synopsis provided by Orchard Books

Happy Dreamer celebrates and fosters imagination. There’s a fine line between setting boundaries and stifling creativity. This book will give readers the words needed to voice what kind of dreamer they are and want to become. Peter H. Reynnolds has crafted this book with a rather loose format and flowing illustrations that play well to the overall theme. This book will appeal to older readers, too, and is reminiscent of Oh, The Places You’ll Go.

Are We Still FriendsARE WE STILL FRIENDS? by Ruth Horowitz and Blanca Gomez, Scholastic Press, Feb. 28, 2017, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 4-8)

Beatrice and Abel are the finest of friends. Beatrice raises bees. Abel grows apples. In summer, they gather sticky, sweet honey together, and in fall, they harvest ripe, red fruit. They make a perfect pair in every season, and so do the bees and the trees. Until one spring morning, Abel startles a bee–ZING!–and gets stung. “WHEE HEE HEE!” he cries. But Beatrice hears only the silly sounds and laughs. OUCH! Is their friendship strong and steady enough to weather the stinging words and messy quarrel that stem from misunderstanding? —Synopsis provided by Scholastic Press

Are We Still Friends begins with a simple misunderstanding between two friends. The book helps children recognize missed social cues and mistakes, and helps them see the value of an apology. By mirroring real life, the lessons immediately become applicable.

This book is also a good tool for parents who are trying to explain the isolationist views have been at the forefront of politics in recent months. Are We Still Friends simplifies the concept so that even a small child can see how interconnected things are and how dependent we are upon each other.

A charming story paired with equally charming illustrations makes this a good choice for children learning about friendship.

© 2017, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved.

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About Author

Jessica Harrison is the main reviewer behind Cracking the Cover. Prior to creating Cracking the Cover, Jessica worked as the in-house book critic for the Deseret News, a daily newspaper in Salt Lake City. Jessica also worked as a copy editor and general features writer for the paper. Following that, Jessica spent two years with an international company as a social media specialist. She is currently a freelance writer/editor. She is passionate about reading and giving people the tools to make informed decisions in their own book choices.

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