ICYMI: January & February picture books you should read

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Each month, a number of fantastic books land on my porch. Unfortunately, I’m unable to read and review all of them. Below are some picture books published in January and February 2020 that haven’t been featured on Cracking the Cover, but still deserve your attention.

Synopses provided by the publishers are in gray. Reviews from reputable sources are quoted and linked below. Books are listed by publication date.

BOXITECTS, by Kim Smith, Clarion Books, Jan. 14, 2020, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 4-7)

Meg is a brilliant and creative boxitect. She loves impressing her teacher and classmates with what she makes out of boxes. But there’s a new kid at Maker School: Simone. Simone is good at everything, and worst of all, she’s a boxitect too. When the annual Maker Match is held, Meg and Simone are paired as a team but can’t seem to stop arguing. When their extraordinary project turns into a huge disaster, they must find a way to join creative forces, lift each other up, and work together.

“The story arc contains just enough suspense to keep readers interested, and the humorous text is engaging. Smith’s cartoon illustrations are a combination of double-page spreads, full-page scenes, and smaller vignettes that use a variety of shapes, patterns, and contrasting colors for a lively and creative maker’s world. … Personality and a developmental message successfully combine for STEAM fun. —Kurkus Reviews


NO MORE NAPS!: A STORY FOR WHEN YOU’RE WIDE-AWAKE AND DEFINITELY NOT TIRED, by Chris Grabenstein, Random House Books for Young Readers, Feb. 4, 2020, Jardcover, $17.99 (ages 3-7)

It’s time for a nap but, just like stubborn toddlers everywhere, Annalise Devin McFleece won’t have anything to do with bedtime. Dad tries to encourage sleepiness by pushing her around the park in her stroller. Along the way, they pass a man sitting on a bench, dog walkers walking dogs, a boy on a skateboard, kids playing ball, a girl practicing her juggling, and others. Each of them thinks that taking a nap is a great idea and if Annalise Devin McFleece doesn’t want hers, they’ll happy take it. And one by one, everyone falls asleep…except Annalise Devin McFleece. But when she’s finally ready for her nap, all the naps are taken! Is there anyone who has an extra nap to spare?

“… The idea that naps are opportunities to be eagerly seized is an amusing reframing. Espinosa (Islandborn), whose cheery, gently ironic drawing style may remind readers of Crockett Johnson’s, draws outdoor nappers of every stripe—from a bucket drummer snoozing on top of his instruments to a hairstylist and client enjoying 40 winks in the middle of a blow dry.” —Publisher’s Weekly


WHO LOVES BOOKS?: A FLIP-FLAP BOOK, by Lizi Boyd, Chronicle Books, Feb. 11, 2020, Hardcover, $12.99 (ages 0-3)

Who loves books? Is it Rabbit? Is it Bird? Is it Butterfly? Flap and flap the sturdy pages of this playful book to find out.

“Each page turn reveals more and more brightly colored and simply drawn creatures, even fish, noses buried in their reading. In the final picture all have climbed into the S.S. Book Boat, and who would find the author’s closing “All aboard!” an invitation anything short of irresistible? Every book its reader, as the old meme goes, and vice versa.” —Kirkus Reviews


SUCH A GOOD BOY: (DOG BOOKS FOR KIDS, PETS FOR CHILDREN), by Marianna Coppo, Chronicle Books, Feb. 11, 2020, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 5-8)

Meet Buzz the dog.

He’s such a good boy.

Buzz seems to have a perfect life .. .

and a lot of very well-behaved friends.

Buzz would never dream of being anything other than good.

Right, Buzz?
Buzz . . . ?

This book is for anyone who has ever felt pressure to be “good” at the expense of their own self-expression, and for anyone who has ever owned and loved a dog.

“This unusual, open-ended conclusion requires readers to interpret Buzz’s situation and consider different ways the story might continue. … An unusual, thoughtful tale exploring the canine call of the wild.” —Kirkus Reviews


WHAT WILL THESE HANDS MAKE? by Nikki McClure, Abrams Books for Young Readers, Feb. 25, 2020, Hardcover, $19.99 (ages 4-8)

This picture book from creator Nikki McClure follows a family through one day and muses in the possibilities that one day holds — from enjoying treats at the bakery, to admiring handmade goods from local artisan shops, to observing the new construction in town. Illuminating themes of community, creativity, and collaboration, What Will These Hands Make? dares the reader to dream up everything they can be and all the ways they can leave their little corner of the world better than they found it.

“The book’s appeal spans a wide range: younger readers will enjoy the seek-and-find aspect, and older readers may find inspiration in its vision of daily life and communal innovation. An elegant reflection on the provenance of everyday items.” —Starred Publisher’s Weekly Review

© 2020, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved. Unless otherwise noted, all books — digital and physical — have been provided for free by publishers in exchange for honest and unbiased reviews. All thoughts and opinions are those of the reviewer.

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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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