ICYMI: April 2020 picture books


It’s time for another round of In Case You Missed It. The following are picture books I received for review consideration but was unable to review because of time constraints. While this is just a small sample of the many books published in April — based on others’ reviews and my own wishes to read them — I think these are still worth your time.

Books are listed in order of age and publication date. Synopses are provided by the publishers.


A LITTLE BIT BRAVE, by Nicola Kinnear, Orchard Books, April 7, 2020, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 3-7)

Logan is a stay-at-home bunny — but he’s about to discover how brave he really is. It’s time for his first adventure, and he doesn’t want to go. But there’s an amazing world outside, if he can just pluck up the courage to look…

“Kinnear illustrates Logan’s romp through the autumnal woods and beyond with a touch of whimsy. The rich, vibrant palette—swirling waters in cool shades of blue and glowing woodlands drenched in warm, earthy hues—paired with a lighthearted text makes for a charming story.” — Kirkus

THE THREE LITTLE KITTENS, by Barbara McClintock, Scholastic Press, April 21, 2020, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 3-5)

Who will be able to resist wailing along with the naughty little kittens as they lose their mittens? And who won’t relish rejoicing with the good little kittens as they find and wash their mittens — and earn their pie — as well as a loving hug from their mama?

“The creator’s most inventive touch is jaunty patter and commentary—sometimes in dialogue balloons, sometimes in the narration itself—weaved in and around the original’s more formal language. ‘Okay, let’s stop crying and start looking,’ says the take-charge brown kitten when their mother insists that without the mittens ‘you shall have no pie.’” —Publisher’s Weekly

MY BROTHER THE DUCK, by Pat Zietlow Miller, Chronicle Books, April 21, 2020, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 3-5)

Is Stella’s new baby brother a duck?

All the evidence seems to be pointing in that direction, but Stella knows that scientists can’t just wing it. Further research is definitely required.

“First-person narration by Miller (When You Are Brave) skews straightforwardly precocious, while Wiseman’s (When Your Llama Needs a Haircut) round-headed cast and skillful wielding of pop-off-the-page colors (including a blazing duck yellow) exudes a cheery goodwill. However disgruntled Stella may be, her STEM skills are a model for any sibling, human or otherwise.” —Publisher’s Weekly

RAIN BOY, by Dylan Glynn, Chronicle Books, April 21, 2020, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 3-5)

Wherever he goes, Rain Boy brings wet—which means he’s not very popular. Sun Kidd brings sunshine everywhere she goes, so everyone loves her. Only Sun Kidd sees what’s special about Rain Boy. But when she invites him to her birthday party, disaster strikes, and Rain Boy storms. Now the world is nothing but rain. Will the other kids ever love Rain Boy for being himself? And. more importantly, can Rain Boy learn to love his rain?

“Detailed watercolor illustrations coupled with succinct text make this book accessible to a wide range of ages. Each image exists somewhere between childlike doodle and reality, the characters recognizable as humans but with occasionally exaggerated features. The endpapers reflect the change that takes place over the course of the story, moving from moody blues to a vivid rainbow. Carefully crafted text serves as an accent to each page, presented with familiar vocabulary. Children and caregivers will be inspired to interpret its deeper meaning.” —School Library Journal, starred review


THE PRINCESS AND THE PETRI DISH, by Petros Bouloubasis and Sue Fliess, Albert Whitman & Company, April 1, 2020, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 4-7)

Pippa isn’t your usual princess. She prefers petri dishes to perfecting her curtseying. And when she realizes that she doesn’t like peas, she gets a bright idea that consumes her and almost the whole kingdom.

“Fleiss’ lilting, rhyming abcb verse is a delight to read, and Pippa’s quirky perseverance stands as an endearing example for young budding scientists of all genders. Bouloubasis’ fantastical illustrations are vibrant with movement, color, and detail, but few characters in this kingdom are diverse. The royal family is white. … A silly, inspiring story of a princess who makes her scientific dreams come true.” —Kirkus

ONE LITTLE BAG: AN AMAZING JOURNEY, by Henry Cole, Scholastic Press, April 7, 2020, Hardcover, $18.99 (ages 4-8)

From a tall tree growing in the forest — to the checkout counter at the grocery store — one little bag finds its way into the hands of a young boy on the eve of his first day of school.

And so begins an incredible journey of one little bag that is used
and reused
and reused again.

In a three-generation family, the bag is transporter of objects and keeper of memories. And when Grandfather comes to the end of his life, the family finds a meaningful new way for the battered, but much-loved little bag to continue its journey in the circle of life.

“Though there are no words in this story, its message is deeply profound. Before the title page, readers encounter a prelude that details the making of a paper bag from its beginnings as a tree. Cleverly, the illustrations are entirely in black and white except for what will become the brown paper bag. Nostalgia and love abound in this story, bringing tears to the eyes of readers of all ages with each detailed image.” —School Library Journal, starred review

CAT LADIES, by Susi Schaefer, Harry N. Abrams, April 7, 2020, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 4-8)

Princess has four ladies. Some cats say that’s too many, but there’s no such thing! Taking care of all these ladies can be a lot of work, but Princess doesn’t mind. She knows how to keep them happy with grooming, cuddling, and all the treats they want. Princess has everything under control until, one day, a mysterious stray appears. There’s a little girl in Princess’s favorite napping spot, surrounded by her ladies! Princess is overwhelmed with jealousy, and she leaves the house in a huff. But when Princess runs into trouble, the stray comes to her rescue. Maybe the stray can fit in with Princess and her ladies after all. Of course, she’ll need proper training first!

“Bright and bold digital collage by Schaefer (Zoo Zen) infuses the illustrations with appealing texture and depth, adding whimsy to this story about change and belonging for feline lovers of all stripes: ‘Now Princess has five ladies. Some cats say that’s too many… but there is no such thing.’” —Publisher’s Weekly

THIS WAY, CHARLIE, by Caron Levis and Charles Santoso, Harry N. Abrams, April 21, 2020, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 4-8)

All the animals at the Open Bud Ranch can see that Jack likes keeping his space to himself. But when Charlie arrives, he doesn’t see Jack at all. He’s still getting used to seeing out of only one of his eyes.

The two get off to a bumpy start. At first, Jack is anxious and distrustful. But one day, he summons his courage and guides Charlie to his favorite sunlit field: this way, Charlie. And so begins a powerful friendship that will be tested by life’s storms — but will ultimately change each life for the better.

“Based on a true friendship between a horse and a goat, this picture book has much to offer for young readers about life’s challenges and how we handle them. Levis (Ida, Always) excels at crafting emotional, but never saccharine, tales of friendship. Strongly recommend for purchase.” —School Library Journal, starred review


MADAME BADOBEDAH, by Sophie Dahl and Lauren O’Hara, Walker Books US, April 7, 2020, Hardcover, $18.99 (ages 5-8)

There’s a strange new guest at the Mermaid Hotel — a very old lady with a growly voice, bags stuffed with jewelry and coins and curiosities, and a beady-eyed pet tortoise. Mabel, whose parents run the hotel, is suspicious. Who is this “Madame Badobedah” (it rhymes with “Oo la la”) who has come to stay indefinitely and never has any visitors? To find out, Mabel puts on her spy costume and observes the new guest. Conclusion? She must be a secret supervillain hiding out from the law. The grown-ups think Madame Badobedah is a bit rude — and sad — but when she invites “dahlink” Mabel for a cup of forbidden tea and a game of pirates, the two begin a series of imaginary adventures together, and Mabel realizes that first impressions can sometimes be very wrong.

“Their imagined adventures and histories give way to confessions of truths and secrets, all of which play out in the glorious watercolor illustrations, shimmering with beachy hues, whimsy, and enchanting details. Youngsters ready for longer stories should pack their bags for the Mermaid Hotel without delay.” —Booklist, starred 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.


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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