With summer break upon us, now is the time to get out into nature and explore. The following picture books celebrate the natural world and encourage children to make the most of it.
CHILDREN OF THE FOREST, by Matt Myers, Neal Porter Books, April 26, 2022, Hardcover, $18.99 (ages 2-5)
“We are wild.
We are children of the forest.
We were raised by wolves.
And raccoons. And owls.”
Grabbing a bow and quiver, a kid sets off, toddler sister in tow, to live off the land in the expanses of their own backyard. First, they sneak past their snoozing father to pilfer supplies from the refrigerator, but only what they need. After that, they’re utterly on their own.
Out in these uncharted spaces they encounter many dangers, from a ferocious mountain lion (a house cat) to a hulking canine beast (their dog). When the sun dips low, they make a camp complete with defenses to ward off predators. —Synopsis provided by Neal Porter Books
Children of the Forest is a celebration of imagination and what that imagination can come up with out in nature — even if it is only your backyard. The book’s playful tone and illustrations will resonate with little ones, who will likely be inspired by this adventurous read.
FIRSTS AND LASTS: THE CHANGING SEASONS, by Leda Schubert and Clover Robin, Candlewick, March 1, 2022, Hardcover, $18.99 (ages 4-8)
What is the first sign of spring? And what is the last glimpse of winter? The joy of the changing seasons means saying hello to new but familiar rituals, like spring picnics in the park or homemade lemonade in summer. But there’s also the bittersweet feeling of doing something for the last time, like mowing the lawn one final time on a brown day in autumn, or watching the last of the geese fly south in the early weeks of winter. Whichever way you mark the changing of the seasons, every year feels like an extraordinary miracle! —Synopsis provided by Candlewick
The changing of seasons ushers in new life, activities and nature. Celebrate the “lasts” and “firsts” through clear text and vibrant cut-paper illustrations.
WITH A BUTTERFLY’S WINGS, by Pilar López Ávila, Zuzanna Celej, Cuento de Luz; 1st edition, April 15, 2022, Hardcover, $18.95 (ages 4-8)
A grandmother and her granddaughter explore together the secrets of nature and forge a bond that will live out forever. With Butterfly’s Wings is a tender story about a girl who loses her beloved grandmother finds comfort in remembering her through what she learned from her. —Synopsis provided by Cuento de Luz
With a Butterfly’s Wings is not the bold, vibrant nature book people have come to expect of this genre. Instead, it’s reflective and quiet, featuring muted mixed-media illustrations that call to memory times past. This gentle read encourages readers to take in moments with loved ones and hold them close to your heart.
WHAT’S COOKING IN FLOWERVILLE?: RECIPES FROM GARDEN, BALCONY OR WINDOW BOX, by Felicita Sala, Prestel Junior, April 5, 2022, Hardcover, $14.95 (ages 5-9)
From spring’s asparagus and peas and summer’s cherries, cucumbers and peppers to autumn’s pears and squash and winter’s potatoes and citrus — twelve healthy ingredients are harvested in one of the townspeople’s gardens and then used to make an easy, delicious dish. As the year comes to a close, the town gathers for a giant picnic.
The recipes, which include savory and sweet pies, soups, sauces, pancakes and croquettes, embrace a wide array of cultures, and feature fresh flavors and easy-to-source ingredients. Kids will learn not only how to incorporate fruits and vegetables into meals, but also how they grow and when they ripen. The book also includes charmingly illustrated tips and tools for growing your own food. A celebration of gardening, cooking, and community, this unique and beautiful cookbook is certain to become a perennial favorite in family kitchens. —Synopsis provided by Prestel Junior
What’s Cooking in Flowerville is a book unlike most. Part story, part cookbook, Felicia Sala combines whimsy with practicality. One ingredient is featured in each spread. On the left, you visit all the places where food is grown in Flowerville. On the right, ingredients and a coordinating recipe take center stage. And through it all are Sala’s lovely watercolor illustrations. It’s a lovely setup, perfect for this time of year, to entice young readers into the kitchen.
THE WILD GARDEN, by Cynthia Cliff, Prestel Junior, May 3, 2022, Hardcover, $16.95 (ages 5-9)
In the village of Mirren, a tidy community garden is carefully organized and tended by the townspeople. On the other side of the garden wall is a wild patch of land — a jumble of trees, a pond, and tall grassy places. While the garden is cared for in different ways throughout the seasons, Jilly and her grandfather like to visit the wild place, foraging for mushrooms, asparagus, and nuts, and watching the insects, birds and other animals.
When the townspeople decide they need a bigger garden, they make plans to expand beyond the wall into the wild place. Worried about what will happen to their special piece of nature, Jilly and her grandfather come up with a plan, inviting the townspeople to discover a new kind of gardening. Their plan works and the wild place and the community garden merge harmoniously; the bees pollinate the crops, berry bushes take over a garden corner, pumpkins grow along the pond, and delicious herbs appear among the ferns. —Synopsis provided by Prestel Junior
The Wild Garden is a celebration of nature and the joys of being outside. It’s a vibrant introduction to how interrelated everything is and why it’s important to protect wild areas. Cliff’s bold illustrations bring a smile to your face. Her characters have a lovely stylized look, and her text is clear and inviting.
OLAF HAJEK’S FANTASTIC FRUITS, by Olaf Hajek and Annette Roeder, Prestel Junior, April 5, 2022, Hardcover, $19.95 (ages 6-9)
As in his previous books, Flower Power and Veggie Power, Hajek’s whimsical, imaginative paintings — inspired by a variety of artistic traditions — situate each fruit in a fascinating cultural context. Each “portrait” features delightful pictorial clues about how the fruits are grown and consumed. Opposite the illustrations, Annette Roeder’s engaging texts offer illuminating and often surprising facts from throughout history and contemporary life. As mouthwatering as a summer peach, and as surprising as a pomegranate’s seeds, this book serves up page after page of delicious, nutritious, but most of all fun portions of fruity knowledge from all over the world. —Synopsis provided by Prestel Junior
We already own Flower Power and love it, so I was excited to get my hands on Fantastic Fruits. It’s not hard to look at the illustrations and imagine an entire story just from one page. These intricate and imaginative images feature bold colors and quirky characters. They are perfectly paired with accessible text that covers mouthwatering descriptions and intriguing historical facts. This is a book the entire family can enjoy.
Copyright © 2022 Cracking the Cover. Unless otherwise noted, all books — digital and physical — have been provided by publishers in exchange for honest and unbiased reviews. All thoughts and opinions are those of the reviewer.