2018 Year in Review: Beautiful Books

 

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I could look at these beautiful books all day long! 😍

Did I miss a lovely book from 2018? Have you tried one of these titles yet? Was it a smashing success or a flop? Please share!

⭐️= favorite

👎= nope


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⭐️Boats on the Bay by Jeanne Walker Harvey
Rhymes and retro color illustrations introduce young readers to a day in the waters of San Francisco Bay! Busy boats spend the morning ferrying passengers, lugging heavy loads, slogging through the fog. The book ends with a beautiful bright night lit with fireworks. Love the vocabulary in this one!

The Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba Clarke & Van Thanh Rudd
On the surface, this story is about celebrating childhood ingenuity and creativity. The lyrical language and bold illustrations work together really well to captivate readers. There’s also deeper socioeconomic and racial undertones, adding depth and multiple layers of meaning.

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⭐️Kitten and the Night Watchman by John Sullivan
As the sun sets, a night watchman leaves his family and heads to work. As he makes his rounds through the construction site, he makes a new furry friend. Whereas stories round the construction site are usually loud and noisy, this quiet take is really unique. When I read this to a Pre-K class, they were fascinated by all the shapes the construction vehicles made with their shadows.

Night Train, Night Train by Robert Burleigh and Wendell Minor
Speaking of nighttime… Step into the past and onto a 1940’s steam train when you open the pages of this beautiful book! Love the pops of color against the muted graphite illustrations and the gentle rhyme.

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⭐️Good Morning, Snowplow! by Deborah Bruss
It’s a sleepy snowy night for most, but not for this snowplow driver and his faithful furry friend! They spend the night clearing paths, singing tunes, and stepping in to rescue stranded drivers. Love the everyday diversity and the AMAZING illustrations – the use of cardboard for cleared road is especially clever.

Winter is Here by Kevin Henkes
Another lovely exploration of the seasons from the duo that created Spring is Here and In the Middle of Fall. This one highlights the wonders of winter. I actually like this latest installment the least, but that’s probably because I don’t much like winter. Kudos though for no sneaky Christmas references!

⭐️Grains of Sand by Sibylle Delacroix
Let’s stop talking about snow! This book is a beautiful celebration of summer and imagination. Missing vacation already, a brother and sister plant grains of sand from the beach. What will grow?

Blue by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Speaking of the beach… Blue can be many things: the ocean, the sky, beautiful butterflies… and the color of loss. Simultaneously a striking celebration of color and the story of a friendship, this book is a must read for families dealing with pet death. Now excuse me, I need to go cry in a corner… 😢

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⭐️Busy-Eyed Day by Ann Marie Pace
It’s a beautiful world full of big-eyed bugs and stalk-eyed slugs! Pause and take a look at just how much there is to explore at the park. Love the everyday diversity and vocabulary!

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⭐️Summer Supper by Rubin Pfeffer
Follow the story of food from farm to table in this delightfully scrumptious picture book. Love the alliteration, unique vocabulary, everyday diversity and surprise ending!

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⭐️Thank You Omu! by Oge Mora
Speaking of food… there’s nothing like the taste and smell of Omu’s stew! When their noses lead neighbor after neighbor to her door, Omu generously shares her meal… down to the last delicious drop. Oh no! Everything about this book is beautiful – the illustrations, the language, and the sweet story about community.

Outside My Window by Linda Ashman
What do you see when you look out the window? Is it a busy boulevard, a noisy city, a narrow alley, or something else? Love the everyday diversity and fun facts at the end of the book. Great peek into other places and peoples!

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⭐️Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel
Beautiful celebration of animals black and white, bright and bold, big and small!

A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin
Explore the phases of the moon in this bright and beautiful picture book! Little Star and her Mama bake a mooncake and set it in the sky to cool, but Little Star just can’t resist taking a bite here and there… The contrast between the bright paint and pure black pages is stunning! Lin also does a lovely job capturing Little Star’s childlike mischievousness and Mama’s gentle love.

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⭐️Tiny Little Rocket by Richard Collingridge
All aboard the tiny little rocket for an out-of-this world adventure! Once a year this little rocket zips past planets and stars for a very special mission. I can’t get over the gorgeous illustrations. Love the fun surprise at the end and the message about facing your fears!

Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed and Stasia Burrington
More picture book and less biography, but still an inspiring story about the young Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to travel in space. This book is a good example of “beauty in the eye of the beholder.” One reviewer found the illustrations too “emoji-like,” but I think they’re playful and perfect!

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⭐️Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
In this autobiographical picture book, Morales shares her own experiences as a mother immigrating to the United States. There’s so much to love in this story – the many small delightful details (such as the book covers in the library), the raw honest emotion, the masterful mixed-media illustrations. Excuse me while I go cry again! 😭

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I Love You More Than… by Taye Diggs
What a beautiful and powerful affirmation of a parent’s love! The pattern, repetition, and vibrant illustrations really pull the reader in. I think this one works well both one-on-one and as a read-aloud.

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