Staff Favorites 2021: Picture Books

This list was created by Denver Public Library staff to celebrate our favorite recently published picture books. Enjoy!

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Abery, Julie, author.

"The true story of science teacher Soichi Sakamoto, who formed a champion swim club consisting of the Hawaiian and Japanese children of impoverished sugarcane workers in the 1930s. Without a proper pool to swim in, Sakamoto trained his team in irrigation ditches and coached the kids to swim against the natural current, building up the swimmers' strength and endurance. The team overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles and surged onto the national swimming scene, dominating events both in the United States and across the world. Almost lost to history, the sugar ditch kids' story is an inspiration to athletes around the world."-- Provided by publisher.

Anand, Shelly, author.

After Laxmi's friend Zoe points out the hairs on her lip, Laxmi is very self-conscious until her East Indian parents help her to accept and celebrate her appearance.

Archer, Micha, author, illustrator.

"Two curious children go for a walk, asking imaginative questions about the natural beauty that surrounds them"-- Provided by publisher.

Atinuke, author.

"Atinuke and Angela Brooksbank, creators of the award-winning Baby Goes to Market, pair up again for a bright and beautiful first book of words. B is for Baby. B is for Brother. B is for going to see Baba! One morning after breakfast, Baby's big brother is getting ready to take the basket of bananas all the way to Baba's bungalow in the next village. He'll have to go along the bumpy road, past the baobab trees, birds, and butterflies, and all the way over the bridge. But what he doesn't realize is that his very cute, very curious baby sibling has stowed away on his bicycle. Little ones learning about language will love sounding out the words in this playful, vibrantly illustrated story set in West Africa"--Amazon.com.

Baptiste, Tracey, author.

"Mama says jumbies exist only in stories. So Naya sets out on a nighttime adventure to find out for herself ... Naya is sure that jumbies are real. Some have big mouths. Or thick fur. Or glowing skin. Or sharp teeth. Kind of like her new friends"-- Provided by publisher

Bee, William, author, illustrator.

It's another busy day at Stanley's library, and Stanley has stocked his bookmobile with lots of great books to take to the local park.

Betancourt-Perez, Jessica, author.

Newly arrived from Colombia, Isabella's first day of school in the United States is cancelled because of snow and when Isabella notices a girl playing outside she makes a new friend, despite the language barrier.

Blackburne, Livia, author.

"This delicate, emotionally rich picture book celebrates a special connection that crosses time zones and oceans as Popo and her granddaughter hold each other in their hearts forever."--Provided by publisher.

Bowles, David (David O.), author.

"A boy and his father cross the United States-Mexico border every other Saturday, visiting their favorite places, spending time with family and friends, and sharing in the responsibility of community care"-- Provided by publisher.

Brosgol, Vera, author, illustrator.

Freda uses jars to save everything from a chocolate chip cookie to the full moon, just as her grandmother saves summer blueberries. Includes a recipe for blueberry jam.

Brown, Peter, 1979- author, illustrator.

After having fun running around the house naked and wild, young Fred decides to get dressed--in his parents' closet--with surprising results.

Colleen, Marcie, author.

The Callery pear tree standing at the base of the World Trade Center is almost destroyed on September 11, but it is pulled from the rubble, coaxed back to life, and replanted as part of the 9/11 memorial.

Cummins, Lucy Ruth, author, illustrator.

A young vampire trades places with a penguin at the zoo for a day of mischief and fun.

Dapier, Jarrett, author.

Mr. Watson loves his three chickens, and every morning he and Mr. Nelson count them; but when they start to multiply, his house and tiny yard are soon overrun, and the noise and mess are driving Mr. Nelson crazy--so the couple set out to find a new home for the chickens.

De la Peña, Matt, author.

While Milo and his sister travel to a detention center to visit their incarcerated mother, he observes strangers on the subway and draws what he imagines their lives to be.

Diaz, Lucky, author.

"Follow along with our narrator as he passes through his busy neighborhood in search of the Paletero Man. But when he finally catches up with him, our narrator's pockets are empty. Oh no! What happened to his dinero? It will take the help of the entire community to get the tasty treat now"--Provided by publisher.

DiPucchio, Kelly, author.

"Monsters are loud. And rude. They like to smash things and they always need to be right. But not Yeti. Yeti bakes banana bread and sings to whales and always has a nice word to say. But sometimes you find yourself alone when you're different. And Yeti doesn't know there's a special surprise in store for him."-- Publisher's description.

Dyckman, Ame, author.

Tiny fantasizes he is a mighty Barbarian who can conquer anything, but even he has trouble conquering the dark.

Ebeid, Rifk, author.

When Saamidah, a young Palestinian refugee, is asked by her friends what her name means, she isn't quite sure what to say. She turns to her baba for some answers - but what she gets is an adventure beyond her wildest dreams.

Faruqi, Reem, author.

Amira's excited because tomorrow is Eid with special clothes, treats, gifts, and a morning party at her mosque, but then she realizes that she's going to miss class picture day at school, something she was also looking forward to--so she has to figure out a way to be in two places at once.

Feder, Tyler, author, illustrator.

Illustrations and easy-to-read, rhyming text celebrate bodies of all shapes, sizes, ages, and colors, with different kinds of hair, eyes, spots, scars, and more.

Finison, Carrie, author.

"Doug prefers not to be hugged, but there are a variety of other ways his loved ones can show him affection"-- Provided by publisher.

Henderson, Leah, author.

In Charleston, South Carolina, in 1865, ten-year-old Eli and other newly freed slaves gather to honor the memory of fallen Union soldiers, an event considered to be one of the first celebrations of what is now called Memorial Day. Includes author's note.

Hernandez, Jess, author.

Milly is thrilled to be accepted into the elite Unicorn School, although she is a donkey in disguise, but her first day reveals she has much in common with her fellow newcomers.

Herz, Henry, author.

A history of smoke and its ability to help in areas such as cooking and medicine and its ability to harm such as in a fire.

Ho, Joanna, author.

"A young Asian girl notices that her eyes look different from her peers'. They have big, round eyes and long lashes. She realizes that her eyes are like her mother's, her grandmother's, and her little sister's. They have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea, crinkle into crescent moons, and are filled with stories of the past and hope for the future. Drawing from the strength of these powerful women in her life, she recognizes her own beauty and discovers a path to self-love and empowerment"-- Provided by publisher.

Ho, Richard (Children's author), author.

A tour of the busy work that takes place at post offices is depicted through the journey of a lost package that receives a little help reaching its destination, proving that distance cannot keep loved ones apart.

Hunter, Linzie, author, illustrator.

"Pig is so incredibly kind and fabulously fun, but he also has a big secret--he's a tremendous worrier! When Pig gets the brilliant idea to throw a party for Mouse and their friends, he can't help but think of everything that could possibly go wrong. After all, what if a lion eats all the invitations? What if nobody comes? or worse, what if everyone comes and has an awful time?"-- Provided by publisher.

Khorram, Adib, author.

After accidentally ruining his family's haft-seen, a display of seven traditional items to bring luck in the Persian New Year, young Kian finds seven unusual items to replace them. Includes facts about Nowruz.

Lam, Thao, author, illustrator.

""Thao" seems like a simple enough name. Only four letters--all of them belonging to many other names! And yet Thao had been called everything from "Tail" to "Theo" to "Towel." At one point, completely fed up, she decided it was time to try another name. Something "easy." Something like "Jennifer." But trying to be someone else only works for so long. And eventually "Jennifer" is swayed back to being herself when she opens her lunchbox and finds her mother has packed her Gỏi cuốn (also known as Vietnamese spring rolls)! Thao's favourite! While simple on the surface, this story of cultural assimilation and celebration of cultural pride runs deep. It is a personal one for Thao. And it will strike a chord with readers who have struggled to fit within a mainstream mold--then realized it was just more comfortable to be themselves. Visually, this book will also be a personal reflection of Thao in that she will be incorporating childhood photos into her usual cut-paper collage style! She has also opted to minimize the number of illustrations and instead play with type and typography as a way to highlight her name--and the many variations of it that appear in the book!"-- Provided by publisher.

Lawson, JonArno, author.

"A lonely little girl and her grandparent need to fill the run-down apartment in their building. But taking over the quarters above their store will mean major renovations for the new occupants, and none of the potential renters can envision the possibilities of the space--until one special couple shows up. With their ingenuity, the little girl's big heart, and heaps of hard work, the desperate fixer-upper begins to change in lovely and surprising ways"--Provided by publisher.

Maclear, Kyo, 1970- author.

A young girl experiences a rain storm from seeing the storm roll in, to splashing in the puddles, and then finally watching the sun coming back out.

Manley, Curtis, author.

"...Roberta rescues tiny creatures. You know, the ones stranded in the middle of the sidewalk. A lot of the time, that earns her funny looks from kids in school. But when a swarm of baby spiders finds its way into the classroom, Roberta will save the day with her knowledge and creativity, showing everybody that tiny creatures aren't so scary after all. They just need friends who rescue and understand them!"-- Publisher's description.

McClure, Wendy, author.

After a bird flies into their window, two children and their mother study how to keep birds safe, and soon their whole neighborhood is helping in different ways.

McCurry, Kristen, author.

Patrick loves his sister's tights, using them as a slingshot or dog leash, or wearing them to feel comfortable and warm, so when his sister accidentally ruins them, he is brokenhearted.

McGinty, Alice B., 1963- author.

Cody is worried when his family on a New Mexico Navajo reservation runs out of water, but Darlene Arviso, called "The Water Lady," is on the way with her tanker truck. Includes glossary of Navajo terms, and notes about Arviso and life on a reservation.

Mirchandani, Raakhee, author.

Follows a Sikh father and his daughter as they go through their daily hair routine.

Morales, Yuyi, author, illustrator.

"A nurturing voice reassures the lonely and afraid in difficult times"-- Provided by publisher.

Musser, Andy Chou, author, illustrator.

When his family moves to the city, Toby misses seeing stars, but soon he meets some wild animals who all need the North Star to show their way home.

Myers, Maya, author.

Dot proves she is not little by standing up to a school bully.

Namir, Hasan, 1987- author.

"A sweet and moving picture book depicting Ari's gender journey from childhood to adolescence in order to discover who they really are. Meet Ari, a young person who doesn't like to be called by their birth name Edward: "When I think of the name Edward, I imagine old kings who snore a lot." Throughout this beautiful and engaging picture book, we watch Ari grow up before our very eyes as they navigate the ins and outs of their gender identity; we see how, as a child, they prefer dolls and princess movies, and want to grow out their hair, though their father insists on cutting it short, because that's "what a boy looks like." At ten, they play hockey but wish they could try on their mother's dresses; at fifteen, they shave their body, hoping to have smooth skin like the girls. At sixteen, they want to run away, especially from their father, who insists, "You're a boy, so you have to act like one." Who will Ari become? Moving from age six to adolescence, The Name I Call Myself touchingly depicts Edward's tender, solitary gender journey to Ari: a new life distinguished and made."-- Provided by publisher.

Pham, LeUyen, author, illustrator.

A beautiful book that describes the impact of COVID-19 on communities and why some essential workers could not quarantine.

Phi, Bao, 1975- author.

On their way to a May Day parade, twins Hue and Hoa spy a confused-looking duck and try to help it reach the pond, while neighbors from many countries offer help and greetings in different languages.

Pinkney, J. Brian, author, illustrator.

During his busy day, Kenny gets dressed, fights his fear of the vacuum cleaner, gets a soccer lesson from his sister, and prepares for bed, with his loving family always near.

Ramos, NoNieqa, author.

Illustrations and easy-to-read text twist classic "your mama" jokes into a celebration of the beauty, power, and love of motherhood.

Reynolds, Emma, author, illustrator.

Amara loves bats, so when she learns there are none near her new home due to habitat loss, she overcomes her feelings of helplessness and inspires her community to take action. Includes facts about bats and bat houses.

Robertson, David, 1977- author.

A picture book celebrating Indigenous culture and traditions. The Governor General Award-winning team behind When We Were Alone shares a story that honors our connections to our past and our grandfathers and fathers. A boy and Moshom, his grandpa, take a trip together to visit a place of great meaning to Moshom. A trapline is where people hunt and live off the land, and it was where Moshom grew up. As they embark on their northern journey, the child repeatedly asks his grandfather, "Is this your trapline?" Along the way, the boy finds himself imagining what life was like two generations ago -- a life that appears to be both different from and similar to his life now. This is a heartfelt story about memory, imagination, and intergenerational connection that perfectly captures the experience of a young child's wonder as he is introduced to places and stories that hold meaning for his family.--Amazon.

Robinson, Michelle, author.

Red truck, yellow truck, and a colorful cast of vehicles push and pull, heave and tow throughout their day of hard work. An action- and visual-packed read aloud!

Soderguit, Alfredo, author, illustrator.
Soontornvat, Christina, author.

"Five siblings worry that their shabby old house isn't 'proper' enough, but come to see that it's perfect just the way it is"-- Provided by publisher.

Spillett-Sumner, Tasha, 1988- author.

A Native American woman describes how she loved her child before it was born and, throughout her pregnancy, gathered a bundle of gifts to welcome the newborn.

Sterer, Gideon, author.

Far from the city, but not quite the countryside, lies a fairground ight comes and the fair is empty, something unexpected happens. Wild animals emerge from the forest, a brave raccoon pulls a lever, and the roller coasters and rides explode back into bright, neon life. It's time for the woodland creatures to head to the fair!

Tabor, Corey R., author, illustrator.

"...follow Mel on her journey from downward fall to triumphant flight in this tale of self-confidence and taking a leap of faith."-- Publisher's description.

Wahl, Phoebe, author, illustrator.

"An earthy and beautiful collection of four stories that celebrate the seasons, nature, and life, from award-winning author-illustrator Phoebe Wahl. Little Witch Hazel is a tiny witch who lives in the forest, helping creatures big and small. She's a midwife, an intrepid explorer, a hard worker and a kind friend. In this four-season volume, Little Witch Hazel rescues an orphaned egg, goes sailing on a raft, solves the mystery of a haunted stump and makes house calls to fellow forest dwellers. But when Little Witch Hazel needs help herself, will she get it in time? Little Witch Hazel is a beautiful ode to nature, friendship, wild things and the seasons, that only Phoebe Wahl could create: an instant classic and a book that readers will pore over time and time again."-- Provided by publisher.

Walrath, Dana, author.

A boy and his father enjoy a day at the beach and see how things are connected, as a bird that can fly leads to a fly that will land, that leads to land stretching to the sea.

Willan, Alex, author, illustrator.

A grumpy goblin hates having unicorns as neighbors, but when dragons threaten his home and the unicorns come to the rescue, he has to admit that maybe unicorns are not so bad after all.

Wynter, Anne, author.

"In the middle of the night, a chain reaction of noises wakes the residents of an urban apartment building, and then lulls them back to sleep"-- Provided by publisher.

Yaccarino, Dan, author, illustrator.

No one knew where the strange storm came from, or why it lasted so long. The family at the center of this timely story has to hunker down together, with no going outside - and that's hard when there's absolutely nothing to do, and everyone's getting on everyone else's nerves.

Yamasaki, Katie, author, illustrator.

Dad rises before the sun, goes to work at the bakery where he kneads, rolls, and bakes bread, and as the world starts its day, Dad heads home to his young daughter where they play, read, and bake together.

Yang, James, 1960- author, illustrator.

Imagines a day in the boyhood of Japanese American artist, Isamu Noguchi, while wandering through an outdoor market, through the forest, and then by the ocean, seeing things Isamu sees through the eyes of a young artist.

Yoon, Yeorim, author.

Slow Lizard lives a slow life in the forest and has lots of time to help friends, such as Little Bird, Mighty Elephant, and Speedy Rabbit. And friends help Slow Lizard, too.

Summaries provided by DPL's catalog unless otherwise noted. Click on each title to view more information.

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