Kids’ Books Worth a Look: 13 Awesome New Titles for Children, May 2013 Edition

Brotherband Chronicles

By Noelle, Librarian Extraordinaire

Here’s the latest and greatest crop of children’s books that have been published recently. If you like funny or profound, you’re in luck. Take a gander!

Cookie The Walker

Cookie the Walker by Chris Monroe. Cookie the dog decides one day to start walking on her hind legs. You know, to be able to reach the bacon or steal a fluffy towel. After she catches the eye of a dog trainer, before you know it, Cookie becomes famous. But can fame make you happy? Even with unlimited treats? This is a humorous, tongue-in-cheek story in a comic book type style about finding what really makes you happy, which often could be as simple as just “standing down.” Ages 5 and up.

Doug Unplugged

Doug Unplugged by Dan Yaccarino. Doug is a little robot boy who gets left at home by his robot parents to download his education. When Doug is distracted by a pigeon outside his window, he decides to experience life instead of watching it through technology. With great bold retro-style illustrations, this is a timely story about participating in life instead of watching it go by on a screen. Ages 3 and up.


Rain! by Linda Ashman. A little boy ventures out into a rainy day, happily pretending to be a frog, gathering smiles from onlookers. Meanwhile, a grumpy old man heads out at the same time, spreading unhappiness. Who’s mood will win out when the two meet? Blocky illustrations with clever use of colors perfectly complement the story. A great book that reminds you the most important decision you can make every day is what kind of mood to be in. Ages 2 and up.

The Dark

The Dark by Lemony Snicket. Lazlo says hello to the dark in the basement every day in hopes the dark won’t visit him at night. But one night, Lazlo’s nightlight burns out, and the dark comes to talk to him. A bit of a surreal tale about overcoming fear of the dark, perfectly illustrated by this year’s Caldecott Award winner, Jon Klassen, that will pique your interest and make you think, “What ELSE has a personality?” Lemony Snicket is better known for his Series of Unfortunate Events books, but hits the right notes with this picture book. Ages 4 and up.

When No One Is Watching

When No One Is Watching by Eileen Spinelli. A terrific book for the shy or socially awkward child. The little girl featured is brave, dances, sings and cheers, but only when she’s alone. When others are around, be they other kids or grown ups, she clams up. Her shyness isn’t solved by book’s end, but having a friend to be shy with helps. The illustrations are full of motion and great detail. Ages 3 and up.

Toys In Space

Toys in Space by Mini Grey. When a few toys get accidentally left outside, they grow anxious about ever being found again. Luckily the WonderDoll decides to tell the others a story to both pass the time and reassure them. The side commentary by the toys makes it all worthwhile. Really fun, great illustrations and an easy plug in for those kids who are sure their toys are all alive when they aren’t looking. (Mini Grey is fast becoming a favorite of mine) Ages 4 and up.

A Funny Little Bird

A Funny Little Bird by Jennifer Yerkes. This bird is nearly invisible and is unhappy not to fit in with everyone else. So he sets off on a journey where he learns to appreciate who and what he is. It is reminiscent of Leo Lionni’s Swimmy and just as simple. Ages 3 and up.


Bluebird by Bob Staake. In this wordless picture book, a lonely bird makes friends with a bluebird, which follows him around. The palette is all grays and blues. When the boy faces bullies in the park, the bird comes to the rescue and is hurt in the process. But then a pack of colorful birds come to take the boy and the bird away up into the sky. If you’ve ever watched French story, The Red Balloon, you’ll see Staake borrowed heavily from it. However, he gives it his own twist and the stylistic images will stay with you. Ages 3 and up.

Brief Thief

Brief Thief by Michael Escoffier. Leon the chameleon uses a pair of underpants he finds on a tree to clean up his…uh…mess and walks off. But when his conscience quite literally nags him, he tries to mend his mistake. A great book with a funny twist at the end to help kids think about their actions. Dare you not to laugh. Ages 3 and up.

Princess of the Silver Woods

Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George. This is the third and last in a trilogy of books of fairy tale retellings, including Princess at Midnight and Princess of Glass. Each book centers on one of the 12 Dancing Princesses, with the first being the retelling of that tale, the second including elements of Cinderella, and the last integrating some bits from Red Riding Hood. They are dark, magical and have good characters. Fantasy lovers ages 11 and up will like to peruse these.

Eleanor Park

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. My love of the 80s might be showing, but this is a fantastic story of two misfits who meet and fall in love slowly on the bus to school when one small kind act opens the door.  Set in the 80s, Eleanor has a very dark and unhappy home life which she keeps hidden from her tentative new boyfriend. Remember first love? Remember Joy Division? The Smiths? Madness? Remember no cell phones? This novel perfectly captures the wonderfulness and pain of first love. For ages 14 and up.

The Runaway King

The Runaway King by Jennifer Nielson. Nielsen scored a big hit last year with her edge of your seat, twist and turns first book, The False Prince. This follow up continues the story of Sage and is every bit as twisty and turny. Fantasy and adventure fans will eat this up and not care that much of the plot might not make perfect sense. How can you not like pirates in the mix? For ages 10 and up.

Brotherband Chronicles

Brotherband Chronicles by John Flanagan. Flanagan authored the extremely likable Ranger’s Apprentice series (which is going to have a new addition out this fall) and he started this new spinoff series. I wasn’t sure I would like it (and I still don’t think it is any Ranger’s Apprentice), but the characters and adventure aspects are solid and there isn’t anything a kid who loves sailing, fighting and life or death situations won’t be happy with.  For ages 10 and up.

Keep your eyes open for more new books on the horizon. I’ll be sure to keep you up to speed.

NoelleNoelle has been a children’s librarian for over 15 years. She’s also been a student teacher, worked as an online account manager, worked in a pet shop and as a supermarket checkout clerk, and as a dishwasher and fry cook. She is the proud mom of a beautiful daughter. You can read more of Noelle’s book reviews at Rave Reviews Log

Noelle can be reached at “Noelle @ DadDoes.Com”

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