Circle, Square, Moose
By Kelly Bingham, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
Published 2014 by Greenwillow Books
Moose is back, and this time, he's covering shapes! He loves shapes! But he also sometimes creates a little catastrophe where he goes. Well, Zebra will fix it. Or he'll try anyway. This book will definitely appeal to fans of the first (Z is for Moose) and, generally, kids tend to think chaotic animals are pretty amusing. Much as I love moose (and Paul O. Zelinsky), I tend to prefer Musk Ox (of Musk Ox Counts and others). However, Moose is much better for a storytime setting (Musk Ox can get a bit wordy), so I'm pleased to live in a world where there's room for both. This will definitely be popular with those who enjoy a bit of absurdity.
100 Things that Make Me Happy
By Amy Schwartz
Published 2014 by Harry N. Abrams
A simple idea, this book really is a list of 100 things that will make you happy. It rhymes, too, which is a bonus. I really enjoyed it - I think Schwartz has curated an excellent list of things. It make me want to start my own list, which is a very simple extension activity you could use with this book. It would also be fun to just dissect the list that Schwartz has created and talk about whether the same things make you happy or if you like different things. The illustrations are very vivid and highlight the items on the list quite well. I liked this one much more than I expected.
The Book with No Pictures
By B.J. Novak
Published 2014 by Dial Books
This book got a ton of buzz because apparently Novak is the next big thing in publishing (or he was, for a hot minute there in 2014). People raved about it, so of course, I was anxious to see it for myself. And, you know what? It's pretty cute. It's silly, and I think kids will enjoy it (though I've not yet been brave enough to try it with an audience yet), but I expected it to be funnier. And, I kind of missed the pictures. There is a lot of joy to be found in excellent pictures in children's books, and, obviously, this book is missing that. It certainly has a different kind of joy. I also wonder a bit if it will really still be as funny after multiple readings but, like I said, I haven't tested it with children, so I don't know.
Hello, I'm Johnny Cash
By G. Neri, illustrated by A.G. Ford
Published 2014 by Candlewick Press
I couldn't resist picking up this picture book biography of Johnny Cash, one of my favorite singers. And I'm glad I didn't, because I thoroughly enjoyed it. Of course, like many biographies for children, some of the less savory aspects of Cash's life are cleaned up (though not as much as I've seen elsewhere), but I think this version still presents an accurate portrait of Cash's life. I thought the way Neri chose to tell Cash's story also worked exceedingly well - it's spare but evocative and captures just enough to bring him to life. The accompanying illustrations are quite stunning - I think they really bring the narrative to life. There is great back matter at the end, so this is an excellent jumping off point for kids who want to learn more.