2017 Picture Book Recommendations

Several students in my university courses and colleagues and friends have asked which books published in 2017 I’d recommend. Whether you’re someone building a classroom wish list, a Christmas wish list, or any other kind of list, these are some books from 2017 that I want to highlight. Enjoy! (These books are in no particular order).


Fall is my favorite season. Every year, I attempt to go out to a secluded area filled with trees and capture some of the beauty. Every year I come up short. My pictures never do it justice. What April is able to do here is make you feel like you’re in the middle of fall, regardless of which season you’re in. Add the lyrical text to the photographs and you’ve got yourself a winner.


I have two nieces on the way. They are getting a copy of this book. Nancy Inteli was so wise in picking Loren Long to illustrate this text. He does it so perfectly, and I found myself so longingly wishing I could visit that little Bunny land.


This book belongs on more “Best of the Year” book lists. It’s no secret I have a deep admiration for Judy Schachner and her books, but this one was the best yet. “She had daydreaming in her DNA.” I think the world needs more daydreamers, and more appreciation for daydreamers. Judy manages to paint so many daydreams across the pages here that call for a moment to pause and appreciate every finite detail.


I was pulled into this book by the title and cover, and Ben Clanton did not disappoint. (Not that I ever doubted he would). I was sure Rot was doomed, and a surprise twist makes this book a true winner.


Something about the dialogue in this book reminded me so much of what I used to hear among first graders. Very simple, but very well done. And Scott Magoon’s illustrations? Perfect match for this story. Excited there’s more to come.


How often do we overlook the opportunity to be grateful and appreciative of the origins of some of the most simple things we take for granted? Toni Yuly has written a thank you letter to some things in nature that provide us with blessings- going from small to big. And when I closed the book, I whispered, “And God gave us earth. Thank you, God.”


With so much violence and disagreement in the world today, the earlier we can plant seeds of empathy and encourage thoughtful ways to get over disagreement, the better. The book is wordless, and the pictures powerfully say it all.


Reading this book brought me back to the days of hearing Mr. Rogers say, “I like you just the way you are.” We all have our warts and flaws and scars, but aren’t they what come together to make us beautiful?


Unique illustrations that popped in contrast with the dark backgrounds- this book left me wanting more. Another wordless wonder.


This is the first time I encountered this kind of poetry, and what Nikki Grimes was able to accomplish with it is admirable. So well done. And let’s not forget Bryan Collier’s soft illustrations that make it a perfect package.


When I first read this book, I had no idea where it was going. It’s wordless. When it finally came to the “AHA” spread, I was laughing …. laughing…. laughing.


We can learn a lot from Lulu. She makes the best of a bad situation. There is something so perfect about this book. It became an instant favorite. Then again, you can’t really go wrong with anything by Liz Garton Scanlon, can you?


The fact that Jan Thomas is doing Easy Readers is a great thing. I’m excited for more books in this series to come- they will be an easy sell to beginning readers.


If you’re not familiar with Susie Jaramillo’s Canticos bilingual song board books, you should change that promptly. They’re fun to unfold and sing along with, and the music on the accompanying YouTube videos and soundtracks is so catchy.


A book of poems about reading- its different types and varieties? My favorite was the poem about reading Charlotte’s Web. Perfect.


I was in Matt’s studio when he was painting the final spreads for this book. Seeing it all come together in this majestic beauty was so fulfilling. There is so much to love about this story- and not just at Christmas time.


I got to the end of this book and let out a big “AWWW!” … Heartwarming and touching.


Pair this one with Melissa Stewart’s Feathers: Not Just For Flying. The illustrations and close ups of the bird feathers allow the reader to appreciate and wonder about why feathers are so different, and also so special.


Surprises. Twist ending. Fun. Don’t miss it.


Who knew toads lived hidden lives? Not me. Such spectacular photography accompanied by tidbits of intriguing information make this book one to note.


Fascinating facts, stunning illustrations, and an excellent pattern to the text make this book a winner. Melissa Stewart at her best!


This book has received much well-deserved praise and recognition. I think Corinna’s future as an author/illustrator is very promising- this is just the beginning!


What does water mean to different children around the world? This was easily an instant favorite that I have talked a lot about this year. Water does unite us all, and it’s taken for granted by some.


Rich with possibilities for making predictions; and yet a tale with many twists and turns. I won’t say more in fear of ruining a surprise or two.


Elisha Cooper so gently and delicately deals with a difficult topic. Another instant favorite book that is worth keeping close to your heart. Cat lover or not.


The concept… the illustrations… leave you wondering, just why are so many things in nature round?


Stephanie amazed me with the complexity of this wordless story. And it’s got an encouraging message as well. Another title that was not hard to book talk and push all year long.


Children will do anything to procrastinate going to bed. and Rachel Isadora captures it in such a sweet way. Global and multicultural, the book also opens many windows for readers here to glimpse into bedtime across the world.


Mind-blowing. That’s all I can say.


Life begins small….  Rylant at her best. Wenzel at his best. The best of the best.


I was so discouraged that this book did not garner more publicity or praise when it was published. Candace Fleming so carefully weaves together an imaginative story with repetitive text that encourage us all to pause for a moment and enjoy the circus. I love all of Candy’s books, but this one may have ranked itself at the top of the list.


You can just hear Carmen’s voice in your head reading this book as you read it to yourself. A master storyteller doing her thing, and doing it well.


The see-saw text of questions and answers and back and forth invite us to pause and wonder about the beauty of a winter landscape before it quickly disappears and spring comes. And Seeger’s illustrations? Another perfect match.


Another book I fell in love with quickly after reading- I love birthdays and if you know me, you know that I celebrate mine all month. And why not? I’m as excited as this young child when my day is around the corner— and I think many children are, too.


Oh Daniel Miyares… when I think you can’t possibly outdo yourself… you do. This is a worthy investment. Inspiring and encouraging.


We need more books like this- books that pack a bit of a punch without hitting you over the head with a message. Kelly DiPucchio does it just right. A must have for every classroom.


There were a number of “toot” and “fart” books this year, but this one was the stand-out. Without being slapstick funny, this one gives kids just the right amount of giggles as they try to identify the tooter.



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