Upcoming Releases: Picture Book Round-Up

I just love picture books. I love how moving they can be with just 40 pages and some gorgeous art. I love seeing the didactic messages some adults try to shoe-horn into them. I love when a one page spread of joy brings tears to my eyes. I love what memories a particular character drawing can dredge up from my childhood. Here are five picture books publishing in the first half-ish of 2023 that I’ve read e-ARCs of, and my thoughts!

The Naming Ceremony by Seina Wedlick, illustrated by Jein Muhammad

Release Date: April 11, 2023

A new take on a birthday story, this is about a West African naming ceremony, set in a modern home, and follows an older sister, Amira, as she tries to think of what name/gift to give her little sister. Family and friends come to celebrate and give gifts, each name with a special meaning, until finally it is Amira’s turn. The illustration style overall is pretty basic and common in today’s place, but I love the fabric elements and West African culture woven into the characters.

My Powerful Hair by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Steph Littlebird

Release Date: March 21, 2023

While Lindstrom is obviously a very powerful writer–especially in short sentences and resonant imagery—the illustrations are what really shine in this one. Many pages are completely wordless, but the art conveys the important message Lindstrom begins in her story about a young person wanting their hair to grow, and reflecting on how important hair is in Native cultures. The author’s note ties in her own experience with hair and her family’s hair loss at boarding schools. Littlebird’s illustration style really soars in this.

Cindy and Panda by Benson Shum

Release Date: May 9, 2023

This was a super cute but totally forgettable for adults picture book about a little girl who goes outside to get ingredients for pie and comes back with a sous chef, who is, you guessed it, a panda. While I found this forgettable, in the same breath I can see the right kid becoming totally obsessed with this. It’s adorable, absolutely, but didn’t blow me away. The style overall is super adorable though.

The More Monster by Hayley Wells

Release Date: July 3, 2023

A…capitalism bunny robot tale? Or were they pigs? This was an odd one. A LOT of words—especially in conversation bubbles—and a few page spreads in a different direction but not consistently woven throughout. I didn’t hate the illustration style, or the message about not always wanting more, etc, but I don’t know how well this style of telling it will resonate. Some of the larger, denser spreads will attract older readers though.

The Digger and the Butterfly by Joseph Kuefler

Publishing May 23, 2023

I loved this, and can definitely see a dozen different kids loving it too. It’s some anthropomorphized construction vehicles doing their job when a caterpillar crawls onto one of them and begins the process of becoming a butterfly, which throws his work-life balance into standstill and encourages him to be mindful in the face of change. It’s actually got kind of a deep message, but kids will just love the cute relationship and the big trucks.






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