Earlier this year we became smitten with the messages, meaning and heart of “Lulu is a Rhinoceros,” a powerful book for children by Jason and Allison Flom. Pets, the quest for identity, friendship and the value of animals in our lives all make for important themes—worth instilling in youth and revisiting time and time again at any age. The following eight books address various aspects of self, other and the artist in us all. There’s beauty to the words and, of course, to the imagery. Some of our selections are fit for bedtime stories and the very, very young, while others take on new meaning for older children—all of them apply to adults, too. As our brains age and our relationship to magic changes, certain books like these have a key to untold, real beauty.
I Am Enough
In what feels like one powerful, lyrical poem, I Am Enough ($12) can prove to audiences of any age, color, ethnicity or creed that they too are enough; that they can love who they are, respect others and be kind to one another. Author, and Empire star and activist, Grace Byers wants to prove to readers that everyone has a purpose; that everyone is more than enough—you just have to believe so. It’s a great gift for any occasion and any age reader. The message cannot be overlooked no matter how obvious or fundamentally human it is—and Byers is here to remind with her memorizable mantras.
Bob’s Blue Period
By British author/illustrator Marion Deuchars, Bob’s Blue Period ($7) may be short, but it explores friendship and expressing emotion in a touching and truthful manner. It’s a glorious story about how Bob works through some dark emotions via artistic endeavors. While the artwork alone is charming, the story blends life lessons with a tear-jerking narrative. Recommended for kids aged four to eight years old, this book is actually perfect for people of all ages.
Lola the Ladybug
Author and arts educator and advocate Sarah Brinson’s Lola the Ladybug ($25) is as much an internal journey personified as it is an invaluable lesson in personal belief. In the book, Lola—after being bullied for her appearance—finds that, with the help of her best friend, she really is just a “one spot wonder.” She embraces her difference and realizes that her individuality is what makes her special. The book and the book’s adjacent live tour (for which the story will be performed by a cast of talented dancers, actors and musicians for various schools across the country) are helmed by Brinson, her husband and creative partner J Alex Brinson and the rest of their team. They’re currently finalizing bookings now, but the final slots (and a pre-order copy of the book) can be claimed through their Indiegogo campaign.
The Wondrous Workings of Planet Earth
Certainly educational at its core, Rachel Ignotofsky’s The Wondrous Workings of Planet Earth: Understanding Our World and Its Ecosystems ($11) is also delightfully entertaining. Full of Ignotofsky’s artwork—appearing as cartoons, maps, infographics and more—the book makes science both accessible and appealing. Exploring ecosystems from rainforests to deserts and mangroves all over the planet, readers also garner an appreciation for the planet.
Bucketloads of Friends
On the hunt for a friend, Lucas, the protagonist of Mia Cassany’s Bucketloads of Friends ($11), treks from rock concerts to the circus and a birthday party—all wonderfully imagined by illustrator Miguel Bustos. This is the time-honored search for someone that stands out from the rest, and it’s meticulously captured in a story that’s so well-paired with its visuals. Searching simply becomes fun. It’s recommended for ages four to eight, but there’s humor and empathy here for all.
We’ve Got The Whole World in Our Hands
An ode to togetherness, We’ve Got The Whole World in Our Hands ($18) is an inclusive adaptation of the classic song “He’s Got The Whole World in His Hands.” Here, illustrator Rafael López‘s compelling work celebrates friendship and embraces diversity—bringing a well-known tune to the present day. The highly awarded artist and storyteller delivers rhythm, beauty and bright colors throughout—all while encouraging fun. Further, the book comes with the sheet music for the reimagined song—and it is ready for piano, guitar, sing-alongs and more.
Pig the Fibber (Pig the Pug)
There’s a valuable lesson to be learned from Pig the Fibber ($12) about honesty and good behavior. This work from Australian author and artist Aaron Blabey is a follow up to 2014’s award-winning Pig The Pug and the ensuing Pig books. Here, Pig, the lovable pug, is quick to lie just so that he gets what he wants—but he loses someone important along the way. In understanding the impact of lying, Pig learns about himself and the world around him—and everyone benefits.
For children aged between three and five years old, Spanish author and illustrator Joan Negrescolor’s Animal City ($19) follows protagonist Nina into a magical jungle city of objects and animals. Here, storytelling transfixes Nina and the animals around her—and stories have tremendous power. Negrescolor only uses five Pantone colors throughout the book and the result is a concise visual universe that pops from the page. There’s also an emphasis on the layers of life within nature that’s both otherworldly and wildly real life.
Images courtesy of respective publishers