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A New Year's Bedtime Report, Part 2

All right, so we covered the seasonal reads that we enjoyed over the past month or more. Time to get to the other lovely children's books we want to share!

First up is a book that I consider something of a sibling to our own book, The Wall and the Wild, since it came out from the same publisher in the same month. I might be biased, but my kids aren't, and they LOVE SuperJoe Does NOT Do Cuddles by Michael Catchpool and Emma Proctor. It's the perfect read for 4- to 6-year-olds because it's all about their HUGE imaginations, boundless capacity for pretend play and burgeoning independence (that still might need a little something from the caregivers in their lives). Also, the illustrations are just stunning and fun. Check 'em out:

Next up in the fun category are companion books by by Cynthia Leonor Garza and Alyssa Bermudez: Lucia the Luchadora and Lucia the Luchadora and the Million Masks. These are so much fun to read, and as you can see, they sport some brilliant and bold illustrations, too, that dare you to dive in with a mask of your own. Bonus points for a mighty girl main character and a mighty grandma (both books) and a mighty little sister (second book) to boot!

On the softer whimsical side, we really enjoyed reading Little Doctor and the Fearless Beast

by Sophie Gilmore. I would caution kids against providing medical treatment to crocodiles at home, but it's so much fun to do so in this book (and there's more than one way to be fearless). Plus, the illustrations are so lovely, as they are in all Gilmore's books ... Also, another mighty girl!

Speaking of whimsical, there's a new Fan Brothers book! A bit of a longer read, It Fell from the Sky

by Terry Fan and Eric Fan is worth the page turns and my littles loved exploring the dynamic artwork on each spread. Like their other books, but even more so, this tale has the flavor of a fable but with delightful critter characters ... It reminds me a little of Anansi tales, too.

How about three more imaginative and humorous books? If you like engaging your young readers in storytime, The Barking Ballad: A Bark-Along Meow-Along Book by Julie Paschkis is full of fun animal sounds to get them howling barking meowing and more. The rhyming narrative makes for a great read-aloud, too, especially for dog and cat lovers!

My youngest son has been all about knights lately, so we have a particular affinity for this next one. This is also a rare case in which I think I like a sequel book better than the original! Though not a fan of tighty-whities, I'll forgive this fire-breathing fellow in Return of the Underwear Dragon by Scott Rothman and Pete Oswald. Strap on your armor for medieval mayhem with a great underlying theme about reaching out and empathy:

While we're on mythological beasts, how about the unexpected softy-in-fierce-fur-monster-clothing? You can cozy up with an unusually sweet abominable for whom kindness is key in Not Yeti by Kelly DiPucchio and Claire Keane. Again, we just love the illustrations and gentle humor.

So, my family adores nature and finding and making things and reading anything that weaves in science, so this book was a perfect fit for us. (I also adore pocketses, precious, and never miss a chance to ask, "What's it got in its pocketses?") If you or your littles are explorers, scientists and inventors, too, you'll want to check out What's in Your Pocket?: Collecting Nature's Treasures by Heather L. Montgomery and Maribel Lechuga. Such a fun way to explore AND learn about other explorers!

Exploring can take you to the stars! This stunning tribute to our corner of the galaxy and beyond blends gorgeous illustrations with photographs from the Hubble space telescope. You can easily lose yourself in Ada and the Galaxies by Alan Lightman Olga Pastuchiv, and Susanna Chapman only to find yourself again with a whole new bucket of inspiration and awe for the universe. This one's a must-read for stargazers and space explorers ...

These next two picture books are about one of my favorite things: READING! But they're also about the daunting challenge that reading can be for some people. Beautiful illustrations and lyrical narratives not only bring the words on these pages to life but remind us that it's okay to approach words and language in our own ways and that there's more than one way to tell a story. A Walk in the Words by Hudson Talbott and Brilliant Bea by Shaina Rudolph, Mary Vukadinovich, and Fiona Lee are meant for everybody but should especially appeal to reluctant and struggling readers--and their guides. We loved these so much that we gifted them to the literacy teacher at my son's school.

Finally, I have three picture book biographies to add to the bedtime list: On Wings of Words: The Extraordinary Life of Emily Dickinson by Jennifer Berne and Becca Stadtlander about the remarkable poet and dreamer; The Singer and the Scientist by Lisa Rose and Isabel Muñoz about the friendship between Marian Anderson and Albert Einstein; and When Sparks Fly: The True Story of Robert Goddard, the Father of US Rocketry by Kristen Fulton and Diego Funck about a kid who never gave up and developed the innovations that would take us into space.

Bonus time! It snowed here, so this seems like a good time for one more seasonal picture book. Here's one of my favorite Robert Frost poems in one of my favorite picture book forms:

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