Tried & True and New: Picture Book Reviews

Our storytime experts are bringing you reviews of the latest from our Easy collection (or picture books) as well as some of their favorites used during storytime. We have thousands of picture books at each library, so this is just a small introduction to the collection. See all of our Tried & True and New reviews here on the blog.

The Pout-Pout Fish and the Mad, Mad Day by Deborah Diesen

Reviewed by: Jaime Eastman, Librarian

Mr. Fish is having a rough day, and his anger is building to the point of exploding. When he’s full of anger to the brim, is there any way for it to stop? 

Rhyming text and colorful illustrations follow his journey to working productively through his big, mad feelings. Familiar fish friends from the series help identify ways that we can talk about our feelings and show self-compassion to help make things good as new again. 

The simple message and relatable feelings will help little ones learn more productive ways to handle angry feelings and upsets.

Read-alikes:
  • Mouse Was Mad by Linda Urban
  • Fergal and the Bad Temper by Robert Starling
  • The Big, Angry Roar by Jonathan Lambert
  • Other books in the Pout-Pout Fish series

Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude by Kevin O’Malley

Reviewed by: Peter Jackson, Librarian

“For our library project, we were supposed to tell you our favorite fairy tale, but we couldn’t agree on which story was the best. So we just make one up.” So begins the story of Once Upon A Cool Motorcycle Dude by Keven O’Malley. 

The premise of this story is a young girl and her boisterous kid brother contriving to create their own fairy tale. The girl tries to weave the story in a traditional manner, revolving around a beautiful princess distraught over her missing ponies. The brother, impatient for more action, abruptly interjects the addition of a “cool muscle dude” riding a motorcycle who offers to guard her last remaining pony. Her sister vainly tries to rein in the storyline to her own expectations, but the boy adds hyper-adrenaline to the narrative by throwing in volcanoes and giants. 

Ultimately, the siblings collaborate and reconcile their opposing plotlines to create a fairy tale that is both hilarious and original. 

Read-alikes: 
  • If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen 
  • This Book Just Ate My Dog by Richard Byrne 
  • The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka

Off to See the Sea by Nikki Grimes

Reviewed by: Brittnee Emerine, Librarian

Off to See the Sea proves that a little imagination can go a long way! This bright and colorful picture book turns bath time into a day at the beach for Mom and her little explorer. Climb into a tub where the faucet is a waterfall, the yellow rubber ducky is a sea monster, the bathroom floor is a distant shore, and before you know it, the little one is squeaky clean!

Perfect for bedtime routines, Off to See the Sea will delight children and caregivers alike.

Read-alikes:
  • Bedtime for Sweet Creatures by Nikki Grimes
  • Around the World in a Bathtub: Bathing All over the Globe by Wade Bradford
  • Once Upon a Bathtime by Vi Hughes
  • Captain Bob Sets Sail by Roni Schotter

Mary Wears What She Wants by Keith Negley

Reviewed by: Stephanie Tamayo, Library Services Representative

Inspired by the true-life story of doctor, feminist, and abolitionist Mary Edwards Walker. Even though Mary loved wearing pants, she was repeatedly told that only boys were allowed to wear them, while girls had to stick to dresses and skirts, as was tradition. 

Even though people were mean to her when she strutted around town wearing pants, Mary continued to challenge traditional gender norms for the sake of her comfort and self-expression, until eventually the revolution of women wearing pants spread! 

Read-alikes: 
  • I Love My Colorful Nails by Alicia Acosta and Luis Amavisca, Illustrated by Gusti 
  • Becoming Vanessa by Vanessa Brantley-Newton 
  • Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love 
  • Ogilvy by Deborah Underwood 

I Want a Dog by Jon Agee

Reviewed by: Erik Knapp, Librarian

Sometimes, when looking for just the right pet, only a dog will do. Unfortunately for the little girl in this story, dogs are the one animal they don’t have at the Happydale Animal Shelter. No matter, there is a pet for everyone, sometimes you just have to have an open mind (and a pool doesn’t hurt either).

Jon Agee scores again with his latest picture book, I Want a Dog. His simple but evocative art and uncanny knack for telling a fun story will make this a storytime favorite for everyone and especially preschoolers.

Read-alikes:
  • I Don’t Want a Posh Dog by Emma Dodd
  • Peanut by Linas Alsenas
  • The Grumpy Pets by Kristine A. Lombardi
  • My Rhinoceros and Its Only Stanley by Jon Agee

See all of our Tried & True and New reviews here on the blog.

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