New Children’s Books for February 2012

With so many new children’s books coming out in February, there’s something for everyone to get excited about. There are books by new authors who are making their debut, and books from seasoned authors that we’ve been watching for years. Take a look at the best of the new books coming out.

Editor’s Choice: February 2012

and then it’s spring And Then It’s Spring: After a snowy, freezing winter, warm weather has finally returned! A boy and his faithful dog decide they’ve had quite enough of all the brown and cold around them, and so they decide to plan a garden. They start by digging, then they plant, then they play and wait. And wait. And…wait some more. Finally, the dark brown becomes a more hopeful shade of brown, which hopefully means that spring is on the way! This is a story that’s both tender and humorous, with lovely illustrations from Erin E. Stead, the winner of the 2011 Caldecott Medal.
zero the hero Zero the Hero: What’s Zero worth? If you ask the other numbers, they’ll tell you he’s not worth much of anything. In fact, they call him Zip, Zilch and Nada. After all, have you ever tried to multiply with him? He certainly doesn’t add anything to addition. No matter what the other numbers think, Zero knows he’s worth quite a bit. In fact, when the other numbers find themselves in trouble, it’s Zero to the rescue! This is a charming, richly illustrated book that’s perfect for little math lovers or for those who need help understanding the concept of zero.
when blue met egg When Blue Met Egg: Blue the bird returns to her nest one day to find a surprise: an egg! Well, actually…it’s not an egg at all. It’s a snowball that she thinks is an egg! Blue puts the ‘egg’ into a pail and runs off to try and find the mother. As she takes off on her journey, winter begins to turn into spring, and Blue learns the sad truth. No worries though, this is a sweet, uplifting story with a heartwarming ending. Because you see, when the snow melts, Blue finds an even better surprise and a wonderful friendship.
isabella – girl on the go Isabella – Girl on the Go: This very well may be the most highly anticipated release of the entire year. The first book in the series, My Name is Not Isabella won a slew of awards, including the Gold Independent Publisher Award, the National Parenting Publication Gold Award, and the Silver ForeWord Book of the Year Award for Picture Books. This second volume brings more tales from the optimistic, fun, and fantastic Isabella, who never met an adventure she wasn’t ready to embark on. With bold, bright colors and lots of fun educational messages, children will be captivated by this book.
in the sea In The Sea: The sea holds so many fascinating creatures. From tiny sea horses to fierce sharks, there is something that will hold wonder for everyone. Using the style of picture books with woodcut illustrations, Into the Sea includes all the characters you’d expect during a deep sea adventure. Kids are treated to a visit from a spiny sea urchin and a fantastical blue whale. Those who are familiar with the bestselling books On the Farm and In the Wild will recognize the writer and illustrator, who finish up the series with this book. The text includes a series of poems that will thrill and captivate.
demolition Demolition: What do kids love even more than they love watching big construction machines build things? Why, watching those same machines tear buildings down! This book follows the adventures of these machines as they crush stone, chip, grind, munch, and create brand new concrete from the old. A huge crane with a swinging ball and a toothy jaw that rams the walls are just a few of the cast of characters. The book finishes with a pictorial glossary that explains the names and purposes of each of the construction machines. A wonderful book to get kids interested in construction, or to satisfy the curiosity of those who already love the field.
Honorable Mentions
up, tall and high! Up, Tall and High!: Fans of picture books will really hit the jackpot with this, because it includes three different stories in a single volume. Each of the stories is laugh-out-loud funny, and includes a colorful cast of characters. The stories focus on birds, each one showcasing one word from the title: Up, Tall, or High. The peacock shows us that though he’s not tall, that doesn’t make him small. A penguin learns how to fly, thanks to a resourceful friend, and two birds who want to live in the same tree learn about compromise. Each of the stories end with an interactive flap that reveals a surprising twist.
can i bring wooly to the library, ms. reeder? Can I Bring Wooly to the Library, Ms. Reeder?: A young boy has a wonderful friend named Woolly – who is a mammoth, of course! He asks his school librarian if he can bring his friend to see the books. As she continually says no, he finds more and more clever ways to try and convince her. Each one more humorous than the next, these pleas also serve another purpose: they outline many of the procedures in a library. Readers will learn how to follow the rules of the library, how to get their own library card, and about all the benefits that a library offers to its community.
betty bunny wants everything Betty Bunny Wants Everything: Betty Bunny thinks she should have everything, and she just can’t understand why she only gets a single toy at the toy store. After all, there are hundreds of toys she really, really wants! Her temper tantrum leads to her leaving with no toys at all, so Mom and Dad think up a solution that will help Betty choose a single toy at the store. The next time they go, Betty gets her own money. She can spend it on what she wants, but once it’s spent – it’s gone! The plan seems simple enough, but Betty has a plan of her own, and some fierce negotiating skills!
crafty chloe Crafty Chloe: Chloe wants to get her friend Emma the perfect birthday present, but unfortunately another girl beat her to it. Chloe decides that there’s only one thing to do – she’ll craft a present! She’ll make something that can’t be bought in the stores and that will have a personal touch. She soon discovers that it’s not as easy as she thought, and the readers begin to wonder if she’ll have it finished on time. Thankfully, all it takes is a little doodle session and a whole bunch of glitter to help Chloe realize what she can do to save the day!
the pirates next door The Pirates Next Door: The Jolley-Rogers, a family of pirates, has moved to the tranquil seaside town Dull-on-Sea while they repair their ship. This is quite an unusual family, and they quickly have the whole town gossiping about who they are and what they’re doing there. The grown-ups tell little Matilda not to talk to them, but she befriends the young pirate Jim Lad anyway. The Jolley-Rogers eventually return to the sea, and the town soon learns that all their assumptions were wrong. In fact, the pirates left buried treasures in all the yards! Matilda is sad to have lost her friend…until she discovers a surprise of her own.
a stick is an excellent thing A Stick is an Excellent Thing: This book comes to you from an award-winning poet and a best-selling New York Times illustrator. It celebrates all types of outdoor play, from hide-and-seek and hopscotch to more imaginative games like cooking up some mud soup or transforming an ordinary stick into a magical wand. The illustrations in this book are as bold as they are charming, and the lyrical poems that accompany them have a wonderful beat. A celebration of active lifestyles, this book teaches kids to play those beloved games that are right outside their doors and that don’t cost a thing.
secrets of the garden Secrets of the Garden: Every spring, little Alice’s family plants vegetable garden. Alice has learned quite a bit, and she’s happy to tell us all about it! She knows how the plants grow, which insects eat the plants, which birds eat the insects, and so on. In short, there’s a food chain in her own backyard! The concepts in this book may seem complex but they’re told with such simplicity and straight forwardness that children will learn quite a bit. The story was written by a science writer who uses layers of information to ensure that all age levels get something out of this work.

Other Great New Children’s Books for February

pig pig meets the lion Pig Pig Meets the Lion: The zoo has one less lion, as he’s escaped from his cage and climbed into Pig Pig’s bedroom. Pig Pig’s mother is cheerfully preparing breakfast when Pig Pig and his new lion friend come crashing down the stairs, run through the kitchen, climb over the furniture, and romp all over the house. An unexpected friendship develops between pig and lion, which leads to many hilarious and heartwarming moments. Those who like children’s books that improve language skills will be impressed with this book, as it introduces young readers to numerous prepositions. This is a book that perfectly blends education with fun.
lola reads to leo Lola Reads to Leo: Truly a warm and gentle story, this is a wonderful book for a child who’s about to become a big brother or big sister. It follows the story of Lola, who is getting used to the idea of a new sibling. Even though her mother’s tummy gets bigger and bigger, and even though her mommy becomes more and more tired, she always makes time to read Lola one of her favorite stories. When a new sibling is about to be introduced to a house, children often don’t know how to feel about it. This book will help them understand that there will still be time for them.
emily and carlo Emily and Carlo: Lyrical and luminous, this is a fresh take on the life of famous poet Emily Dickinson. It focuses on the relationship she had with her beloved dog, Carlo, who was a big floppy Newfoundland. Her dog was her best friend, or as she called him, her “shaggy ally.” The story follows their shared adventures through the forests and towns around them. They also visit their friends and enjoy quiet nights indoors. This is a perfect book for a young lover of poetry or for kids who have their own special bond with their own special pooch.
pinch and dash make soup Pinch and Dash Make Soup: Pinch and Dash are the best of friends, even though they do everything differently. They know that in the end they’ll make it work. Pinch is quite hungry, but he finds his soup pot empty. He’s feeling way too lazy to make soup of his own, or to walk over to the Chat and Chew restaurant to get some. He decides the smart move is to visit his friend Dash, who he knows will always have something delicious brewing. This is a simple, funny tale of two best friends who have only one thing in common: their wonderful friendship.
so you want to be a rock star So You Want to Be a Rock Starc: Do you know a kid who wants to learn how to play air guitar? Or how to wear the coolest clothes that only rock stars wear? What about learning how to sign an autograph for tons of fans? If so, this is the book for them! Kids who love the game Rock Band, or the show Disney pop stars, will love this book, which is a comprehensive primer on all things rock ‘n roll. The text is interactive, hilarious, and gets kids up and moving. The illustrations are a perfect retro fit for a rockin’ subject.
ava’s poppy Ava’s Poppy: Ava couldn’t be more excited when she finds a brilliant, bright red poppy growing in the middle of her yard. She works hard to take care of it by shielding it from the rain and keeping it company during warm summer days. Then one day, the petals start to fall one by one. The tiny flower just fades away. Ava is understandably sad about losing her flower friend, but when the spring time comes back the next year, Ava is in for quite a surprise. This is a sweet tale with many lessons about seasons and Mother Nature.
whoa, baby, whoa! Whoa, Baby, Whoa!: There goes Baby, on the move! He’s exploring everything he can, from what things taste like in the kitchen to how the water can splash in the bathtub. He gets into so much that his family says, “Whoa, baby, whoa!” They love his adventurous spirit but they’re not sure he’s quite old enough to be so adventurous. But then Baby starts taking on his biggest challenge yet – walking. His family has quite the different feeling about this milestone, and his first steps end with hugs all around and his family cheering, “Go, Baby, go!”
a path of stars A Path of Stars: Dora’s grandmother tells her the most beautiful stories of her childhood in a Cambodian countryside. From stories of her wonderful family to the delicious food and the millions of twinkling stars above, Dora never tires of hearing these heartwarming stories. Dora’s grandmother has other stories too though. Stories about war and loss that Dora can hardly believe. When her grandmother is unable to fulfill her lifelong dream of returning to Cambodia to be with her brother, Dora must step in and heal old wounds. This is an affecting tale of loss, memory, and the important bonds of family.
bambino and mr. twain Bambino and Mr. Twain: Mark Twain is known as one of America’s most beloved humorists, but when he grieves the death of his wife, there’s nothing funny about it. He locks himself up into his 5th Avenue house and gives up his writing. Thankfully his daughter’s pesky cat Bambino picks up on Mark Twain’s moods. When the cat disappears, the beloved author has no choice but to go and find him. During his search he finds his cat – but he finds a lot more than he bargained for. Parents or teachers looking for books that introduce kids to the literary greats will appreciate this book.
john jensen feels different John Jensen Feels Different: John Jensen has the sneaking suspicion that he’s different. When he’s eating his breakfast, he knows he’s just not quite the same as everyone else. When he brushes his teeth he feels different. Sitting in his office, he can’t shake the feeling that there’s something that’s just not quite right. He even lies awake nights, trying to figure out what makes him different. Is it his tail? Perhaps his bow tie? He gets help from Dr. Field and finally discovers that maybe he’s not as different as he once thought. Either way, he’s exactly the way he should be.
barnyard purim Barnyard Purim: Purim is always a backwards time, even when you live on a farm. The barnyard animals decide to put on a play and Chicken steps up to assign roles. He decides that Blushing Duck would be an excellent Queen Esther, that Silly Horse should play Ahashuerus, and Bearded Goat was born to play Mordechai. Finally they work to transform Shy Little Sheep into a mean and evil looking Haman, and something quite surprising happens. This simple, easy read is perfect for kids who love animals, who love hilarious illustrations and who love books with adorable twists and turns.
dancing with the dinosaurs Dancing with the Dinosaurs: This is one of the funniest books to come out this February. It focuses on the hilarious dinosaurs, the coolest thing to come out of the Ice Age. The dance contests on TV might be entertaining, but nothing can compare with these silly beasts. They’re ready to party, shake a leg, and put smiles on the faces of readers everywhere. With bright pastel colors and funny illustrations, this is a book that really engages kids. Readers can follow along as the dinosaurs train, and make their own guesses as to who’s going to go all the way and reign as the king of dinosaurs.
arthur’s dream boat Arthur’s Dream Boat: One peaceful night, Arthur has a magical dream involving a boat that’s colored pink and green with a striped mast and most beautiful figurehead. He’s so excited to tell his family about it, but when he tries he discovers that no one is interested – not even the family dog! No one notices when the boat from his dream starts to gradually appear on his head and it grows bigger and bigger by the second. Before you know it, Arthur is rolling over the waves in his very own dream boat. Perhaps now his family will pay attention!
outside your window Outside Your Window: Nature has so much magic. Buzzing bees in the warm summer months. Birds leaving their tracks in frosty white snow. This gorgeous book perfectly captures all the sounds and sights of nature that will get a child’s imagination blooming. There are fun activities as well, from planting acorns to studying tide pools, and even biting into the crisp apples Mother Nature has provided for us. Regardless of what’s outside a child’s window, whether it’s a city landscape or a country field, they will be inspired to experience their own adventures with nature after reading this thought provoking book.
gideon Gideon: Olivier Dunrea’s created a gaggle of goslings in her series of children’s books, and Gideon is the latest one. Gideon’s favorite thing to do is to splash with the ducklings. Or maybe it’s to hop with the frogs? Come to think of it, he also loves to chase the piglets. In short: Gideon scampers all over the farmyard! Though he does love so many things, the one thing he most definitely doesn’t love is taking a nap. No matter how many times his mother tells him to take a nap, he just won’t do it. Well, until he’s tired – of course! Mr. Dunrea’s hit it out of the park again with this funny, adorably illustrated tale.
gideon & otto Gideon & Otto: Here’s Gideon again, but this time he’s brought his best friend. Otto the octopus isn’t a real life friend though – he’s just Gideon’s toy octopus. Or is he? You see, Otto doesn’t seem to stay where Gideon puts him. Is Otto more than the eye can see, or is there something else going on? This story includes all kinds of twists, surprises, and giggles. It also explores the strong bond of friendship and shows kids how things aren’t always what they seem. Yet another charming story about the goslings, Gideon is definitely a character worth getting to know.
baby bear sees blue Baby Bear Sees Blue: Baby Blue knows how much there is to learn about the world, and he can’t wait to do so! From the second he wakes up until it’s time for bed, he’s outside exploring with his mama bear. Along the way they see leaves that are green, blue birds, brown fish, and delicious red strawberries. This book comes to you from Ashley Wolff, who’s created bestselling picture books for years. Both a wonderful opportunity for kids to learn their colors and a fantastic story that’s entertaining in its own right, this book will definitely be a hit.
artist ted Artist Ted: Ted awakens one morning and realizes that his room needs a little more excitement. For that, he needs to find an artist. He sets out to find one, but is unsuccessful. So he becomes one himself! He uses a brush he made himself to paint a picture of his mom and to liven up the hallways in his school. Except, he soon realizes that he’s hurt the feelings of a new student. Not to worry though, Ted thinks of a master plan and helps the entire school to make the new student feel welcome. This is a great read-aloud book with crisp, catchy prose.
louise the big cheese and the ooh-la-la charm school Louise the Big Cheese and the Ooh-La-La Charm School: Louise the Big Cheese has a very simple motto: Dream Big. She tries as hard as she can, but she still just feels like regular old Louise. Then she makes a new friend in Claire E’Clarie, who introduces her to a VIP charm school that could mean big stardom for Louise. But is Claire really telling the truth? Readers will follow along with interest, and are likely to sympathize when Louise learns that sometimes it takes more than just a little VIP charm to create a lasting and true friendship for life.
question boy meets little miss know-it-all Question Boy Meets Little Miss Know-it-all: Question Boy is looking for answers. In fact, all he wants out of life is answers. He lives in a town with numerous action heroes, like Oil Man, Paperboy, and Police Woman, but none of them can quite satisfy his need to know it all! Then he meets Little Miss Know-It-All. Any question you ask her, she’ll be happy to answer – even if she has to make up the answer! A wonderful merge of fantasy and reality, this book is vibrant, bright and completely original. Readers will explore the world of questions and answers, and will learn what it really means to be correct.
the penguin lady The Penguin Lady: Mrs. Penelope Parker has some unusual room mates – penguins! She lives with penguins of all kinds, including short and tall, young and old. They come from everyone in the Southern Hemisphere – even some who live close to the equator! Can Penelope Parker handle the antics of the penguins or will they be too frisky for her to handle? Readers get the opportunity to learn simple counting, to compare and contrast the various types of penguins, and to learn about geography. Also included is a Creative Minds educational section in the back of the book.
home in the cave Home in the Cave: Baby Bat feels right at home in his cave. In fact, he never wants to leave it. One night he’s practicing his wing-flapping when he falls right down. Pluribus Packrat rescues him and together they explore the deepest, darkest parts of the cave. They meet some really fantastic animals who don’t need to see colors or even open their eyes to hide from their enemies. Along the way Baby Bat learns a thing or two, like the importance of a cave habitat and that cave-living critters rely on them for food. One question remains: will Baby Bat finally emerge from his cave?
utterly lovely one Utterly Lovely One: This is a lovely tale from a parent crane to her baby cranelet, but there are so many other animals involved. From Irish author Mary Murphy, who brought us classics like Panda Foo and the New Friend and I Kissed the Baby!, comes this delightful tale that is sure to delight. The illustrations are something to behold as well, with light, soft pastels that perfectly match the tone of the piece. A wonderful bedtime book, kids will want to cuddle up while they read the adventures and rituals of the crane and other animals in the animal kingdom.
mr. and mrs. bunny detectives extraordinaire! Mr. and Mrs. Bunny Detectives Extraordinaire!: Mystery lovers will not be disappointed in this page-turner of a caper. It follows a girl who discovers her parents have been kidnapped by foxes. She finds some detectives to help her out, who just happen to be bunnies. Of course, the girl can’t accept their skills and so she sets off to do some investigation of her own. The book includes a score of quirky characters, from Mr. and Mrs. Bunny and their smart car, to the garlic-loving Marmot who brilliantly translates. Written by the National Book Award-winning author Polly Horvath, this tale is full of adventure, suspense, and love.
jammy dance Jammy Dance: A perfect story for bedtime, Jammy Dance is the story of a sister and brother who are getting ready for bed. Instead of the typical boring ritual, they turn it into a fun-filled time complete with dance routines, swirling bath towels, tapping toothbrushes, and sashaying down the halls. The text is rhythmic and fun, while the illustrations are bouncy and clappy. Kids who have a ton of energy before bed can follow along while clapping their hands and getting their feet moving, and before they know it they’ll have burned off that last burst of energy before bedtime.
goodnight, dragons Goodnight, Dragons: You may think that dragons are tough guys, but the truth is that everyone wants a cuddle before bed. In fact, dragons may want one more than most. The story follows fire breathing dragons, who are put to bed by a courageous dragon tamer. This is a warm book that’s comforting and perfect for the bedtime ritual. The soft colors and cartoon-like illustrations come together to make it a wonderful book to browse and read. This is the author’s first book but she has more than 50 published children’s songs, which will be no surprise once you read the melodic text.
out of this world Out of This World: Young folks who want to explore the universe can do so in this eye-opening book. With both prose and poetry, readers will learn about the moon, the stars, and so much more. From moon landings to satellites to rockets, this book is a primer to all things space. Artist Stacey Schuett brings it all together with colorful skies and unique perspectives. Whether a child is a beginner to the space scene or they’ve been studying it for years, they will learn new and fascinating facts here. This is an excellent example of children’s literature that teaches as it entertains.
randy riley’s really big hit Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit: There are two things that Randy Riley loves: baseball and science. In fact, Randy is quite the genius when it comes to our solar system and constellations. But the baseball diamond? Not quite. He gives it his all, but he strikes out each time. Finally, one night he sees something quite shocking through his telescope. It’s a fireball and it’s headed right for his city! He sits down to do the math and comes up with a plan that will truly save the day. This is a book full of visual humor and wonderful rhymes.
the flute The Flute: Author Rachna Gilmore has written picture books before – in fact she’s won the Governor General’s Award. The illustrator, Pulak Biswas, is one of the most award-winning illustrators in all of India. The result? A beautiful, lyrical tale about a little girl who almost drowns in a flooded river. Though she’s lucky, her parents are not so lucky – they’re swept away down the river. The girl is left to be raised by her uncaring aunt and uncle, but she manages to finds solace and peace by playing her mother’s magical flute. This is a heartbreaking story about hope and resilience.
time to say bye-bye Time to Say Bye-Bye: Toddlers live by the pleasure principle, which means that for them life is all about having fun. When they hear the words, “Now it’s time to say bye-bye,” they often react by ignoring them or throwing quite the temper tantrum! What’s a parent to do? In this delightful picture book, the author follows a toddler from the first moments of the morning through to the last moments at night. She shows that really when you say “bye-bye” you’re just saying “hello” to the next fun thing you’ll be doing. This book is truly a delightful lesson for kids.
clorinda plays baseball! Clorinda Plays Baseball!: From the beloved team of Robert Kinerk and Steven Kellogg come this charming story of Clorinda, the cow who can’t be stopped! In this installment, she is ready to go to bat for her favorite baseball team, the Red Hats of BossTown. The rival team had better watch out, because when Clorinda comes to bat, you can bet she’ll be winning! The text is rhyming, whimsical, and fun, while the illustrations are hilarious and detailed. Children will learn important lessons about self esteem and teamwork. For kids who’ve loved the other Clorinda books or who are just starting out, this is a wonderful story.
10 hungry rabbits 10 Hungry Rabbits: There are indeed 10 rabbits in this story, and they are all quite hungry! One at a time, they find delicious vegetables to add to Mama Rabbit’s soup. This children’s book focuses on teaching kids basic counting, and shows them how delicious and fun vegetables can be. We start with a single purple cabbage, then the next bunny brings two white onions, the next finds three yellow peppers – and on it goes until we reach 10. There are bright, primary colors that will also help kids learn their basic colors. Overall, this is an entertaining and educational read.
georgia in hawaii Georgia in Hawaii: The painter Georgia O’Keefe was famous for being an artist who would paint whatever she pleased. Sometimes it was flowers, somethings it was skulls. After all, who is anyone else to tell her what to paint? It turns out that one company did: The Hawaiian Pineapple Company. Did Georgia give in and paint what they asked her to? Amy Novesky’s uses lyrical prose to tell the story, which is full of info that’s little-known. It’s an uplifting and empowering story for anyone, but especially for young artists who want to be free to paint what moves them most.
vivaldi and the invisible orchestra Vivaldi and the Invisible Orchestra: Each Day Antonio Vivaldi writes a new orchestra piece, and each day an orphan named Candida transcribes the piece Vivaldi made onto sheet music. The Invisible Orchestra then reads the music and performs beautiful pieces of music. No one realizes Candida’s contribution and no one appreciates just how hard she works. That is until the day Candida accidentally includes a poem she wrote in with the sheet music, and she gets the recognition she deserves. The true story is that Vivaldi actually had an Invisible Orchestra that was made up of orphan girls he instructed.
these bees count! These Bees Count!: Have you ever wondered how it is that bees count? The bees at the Busy Bee Farm have some answers! They swarm through the sky as one large formation, and they end up flying over 2 dandelions that are waving in the wind and 3 wild strawberries that are oozing with delicious nectar. Mr. Tate teaches a class of children who listen to these fascinating stories and learn how hard bees work to make honey and to help flowers grow. The reality is that bees are extremely important to our eco-system, and this gentle message is successfully portrayed.
first peas to the table First Peas to the Table: Maya loves nothing more than contests, so you can imagine how excited she was when she learned that her teacher was planning a school garden and that there would be a “First Peas to the Table” contest. The garden is based off of Thomas Jefferson’s own garden at Monticello, so Maya decides to follow the steps he took as depicted in his garden book. She writes down everything she’s doing and carefully watches her peas, but her classmates have their own plans! This is a light-hearted tale, chock full of scientific and historical information, as well as lessons on healthy competition.

There are quite a few awesome children’s books coming out in February that focus on nature and so they are perfect for Spring. Of course there are plenty of books on different topics as well, and kids of all levels and interests are sure to find something they will completely enchant them.

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