2023 Children's Books · Children's Book Recommendations

Halloween Children’s Books: Picture Books and Nonfiction–2023

Halloween Children’s Books–2023 recommendations are by Angela Ferraris, The Retired School Librarian.

Children’s book titles are carefully handpicked by a certified elementary school librarian who, although retired, still enjoys reading children’s books, especially picture books, and recommending them to busy teachers, school librarians, parents, grandparents, and other book lovers.

Most of the books Mrs. Ferraris reads before recommending are checked out from the public library, except for those much-appreciated complimentary copies sent to her for an honest review. Those are noted. 

The content below contains Amazon affiliate links. When you buy through these links, she may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.

Picture Books

Halloween scene in the apple orchard with scarecrows, jack-o-lanterns, pumpkins, squash, ghosts, apples, a tractor, and a black cat

Halloween in the Orchard (Countryside Holidays, 3) 

by Phyllis Alsdurf (Author), Lisa Hunt (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Beaming Books
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-3
  • Hardcover ‏ picture book: β€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1506487688

Brief summary: A young boy and his parents dress up in costumes to visit an orchard on Halloween, where there are many fun activities, including trick-or-treating with scarecrows, a corn maze, and a hayride.

Comments: What child(or adult) wouldn’t like to go to an apple orchard like this on Halloween night!?!

Rating: 4/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

This is the third book of the Countryside Holidays series.

Bruce the bear has a grumpy look on his face as he stands on a stage wearing  clothing from the 1800s while his three mice friends are in disguises or inside a pumpkin full of Halloween candy

Bruce and the Legend of Soggy Hollow (Mother Bruce Series) 

by Ryan T. Higgins (Author, Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Disney Hyperion
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-3
  • Hardcover ‏ picture book: β€Ž 48 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1368059589

Brief summary: Although grumpy Bruce does not like holidays, especially Halloween, with all of those visitors appearing at his door, Bruce gets talked into and agrees to role-playing a scary story called “The Legend of Soggy Hollow” with his forest friends…but were they indeed all of his friends?

Comments: A cute and hilarious parody of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, one of my favorite spooky stories.

Rating: 4/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Dokkaebi Doki and Kebi are in the countryside with their magical clubs

The Goblin Twins 

by Frances Cha (Author), Jaime Kim (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Crown Books for Young Readers
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-3
  • Hardcover picture book‏ : β€Ž 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 059348021X

Brief summary: Doki and Kebi are dokkaebi, a cross between a spirit and a goblin, who will need to move, as their home was being torn down to build a new one. Although Doki likes to give gifts of gold and silver to people with his magic club while his twin, Kebi, wants to scare people with his, they decide to live together in a haunted house in a strange land called America just in time for Halloween.

Comments: This is based on Korean lore. A more detailed explanation can be found in the back of the book in the Author’s Note.

I love to read monster/mythical creature lore from other countries. This would make an excellent addition to the Halloween or folklore section of a library.

Rating: 4/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Nonfiction

There are pumpkins and jack-o- lanterns with lit candles and a fake black spider on the steps of a house for the traditional Halloween house

Halloween (Traditions & Celebrations) 

by Charles C Hofer (Author)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Pebble Books
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: 2-4
  • Paperback ‏nonfiction picture book : β€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 0756575605

Brief summary: Young readers will learn how Halloween began, how we celebrate it today, and how other countries(Mexico, Germany, France, and Japan) celebrate holidays like it.

Comments: Words in bold are in the glossary. The back sections are Glossary, Read More, Internet Sites, Index, and About the Author.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Jack-o-lantern with a candle inside, a black cat, spilt candy corn, and bats are spread on the cover of this Halloween book

Halloween (Holiday History)

by Spanier Kristine Mlis (Author)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Pogo Books
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: 2-4
  • Paperback nonfiction paperback–32 pages
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 979-8885241298

Brief summary: Young readers will learn about the origins of Halloween, the traditions, and how South Korea and Ireland celebrate.

Comments: Several “Did You Know?” squares give more information about the page’s topic. The back sections are Quick Facts & Tools: Halloween Place of Origin, Glossary, Index, and To Learn More.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

πŸ‚πŸRelated book recommendations are Fall Children’s Books: Picture Books and Nonfiction–2023 and Pumpkin Children’s Books–2023. πŸ‚πŸ

2023 Children's Books · Children's Book Recommendations

Pumpkin Children’s Books–2023

Pumpkin Children’s Books 2023 recommendations are by Angela Ferraris, The Retired School Librarian.

Children’s book titles are carefully handpicked by a certified elementary school librarian who, although retired, still enjoys reading children’s books, especially picture books, and recommending them to busy teachers, school librarians, parents, grandparents, and other book lovers.

Most of the books Mrs. Ferraris reads before recommending are checked out from the public library, except for those much-appreciated complimentary copies sent to her for an honest review. Those are noted. 

The content below contains Amazon affiliate links. When you buy through these links, she may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.

See a Pumpkin Grow (See It Grow!) 

by Kirsten Chang (Author)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Bellwether Media
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: 1-3
  • Children’s nonfiction paperback ‏ : β€Ž 24 pages
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 979-8886872033

Brief summary: Young readers will learn the pumpkin’s life cycle and what uses there are with this fruit.

Comments: Words and photos are large, with many nonfiction text features. The back sections are GlossaryTo Learn More, and Index.

This book also comes in library binding.

Rating: 4/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

This is part of the See It Grow! series.

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Zoo animals sitting on a gigantic pumpkin

Pumpkin Day at the Zoo 

by Susan Meissner (Author), Pablo Pino (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Tommy Nelson
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-3
  • Hardcover picture book‏ : β€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1400243386

Brief summary: It’s Pumpkin Day at the zoo when the zoo animals receive yummy pumpkins to eat from families who donate their uncarved and unpainted pumpkins.

Comments: The illustrations are vivid and humorous. The text is a mix of fonts and sizes that are fun to say aloud with many descriptive adjectives, alliterations, and all in rhyming sentences.

The back page does have a word about pumpkin donations to zoos.

Rating: 4/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

 A little old lady is picking up a pumpkin with a black bird and black dog next to her.

There Was an Old Lady Who Picked a Pumpkin!

by Lucille Colandro (Author), Jared Lee (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Cartwheel Books
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-1
  • Paperback picture book ‏ : β€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1338882953

Brief summary: There was an old lady who went on the school bus to a farm looking for a pumpkin patch. She and the students follow the sign and see many farm items before finding the patch. Each child picks out a pumpkin and hops back onto the bus.

Comments: This is a fun fall early reader in rhyme. The book is not the usual cumulative “There was an old lady” who eats something book.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Molly is looking through the leafy vines at a large pumpkin. Bee is flying around

The Pie That Molly Grew 

by Sue Heavenrich (Author), Chamisa Kellogg (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Sleeping Bear Press
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK -2
  • Hardcover picture book‏ : β€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1534111840

Brief summary: Molly plants a pumpkin seed and transplants the sprout to watch it grow into a vine with yellow flowers. After all of the care she has given to produce the ripened pumpkin, Molly bakes a pie.

Comments: Cumulative story of the pumpkin’s life cycle.

The back pages have four additional informative sections: American Pie, How to Turn a Pumpkin Into Pie, When You’re Ready to Make the Pie…, and No Bees.No Pie.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A red headed girl in pigtails is standing outside a brick house that has a glowing jack o' lantern in the window with leaves and the wind blowing

Lila and the Jack-o’-Lantern: Halloween Comes to America

by Nancy Churnin (Author), Anneli Bray  (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Albert Whitman & Company
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-3
  • Hardcover picture book ‏ : β€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 0807566632

Brief summary: Lila, an Irish immigrant, is on the ship in 1850 with her mother and two siblings on the way to America, where their father waits for them to join him. They talk about a spirit named Jack that visits homes on Halloween night to play pranks. They would carve a turnip and place a glowing coal inside so Jack sees it and leaves them alone. They wear sheets and knock on doors for sweets. When Lila arrives and sees that there are no turnips, she improvises with the help of her new friend Julia, who learns about the foods and traditions of Halloween in Ireland.

Comments:  This would be a great read- aloud for students to learn the origins of Halloween.

The back pages are Author’s Note and Colcannon and Barmbrack.

Rating: 4/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

2023 Children's Books · Children's Book Recommendations

Babies–Five Human and Animal Picture Books

Babies–human and animal picture book recommendations are by Angela Ferraris, The Retired School Librarian.*

A baby tap dancing on a Broadway stage

Broadway Baby 

by Russell Miller (Author), Judith A. Proffer (Author)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Meteor 17 Books (April 4, 2023)
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: Babies-2nd grade
  • Hardcover picture book‏ : β€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1957317043

Brief summary: An adorable tribute to Broadway with a baby dreaming of dancing and singing on stage. Baby shares about opening night, getting ready in the dressing room, and reviewing lines before going on stage.

The rhyming text is fun and exciting. The illustrations are bright and full of detail.

Comments: A cute bedtime story for babies and toddlers or the perfect gift for any music or drama teacher.

Rating: 4/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

*It should be noted that this a complimentary book sent to me for an honest review.

A baby standing between a mother and father in a field of flowers reaching for an apple

All Your Tomorrows 

by Harriet Evans (Author), Heidi Griffiths (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Tiger Tales (February 14, 2023)
  • Year: 2023
  • Ages: Babies-2nd grade
  • Hardcover ‏ : β€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1664300139

Brief summary: A mother and father hold their baby and bestow upon the child all their hopes and dreams for the newborn’s future. Readers are taken upon the parents’ wishes as the child grows with bright, beautiful, and pleasant illustrations with many two-page spreads. Gentle, lyrical text.

Comments: What a lovely book for babies and toddlers at bedtime.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Wolf babies playing under the full moon with pine tree on either side of the pups

Full Moon Pups 

by Liz Garton Scanlon (Author), Chuck Groenink (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers (April 25, 2023)
  • Year: 2023
  • Ages: Toddler-2nd grade
  • Hardcover picture book ‏ : β€Ž 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 0525514554

Brief summary: In rhyming text and gentle rhythm, a mother wolf gives birth to her pups in a cave under a full moon. The mom and pack care for the babies as they grow during the moon’s cycle.

Comments: Lovely illustrations include gouache, acrylics, pencils, oil pastels, and digital media. The back pages include Author’s Note and The Phases of the Moon.

I suggest sharing this with primary grades during a baby animal or moon cycle unit of study.

Rating: 4/4 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A cub with his Walrus mother

Little Walrus

by Julie Abery (Author), Suzie Mason (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Amicus Ink (March 14, 2023)
  • Year: 2023
  • Ages: Baby-Toddler
  • Hardcover board book picture book‏ : β€Ž 20 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1681528711

Brief summary: Little Walrus plays near his mom and the herd of walruses while exploring his world.

Comments: The rhyming of verbs in each line is one I don’t often see, and I found it refreshing. Couplet rhyming as well. Illustrations are large and with all two-page spreads.

This is one of the adorable cute series of baby animals called the Little Animal Friends.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A mother is holding a baby over her shoulder as we see the baby's face

One Day 

by Joanna Ho (Author), Faith Pray (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž HarperCollins (March 14, 2023)
  • Year: 2023
  • Ages: Baby to 2nd grade
  • Hardcover picture book ‏ : β€Ž 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 0063056925

Brief summary: A mother cradles her infant son and dreams and shares all the wonderful ways her boy will be as he grows up.

Beautiful two-paged spread illustrations.

For more details or to buy, click here.

Rating: 4/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

*(This content contains Amazon affiliate links. When you buy through these links, I may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you).

2023 Children's Books · Children's Book Recommendations

Three Letter Writing Children’s Books

Three Letter Writing children’s book recommendations are by Angela Ferraris, The Retired School Librarian.*

A young girl fern who has green fern hair receiving a letter written with RSVP on the back

The Invitation 

by Stacey May Fowles (Author), Marie Lafrance (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Groundwood Books
  • Date: 2023
  • Grade: K-3
  • Hardcover picture book‏ : β€Ž 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1773066617

Brief summary: Fern opens her mailbox and pulls out a yellow letter, too worried to open it until her friend, Fawn, encourages her to see what’s inside. It is an invitation to a surprise exhibition, but Fern does not want to go due to all of the things she imagines could go wrong. Fern goes to the museum’s special exhibition with the help of her friends who help tame her anxiety.

Comments: This could be a nice class discussion after reading this aloud. “How can we help someone who we see is afraid?” “What can you do if you have something you are afraid of, like Fern did?”

I would share this with the guidance counselor to read to those students experiencing anxiety.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A young girl looking out a city window to see if anyone has found her letter written to a stranger

Dear Street

by Lindsay Zier-Vogel (Author), Caroline Bonne-Muller (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Kids Can Press (May 2, 2023)
  • Year: 2023
  • Grade: K-3
  • Hardcover picture book ‏ : β€Ž 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1525303104

Brief summary: Alice loves her street, but only some do, making her think of writing a letter about what she loves about it and placing that letter for someone to find. She continues her letter writing whenever she hears someone complaining. Soon, others are too.

Comments: The author created The Love Lettering Project, which encourages people to anonymously write love letters and leave them for strangers to find, spreading the love.

Rating: 3.5/5πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“— 1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A young girl holding a ltter writteng to her by her grandma

Close to You from Far Away 

by Erica Root (Author)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Running Press Kids (April 4, 2023)
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: K-3
  • Hardcover picture book‏ : β€Ž 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 0762481137

Brief summary: Gigi had to move away from her grandmother and misses her terribly. Her grandma tells her, “I’m close to you from far away.” Over the school year, whenever Gigi spoke to her grandma over the phone or when she wrote letters or received letters and packages, she tried to understand this saying.

Comments: I can see this being a lovely read-aloud with the children saying the “I’m close to you from far away” sentence in red capital letters on several pages in the book.

Loved the facial expressions of the grandmother and daughter throughout the book.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon’s page.

*(This content contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, I may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you).

2023 Children's Books · Children's Book Recommendations

Alphabet Children’s Books: The ABCs in Different Ways

Alphabet children’s book recommendations are by Angela Ferraris, The Retired School Librarian.*

Alphabet Picture Books

Ref in the blue water with a shark swimming in the blue water. There are fish at the top of the pate

A Is for Australian Reefs 

byΒ FranΓ© LessacΒ (Author, Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Candlewick
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-4
  • Hardcover nonfiction picture book ‏ : β€Ž 48 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1536228303

Brief summary:Β Everything one would like to know about the Australian Reefs. This picture book has two-page illustrations for each letter that are bright and detailed.

Comments:Β This could be a group read-aloud sharing the large print, or it can be an individual reading of the more specific facts in small fonts that explain the many details of plants and marine life on each page.

4/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A girl with her hand s on her hips at recess standing next to a large letter A with her friends running in the background

A Is for Ambitious (Ambitious Girl, 2) 

by Meena Harris (Author), Marissa Valdez (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover picture book ‏ : β€Ž 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 031635449X

Brief summary: ABCs of descriptive words of empowerment. Aimed towards girls. A “stand up and go for what you believe in” type of book. Inspirationally driven.

Sequel to Ambitious Girl, 2021.

Rating 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“— 1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A banana with a pencil that crossed out bedtime that stood for the B in the alphabet; a star, bear, and crescent book with faces watching the banana

B Is for Bananas 

by Carrie Tillotson (Author), Estrela LourenΓ§o (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Flamingo Books
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: Prek-1
  • Hardcover picture book ‏ : β€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 0593528069

Brief summary:Β Banana does not want to go to bed and makes “B” for banana instead of bedtime. Banana gets tired after going through the alphabet and changing or adding words.

Comments:Β Cute, humorous bedtime story.Β 

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Portraits of different boys of various ethnic backgrounds with different names of the alphabet

B My Name Is Boy: A Song of Celebration from Australia to Zimbabwe 

by Dawn Masi (Author, Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Doubleday Books for Young Readers
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover picture book ‏ : β€Ž 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 0593487125

Brief summary:Β Twenty-six boys share their name, someone else they know, their country, and a verb, all in alliteration.

Comments:Β It would be a fun activity for students to copy the book’s style by developing the alliterations with their own names and then sharing them with others.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“— 1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

If you enjoy this one, there is a companion book titled G My Name is Girl, 2021.

Pink pigs playing on large  alphabet letters

Playful Pigs from A to Z 

by Anita Lobel (Author, Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK -1
  • Hardcover picture book‏ : β€Ž 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1534495037

Brief summary:Β Twenty-six pigs come across a field full of letters. Each pig finds the letter matching its name. In the evening, they all return to their pen.

Comments:Β Each letter is paired with a pig’s name and a verb. The pages have capital letters across the top, with small case letters on the bottom of each page.

Originally printed in 2015.

Rating 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

The letters in the alphabet are talking to one another. z, g, and a.

Alphabuddies: G Is First! 

by Beth Bacon (Author), Karen Kane (Author), Eric Barclay (Illustrator).

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž HarperCollins
  • Year: 2023
  • Grades: PreK-2
  • Hardcover picture book ‏ : β€Ž 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 006305597X

Brief summary:Β “G” wants to be first in the alphabet song, but “A” argues it will mess up reading. The letters experiment to see if this statement is true or not.

Comments:Β Humorous. Speech bubbles. Individual frames or multi-panels like a graphic novel. Large letters and words.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Alphabet Board Books

A big bear and cub riding bikes with objects of the B in the alphabet

My First Brain Quest ABCs: A Question-and-Answer Book

byΒ Workman PublishingΒ (Author).

  • Publisher ‏ : β€ŽΒ Workman Publishing Company
  • Date: 2023
  • Ages: Baby-3
  • Board book ‏ : β€Ž 26 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1523514124

Brief summary:Β Each letter has a noun and a matching alliteration with three questions at the bottom of the page about the page to encourage more conversation. Capital and small letters are featured. Bright colors. One letter per page.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“— 1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

If you enjoy this book, there are other My First Brain Quest books in the series by Workman Publishing.

Two boys in a small boat on the water with a pirate's flag, monkey, parrot, and seagulls

P Is for Pirate 

by Greg Paprocki (Author, Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž BabyLit
  • Year: 2023
  • Ages: Baby-3
  • Board book ‏ picture book: β€Ž 32 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1423661532

Brief summary:Β This board book ABC book is all about pirates and sea jargon. Unique illustrations in the mid-1900s style.

Comments:Β I could tell immediately it was a Greg Paprocki ABC book. He hasΒ several othersΒ in this cool artistic style.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“— 1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Cartoons of various earth objects like the stars, cloud raining, and a sunflower

Mrs. Peanuckle’s Earth Alphabet (Mrs. Peanuckle’s Alphabet) 

by Mrs. Peanuckle (Author), Jessie Ford (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€ŽΒ Rodale Kids
  • Year: 2023
  • Ages: Baby-3
  • Board book picture book ‏ : β€Ž 28 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 0593486633

Brief summary:Β Β Youngers will learn about earth-related topics with explanations.

Bright colors and large graphics. Capital letters.

Comment: This is one of theΒ Mrs. Peanucle’s ABCΒ series.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Six portraits of female musicians

A is for Aretha 

by Leslie Kwan (Author), Rachelle Baker (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Kokila
  • Year: 2023
  • Ages: Baby-3
  • Board book picture book ‏ : β€Ž 26 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 0593406532

Brief summary:Β Twenty-six black female musicians with a brief explanation of their accomplishments.

Comments:Β I learned a few I was not aware of too. Illustrated with their portrait and colorful background. I’m unsure how much a baby or toddler could understand, but an excellent source for introducing female musicians and vocabulary.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Photographs of four baby animals

My First ABC Animal Book (Happy Fox Books)

by Editors of Happy Fox Books (Author)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Happy Fox Books
  • Year: 2023
  • Ages: Baby-3
  • Board book picture book ‏ : β€Ž 28 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1641242973

Brief summary:Β An animal alphabet book illustrated with photographs. Big and small letters. The back has all the animals, and the child is asked if they know them.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

There is another Happy Fox book that came out this year teaching colors called My First Colors: Learn About Our Colorful World.Β 

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Various cars

C Is for Car: An ABC Car Primer 

by Ashley Marie Mireles (Author), Volha Kaliaha (Illustrator)

  • Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Familius
  • Year: Amazon says October 18, 2022, but the book says 2023
  • Ages: Baby to 3
  • Board book picture book ‏ : β€Ž 20 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : β€ŽΒ 164170725

Brief summary: A car for each letter.

Comments: I learned some new ones. Good visual introduction to specific cars.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

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2023 Children's Books · Children's Book Recommendations

Children’s Books about Books

Children’s books about books book recommendations are by Angela Ferraris, The Retired School Librarian.*

Cover of Palace of Books with author and illustrator, Patricia Polacco as a girl looking at the Willard Library

Palace of Books 

by Patricia Polacco (Author, Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books. 2023. PreK-5. Hardcover Picture Book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1534451315.

Brief summary: As a girl, Patricia Polacco’s family moves from Union City to Battle Creek, Michigan. It is hard for her to adjust from living in a rural area.

One day she walks home from school, taking a different route, and discovers a stately building with giant pillars along the front with many steps leading up to a porch. It is the Willard Library and full of books for people to borrow. Mrs. Creavy, a librarian, helps Patricia find bird books and even shares the notable books of John James Audubon, full of watercolors of birds.

Soon, Patricia paints birds and shares them with her class. This sparks an Audubon bird club at Fremont Elementary School for the next sixty years.

I will always recommend a book by Patricia Polacco, as she is one of the best storytellers and illustrators in the USA. I was honored to have her as a guest author for our elementary school. I will always cherish having lunch with this legendary author and illustrator that day in our little elementary library.

Rating: 5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Children of various backgrounds are either reading or dancing around the book's title

Our Incredible Library Book (and the wonderful journeys it took) 

by Caroline Crowe (Author), John Joseph (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Floris Books. 2023. PreK-3. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1782507418.

Brief summary: Readers will learn about a library book’s adventures into several children’s homes.

In rhyming text. This book was first published in the UK.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A man is sitting on a green striped chair with his children on either side of them reading a book together with a rhino behind them. Books are strewn all over the ground with the car's trunk door open

The Liebrary 

by Amanda Pearlstein (Author), Howard Pearlstein (Author), Maren Amini (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Yeehoo Press. 2023. PreK-3. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1953458602.

Brief summary: Mikayla and Drew take out books from the library and read about things that don’t make sense. Should they believe everything they read? The children suddenly understand when they return their books.

Cute story. It could be used to start a research project to demonstrate why it is essential to check the facts.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

An orange anglerfish with a little light at the end of its antennae is reading a book that has an oyster spine

Hooked on Books 

by Margaret Chiu Greanias (Author), Kristyna Litten (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Peachtree. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1682633675.

Brief summary: Pearl, an anglerfish, reads her book in the depth of the sea but is constantly interrupted. Looking for personal space, she swims down into the abyssal zone, where it is tranquil, and she can finish her book. Lonely, she returns to the twilight zone.

The illustrations were in shades of blues with the various fish in other colors and often two-page spreads. Speech bubbles mixed with traditional text.

Rating: 4/4 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Cover of picture book, This is a Story, of a girl book hugging a book.

This Is a Story 

by John Schu (Author), Lauren Castillo (Illustrator). Publisher: β€Ž Candlewick. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover Picture Book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1536204520.

Brief summary: The title page begins this story with a girl receiving a library card from her father.

A little girl walks to the library with her father and younger sibling. She goes into the children’s section carrying a seahorse kite, where a librarian helps her narrow her search from many of the books to the perfect one–a sea horse library book. She begins to read. Other readers in the area are reading books we all know and love that are connected to our hearts and imagination.

The child has found her special library book and now helps her younger brother find his. She proudly uses her library card to check out.

Rating: 4/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

If you enjoy this book, you may like John Schu’s This is a School.

Cover of picture book, This Book is my Best Friend with two children in a library both pulling in opposite directions of a book

This Book Is My Best Friend 

by Robin Robinson (Author, Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover Picture Book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1665906814.

Brief summary: Two best friends, Sunny and Aarush, want to check out the same library book, Factory Friends, but there is only one copy. They each try to persuade the other why the book is their best friend and needs it more. Having failed at trying to book talk each other into other books to check out instead, they realize how to share the library book.

I recommend this book to school librarians who have students fighting over a book, as I have had many times in my school libraries. (They did not always share, so I had a big die on my desk. The one who rolled the highest number could read it first).

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

The Library Fish Learns to Read (The Library Fish Books) 

by Alyssa Satin Capucilli  (Author), Gladys Jose  (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books. PreK-2. 2023. Hardcover. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1534477070.

Brief summary: Library Fish lives in a bowl on the librarian’s desk, Mr. Hughes, where she watches the students check books in and out of the public library. One day, she is listening to Mr. Hughes tell a story about a dog learning how to read and is inspired that she, too, would like to learn to read.

After the librarian says good night, Library Fish gets out of her bowl (with special accommodations) and begins to teach herself the ABCs. Each night she practices until she can read books.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

*(This content contains Amazon affiliate links. When you buy through these links, I may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you).

2023 Children's Books · Children's Book Recommendations

Back-to-School Picture Books–2023

Back to school picture book recommendations are by Angela Ferraris, The Retired School Librarian.*

Kindergartners with all sorts of big heads stading around a large teacher's desk looking at a sandwich that has two olive pierce through a toothpick on top that look like eyes and bologna sticking out the side that sort of looks like a tongue

Mr. S: A First Day of School Book

by Monica Arnaldo (Author, Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Katherine Tegen Books. 2023. K-3. Hardcover picture books. ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 0063003953.

Brief summary: The kindergartners of 2B arrive on the first day of school to find a missing teacher. Their first clue is the desk has a ruler, a steaming cup of coffee, and a giant sandwich. They notice “Mr. S” has been written on the chalkboard. They wonder if their teacher could be Mr. Sandwich. They immediately create an alphabet of different sandwiches. They continue their day doing school-related activities without the supervision of an adult. Suddenly, the door opens, and a man hurries inside the classroom. Is this their teacher?

This was one of my favorite back-to-school books. Great mystery. A subplot is also going on in the window frame throughout the story. Clever. Well done. I can’t wait to read more imaginative stories like this from Monica Arnaldo.

Rating: 5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

First day of school and there is no teacher in the classroom with students standing around the room

9 Kilometers (Stories from Latin America)

by Claudio Aguilera (Author), Gariela Lyon (Illustrator), Lawrence Schimel (Translator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Eerdmans Books for Young. 2023. Grades 1-4. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 0802856004.

Brief summary: A young Chilean student begins his nine-kilometer walk to school in the darkness of dawn while counting his steps and animals he sees along the way.

Young readers will follow his journey as he goes under a barbed-wired fence, through a forest, across a river, etc., until he is FINALLY to school.

This book could spark some interesting classroom conversations. What was the longest you’ve ever walked? How much is a kilometer? Why did the boy walk so far? Why didn’t a yellow school bus take him? Was it essential for him to go to school? Dangerous?

The back of the book has brief stories of other children worldwide and how they walk to their schools. There is also a section on the birds seen during the boy’s walk.

The front pasted-down end pages have a map of the beginning of the walk, with it continuing onto the back end pages.

Rating: 4.5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Translated and printed to English in 2023.

Marker 

by Anna Kang (Author), Christopher Weyant (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Two Lions. 2023. PreK-3. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1542039614.

Brief summary: Red Pen welcomes the teacher supplies to getting ready for the first day of school. Pinking Shears is accepted as a new member and is placed in the superpower mug on the desk, displacing Permanent Marker to a canister. The supplies are creating back-to-school posters and lists when Marker, which is always used for the class rules poster, makes a mistake but cannot fix it, causing her anxiety as everyone will see it day after day. Will Red Pen come up with an idea to help everyone realize it’s okay to fail?

What a fun read for the beginning of the school year. Cute illustrations and a humorous storyline will help students with any first-day jitters. I’ll not be looking at the supplies on my desk ever the same.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“— 1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

If you like this book, you may also enjoy Anna Kang’s Eraser, published in 2018.

And Then Comes School 

by Tom Brenner (Author), Jen Hill (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Candlewick. 2023. PreK-1. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1536209139.

Brief summary: Two young girls enjoy the last summer days with their friends. A list of school supplies is received. They sort through clothes that are too small, pick up back-to-school supplies, and play on the last day of summer vacation. They prepare for the first day of school by picking out an outfit, filling a backpack, and going to bed, imagining what the first day will bring.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

This is one of the series of And Then Comes by Tom Brenner. I like this series as they share little rituals before a holiday or event that young readers can understand. Nice, lyrical text.

Shy Robin and the First Day of School 

by Jaime Kim (Author, Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Candlewick. 2023. Hardcover picture book. PreK-1. ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1536209295

Brief summary: Robin is usually brave and energetic at home but not in public. Her mother gives her a purple headband on the first day of school to help her feel confident.

While at school, Robin notices another student who is also shy and withdrawn and is wearing purple bracelets. After temporarily losing her headband, Marco offers Robin one of his bracelets while they all look for the hair accessory.

This would be a nice back-to-school story to share with preschoolers and kindergartners to let them know that students may feel shy.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

We’re Going to School 

by Tammi Salzano (Author), Morena Forza (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Tiger Tales. 2023. PreK-K. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 166430021X.

Brief summary: Young readers will wake up early with various kids returning to school. Once inside the school, the day begins with introductions, new routines, and friend-making.

This book would be suitable for preschool or kindergartners who have never been to school to get a general idea of what happens on the first day.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Giant-Sized Butterflies On My First Day of School 

by Justin Roberts (Author), Paola Escobar (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 0525516433.

Brief summary: A young girl has a nervous stomach going back to school and is reassured by her mother that everything will be okay. The mother shares a time when she had butterflies in her stomach and how she let them go.

Teachers and parents could share this book with students about the first day of school to let them know that sometimes we are nervous doing or going places for the first time.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Mina Belongs Here 

by Sandra Niebuhr-Siebert (Author), Lars Baus (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Floris Books. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1782508112.

Brief summary: Mina attends kindergarten and needs help understanding what anyone is saying or asking. Mina hugs the teddy bear and is quiet all day until she returns to her home and tells her mother about her day.

The next day of school, Mina makes a friend with a girl named Ava even though they do not speak. She returns home to tell her mother all about her day at school.

Each day, Mina learns new words and becomes more relaxed. Her dreams parallel her feelings and become more vivid and bright.This German translation from 2020 was published in the USA in 2023.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A cartoon backpack hanging onto the closet door nervous about going back to school

Back to School, Backpack! 

by Simon Rich (Author), Tom Toro (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 0316628344.

Brief summary: A backpack going back to school has the first day jitters but soon fits in the new environment.

This would be a good book to read during the first day or week of school to help those with any nervousness. Cute and humorous.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A Smart, Smart School 

by Sharon Creech (Author), Anait Semirdzhyan (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž HarperCollins. 2023. PreK-4. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 0063059614.

Brief summary: Mr. Keene, the principal of Fine Elementary School, loves his school as he strolls through the hallways watching the students drawing, painting, reading, and singing. He immediately has to leave for the hospital. Tillie, one of the students, worries about his recovery.

Mr. Tatters takes over as the principal and notices all of the get-well banners, cards, and artwork the students do for their beloved sick principal and does not like it. He insists that to be a smart, smart school, they must have tests every day that week, causing everyone to have stress and boredom. The students visit their principal at the hospital on Saturday, bringing all their get-well gifts.

Tillie talks to Mr. Keene upon his return on Monday about all the tests. He gathers everyone into an assembly and announces how they will be a smart, smart school again.

What a great book to anonymously leave on each principal’s, board member’s, and central office administrator’s desk. *wink*

Rating: 4.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Companion book to A Fine, Fine School, written in 2001.

*(This content contains Amazon affiliate links. When you buy through these links, I may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you).

2023 Children's Books · Children's Book Recommendations

Swimming Children’s Books

Swimming children’s book recommendations are by Angela Ferraris, The Retired School Librarian.*

Kids swimming in a blue pool. Our Pool words are in the middle

Our Pool 

by Lucy Ruth Cummins (Author, Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Atheneum Books for Young. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1534499237.

Brief summary: We watch as many wake up and go to the city pool with other families. They change into a bathing suit, get covered with sunblock, and go into the cool blue water. Everyone plays above and below the water until it’s time to eat lunch on spread-out towels on concrete. They do more swimming before heading home with a treat from the ice cream truck.

The bright summer colors illustrations are showcased in many two page spreads with details and descriptive words that had me feeling like I was at the pool smelling the chlorine, hearing the shouting and laughter, and the coolness of the water.

Rating: 5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A young girl swimming in a pool who stopped and lifted her goggles up to stare at the reader

When You Can Swim 

by Jack Wong (Author, Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Orchard Books. 2023. Prek-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1338830961.

Brief summary: A young child encourages those to learn how to swim and shares all the aquatic wonders they could experience while swimming in various types of waters.

The back pages include the author sharing his experience of learning how to swim and going back to some of his favorite swimming spots for inspiration to write and illustrate the book.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A girl is on the edge of a diving board looking into the water with plants and marine animals swimming in it

A Dive Into the Blue 

by Ellie Huynh (Author), Bao Luu (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Beaming Books. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1506486347.

Brief summary: A young girl shares her fear of diving into the public pool while standing at the edge of the diving board and letting her imagination almost overcome her from swimming. Will she be able to dive into the blue water?

I would share this book with students to help them learn coping skills to navigate their fears.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A girl is ready to go swimming with a large life preserver that has a sleeping sloth on top of it

Waiting on Mr. Sloth 

by Katy Hudson (Author, Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Capstone Editions . 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1684464803.

Brief summary: Sasha is excited to go swimming with her best friend, Mr. Sloth, but is losing her patience with his slowness every step of the way. They finally walk to the lake and have lunch before entering the water. Sasha’s friend is taking too long, and she goes into the lake without him, only to realize it’s not as much fun. Sasha returns to their picnic to find Mr. Sloth in a tree enjoying his surroundings. Will Sasha and Mr. Sloth go swimming together in the future? Will Sasha learn to be patience?

In the back of the book, there is a discussion of ways to calm oneself when waiting.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Child with nose plugs and goggle on swimming underneath the water

Facing Your Fear of Water (Facing Your Fears) 

by Heather E. Schwartz (Author). Nonfiction Hardcover. Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Pebble Books. 2023. Grades K-3. Hardcover nonfiction. ISBN-10 ‏ : β€Ž 1666355542.

Brief summary: Young readers get advice on ways to be calm if they are afraid of the water and are encouraged to take small steps to learn to be able to go swimming.

The back sections are Sink or Float, Glossary, Read More, and Internet Sites.

This is one of the Facing Your Fears series.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

*(This content contains Amazon affiliate links. When you buy through these links, I may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you).

Children's Book Recommendations

How I Evaluate and Recommend Picture Books

How I Evaluate and Recommend Picture Books is written by Angela Ferraris, The Retired School Librarian.

Picture book recommendations first photo of children reading while sitting on giant books

I have many questions as I evaluate children’s books to make the best picture book recommendations. I’ve read and shared thousands of books as an elementary school librarian. Contrarily though, I may only chose one from a stack of thirty books I can recommend.

Enjoy the Book

I taught my students to read the book, feel the emotion, and hear the words. Above all, get the aesthetic experience. (I still do that when I first pick up a book). Undoubtedly, I never asked questions while reading a picture book aloud for the first time during story time. It was afterward that I examined the book more closely…or not. Sometimes, it’s enough to enjoy a picture book. With this in mind, my main goal was to teach the joy of reading.

Having a mock Caldecott Read-In with my students was one of the best ways I taught how to evaluate books and give picture book recommendations to others. I borrowed about a hundred picture books that were stand-outs. However, I also threw in(without telling them) those that were…(well)…not ones I would recommend.


I allowed the students to grade with a 😁😐☹️ face. They then voted for the one they thought would win the Caldecott Medal Award (a medal given annually to an American illustrator). Next, we had thoughtful conversations about how they evaluated picture books. Lastly, they would use persuasive thinking to get others to vote for the same book they nominated.

An important issue I emphasized was that when the award was announced and their book was not chosen, it did not mean it was unworthy. Subsequently, we would talk about famous books from the past everyone loved that have not won any medals.

The Questions

I still use these questions when I recommend a book, but ONLY AFTER I first read the book on its own. Undoubtedly, I love the beauty of picture books and want to feel their “soul. ” Analyzing them is secondary.

The Words

  • Are these words appropriate for an elementary-aged child? Are they using these words in a child’s everyday life?
  •  Do the words flow in a legato style when they should? Are they short and choppy when they are supposed to be?
  •  How do they sound when read aloud? Does it sound like a tongue twister but not supposed to sound like one?
  •  Are there patterns? Rhyming? Rhythms? How do the words sound to the ears? Do they sound awkward? Are they forced?
  •  Do the words convey the correct emotions and mood of the book? Do the word choices match the emotion? Is it supposed to be funny? Sad? Silly?
  •  Do the page turns of the book interrupt the idea?
  •  Is the story unique, or has it been done several times already?
  •  Is the font a good fit for the book? Is it large enough for a child to read?
  •  Where do the words appear on the page? Are they all over and difficult to follow?
  •  How is the story being told? Are there too many characters? Is it confusing to follow? Predictions? Surprises?
  •  Is the topic of the story something children can relate to currently in their lives? Is it too complicated? Should it be a board book instead? Babyish?
  •  Dialogic reading? Is this story something they talk about with others? Or is it more of a listening book that someone reads aloud? Or is this one better read alone?
  •  What is the perspective of the story? Who’s telling the story?
  •  Are the words talking down to a child? Are they morally heavy?

Illustrations

  • What is the medium(s)? Was it digitally rendered? Was it a hybrid?
  • What is the level of technique? Does it stand out? Is it unique? Is there a style?
  • What are the visual elements? Line, shape, color, value, form, texture, space. How is the white of the page being used?
  • What colors are being used? Are the colors symbolic? Is color therapy being used? Complimentary colors? Bright? Dark? Contrasting?
  • Do the text and illustrations go well with one another?
  • Are there details in the illustrations not told in the text?
  • Would I know the book’s story if I took the text away?

The Cover

  • Is the title prominent? Or is the author’s?
  • Are the colors matching with the tone/mood of the book?
  • Is the font style easy to read?
  • Is there a blurb on the back?
  • Do the front and back covers correlate?
  • Does the cover represent the story inside?
  • Does it grab your attention?

Flaps

  • Does the front flap give a summary of the book?
  • Does the back flap tell about the author/illustrator?

End Pages

  • Are the pasted-down end pages white? Are they illustrated? Does the story begin or end on them?

End of the Book

  • Is there an author’s note? An illustrator’s?
  • If a nonfiction–is there a timeline, biographical notes, bibliography, index, suggestion reading, or photos? More information?

Misc.

  • Who is the author? Is this their first book? If a nonfiction picture book, is this person an expert on the subject? Is this a celebrity? What country are they from? And does that matter?
  • Is this a well-known author? Is it just like the others they have already written? Is there a repeated formula?
  • Is this book being translated? Was something lost in the translation?
  • Who is the illustrator? Is this their first book? Are they an artist well-known in other mediums?
  • Is this book political? Have an agenda? Age appropriate for elementary students? Developmentally appropriate? Is this a topic a child would care about in elementary school?

Star Rating Explained

Another key point of my evaluations is that I do not share picture book recommendations that deserve a half to two and a half stars. I’m not going to be that person. As shown below, the lowest star I give is a three, while the highest is a five.

If I’m on a site that does not allow half stars, I round up.

Picture Book Recommendation star rating of three to five

In Conclusion

 While I read these books, I always remember that the person or persons creating this book in my very hands is someone’s dream, someone’s “baby,” that they worked really hard on and are willing to share with the world. This is why I don’t share bad reviews. I simply put it back in my tote bag to return to the library. In addition, it may be a child’s favorite book, and I don’t want them to read online that I did not recommend that piece of literature and with the reasons why it was not up to par.

Even after retiring, I still read children’s books, especially picture ones. I was lucky to have found my passion and was paid for sharing it. I still enjoy my love and can now share it online with a broader audience of book lovers and book worms. The picture book recommendations are ninety-nine percent ones I check out of the public library. I appreciate the Central Library Consortium and am thankful for being in an area in the USA with such outstanding library systems.

2023 Children's Books · Children's Book Recommendations

Father Picture Book Recommendations

Father picture book recommendations are by Angela Ferraris, The Retired School Librarian.*

Picture Books

A boy and his dad lying down in the back of a pickup truck looking up to the stars

A Bed of Stars 

by Jessica Love (Author, Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Candlewick. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1536212396.

Brief summary: A boy with trouble falling asleep goes camping with his father. They pack up the pickup truck, Darlin’, and head for the desert. His father tells him about the plants and animal tracks. They build a fire and watch the sun set while sitting on the hood of the pickup until the stars come out. They get in the sleeping bag in the truck bed, enjoying the stars above them.

His father is able to teach his son how to connect with the universe and not feel so small. They drive home, where Mom has a surprise waiting for their boy.

Rating: 4/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Picture book cover of Finding Papa with a little girl on her mother's back as they wade through a river. Mai is thinkin of the crocodiles her father told her about living in the river.

Finding Papa 

by Angela Pham Krans (Author), Thi Bui (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž HarperCollins, 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover Picture Book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-0063060968.

Brief summary: Mai and her papa like to play crocodile chomp with their hands. Papa leaves Vietnam to go to America to make a better life for his wife and daughter. Mai does not understand where her father has gone and waits for him to return each day to play. Mama packs and bag and takes her little one on a long journey through the rice paddies, across a river, and onto a boat across the ocean to a refugee camp in Singapore until they are released when Mama travels in the city to find her husband.

This story is based on the author and her mother, who journeyed in 1983 from Vietnam to America. Both author and illustrator share their families’ journey of immigration.

Rating: 4/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A young Chris Paul sitting on the shoulder of his granddad, Papa Chilly

Basketball Dreams 

by Chris Paul (Author), Courtney Lovett (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Roaring Brook Press. 2023. Prek-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1250810038.

Brief summary: Chris wants to become a basketball player and looks up to his granddad, Papa Chilly, for guidance as the man’s dreams have come true. He gets up early to practice. He learns how to be a good team player and to help others. Papa Chilly attends Chris’s games and cheers him on.

The back page has Chris Paul’s recollection of his grandfather and a photo of them.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A father and son holding fishing poles while walking down a path with trees around them

Daddy & Me, Side by Side 

by Pierce Freelon (Author), Nadia Fisher (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. 2023. Prek-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-0316055864.

Brief summary:Β A father and son go camping together. As they hike and fish, the father shares how he did the same with his father, who recently died. It almost feels like Pop-Pop is there with them as they create new and share old memories of being together.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A proud little girl wearing a baseball hat and jean jacket standing in front of a large and red semi  truck

Trucker Kid 

by Carol Gordon Ekster (Author), Russ Cox (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Capstone Editions. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1684466214.

Brief summary: Athena misses her father when he is trucking and has to leave the family for days. She loves ANYTHING to do with eighteen-wheelers and is proud to be a Trucker Kid. She shares her joy and enthusiasm with the kids at school. Her classmates understand her passion once her father visits the school via his semi to share everything about his job.

The back pages have sectionsΒ Keep on TruckingΒ andΒ Author’s Note.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Baba sitting on the persian rug with his six daughters

Baba’s Gift: A Persian Father’s Love of Family 

by Ariana Shaheen Amini (Author), Christina Maheen Amini (Author), Elaheh Taherian (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Little Bigfoot. 2023. Grades 2-4. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1632173232.

Brief summary: Baba shares stories with his six daughters while they sit and play on the Persian carpet of his boyhood in Iran and his stories of immigrating to America.

This is based on the true story of Dr. Fariborz Amini. Authors’ Notes in the back have a photo of the lovely family.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Kate is sitting on her father's shoulders with her backpack on

Hurry, Kate, or You’ll Be Late!

by Janice N. Harrington (Author), Tiffany Rose (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Margaret Ferguson Books. 2023. PreK-1. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-0823445103.

Brief summary: Kate was late to preschool this morning, but why? Was it because of her breakfast? Because she and her dad stopped to wave at friends?

Young readers will follow Kate and her father’s journey to go to preschool and ask to figure out and predict why Kate was late.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

 A girl and her Pop bearing into a box

Pop’s Perfect Present 

by Corey Finkle (Author), Lenny Wen (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Henry Holt and Co. (BYR). 2023. PreK-3. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1250819444.

Brief summary: A young girl tries to think of the best gift to give her father because he is such a wonderful Pop. As they spend the day together, each attempt of creating the present is a failure. Will she be able to give her father the perfect present?

Humorous rhyming with a fun rhythm.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A boy on the shoulders of his father; both are eating a doughnut

No Fair! 

by Jacob Grant (Author, Illustrator).Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Viking Books for Young Readers. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-0593117699.

Brief summary: Pablo and his father get on their bikes while their dog, Waffles, runs aside them. It’s Market Day, and Pablo wants a donut, but it is allowed once all the shopping is finished. As Pablo tries to help, he finds that everything he picks out is too big. He protests, “Not fair!” Will he realize with the help of his dad that not all things are fair?

This book could be a shared read-aloud with the father’s voice in black ink and the son’s in red.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A father and his song djing together

My Dad Is a DJ 

by Kathryn Erskine (Author), Keith Henry Brown (Author, Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2023. PreK-3. Hardcover Picture Book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-0374307424.

Brief summary: Trevor’s parents separate, and his father moves out. They once shared time listening to music late in the night after his father returned from being DJ. They would shoot baskets after school. He would even hear his father dedicate songs to him over the radio.

Lately, though, they have yet to connect since he moved out. His food preferences are different. He has a new friend his father has yet to meet. The end-of-the-year dance is coming up that his father has DJed. Will combining the latest hip-hop that Trevor likes and the soul his father favors work out? Will DJing together bring them closer?

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Different family members of various ethinic backgrounds in a selfie pose

Dad and Daddy’s Big Big Family 

by Seamus Kirst (Author), Karen Bunting (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Magination Press. 2023. PreK-3. Hardcover Picture Book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1433840388.

Brief summary:Β Harper packs a suitcase and drives to a huge family reunion in a park with her fathers, where she meets family members for the first time, like her cousins, second cousins, and first cousins once removed. She also meets family she already knows. Harper learns that she has some things the same and different from everyone, but they are all connected by their love for one another.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

A father making a pink dress for his daughter who is hugging him from behind

Daddy Dressed Me 

by Michael Gardner (Author), Ava Gardner (Author), Nadia Fisher (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Aladdin. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover Picture Book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1665921954.

Brief summary: Ava’s father is good at making things but especially sewing her dresses for special occasions. She will recite a poem onstage during Move Up Day and is worried she will forget the words.

Her father tells the nervous girl that he will help her memorize the lines and would like to sew a unique dress to boost her confidence. Will both of their hard work pay off on the big day?

Based on a true story which can be found in the back–The Story Behind the Story. Loved to see the photos of the real father and daughter duo.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Maribel touching the koi pond making circular ripples

Maribel’s Year 

by Michelle Sterling (Author), Sarah Gonzales (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Katherine Tegen Books. 2023. PreK-3. Hardcover Picture Book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-0063114357.

Brief summary: Maribel must wait an entire year before her father, who is in the Philippines, can rejoin his daughter and wife in America. Each month the young girl tells about the memories of her father and the emotional thoughts she has that he is with them again.

Illustrations change with each month and capture the feelings and thoughts of Maribel.

Rating: 4/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Man with a robin sitting in its nest on top of his head

My Dad Is a Tree 

by Jon Agee (Author). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Rocky Pond Books. 2023. Prek-2. Hardcover picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-0593531372.

Brief summary: A young girl asks her father to stand with his arms outstretched and become a tree.

This whimsical story continues throughout the day, with more creatures visiting the father and making themselves comfortable as though he were a real tree.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Father Bear holding his song

Papa’s Home 

by David Soman (Author). Publisher ‏ : β€ŽLittle, Brown Books for Young Readers. 2023. PreK-2. Hardback picture book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-0316427838.

Brief summary: Papa is going away for a little while, and Aunt Jessie will come to take care of the little bear. Father and son spend the day doing activities together. At the same time, the child asks questions about what it will be like when the father is away. The father quietly answers his child’s many questions with reassurance that everything will be okay.

Lovely illustrations that capture the emotional expressions of the father and child.

The text in this book allows for a reader’s theater opportunity with the child’s voice in green ink; Papa’s in purple ink.

Rating: 4.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Board Books

Toddler being held by her father

Daddy’s Hugs and Snuggles 

by Linda Ashman (Author), Jane Massey (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Cartwheel Books. 2023. Baby-3. Board book with thick cardstock(not cardboard). ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1338854046.

Brief summary: A child tells in rhyme what their father does with them in that part of the day while another child continues until young readers have learned the morning, noon, and evening routines.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

Cover of Daddy and Me with children and fathers

Daddy and Me 

by Gary Urda (Author), Rosie Butcher (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž little bee books. 2023. Baby-3. Board book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1499813517.

Brief summary: Each child shares what activity they share with their father.

Diverse with different families, backgrounds, and what the child calls their father. Papa, Dada, Pops, Baba, and so forth.

The illustrations are full pages with happy and bright colors matching the happiness of each child and father relationship.

Rating: 3.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

Continue reading for more details and buying options on this book’s Amazon page.

*(This content contains Amazon affiliate links. When you buy through these links, I may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you).

2023 Children's Books · Children's Book Recommendations

Narrative Nonfiction Picture Books-Spring 2023

Narrative nonfiction picture book recommendations are by Angela Ferraris, The Retired School Librarian.*

Narrative Nonfiction Picture Book Cover of Finding Family: The Duckling Raised by Loons with a fuzzy little duckling riding the back of a loon in the water

Finding Family: The Duckling Raised by Loons 

by Laura Purdie Salas (Author), Alexandria Neonakis (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Millbrook Press β„’ . 2023. Grades PreK-2. Hardcover Narrative Nonfiction Picture Book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1728442990.

Brief summary: A mother and father loon raise a mallard duckling. The duckling learns the ways of the loons, like eating minnows and taking food from them.

This story in verse is based on a true story in 2019 in a Wisconsin Lake as part of the Loon Project, where researchers observed a loon pair taking care of a duckling. What makes this unique is that loons usually drive away mallard ducks.

The back pages include sections such as Is This Story True?, The Intruder, and Very Different Birds(with a Venn Diagram).

For more details or to buy, click here.

Rating: 4/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Rise to the Sky cover of the narrative nonfiction book that tells about tall trees with tall trees with deer eating grass underneath

Rise to the Sky: How the World’s Tallest Trees Grow Up 

by Rebecca E. Hirsch (Author), Mia Posada (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Millbrook Press β„’. 2023. PreK-3. Hardcover Narrative Nonfiction Picture Book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1728440873.

Brief summary: Young readers will learn about a tree’s life cycle from a tiny sprout to a tall tree.

Back sections include How Does a Tall Tree Grow?, Where Do the Tallest Trees Live?, and two activities.

The illustrations are cut-paper collages with watercolor but have photographs of the tallest trees in the back of the book.

For more details or to buy, click here.

Rating: 4/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Special Delivery cover with sky blue background with various means of transportation all done in cartoon style

Special Delivery: A Book’s Journey Around the World 

by Polly Faber (Author), Klas FahlΓ©n (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Candlewick Press. 2023. K-3. Hardcover Narrative Nonfiction Picture Book. Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Candlewick Press.

Brief summary: A book is made and journeys in various forms of transportation across the city, sea, and through the country until it reaches Pip’s Bookshop, where it is bought and sent to a grandson.

The back has Special Delivery Numbers of interesting statistics about the book’s journey.

Full, detailed illustrations with bright colors. I stopped and looked at each page to get more details of the transportation story from them.

For more details or to buy, click here.

Rating: 4.5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—1/2

Cover of Yoshi with a little green turtle swimming in the ocean with other fish and plants

Yoshi, Sea Turtle Genius: A True Story About an Amazing Swimmer 

by Lynne Cox (Author), Richard Jones (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Anne Schwartz Books. 2023. PreK-3. Hardcover Narrative Nonfiction Picture Book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-0593425688.

Brief summary: A Loggerhead hatchling finds her way across the Australian beach when the moon is full. She swims for the first time in the Indian Ocean, encountering many marine and land animals and fish on her journey.

The turtle is tangled in a net until a fisherman rescues her and helps her return to good health. Unable to keep the turtle, the fisherman gives her to an aquarium, where she is released into the sea with a tracking device. People can watch where she swims in the ocean. Will she make it back to her home?

This is a true story with more information in the Author’s Note.

I kept reading to find out more about Yoshi and if she was going to be okay or not.

For more details or to buy, click here.

Rating: 4/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Cover of Poop for Breakfast with various animals around a kitchen table with pile of poop on a plate

Poop for Breakfast: Why Some Animals Eat It 

by Sara Levine (Author), Florence Weiser (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Millbrook Press β„’. 2023. Grades 1-4. Hardcover Narrative Nonfiction Picture Book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1728457963.

Brief summary: Young readers will learn about why some animals eat feces. One can read a simple narrative or include a more correlating detailed description as the story continues teaching readers everything they need to know, including the correct terminology of why animals eat poop.

Well, I learned a lot from reading this book and recommend it to children and adults who desire to learn more about this topic, which was done in a very tasteful manner (excuse the pun).

The back sections include The Scoop on Poop, Be a Book Detective, By Any Other Name, and Further Reading.

For more details or to buy, click here.

Rating: 4/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Jumper: A Day in the Life of a Backyard Jumping Spider 

by Jessica Lanan (Author, Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Roaring Brook Press . 2023. PreK-3. Hardcover Narrative Nonfiction Picture Book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1250810366.

Brief summary:  As soon as I open the book, I meet the main character as big as bean, Jumper, a jumping spider. Jumper is hungry and goes hunting for food in the family’s backyard. She jumps without worry as her silk is a safety line. Vibrations help the spider know if a predator or prey is nearby. Will Jumper ever find dinner, or will she become dinner?

Excellent back sections with more details about his spider, with close-ups illustrated by hand. A few other spiders are discussed, along with the life cycle of a jumping spider. There is a Glossary, Author’s Note, Finding and Identifying Spiders, and Resources sections.

This book begins and ends on the paste-down end pages. There is a fold-out demonstrating how a spider sees with eight eyes.

This book asks readers questions to pause and reflect upon the spider’s life. Dialogic reading.

For more details or to buy, click here.

Rating: 5/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

The Forest Keeper– The True Story of Jadav Payeng 

by Rina Singh (Author), Ishita Jain (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž NorthSouth Books. 2023. PreK-3. Hardcover Narrative Nonfiction Biography Picture Book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-0735845053.

Brief summary: Jadav Payeng, a tribal boy living in India, went to the elders in 1979 when the Brahmaputra River took large parts of the islands’ land mass away when it flooded. He wanted them to help him plant trees on an island called Majuli to help prevent the island from disappearing.

The forest department gave him bamboo seedlings and told him to plant the forest himself. So, he did. Has the past thirty years of his hard work helped the area and animals?

The front and end pages give more details about this passionate individual whose hard work and dedication completely changed Mujuli Island and the Molai Forest(named after him). It can take just one person to make a significant impact in a positive way.

For more details or to buy, click here.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

Nobody Likes Frogs: A Book of Toadally Fun Facts 

by Barbara Davis-Pyles (Author), Liz Wong (Illustrator). Publisher ‏ : β€Ž Little Bigfoot. 2023. PreK-2. Hardcover Narrative Nonfiction Picture Book. ISBN-13 ‏ : β€Ž 978-1632173355.

Brief summary: A turtle narrates how much it does not like frogs while learning all about them as the story progresses. Does the turtle have a change of heart? Will the reader?

The back sections are Frog Facts and Be Somebody Who Likes Frogs by Helping Them!. The pasted-down end pages are full of different types of frogs.

This is a general book about frogs. I learned that frogs can live as long as twenty years.

For more details or to buy, click here.

Rating: 3/5 πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—

*(This content contains Amazon affiliate links. When you buy through these links, I may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you).