WHAT COLOR IS NIGHT?
By Grant Snider
“Look closer,” this gentle bedtime book encourages. While nighttime might seem to be only black and white, there is color to see everywhere: from “yellow headlights on a dark country road,” to “one last orange window,” to the “pink and purple clouds” in a child’s dream. Snider’s thick and loose ink lines, filled in with digital color, create a saturated and dreamy nighttime effect. An orthodontist by day and a cartoonist by night, he clearly understands the promise that lies on the other side of sunset.
32 pp. Chronicle. $15.99. (Ages 4 to 8.)
HERE AND NOW
By Julia Denos.
Illustrated by E.B. Goodale.
Being in the moment — also known as mindfulness — is a useful concept for today’s frazzled, overscheduled kids. But it’s best conveyed without those adult-friendly buzzwords, as in this lovely and profound second collaboration (after “Windows”) from Denos and Goodale. It starts with the inarguable statement “Right here, right now, you are reading this book.” The pages move outward to call attention to other events occurring elsewhere: ants building, ideas forming, animals living and breathing. One breathtaking spread shows an airplane carrying people, other people sitting in a field, and earthworms, fossils and rocks below ground.
40 pp. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. $17.99. (Ages 4 to 8.)
By Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie.
Illustrated by Ashleigh Corrin.
“What is happiness to you?” That query drives this marvelous debut, a poetic accounting of the elements that make up childhood fulfillment, narrated by a girl named Layla. Her answers: climbing a tree, listening to her dad tell stories, watching her friend Juan’s parents dance salsa in their garden, visiting the beach and finding a sand dollar. With Corrin’s layered, whimsical illustrations, each page is a snapshot of a simple moment that adds up to an abundant life, urban yet very much in tune with nature. The effect is both laid back and meaningful — an invitation to answer for yourself.
40 pp. Enchanted Lion. $17.95. (Ages 4 to 8.)
LITTLE LIBRARIES, BIG HEROES
By Miranda Paul.
Illustrated by John Parra.
This history of the Little Free Library movement emphasizes the hurdles faced by Todd Bol, an “ordinary” person who created the concept after the death of his mother, a teacher who loved reading: He struggled in school, and at first the wooden structures full of free books did not catch on. Parra’s (“Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos”) friendly, bustling illustrations convey the power of a truly unifying and useful idea.
40 pp. Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. $17.99. (Ages 4 to 8.)
ANXIOUS CHARLIE TO THE RESCUE
By Terry Milne
Inspired by Milne’s daughter’s struggle with anxiety and repetitive behaviors, this charming tale features a habit-bound dachshund, called upon to rescue a friend stuck in a pipe. His success makes him so happy, he dares to vary his routine — just a little. Little ones controlled by worries may find a ray of light in this pup’s (wisely) small victory.
32 pp. Candlewick. $16.99. (Ages 4 to 8.)
By Tami Charles.
Illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara.
Haitians ring in the New Year with Freedom Soup, which dates back to the Haitian Revolution. Charles’s narrator makes the “pumpkiny-garlic” soup with her grandmother, singing and dancing as she learns the history: It’s eaten to celebrate “the end of slavery” and “the start of freedom.” Jazzy illustrations and a recipe add warmth and depth.
32 pp. Candlewick. $16.99. (Ages 5 to 9.)
WHAT IS A REFUGEE?
By Elise Gravel
Any child exposed to the news these days may wonder about refugees, and a picture book is a great way to learn about them. Gravel’s bubbly, cartoon-style art and plain-spoken explanations help soften the truth’s harsh edges — starting with the fact that they “had to flee their country because they were in danger.” The whole package makes it easy to empathize, conveying gently that “a refugee is a person, just like you and me.”
32 pp. Schwartz & Wade. $17.99. (Ages 5 to 8.)