“Lion of the Sky: Haiku for All Seasons” by Laura Purdie Salas, illustrated by Mercè López (Millbrook Press, $19.99.)
With her poet’s eye, Laura Purdie Salas sees flowers that bloom only when it rains. She sees “wriggling tubes,” that fear robins; she feels “cold confetti” falling on her in the winter. Her exuberant haiku-riddles are a celebration of seasons, describing but never naming. What flowers bloom in the rain? With the subtle help of Mercè López’s soft acrylic illustrations, children will happily shout out the answer: Umbrellas!
“Monkey Time” written and illustrated by Michael Hall (Greenwillow, $17.99.)
The Minutes — tiny, round orange and gold creatures — fly past, and Monkey tries but can’t catch any of them. “We are lightning fast, and you are a slowpoke, Monkey,” they taunt. In his tree, with creatures of the rain forest all around, Monkey does his best to get the best of time. Michael Hall’s collages of painted and cut paper are color-saturated and lively.
“Isle of You” by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Jaime Kim. (Candlewick, $16.99.)
Even little children have bad days, and in “Isle of You” the brown-haired child finds the cure: a dreamy ocean cruise to an island paradise, with spangly clothes, dancing bears, pink cupcakes, birds big enough to fly on, and new friends galore. Jaime Kim’s watercolors are soothing and magical, awash in pinks and purples.
“The Lost Forest” by Phyllis Root, illustrated by Betsy Bowen. (University of Minnesota Press, $17.95.)
The powerhouse duo of Betsy Bowen and Phyllis Root team up again, writing about nature and science in a gorgeous and accessible way. “The Lost Forest” is the true story of a 144-acre stand of old-growth pines in northern Minnesota that was mistakenly marked on maps as a lake and so was never logged. How did this happen? What lives there? What does the ancient forest look like? And what happened to it? “If you have ever walked through the woods you know the land doesn’t care about straight lines,” Root writes in words so carefully chosen, so image-rich, that they are almost poetry. Bowen’s rich acrylic paintings bring the fascinating story to life. An afterword, illustrated by Bowen’s drawings and old photographs, goes deeper into the history and the terminology.
“A Piglet Named Mercy” by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen. (Candlewick, $18.99.)
If you’ve ever wondered how a pig came to live with Mr. and Mrs. Watson in their house on Deckawoo Drive (“an ordinary street in an ordinary town”), Kate DiCamillo has provided us with a cheery answer to your questions. Mercy — “someone very small and not at all ordinary” — fell from the back of a pig truck (helpfully labeled, “Caution: Pigs!”) and made her way to the Watson house in the dead of night. How she got her name, how she developed her fondness for buttered toast, how she won their affection — it’s all here in this simple tale, illustrated in bright primary colors by Chris Van Dusen.
“Croc & Turtle! The Bestest Friends Ever!” written and illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka. (Bloomsbury, $17.99.)
Boastful Croc wants to be the best at everything, and his true friend Turtle is right there, supporting him, as Croc strains to lift the heaviest rock (Elephant simply flicks the rock away) and throws himself over the biggest obstacles (Rabbit jumps higher, with ease). And then Croc challenges the speedy Cheetah to a race. This funny story reminds us that everybody is good at something, though hardly anyone is good at everything.
“It’s Milking Time” by Phyllis Alsdurf, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. (Minnesota Historical Society Press, $16.95.)
A little girl races down the dusty path to help her father with the milking in this evocative tale of farm life. “I lean against a dusty windowsill and see sunlight setting on a field of corn,” Phyllis Alsdurf writes. “The air is hot, heavy. Overhead a fan whirs.” Alsdurf’s story, coupled with the soothing illustrations by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, celebrates the human-animal connection and the virtue of hard work.
The author will sign books during Dairy Days at the Oliver Kelley Farm in Elk River, June 22-23.
“Bim, Bam, Bop … and Oona” by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Larry Day. (University of Minnesota Press, $16.95.)
Perhaps like this book’s tiny readers, Oona the duck is smaller and slower than her friends. She’s never the first to the pond, “never got the best spot under the willow tree.” But with some encouragement from Roy the frog and a little ingenuity, Oona figures out how to create a spectacular way to get to the pond before Bim, Bam and Bop.
“The Forever Sky” by Thomas Peacock, illustrated by Annette S. Lee. (Minnesota Historical Society Press, $16.95.)
Two young Ojibway boys love their grandmother, Nooko, with a love “as big as the whole sky.” After her death, the brothers lie in the meadow and look up at the night sky and spin stories about the Northern Lights, the stars, and their ancestors. This poignant tale — beautifully illustrated with paintings that shimmer and glow — celebrates family, the power of myth, and the importance of the connections of generations.
“Wild Baby” written and illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld. (Harper, $17.99.)
When a monkey baby takes off into the jungle, it sees adventure everywhere — but its mama worries. “Wild jump. Wild free. ‘Wild baby, wait for me!’ ” writes author/illustrator Cori Doerrfeld. The baby swings on vines, inspects bird eggs, chases bats and butterflies and has the time of its life. But worried mama follows close, and trouble stalks the pages in the ominous form of a leopard. Doerrfeld’s story is told through lively illustrations, limited words and repetition, suitable for the very youngest reader.