Under the Stars: 10 Spectacular New Picture Books


Do you know how to find the kids’ books at Parnassus? It’s easy: Just follow the stars! Under our twinkly lights, you’ll find a carefully selected assortment of the best in classic and contemporary books for all ages. This summer, we’re highlighting some of the latest and greatest, hand-picked by Stephanie Appell, our manager of books for young readers. We’ll start here with picture books. Stephanie recommends:

Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever 

By Mem Fox, Judy Horacek (Illustrator)

Yes, I know this one’s not a picture book. But if I could put one book into the hands of every grown-up, it would be this one. If I could figure out a way to send this home from the hospital with babies, I would. Fox, who is a literacy expert in addition to her “day job” as a fantastic picture book author, writes earnestly about the importance of reading with our children — and then gives us the tools we need to do it well.

OK, now for the picture books:

One Family 

By George Shannon, Blanca Gomez (Illustrator)
Blanca Gomez’s cut-paper illustrations accompany a gently rhythmic, cumulative text that reminds us families come in all sizes. Simple, spare, and sweet.

Ice Cream Summer 

A boy writes to his grandfather about how his summer is going, but Sis’s playful, intricate illustrations betray that he’s primarily been preoccupied with ice cream. Keep a spoon handy for this delectable treat.

See You Next Year

By Andrew Larsen, Todd Stewart (Illustrator)
“We’ve been coming to the same place every summer since I was little. Nothing changes. That’s why I like it.” A quiet love letter to one girl’s annual trip to the beach.

My Dog Is the Best

Just try not to smile at Paul Schmid’s pudgy pencilled pictures of a boy and his faithful canine companion. This is possibly the most adorable book of the year.

One Word from Sophia 

By Jim Averbeck, Yasmeen Ismail (Illustrator)
Sophia would really like a pet giraffe for her birthday. In a series of hilarious interactions, she presents her case to each member of her family, but her efforts prove in vain until she realizes the one word that might persuade them. A great reminder that sometimes less is more.

To the Sea

By Cale Atkinson, Cale Atkinson (Illustrator)
I love everything about this picture book: Its turquoise-with-pops-of-orange color palette, its incredible use of space, and its whale-sized heart. My new favorite picture book about the power of friendship to change our lives.

Yard Sale 

By Eve Bunting, Lauren Castillo (Illustrator)
Castillo won a well-deserved Caldecott Honor for Nana In the City (sharp-eyed readers will spot Nana’s cameo appearance here). She returns to illustrate this story about a little girl whose family is in transition discovering what matters most.

Touch the Brightest Star

Littlest readers will love being invited to interact with Matheson’s soft night time illustrations. There are lots of great surprises built into each page turn, and the rhymes here are just right — comforting and never forced. This one is perfect for bedtime.

My Pen

Elegant black and white illustrations explode with the power of imagination. This one’s for doodlers, scribblers, and anyone with an artist inside them.


By David Miles, Natalie Hoopes (Illustrator)
In our exciting new digital times, an old-fashioned ode to the enduring power and appeal of the printed and illustrated word. Hoopes’ illustrations lovingly evoke the magical experience of escaping through a book into the imagination.
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Next week, we’ll take a look at 10 awesome books for elementary and middle schoolers. Make sure you’re subscribed to MUSING, so you don’t miss a thing!