Five New Picture Books That Won't Ruin Your Kids

Have I mentioned that I do not like sassy, disobedient picture books? I have? Well, let me say it again: I doanlikum.

Sometimes a trip to the library can feel like I'm slashing through a jungle of fart jokes and hating the new baby and running away from home so dad can learn his lesson, just to try to find those few gems. It's tough. But I think it's worth it. Because there are GREAT new books out there -- books with extraordinary design and illustration and wit that you can't find in the lovely and charming old-timey books that many of us resign ourselves to, because we just don't trust the new stuff.

I wrote this post a few months back, highlighting eight new books that I think get it right on all platforms: modern and appealing story, great to look at, and a message I want to present to my kids.

Well, here are five more books to add to that list (all links go to Amazon, if you buy something there they will send me literally dozens of cents and I will spend it very wisely):

The Tooth Mouse: So it turns out that in France they do not have a tooth fairy, they have a tooth mouse. Seriously, France? That's just silly. But this book is just lovely. The pencil and watercolor illustrations are soothing yet engaging. The plot centers around a young mouse who must prove herself to be "brave, honest and, above all, wise." And the mice all live in Notre Dame Cathedral . . . for the win.

Up and Down: I recommended another Oliver Jeffers book in my other post. I am a big, big fan of his quirky illustrations and utterly absurdist and mostly adult-free worlds. In this one a boy and his penguin discover just how important their friendship is. And also they play backgammon.

Papa's Mechanical Fish: This book is based on the crazy TRUE story of a father who took his family for a ride in a homemade submarine in lake Michigan in 1851. It's a story of family love and support, and of the perseverance of an admirable father character (those guys are hard to come by, at least in fiction). I'm a little disappointed in the illustrations. They do not capture this Victorian gadgetry in the steampunky way it just begs for, but it's still a great story with a nice message.

Willoughby & the Moon: The most striking feature of this book are its pixelated, photo-realistic/doodle illustrations in black, white, and metallic silver. They are truly original. The story is very original as well, and explores the idea that each of us has to be brave in the face of our own particular fears. And I don't know why, but I kind of loved that the biggest issue of the book is left unresolved.

Oliver: I think this has just surpassed Tails as my all time favorite board book. It combines stark, clean, modern illustrations with sparse, clever, simple text, and a mind-blowing magic trick at the end. The back of the book shows an open egg shell and the line (. . . Because miracles happen.) which makes me want to dance with joy. This book would make a great gift for a new baby or a first birthday, but even my eleven-year-old was transfixed by the magic trick.

So, what I have I missed? Have you found any books published within the last two to three years that want to entertain AND edify your little ones?

These are MY new favorites. And since there just happen to be five of them, I'm linking up with Hallie of Moxie Wife for Five Favorites. And since they also happen to be What We're Reading (and it's Wednesday), I'm linking up with Jessica of Housewifespice as well.

We're back in LA after a wonderful summer and a blessedly uneventful flight home. Now I just need to get our school year sorted this week and get to it. Because when I counted back the weeks from Thanksgiving (when new baby is due and I had hoped to be done with the first semester) I realized that I would have needed to start . . . two weeks ago. Oops. But we can always double up a couple of weeks, or just do some school with a baby. Somehow it will work out.

Happy Wednesday everyone!