Father’s Day will soon be here and so will the first day of summer.  I have collected several outstanding picture books to celebrate both occasions. All of these books are good for ages four through eight unless otherwise indicated.

From Me to You, by Anthony Bertini, and gorgeously painted with earth tones using pencil and watercolor by Jonathan Bentley, is a beautiful tribute to the relationship between father and child.  Each open page showcases an intricately drawn scene with the activities of father and child as they grow together through this season.  The simple yet powerful text emulates the tremendous love of father as he regards his child on the turn of every page. On the page where the father is showing his child how to climb a tree you read, “You will fail many times. But you will overcome disappointment. Your scars will heal. You will learn to jump high”.

My Daddy and Me, by Linda Ashman, and brightly illustrated by Jane Massey, is another nice tribute to the sweet and strong bonding relationship between father and child.  This board book has a sweet simple rhyming text and it takes you through the day of a young child and father.  However, with the turn of every page, you see a different father and child of different ethnicities.  The first father begins the day with picking his child up from the crib. The last page has daddy putting the youngster to bed.  “Sweet dreams. Sleep tight. Love you morning, noon, and night”.

I Don’t Like Rain, by Sarah Dillard, is a brilliant digitally colored book with a double page spread at the turn of each page.  A little rabbit is enjoying the sunshine and asks which other critters would like to play with him in the forest.  Soon you see other animals peek around trees and answer, “I Do!”  But, sadly, the clouds quickly cover the sky and it begins to rain.  As the animals scamper away, he states, “I like rain”.  The rain starts slow but soon it’s a downpour and now his disposition has changed.  But there is so much to enjoy with rain that he and his friends soon discover.  And so will you.  The clever display of rain throughout emits the sensation of a rainstorm.  One page, in particular, when the rabbit is in the height of the storm, tiny words of drip fill the open page.

In a Garden, by Tim McCanna, and painted with vivid colors using watercolor, ink, charcoal and photoshop by Aimee Sicuro, is a wonderful celebration of everything that has to do with gardens.  In this simple rhyming text there is much to learn and be amazed by the miracle of gardens.  From seeds to sprouts as flowers and plants begin to grow you see worms and ladybugs help the soil as the garden grows.  This beautiful book actually takes you through the seasons as the garden lies dormant in winter only to begin to grow again once seeds are planted.  There is a nice bonus feature found at the back of the book about ecosystems and the importance of our relationship with plants and bugs.

Thank You, Garden, by Liz Garton Scanlon, and gloriously painted using acrylic paint, watercolor, and Photoshop by Simone Shin, is a rhyming tale about creating and growing a community garden inside a city. The community building this horticultural site isn’t just about the families involved but also the tiny critters that help loosen and cultivate the earth.  The double page illustrations create the activities that are taking place and the thrill of the end result when plants are ready to eat.  This book demonstrates that plentiful gardens can grow even in a big city.

A Way With Wild Things, by Larissa Theule, and brightly illustrated using cut paper, acrylic paints and Photoshop by Sara Palacios, has a little nature lover, Poppy, enjoying the life of many little livings surrounding her.  She spends her days enjoying the sights of roly poly’s, sounds of cicadas and the smells of summer flowers everywhere.  She feels more comfortable around nature than people until her grandma’s 100th birthday.  A unique thing happens right in front of all the guests and Poppy discovers something special about herself!  The open-page spreads are beautiful and bright – and so is the story.

The Little Blue Cottage, by Kelly Jordan, and artfully illustrated digitally by Jessica Courtney-Tickle, is a sweet story about a young girl whose family visits the same beach house every summer.  The little girl loves her view of the ocean outside her window where “gray dolphins dove” and “white seagulls sang”.  When one summer the girl didn’t return, the little cottage waited and longed for her return.  This beautiful story hails back to the classic The Little House, by Virginia Lee Burton.  This book could easily become a classic as well, and is perfect for all ages to enjoy!

Green on Green, by Dianne White, and illustrated with watercolor, gouache and colored pencils by Felicita Sala, is a perfect book celebrating the magic and majesty of the changing season.  The simple rhyming tale tells the story succinctly, yet with the beauty of each season.  As you move to a new season, there is a wordless page setting the stage for what’s to come.  Every scene is a full open-spread view giving a sense of the feel of the season’s temperature.  Be sure to check out the end-pages which demonstrate the same tree in each season.  Several years ago, this author published the lovely Blue on Blue but with a different illustrator.

Dusk Explorers, by Lindsay Leslie, and splendidly illustrated using mixed media collage using paint, pages, pencil and digital media by Ellen Rooney, brightly illuminates the essence of a childhood summer. As the day stretches out and the sun begins to slant on the horizon, kids of all ages begin to gather and play games and explore and enjoy.  These explorers make the most of a summer day before hearing the warning signal of mom yelling from home that it’s “TIME TO COME HOME!”  Be sure to check out the lightning bugs that seem to jump off the book’s jacket. This book is good for all ages to enjoy!