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The annual Newbery and Caldecott awards were recently announced. Here are the award winners for best books geared for kids ages ten through fourteen:  Medal winner: “Hello, Universe” by Kelly. Three Honor books: “Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut” by Barnes, “Long Way Down” by Reynolds, “Piecing Me Together” by Watson. The Caldecott awards are for the best picture books geared for younger children. The Medal winner: “Wolf in the Snow” by Cordell. Four Honor books are: “Big Cat, Little Cat” by Cooper, “Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut” by Barnes, (I’ve never seen this done before with the same book winning in both the Newbery and Caldecott divisions), “A Different Pond”illustrated by Bui, and written by Phi, “Grand Canyon” by Chin.

Baby books can be one of the best ways to settle down little ones, perk their interest and begin to lengthen their attention spansBut what I like best about these types of books is that by reading and pointing out pictures to babies, even newborns, there is a strong bond that builds between parent and child during this important time. I want to point out that making and keeping a scheduled time to read to little ones is another important criterionbecause it indicates that it’s time for sleep, or quiet time. Selecting simple, bright and colorful board books will help keep your baby’s attention and eyes focused on each page. The first three books below are good for newborns and babies. The rest are perfect for toddler age children.

Bedtime Bunnies, by Wendy Watson, is a padded board book with a simple message and a matching minimal amount of words. It’s time for this family of five little bunnies to come inside after playing outside. Mom and dad begin the nighttime ritual of dinner, bath, and, of course, reading as these cute little bunnies gather around the couch as dad reads. The few words found on each open spread are onomatopoeic and immediately describe the scene.The watercolor used outside and inside their hollow tree, showcase soft hues of orange, yellow and brown throughout. 

Hush a Bye, Baby is part of a new series called “New Books for Newborns”. This book is by Alyssa Satin Capucilli and is illustrated by Shahrzad Maydani. The text is lilting with a simple rhyme that will soothe baby. There’s almost a singsong effect that begs the reader to put a little tune to the text. The pictures are painted on both sides of the open book and imbue a tenderness that the very young will understand.

Gobble Goat and Portly Pig, by Axel Scheffler, are the newest editions of the “Farm Friends Sound Book” series. These delightful books immediately capture the attention of little ones because of the large button found on the cover. As you read about the pig or goat and their adventures on the farm, little ones can push the button to hear the sound of the animal on every page. There are also two other books in this series with the same format: “Cuddly Cow” and “Higgly Hen”. Each farm animal is painted brightly with an open page scene of their home on the farm.

Hug Machine, by Scott Campbell, has a young boy who loves to give hugs to all who need a hug. He hugs crying babies, large bears, small turtles, people and kids and by the end of the day this hugging machine is worn out. But someone at his home buoys him with a nice warm hug regenerating his hugging machine. The watercolor depiction of him and all that he hugs takes on a cartoonish effect bringing smiles to readers – and most likely hugs.

Walk and See A B C, by Rosalind Beardshaw, is a learning book about letters and nature. Two young children notice the world around them as they walk along the countryside. “I is for ivy. J is for jacket.” “O is for owl. P is for puddle.” The open page scene is rich in color with a real sense of the beauty outside.

Peep and Ducky: Rainy Day, by David Martin, and painted with mixed media by David Walker, is a strong male story about very good friends who love to play and who have great imaginations.  These little friends (Peep is a tiny bird and Ducky is a yellow duck) decide to go out into the rain with their umbrella. But after a mishap, they quickly change their minds and head back inside. This is the second book in a planned series about these two friends.

Animals (Make it Now!) and Princesses (Make it Now!), by Geraldine Cosneau, is a new series with five large animals or princesses to press out of five different pages along with a stand and other scenery and a page full of embellished stickers to help decorate the figures. Each figure is the length of the cardboard page and is ready to color and press out. The greatest advantage of this kind of a book is it encourages creativity as youngsters will desire to make up stories once they’ve pressed out the objects.

Good Night, Curious Georgeby Margret & H. A. Rey, is a padded board book featuring touch and feel found throughout. Mischievous George is ready to settle down for the night and he’s ready for a snack. The bananas have a sticky feel and the text has a delightful rhyme. “A bedtime snack  not too sweet. / Two more bites, then brush your teeth.” This is the perfect quick read just before sleep.

When Your Llama Needs a Haircut, by Susanna Leonard Hill, and painted with a cartoon-style effect by Daniel Wiseman, is a hilarious read and perfect for little ones who get tired of mom or dad continually taking their picture. It’s time for a picture but Llama’s hair is a complete mess.  Time

to wash and cut it.  But then you’ll need to figure out which style is best. Between the pictures and storylines, there are sure to be many giggles throughout.

Open Very Carefully: A Book with Biteby Nick Bromley, and uniquely illustrated by Nicola O’Bryne, starts out with retelling the story of the Ugly Duckling. But suddenly the book is invaded by a very hungry alligator. The little duckling, who is telling the story, and intervenes throughout, exclaims “Wait a minute! What’s that?” He’s pointing to the long green tail of the alligator that can just barely be seen. And so, the story goes as this alligator takes over the story and even begins to gobble up letters. This is one of those books that is so fun to read aloud and will engage and tickle all who are within hearing it! This book is a true delight!