Summer is winding down so why not soak up what’s left of it with perfect picture books?   All of these are picture books and are good for ages three through seven, unless otherwise indicated.

Blue Ridge Babies 1, 2, 3: A Counting Book, by Laura Sperry Gardner, and gorgeously illustrated with full open-page spreads by Stephanie Fizer Coleman, is a bountiful look into the Appalachian Mountains and the animals living there by counting each as you turn the pages.  There is so much to learn and even sing about as the wondrous text fits lyrically to a traditional poem written by Olive A. Wadsworth with music found at the back of the book.

Ducks on the Road: A Counting Adventure, by Anita Lobel, is a summertime counting book rich with animals of the season.  It’s also a counting book as Mama and Papa lead their ten baby ducklings past bushy trees, blooming flowers, and white picket fences as they travel on a barren road.  The repetitive text is catchy, and with sing-song rhythm, making it good for new readers.  The art is bright and beautiful made in gouache and colored pencil.  Mama and Papa are in for a surprise at story’s end.

My Nana’s Garden,by Dawn Casey, and beautifully painted with watercolor and digital media by Jessica Courtney-Tickle, glows with life from the plants that grow in Nana’s precious garden as well as the life that visits the garden both small and large.  The rhyming couplets are simple yet full of meaning as you watch a young girl, with her mother, visit her Nana through the seasons.  Watching the changes that take place, and seeing that Nana is no longer there, spring hope eternal when new life bursts through.

Blueberry Cake, by Sarah Dillard, is a simple tale enriched with the sweet renderings of lovingly reminders. A young bear asks his mother for blueberry cake, but mother lets him know there are no blueberries.  They need to be picked from off the side of the mountain.  When he happily sets off and finds the mountainside filled with wild blueberries, he begins to fill his bucket.  What happens when he is distracted is what makes this story so powerful.  The brightly illustrated pictures were done digitally, and the only words found in the text are Blueberries and Blueberry cake!  Be sure to check out the recipe found at the back of the book.

The Bruce Swap, by Ryan T. Higgins, is the latest edition to Higgins’ other funny books.  Bruce is a big blueish bear who doesn’t ever desire to do fun activities.  When he leaves his little mouse and geese family to go fishing alone, they are suddenly visited by another bear who has the same appearance as Bruce only this bear is a fun-loving party kind of bear.  What takes place in Bruce’s house and beyond is hilarious. When Bruce arrives back home, there is great relief and appreciation in his somber ways.  The illustrations were created by using scans of treated clay board for textures, graphite, ink and Photoshop.  Be sure to check out the front and back end-pages!

Explore! America’s National Parks, by Krista Langlois, and brightly and intricately illustrated by Hannah Bailey, is a kid-friendly information book filled with pictures on every page indicating and educating all ages of the many beautiful and unique landscapes of our gorgeous national parks.  The book is broken up in areas of the country, such as West Coast, Rocky Mountains and Tropics.  The text is limited but packed with pictures labeling animals and locations.

Hello, Rain!, by Kyo Maclear, and wonderfully illustrated digitally by Chris Turnham, opens with the ominous feeling of rain.  The air is full of waiting. / The sky is full of breeze. / All before it rains.  Then, as you hear the roar of thunder, the rain begins to fall.  This magnificent tribute to summer rain is filled with poetic onomatopoeia, alliteration, and the imagery of leaves blowing, falling and becoming soaked.  And just as quickly, the rain stops leaving clean glistening land.

Bruno the Beekeeper: A Honey Primer, by Anita Frantiska Holasova, is a most amazing book good for all ages that is filled with information about these important insects, their metamorphosis, their beehives, beeswax, beekeeping and much, much more.  The story is built around Bruno, who is a bear, and his love of honey.  The charming earth tones of color throughout were painted with watercolor.  There is even a recipe found at the back of the book for honey-made gingerbread cookies.

The Little Butterfly That Could, by Ross Burach, has the strong message throughout of not giving up! The challenge of this lost butterfly showcases to kids that persistence pays off!  The storyline is hilarious, and the vivid pictures practically jump off the page.  The art was created with pencil, crayon, acrylic paint, and digital coloring.  The author does a terrific job conveying persistence throughout his many picture books.  This latest is a companion to The Very Impatient Caterpillar.

Look What I Found in the Woods, by Moira Butterfield, and brightly illustrated digitally by Jesus Verona, is a story about three children as they explore the forest.  As they investigate all that they see and discover, the book is actually filled with kid-friendly information about different shapes of trees, types of bark, names of leaves and much more.  There are search-and-find questions throughout making this a fun activity and an educational book.

Bicycle Bash, by Alison Farrell, is filled with animals of every shape and color riding every shape and color of bicycle. This wondrous book is a search and find as you follow Etta, and her father, on their bikes as they ride two hours to Cycle City where they’re headed to the Bicycle Museum.  Once there, everyone gets to ride their bikes inside.  There’s a surprise waiting at the end of the book for Etta.  This colorful and richly detailed book was rendered in gouache and mixed media.  This book is perfect on a road trip for ages up to nine.