The Latest Picture Books in Our Spring Reading Basket

Although it's the middle of spring, it seems as though we've hit a slump here in New York where the chilly, wet weather is back and just doesn't want to part ways. Although there haven't been as many "play outside" days as of lately, we try not to let it get us down. After all, the warm weather can't hide forever!

Thank goodness we're all about spending time snuggling on the couch and getting in a few good books, especially on those cold and dreary days. We've recently added three new picture books to our spring reading basket that I couldn't wait to share. Each book is different in its own way, but all of them are quite special!

A stunning ode to stories and the seaside, this picture book invites readers to imagine the ocean of possibility that lives in every small or forgotten treasure.

Sea Glass Summer is just the perfect book to welcome in the upcoming summer season! The story follows around a young boy named Thomas during his summer vacation at his grandmother's island cottage. One day Thomas' grandmother hands down a magnifying glass that was once owned by his late grandfather. During their explorations on the beach, they soon discover a piece of sea glass. Thomas hadn't been familiar with sea glass, before, but he was quite intrigued after his grandmother showed him what it was and how it came to be. She then echoes his grandfather's words, "...each piece of sea glass has a story of its own."

That summer becomes an adventure as Thomas embarks on a treasure hunt each day–combing the shores for more sea glass. Each night, Thomas vividly dreams up stories of where each piece of sea glass may have derived from. As the tale progresses, so does the timeframe, which eventually spans through multiple generations. The end of the book takes an unexpected turn (I won't give anything away here). It really helps bring the entire story together, encompassing the overall theme about the true wonder and mystery of how each piece of sea glass came to be. It's difficult to pick which part of the story was our favorite; it was probably a toss up between the interesting "sea glass" dreams that Thomas had each night and the special ending to the story. 

When Bear’s favorite book of stories falls apart, he is determined to write one of his own. He ventures into the forest for inspiration, but writing is harder than he thinks, and he soon discovers that he needs help from his friends.

Perfect for younger readers, Bear's Book follows around the protagonist, Bear, who is an avid reader. In fact, it's his most favorite thing to do. The problem is, he loves to read his book of stories so much, and now it is beginning to fall apart. Bear decides that he is going to write his own story to replace his tattered book. From previous stories in his old book, he knows that each one has an exciting beginning, a dramatic middle, and a happy-ever-after ending. 

Unfortunately, Bear has a bit of writer's block. He heads out to take a break with the hopes that his creative juices will start flowing. Instead, he encounters nothing, but adventure as he comes to the aid of a couple of old friends and a few new ones, too. Bear doesn't think twice about helping each one of them. His thoughtful actions don't go unappreciated, but there is one issue after all is said and done, he still doesn't have any ideas for his new story. As he heads back home for a snack, he sits and ponders the day's occurrences and then it soon dawns on him, "Maybe all good ideas start with adventures!" After all, he has sure had his share of them earlier that day. 

The story is a tribute to friendship–Bear helps his friends; they soon offer the same in return. One of the really cool features in this book, and one that we especially love, is the extra fold-out section. This is supposed to be Bear's finished book that was inspired by the day he had helping his friends. It's like getting two different stories in one book! This is a really fun story and has even inspired us to come up with our own story adventures, starring Bear and his friends.

A young French soldier named Pierre had quietly left his regiment to visit his family for two days, and when he returned, he was imprisoned. Now he faces execution for desertion, and as he waits in isolation, he meditates on big questions: the nature of patriotism, the horrors of war, the joys of friendship, the love of family, and how even in times of danger, there is a whole world inside every one of us.

The Good Son has a more sober tone to it than the other two books that I've mentioned above, since it tells a story inspired by true events that is set back in World War I. This one is meant more for teens, ages fourteen and up, since it does include mature elements relating to war. I went ahead and decided to read this on my own, given the overall theme. I have to say, I was really moved by this book.

The main character is a French soldier named Pierre. He takes a risky move by deserting his regiment and visiting his mother for Christmas. He returns back in two days with the hopes that his punishment won't be too extreme, but soon discovers that his ultimate fate will not be as merciful as he had hoped for. The story then takes readers on a timeline journey, from the beginning of the war, up until that current moment. The narrative tells of Pierre's dreams of getting married and starting a family, as well as his special friendship with a comrade who had protected him during his time as a soldier. He then writes a letter to his mother letting her know what is happening, while also reminiscing of the short, yet memorable time he had with her during the recent Christmas holiday.

The story is definitely poetic. It has a way of really grabbing my emotions. While the main character is fictional, readers can imagine that events surrounding his life could have very well been possible during that point in history. What sets this book apart from other stories of its kind, are the illustrations. The author was also part of a military family, and always had a fondness for model toy soldiers. This was the inspiration for the imagery in the book. It's quite interesting really; he created and set up the model soldiers, then allowed them to actually tell the story. A lot of expertise in photography was used to capture the emotion throughout each page. It really is incredible!

If a child is able to understand the repercussions of war, this would be an exceptional book for them to read. It would also make a helpful resource for any unit study on World War I, and will help open the door to many additional conversations, thereafter.

To see the complete collection of picture books available from Candlewick Press, be sure to visit them online. You can also connect with them on social media to catch all of their latest updates.