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Culture Children's Books

Pictures and poetry

Children's Books

Pictures and poetry

Four recent picture books

The Horse’s Haiku

Michael J. Rosen

Luminous watercolor and pencil illustrations complement this wonderful collection of horse haiku. Young poets and horse lovers will appreciate how the haiku capture fleeting moments: “snowfall whitens all / but two darks: unfrozen stream / and horses huddled.” The poems show the value of close observation: “the wither’s quick twitch / flicks off the biting horsefly / but just this instant.” Some capture the feel of riding: “that sweet instant when / trotting’s bounce and rumble smooths / into canter’s glide.” Others focus on sensory detail: “above the muffled / clip-clop of dry hooves, the rain’s / first pitter-patter.” (Ages 6-12)

Friends Stick Together

Hannah Harrison

In this story illustrating “symbiosis,” Rupert, a sweater-vest and bow-tie-wearing rhinoceros, loves reading, classical music, and cucumber sandwiches (crust removed). Levi the tickbird loves making armpit farts and popping wheelies. He’s also the new kid at school who immediately latches on to Rupert. Delightful pictures depict noisy Levi driving poor Rupert crazy. Finally the rhino complains, “Making friends was hard before. But now, it’s pretty much impossible.” He just wants to be alone. He soon discovers that life without Levi is quiet but boring—and what he really wants is a friend. (Ages 4-6)

Hello, Baby Animals

Lorinda Bryan Cauley

“Who has tall, spotted legs, and a long, curvy tongue?” With those words this guessing book begins. The illustrations show two legs and a partial head of the mystery critter. On the next page: “Hello, baby giraffe.” Very young children will enjoy guessing the identities of baby hedgehog, tiger, rabbit, duck, and elephant. Author and illustrator Cauley uses a pastel palette and dresses her baby animals in assorted tops, with flowers or caps on their heads. The snuggly animals, sweet clothing, flowers and butterflies, and abundance of pink give the book a girly feel. (Ages 2-4)

Copy Cat

Ali Pye

Bella loves to copy Anna. It doesn’t matter if they are playing ballerina, pirate, or princess. One day Anna has had enough: Off she goes, “all huffy-puffy, to play princess by herself.” For a while Bella doesn’t know what to do. Then she finds a jump-rope. She practices and becomes good at it. Another friend, Chloe, sees Bella jumping. She wants to learn, so she practices and becomes good at it. Finally, Anna gets tired of playing alone. She sees her friends jumping and joins in the fun. This simple story teaches children about friendship and weathering disagreements. (Ages 4-6)



In Saturday Is Swimming Day (Candlewick, 2018), author and illustrator Hyewon Yum captures the trepidation children often feel about learning to swim. The first week, the book’s protagonist wakes up with a stomachache. Since she has no fever, her mom makes her go to her swimming lesson. Colored-pencil and watercolor illustrations depict the child as she reluctantly changes into her swimsuit and stands off to the side. Although she still has a stomachache the next week, she lets the teacher hold her in the water as she does “ice-cream scoops and kicks.”

By the end of the book, she’s wearing a new bathing cap and floating on her back with the other children. The illustrations depict ethnically and racially diverse characters and capture through body language the pains and joys of overcoming the fear of water. —S.O.