Children’s Book Roundup: April 2021

  • April 26, 2021

Big new titles perfect for the littles.


With freeze warnings (mostly) over, it’s finally starting to feel like spring! With that in mind, here are three new titles that celebrate nature in all its glory. Share them with your kids after school, before bed, or — if those April showers have dried up — outdoors under your favorite tree.

How to Make a Bird by Meg McKinlay (author) and Matt Ottley (illustrator) (Candlewick). “To make a bird…you will need a lot of very tiny bones. They will be smaller than you might imagine, some so tiny they are barely there.” But once you’ve assembled all the parts — as a young girl does along the beach in this hypnotic, subtly powerful story — there’s one more thing you must do: Let it fly away. “And feel your slowly beating heart fill with a kind of sadness, a kind of happiness. For this is when you will know that you have really made a bird.”

Janey Monarch Seed by Julie Dunlap (author) and Dana Simson and John Orth (illustrators) (Green Writers Press). Janey loves the gorgeous butterflies that paint the sky each year with their vibrant, gossamer wings! “But a troubling mystery cast a shadow one spring. ‘Where are the monarchs?’ Janey asked from her swing.” The flutterers’ precious milkweed is being mowed up; they have nothing to eat. Soon, Janey and other committed kids — a la Johnny Appleseed — begin planting milkweed pods from Quebec to Mexico. But “had they planted enough? Would the monarchs come back? At last Janey shouted, ‘I see orange and black!’”

Watercress by Andrea Wang (author) and Jason Chin (illustrator) (Neal Porter Books). Driving through the Ohio farmland in their faded car, the little girl and her brother see nothing but dust and zigzagging cornstalks. But their parents spot hidden treasure. “Mom’s eyes are as sharp as the tip of a dragon’s claw. Dad’s eyes grow wide. ‘Watercress!’ they exclaim, two voices heavy with memories.” The grownups grab a bag and scissors to harvest the green bounty as they once did back in famine-stricken China. Slowly, the children come to understand how the cress’ roots are entwined with the roots of their own immigrant story.

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