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City And Town Life: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about city and town life?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to city and town life. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about city and town life.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.

When it comes to children’s stories about city and town life, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Food Truck Fest! to popular sellers like Because of Winn-Dixie to some of our favorite hidden gems like The Cricket in Times Square.

We hope this list of kids books about city and town life can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.

Top 10 Books About City And Town Life

The Cricket in Times Square book
#1
The Cricket in Times Square
Written by George Selden & illustrated by Garth Williams
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Tucker is a streetwise city mouse. He thought he’d seen it all. But he’s never met a cricket before, which really isn’t surprising, because, along with his friend Harry Cat, Tucker lives in the very heart of New York City—the Times Square subway station. Chester Cricket never intended to leave his Connecticut meadow. He’d be there still if he hadn’t followed the entrancing aroma of liverwurst right into someone’s picnic basket. Now, like any tourist in the city, he wants to look around. And he could not have found two better guides—and friends—than Tucker and Harry. The trio have many adventures—from taking in the sights and sounds of Broadway to escaping a smoky fire. Chester makes a third friend, too. It is a boy, Mario, who rescues Chester from a dusty corner of the subway station and brings him to live in the safety of his parents’ newsstand. He hopes at first to keep Chester as a pet, but Mario soon understands that the cricket is more than that. Because Chester has a hidden talent and no one—not even Chester himself—realizes that the little country cricket may just be able to teach even the toughest New Yorkers a thing or two. The Cricket in Times Square is a 1961 Newbery Honor Book.

This Is How We Do It book
#2
This Is How We Do It
Written & illustrated by Matt Lamothe
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Follow one day in the real lives of seven kids from around the world—Italy, Japan, Iran, India, Peru, Uganda, and Russia!

In Japan, Kei plays Freeze Tag, while in Uganda, Daphine likes to jump rope. While the way they play may differ, the shared rhythm of their days—and this one world we all share—unites them.

This genuine exchange provides a window into traditions that may be different from our own as well as mirrors reflecting our common experiences. Inspired by his own travels, Matt Lamonthe transports readers across the globe and back with this luminous and thoughtful picture book.

Perfect for kids learning about new cultures and customs Educates children on the importance of similarities and differences Gives kids a unique look into the lives of others across the globe If you enjoyed Carson Ellis’ Home, you’re sure to enjoy the window into the world provided by This is How We Do It.

This children’s picture book is ideal for parents or teachers looking for the following: World Book for Kids Travel Book for Kids Beginning Reading Books Cultures for Kids Books Families Around the World Books

L Is for London book
#3
L Is for London
Written & illustrated by Paul Thurlby
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Discover the best of London from A to Z with award-winning illustrator Paul Thurlby! From A for Abbey Road, K for Kew Gardens, L for London Eye, T for Tower Bridge, to Z for London Zoo and more, this striking book is bursting with the sights, sounds, and energy of London! See familiar landmarks and discover the lesser known charms of the city. London has never been more spectacular!

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich book
#4
The Bear Ate Your Sandwich
Written & illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Bear meets sandwich, adventure ensues. . . . A sly classic-in-the-making for fans of Jon Klassen, Peter Brown, and Mo Willems.

By now I think you know what happened to your sandwich. But you may not know how it happened. So let me tell you. It all started with the bear . . .

So begins Julia Sarcone-Roach’s delicious tale of a bear, lost in the city, who happens upon an unattended sandwich in the park. The bear’s journey from forest to city and back home again is full of happy accidents, funny encounters, and sensory delights. The story is so engrossing, it’s not until the very end that we begin to suspect this is a TALL tale.

The wonderfully told story, spectacular illustrations, and surprise ending make this Julia Sarcone-Roach’s best book to date. You’ll want to share it with your friends (and keep a close eye on your lunch).

Everything & Everywhere book
#5
Everything & Everywhere
Written & illustrated by Marc Martin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

From Hong Kong to Reykjavík, Ulaanbaatar to New York City, enjoy a lush and unexpected journey around the world to discover what makes each place unique. Sleepy sloths, colorful cows, staggering skylines, terrible traffic—countless surprises await! All you need is a good guide and a little curiosity . . . so, what are you waiting for? Let’s go! From award-winning author and illustrator Marc Martin comes a quirky, fact-filled adventure for curious globe-trotters, young and old.

Home book
#6
Home
Written & illustrated by Carson Ellis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A picture book debut by the illustrator of The Composer Is Dead offers a whimsical tribute to the myriad possibilities of home, depicting homes in different real-world environments as well as fantastical settings.

All Through My Town book
#7
All Through My Town
Written by Jean Reidy & illustrated by Leo Timmers
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Rising, waking

Bread is baking

School bus honks its horn

Who are the people in your neighborhood? Perfect for the pre-K set, this adorable rhyming text takes a walking tour of your community. The fresh modern art of Leo Timmers features hidden details and a perennial theme reminiscent of Richard Scarry. Little ones will beg to re-read again as they discover the characters who repeat throughout the art in this sweet and vibrant story.

The Stars Just Up the Street book
#8
The Stars Just Up the Street
Written by Sue Soltis & illustrated by Christine Davenier
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A grandpa’s memories of brilliant night skies inspire a little girl to take action in a tale for budding community organizers and star lovers alike.

Mabel loves stars. She counts five from her window and thirty-seven from her backyard. But her grandfather tells her that, as a child, he could see thousands. Could it be true? Mabel climbs a hill looking for more stars — only to discover that the glow from the nearby town makes them hard to see. What would it take for her neighbors to turn off their lights, just for one night, so that everyone could see the starlit sky? Sue Soltis’s tale of a young activist and Christine Davenier’s luminous illustrations will leave readers curious about the dark-sky movement — and the wonder that is waiting for them just up the street.

Have You Seen My Dragon? book
#9
Have You Seen My Dragon?
Written & illustrated by Steve Light
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Enter a fascinating, ornately drawn cityscape and help a boy find his dragon while counting objects from hot dogs to traffic lights.

In the heart of the city, among the taxis and towers, a small boy travels uptown and down, searching for his friend. Readers will certainly spot the glorious beast, plus an array of big-city icons they can count. Is the dragon taking the crosstown bus, or breathing his fiery breath below a busy street? Maybe he took a taxi to the zoo or is playing with the dogs in the park. Steve Light’s masterful pen-and-ink illustrations, decorated with meticulous splashes of color, elevate this counting book (numbers 1-20) to new heights. Maybe the dragon is up there, too!

The Mixed-Up Truck book
#10
The Mixed-Up Truck
Written & illustrated by Stephen Savage
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

It’s Cement Mixer’s first day on the job and he doesn’t want to make any mistakes. How can he help the other trucks on the construction site? By mixing some powdery white cement, of course!

He mixes it up, adds a little water, and presto . . . a cake?! He must have mixed flour instead of cement.

Not to worry, he’ll try again . . . and presto! Frosting?! He’ll keep trying until he gets it just right and it’s time for one more mixing: a bubble bath!

Table of Contents
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Books About City And Town Life and Country Life

This Is How We Do It
Written & illustrated by Matt Lamothe
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Follow one day in the real lives of seven kids from around the world—Italy, Japan, Iran, India, Peru, Uganda, and Russia!

In Japan, Kei plays Freeze Tag, while in Uganda, Daphine likes to jump rope. While the way they play may differ, the shared rhythm of their days—and this one world we all share—unites them.

This genuine exchange provides a window into traditions that may be different from our own as well as mirrors reflecting our common experiences. Inspired by his own travels, Matt Lamonthe transports readers across the globe and back with this luminous and thoughtful picture book.

Perfect for kids learning about new cultures and customs Educates children on the importance of similarities and differences Gives kids a unique look into the lives of others across the globe If you enjoyed Carson Ellis’ Home, you’re sure to enjoy the window into the world provided by This is How We Do It.

This children’s picture book is ideal for parents or teachers looking for the following: World Book for Kids Travel Book for Kids Beginning Reading Books Cultures for Kids Books Families Around the World Books

Home
Written & illustrated by Carson Ellis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A picture book debut by the illustrator of The Composer Is Dead offers a whimsical tribute to the myriad possibilities of home, depicting homes in different real-world environments as well as fantastical settings.

Little Elliot, Fall Friends
Written & illustrated by Mike Curato
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

It’s autumn in the Big City! Little Elliot and Mouse love the hustle and bustle of the city streets. But sometimes it feels like there are too many people, too many noises—just too much! The best friends decide to get out of town for a vacation in the countryside. There, they’ll discover the sights and smells of autumn in the country. Everything is more fun when shared with a friend!

Honorable Mentions
  1. Round Trip - This book isn’t just the STORY of a family’s round trip - it IS a round trip! Read forward and look at the sights, then flip the book over to see something different on the way back. The black-and-white illustrations for the trip into the city become something different when the book is turned upside down for the journey home. Clouds turn into puddles, fields of wheat turn into rain, lightning becomes mountain trails, and building lights morph into stars. “Round Trip” was featured on Reading Rainbow, the acclaimed PBS-TV series celebrating books and reading.

  2. City Mouse, Country Mouse - In this modern twist from Maggie Rudy on the classic tale of the city mouse and the country mouse, Will and Tansy meet and become friends. But Will loves the bustling city and Tansy loves the quiet country. Will these two friends find a way to live mousily ever after?

  3. Country Babies Wear Plaid - Grab a picnic basket and a checkered tablecloth and join these urban tykes for a jaunt in the country. A parade of pastoral delights awaits.• From the creative team behind the hit Urban Babies Wear Black. • A winsome sequel delivers the “weekend dream” to the urban dweller.

  4. City Witch, Country Switch - Mitzi is a city witch—she likes pizza and plays, crowded subways and noisy streets. Muffletump is a country witch—she prefers hayrides and fresh air, pumpkin picking and her pet snake. When the cousins visit each other, their differences come between them. How can they solve their problem? With a spell, of course! But finding the right one isn’t so easy. The rhyming text makes this a wonderful read-aloud, while the vibrant watercolor and colored-pencil artwork contains fantastically funny details for kids to pore over.

Books About City And Town Life and First Concepts

L Is for London
Written & illustrated by Paul Thurlby
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Discover the best of London from A to Z with award-winning illustrator Paul Thurlby! From A for Abbey Road, K for Kew Gardens, L for London Eye, T for Tower Bridge, to Z for London Zoo and more, this striking book is bursting with the sights, sounds, and energy of London! See familiar landmarks and discover the lesser known charms of the city. London has never been more spectacular!

Jane Foster's Cities: London
Written by Jane Foster
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3

Introduce little ones to London in this bold and graphic board book by illustrator and textile designer Jane Foster. In this beautiful and sophisticated board book, children will be introduced to bold images of London, such as Big Ben, Tower Bridge, fish and chips, and more!

Opposites
Written & illustrated by Katie Wilson
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

Quiet/Loud… Over/Under… Day/Night… and many more. Katie Wilson’s lovable illustrations teach little ones a variety of common and not so common opposites in this creative board book from the Montessori inspired Discovery Concepts early learning collection.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Little Humans - Street photographer and storyteller extraordinaire Brandon Stanton is the creator of the wildly popular blog “Humans of New York.” He is also the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Humans of New York. To create Little Humans, a 40-page photographic picture book for young children, he’s combined an original narrative with some of his favorite children’s photos from the blog, in addition to all-new exclusive portraits. The result is a hip, heartwarming ode to little humans everywhere.

  2. Busy City - Built for the way babies read. Sweet, soothing books, uniquely designed for safety and convenience, Indestructibles are printed on lightweight, nontoxic paper material, easy to clean (even dishwasher safe), and 100% chew, rip, bend, and drool proof. Busy City introduces babies to the bustling city, with lots of sights and sounds to experience on every page. Delightful for babies to page through on their own or with Mom or Dad or an older sibling, this books, with its bright pictures and minimal text, is ideal for expecting parents, baby showers, or as a welcome-home gifts for a newborn.

  3. Alphabet City - The urban landscape will never look the same again. As Stephen T. Johnson demonstrates in a series of strikingly realistic pastels and watercolors, a simple sawhorse can contain the letter “A” — while lampposts alongside a highway can form a row of elegant, soaring Ys. A 1996 Caldecott Honor book, this sophisticated, wordless alphabet book is sure to appeal to young and old alike.

  4. Winter in the City - Join the fun of finding and counting all the cars, trucks, animals, and buildings as more and more appear on a lively city walk in winter. Packed with repetition that young children love and that also helps them learn, this is an entertaining introduction to colors, numbers, and the seasons.

Books About City And Town Life and Trucks

The Mixed-Up Truck
Written & illustrated by Stephen Savage
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

It’s Cement Mixer’s first day on the job and he doesn’t want to make any mistakes. How can he help the other trucks on the construction site? By mixing some powdery white cement, of course!

He mixes it up, adds a little water, and presto . . . a cake?! He must have mixed flour instead of cement.

Not to worry, he’ll try again . . . and presto! Frosting?! He’ll keep trying until he gets it just right and it’s time for one more mixing: a bubble bath!

Supertruck
Written & illustrated by Stephen Savage
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

When the city is hit by a colossal snowstorm, only one superhero can save the day. But who is this mysterious hero, and why does he disappear once his job is done? Find out in this snowy tale about a little truck with a very big job, the second of Steve Savage’s vehicle-based picturebooks.

Demolition
Written by Sally Sutton & illustrated by Brian Lovelock
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

What’s even more exciting to preschoolers than seeing big machines that build things? Watching the massive ones that tear them down!

Crush the stone. Crush the stone. Chip and grind and munch. Make new concrete from the old. Whirr! Churr! Crunch!

From the huge crane with a swinging ball (crack! ) to the toothy jaws that ram the walls (thwock! ), this rambunctious demolition, reverberating with sound words, is guaranteed to have small kids rapt. Bright spreads showcase the gargantuan machines in all their glory, and a pictorial glossary explains what each one can do.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Demolition - Illustrations and rhyming text show the enormous and powerful machines that are used to demolish a building so that a playground can be built.

  2. Delivery Trucks! - This truck-shaped, lift-the-flap board book about delivery trucks packs in all kinds of surprises. Beep! Beep! Look who’s driving down the road. It’s the Delivery Trucks! We deliver all kinds of different things to all kinds of different places. Take a look and see what’s inside! Welcome to Delivery Truck Central! Buckle up for a surprise delivery in this lift-the-flap story about trucks and all the special things they carry from town to town! It’s a green light to explore. From the mail truck, car transporter, pet adoption truck, and more, each spread is filled with special deliveries for readers to find under multiple lift-the-flaps. With inviting truck characters on each page, little ones will love finding surprises hidden in each spread as they learn more about trucks…and the important deliveries they make—two things that go, go, go great together.

  3. 20 Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street - Count the trucks getting stuck in a traffic jam in this rhythmic read-aloud sure to draw in kids who love everything on wheels. One ice-cream truck selling everything sweet breaks down and blocks the middle of our street. If you’re a little boy on a bike, an ice-cream truck on your street is always a welcome sight. But what if the truck breaks down and blocks the mail truck behind it (now there are two), not to mention a third truck carrying hay? One by one, trucks of all types and sizes and functions are sure to pile up behind, offering ample opportunity for ogling — and counting. And maybe the boy’s idea for putting one of the trucks to good use might even save the day!

  4. Scoop the Ice Cream Truck - Scoop the Ice Cream Truck has seen a lot of summers selling his vanilla ice cream cones across the city. But he’s getting old, and the new trucks are getting fancier. Now they have waffle cones, jumbo sundaes, flash frozen ice cream, twenty-seven flavors and six special toppings. Feeling like he’s fallen behind, Scoop decides that it’s time for a redesign. But when his old frame can’t handle the new upgrades, can Scoop discover his own value and find the right spot to sell his vanilla cones?

Want to see books about trucks?

Books About City And Town Life and New York

Little Elliot, Big City
Written & illustrated by Mike Curato
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Elliot the little elephant has a hard time with a lot of things in the city he loves until he meets Mouse, who is even smaller—and hungrier.

The Cricket in Times Square
Written by George Selden & illustrated by Garth Williams
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Tucker is a streetwise city mouse. He thought he’d seen it all. But he’s never met a cricket before, which really isn’t surprising, because, along with his friend Harry Cat, Tucker lives in the very heart of New York City—the Times Square subway station. Chester Cricket never intended to leave his Connecticut meadow. He’d be there still if he hadn’t followed the entrancing aroma of liverwurst right into someone’s picnic basket. Now, like any tourist in the city, he wants to look around. And he could not have found two better guides—and friends—than Tucker and Harry. The trio have many adventures—from taking in the sights and sounds of Broadway to escaping a smoky fire. Chester makes a third friend, too. It is a boy, Mario, who rescues Chester from a dusty corner of the subway station and brings him to live in the safety of his parents’ newsstand. He hopes at first to keep Chester as a pet, but Mario soon understands that the cricket is more than that. Because Chester has a hidden talent and no one—not even Chester himself—realizes that the little country cricket may just be able to teach even the toughest New Yorkers a thing or two. The Cricket in Times Square is a 1961 Newbery Honor Book.

When You Reach Me
Written by Rebecca Stead
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

“Like A Wrinkle in Time (Miranda’s favorite book), When You Reach Me far surpasses the usual whodunit or sci-fi adventure to become an incandescent exploration of ‘life, death, and the beauty of it all.’” —The Washington Post

This Newbery Medal winner that has been called “smart and mesmerizing,” (The New York Times) and “superb” (The Wall Street Journal) will appeal to readers of all types, especially those who are looking for a thought-provoking mystery with a mind-blowing twist.

Shortly after a fall-out with her best friend, sixth grader Miranda starts receiving mysterious notes, and she doesn’t know what to do. The notes tell her that she must write a letter—a true story, and that she can’t share her mission with anyone.

It would be easy to ignore the strange messages, except that whoever is leaving them has an uncanny ability to predict the future. If that is the case, then Miranda has a big problem—because the notes tell her that someone is going to die, and she might be too late to stop it.

Winner of the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for Fiction A New York Times Bestseller and Notable Book Five Starred Reviews A Junior Library Guild Selection

“Absorbing.” —People

“Readers … are likely to find themselves chewing over the details of this superb and intricate tale long afterward.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Lovely and almost impossibly clever.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer

“It’s easy to imagine readers studying Miranda’s story as many times as she’s read L’Engle’s, and spending hours pondering the provocative questions it raises.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred review

Honorable Mentions
  1. Polka Dot Parade - “Beautifully rendered and told, the book brings to life the work of a gifted 20th-century artist whose creative vision will always be in vogue.” Kirkus Reviews, Starred review This is a moving and impassioned picture book about the iconic fashion photographer Bill Cunningham that will inspire young readers to go discover their own ideas of beauty and embolden the world with their own creativity! He found “sheer poetry” in the drape of an evening dress, delight in the swoosh of a knife-pleated skirt, and sartorial splendor in Jazz Age garb. Every day, Bill Cunningham pedaled his bike through New York City searching for beauty. As he took picture after picture, Bill found beauty not in people, but in their clothes. Drawn to bold and creative choices, Bill’s photos captured the attention of the New York Times. He traveled to Paris for Fashion Week, and admiration for his work grew. With his sense of creativity and daringness, his own personal style of photography came to be known as street art photography. His photos left a lasting impression on all those who came across his work and they continue to inspire creativity today. This is the story of the legend who created street fashion photography and left behind a legacy of glorious pictures. Bill Cunningham used his passion and talent to capture the beauty he saw in fashion and the ultimate freedom that it represents to each and every person. This is an inspiring picture book about finding your path and being creative.

  2. Nelly Takes New York - The Big Apple may be hiding in the place you least expect it in this spunky introduction to the best parts of New York. Nelly lives in New York, the greatest city in the world. Every morning, she wakes up to the rumble of the subways and the honking of cars. Every morning, she can smell the food cart downstairs and hear the rat-a-tat-tat of the street musicians outside. Every morning, she goes outside to be in the city she knows like the back of her hand—or does she? One morning, Nelly and her dog Bagel decide to find out what New York is really about—or more specifically, why a city that has nothing to do with apples is the Biggest Apple of them all. Could there really be a giant apple somewhere in New York? And where is it hiding?

  3. Goldfish on Vacation - From a New York Times bestselling author and a rising-star illustrator comes a humorous tale based on an amazing-but-true story about the summer a city fountain was used as a goldfish pond. H, Little O, and Baby Em are stuck in the city for the summer with only their pet goldfish—Barracuda, Patch, and Fiss—for company. It’s looking like it might be a pretty boring vacation, but one day, something exciting happens. Someone starts fixing up the old fountain down the street—the one Grandpa says horses used to drink from before everyone had cars—and a sign appears: “Calling All Goldfish Looking for a Summer Home.” H, Little O, and Baby Em can’t wait to send their goldfish on vacation, and the fish, well, they seem pretty excited too. Based on the true story of Hamilton Fountain in New York City, this charming tale of one special summer will delight readers young and old. Author’s Note included.

  4. Eloise - Meet Eloise, the precocious darling of the Plaza Hotel! Eloise is a little girl who lives at The Plaza Hotel in New York. She is not yet pretty but she is already a Person. Henry James would want to study her. Queen Victoria would recognize her as an Equal. The New York Jets would want to have her on their side. Lewis Carroll would love her (once he got over the initial shock). She knows everything about The Plaza. She is interested in people when they are not boring. She has Inner Resources. If you take her home with you, you will always be glad you did.

Books About City And Town Life and Multigenerational

Our Favorite Day
Written & illustrated by Joowon Oh
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Charmingly detailed illustrations help tell a touching tale of the bond between grandparent and grandchild in a quiet yet powerful debut. “Thursdays are my favorite days.” “Mine, too.” Every morning Papa follows his normal routine. He drinks his tea, waters his plants, tidies up, and takes the bus into town. Papa enjoys his daily tasks, but there’s one day each week that is extra special. That’s the day he might visit the craft store, get two orders of dumplings to go, and possibly pick some flowers he sees along the path. With its spare text and wonderfully warm watercolor and cut-paper illustrations just begging to be pored over, Joowon Oh’s tale of the singular love between a grandfather and granddaughter will nestle within the heart of every reader.

Saturdays Are For Stella
Written by Candy Wellins & illustrated by Charlie Eve Ryan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 44-8

George loves Saturdays.

That’s because Saturdays mean time with Grandma Stella. The two of them love going on adventures downtown to visit the dinosaur museum and ride on the carousel! Even when they stay in, George and Stella have fun together, making cinnamon rolls without popping open a tube and sharing the biggest, best hugs.

Then one day Stella is gone, and George is ready to cancel Saturdays. But when a new addition to the family arrives, George finds a way to celebrate the priceless memories he made with his grandma―while making new ones too.

Last Stop on Market Street
Written by Matt De La Pena & illustrated by Christian Robinson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

A young boy rides the bus across town with his grandmother and learns to appreciate the beauty in everyday things. By the author of the celebrated picture book A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Nana in the City - A young boy is frightened by how busy and noisy the city is when he goes there to visit his Nana, but she makes him a fancy red cape that keeps him from being scared as she shows him how wonderful a place it is.

  2. Skyfishing - “A young girl helps her grandfather adjust to his new home in the city with her family by inventing a fantastical fishing game”—

Books About City And Town Life and Dogs

Because of Winn-Dixie
Written & illustrated by Kate DiCamillo
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

One summer’s day, ten-year-old India Opal Buloni goes down to the local supermarket for some groceries – and comes home with a dog. But Winn-Dixie is no ordinary dog. It’s because of Winn-Dixie that Opal begins to make friends. And it’s because of Winn-Dixie that she finally dares to ask her father about her mother, who left when Opal was three. In fact, as Opal admits, just about everything that happens that summer is because of Winn-Dixie. Featuring a new cover illustration by E. B. Lewis.

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich
Written & illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Bear meets sandwich, adventure ensues. . . . A sly classic-in-the-making for fans of Jon Klassen, Peter Brown, and Mo Willems.

By now I think you know what happened to your sandwich. But you may not know how it happened. So let me tell you. It all started with the bear . . .

So begins Julia Sarcone-Roach’s delicious tale of a bear, lost in the city, who happens upon an unattended sandwich in the park. The bear’s journey from forest to city and back home again is full of happy accidents, funny encounters, and sensory delights. The story is so engrossing, it’s not until the very end that we begin to suspect this is a TALL tale.

The wonderfully told story, spectacular illustrations, and surprise ending make this Julia Sarcone-Roach’s best book to date. You’ll want to share it with your friends (and keep a close eye on your lunch).

Nothing in Common
Written by Kate Hoefler & illustrated by Corinna Luyken
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

A tender and timely story of compassion and finding common ground with others, perfect for fans of _I Walk With Vanessa _and Thank You, Omu!

Two neighbors both love to watch the old man and his dog from their windows, but they never wave to each other. After all, they have nothing in common. But everything changes when they are the only ones who notice that one day is different—there is the old man, but where is the dog?

In this lyrical picture book, two strangers learn about the many ways the world connects us—even if the only thing we have in common is how much we care about someone else. Filled with whimsy and warmth, Nothing In Common is a tender friendship story that reminds us to always lead with compassion.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Spot & Dot - From beloved author-illustrator Henry Cole comes the stunning follow-up to Spot, the Cat. In this beautiful wordless picture book, Spot the cat finds a dog named Dot who’s off on her own adventure through the city! In Henry Cole’s vivid wordless picture book Spot, the Cat, readers joined Spot on a journey through a city that began with him following a bird outside his window. This time, a dog named Dot draws Spot from his window. As we follow Spot and Dot on their wordless journey, we quickly realize that it’s Dot the dog who is missing this time, and Spot is trying to get her back home. We follow these two on a different journey through the city as they weave in and out of a bakery, a library, a busy park, and more. And with a surprise twist at the end, we realize that “home” for both cat and dog was never very far away. With detailed black-and-white illustrations, readers will love following Spot and Dot on their adventure and cheering for the sweet reunion at the end.

  2. The Firefighter - Brr-ring! Up pops a fireman at the sound of the fire station alarm, and he rushes with his crew to put out a house fire in a nearby neighborhood. The family is safe, but one of their Dalmatian puppies is missing! It’s up to the brave fireman to rescue the pup from the burning house—and in the process, he finds himself a new firehouse friend.

  3. Poppy Takes Paris: A Little Girl's Adventures in the City of Light (Big City Adventures) - In the City of Lights, where can you go to find the brightest light of them all? Find out in this spunky introduction to Paris shown through the eyes of a curious child. Paris is the City of Lights. Poppy should know—she lives there. Each morning, she wakes up to the sound of church bells ringing Ding! Dang! Dong! Each morning, she buys fresh flowers from Madame LesFleur, who has the most brilliant blooms in the city. Each morning, she eats delicious pastries from Monsier LePain’s bakery. But one morning, she wakes up with a burning question: what light shines the brightest in a city full of them? She and her dog Baguette are about to find out.

  4. The Very Very Very Long Dog - “Oh, Bartelby!” Bartelby is a very long and lovable dachshund who lives in a bookstore. He has a lovely set of friends who take him for walks through the city, but he has no idea that his bumbling backside leaves a trail of destruction and accidents behind him. Embarrassed that he has no control over his back end, Bartelby vows to never leave the cozy bookstore again. Can his friends help him find a way to help himself? This beautifully illustrated picture book features silly fun along with an important message: that we love our friends not in spite of their flaws, but because of them.

Want to see books about dogs?

Books About City And Town Life and Gardening

What Grew in Larry's Garden
Written by Laura Alary & illustrated by Kass Reich
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Grace thinks Larry’s garden is one of the wonders of the world. In his tiny backyard next door to hers, Larry grows the most extraordinary vegetables. Grace loves helping him - watering and weeding, planting and pruning, hoeing and harvesting. And whenever there’s a problem - like bugs burrowing into the carrots or slugs chewing the lettuce - Grace and Larry solve it together. Grace soon learns that Larry has big plans for the vegetables in his special garden. And when that garden faces its biggest problem yet, Grace follows Larry’s example to find the perfect solution.

Inspired by a real person, author Laura Alary has written a heartwarming story about how amazing things can grow when you tend your garden with kindness. In this case, Larry, a teacher, is helping to grow community. He has his students grow tomato plants that they then give away to their neighbors with personal notes. It offers a powerful lesson on the influence of generosity, while encouraging young children to become community activists in their own neighborhoods. This uplifting story fosters an appreciation for neighborhood and community at a time when that sentiment seems to be eroding. The book also contains an environmental message about harvesting your own vegetables and, with Kass Reich’s colorful illustrations, works beautifully for a life science exploration of growth and changes in plants. There are character education connections to caring, cooperation, empathy, kindness, perseverance and teamwork.

The Bear's Garden
Written by Marcie Colleen & illustrated by Alison Oliver
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Inspired by the true story of a community garden in Brooklyn, New York, The Bear’s Garden by Marcie Colleen is a testament to how imagination and dedication can transform communities and create beauty for everyone in unexpected places.

A little girl sees an empty lot in a city and imagines what it can be.

She sees a place to grow, a place to play, and a place to love.

With the help of her stuffed bear, the girl brings her community together to create a beautiful garden.

An Imprint Book

Thank You, Garden
Written by Liz Garton Scanlon & illustrated by Simone Shin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

From the author of the Caldecott Honor–winning picture book All the World comes an exuberant, lyrical celebration of the plants—and people—that grow and thrive in a busy community garden.

A community garden unites children and neighbors in this celebration of all the things that grow there, from flowers and fruits to friendships. In the spirit of her Caldecott Honor­–winning picture book All the World, this ode to friendship, community, and working together for a better world will have young readers gathering their friends young and old to plant something together.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Vegetable Museum - Thirteen-year-old Chloë left her whole life back in Montreal, including her mom and her best friend. Now she’s stuck in Victoria with her dad and her estranged grandfather, Uli, who recently had a stroke. When Chloë agrees to help Uli look after his garden, she’s determined to find out why he and her dad didn’t speak to each other for years. For decades Uli has collected seeds from people in the community, distinct varieties that have been handed down through generations. The result is a garden full of unusual and endangered produce, from pink broccoli to blue kale to purple potatoes. But Chloë learns that the garden will soon be destroyed to make way for a new apartment complex. And the seed collection is missing! Chloë must somehow find a way to save her grandfather’s legacy

  2. Old Manhattan Has Some Farms - A clever new spin on “Old MacDonald,” this fun book explores the popular trend of urban farming. From rooftop farms and gardens on Manhattan high rises to neighborhood gardens in empty lots in Atlanta to hydroponic gardens in Seattle, growing food locally has become an important part of city-dwelling life. Set to the tune of the popular children’s song, this bouncy rhyming text will get everyone reading (or singing) out loud. If you’re not comfortable singing aloud, download the free recording of the song created by popular children’s performer Caspar Babypants (aka Chris Ballew, lead singer and songwriter for the band The Presidents of the United States of America). Six North American cities are highlighted, but included in the back matter are tips and tricks on how to alter the text so you can sing about your own hometown gardens. Back matter also includes more information about the different types of gardens introduced, additional resources, and the sheet music for the song.

Want to see books about gardening?

Books About City And Town Life and Nature

The Curious Garden
Written & illustrated by Peter Brown
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

One boy’s quest for a greener world… one garden at a time. While out exploring one day, a little boy named Liam discovers a struggling garden and decides to take care of it. As time passes, the garden spreads throughout the dark, gray city, transforming it into a lush, green world. This is an enchanting tale with environmental themes and breathtaking illustrations that become more vibrant as the garden blooms. Red-headed Liam can also be spotted on every page, adding a clever seek-and-find element to this captivating picture book.

Florette
Written & illustrated by Anna Walker
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

A 2018 New York Times and New York Public Library Best Illustrated Picture Book

When Mae’s family moves to a new home, she wishes she could bring her garden with her. She’ll miss the apple trees, the daffodils, and chasing butterflies in the wavy grass. But there’s no room for a garden in the city. Or is there?

Mae’s story, gorgeously illustrated in watercolor, is a celebration of friendship, resilience in the face of change, and the magic of the natural world.

Up in the Leaves
Written by Shira Boss & illustrated by Jamey Christoph
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

Bob does not like the noisy, crowded streets and school hallways of his New York City home, so he decides to build a tree house in the cool, green calm of Central Park. Includes a note about the real Bob Redman.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Music of Life - Full of joy and discovery, Louis Thomas’ The Music of Life is a simple, melodious picture book about finding big inspiration and beauty in the smallest of details. At night when everyone else is asleep, one artist sits awake—pencil in hand, stuck. Lenny is a composer, but this evening, no music floats from his head. Then as night breaks into dawn, Lenny’s cat, Pipo, begins lapping milk. Lick lick lick. Birds yawn awake, singing in the trees. Tweet tweet! A bike bell tings on the street below. Suddenly, Lenny notices a rhythm to the world around him. He pulls on his coat and walks through the city to write down every sound he can find. Lenny listens to a gardener, a jogger, a dogwalker, and more neighborhood characters. Finally, the morning’s sounds culminate in a sun-dappled symphony that Lenny conducts in the center of the park.

  2. The Street Beneath My Feet - This double-sided foldout book takes you on a fascinating journey deep underground. One side of the foldout shows the ground beneath the city, whilst the other side of the foldout shows the ground beneath the countryside. The scenes in the book, by the widely acclaimed illustrator Yuval Zommer, are continuous, so contrasting underground sections, from tunnels and pipes to burrowing creatures, layers of rock to the planet’s molten core, run seamlessly into the next. Mixing urban and rural settings, as well as Geology, Archaeology and Natural History, The Street Beneath My Feet offers children the opportunity to explore their world in a detailed learning experience. And its fold-out, ‘Laperello’ style, which extends to 2.5 metres in length, is great fun to spread out on the floor and really get involved!

  3. The Balcony - When a little girl moves from her home to an apartment in the city, she takes her pretty plants with her and one by one they grow and bloom and change both her world and the world all around her as she makes a new friend. When your heart is open, the world is full of possibilities.

  4. Hidden City - A poetic book highlighting everyday nature The perfect blend of science and poetry, Hidden City demonstrates that nature can thrive anywhere, even in highly populated areas. In this graceful collection of poems, skyscrapers serve as perches for falcons, streetlights attract an insect buffet for hungry bats, and an overgrown urban lot offers shelter to both flora and fauna. Hidden City also includes engageing supplementary materials, which provide scientific information about the animals and plants featured in the book. Coupled with beautiful collage illustrations, the poems in Hidden City offer readers the perfect reminder to notice and care about their environment.

Want to see books about nature?

Books About City And Town Life and Feelings And Emotions

The Breaking News
Written & illustrated by Sarah Lynne Reul
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When devastating news rattles a little girl’s community, she struggles to know how to cope. Her normally attentive parents are suddenly exhausted and distracted, and nothing she does seems to cheer them up. At school, her teacher tells her to look for the helpers-the good people working to make things better in big and small ways. She wants more than anything to help in a BIG way, but maybe she can start with one small thing instead… and then another, and another? Those small things can compound, after all, to make a world of difference.Both timely and timeless, this beautifully illustrated picture book from debut author/illustrator Sarah Lynne Reul touches on the themes of community, resilience, and optimism with an authenticity that will resonate with readers young and old.

Izzy and Frank
Written by Katrina Lehman & illustrated by Sophie Beer
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Izzy and Frank spend blue-sky-sunny days and gray-cloud-rainy days roaming and playing by the sea.

But when Izzy has to leave her lighthouse and island life behind to move to the city, she also has to say goodbye to Frank.

The city is crowded and noisy, and Izzy misses the sand and the sea.

Can Izzy find a place for herself in her new home? And will she ever see Frank again?

Rain!
Written by Linda Ashman & illustrated by Christian Robinson
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Good attitudecanchase away the blues at any age!Now in aboard book format for more rainy day reading. “

Honorable Mentions
  1. Come with Me - When the news reports are flooded with tales of hatred and fear, a girl asks her papa what she can do to make the world a better place. “Come with me,” he says. Hand-in-hand, they walk to the subway, tipping their hats to those they meet. The next day, the girl asks her mama what she can do—her mama says, “Come with me,” and together they set out for the grocery, because one person doesn’t represent an entire race or the people of a land. After dinner that night, the little girl asks if she can do something of her own—walk the dog . . . and her parents let her go. “Come with me,” the girl tells the boy across the hall. Walking together, one step at a time, the girl and the boy begin to see that as small and insignificant as their part may seem, it matters to the world. In this lyrical and timely story, author Holly M. McGhee and illustrator Pascal Lemaître champion the power of kindness, bravery, and friendship in the face of uncertainty.

  2. A Bike Like Sergio's - When Ruben, who longs to have a bike like his friend Sergios that his family cannot afford, finds money in a grocery store, he has to make a tough decision about what to do with it.

  3. 13 Stories About Harris - A wry and affectionate look at the ups and downs of preschoolers in the big city. “That’s why they call permanent markers permanent,” Harris’ mother says as she surveys Harris and his best friend Ayana’s handiwork in his bedroom. In 13 illustrated vignettes, young Harris gets into big and little adventures at home, at best friend Ayana’s house, and throughout his diverse city neighborhood. Inspired by her own child, celebrated author-illustrator Amy Schwartz captures a preschooler’s sense of wonder and possibility, such as when Harris and Ayana vow to keep holding hands “forever and ever”—even while riding stampeding elephants. A Junior Library Guild Selection

  4. Bad Bye, Good Bye - Illustrations and simple, rhyming text follow a family as they move to a new town.

Books About City And Town Life and Jobs And Careers

Good Morning, City
Written by Pat Kiernan & illustrated by Pascal Campion
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

It’s dark and quiet.

The moon still glimmers in the sky.

While the baker, the ferry boat captain, and the TV anchorman are busy at work, most people are cozily snuggled in bed. Then dawn’s first light peeks through the tree branches. Wake up, city! There is much to be done in neighborhoods all across the metropolis. As the morning gets brighter, the city streets bustle with people ready to begin the day. GOOD MORNING, CITY, by morning news anchor Pat Kiernan, is sure to start the day off right.

Tiny Town
Written by & illustrated by Suzy Ultman
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3

Embark on a Tiny Tour! These adorable shaped board books take young readers on a tour through a teeny world with every turn of the page. Die-cuts on each page lead to the next adventure, finally ending in the comforts of home. Toddlers will delight in guessing what comes next while learning essential prediction skills. Shaped like buildings and featuring neon accents throughout, these cute books have great value and will prove irresistible to children eager to create their own tiny world.

The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue
Written by Karina Yan Glaser
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A New York Times best-selling series! Harlem’s favorite family returns in the third installment in the Vanderbeerkers series, wherein the Vanderbeeker kids find themselves racing to save their mother’s baking business from city closure. Illustrated with delightful black and white illustrations.

For the Vanderbeeker kids of Harlem’s 141st Street, spring break couldn’t be off to a better start. Isa’s back from band camp, Oliver’s building his first-ever treehouse in the backyard of the brownstone, and Laney, Jess, and Hyacinth are excited to help their mother when she gets the once-in-a-lifetime chance to star in a cooking magazine.

But the Vanderbeekers’ plans go off the rails when an unexpected visit from city officials puts their mother’s bakery in jeopardy. Now they’ll have to band together to save the day before they’re out of business. Perfect for fans of The Penderwicks _and _Front Desk.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Trashy Town Board Book - An ALA Notable Children’s Book! Now in a sturdy board book, this edition is perfect for fans of things that GO! Dump it in, smash it down, drive around the Trashy Town! Meet Mr. Gilly. He cleans up Trashy Town. There’s trash at the pizza parlor, trash at the school, and trash at every house. It’s a big job, but Mr. Gilly does it with a big truck, a big smile, and loads of style. David Clemesha and Andrea Zimmerman have created a rhythmic, repeatable refrain that will have children clamoring for repeat readings, and internationally acclaimed illustrator Dan Yaccarino’s dynamic art puts the zip in Mr. Gilly’s stride and adds style and charm to trash collection.

  2. Around Town - Lift-the-flaps to take a trip around town! Cookies warming in the bakery, pups playing in the park, and diggers working at the construction site—so many things are happening in this busy little town! Follow the adorably illustrated animal citizens and learn about different vehicles, landmarks, and businesses that make up a town. Little ones will love the lift-the-flaps and die-cuts that reveal animal antics and make story time interactive.

  3. Food Truck Fest! - A colorful, whimsical picture book about everyone’s favorite kitchens-on-wheels: food trucks! Join the members of one family as they head to the Food Truck Fest! They gather their things, cross the bridge, and prepare for a fun-filled day. And as they get ready, the workers on the food trucks get ready, too—preparing, tasting, and traveling across the bridge to join all the other kitchens-on-wheels. With delicious free samples and cuisines from around the world, it’s a day of trying new things and having fun together!

  4. My Town's (Extra) Ordinary People - This smart and whimsical portrait of the inhabitants of a town reveals the joys of discovering what makes each person unique and extraordinary. Nico lives in a small coastal town, a place like any other, with ordinary neighbors and friends. But are they really ordinary? As Nico meanders through his town he introduces readers to his friends. There’s Josean, who works on the docks and who could be an Olympic rower. Peru recites all different kinds of poetry to his son. Nico’s best friend, Telmo, is a skateboarder with a wild imagination. Eva plays a mean jazz guitar and gives lessons so she can pay her rent and go to school. There’s Keiko, a potter; Dave, who is really tall; Sara, who owns a bookstore; Claud, a waiter whose real passion is astronomy. Each of these people, twenty-one in all, is depicted in charming, colorful drawings that celebrate quirkiness and individuality. This book encourages young readers to get to know the people around them and discover how everyone is different in their own wonderful way.

Books About City And Town Life and Travel

A Halifax Time-Travelling Tune
Written by Jan L Coates & illustrated by Marijke Simons
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Travel back in time with this magical tune that takes readers to Halifax in the 1950s. This dreamy and whimsical story visits Point Pleasant Park, the Halifax Public Gardens, Citadel Hill and other historic Halifax landmarks, showing off all the sights and sounds of the city

Maisy Goes to London: A Maisy First Experiences Book
Written & illustrated by Lucy Cousins
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Little armchair travelers will be happy to join Maisy and friends on a whirlwind tour of the big city of London.

It’s Maisy’s first trip to London! There are so many places to see, and so many ways to travel. Maisy and her friends visit lots of important places, like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and the Tower of London. To get around, she and her pals ride a double-decker bus and a water taxi and even squeeze into an underground train! Of course, no sightseeing trip would be complete without taking lots of photos. This friendly introduction to a great city is perfect for little Maisy fans everywhere.

My First Book of New York
Written & illustrated by Ingela P. Arrhenius
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

See all the best-loved sites of New York City in this stylish big picture book by Ingela P. Arrhenius. Visit the Statue of Liberty, climb the Empire State Building, catch a show on Broadway — there’s so much to do in New York City! Take a taxi to Times Square, check out the Apollo Theater, cross the Brooklyn Bridge, and stroll in Central Park in this big word book about the Big Apple. With colorful, graphic illustrations of everything from iconic landmarks to mah-jongg players in Chinatown, this is a beautifully designed gift for New York lovers of all ages — the first in a series about the great cities of the world.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Underground: Subway Systems Around the World: Us Edition - This is a playful search-and-find, inside/outside book of underground systems around the world. Alternating shortened pages introduce the subways of 12 different cities. On the first page we see the exterior of the train, and are presented with fascinating facts and figures about the transport system. On the following, shortened page, we find the inside of the train and the platform, bustling with activity. On this busy page, young readers are invited to spot key items that are unique to the city in question; a pretzel, an I - NY t-shirt and a Statue of Liberty headband on the New York Subway, for example. Perfect for train-obsessed children, but also for a wider audience, this book teaches young readers about transport and also about cultural signifiers of different cities around the world. Uijung Kim’s busy, colourful illustrations have a manga-like sensibility that feels joyously contemporary. The cities included are: London, New York, Tokyo, Seoul, Moscow, Beijing, Mexico City, Paris, Madrid and Berlin.

  2. My Little Cities: New York - In this delightful series written by BabyLit author Jennifer Adams and illustrated by kidlit darling Greg Pizzoli, each book showcases a different city with lighthearted baby-appropriate text and ridiculously charming illustrations. Take a whirlwind tour of the Big Apple: cheer with the roaring crowds at Yankee Stadium, chug along peacefully on the Staten Island Ferry, wonder at the bright lights of Times Square, and say good night to the famous New York City skyline.

  3. Fergus Barnaby Goes on Vacation - Family, friendship, sharing, vacations, and apartment living are just some of the things that are celebrated in this charming children’s book! Fergus Barnaby is so excited! Mom, Dad, and Fergus are about to go away on vacation for a few days of fun in the sun. But first… Dad tells him to pack everything he needs, and now Fergus has a problem. Fred has his bucket and shovel, Emily Rose has his swimming goggles, and Teddy has his kite. Fergus lives on the first floor, but his friends—and the toys he let them borrow—are all upstairs. So many stairs, so little time! Will Fergus and Daddy remember to pack everything they need to bring? (Hint: this story ends with a surprise and a big laugh!) Lots of bold illustrations and an enchanting story about friendship and life in the city will make Fergus Barnaby one of your child’s favorites.

Books About City And Town Life and Imagination And Play

Dusk Explorers
Written by Lindsay Leslie & illustrated by Ellen Rooney
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

It’s that special time of evening, when the hours and the possibilities seem endless: Light is fading. A buzz of excitement and wonder takes over the neighborhood….What outdoor adventures await? Join a diverse group of suburban kids as they dash and dodge in classic street games like tag and kick-the-can and reconnect with nature’s simple pleasures catching frogs, hunting fireflies, and climbing trees. These explorers play, laugh, and make the most of their own front yards right up until their parents call out that “It’s time to come home!” But when the sun begins to set tomorrow, they’ll be back for more evening excitement!

This ode to the timeless magic of summer evenings spent outside will remind kids of the fun and friends that wait just outside their doors and leave adults smiling with nostalgia for their own dusk explorations.

A New Kind of Wild
Written & illustrated by Zara González Hoang
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

This sweet author-illustrator debut celebrates imagination, the magic of friendship, and all the different ways we make a new place feel like home.

For Ren, home is his grandmother’s little house, and the lush forest that surrounds it. Home is a place of magic and wonder, filled with all the fantastical friends that Ren dreams up. Home is where his imagination can run wild.

For Ava, home is a brick and cement city, where there’s always something to do or see or hear. Home is a place bursting with life, where people bustle in and out like a big parade. Home is where Ava is never lonely because there’s always someone to share in her adventures.

When Ren moves to Ava’s city, he feels lost without his wild. How will he ever feel at home in a place with no green and no magic, where everything is exactly what it seems? Of course, not everything in the city is what meets the eye, and as Ren discovers, nothing makes you feel at home quite like a friend.

Inspired by the stories her father told her about moving from Puerto Rico to New York as a child, Zara González Hoang’s author-illustrator debut is an imaginative exploration of the true meaning of “home.”

Window
Written & illustrated by Marion Arbona
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

A young girl is walking home from school in a big city. As she gazes up at window after window in the buildings on her route - all different shapes and sizes - she imagines the most fantastic goings-on behind each one, which we can see by opening the gatefold. A tropical jungle. A whale in a bathtub. Vampires playing badminton. Her fantasies know no bounds. Until, behind the very last window, we discover the girl back home in her own room, where the toys surrounding her look strangely familiar.

This highly original wordless picture book by Marion Arbona is a celebration of curiosity and imagination that is sure to inspire a sense of wonder in readers of all ages. There are thirteen windows to open in all, and each scene is intricately drawn in black and white and packed with level upon level of extraordinary details to explore: a gathering of gnomes, a deep-sea diver under water, a collection of masks, small cars that drive up the walls. In a special touch, each window contains a clue to what’s behind it - for example, a plant on the ledge of the window that opens to the jungle, and a window shaped like a porthole that reveals the whale in a bathtub. With so much going on, this book will entice even the youngest children to pore over the pages for close reading, promoting observation skills and visual literacy.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Harriet Gets Carried Away - While shopping with her two dads for supplies for her birthday party, Harriet, who is wearing a penguin costume, is carried away by a waddle of penguins and must hatch a plan in order to get herself back to the store in the city.

  2. Spot, the Cat - In this wordless picture book, a cat named Spot ventures out an open window and through a city on a journey, while his owner tries to find him.

  3. The Neighbors - As a young girl climbs the seven stories to her own (very boring!) apartment, she imagines what’s behind each of the doors she passes. Does the door with all the locks belong to a family of thieves? Might the doorway with muddy footprints conceal a pet tiger? Each spread reveals—in lush detail—the wilds of the girl’s imagination, from a high-flying circus to an underwater world and everything in between. When the girl finally reaches her own apartment, she is greeted by her parents, who might have a secret even wilder than anything she could have imagined!

  4. Ella - A clever parody about a little girl living in a hipster hotel. This is ELLA. She is six years old. She lives at the Local Hotel. She has a nanny called Manny. He has tattoos for sleeves and he might go in with some guys to buy a grilled cheese truck. Sometimes Ella weaves purses out of Ziploc bags and reclaimed twine. (She is artsy of course.) She has a dog named Stacie and a fish named Rasta and a scooter which is important for getting everywhere she needs to be. Altogether she has been to 62 events including that Hillary Clinton fundraiser. She is NEVER bored. If Ella and Kay Thompson’s Eloise got together for a play date, they would have a very good time indeed.

Books About City And Town Life and Action And Adventure

Everything & Everywhere
Written & illustrated by Marc Martin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

From Hong Kong to Reykjavík, Ulaanbaatar to New York City, enjoy a lush and unexpected journey around the world to discover what makes each place unique. Sleepy sloths, colorful cows, staggering skylines, terrible traffic—countless surprises await! All you need is a good guide and a little curiosity . . . so, what are you waiting for? Let’s go! From award-winning author and illustrator Marc Martin comes a quirky, fact-filled adventure for curious globe-trotters, young and old.

The Vile Village
Written by Lemony Snicket & illustrated by Michael Kupperman and Brett Helquist
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Dear Reader,

You have undoubtedly picked up this book by mistake, so please put it down. Nobody in their right mind would read this particular book about the lives of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire on purpose, because each dismal moment of their stay in the village of V.F.D. has been faithfully and dreadfully recorded in these pages.

I can think of no single reason why anyone would want to open a book containing such unpleasant matters as migrating crows, an angry mob, a newspaper headline, the arrest of innocent people, the Deluxe Cell, and some very strange hats. It is my solemn and sacred occupation to research each detail of the Baudelaire children’s lives and write them all down, but you may prefer to do some other solemn and sacred thing, such as reading another book instead.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket

Raffie on the Run
Written by Jacqueline Resnick & illustrated by Joe Sutphin
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

“The Cricket in Times Square” meets “Finding Nemo” in this Pixar-style adventure in which a subway rat must cross New York City to bring his lost little brother home. Illustrations.

Honorable Mentions
  1. How Little Lori Visited Times Square - A Sendak treasure long out of print available for the first time in decades.

  2. Weekends with Max and His Dad - From acclaimed author Linda Urban comes a younger middle-grade novel about the weekend adventures of a boy and his dad, who each see “home” in new ways as they adjust to changes in their family. Max and his dad love their weekends together. Weekends mean pancakes, pizza, spy games, dog walking, school projects, and surprising neighbors! Every weekend presents a small adventure as Max gets to know his dad’s new neighborhood—and learns some new ways of thinking about home. Acclaimed author Linda Urban deftly portrays a third-grader’s inner world during a time of transition in this sweet and funny illustrated story that bridges the early reader and middle grade novel.

  3. My City - A young boy discovers the excitement and unexpected delight of exploring his city—and so will readers of this vibrant picture book. Max is asked to mail a letter for his mother. As he walks through his neighborhood in search of a mailbox, he encounters all sorts of interesting things like falling leaves dancing in the wind, skyscrapers towering in the distance, and junk being piled into a garbage truck. All around him adults hurry on their various errands, too busy to appreciate these wondrous details. His walk through the city leads Max to discover that the mailbox is actually right next door to his own house. Children will enjoy following Max on his adventure and seeing things from his perspective as they explore Joanne Liu’s colorful celebration of everyday life in a busy city.

  4. Pony in the City - Otis wants to know about the kids who ride at his stables. Do they sleep in stalls? Do they also get brushed and braided? The older ponies ignore his questions, so Otis heads to the city to see for himself. And he finds answers, but he gets lost, too . . . until some of his favorite friends come to the rescue. Kids will relate to this sweet story about an adorable, inquisitive little pony.

Books About City And Town Life and Animals

All Through My Town
Written by Jean Reidy & illustrated by Leo Timmers
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Rising, waking

Bread is baking

School bus honks its horn

Who are the people in your neighborhood? Perfect for the pre-K set, this adorable rhyming text takes a walking tour of your community. The fresh modern art of Leo Timmers features hidden details and a perennial theme reminiscent of Richard Scarry. Little ones will beg to re-read again as they discover the characters who repeat throughout the art in this sweet and vibrant story.

In The Park
Written by Clever Publishing & illustrated by Svetlana Shendrik
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3

With panoramic illustrations on each spread and appealing recurring characters, our classic Look & Find format is now available to the youngest readers. These imaginative books welcome curious toddlers to experience adventures in familiar places - the park, the zoo, and the city. Short texts with stimulating questions are expertly designed for young readers, making this series a great introduction to animals, objects, situations, and everyday events. The colorful illustrations are large enough for a curious toddler to find. Kids will find 4 hidden objects on each spread and learn many new words. The format is the perfect size for toddlers!

P Is for Paris
Written & illustrated by Paul Thurlby
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

See the sights of Paris as never before! Award-winning illustrator Paul Thurlby takes us from A for Arc de Triomphe to the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, and some lesser known gems of Paris. Paired with snippets of useful information about each landmark, each page’s bold, eye-catching imagery is a visual treat for both kids and adults. Bursting with the sights, sounds, and energy of this unique and stunning city, this is a one-of-a-kind book for Paris lovers of all ages.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Walk This Underground World - An around-the-world and back-in-time adventure exploring curious worlds hidden beneath our feet, from underground burrows to ancient cities and shopping malls This stunning lift-the-flap book takes readers on a journey around the globe and deep underground. There they’ll find amazing hidden worlds teeming with life — from prairie-dog towns and ant cities to opal mines and treasure-filled tombs. Each spread is bursting with details and surprises to discover in the cutaway artwork and under the flaps. With so much to see and explore, this is a perfect gift for young adventurers.

  2. Cycle City - When little Etta the Elephant goes to her Aunt Ellen’s house, she takes a journey through bicycle-filled Cycle City, a town filled with bikes of all kinds! At the end of the day, a special surprise awaits Etta—the most amazing bicycle parade imaginable. Detail-rich illustrations in this fun seek-and-find book paint the colors of this unusual town where everyone rides some kind of bike—whether a penny-farthing, a two-wheeled unicycle, or a conference bike, everyone is on wheels! Packed with prompts and lots to see on every page, this is a sweet story for the sharpest of eyes.

  3. The Night the Forest Came to Town - From dusk to dawn a forest creeps into a town where the grown-ups are too distracted to notice. But the children do. They see greenery take root in the lifeless cracks of dull sidewalks. They see an eagle build her nest atop a forgotten fountain and saplings start to sprout in dark corners. A gray-drab city defined by concrete and steel, vibrations and notifications, transforms into a living garden where apartment buildings overflow with window boxes full of flowers, birds sing songs through day and night and children laugh and tend to their gardens. Watch as nature reclaims this town.

Want to see books about animals?

Books About City And Town Life and Music

Nighttime Symphony
Written by Timbaland & illustrated by Christopher Myers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The sounds of the city at night create a lively lullaby in this melodious bedtime story from superstar producer and musician Timbaland, Caldecott Honor–winning illustrator Christopher Myers, and Kaa Illustration! hey there, darling baby child, you’re safe in here though the storm is wild the streetlights glow through dark so deep but safe in sound you’ll go to sleep As a little boy gets ready for bed, the sounds of a wild storm echo around him, lulling him to sleep. From the crash of thunder to the pitter-patter of raindrops to the beat of passing cars, the music of the city creates a cozy bedtime soundtrack.

New York Melody
Written & illustrated by Helene Druvert
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

Soar through New York and discover its magic and monuments in this evocatively illustrated children’s book enriched by intricate lasercut pages. A musical note filled with wanderlust breaks away from its sheet music to roam all around New York City. It visits Carnegie Hall, the bright lights of Broadway, and a hidden jazz club. It soars between skyscrapers, flies into a bass, improvises in a trumpet, and dances a little swing with a trombone, until it finally finds its place in a guitar playing in Central Park. There, it makes all the difference, and the guitar’s melody becomes a song that enchants passersby. Beautifully crafted with He´le`ne Druvert’s intricate lasercuts, New York Melody is a wonderfully imaginative introduction to New York and its many unique rhythms for young children.

The Wheels on the Bus
Written & illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

The 25th anniversary edition of a beloved classic

Over a million young readers have enjoyed the wheels that go round, doors that open and shut, and people who go bumpety-bump. Today it remains as fresh and engaging as when it was first published twenty five years ago.

To celebrate the anniversary, Paul O. Zelinsky has created an all-new cover featuring twenty five, hidden 25s. Some are the number 25 and others are 25 of something in the picture. Can you find them all?

Honorable Mentions
  1. Drum City - A young boy begins banging on pots and pans in his front yard, enticing other children to join him, and before long the entire city is feeling the beat.

  2. The Orphan Band of Springdale - With the United States on the verge of World War II, eleven-year-old Gusta is sent from New York City to Maine, where she discovers small-town prejudices — and a huge family secret. It’s 1941, and tensions are rising in the United States as the Second World War rages in Europe. Eleven-year-old Gusta’s life, like the world around her, is about to change. Her father, a foreign-born labor organizer, has had to flee the country, and Gusta has been sent to live in an orphanage run by her grandmother. Nearsighted, snaggletoothed Gusta arrives in Springdale, Maine, lugging her one precious possession: a beloved old French horn, her sole memento of her father. But in a family that’s long on troubles and short on money, how can a girl hang on to something so valuable and yet so useless when Gusta’s mill-worker uncle needs surgery to fix his mangled hand, with no union to help him pay? Inspired by her mother’s fanciful stories, Gusta secretly hopes to find the coin-like “Wish” that her sea-captain grandfather supposedly left hidden somewhere. Meanwhile, even as Gusta gets to know the rambunctious orphans at the home, she feels like an outsider at her new school — and finds herself facing patriotism turned to prejudice, alien registration drives, and a family secret likely to turn the small town upside down.

Want to see books about music?

Books About City And Town Life and Neighborhoods

Windows
Written by Julia Denos & illustrated by E B Goodale
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Before your city goes to sleep, you might head out for a walk, your dog at your side as you go out the door and into the almost-night. Anything can happen on such a walk: you might pass a cat, or a friend, or even an early raccoon. And as you go down your street and around the corner, the windows around you light up one by one until you are walking through a maze of paper lanterns, each one granting you a brief, glowing snapshot of your neighbors as families come together and folks settle in for the night.

Katie Woo's Neighborhood
Written by Fran Manushkin & illustrated by Laura Zarrin
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

Katie Woo loves her community. But it’s not just the parks, stores, and services that make the neighborhood great—it’s the all of the people who build the community and make it work. With every new neighbor Katie meets, she’s inspired to find new ways to be an awesome neighbor herself!

The Night Is Yours
Written by Abdul-Razak Zachariah & illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

From the New York Times bestselling illustrator of I Am Enough, this glowing, empowering picture book about a nighttime hide-and-seek game celebrates blackness and self-confidence.

Little one, so calm and so happy, the darkness of the night is yours like the darkness of your skin.

This lyrical text, narrated to a young girl named Amani by her father, follows her as she plays an evening game of hide-and-seek with friends at her apartment complex. The moon’s glow helps Amani find the last hidden child, and seems almost like a partner to her in her game, as well as a spotlight pointing out her beauty and strength.

This is a gorgeous bedtime read-aloud about joy and family love and community, and most of all about feeling great in your own skin.

Honorable Mentions
  1. My Papi Has a Motorcycle - A celebration of the love between a father and daughter, and of a vibrant immigrant neighborhood, by an award-winning author and illustrator duo.

  2. Errol's Garden - Errol loves gardening, but he doesn’t have a proper garden. Although his home is full of beautiful plants, he longs for an outdoor space where he can grow things. A chance discovery leads to a solution, but Errol can’t do everything on his own. Luckily, help is near at hand. A heart-warming and inclusive tale about how one small boy’s dream of a garden unites a diverse community in a positive and enriching experience for everyone.

  3. Hey, Wall - A boy takes on a community art project in order to make his neighborhood more beautiful in this empowering and inspiring picture book by Susan Verde, stunningly illustrated by award-winning artist John Parra. One creative boy. One bare, abandoned wall. One BIG idea. There is a wall in Ángel’s neighborhood. Around it, the community bustles with life: music, dancing, laughing. Not the wall. It is bleak. One boy decides to change that. But he can’t do it alone. Told in elegant verse by Susan Verde and vibrantly illustrated by John Parra, this inspiring picture book celebrates the power of art to tell a story and bring a community together.

  4. Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood - What good can a splash of color do in a community of gray? As Mira and her neighbors discover, more than you might ever imagine! Based on the true story of the Urban Art Trail in San Diego, California, Maybe Something Beautiful reveals how art can inspire transformation—and how even the smallest artists can accomplish something big. Pick up a paintbrush and join the celebration!

Books About City And Town Life and Babies

Foodie Babies Wear Bibs
Written by Michelle Sinclair Colman & illustrated by Nathalie Dion
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

The sixth book of the Urban Babies board book series finds Foodie Babies browsing the farmers’ market and dining with their favorite finger foods.

Little Big Girl
Written & illustrated by Claire Keane
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

A touching picture book about an older sister’s unconditional love for her new baby brother

Matisse is a little girl in a big world. Despite her size, she gets to have all sorts of grand adventures, like seeing the big sights of the city, making big messes, and taking big naps when her little body is all tuckered out. But when Matisse meets her baby brother, she realizes that she isn’t so little after all- She’s a big sister! And it’s great fun to show this new little person what wonders this big world has in store.

With warmth and joy, Claire Keane showcases a gorgeous retro-inspired style to tell this tender tale of unconditional sibling love.

A Teeny Tiny Baby
Written & illustrated by Amy Schwartz
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-6

A little baby delightfully explains all the wonderful things that make life so very interesting, such as being tickled and jiggled, being fed and changed, and exploring the world’s most fascinating places, like the grocery and Dad’s office.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Urban Babies Wear Black - With appealing multimedia artwork, this fun board book follows an urban tot who loves nights at the opera, modern architecture, and fine cuisine. Full color.

  2. Rocker Babies Wear Jeans - Thank you . . . and good night!

Want to see books about babies?

Books About City And Town Life and New Experiences

Maisy Goes to the City
Written & illustrated by Lucy Cousins
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

It’s another first for Maisy! The intrepid mouse is off to the big city with Charley. A perfect story for young children going on an urban adventure. (Ages 3 and up) Broom, vroom, beep! Maisy and Charley are in the city visiting their friend Dotty, and there are many things to get used to - noisy traffic, enormous buildings, and sidewalks so crowded they have to walk very slowly (all the better for looking in store windows). Riding the escalator and elevator - and hanging on tight in the subway - are almost as much fun as exploring the giant toy store and eating pizza in a cafe. Even the playground is busy in the city!

A New Home
Written & illustrated by Tania de Regil
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

As a girl in Mexico City and a boy in New York City ponder moving to each other’s locale, it becomes clear that the two cities — and the two children — are more alike than they might think. But I’m not sure I want to leave my home. I’m going to miss so much. Moving to a new city can be exciting. But what if your new home isn’t anything like your old home? Will you make friends? What will you eat? Where will you play? In a cleverly combined voice — accompanied by wonderfully detailed illustrations depicting parallel urban scenes — a young boy conveys his fears about moving from New York City to Mexico City while, at the same time, a young girl expresses trepidation about leaving Mexico City to move to New York City. Tania de Regil offers a heartwarming story that reminds us that home may be found wherever life leads. Fascinating details about each city are featured at the end.

A Blind Guide to Stinkville
Written & illustrated by Beth Vrabel
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Before Stinkville, Alice didn’t think albinism—or the blindness that goes with it—was a big deal. Sure, she uses a magnifier to read books. And a cane keeps her from bruising her hips on tables. Putting on sunscreen and always wearing a hat are just part of life. But life has always been like this for Alice. Until Stinkville.

For the first time in her life, Alice feels different—like she’s at a disadvantage. Back in her old neighborhood in Seattle, everyone knew Alice, and Alice knew her way around. In Stinkville, Alice finds herself floundering—she can’t even get to the library on her own. But when her parents start looking into schools for the blind, Alice takes a stand. She’s going to show them—and herself—that blindness is just a part of who she is, not all that she can be. To prove it, Alice enters the Stinkville Success Stories essay contest. No one, not even her new friend Kerica, believes she can scout out her new town’s stories and write the essay by herself. The funny thing is, as Alice confronts her own blindness, everyone else seems to see her for the first time.

This is a stirring small-town story that explores many different issues—albinism, blindness, depression, dyslexia, growing old, and more—with a light touch and lots of heart. Beth Vrabel’s characters are complicated and messy, but they come together in a story about the strength of community and friendship.

Sky Pony Press, with our Good Books, Racehorse and Arcade imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of books for young readers—picture books for small children, chapter books, books for middle grade readers, and novels for young adults. Our list includes bestsellers for children who love to play Minecraft; stories told with LEGO bricks; books that teach lessons about tolerance, patience, and the environment, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze - When Young Fu arrives with his mother in bustling 1920s Chungking, all he has seen of the world is the rural farming village where he has grown up. He knows nothing of city life. But the city, with its wonders and dangers, fascinates the 13-year-old boy, and he sets out to make the best of what it has to offer him. First published in 1932, Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze was one of the earliest Newbery Medal winners. Although China has changed since that time, Young Fu’s experiences are universal: making friends, making mistakes, and making one’s way in the world.

  2. Love, Penelope - Penny is excited to welcome her new sibling, so throughout her mom’s pregnancy she writes letters to it (not it, YOU!). She introduces herself (Penelope, but she prefers “Penny”) and their moms (Sammy and Becky). She brags about their home city, Oakland, California (the weather, the Bay, and the Golden State Warriors) and shares the trials and tribulations of being a fifth-grader (which, luckily, YOU won’t have to worry about for a long time). Penny asks little questions about her sibling’s development and starts to ask big questions about the world around her (like if and when her moms are ever going to get married “for real”). Honest, relatable, and full of heart, Love, Penelope explores heritage, forgiveness, love, and identity through the eyes (and pen) of one memorable 10-year-old in a special year when marriage equality and an NBA championship made California a place of celebration.

  3. Skunk on a String - When a skunk gets his foot caught in the string of a helium balloon, he finds himself blown through unfamiliar landscapes. What’s a skunk to do?

Books About City And Town Life and Cities

You See, I See: In the City
Written by Michelle Sinclair Colman & illustrated by Paul Schmid
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3

See the city through the eyes of a child and parent in this heartwarming exploration of a day spent together.

You see a bustling city, I see adventure ahead!

What will you see in the city? It depends on who you ask! As a parent and child visit the newspaper stand, the store, the park, and more, each points out what they can see . . . and their perspectives might surprise you! With spare, rhyming text and a bold limited palette, this simple board book captures the fun and tenderness of exploring new places together, and the joy of seeing the world through a child’s eyes.

Don’t miss the first book in this series, You See, I See: On the Farm!

The City Girls
Written & illustrated by Aki
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Bustling sidewalks, busy streets, museums, parks, and tasty treats—the City Girls are ready to explore in this adorable picture book! From Aki, the author-illustrator of The Weather Girls and The Nature Girls, comes a new picture book starring an adorable troupe of girls exploring the city and taking in all the diversity of life it has to offer! It’s morning time in the city./ We watch the sun rise, slow and pretty. Follow these busy girls as they wander through the city, taking in the sights. Charming rhyming verse and adorable art make this picture book irresistible—and perfect for sharing!

Cityblock
Written by Christopher Franceschelli & illustrated by Peskimo
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Cityblock explores city life in an exciting and unique way, from up in a high-rise building to down in the subway. Divided into three sections—things that go, things to see, and things to eat—it features 24 different aspects of city living. As with the other acclaimed books in the series, die-cut icons hint at the larger context on the next spread. Each section opens with a full city scene but gradually focuses in on the small, unique neighborhoods that make the city large and grand. This clever book will attract young readers living in a metropolis as well as those in the countryside with urban life that pops off each page.

Honorable Mentions

Want to see books about cities?

Books About City And Town Life and African Americans

Going Up!
Written by Sherry J Lee & illustrated by Charlene Chua
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Today is Olive’s birthday party, and Sophie and her dad have baked cookies. Sophie’s dad holds the platter so Sophie can push the elevator button for the tenth floor. But on the way up, the elevator stops to let the Santucci brothers get on. Then on the next floor, Vicky, Babs and their dog, Norman, get in. And as the elevator ascends, it keeps stopping, and more neighbors squeeze in to the crowded space: the Habibs, the Flores family, Mr. Kwan, Vi Tweedle with her Chihuahua, Minx. Everyone is going to the party!

Playfully combining the excitement and anticipation of a party with children’s universal love of riding in elevators, Sherry J. Lee’s picture book story is ultimately about community and a sense of belonging. With characters from many cultural backgrounds, it showcases the everyday diversity that many urban children experience. Charlene Chua’s illustrations provide loads of funny details and visual narratives that aren’t in the text, making for a multilayered reading experience. The book’s tall, narrow trim size adds to the effect of the rising elevator.

The Hula Hoopin' Queen
Written by Thelma Lynne Godin & illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

A spunky girl has a hula-hooping competition with her friends in Harlem, and soon everyone in the neighborhood—young and old alike—joins in on the fun.

Kameeka is confident that today she will finally beat her rival, Jamara, and become the Hula-Hoopin’ Queen of 139th Street. But then Mama reminds her that today is their neighbor Miz Adeline’s birthday, and Kameeka has a ton of chores to do to get ready for the party they are hosting. Kameeka’s disappointed to be stuck at home and can only think about the hoopin’ competition. Distracted, Kameeka accidentally ruins Miz Adeline’s birthday cake, and has to confess to her that there won’t be a cake for her special day. But then Miz Adeline’s confesses something too: she’s also got the itch—the hula-hoopin’ itch! Her fingers start snappin’. Her hips start swingin’. Soon everyone’s hips are swinging as the party spills out onto the street. The whole neighborhood’s got the itch—the hula-hoopin’ itch!

With vibrant illustrations by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen is a charming celebration of family and community ties. Set in Harlem, this intergenerational story shows the importance of staying young at heart.

My Year in the Middle
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Miss Garrett’s classroom is like every other at our school. White kids sit on one side and black kids on the other. I’m one of the few middle-rowers who split the difference. In a racially polarized classroom in 1970 Alabama, Lu’s talent for running track makes her a new best friend—and tests her mettle as she navigates the school’s social cliques. Sixth-grader Lu Olivera just wants to keep her head down and get along with everyone in her class. Trouble is, Lu’s old friends have been changing lately—acting boy crazy and making snide remarks about Lu’s newfound talent for running track. Lu’s secret hope for a new friend is fellow runner Belinda Gresham, but in 1970 Red Grove, Alabama, blacks and whites don’t mix. As segregationist ex-governor George Wallace ramps up his campaign against the current governor, Albert Brewer, growing tensions in the state—and in the classroom—mean that Lu can’t stay neutral about the racial divide at school. Will she find the gumption to stand up for what’s right and to choose friends who do the same?

Honorable Mentions
  1. So Done - When best friends Tai and Mila are reunited after a summer apart, their friendship threatens to combust from the pressure of secrets, middle school, and the looming dance auditions for a new talented-and-gifted program. Fans of Renée Watson’s Piecing Me Together will love this memorable story about a complex friendship between two very different African American girls—and the importance of speaking up. Jamila Phillips and Tai Johnson have been inseparable since they were toddlers, having grown up across the street from each other in Pirates Cove, a low-income housing project. As summer comes to an end, Tai can’t wait for Mila to return from spending a month with her aunt in the suburbs. But both girls are grappling with secrets, and when Mila returns she’s more focused on her upcoming dance auditions than hanging out with Tai. Paula Chase explores complex issues that affect many young teens, and So Done offers a powerful message about speaking up. Full of ballet, basketball, family, and daily life in Pirates Cove, this memorable novel is for fans of Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish and Jason Reynolds’s Ghost.

  2. All of the Above - Now with a new cover! A heart-warming, transformational story about a motley group of kids whose lives are changed by a math teacher’s challenge, written by award-winning author Shelley Pearsall with interior illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Javaka Steptoe. James Harris III, Rhondell, Sharice, and Marcel are four inner city students with a quest to build the world’s largest tetrahedron. Weaving together their different personal stories, their teacher, and the community that surrounds them, award winning author Shelley Pearsall has written a vividly engaging story about math, life and good-tasting barbecue. Filled with unexpected humor, poignant characters and quiet brilliance, All of the Above is based on a true story. Bonus content includes a revised authors note with photos, resources, and more!

  3. My Kicks - Boys love sneakers. But when a child finds that his toes have outgrown his favorite shoes, and they ve gotten too dirty and smelly, his mom says it s time for a new pair. Resistant to let go, the boy reminisces about all the good times he s had with his favorite kicks on the city streets. There s the paint splatter from his masterpiece and the drip from a Popsicle. There s the scuff from when he fell off his skateboard. And there are those frayed laces that he learned to tie in bows and doubles. A new pair just won t be the same. But, with bigger shoes to fill, the boy realizes new adventures await him. Maybe he could paint a little better? Or skate a little faster? This new picture book from the bestselling author of “I Am Yoga” explores the love and pride that kids have for their sneakers and the joy that can be found in growing up, growing out, and moving on. “

  4. I Got the Christmas Spirit - In the same feel-good style of I Got the Rhythm, this exuberant picture book explores the joys of the holiday season, once again illustrated by award-winning artist Frank Morrison. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and a mother and daughter are enjoying the sights and sounds of the holiday season. The little girl hears sleigh bells ringing and carolers singing. She smells chestnuts roasting—CRUNCH! CRUNCH! CRUNCH!—and sees the flashing lights of the department store windows—BLING! BLING! BLING! She spreads the spirit of giving wherever she goes. And when she reaches Santa, she tells him her Christmas wish—for peace and love everywhere, all the days of the year.

Books About City And Town Life and Family Life

A Thousand Questions
Written by Saadia Faruqi
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Set against the backdrop of Karachi, Pakistan, Saadia Faruqi’s tender and honest middle grade novel tells the story of two girls navigating a summer of change and family upheaval with kind hearts, big dreams, and all the right questions.

Mimi is not thrilled to be spending her summer in Karachi, Pakistan, with grandparents she’s never met. Secretly, she wishes to find her long-absent father, and plans to write to him in her beautiful new journal.

The cook’s daughter, Sakina, still hasn’t told her parents that she’ll be accepted to school only if she can improve her English test score—but then, how could her family possibly afford to lose the money she earns working with her Abba in a rich family’s kitchen?

Although the girls seem totally incompatible at first, as the summer goes on, Sakina and Mimi realize that they have plenty in common—and that they each need the other to get what they want most. 

This relatable and empathetic story about two friends coming to understand each other will resonate with readers who loved Other Words for Home and Front Desk

Some Places More Than Others
Written & illustrated by Renee Watson
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

All Amara wants for her birthday is to visit her father’s family in New York City—Harlem, to be exact. She can’t wait to finally meet her Grandpa Earl and cousins in person, and to stay in the brownstone where her father grew up. Maybe this will help her understand her family—and herself—in new way.

But New York City is not exactly what Amara thought it would be. It’s crowded, with confusing subways, suffocating sidewalks, and her father is too busy with work to spend time with her and too angry to spend time with Grandpa Earl. As she explores, asks questions, and learns more and more about Harlem and about her father and his family history, she realizes how, in some ways more than others, she connects with him, her home, and her family.

The Vanderbeekers Lost and Found
Written by Karina Yan Glaser
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

New York Times best-seller Karina Yan Glaser brings everyone’s favorite Harlem family back in this poignant fourth novel in the “delightful and heartwarming” (New York Times Book Review) Vanderbeekers series.

When autumn arrives on 141st Street, the Vanderbeekers are busy helping Mr. Beiderman get ready for the New York City Marathon and making sure the mysterious person sleeping in the community garden gets enough to eat. But when they discover the true identity of the person making a home in the community garden’s shed, their world turns upside down as they learn what it means to care for someone in an impossible situation.

In this fourth book in the Vanderbeekers series, return to 141st Street with Isa, Jessie, Oliver, Hyacinth, and Laney as they attempt to make their neighborhood a better place, one heartfelt plan at a time.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Tapper Twins Go to War - This bestselling first book in the Tapper Twins series is a hilariously authentic showcase of what it’s like to be in middle school in our digitally-saturated world, told as a colorful “oral history” with photos, screenshots, text messages, chat logs, and online gaming digital art. Twelve-year-old twins, Claudia and Reese, who couldn’t be more different…except in their determination to come out on top in a vicious prank war. But when the competition escalates into an all-out battle that’s fought from the cafeteria of their New York City private school all the way to the fictional universe of an online video game, the twins have to decide if their efforts to destroy each other are worth the price.

  2. Yasmin the Explorer - When Yasmin’s father explains to her about explorers and maps, Yasmin decides to make a map of her neighborhood and she brings it along on a trip to the farmers’ market with her mother—but will the map help her when they are separated?

  3. Rosetown - From Newbery Medalist Cynthia Rylant comes the charming story of nine-year-old Flora Smallwood and the eventful year she spends in the quiet community of Rosetown, Indiana. For nine-year-old Flora Smallwood, Rosetown, Indiana, is full of surprises, many of the best of which happen at the Wing and a Chair Used Book Shop, where she loves to read vintage children’s books after school in the faded purple chair by the window. But lately, those surprises haven’t been so good. Her dear old dog, Laurence, recently passed away. Not long after, her parents decided to take a breather from their marriage, and now Flora has to move back and forth between their two houses. Plus, she’s just begun fourth grade, and it is so much different than third. Luckily Flora has two wonderful friends—one old and one new. And with them around to share thoughts and laughs and adventures big and small, life in Rosetown still has many sweet moments—and even some very happy surprises!

  4. Switcharound - “Lowry fans will not be disappointed.” —_School Library Journal_   Caroline and J.P.’s father has asked them to come visit him and his new wife in Des Moines, Iowa. They don’t really want to go, but they also don’t have a say in the matter. Upon arriving, they discover they each have unexpected and unpleasant responsibilites. Caroline has to babysit their baby twin sisters and J.P. is forced to coach baseball to a bunch of six-year-olds.  The two decide to call a truce in their continual sibling warfare and help each other out. They soon discover there’s strength in numbers—and a little responsibility isn’t always a bad thing.

Books About City And Town Life and Cars And Trucks

Little Blue Truck Leads the Way
Written by Alice Schertle & illustrated by Jill McElmurry
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Zooom! Wooeeee . . . ! “Make way!”The big city sure is a speedy, noisy place for a country truck like Blue. Everywhere Blue looks, he sees buses, police cars, taxis, vans, a street sweeper, and even the mayor’s limousine. With everyone pushing to be first, soon there’s a giant traffic jam! But even a wrangle-tangle is no match for Little Blue Truck, who comes to the rescue in true Blue style.

Brimming with bright colors, sounds, and city energy, this adventure makes working together and taking turns more fun than ever. Now with a free downloadable party kit!

The Little Fire Truck
Written by Margery Cuyler & illustrated by Bob Kolar
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

A happy little fire truck, driven by Jill, zips all over town helping to put out fires and rescue animals.

Busy Fire Station
Written by & illustrated by Rebecca Finn
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-4

Push, pull, turn, and slide—it’s playtime! This interactive board book has spinners to turn and tabs to slide, colorful illustrations filled with things to spot, and lots of new vocabulary to learn. The siren wails and the lights flash blue: here comes the firefighting crew! Help the firefighters slide down the pole, zoom away, climb up the ladder and spray their hose . . . and save the day.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Skyscraper - Acclaimed picture book creator Jorey Hurley whose work has been called “stunning” and “dramatic” tells the story perfect for the youngest reader of all the different and mighty trucks it takes to build a city skyscraper! What once was a vacant lot, watch as truck by truck, a towering skyscraper is built in this beautifully illustrated picture book about trucks and construction. This beautiful picture book includes a glossary of fourteen truck images and their names.

  2. I Stink! - For fans of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site and Steam Train, Dream Train comes a noisy addition to the hilarious read-aloud series from Kate and Jim McMullan, the popular creators of I’m Bad! and I’m Dirty! Now a streaming animated series! “Know what I do at night while you’re asleep? Eat your trash, that’s what!” With ten wide tires, one really big appetite, and an even bigger smell, this garbage truck’s got it all. His job? Eating your garbage and loving every stinky second of it! And you thought nighttime was just for sleeping.

  3. Supertruck - When the city is hit by a colossal snowstorm, only one superhero can save the day. But who is this mysterious hero, and why does he disappear once his job is done? Find out in this snowy tale about a little truck with a very big job, the second of Stephen Savage’s vehicle-based picture books.

  4. The Little Ice Cream Truck - Everyone smiles when the little ice cream truck, loaded up with tasty treats, shows up at parties, baseball games, parks, and zoos.

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