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Before Morning

Joyce Sidman, illus. by Beth Krommes (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

With spare language and dazzling scratchboard artwork, Sidman and Krommes conjure the world-transforming magic of a blizzard. As night falls, a girl makes an almost incantatory wish for a snowstorm that might just keep her pilot mother home for a little longer.

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The Bossier Baby

Marla Frazee (Beach Lane)

Frazee builds on the success of The Boss Baby in this glass-ceiling-shattering sequel, which sees a newborn CEO displacing the demanding young exec who starred in the previous book. Has a corporate takeover ever been this much fun?

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Du Iz Tak

Carson Ellis (Candlewick)

Writing in a delightfully evocative invented language that begs for readers to make their own stabs at translation, Ellis allows readers to bear witness to the miniature adventures of a group of insects as a plant grows, a fort takes shape, a grasshopper wields a violin, and the seasons pass.

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Ideas Are All Around

Philip C. Stead (Roaring Brook/Porter)

Stead makes readers his companions on a ramble through his neighborhood, and his offhand reflections and happenstance encounters ("We talk about typewriters and the birdcalls we know. We talk about long lines of people waiting for something to eat") gradually reveal the way that observations and experience coalesce into art.

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Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph

Roxane Orgill, illus. by Francis Vallejo (Candlewick)

In 21 poems and a series of dynamic portraits, Orgill and Vallejo transport readers to Harlem 1958, when more than 50 jazz musicians—including Count Basie, Thelonius Monk, Mary Lou Williams, and many others—gathered for a one-of-a-kind photograph that serves as testament to their enduring talent and influence.

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The Journey

Francesca Sanna (Flying Eye)

This harrowing and strikingly illustrated tale follows a family's difficult journey out of a land plagued by violence in search of a safe, secure home. While Sanna's allegorical story isn't tied to any one place or incident, in light of ongoing refugee crises and immigration debates, it's both haunting and deeply relevant.

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Leave Me Alone

Vera Brosgol (Roaring Brook)

Giddily incorporating a whiff of science fiction into a story with the feel and structure of a classic folktale, Brosgol lets readers accompany an exasperated old woman as she seeks some peace and quiet to do her knitting. And if she needs to go through a wormhole to get it, so be it.

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Lucy

Randy Cecil (Candlewick)

Cecil stretches the boundaries of the picture book in this four-act tale of friendship, in which the lives of a stray dog, a girl, and her father, a talented juggler with stage fright, intersect in surprising ways, all captured in small black-and-white vignettes.

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One Minute Till Bedtime: 60-Second Poems to Send You Off to Sleep

Kenn Nesbitt, illus. by Christoph Niemann (Little, Brown)

Nesbitt collects dozens of succinct, original poems from Nikki Grimes, Jack Prelutsky, Judith Viorst, and many other writers, whose works are all designed to be read in less than a minute, and are illustrated with the understated style and humor that readers have come to expect from Niemann.

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A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of ‘The Snowy Day'

Andrea Davis Pinkney, illus. by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson (Viking)

Pinkney, Fancher, and Johnson pay poetic tribute to Ezra Jack Keats's beloved 1962 picture book, The Snowy Day, highlighting not just Keats's life and the making of the book, but the prejudices Keats faced as a Jew and the "all white" landscape into which The Snowy Day was originally published.

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Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat

Javaka Steptoe (Little, Brown)

Painting on found pieces of wood gathered across New York City, Steptoe offers a visually dynamic and inspiring biography of Jean-Michel Basquiat, mapping the swift rise of an artist whose life was cut short, but whose influence lingers.

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School's First Day of School

Adam Rex, illus. by Christian Robinson (Roaring Brook/Porter)

In Rex and Christian's pitch-perfect inversion of those all-too-Robinson's first-day jitters, a school building struggles to acclimate to the bustle of a new school year. It's bad enough that the hordes of kids that descend are far from tidy, but the building learns that—gasp—some kids "don't like school."

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This Is Not a Book

Jean Jullien (Phaidon)

When is a board book not a board book? When it's a laptop computer, tent, or butterfly with flapping wings. And thanks to Jullien's bold cartooning and clever rethinking of how the facing pages of each spread interact, this delightfully designed book transforms into those objects and many more.

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This Is Not a Picture Book!

Sergio Ruzzier (Chronicle)

In a wonderful visual metaphor for the experience of learning to read, Ruzzier shows a duckling and bug sidekick crossing into a strange landscape filled with odd machines and even odder creatures—a landscape that gradually becomes familiar as the duckling embraces the challenge and adventure of reading.

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Thunder Boy Jr.

Sherman Alexie, illus. by Yuyi Morales (Little, Brown)

The desire to claim an identity of one's own is at the heart of Alexie's playful yet serious-minded first picture book, illustrated with vigor and humor by Morales, in which a Native American child unhappy with his given name of Thunder Boy tries on some other ones for size.

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We Found a Hat

Jon Klassen (Candlewick)

Klassen fans can complete their trio of headwear-themed contemplations of morality with this story of two turtles who come upon a single hat in the desert. Those familiar with I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat may fear the worst, but Klassen once again demonstrates his ability to surprise.

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A Well-Mannered Young Wolf

Jean Leroy, illus. by Matthieu Maudet (Eerdmans)

In this sharp-toothed comedy first published in France, a dapper wolf sets out to hunt his prey the polite way. Just when it seems like the wolf's manners might leave him without a meal, some wicked turnabout rewards the polite and the truthful, and punishes those who don't keep their word.

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When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons

Julie Fogliano, illus. by Julie Morstad (Roaring Brook/Porter)

Pensive poetry and equally delicate illustrations celebrate the quiet moments that make each season memorable, from the busy newness of early May, when "everything is chirping/ and now there is purple," to the last days of autumn, when "there is nothing left to bloom/ or sprout/ or bud/ or grow."

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