School may be looming (horrors) but there’s plenty of summer left. USA TODAY’s Jocelyn McClurg recommends six illustrated picture books to help tykes enjoy the sunny season before it evaporates. (Warning: Pack a picnic basket; there’s a theme here. And rain may be in the forecast!)
1. “Pignic” by Matt Phelan (Greenwillow, ages 4-8)
The story: Mom and Dad Pig and their little piglets decide it’s a perfect day for a picnic. What could go wrong? A tree that’s too high to climb? No breeze to fly a kite? A sudden storm and lots of mud? No worries, they’re pigs. They love mud!
What kids will like: Any little person who’s ever stomped in a puddle or played in the mud will squeal with delight at this adorable homage to a summer downpour (and a jolly family outing).
“I Got It!”
“I Got It!” (Photo: Clarion)
2. “I Got It!” by David Wiesner (Clarion, ages 4-7)
The story: In this wordless depiction of a kids’ co-ed pickup baseball game, an anxious boy of about 12 waits forever for a fly ball to land in his glove. Will he pull off Aaron Judge-like heroics, or will it be just out of reach? The title gives a hint.
What kids will like: Fancifully conceived and illustrated, “I Got It!” scores with the feel-good message that you don’t have to be a superstar athlete to be a winner.
3. “Summer Color!” by Diana Murray; illustrated by Zoe Persico (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, ages 4-8)
The story: Kids who live in the country have a wonderful place to explore on a summer day – the great outdoors, filled with flowers and creatures and what’s this? Rain! Which means a rainbow might just be waiting at the end.
What kids will like: Helicopter parenting be gone! Kids revel in their freedom in this carefree story, which doubles as a pretty, clever lesson in color (“treetops so green,” “petals so pink”).
“Summer Color!” (Photo: Little, Brown)
4. How to Code a Sandcastle by Josh Funk; illustrated by Sara Palacios (Viking Books for Young Readers, ages 4-8)
The story: It’s the end of summer vacation, and Pearl’s last chance to build a sandcastle. She’s brought along her rust-proof robot pal. Now all she has to do is code Pascal to fill a pail, dump the sand, and shape and decorate the castle. Wait, not with the lifeguard!
What kids will like: Code at the beach? That sounds like work. But this whimsical “Girls Who Code” book finds the fun (and the funny) in computer science for girl geeks.
“How to Code a Sandcastle”
“How to Code a Sandcastle” (Photo: Viking)
5. Sun by Sam Usher (Templar, age 3-7)
The story: On a (very) hot, sunny day, a boy and his granddad escape the city looking for just the right place for a, yep, a picnic. They gather provisions and a map and begin a trek that somehow takes them across a meadow, along a desert and tropical beach, and into a cave – where a pirate ship awaits! Talk about a picnic.
“Sun” by Sam Usher.
“Sun” by Sam Usher. (Photo: Templar)
What kids will like: Summertime often means a visit to grandparents, and this lovingly imagined adventure will tickle any kid who has one (or more).
6. Picnic With Oliver by Mika Song (HarperColllins, ages 4-8)
The story: When best pals Oliver the cat and Philbert the mouse pack for a picnic in the park, the wheels threaten to come off. Literally. But a bagel makes a great replacement for their cart, and Oliver and his trusty umbrella ride to the rescue after a storm swamps Philbert’s tiny boat.