8 Books For Younger Readers That Feature Animals Celebrating Holidays

These eight titles center anthropomorphic animals, from snails to cats, and many more, celebrating special days like Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Purim.

These titles center anthropomorphic animals, from snails to cats, and many more, celebrating special days like Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Purim.

Boynton, Sandra. Happy Easter, Little Pookie. illus. by Sandra Boynton. 18p. (Little Pookie). Boynton Bookworks. Jan. 2023. Board $6.99. ISBN 9781665928380.
Toddler-PreS –Boynton shares another endearing tale of Little Pookie told through the eyes of an adoring mother. This installment is about preparations for the sweet holiday of Easter in the beautiful spring weather. Mom sets up a playdate for Little Pookie and bunny friend, Bean. Keeping with the traditions of the holiday, the bunnies—Pookie and Bean, both wearing rabbit ears—hop around together and then spend the day decorating Easter eggs. As quickly as it started, the playdate is over, and Pookie and Bean bid each other farewell. Mom prepares Pookie for the arrival of the Easter Bunny and the fun of the hunt in the morning; but first, Pookie must sleep. Dreams of chocolate eggs dance in Pookie’s head as the book comes to an end. Simple rhyming text allows for an easy read-aloud with young children. “And now, silly rabbits, your playdate is done. Thank you for coming! We hope you had fun!” The soft pastel colors place readers in spring. ­ VERDICT Recommended for general purchase for board book collections, as Pookie is a recognizable character who will delight the youngest audiences.–Kristen Todd-Wurm

Ho, Jannie. Happy Chinese New Year!: A Festive Counting Story. illus. by Jannie Ho. 28p. Crown. Nov. 2022. Board $10.99. ISBN 9780593562970.
Toddler-PreS –A group of cheerful Zodiac animals get ready to celebrate Chinese New Year in this bright, inviting counting story. As the animals prepare for the New Year by engaging in traditional activities such as cleaning the house, buying new clothes, and filling envelopes with “lucky money,” young readers will also learn how to count to 12. Each spread shows the Chinese character, pronunciation, and English translation for the numbers one through 12. Cute, humorous illustrations will keep young readers’ attention as they move through the day with the smartly dressed Zodiac animals. End pages explain more about the Chinese New Year traditions depicted in the story. VERDICT This board book is ideal for collections in need of more Lunar New Year books for the youngest set.– Kristy Pasquariello

It’s Your Year, Baby Rabbit. illus. by Ariel Hsu. 20p. little bee. Nov. 2022. Board $8.99. ISBN 9781499813425.
Toddler-PreS –This cheerful board book introduces toddlers to the positive characteristics of those born during the Year of the Rabbit in the Chinese Zodiac. Bright, happy illustrations show Baby Rabbit spending time with friends and family, engaging in their favorite activities such as playing outside, cooking, and being helpful. Readers can even learn about the specific characteristics of the Rabbit depending on what year they were born: 2023 is the year of the Water Rabbit (smart and expressive), 1987 was the year of the Fire Rabbit (intelligent and skillful), and so on. VERDICT For displays centered on the Lunar New Year, this sweet tale adds another layer to the Chinese New Year celebration not often presented in books for little ones.–Kristy Pasquariello

Sattler, Jennifer. Peter Cottontail’s Hoppy Easter. illus. by Jennifer Sattler. 22p. Sleeping Bear. Dec. 2022. Board $9.99. ISBN 9781534111684.
Toddler-PreS –“Here comes Peter Cottontail, hopping down the bunny trail” is a song embedded in many heads as an Easter favorite. This nice pastel-colored board book puts a new spin on the popular song by making Peter a wee bit clumsy. Everyone is waiting for the sweet treats that the bunny brings to all members of the family—but can Peter get there this year without dropping or eating all the treats? Back matter further enhances the familiar song by having the reader go back in and “hunt” through the book to count the treats or identify the colors of the Easter eggs. Probing questions will help both adult and child extend the conversation about what was read, which is a wonderful early literacy strategy. VERDICT Recommended for general purchase for a board book/early childhood collection that includes books on holidays.–Kristen Todd-Wurm

Bluey: Easter. 32p. (Bluey). Penguin. Jan. 2023. pap. $5.99. ISBN 9780593658383.
PreS-Gr 1 –It’s the night before Easter, and the Heeler family, a pack of lovable Blue Heelers, settle in for bed. Sisters Bluey and Bingo worry that the Easter Bunny will forget them, because he arrived late the year before. Mum and Dad reassure the pups that the Easter Bunny will not forget them again. Easter morning arrives, and Bluey and Bingo eagerly dash to their Easter pouches. They are disappointed to find no chocolate eggs inside. Instead, they discover clues that unleash them on an unexpected scavenger hunt, sniffing out more clues through their house. From the mailbox to the kitchen to the sandbox, young readers will have a ball using their problem-solving skills to aid the two along on the trail. In the same brightly colored, animated style as the Australian preschool TV series Bluey, this lighthearted media tie-in offers bite-sized lessons for young readers without an overly didactic tone. Children will delight in reading about their familiar canine TV friends, while grownups will appreciate the occasional cheeky but appropriate humor woven throughout. VERDICT Purchase for holiday collections where the Bluey TV ­series or other media tie-in picture books are popular.– Emily Brush

Murray, Diana. Love Stinks! illus. by Gal Weizman. 32p. (Step into Reading). Random. Dec. 2022. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780593488461; pap. $5.99. ISBN 9780593488454.
K-Gr 2 –Children will root for a young skunk searching for love in this comic reader full of visual support for emerging readers. Many pages feature an animal pair and a two-word sentence, such as “Frog love,” that rhymes with the text on the preceding spread. While some of the visuals clearly support a heteronormative view of love, there is enough representation of animals without any gender clues that allow for the diversity of love in the world to be included. At the conclusion of the story, a piece of stinky cheese connects two skunks, and “stinky love” wins in the end. Some of the animals will be easier for children to read than others: “Gnat love,” for example, seems a challenging choice for a level one reader. However, the visual clues will make this a pleasant read for animal lovers or on Valentine’s Day. VERDICT Larger collections seeking comic readers for young elementary age students will find this a loveable choice.– John Scott

Slater, Dashka. Love, Escargot. illus. by Sydney Hanson. 40p. (Escargot: Bk. 3). Farrar. Nov. 2022. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780374314262.
PreS-Gr 2 –The charming Escargot is back for a Valentine’s Day adventure. On his way to a “Snailentine’s Day” party, the well-dressed and mannerly snail breaks the fourth wall and invites readers to participate through movement and dancing. A moment of gentle conflict arises when the party turns out to be hosted by a vole instead of a snail, but Escargot quickly overcomes his shyness and makes a new friend when the delightful Volerie invites him to dance. The snail’s vivacious monologue naturally invites a French-accented read-aloud, and soft, gently textured illustrations add an endearing touch. Though the narrative could easily ride on the sheer cuteness of its protagonist, Slater elevates it by seamlessly incorporating important themes into the lighthearted text. Escargot models kindness, demonstrates how to cope with daunting circumstances, and even introduces healthy relationship standards in a way that feels just right for a young audience: “Your snailentine should be somebody who makes you feel magnifique.” VERDICT Blending sweetness with substance, Escargot’s third picture book is a surefire hit for Valentine’s Day–themed story times.–Allison Tran

Waldman, Jenna. Purr-im Time! illus. by Erica J. Chen. 32p. Apples & Honey. Feb. 2023. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781681155937.
PreS-Gr 1 –Three little kittens celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim by baking hamantaschen cookies, delivering gift baskets to friends and neighbors, wearing costumes and marching in a parade, acting out the story of Queen Esther, shaking noisemakers, and enjoying carnival games. While most picture books about Purim for young readers tend to gloss over the Purim story, Waldman provides an age-appropriate context: “Haman wants to hurt the Jews; his heart is full of spite. No one else can save her people—Esther leads the fight! She warns the king of Haman’s plot; the kitties shout, ‘Hooray!’ All it takes is one strong voice—Queen Esther saves the day.” The clever rhyming text scans well, and colorful cartoon digital illustrations that completely anthropomorphize the kittens are fun, festive, and expressive. Hebrew terms like Chag Purim, megillah, gragger, and tzedakah are interspersed throughout, making this most suitable for readers already familiar with the holiday customs. VERDICT A welcome addition for secular and religious collections alike.–Rachel Kamin

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