By Michael Hall, Greenwillow Books, 40 pages, $21.99
These days it's very hard to love a mess. The cultural norm pushes us to be organized, efficient – to have a place for everything and have everything in its place. Frankencrayon is a beautiful, heartfelt plea for us to get over this. It is a book that not only encourages us to tolerate the odd squiggle on an otherwise perfectly white page but to see it as beautiful. All three of us loved this book and its timely message of flaunting imperfection.
By Ashley Spires, Tundra Books, 32 pages, $19.99
Yes, I overschedule Phoenix and Frida. Yes, they both loved this book about a boy who joins too many clubs and gets spread too thin. But in my own defence, I do it out of love – and that's the problem. The most beautiful point Spires makes in this book is that unscheduled time is just as, if not more, important than scheduled time. Since a large part of learning is accidental, our tendency to structure playtime means those accidents don't happen. So yes, Phoenix and Frida, I get it.
The Bear Who Went Boo!
By David Walliams, illustrated by Tony Ross, HarperCollins, 32 pages, $21.99
Why is it so much fun to scare someone? Is it just a bit of fun, a small joke? Or is it simply a polite way to be mean? Whatever the answer is, there's no debate that it's much more fun to scare someone than to be scared. This is the message of The Bear Who Went Boo! What could have come off as preachy is tempered by an impish Dahlesque undertone running through the text and illustrations. Wonderful!