With its delightfully bright colors and large, geometric-shaped characters, There, There by Taro Miura seamlessly combines the teaching of animal sounds with the learning of emotion and empathy. The board book begins with the conventional introduction of animal sounds: “Frog says … Chicken says …” But the lesson on sounds soon takes on narrative form as the animals begin to imitate the crying of a young child. The child, in turn, soothes the animals with the magic words “there, there.” Miura’s charming book is a lesson on compassion in disguise.

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The Only Child, Guojing’s impressive debut tells a poignant story of loneliness, longing and familial love. When a young child is left alone at home, isolation and boredom soon propel her to leave her city apartment to visit her grandmother. When she falls asleep on the bus and gets lost, she befriends a magical stag in the woods, and the two embark on an enchanting journey in which they encounter other fantastical creatures. Set against the backdrop of China’s one-child policy, this wordless picture book/graphic novel tenderly renders the emotional and imaginative world of a child through intricate, extraordinarily detailed illustrations and exceptional composition and pacing. On the first two pages, nine panels of exquisite illustration of the child’s family life (a tabletop clock, a wooden stag figurine, the child yawning happily while standing next to her mother, the mother pausing at the threshold of the apartment door on her way out) are juxtaposed against a blown-up drawing of the child’s slightly hunched back facing us while her face, not seen by us, faces the shut door. The stark contrast between the two pages acutely accentuates the child’s sadness. Reminiscent of classics such as Raymond Briggs’s The Snowman, this gorgeous, captivating book will resonate with readers of all ages.

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Is Mommy? (written by Victoria Chang and illustrated by Marla Frazee) is a delightful book in which a gaggle of mischievous tots is each asked the question with the refrain “is mommy …” followed by contrasting descriptors such as tall or short, pretty or ugly, nice or mean. The tots shout out the less favorable descriptor in the pair with irrepressible pleasure. But when asked if they love their “short, ugly, mean, boring, old, messy mommy,” the answer is an unequivocal, enthusiastic “yes!” Chang’s funny, heart-warming text paired with Frazee’s whimsical illustrations in which the mothers are taller replicas of their tots is uproariously fun and captivating.

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In Salina Yoon’s Be a Friend, a boy named Dennis communicates through miming rather than speaking, but his unique way of expressing himself often leaves him feeling isolated and invisible. One day an observant classmate reciprocates Dennis’s pantomimes, and soon, Dennis finds himself surrounded by new friends. A seasoned picture book writer and illustrator, Yoon creates a heartwarming story about embracing individuality and difference and the empowering nature of friendship.

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In Friends, by Aiko Ikegami, a young girl moves to a new country and finds herself different and alone in her new surroundings. Recess and lunch become especially trying times, as she longs for companionship. One day, a squirrel visits her, and soon more animal and kid friends come along. New friendship is developed through the communal partaking of food and play. Aiko Ikegami masterfully uses color to convey the mood of the story—the story gradually moves from a gray landscape to warm colors as the girl makes new friends. The soft texture of the illustrations has a pleasing effect on the composition.

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When snow falls, a young boy ventures outside with his sled and is soon joyfully immersed in a rich winter landscape. In Yuki Kaneko’s Into the Snow, an intricate depiction of a child’s curiosity and sense of adventure combined with Saito’s rich-textured illustrations will remind the readers the simple pleasures of childhood. A perfect snow day book.

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Chirri & Chirra (written and illustrated by Kaya Doi, translated by Yuki Kaneko) is enchanting. In this exquisitely illustrated book, twin girls Chirri and Chirra go on a magical bike ride in the woods, where their five sentences are awakened through simple pleasures that range from sipping on clover blossom tea in the forest café to munching on soy roll with chestnut jam to swimming in the forest pond. Doi has created a lush landscape and heartwarming storyline that will leave a lasting impression on readers of all ages.

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Mirim Seo’s craft kit, Sew Spectacular Adorable Animals, is what its name suggests: adorable. This delightful kit comes with a sturdy paper box that contains 12 animal cards, 6 embroidery skeins (in the shapes of animals that match with the animal cards), 1 blunt needle, 1 pushpin, and an easy-to-follow instruction booklet. The only slight drawback is that the kit does not come with the buttons that may be used to make the eyes of the animals. Overall, this kit is delightful and will make a great Christmas gift that the whole family can enjoy.

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In this modern day Christmas story, Santa, sans reindeers and sleight, arrives in a helicopter and drops presents through the window. At each of the houses that he visits, he looks through a die-cut frame to determine the identity of its resident. As a result, case after case of mistaken identity paired with mismatching gift ensues. Despite the mismatch, the recipients of the gifts find joy in what they have received and come together to celebrate. A joyful and subtle tale about gratitude and the joy of sharing. Young children may also be delighted by the way Presents through the Window: A Taro Gomi Christmas Book (written and illustrated by Taro Gomi, translated by Tadashi Yoshida) invites interaction through the sense of mystery produced by the die-cuts.

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Through lush illustrations, This is Our Baby, Born Today (written by Varsha Bajaj, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler) joyously celebrates the birth of an elephant and the idea that it takes a village to raise a child. From the loving mother to the shade of a Banyan tree, a character or element of the world that is intricately connected to the caring and growth of the baby elephant in introduced. The final spread shows the entire community rejoicing at the miracle of birth. This heartwarming book will remind readers of the interconnectedness of our existence and how beautiful it is to be part of a loving community.

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Baby Reindeer: Finger Puppet Book (illustrated by Yu-Hsuan Huang) captures the daily routine of a baby reindeer in a delightful winter landscape. Young children will be charmed by the reindeer puppet that threads the pages of the book. A great holiday gift for the youngest readers

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