Picture books for spring range from simple to complex for young readers (+video)

Published: Saturday, May 25 2013 2:00 p.m. MDT

"Exclamation Mark" is by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld.

Scholastic Press

New picture books range from seemingly simple art to classical styles with thoughtful stories to share with a variety of ages. Following are 20 favorites to enjoy during the spring and summer.

EXCLAMATION MARK,” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, Scholastic, $17.99 (all ages)

A story by a punctuation mark seems impossible, but this isn’t any ordinary mark like a quotation mark or a comma. This is an exclamation mark that tries to fit in but “wasn’t like everyone else. Period.”

Until one day he meets a question mark that teaches him endless possibilities. “It was like he broke free from a life sentence.”

Exclamation Mark” has a seemingly simple lesson in being true to oneself and making a difference. Bravo!

JASPER & JOOP,” by Olivier Dunrea, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $9.99 (ages up to 3 years)

Olivier Dunrea follows up his successful dot-eyed Gosling series (“Gossie” and “Ollie”) with two new friends — Jasper, who “tidies his nest and puts on his cap and tie” and Joop, who “rumples his nest and messes his feathers.”

The small size book is the right story for small hands that may recognize themselves as happy and clean or messy and … well, clean. The visual and textual clues let readers know that Jasper and Joop are best friends that will surely find lots of book friends.

NIGHT LIGHT,” by Nicholas Blechman, Scholastic, $16.99 (ages 3-5)

This is a counting book, a puzzle book and a hole-in-the-page book with abbreviated text. The very youngest audience can guess, “1 light bright?” (an illuminated train on the next page), “2 lights hovering in flight?” (an airplane) counting up through the number 10. Die cuts on shiny black pages alternate with vehicles that are familiar to preschoolers. “Night Light” is a read-it-again book.

“NO FITS, NILSON!” by Zachariah OHora, Dial, $16.99 (ages 3-6)

Nilson and Amelia are best friends and play together until something goes wrong. Then Nilson throws a fit. Not just a little tantrum, but a house-shaking, raging fit. Even with a promise of banana ice cream, it takes some calming down on Amelia’s part. Or does it? There’s a twist here that will cause all tantrum-aged children to take a better look at themselves. Bold acrylic paintings keep complete focus on the story in this picture book due out in June.

“HAVE YOU SEEN MY NEW BLUE SOCKS?” by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier, Clarion, $16.99 (ages 3-5)

Duck looks for his lost blue socks. He asks for help from the ox, the fox and even the peacock: “They are new. Without my socks I feel undressed.”

It is peacock that discovers where they are. Young listeners will begin to chant the rhyming couplets almost immediately.

Another book about hidden things is STRIPES OF ALL TYPES,” by Susan Stockdate, Peachtree Publishers, $15.95 (ages 2-6)

Both exotic and more familiar animals with stripes are portrayed in acrylic stylized drawings; for example, a tiger in a stunning double-page spread and a detailed swallowtail butterfly created with striped bodies. Simple alliterative and rhyming text accompanies the menagerie. The author has included an appended page with information on each creature as well as a puzzle for guessing the animals featured in the book.

YES, LET’S,” by Galen Goodwin Longstreth and Maris Wicks, Tanglewood, $15.95 (ages 3-8)

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