10 Family-Friendly Picture Books From 2015

illustration of inquisitive children


Readability Age Range



Year Published

Book Review

Listed in alphabetical order:

Ally-Saurus and the First Day of School

by Richard Torrey (author/illustrator); published by Sterling Children’s Books, a trademark of Sterling Publishing Co. Inc.

Summary: Ally is a little girl who loves dinosaurs. She stomps around the house, roars and tells her mother and teacher to call her Ally-saurus. It is Ally’s first day of school, and the other kids she meets aren’t sure what to make of her dinosaur behavior. To make matters worse, they don’t want to play dinosaur with her. One boy thinks he’s a spaceman. Three other girls think they’re princesses, and they’re not especially nice to Ally. She sits alone at lunch, until she’s joined by Cindy, who likes dragons, Jason, who enjoys lions, and Walter, who is simply enamored with his new lunchbox. Before long, all of the kids play together, trying new games that incorporate their various favorite characters. During library time, Ally starts to check out a book about dinosaurs. The librarian tells her there are books on all kinds of different things. Ally ends up getting a book on bunnies. The next day, she hops out of bed with bunny ears and can’t wait to go to school.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: Ally’s parents help her get ready for her first day of school and encourage her in her new endeavor. Ally’s teacher and school librarian help her learn and try new things.

Because Your Grandparents Love You

by Andrew Clements (author); R.W. Alley (illustrator); published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

Summary: A little boy and girl visit their grandparents’ farm. They quickly discover farm life includes many activities that are difficult or challenging for little ones. Whether they’re avoiding cow manure, feeding scary horses, hauling hay, getting eggs from chickens or picking and peeling apples, the kids face their challenges. Each time, the narrator mentions a cautionary or critical remark a grandparent could make in this situation. But these grandparents never do. Instead, they gently show the children how to manage the task at hand, and they help the kids when they need it. The result of everyone’s hard work is a homemade apple pie. After dinner, they all play a game by the fire, and Grandpa reads a bedtime story. The grandparents send the children off to bed with comforting words about the sleeping farm and the fun they’ll have tomorrow.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: Grandma and Grandpa lovingly take time to teach their grandchildren rather than getting angry or belittling them for their mistakes.

Bunny’s First Spring

by Sally Lloyd-Jones (author); David McPhail (illustrator); published by Zonderkidz, a trademark of Zondervan

Summary: A little rabbit watches new life appear all around him. Grass and trees grow. New lambs, chickens and ducks are born, all trying out their new little legs. Robins sing and build nests in the trees. Soon, their babies begin to fly. Apples and corn and flowers grow, and the bunny’s parents tell him the world is strong and beautiful like him. Bunny becomes concerned, however, as the days grow shorter and cooler. Birds, mice and frogs leave homes for warmer spots. As the bunny watches leaves fall from skeletal trees, he fears the earth is dying. The rivers and plants and animals gently call out that they will return. Bunny, very sleepy, nestles in a cave with his parents. One morning, he finally sees the ice cracking and melting, his friends returning and plants bursting from the earth. The excited bunny believes it is the birthday of the whole world.

Christian beliefs: A Martin Luther quote on the final page talks about God writing His promise of new life in the leaves of springtime.

Authority roles: Bunny’s parents encourage him as he revels in the world’s beauty and comfort him when he fears the earth is dying.

A Dozen Cousins

by Lori Haskins Houran (author); Sam Usher (illustrator); published by Sterling Children’s Books, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co. Inc.
Summary: Anna has a dozen cousins. They’re all younger, and they’re all boys. Colorful cartoon illustrations show the ways these smelly, noisy creatures terrorize Anna. They read her diary. They paint the house with her craft supplies. They put critters in her hat to see what she’ll do. They use her clothes and toys for their outdoor adventures, and even try to launch her doll into space. They sneak up on her several times, put ice cubes down her back and use her violin for fishing. They pretend to be sweet but end up playing tricks on her. They eat all the sweets in the house and abandon Anna when the ice cream truck rolls down the street. Anna always appears calm and unruffled by their antics. The book ends with a picture of Anna and her cousins eating ice cream together. The narrator says, in spite of everything, Anna wouldn’t trade her cousins for the world.
Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: None

Faraway Friends

by Russ Cox (author/illustrator); published by Sky Pony Press, a trademark of Skyhorse Publishing Inc.

Summary: Sheldon is sad when his best friend in the neighborhood moves away. The moving truck says Jupiter Moving Co., so Sheldon knows his friend is moving to Jupiter. He wonders how he’ll ever see his friend again. Then he gets an idea. He will fly to Jupiter! With the help of his trusty dog, Jet, he begins to design a rocket ship using trash cans, a barbecue grill lid, the dog house and various other pieces of wood. Sheldon and Jet get in their ship, the Friendship 1, and blast off. They travel through imaginary space storms and see other flying saucers. Then, over the fence, they see a boy dressed as an alien with his cat. Sheldon fears they’re under attack, until the alien rides over on his tricycle. He introduces himself as Rubin, and says his alien cat is Nova. Rubin helps Sheldon fix his ship, and they blast off for Jupiter together.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: None

Little Sleepyhead

by Elizabeth McPike (author); Patrice Barton (illustrator); published by P.G. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group

Summary: Soft, colorful sketches show various tired babies getting ready for bedtime. Short phrases talk about the tiny body parts that got a workout throughout the day. Babies are depicted lying on their backs ,wiggling their toes and walking and crawling with parents. Some babies sit with older siblings eating a snack or blowing bubbles. Little arms wave at birds in the yard and play with pets. Grandparents cuddle with little ones, and one Grandpa plays guitar music to lull a baby to sleep. A mother reads a bedtime story. The final picture shows a baby sleeping with his favorite stuffed toy.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: Parents and grandparents lovingly snuggle, hold and play with the babies.

Llama Llama Gram and Grandpa

by Anna Dewdney (author/illustrator); published by Viking, part of Penguin Young Readers Group

Summary: Llama goes to Gram and Grandpa’s for his first overnight away from Mama. He puts his favorite stuffed toy, Fuzzy Llama, in the back seat with his backpack. At his grandparents’ house, he enjoys a snack, plays with them around the farm, does a craft with Grandpa and enjoys a yummy dinner. After they look at the stars together and read, Llama begins to cry. He realizes he’s left Fuzzy Llama in the car and can’t go to sleep without him. Grandpa quickly produces the stuffed llama he had as a child. Gram and Grandpa tuck Llama in once more. This time, holding Grandpa’s llama, he sleeps peacefully.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: Mama gets Llama packed and takes him to his grandparents’ house. Gram and Grandpa lovingly talk with, entertain and comfort Llama throughout his visit.

Penny and Jelly: The School Show

by Maria Gianferrari (author); Thyra Heder (illustrator); published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

Summary: All the kids at Peabody Elementary are participating in the talent show. Penny tries out all kinds of talents, from tuba playing to ballroom dancing and baton twirling to fashion design for dogs. She makes a list of ideas but ultimately crosses everything off when she can’t do it well. Her faithful dog, Jelly, sees her through as her failed attempts make her discouraged. Penny sits sadly in her closet with Jelly by her side. She decides to skip the talent show so no one will know how untalented she really is. Girl and dog howl together, and Penny gets an idea. For the talent show, they perform a duet. Jelly howls, and Penny plays kazoo. They win the award for best friends.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: The school principal presents awards at the talent show.

The Plans I Have for You

by Amy Parker (author); Vanessa Brantley-Newton (illustrator); published by Zonderkidz, a trademark of Zondervan

Summary: The narrator, God, tells readers He has big plans for them. He may use them in a hospital, or a zoo, or a rain forest. They may be chefs, dancers, artists or musicians. They may teach school, fly planes, construct buildings or help the sick. He says His purposes are big, and He put a special purpose in each person at birth. He’s counting on them to be His hands and feet. He reminds them He’s left instructions in His book, so they should read it and learn how to fulfill His purposes. He tells them there’s nothing on earth they can’t do if they have His help. He urges them to find what inspires them and do it so they can make the world better.

Christian beliefs: The book centers around Jeremiah 29:11. This verse appears at the front of the book.

Authority roles: In several pictures, kids who are following God’s plans are surrounded by happy adults trying to help them succeed.


*by Eileen Spinelli (author); Archie Preston (illustrator); published by Zonderkidz, a trademark of Zondervan

Summary: Under the watchful, loving eyes of their parents, a young brother and sister dress up and test out different careers while playing pretend. They imagine what each type of person must appreciate most on a daily basis. They suggest that reporters must be thankful for news; gardeners for sprouts; poets for rhymes; doctors for healthy patients; and tailors for sewing machines. They envision themselves as an artist, a fireman, a waitresses, a clown, a dancer, a beekeeper — even the mayor and the queen. They think about how travelers must be grateful for cozy hotels and bird watchers for new types of birds to add to their lists. At the end, the sister hugs the brother and says she is thankful for him.

Christian beliefs: A pastor is depicted as being thankful for God’s loving Word. Psalm 107:1 appears at the beginning of the book.

Authority roles: The children’s parents play with them and patiently teach them to do household activities such as sewing and cooking.

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