10 Family-Friendly Picture Books from 2019

10 picture books published in 2019


Readability Age Range



Year Published

Book Review

Listed in alphabetical order:

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao

by Kat Zhang (author); Charlene Chua (illustrator); published by Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, a trademark of Simon & Schuster Inc.

Summary: Bao (rhymes with “wow”) are Chinese dumplings with sweet or savory filling. Little Amy Wu wants to make perfect bao like her mom, dad and grandma, so the whole family gathers to help her. Amy can never pinch just the right amount of dough around the ideal quantity of filling, and she grows discouraged. She gets an idea when she notices how small her hands are compared to those of the adults. She asks Grandma to cut her ball of dough into smaller pieces, and she makes a bao that is just right. She makes more perfect bao and takes them to school to share with classmates. Bright, energetic illustrations depict the determined Amy, her family and her faithful white kitten. A bao recipe appears at the back of the book.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: Amy’s parents and grandma enjoy cooking with her, and everyone celebrates when she succeeds.

The Crayon Man

by Natascha Biebow (author); Steven Salerno (illustrator); published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Summary: Inventor Edwin Binney loved color. With the help of his cousin, Harold Smith, he began inventing writing tools, like slate pencils and chalk. These were useful items in the 1800s, when paper was expensive and students used slates in schools. As he listened to others, like his school-teacher wife, Binney realized children needed safer, cheaper ways to draw in color. He and his team experimented with materials like paraffin wax. They ground bright-colored rocks and minerals into powder. They heated and cooled their creations until they developed just the right colors, shapes and sizes for their Crayola crayons. Binney and Smith’s crayons were a hit at the 1904 World’s Fair and increased in popularity with children as drawing paper became cheaper to produce. A section after the story provides a short biography of Binney. Photographs show the step-by-step process used for making Crayola crayons today.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: None

The Fabulous World that God Made

by Joyce K. Ellis (author); Andrés F. Landazábal (illustrator); published by Beaming Books

Summary: Using rhythmic text and cumulative storytelling (akin to *The House that Jack Built* or *The 12 Days of Christmas*), the author invites young listeners to echo phrases about the fabulous world God made. This story of Creation shows the progression from utter darkness to a world teeming with life and beauty. Vibrant, dramatic watercolor illustrations underscore the author’s descriptions of God’s power and provision.

Christian beliefs: Readers are gently reminded that God has plans for them and all of His people. He wants His followers to love and serve Him daily and to care for the gifts He has given them.

Authority roles: Illustrations depict Adam and Eve nurturing the animals in the Garden of Eden and modern-day parents spending time with their children at a city park.

A Father’s Love

by Hannah Holt (author); Yee Von Chan (illustrator); published by Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group

Summary: Animal fathers nurture their young in this rhyming book about loving dads. The story features male penguins, foxes, marmosets, lions, toads, seahorses, falcons, wolves and emus caring for their children in their unique and colorful habitats. Human dads happily rock their children to sleep. A final sketch shows the world from space, with animal fathers and their children depicted on every continent. The narrator asserts that a father’s love is everywhere. A section after the story provides added details about the tasks animal fathers of various species perform.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: Animal and human fathers love, protect and care for their young in a variety of ways.

The Little Book of Big What-Ifs

by Renata Liwska; published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

Summary: Softly-sketched forest creatures pose questions without answers for the reader to ponder. Some queries are humorous and playful: What might happen if you swallowed a seed or slept through your birthday? Some address more serious matters like being lost, getting along and assisting others. The furry characters find joy by sharing, helping, enjoying nature and discovering commonalities with others.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: A mother cuddles her children on a long train ride. Their grandparents eagerly embrace them when they arrive.

Llama Llama Mess, Mess, Mess

by Anna Dewdney and Reed Duncan (authors); JT Morrow (illustrator); published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

Summary: Llama Llama would rather play than tidy his room. Mama helps him imagine what the house would look like if *she* only played and never cleaned. She throws clothes, dust rags and towels around, makes a blanket fort and tosses junk food wrappers on the couch. Llama Llama examines the mess and realizes he no longer has a place to play. Besides that, the kitchen smells bad! He discovers cleanliness matters and recognizes he is big enough to help Mama keep things neat. He and Mama finish tidying together then do a puzzle on the uncluttered floor.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: Mama playfully teaches her son the importance of doing his part around the house.

Nothing: Nothing Can Separate You from God’s Love

by Natalee Creech (author); Joseph Cowman (illustrator); published by WorthyKids, a trademark of Hachette Book Group Inc.

Summary: Bright, whimsical illustrations show children exploring mountain tops and deep seas, witnessing extreme weather conditions and traveling great distances, even into outer space. Rhyming text assures them there’s no place they can go and no situation they can encounter where God is not near. One girl discovers that even making a careless decision does not disqualify her from God’s love and forgiveness.

Christian beliefs: Based on Romans 8:38-39, the text highlights the power and depth of God’s love and grace.

Authority roles: A father offers affection and forgiveness after a little girl rides her bike through the flower bed.

One Big Heart

by Linsey Davis with Beverly Davis (authors); Lucy Fleming (illustrator); published by Zonderkidz, a trademark of Zondervan

Summary: This rhyming narrative illustrates how a group of bright-eyed classmates celebrates their differences. The kids point out their diverse skin colors, hairstyles, heights and facial features. They recognize some children have unique talents and hobbies. But as they all play, dance and laugh together, they realize they are more alike than different. They are all full of questions, dreams and emotions. They all need friends to cheer them up when they’re sad. God has touched each of them, so the love and kindness He has put inside of them form one big heart.

Christian beliefs: The children recognize God has made them unique. He has planted the seeds of love and kindness in each one.

Authority roles: A jovial male teacher oversees the classroom and engages with students.

Quinn Says Goodbye

by Christie Thomas (author); Sydney Hanson (illustrator); published by Harvest Kids, a trademark of The Hawkins Children’s LLC and licensed by Harvest House Publishers Inc.

Summary: A young owl named Quinn returns home with Mama to find an injured firefly. Quinn and Mama nurse him back to health. Quinn grows attached to her new friend and names him Blink. One day, Quinn can’t find Blink and knows he has gone. As she cries, Mama reminds her Blink had to return to his own family. Mama says goodbyes are part of life. Quinn asks why God didn’t make Blink stay with her. Mama says God doesn’t always stop bad things from happening, but He promises He will always be with us. Mama and Quinn pray together. As Quinn flies through the forest, she sees hundreds of fireflies and knows God is looking out for Blink and for her. Notes and discussion questions about loss appear at the end of the book.

Christian beliefs: Mama reminds Quinn that God loves and comforts her in the midst of sorrow and loss.

Authority roles: Quinn lives with her parents. Her mother consoles her and points her to God.

Why God?

by Dan Dewitt (author); Christine Grove (illustrator); published by BH Kids, a division of B&H Publishing Group

Summary: Siblings Thomas and Hope have a lot of questions. As they play with their dog, Dorothy, they ponder a “humdinger” of a question: Why believe in God? Their mom gets them thinking by asking them to tell her where various things come from. She helps the kids see that plants, animals and people can’t just appear out of nowhere. She mentions the way God aligned the planets perfectly and made the earth ideal for life. She explains how Adam and Eve’s sin left the world broken, which is why bad things sometimes happen. She says God has put clues in our hearts that point us toward right and wrong. These clues show us His good, powerful and trustworthy nature. The book includes discussion questions.

Christian beliefs: Mom provides evidence for God in creation and notes how sin led to brokenness. The final page after the story elaborates on these ideas using Psalm 19:1 and Romans 1:18-20.

Authority roles: When Thomas and Hope ask tough questions about God, their mother offers evidence that points to a powerful and good Creator.

Plot Summary

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Christian Beliefs

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