Four New Picture Books by Caldecott-winning Illustrators

Four new books by Chris Raschka, Micha Archer, Elisha Cooper, and Sophie Blackall celebrate the variety of life on earth and the power of imagination.

Tomorrow’s Lily by Chris Raschka. Greenwillow, 2024, 32 pages.

Reading Level: Picture Book, ages 4-8

Recommended for: ages 4-8

Pretty Lily/ You bloom for just one day./ You open to the sun/ and close at the moon/ and your life is done.

In his iconic splashy and colorful style, Raschka features one lily for each day of the week and suggests why it blooms: for the cat, for friends, or possibly for nobody except its own beauty. Preschoolers will learn the days of the week while grownups reading to them will inevitably think about the swift passage of time. I wonder if Raschka had Psalm 103:15 in mind: “As for man, his days are like grass. Like a flower of the field he flourishes . . .” Little children probably won’t catch the brooding tone, but may hold on to this worthwhile thought: “We’re all like lilies: we bloom for others.” Worth reading more than once for that one.

Overall rating: 4.5


*What’s New, Daniel? by Micha Archer. Nancy Paulsen Books (PRH), 2024, 32 pages.

Reading Level: Picture Book, ages 0-4

Recommended for: ages 2-6

Daniel is meeting Grandpa in the park. “What’s new, Daniel?” Grandpa asks.

Most of us would reply, “Uh, nothing much.” But Daniel himself is relatively new to this world, and the park is full of friends to whom he can ask the same question. The redwing blackbirds are back, the ducklings are hatched, the polliwogs are growing legs, and the snake has a shiny new skin. It’s spring, and the whole world is waking up. As for Daniel, he has a new tooth and is learning to whistle. This simple story covers a lot of ground: the turn of seasons, the generational connection between a boy and his grandpa, the exuberant life packed into the earth. Daniel and his friends pop against a background of cut-paper collage and the friendly text should inspire readers to wonder, “What’s new with me?”

Overall rating: 5


Emma Full of Wonders by Elisha Cooper. Roaring Brook, 40 pages.

Reading Level: Picture Book, ages 0-4

Recommended for: ages 2-6

Emma was a large dog with many small dreams. She dreamed of singing, dancing, rolling in the grass, splashing in water, going for walks. One, two, three four, five. Her favorite things.

What do dogs dream about? Probably the same things we see them doing every day. Emma is a domestic dog; we see her house but don’t see her owners. This is strictly a dog’s life, as Emma explores her world. Some days are full of her favorite things and some are lonely and pensive. But there came a time when the loneliness increased, when “her whole body felt strange.” At the turn of the next page, little readers will be surprised and fascinated to see a puppy emerging from between Emma’s back legs!  Seven in all, and soon they are rolling and tumbling and doing all of Emma’s favorite things as “Her dreams came true.” Simple shapes quietly underscore the miracle of life in a way very young children can understand and appreciate.

Overall Rating: 4.5


Ahoy! by Sophie Blackall. Anne Schwartz Books (PRH), 2024, 48 pages.

Reading Level: Picture Book, ages 4-8

Recommended for: ages 3-6

A lively little boy is raising a ruckus in the living room while his dad (or the grownup who appears to be his dad) vacuums the rug. “What are you playing?” “I’m not playing!” There’s a storm brewing in the boy’s imagination and it’s time to batten down the hatches and ride it out. With little persuasion the adult joins in, and the two launch upon the high seas in their slender sloop. The boy shouts nautical lingo with wild abandon until the grownup has to take a call. While he’s going blah-blah-blah on the phone, the boy lies face down on the rug: “We are in the doldrums.” But imagination reasserts itself when the grownup is attacked by a giant squid that looks suspiciously like a vacuum cleaner. Kids will be treated to an adventurous ride and grownups will enjoy the touches of humor (and check the list of nautical terms at the front). I should note, though, when another grownup appears at the end, he’s also a man. Is this a same-sex couple? Probably. Will the charm of the story overshadow that suggestion? You decide.

Overall rating: 3.5

Read more about our ratings here.

Also at Redeemed Reader:

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Order Tomorrow’s Lily from Amazon.

Order What’s New, Daniel? from Amazon.

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Order Ahoy! from Amazon.

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Janie Cheaney

Janie is the VERY senior staff writer for Redeemed Reader, as well as a long-time contributor to WORLD Magazine and an author of nine books for children. The rest of the time she's long-distance smooching on her four grandchildren (not an easy task). She lives with her equally senior husband of almost-fifty years in the Ozarks of Missouri.

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