BE QUIET! by Ryan T. Higgins; Disney-Hyperion; $17.99, 40 pages, ages 3-8. 

Rupert the mouse has a dream: to craft a beautiful, wordless picture book. His ideas are grand, but when his friends hear about the project, they interject. A lot. And come up with all sorts of ideas. Unfortunately, brainstorming requires…talking, and poor Rupert quickly loses his cool, while his credibility as an artistic know-it-all slowly loses its veneer in perfectly paced slapstick. Clearly, this is not going to be a wordless picture book, but Rupert’s going to give it everything he’s got–even at the expense of his lofty sensibilities. The book is sure to be a hit with preschoolers, but offer BE QUIET! to a first- or second-grader to read aloud, and watch the hilarity ensue. The creator of Mother Bruce knocks it out of the park once again with another wacky menagerie of characters while also cleverly engaging adults with definitions of onomatopoeia, visual stimulation, and most importantly, irony.

Home Sweet Home

For a pleasant mid-winter mix, we offer two books in the spirit of warmth and love.

Mother Bruce, by Ryan T. Higgins; Hyperion Books, $17.99, 48 pages, ages 4-8.

is a solitary type of bear–downright grumpy, in fact. His single joy is cooking eggs. Bruce scours the forest for his hard-shelled treats, harvesting them for
complicated recipes he finds on the internet. (Naturally, there’s WIFI
in his den.) One day, a clutch of locally-sourced goose eggs hatches,
and Bruce has to put aside his own concerns in order
to raise the baby chicks. Alongside plenty of edgy adult humor to
keep parent and child entertained, Higgins offers a droll examination of interspecies
families and unconditional love.  

Home, by Carson Ellis; Candlewick Press, $16.99, 32 pages, ages 1-4.

Fans of Lemony Snicket’s The Composer is Dead and cover art for the band The Decemberists will quickly recognize the work of Carson Ellis in her debut solo picture book. Here, Ellis employs gouache and ink to showcase all the different fanciful places that may be called home. Whether it’s a Norse god at Valhalla, a Keynan blacksmith at his abode, or an old lady and her shoe, each homebody is united by the fact that their dwellings all provide warmth and protection. (Keep an eye out for Ellis herself, hard at work in her studio.) Whimsical and touching, this is a tender reminder that no matter what you call it, home is where the heart is.