Brianna’s Books: March Favorites 2024

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It was hard to narrow down my list this month! There are some great books coming out in March.

Picture Books

coverAll Aboard the Alaska Train” written by Brooke Hartman and illustrated by John Joseph

This is the perfect book for train and nature enthusiasts alike! Readers are invited to board the (apparently iconic) Alaska Train, as it races, rumbles, rattles and rambles its way through Alaska. Each new page turn features an Alaskan animal, with engaging rhyming text that will encourage little ones to guess the animal before the reader states it. The animals surreptitiously join the passengers on the train as it travels through various landscapes and habitats. Finally, the train is stalled at the foot of a tall mountain, and the animals all get off the train to help push it up the tracks. While the plot isn’t a main focus here, little ones will love seeing all the different types of animals, and the excellent rhythm of the text keeps things moving briskly. My toddler currently loves trains and animals, so I’m looking forward to sharing this one with him!

coverBunny Should Be Sleeping” written by Amy Hest and illustrated by Renata Liwska   

This is another self-indulgent pick, as my boy often calls himself a little bunny, based on the “Sleeping Bunnies” song. Bunny should be sleeping, but he’s waiting in his cozy bed for Dad to come check on him like he always does. But Dad hasn’t come yet, so Bunny decides to check on him instead. Bunny packs a wagon with everything Dad might need: water, a snack and their favorite book. When he finds Dad asleep on the bed, Bunny enjoys the water and snack himself before waking Dad with a gentle tap on the nose. Though groggy, Dad immediately offers Bunny a hug and thanks him for checking on him. Then the two snuggle in Bunny’s bed while they read their book. There’s a lot of bedtime books out there, but there’s so much to love about this one. It features a competent and loving dad as the primary caregiver, even though he’s fallen asleep early by accident. (With a two-year-old and a five-month-old, I can definitely identify with this.) The illustrations are delightfully cozy and filled with small details that littles will love to point out. And the message about reassurance and love is perfect for bedtime.

Chapter Books

coverWarrior on the Mound” written by Sandra W. Headen

Next up is a heavy hitter. Cato is a baseball-loving boy growing up in a small Southern town in the 1930s. He’s an excellent pitcher and dreams of playing in the Negro Baseball Leagues like his brother and recently deceased father. Cato and his team practice religiously on their makeshift baseball field, but one day they investigate the new field built for the white team. They can’t resist practicing on it, and when they are caught, racial tension in their town surges. Someone proposes that the boys settle on who should use the field by competing in a series of ballgames, which only fuels more threats and violence. Told in the first person, this is an excellent blend of sports action and coming of age in the Jim Crow South. There’s also extensive backmatter for readers eager to learn more.

coverThe Fight for the Hidden Realm” by Siobhan McDermott

We’ll finish with a fantasy option! Zhi Ging is an orphan and outsider in her village, and dreams of training as a Silhouette, an apprentice to the immortals. The immortals protect their provinces from spirits, and Zhi Ging is desperate to join their ranks and escape a life of dangerous drudgery. She fails her entrance examination, and a rival girl from her village is chosen instead. But when she fends off a surprise dragon attack, the Silhouette scout sees her potential and hurries her away to the underwater city of Hok Woh for training. As Zhi Ging makes friends and faces magical challenges in her classes, she begins to learn more about her parentage and mysterious powers. Meanwhile, the Fui Gwai demon threatens the mortal world above, and its attacks come closer and closer to her new home. This book obviously follows the magical boarding school tropes, but there is some truly delightful worldbuilding that sets it apart. Not only does it lean on Cantonese mythology, but there is also a jellyfish-based communication system. I’m not a fan of jellyfish generally, but these ones sound adorable. Heads up though, this is a series-opener and ends on a cliffhanger!