Featured books will be available for the public today. To place them on hold, call the Walla Walla Public Library at 527-4550 or go to wallawallapubliclibrary.org.

Picture books

“Leila in Saffron,” by Rukhsanna Guidroz; illustrated by Dinara Mirtalipova

In a lyrical story about identity, family origins, and self-worth, Leila sees only her “skinny arms and knobby knees” in the mirror.

But during a gathering at her Naani’s house, Leila looks to her family “for parts of me that I like.” She notes the similarities between her smile and her aunt’s, looks forward to buying books written in Arabic during her first trip to Pakistan, and regards Naani’s silk scarves in “the color of lentils, bright and orange; pomegranates, juicy and rosy; cucumber skin, dark and green; and threads of saffron, gold and copper.”

Her careful observations lead her to discover a unique internal mosaic of influences that “make me who I am.” 

Mirtalipova illustrates in dramatic jewel tones that capture a homey atmosphere of abundance and warmth. Ages 4-8

— Publishers Weekly

“The Pawed Piper,” by Michelle Robinson; illustrated by Chinlun Lee

A young girl desires to own a pet cat to cuddle, so she researches the things that cats like and develops a plan to attract one to her home. 

Her hard work pays off and not only does she attract one cat, but all of the neighborhood cats as well. Now, faced with a dilemma and many sad neighbors, the disappointed young girl sets out to make amends and discovers a wonderful surprise in the process.

This book perfectly captures the feeling of wanting a pet so badly that one will do almost anything to get one. The range of emotions that are experienced in the process are palpable, from loneliness and disappointment to elation and satisfaction. The concept of doing the right thing even when it is a hard thing is also introduced. 

The variety of cats depicted in the watercolor illustrations is delightful and the scenes are sunny and bright, giving the story an overall feeling of hope and happiness. 

In depicting a scenario that many wistful young pet owners may relate to, this text has wide appeal for those in the preschool through early education years. Ages 2-5

— School Library Journal

“Skulls!” by Blair Thornburgh; illustrated by Scott Campbell

A celebration of that thing everyone has to hold eyes, nose, and teeth in place.

Thornburgh urges readers to appreciate their skulls, which are not only “safe and snug, like a car seat for your brain,” but come with convenient holes for seeing, hearing, and chowing down on grilled-cheese sandwiches. Even without noses (which are “more of a cartilage thing”), skulls also give faces a good shape and, despite what some people think, really aren’t trying to be scary. 

Campbell’s cartoon illustrations feature racially diverse humans, animals, or crowds whose heads switch back and forth between smiling flesh and X-ray views with the turn of a page. Assurances notwithstanding, they tend to undermine that last claim — at least at first. Still, any initial startlement should soon give way to a willingness to echo the author’s “I love my skull!”

A page of “Cool Skull Facts!” opposite a final, fairly anatomically correct image gives this good odds of becoming a STEM and story time favorite.

Readers who have never thought of it before will agree: “Take care of your skull, because you only get one.” Ages 5-7

— Kirkus Review

“Can Cat and Bird Be Friends?” by Coll Muir

Getting from the title question to yes is challenging for Cat, a smoky black oblong with pointy ears and prominent claws, and Bird, a bright white circle with stick black legs and an aeronautical tail. 

As their brisk, all-dialogue story opens against a minimalist taupe backdrop, Cat insists, “I must eat you” because “it’s always been like that.” But Bird is unwilling to rule out friendship and counters with thoughtful gestures — like showing Cat a “fun box” to play in — then successfully demands reciprocity from Cat, who takes Bird to a trove of worms. Now they’re friendly, but real friendship requires common ground, and that’s nowhere in sight (“‘Do you like flying?’ ‘Of course not. I’m a cat’”). 

An offhand remark by Bird reveals a shared passion for painting, and the final spread finds them at their respective easels, creating a double portrait, the taupe pages joyously splattered with red, blue, green, yellow and purple.

Comic book artist Muir’s visually playful and astute volume suggests that no matter the species, becoming friends takes work — a delicate blend of thinly veiled negotiations and leaps of faith, with a soupçon of the serendipitous. Ages 4-8

— Publishers Weekly

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