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Cuteness overload

Aww! Who doesn’t love a hilarious or heartwarming story of human-animal (or interspecies) friendship? These new books for preschoolers starring unalike best buds fit the bill.

A classic friendship story plays out in Amy Hest’s Buster and the Baby as a crawling baby and the family dog play a game of indoor hide-and-seek. Polly Dunbar’s digitally rendered crayon and paint illustrations capture the pair’s delighted facial expressions — and their various clever hiding spots. Nuances of anticipation and joyfulness emerge naturally in both the pictures and Hest’s rhythmic text throughout this thrilling game of chase and find. (Candlewick, 2–4 years)

The young (unnamed) narrator of Me and Mr. Fluffernutter by Jennifer Gray Olson insists that she and her cat Mr. Fluffernutter are best friends who love doing everything together. For example, Mr. Fluffernutter “LOVES tea parties.” The hilariously expressive illustrations, however, tell a different story. The feline’s final straw (being dressed up as a baby) results in a huffy exit and hurt feelings, but ultimately the two find an activity they can both enjoy. (Knopf, 3–5 years)

In Hilda and the Runaway Baby by Daisy Hirst, pig Hilda enjoys a solitary, mostly contented existence — until a curious human baby in a runaway carriage rolls into her life. A chase ensues. Hilda eventually finds meaning as the baby’s minder (and chum) and the runaway baby is able to maintain his wandering ways. Cheerful, brightly colored screenprinted illustrations support the sweet message: it takes a village to raise a child. (Candlewick, 3–5 years)

Kate Banks’s Pup and Bear, about an unlikely parent-child bond, radiates warmth and love. A little arctic wolf stranded on an ice floe is rescued by a polar bear: “I am not your mother…but I can cuddle you and keep you safe.” Naoko Stoop’s captivating mixed-media-on-plywood illustrations capture both the characters’ trusting bond and the harsh setting’s beauty. The satisfyingly cyclical story ends similar to how it began: the now-grown wolf finds an abandoned polar bear cub and knows exactly what to do. (Random/Schwartz & Wade, 3–5 years)

From the March 2018 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

Cynthia K. Ritter About Cynthia K. Ritter

Cynthia K. Ritter is associate editor of The Horn Book Guide. She earned a master's degree in children's literature from Simmons College.

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