Monday, April 30, 2018

April Showers! Duck, Duck, Porcupine! by Salina Yoon


With the sun high in a big blue sky, Big Duck takes charge. The picnic basket is prepared and the blanket for the picnickers to sit on is fetched. Big Duck declares that they are all set. But Little Duck is watching a cloud floating in front of the sun. With a metabook look out at the readers, he lets them know that he's aware of something Big Duck doesn't yet know.

PLOP It's beginning to rain!

Porcupine proclaims the picnic permanently spoiled! But Little Duck sees certain possibilities in showers. He walks right into a puddle with a slish-slosh and a splish-splash! Big Duck tries out the puddle with one toe and pronounces it has potential! All three take the plunge into the puddle's middle.


The cloud moves on, and so do the three friends, ready for their picnic spread. But Big Duck remembers there's something she forgot--if only she could remember what it is! Little Duck gives her a hint.

Quack, Quack-Quack-Quack QUACK QUACK!

Could it be the birthday CAKE that Big Duck has forgotten? Why, yes, yes, it could! And Porcupine has his party after all.

Encouraged by the picnic, Big Duck moves on to planning a camping trip for the three of them. She starts her list of supplies. When she gets to #98, a shovel "in case of a flash flood,", Porcupine begins to want to pull out of the expedition. Duck will have to hire a truck for all this stuff! But when the list gets up to #100, marshmallows, Little Duck decides to stick around for the S'MORES!

And more than s'mores are in store, in Salina Yoon's easy-reading Duck, Duck, Porcupine! (A Duck, Duck, Porcupine Book) Author Yoon offers simple text and and a certain sweet silliness to her stories of the three amigos, all different but all friends who share their fun with each other.

Yoon's award-winning artwork is familiar, with much in common with her hit Penguin books, Penguin and Pinecone and Penguin on Vacation, as well as her popular lift-the-flap Do Cows Meow? (A Lift-the-Flap Book). While it's true that, as the Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books says, "Yoon’s crisp, clean art has a coloring-book-like simplicity that will appeal to youngsters. . . , the interpersonal relationships between the characters are more subtle, inferred rather than stated outright. The two ducks are no cookie-cutter characters: Big Duck is a matter-of-fact, task-oriented big-sister type, while Little Duck has a visually wry take on her doings that add sensibility and humor to the mix, and Porcupine also functions as the amiable foil for this duckie duo. Good for read alouds for the youngest book lover, and easy for the emergent reader to tackle alone, this one is a great addition to the early grades bookshelf.

Other books in this series are That's My Book! And Other Stories (A Duck, Duck, Porcupine Book) and My Kite is Stuck! and Other Stories (A Duck, Duck, Porcupine Book).

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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Logophiliac at Large! The Word Collector by Peter Hamilton Reynolds

Some people collect stamps... coins... rocks... art.

And Jerome? Jerome collected words

He liked to know the names for lovely things he saw....


Some words just hopped off the page and into his head-- words that sounded like their meaning, like glimmer, and words that tickled his tongue like kaleidoscope, and words that bounced around in his brain, like guacamole'!

Soon he got the urge to make things with his words. Jerome began stringing them together, side by side.

He used words to write poems and songs.

Jerome discovers that some strings of words have power with people.

Thank you!

He learned that knowing the right words make it easier to think clearly about things. And he learned that words have power!

And in Peter H. Reynolds' newest, The Word Collector (Orchard Books, 2018), Jerome also learned that words can't be kept in a box or a book. They have to be shared to be truly real.

All of us are word collectors, children especially. Communication is what we humans do best. and the ability to acquire and curate words, lots of them, is what makes us unique creatures. And who knows that better than an author like noted writer, Peter Reynolds, whose little books are each a sort of modern parable, illustrated in his signature style. In this latest book, Reynolds points out the joy of knowing words and that sharing words brings.

Jerome had no words to describe how happy that made him.

Other popular books by Reynolds are The Dot, Ish (Creatrilogy)., and Rose's Garden (read my review and see Peter Reynolds' personal comment about writing this book about the Rose Kennedy Garden in Boston.)

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Saturday, April 28, 2018

The Animals Go Marching! A Parade of Animals: A Clever Counting Book by Emma Jennings et al

ONE cat is ONE alone, but TWO kittens are...


Animals are on parade across the pages in this Roger Priddy "picture fit" board book, Picture Fit Board Books: A Parade of Animals: A Clever Counting Book (Priddy Books/St. Martin's Press, 2017), which provides plenty of tactile action in a book which counts up the animals from one to ten.

There are butterflies, bees, ducklings, and fish, giraffes, parrots mice, turtles, elephants, and lions in growing numbers as they march through the book. Book creator-designers Emma Jennings, Robyn Newton, and Kate Ward provide colorful bas-relief animal shapes which fit into recesses in the facing pages to offer additional interest to the animals depicted. Math begins with knowing the numbers and what they mean, and this little book is great for teaching the youngest book lovers about counting and animals.

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Friday, April 27, 2018

Strike Up The Band! Pete The Cat: The Petes Go Marching by James Dean




It's time for a high-stepping band of brothers, The Petes, to strike up their own musical band. Pete himself, walkin' in his red shoes, brings his guitar, and as he marches, he picks up more and more Petes, one with a drum, one with a tambourine. A quick stop at the music shop adds to the Petes in the band, and even the falling raindrops do not deter the parading Petes.


(Drumsticks, that is!)

Adding Petes and new instruments until there are ten along the way, the marching Petes board the Tour Bus and arrive at the venue with a big sign,


Pete and his bandmates march downtown and rock out in the rain at the bandstand, in James Dean's reworking of the old nursery song, "The Ants Go Marching," in Pete the Cat: The Petes Go Marching (Harper, 2018).  There are plenty of Pete repeats in illustration and text, replete with different colors of sneakers, for all the young Pete fans to practice their counting (and multiplication!) in this latest in the author-illustrator Dean's long series for the preschool and primary set, which combines rhythm, rhyme, reading, and 'rithmetic in a jolly singalong.

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Logo-Larceny! Rhyme Crime by Jon Burgerman



Now cats can be warm and furry, kinda like a cap, but getting one to act like a hat on your head is probably in the category of things that are not gonna happen.

The crime wave escalates: Gummy's head becomes a piece of bread. And Tootie's beloved dog is turned into...

A LOG [bark! bark!]

(Get it? log? bark?)

The illicit activity accelerates. A lovely smile becomes a crocodile. A sneeze becomes a smelly cheese. A salty sea captain has to sail away on his... goat! What can stop this miscreant from his dual career of pilfering and misusing poetic license?

Well, believe it or not, it's citrus to the rescue. The malefactor hits the wall when he tries to switch an orange for a


Channeling Adan Rex's Nothing Rhymes with Orange our loquacious crook's vocabulary stalls out and he ends his tale in jail, in Jon Burgerman's Rhyme Crime (Dial Books, 2018), a quirky rhyming story that is a surefire snicker-getter for youngsters, all the while sneaking in some sound-alike words that slip in reading skills along the way. In fact, a crafty teacher could use this book to build a cross-curriculum art-and-wordplay lesson by having students come up with their own comic characters and swapping some witty but nitwitty word pairs, like juice and moose or wagon and dragon. Burgerman's silly psychodelic sketches are pure fun, perfectly paced to get the most out of his clever book design. Booklist aply calls this one "more page-turn-based tomfoolery!"

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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Terrifically Odorific! Stinkiest: Twenty Smelly Animals by Steve Jenkins

It's a jungle out there.

Out in the wilds it's "nature, red in tooth and claw," which is a poetic way to say that if you are a wild animal, there's usually someone around who wants to EAT you. To avoid that end, animals make adaptations to avoid that possibility--camouflage, speed, venom, and armor. And some are equipped with weapons of chemical warfare. In other words, they are terrifically odorific!

Skunks are not the only critters capable of stinky spray. In Africa and southern Asia the honey badger is a formidable forager with fabulous claws and fierce courage, but if that fails, it can launch a fetid effluvium that will keep any predator at bay. Other creatures--the pangolin, already an unlikely snack because of its ability to roll up into a scaly ball, can exude a stench that makes them most unsavory as a snack, and others,--the stink bug, the hoopoe bird, the bombadier beetle, the lesser anteater, and the polecat--all are capable of leaving a malodorous miasma in their wake.

The Virginia opossum, like most of its cousins, is a past master of playing dead, rolling on its back with feet sticking up, but this particular one can complete the illusion by exuding the reek of rotten meat. And then there is the European roller chick, who just upchucks disgusting vomit which deters would-be predators who venture too near the nest when the parent birds are away.

Steve Jenkin's latest in his excellent Extreme Animals series, Stinkiest!: 20 Smelly Animals (Extreme Animals) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018) has all the virtues of his popular nature books, realistic and detailed paper collage illustrations, salient text of amazing animal lore, thumbnail maps and relative size icons on each colorful two-page spread, and an appendix with glossary and bibliography, but this one also has the disgusting details will have special appeal to those young readers who go for gross-out nuggets of information to share with their classmates. Even reluctant young readers will find this one nifty, if a bit whiffy!


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Giving the Big Bad Wolf a Break! Back from the Brink: Saving Animals from Extinction by Nancy F. Castaldo

We are not alone on this great spinning planet. Alongside us are countless creatures with whom we share the earth's space and resources.

Each of the species in this book has played a critical role in the environment and each has reached the brink of extinction. The big bad wolf has long been the villain of many a story. That large, shaggy "apex predator" has long seemed a fearsome enemy of man. But we have only recently learned that in his natural habitat, the wolf keeps other species--deer, elk, and rabbits, for example--under control, animals whose overgrazing has adversely affected mountain, prairie, and desert ecologies. When the wolves were restored to Yellowstone, grasslands and trees reappeared. Soil and water were retained; native birds reappeared and beavers returned to dam streams where other animals found ready homes. The land returned to its natural balance of life.

Nancy F. Castaldo's forthcoming Back from the Brink: Saving Animals from Extinction (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018) tells the story of the return of the wolf, the American alligator, the whooping crane, bald eagles, American bison, and California condors to our waters, lands, and sky. Some species are quite resilient and return when their slaughter is outlawed: the tough and ancient alligator merely needed controls on their killing to return them to sustaining numbers, and the the bald eagle and brown pelicans only required the banning of some pesticides to return to the skies.

But some species require active rescue. The numbers of whooping cranes, once flourishing in flocks from the Arctic to Mexico, had dropped to only sixteen birds, victims of the feathered hat craze of the Victorian age and loss of habitat in the 20th century. But when their only nesting site was discovered in 1954, conservationists mounted a movement to save the species, collecting abandoned eggs and raising chicks by hand. Zoos desperately tried to breed the whoopers, but only one chick, named Tex, survived. Although Tex was imprinted to believe she was a human, one of her eggs produced a live male chick, named Gee Whiz, who seems to have saved the species, siring 20 whooping cranes, 97 grand-cranes, and to date 22 great-grand whoopers. But in order to breed with other cranes, these young whooping cranes have to learn to migrate. Some were placed for adoption with flocks of their cousins, the sandhill cranes, and the rest were taught to migrate to Florida by human "parents" in ultra-light aircraft, guiding them in an 115-day migration to winter homes in Florida. Imagine the sight of the ultra-light leading young whooping cranes with wingspans of 7.5 feet through the skies from Wisconsin to Florida!

Similar rescues have returned some wild-born California condors, with a wingspread of ten feet, to the skies over the Pacific coast mountains. The Galapagos tortoises are being carefully curated so that they don't suffer the same fate as Lonesome George (see my review here), and true bison (buffalo), once down to only 24 living animals, are now tilling and fertilizing areas of western grassland again as they did before being hunted to near extinction.

Author Castaldo offers an extensive appendix offering a glossary, bibliography, index, and lists of organizations and websites with information for the student researcher on rescue of endangered species. Animals like these are the birthright of our children, part of the American story and the richness of the world they should inherit.

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Nevertheless-- She Persisted ... Around the World by Chelsea Clinton

It's not always easy being a girl

Anywhere in the world.

It takes a lot for women to achieve in this world, and first of all, it takes persistence.

As Texas Governor Ann Richards once said of Hollywood's famed dancing duo, “After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.”

Just as Ginger stuck to it, becoming a star of the silver screen, girls around the world have persisted despite the odds to do what they wanted to do, and Chelsea Clinton's She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History (Philomel Books, 2018) celebrates the successes of women leaders all over the globe.

In some parts of this world girls face huge obstacles just to leave their own houses, to get to go to school--merely to learn to read and write in their own languages. Author Clinton cites the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, a teenager who was shot in the head for insisting on the rights of girls all over Pakistan to be educated and who lived to campaign for girls' education around the globe. Her motto, "One Child, One Teacher, One Book, One Pen Can Save the World," says it all.

The author also highlights twelve other girls and women who have achieved "firsts"--Caroline Herschel, sister of astronomer William Herschel, whose knowledge matched her brother's and who actually discovered the comet that bears their name; Kate Sheppard, whose persistent efforts achieved the vote for women in New Zealand; Marie Curie, whose pioneer work in physics and chemistry made her the first to receive not one, but two Nobel Prizes; Sissi Lima Do Amor, whose campaign gained the right of girls and women just to play soccer in Brazil, and Leyman Gbowee, whose peace movement ended the civil war in Liberia and paved the way for the first woman president of Liberia.

In these lives and those of others, Clinton tells the story of girls who stayed the course to do what they had to do in this companion book to her 2017 best seller, She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World (read review here). All of these girls and women had that one thing in common, they persisted, resolutely sticking to their goals, even if along the way they had to do some dancing backwards.

The author's well-told stories of these women are varied in their time and place, but all are inspiring, and noted artist Alexandra Boiger's illustrations are charming and yet hint at the strength of girls and women in this must-have book for school and public libraries. Of this New York Times best-seller in its starred review, Publishers Weekly says, "Clinton again writes in a measured tone that is at once celebratory and defiant. Boiger's watercolor and ink artwork exudes warmth and a subtle power."


Monday, April 23, 2018

Getting to Know You! Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel

It begins quietly, with black and white--a white cat and a black cat.

And then there are those who are black and white--a panda and a zebra.


Animals of varied hues and shades and markings follow--striped tigers and lizards, spotted leopards and spotted leopard fish.


Whopper whales and itsy bitsy chameleons follow.

In Brendan Wenzel's vivid and vivacious new picture book, Hello Hello (Chronicle Books, 2018), animals are in focus in all their glorious varieties. They come in a splendid array of shapes and sounds--tall and short, bulbous and sleek, with roars, peeps, chirps, and cheeps. They are strange as the platypus and pangolin, wild as narwhals and wolves, showy as peacocks and birds of paradise, all depicted in colors that put the rainbow to shame.

From aardvark to Atlantic sailfish, cassowary to kingfisher, they parade across the pages in all their splendor and diversity in artist Brendan Wenzel's stunning illustrations which dazzle the eye and nourish the mind, introducing the physical variety and names of many less-than-familiar creatures.

A Caldecott Honor Award winner for his They All Saw a Cat (Hardback) - 2016 Edition (see review here) Wenzel is an illustrator whose eye-candy art is evocative of that of Steve Jenkins and Eric Carle, and like Jenkins and Carle, the art serves his premise seamlessly, backed up by an informational glossary which describes the animals in order of appearance and ranks them as vulnerable, near threatened, or endangered. A first purchase for libraries, this is a picture book that hits all the marks for substance and kid appeal, useful for zoo trip day or Earth Day, or for any animal unit study.


Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Go-To Guy! Piney the Goat Nanny by Leanne Lauricella



The adopted orphan Piney has an idyllic piglet-hood, playing in the sun with the little goats and sleeping snug inside in his comfy bed at night. But Piney's foster mom, who takes care of the farm animals, points out that all the animals on the farm have a job.

Piney wants a job like all the other animals, but he can't eat bugs like the chickens or chomp the weeds like the goats. He fails at helping with housekeeping when he gets hopelessly tangled in the vacuum cleaner cord. It seems the only thing he's good at is sleeping!

But when an abandoned goat kid turns up needing foster care, Piney pitches in by offering the little goat, hopefully named Prospect, a warm place beside him in his little quilted bed. Prospect thrives as Piney teaches him his other skill--eating-- and Piney the Pig takes charge when a little three-legged baby goat turns up. With Piney's attention and tutelage, the little kid grows fast and learns to gallop around like all the other little goats. But now poor Piney is out of a job again.



But Piney proves that he's got the right stuff to be the go-to goat when two more orphans, Lila and Chib, turn up, needing a warmhearted foster parent, and before long Piney finds fame and a lifetime job as other babies needing special help find success under his care, in Leanne Lauricella's second book in series, GOA Kids - Goats of Anarchy: Piney the Goat Nanny: A true story of a little pig with a big heart (Quarto Group, 2018).  Stories of cross-species nurturing have become quite common, and Lauricella's story of the pig who parents baby goats is a sweet and true one, As author Lauricella's appendix portrays, this is a true story of her famous goat farm in which even a pig can find a lifework in raising orphaned animals.  Lovingly illustrated by Jill Howarth's gentle, textured art, this one is the companion book to Lauricella's GOA Kids - Goats of Anarchy: The Goat with Many Coats: A true story of a little goat who found a new home (see review here). Says Kirkus Reviews, "The loving encounters among animals of different species (and Lauricella's real-world endeavor to help animals with special needs) are great examples to help children develop empathy."

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Chow Down! Yum, Yum Baby! First Words for Little Foodies by Rosalee Wren

Yellow~ Peel~ Sweet~Soft~ Banana!

Bread~ Warm~ Wheat~ Butter~ Toast!

Yum, Yum, Breakfast!

Eating is important, and it has its own words, and for those first learning the vocabulary of foods, there is Rosalee Wren's little board book, Yum Yum Baby: First Words for Little Foodies (Padded Picture Book) (Cottage Door Press, 2018). Wren divides her books into words for meals and words about what we eat. Lunch comes with with a sandwich cut in little triangles and an apple, crisp and crunchy, tart and sweet.

Outdoors there is a garden with tasty words for the fruits and veggies found there--green, leafy broccoli to be cut, red, ripe, and sweet strawberries to be picked and orange and crunchy carrots to be pulled.

And when dinner is done, there's even something frozen and creamy that's fun to lick--ice cream!

Artist Kat Uno personifies each food to go along with author Wren's glossary of goodies, giving young foodies a way to use their words about foods, with the purpose of developing good eating habits, and vocabulary to go with them.

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Friday, April 20, 2018

Welcome to Our World! Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers

To my son, Harland.

This book was written in the first two months of your life as I tried to make sense of it all for you.

These are the things I think you need to know.

Who wouldn't want to give their child the wisdom of the universe?

Oliver Jeffers wisely elects to limit himself (with just a hint of the Milky Way) to the solar system, which he sketches out for Harland, with special emphasis on Planet Earth, for good reason. As he points out, "It's all we've got."

We're glad you found us, as space is very big.

Jeffers decides to divide the planet into two realms--land and sea, and the creatures that dwell thereon--or thereunder, as the case may be. He pencils in all sorts of weather--storms and sunshine, day and night, and various creatures--beginning with persons of various physical types.

But don't be fooled. We are all people.

You are a person. You have one body. Look after if because most parts don't grow back!

Use your time well. It will be gone before you know it.

In his usual wry voice and sketchy, scratchy illustrations and lettering, author Jeffers offers baby Harland good advice, along with some of his trademark humorous touches. In his treatise on the sky he labels the atmosphere and the stratosthingy. Explaining the diurnal cycle, the describes the daytime as when "we do stuff." In his two-page spread depicting the variety of Earth's creatures, he sticks in the dodo, who admits in a speech balloon that "I'm not supposed to be here." and when he generalizes that animals don't talk, a cheeky parrot pops up to say "I do!" And when it's time for getting deep into the details, Jeffers offers a promise: : "We know a bit about the sea, but we'll talk some more about that once you've learned to swim."

By the multiple award-winning Oliver Jeffers, Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth (Philomel Books, 2017, Am. ed), is the creation of a children's author whose picture books, like this best-seller, speak to both children and the adults in their lives. Great for a birthday, great for Earth Day, this book is filled with Jeffers' mind-opening illustrations and those tidbits of worldly wisdom you wish you could give your children about living on our place in space--if they would sit still for it--and now, with this book, maybe they will!

As Publishers Weekly sums it up, "Moments of human intimacy jostle with scenes that inspire cosmic awe, and the broad diversity of Jeffers's candy-colored humans—-musicians, hijabis, nuns, explorers, potentates—underscores the twin messages that 'You're never alone on Earth" and that we're all in this together.'"

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Getting to Gnome Me...! Sherlock Gnomes: Gnome, Sweet Gnome by Tina Gallo

Hello. My name is Sherlock Gnomes.

But then, you probably knew that already, because I am the world's first consulting detective, and sworn protector of London's garden gnomes.

And Sherlock has his work cut out for him. There's a perplexing problem with Gnomeland Security: garden ornaments are being mysteriously pilfered. It's a gnome invasion!

With his trusty partner, Dr. Watson, Sherlock considers the potential suspects.

Gnomeo is obviously in love with Juliet. Although Gnomeo is not the brightest gnome in the garden, he and his pretty love interest, Juliet, seem sincerely interested in helping Sherlock solve the case. And then there are their friends, Benny and Nanette, who seem also to love the garden, and Lady Blackberry, Gnomeo's mother, and the crusty Lord Redbrick, who both hope to retire and let Gnomeo and Juliet take over the care of the garden.

But now there are eight garden gnomes who have disappeared from their proper places. Where are their friends? Are they now homeless gnomes?

But before the garden will again be secure, Sherlock and Watson have a couple of potential suspects to deal with--the crafty Irene Adler and archenemy Moriarity, with his scary sidekicks, the Gargoyles.

The game is afoot, in Tina Gallo's Gnome, Sweet Gnome (Sherlock Gnomes) (Simon Spotlight, 2018), as Sherlock matches wits with Moriarity once again. With Jenny Yoon's colorful illustrations, Gallo introduces youngsters to the archetype of the brainy detective Sherlock and the cast of supporting pun-enabled characters to the current movie, Gnome, Sweet, Gnome, a chance for young readers and viewers to sample some punny and funny detective work before their garden again becomes home, sweet gnome.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Case of the Misplaced Letters! If the S in Moose Comes Loose by Peter Herman

If the S in MOOSE comes loose and the E breaks free...

What's left ? A gloomy MOO from a cow who doesn't know what to do....

What's in a name? If a moose's letters can get loose, what can COW do to protect her MOO?
Cow figures she needs G-L-U-E.

COW figures that if she can glue the S and the E together and then stick them back on the MOO, all their problems will be solved. Is that TRUE?

Er, NO. It's not that easy. COW encounters complications.

"WAIT! I'm out of GLUE!
I'll just spell it! That's what I'll do!"

It's just four little letters, after all. How hard can it be?

But when Cow grabs a G for GLUE from GOAT and then begs a B from BEAR to make Goat a BOAT for the interim, complications arise and hilarity ensues. Bear doesn't care for being an EAR, and Lake is unwilling to share his L and be a CAKE, and HOUSE resolutely refuses to be a HOSE....

"Bummer!" says Cow. "My U fell through."

You can see the problem when Cow tries to play scrabble with everyone's proprietary spelling, in Peter Herman's If the S in Moose Comes Loose (Harper, 2018).  Kids just learning to spell will get some giggles from the re-arranged words, set engagingly within author Herman's jaunty rhymes, with the help of noted artist Matthew Cordell's comic critter characters. Cow finally finagles to help Moose get himself together and restores everyone to their proper orthography--except for the unfortunate Goat, who is still finding it a bit discombobulating being a Boat!

This book has plenty of play with words for primary grade free reading or for readalouds. Says Kirkus Reviews, "All ends happily. Hermann's fast-paced romp will likely leave readers laughing and spelling along. Cordell's illustrations, rendered in pen and ink and watercolor, match the kinetic pace of the tale. His animals are loosely drawn and delightfully expressive."

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Wolf Within: Moon by Alison Oliver

Moon is a very busy girl. Her daily to-do list is daunting.

  • homework
  • clean my room
  • soccer practice
  • trumpet lesson
  • math tutor
  • stuff and more stuff
  • blah, blah, blah

Moon is dutiful and does it all. But she can't help wishing she didn't have to. She wonders what it would be like to leave all that behind.

One night she wanders out into the garden and in awe watches a shooting star. The star is a catalyst that sends her into the woods, barefoot, in search of something, something else stirring in the dark.

Paw prints! Wild.

Following the prints she finds a friendly gray wolf who takes her up upon his back and flies into the Great Forest, where in a clearing Moon is greeted by the whole pack.

She asked them to show her the wolfy ways.

Moon learns to pounce and play, and how to howl at the moon. And especially she learns the skill of being still and listening. Wearing a crown of flowers, Moon feels happy in the wild and at one with the forest. But the enchantment ends suddenly, as far away she hears a different sort of howl--her mother, looking for her.

So Moon goes back, back to her home and back to school the next day, but she's not the same. She still wears her emblematic garland and remembers the peace of being wild and wolfy, in Alison Oliver's forthcoming Moon (Houghton Mifflin Clarion, 2018), and she secretly shares her experience with her friends.

The English poet William Wordsworth said it well long ago:

"The world is too much with us, late and soon.
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.
Little we see in nature that is ours."

And author-illustrator Alison Oliver has the same advice--"Get out and get under the moon!" as she sets a trancelike scene for her fantastical tale of wilding oneself. Moon is purple with long, black hair, and there is a spare, dreamy look to Oliver's evocative illustrations executed in a palette of green, purple, black, and white with childlike images. This parable of finding the wild within. in which both sides of our human nature--the maker who uses nature and the spirit who seeks relief in nature, is made clear in simple words and images in this moving picture book.

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Party with Penguins: Harriet Gets Carried Away by Jessie Sima


It's not just that she's sometimes of a mind to climb in a costume for Halloween, or for a fun dress-up play date with a friend, or a special birthday bash.


That's right. Harriet dresses like a dragon for an appointment in the dentist's chair. At the park she's a fairy queen with a dark side, black bat wings.

But today is party day, and Harriet dons her all-purpose costume to run to the corner grocery for snacks. Disguised and decked out in a penguin suit with a red bowtie, she's just realized she forgot the party hats when she finds herself swept up by a passel of penguins--the real kind! Does Harriet need a permit for a penguin parade?

The press of penguins sweeps Harriet along. What about her party hats?


Will Harriet be forced to march as an incognito penguin back to Antarctica? Not if she can hail a ride with a passing orca, in Jessie Sima's Harriet Gets Carried Away (Simon and Schuster, 2018). All's well that ends well, with an elaborate alfresco affair on the rooftop. But is that her friend Olivia in a wolf suit, followed by a pack of little howling wolves? Despite which diva has the, er, wildest costume, it's the party of the season with Harriet in charge, and with the help of the illustrations of clever cartoon drawings of Jessie Sima, it's a party no one will want to miss. Publishers Weeklycalls "Harriet's intrepid adventure a delightful readaloud."

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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Taking the Plunge: Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall



The weather is warm, and the pool is open. Jabari's passed his swimming test and he's got a new swimsuit and matching swim goggles.

He's ready to move on up to a new level. He's not scared.

But it's easy to say you're going jump off the high board when you're not there, looking up, up, up at that board. Way up there at the end of the diving board, even the big kids look very small. Jabari watches as they bounce a few times and dive off the board, hitting the water with a huge SPLASH!

It looks easy. But waiting in line at the bottom of the ladder, Jabari is uneasy. He gives the kid behind him a pass, telling him he needs to think about what dive to do. Then he begins the climb. The ladder is a lot taller than it looks.



Jabari is happy to take his dad's suggestion that he take a little rest. He comes up with another reason to come down--he forgot to stretch! Dad agrees that that's a good idea and suggests that tomorrow will be a good day to jump, too. But then he gives Jabari some advice.



Jabari tries Dad's technique. He likes surprises, he thinks, and suddenly he feels ready to take the plunge. He begins to climb toward the top again.


And then, Jabari Jumpsin Gaia Cornwall's 2017 Candlewick Press story of a boy taking that leap of faith into his own future. There are many leaps forward in childhood, and author Cornwall's top-selling picture book sets the scene for one of those emblematic moments that almost all of us have at various times in life. "Nothing attempted, nothing done," says the old saying, and young readers will get it that Jabari's jump is something more than just a dunk in the neighborhood pool, but one that he will have the courage to make again and again in life.

Cornwall's soft and affectionate illustrations are perfect: her colors match the sun-sparkled aqua of a freshly painted pool on a June morning, and her use of various perspectives parallel the text as Jabari looks up, up, up the long ladder and down, down, down, past his toes curling around the end of the diving board to the water far below, where his dad and toddler sister, her little hands clinging tightly to dad's shoulder, watch his big moment. This is a little story that is in itself a parable of moving on up in life. Says Publishers Weekly, "It's a lovely, knowing account of a big 'first" in a child's life." And Kirkus Reviews quips, "This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash!"

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Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Gang's All Here: Llama, Llama and Friends created by Anna Dewdney

Llama's eyes pop open as the morning sun warms his face. He hops into his overalls and rushes downstairs.

Mama Llama needs his help!

Llama Llama has errands to do for Mama, and with his trusty Fuzzy Llama and Mama's list in the basket, he hops on his scooter and sets out.

And the gang's all there as he rolls along. He meets his woolly friend Euclid who helps him pick out some streamers.

Why does Mama Llama need them? he wonders.

It's off to Daddy Gnu's Bakery, where he stops to help little Nelly Gnu finish her mural and gets the cupcakes on his list. He passes Luna playing in the park and she helps pick the flowers on his list. He puffs up the hill, where he meets Gilroy Goat playing with his soccer ball, and while he stops to kick a few, his list blows away and he only catches up with it right at Gram and Grampa Llama's door, where they meet him with a stack of colored paper. It's quite a load, and Llama Llama wonders out loud what in the world Mama Llama is going to do with all the things on her list.

Youngsters will doubtless be in on the secret at this point, when Llama Llama arrives to find that he has the supplies for the big SURPRISE. Mama Llama and all his friends are there for the party, in Llama Llama and Friends (Penguin, 2017). Anna Dewdney's much-loved character Llama Llama has returned in this story illustrated by J. J. Harrison, to celebrate Little Llama's new video series by Netflix. Share this one with Cynthia Lord's Happy Birthday Hamster (Hot Rod Hamster) (see review here) and don't forget Llama Llama's companion book, Llama Llama and the Lucky Pajamas,

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Friday, April 13, 2018

Meet the Picklers: Road Trip with Max and His Mom by Linda Urban

On Monday morning after breakfast, Mom made an announcement. "We are going on an adventure."

Max was surprised. Mom was not the sort of mom who made announcements about adventures. She was the sort of mom who made announcements about laundry needing to be put away.

Max likes adventures. He's excited about his oral report on the South Pole explorer Earnest Shackleton whose ship was crushed in the Antarctic ice. He looks forward to weekends with his dad, when they go out and play spies in disguise.

But Mom's surprise sounds pretty adventurous. They're going all the way to Pennsylvania--a real road trip (across Ohio!) to a reunion of the Pickler family and Great-Great-Aunt Victory's 100th birthday. Max didn't even know he had a great-great aunt named Victory Pickler. But there it all was in the invitation:

Join us at her favorite spot in the world,
Bronco Burt's Wild Ride Amusement Park
for a day of ropin', ridin', and reminiscin'!

There's even a roller coaster called the Big Buckeroo! Max is not sure he's up to that whole adventure! Maybe he'd rather have a regular weekend at Dad's, having pancakes at their favorite cafe and walking Ms. Tibbet's basset hounds. But as he prepares for Biography Day and his report on the feats and discoveries of Shackleton, he tries to find his inner explorer with the courage of a Shackleton.

And at the family reunion, Max meets cousins in cowboy hats he didn't know he had and a lusty great-great aunt whose name really is Victory. He learns that his mother has had a whole other name; before she became his mother, Amy LeRoy, she was Amiable Pickler, fearless rider of roller coasters and horses and a beloved member of a big, adventurous family.

In her second book in series, Linda Urban's Road Trip with Max and His Mom (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018), Max becomes an intrepid explorer, with both feats and discoveries of his own, as he sees another side of his mom and another side of himself as they share their adventure. Urban's beginning chapter book, illustrated with great good humor by Katie Kath, deals sensitively with a child balancing loyalties to two loving parents and realistically exploring who he is and how family life works itself out over the generations.

Urban's excellent first book in this series is Weekends with Max and His Dad (read review here)

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