BooksForKidsBlog

Friday, January 18, 2019

Dog Man in the Slammer! Dog Man: Brawl of the Wild by Dav Pilkey

"Wazzup, Rovers? It's your old pals, George and Harold. We're fifth graders now, so we're totally mature."

"And deep." said Harold.

Said George, "As a very wise man once said, ... "Enlightenment is not merely volition... but duty!"

"Snork!" snorted Harold. "What?" asked George.

"You said 'Butt doodie,'" snickers Harold.

The very mature and deep co-authors have been delving deeply into classic literature--The Call of the Wild-- and have written a new adventure tale of their super hero and dog + man hybrid Dog Man in what they modestly call "another Epic of Ginormous Ginormity!!!" That miracle of modern medicine, the caped crusader Dog Man (head of canine, body of policeman) with his cute kitty sidekick Little Petey and cyborgian robot 80-HD are off in another adventure to foil master criminal (and Little Petey's Dada) Petey, currently residing in the Cat Jail (not to be confused with the Dog Jail) a penal institution not of his choosing.

Despite the pleas and riddles of Little Petey to reform big Petey, he escapes with all twenty complementary tickets to the premier of the new DOG MAN MOVIE. But Little Petey's pleas prevail and big Petey at last steers his latest diabolical creation--a giant robotic bee--in the denouement chapter, THE GREAT CAT'S BEE, in which Dog Man defeats the Great Claymation monster, saves the world and all that, and... well, you get the idea.

It's Book 6 of that master of silly lit, Dav Pilkey's Dog Man: Brawl of the Wild: From the Creator of Captain Underpants (Dog Man 6) (Scholastic, 2018), published on Christmas Eve and already topping the best-seller list in another graphic comic novel in the Captain Underpants series. With dada-esque absurdity, flip-page animation, insightful chapter headings like "Even More Stuff Happens," and an appendix of Pilkeyan drawing lessons, the latest Dog Man saga has won starred reviews and lots of sales for his many middle reader fans.

For more unmuzzled goofiness, other punny titles in this series include Dog Man, Dog Man Unleashed: From the Creator of Captain Underpants (Dog Man 2), Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kitties: From the Creator of Captain Underpants (Dog Man 3), Dog Man and Cat Kid: From the Creator of Captain Underpants (Dog Man 4), and Dog Man: Lord of the Fleas: From the Creator of Captain Underpants (Dog Man 5).

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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Baking Falls Flat: Pete the Cat and the Groovy Bake Sale by James Dean

The big school Bake Sale is coming up, and Pete the Cat and the rest of the kids have got to come through with the goods! Pete's favorite treats are sweets, but he wants this product to be super cool!

But his chocolate chip cookies are overcooked, more like charcoal chips than chocolate chips.

His not-too-chill ice-cream sundaes turn into gloppy soup. With only a piddling amount of piecrust mix, his pudding pie turns out to be no more than a puny turnover.

Pete the Cat hasn't got much left to work with--a box of pudding mix, a produce box of fresh berries, a dollop of whipped topping, and a few salvaged shards of his cookies.

Can Pete mix up a terrific trifle for the big bake sale? Or will his final effort be a flop?

"GROOVY BERRY GOODNESS!" SAYS PETE.

And Pete's parfait pleases all.

HIS DESSERT IS A HIT!

As Pete always says, "It's all good!" and his treats are a sell-out except for one saved for his mom, in James Dean's newest in his beginning reader series, Pete the Cat's Groovy Bake Sale (My First I Can Read) Harper, 2018). Pete the Cat proves that he can persevere through culinary flops, remaining calm and carrying on, in another of Dean's faut naively illustrated My First Readers with more school days fun with Pete and his friends.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Fur-Ever Home? Can I Be Your Dog? by Troy Cummings

Dear People in the Yellow House:

Can I be your dog?

I am potty-trained and I have my own squeaky bone. I love to play! I see that you have a cat. I'm willing to work with you.

Whoooo's a good dog? I AM!

Sincerely,
Arfy

P.S.: I know every house on Butternut Street, but I asked you
first!

Arfy needs a person. It's lonely in his chilly, leaky cardboard box in the alley, so he takes pen in paw and writes a proper application letter, carefully including his resume' and paw print.

But the Honeywells in the yellow house respond by return post with their regrets, saying that their cat is, er, allergic to dogs.

Resolutely, Arfy forges on. The butcher shop on Butternut Street looks like a great possibility with tasty perks. But Arfy's application is refused posthaste. Butcher Veronica Shank is adamant.

"The last time I let a dog into my shop a dozen meatballs went missing!"

Scratch that! Fire Station #5 looks like a possibility. Surely they need a fire dog, and Arfy already has a certain affinity for fire plugs. But the fire chief fires back a quick form letter, addressed to APPLICANT....

THIS POSITION HAS ALREADY BEEN FILLED.

Prospects for adoption are looking poor. Arfy is down the unenviable position of junk yard dog, not the highest status for pet placement. And the junkyard manager's reply is RRRROUGH!

Dear Mutt: GET LOST!

The one remaining house on Butternut Street is a somewhat of a derelict, unpainted, falling apart, and not a little smelly. Arfy's letter, points out that he is not picky, but the mail lady seems rueful when she brings Arfy's letter back to his soggy address, stamped RETURN TO SENDER.

But the kindly letter carrier lady, who has dutifully delivered all of Arfy's letters and their replies, has her own letter for Arfy, offering him a permanent place with her, RAIN, SNOW, OR SLEET, in Troy Cumming's top-seller tale of a proactive homeless pup, Can I Be Your Dog? (Random House, 2018). In a funny and heartfelt story of a persevering pooch, author-illustrator Cummings' story, endearingly illustrated and cleverly written in epistolary style, has both humor and pathos, with a well-foreshadowed ending that will leave young readers both moved and joyful as Arfy finally finds his own forever home. Says School Library Journal, "No bones about it; this humorous picture book will be a hit with storytime audiences and emergent readers."

For his animal advocate readers, author Cummings helpfully adds an appendix, "How to Help a Homeless Animal."

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Whole Loaf! Big Brother Peanut Butter by Terry Border

Early one morning Peanut Butter's parents called him into the kitchen to tell him some good news.

"Guess what? You're going to a big brother!"

Now Peanut Butter's got the Big Brother Blues.

He'a always been the only slice at home, and he's liked it that way, free to play with his friend Jelly inside or out. What's an only slice supposed to do? He asks another slice, Apple Pie, who had two little brother tarts, Blueberry and Cherry.

"Easy as Pie!" she replied.

Peanut Butter isn't exactly reassured.

He seeks out his sandwich friend Cucumber, whose little brother Dill vouches that his big brother is always cool. The Big Cheese shows off his peppy sibling Pepper Jack, and his friend Jelly reassures him that he's up to the job.

"But I hope to see
That I need to act just like a good ...ME!

But Peanut Butter's resolve is shaken just a bit when he finds out that his family doesn't have a new baby brother at home waiting for him--it's more like a whole loaf of them, in Terry Border's Big Brother Peanut Butter (Philomel Books, 2018). Peanut Butter finds himself the biggest brother of a whole kitchen-full of fidgety little finger sandwiches, in Border's latest photo-collaged food characters series. It's a silly slice of sandwich family life, but Border's foodie artwork is tasty, and although Kirkus Reviews says "it's not the best thing since sliced bread," this one is a toothsome addition to the picture book pantry. Read more of Border's baked goods adventures here.

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Monday, January 14, 2019

Bedtime Resistance Revisited: Sleepy, The Bedtime Buddy by Drew Daywalt

+Roderick hated going to bed.

Roderick has apparently polished his bedtime resistance routine for years. In addition to the old standbys--a drink of water and another story, he can keep his parents going for quite a while coming up with reasons why he CANNOT have a pony--including the irrefutable...

... Ponies won't use a litter box.

It's time for some serious parental intervention--in the form of a "special" plush pal.

"His name is Sleepy," said his mother.

"He's your goodnight buddy," said his father.

Roderick's parents put him to bed with Sleepy. Sleepy's spooky stare is hard to take, and Roderick tries stashing him out of sight--on the bookshelf, under his pillow. But he can still FEEL that weird gaze. He sticks Sleepy in the closet.

"Wait!" said a quiet little voice. "Don't leave me alone in here."

Roderick can't believe Sleepy is actually telling him he's scared.

"Of what?" Roderick asked. "You were staring at me all freaky looking."

"Because you were staring at me all freaky looking," said Sleepy.

Roderick soon finds out that Sleepy knows all the tricks. He politely asks for a glass of water. Then he has to go to the bathroom "because of all the water," but he's scared to go by himself. Then he remembers that he forgot to brush his teeth. He promises to go to sleep after one story. And then he asks for another. The story scares him, so he needs a snack to settle his nerves.

"It's the middle of the night!" Roderick shouted.

Of course, after a sandwich Sleepy has to brush his teeth again. And then he's worried about a witch in the closet. Finally, he wants to talk about the meaning of life. Roderick is both weary and angry.

"I can't sleep because you're mad at me!" whines Sleepy.

"You're the worst bedtime buddy EV-er!"

Roderick the bedtime resistor has met his match, in spades, in Drew Daywalt's laugh-out-loud latest, Sleepy, the Goodnight Buddy (Disney Hyperion, 2018). Sleepy's tactics exhaust Roderick in a turn-about-is-fair-play tale with a comic comeuppance. Daywalt's offbeat humor works well in this story, which somehow ends with sympathy for the parents, Roderick, and even his roommate Sleepy. Parents who are running out of patience with young sleep avoiders will get both revenge and a mutual laugh with their kids, thanks to the absolutely comical illustrations of artist Scott Campbell, whose portrayal of Roderick's eyes tell the whole story. Cannily, Campbell even tucks a clever little sight gag in on the colophon page--a new toy, Wakey, The Good Morning Buddy Alarm Clock.

Drew Daywalt is, of course, the blockbusting best-selling author of The Day the Crayons Quit and its sequels (read reviews here).

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Sunday, January 13, 2019

Up to Ten and Down Again! One Snowy Day by Diane Murray and Diana Toledano

Spinning and twirling,
They float to the ground.
Millions of snowflakes
Not making a sound.

The house is still sleeping, but the soundless flakes do not go undiscovered. ONE puppy is up, peers outside, and wakes the children with a sharp bark.

TWO sleepy children see the snow covering their trees, and THREE happy faces can be seen in the window.

The kids soon shuck off their pajamas and suit up for  play in the snow, finding their FOUR snow boots by the door.

FIVE pine trees' branches sweep low, and the children spot SIX friends already on the hill, and soon SEVEN sleds are sliding down, leaving EIGHT tracks behind them, and then...

WOOSH!
In a snow bank billow,
Carving NINE snow angels
Swishing in snow.

The kids even let their puppy get into the fun, tossing TEN snowballs for the pup to try to catch.

By this time the youngsters are ready to turn toward home, and it's time to reverse the count, right down to the TWO cups of hot cocoa and ONE perfect snowman, standing tall in the twilight as the soft flakes continue to fall, in One Snowy Day (Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky, 2018) by Diane Murray and Diana Toledano. It's a perfect snowy day and a chance to practice counting up and down, along with some delightfully rhyming text and cheery illustrations. With a tip of the hat to Ezra Jack Keats classic story, The Snowy Day, Kirkus Reviews says, "The delights of snow-day snow-play in a small town are enumerated in this early concept book for tots."

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Saturday, January 12, 2019

Wings? I Can Fly by Fifo Kuo

Little Penguin's eyes are on the skies. He wanted to fly like the gulls.

"Penguins can't fly," his father says.

"They swim!"

Little Penguin doesn't want to swim. He wants to soar through the sky like the other seabirds. Perhaps he just needs to try harder. He flaps and flaps his wings until he's too tired to flap another flap and stumbles and tumbles down the slope and into the water. Father follows quickly into the sea with him.

Suddenly Little Penguin is soaring and swooping and leaping into the air and diving back into the ocean. He is flying, only under water, having as much fun as the gulls.

It's good to dream high-flying dreams, but sometimes it's better to follow your own talents, in Fifo Kuo's I Can't Can Fly (Little Bee Books, 2018),  Executed beautifully in thick and rough black line on textured paper against a wash of the blue of water and ice, this sweet story of the little penguin who could is just right for youngsters just spreading their wings to find what they can do with their own individual abilities.

Pair this one with Karma Wilson's and Jane Chapman's (creators of the beloved Bear and Friends: Bear Snores On; Bear Wants More; Bear's New Friend (The Bear Books)) own story of a small penguin reluctant to take the plunge, Don't Be Afraid, Little Pip, (see review here).

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Friday, January 11, 2019

The Power of a Picture: Hector by Adrienne Wright

Hector is an ordinary twelve-year-old boy. His weekends are filled with playing soccer, doing chores, watching his favorite movies, and visiting family.

Sometimes Hector runs errands for money for treats and tickets to the movies, and he and his friends spar with each other, using the karate moves they've seen. Sometimes he has to outrun bullies who try to take his money, but mostly he's a happy kid, trying to please his big sister Antoinette.

But when the school is order to teach half of their classes in Afrikaans, the Dutch language of the political leaders of South Africa, some of the students are angry. One chilly day when Hector gets to school, he finds everyone gathering outside in small groups, whispering to each other.

"Why is nobody going to school?" he asks.

Hector and his friends are drawn to the sound of chanting and singing. Everybody is going to Orlando Stadium to protest the new law requiring schools to teach half of their lessons in Afrikaans.

Hector is swept up in the excited activity of the growing crowd.

Hector's big sister Antoinette has heard rumors of the march, and when she hears the noise of the marchers, thousands of them carrying signs and chanting, she fearfully begins to look for her younger brother. In the melee' she spots him, just as tear gas canisters start to explode among the crowd.

"Hector! You shouldn't be here!

We have to get you home! NOW!"

Antoinette tries to make her way toward her little brother, just as the police begin to fire on the marchers. And someone else sees Hector fall, photographer Sam Nzima, who quickly runs toward him.

The police shoot! Sam snaps.

Nothing like this has ever happened in South Africa.

Not to an ordinary boy like Hector.

And Nzima's photo of an ordinary boy being carried by a stranger for help becomes one of the famous images of South African resistance to Apartheid, in author-illustrator Adrianne Wright's forthcoming Hector: A Boy, A Protest, and the Photograph that Changed Apartheid (Page Street Kids, 2019). The struggles against Apartheid were big worldwide news stories, but author Wright's account, told to her by eyewitnesses, is the story of just one boy, an ordinary boy, whose trip to school ended his life, and of a snapshot that helped change his country. Says Wright in her Author's Note, "The richly detailed, first-hand accounts of Hector's life and the events of June 16, 1976, by Dorothy Molefi, Antoinette Sithole and Sam Nzima helped build a distinct picture of how I wanted to tell this story."

June 16 is now a South African holiday, and the Hector Peterson Memorial and Museum in Soweto tells the story "to honor the youth who gave their lives in the struggle for freedom and democracy."

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Coming to America: Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

One day we bundled gifts in our backpack
and crossed the bridge.

And when we reached the other side, thirsty, in awe, unable to go back, we became immigrants, migrantes.

There were so many things we did not know.

All immigrants--whether they come to America in the seventeenth century or the the twenty-first century--come as strangers to a strange land. There are different landscapes, different languages, and different people, and some new ways to follow. In her newest picture book, Caldecott-winning author-artist Yuyi Morales vividly describes her entry with her infant son, the frightening and funny experiences that all newcomers encounter--new words, new foods, new rules, and intimidating places. But Morales soon discovers that old and time-honored tradition--the American public library--which offers a place where immigrants have always been welcome, learning the ways of their new world from the children's stories there,

Books became our language. Books became our home. Books became our life.

We learned to speak, to write. To make our voices heard!

In this memoir of her first years in America, Dreamers (Holiday House, 2018), author-illustrator Morales tells her own story of survival and success in poetic text and evocative artwork. Morales uses bright mixed-media art (even utilizing a pen from artist Eric Carle) that delights the eye and tells the old story of the newcomer dreamers in a spirited and effervescent illustrations. She also includes a bibliography of the classic children's books that educated her young son and inspired her imagination and drive to become a picture book illustrator herself.

Publisher's Weekly celebrates her "warm and sparkling prose that moves easily from English to Spanish and back," and Horn Book Magazine says ""A wise book and, to praise it in its own words, "resplendent," an eloquent vision of the "resilience" and "hope" of the "dreamers.... "

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Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Making Do: Lena's Slippers by Ioana Hobai

The school dance recital was almost here!

Lena swirled and twirled.

She did one last pirouette outside the classroom.

Taking a deep breath, she cracked the door open and tiptoed inside.

Mrs. Pascu did not tolerate tardiness.

Mrs. Pascu, the ballet teacher, doesn't tolerate much.

She tells the girls that they are to be dancing flowers in the spring recital. Their skirts must be daffodil yellow and their slippers must be white.

Lena knows that money is tight and that fabric is in short supply in her little town. Her mom waits in line for hours just to get milk, and the only yellow fabric she can find is more like the color of a winter squash than a spring daffodil.

"It's not the right yellow!" protested Lena. "Mrs. Pascu is so picky!"

"Oh, Lena," said her mom. "We're lucky to have found any yellow at all. I'll sew you a beautiful skirt."

And her skirt is beautiful. But when Lena and her mother wait in line to buy the white slippers, someone else gets the last pair and there are no more to be had.

As expected, Mrs. Pascu scolds Lena about her skirt, but when she sees Lena is wearing white socks, she is truly angry. Picky Mrs. Pascu snaps that she absolutely will not be allowed to dance in the recital without white shoes.

When a friend gives Lena's father a pair of his daughter's old ballet slippers, Lena's is happy... until she sees that they are black. She is sure Mrs. Pascu will never let her dance in black shoes.

But where there's a will, there's a way. With a coat of white paint, perhaps Lena's slippers will pass muster, in Ioana Hobai's true story of her childhood in Romania, Lena's Slippers (Page Street Kids, 2018). And in the spirit of making the best of what you have, Hobai's endearing illustrations, filled with light and the joy of dance, demonstrate that what you do with what you have is what is important in art and life. It is the spirit of the dance that shines through in this different ballet story with an inspiring theme for young balletomanes.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Lost in Time: Trapped in Room 217 by Thomas Kingsley Troupe

Cold.

Despite a pretty heavy comforter on the bed, Jayla was cold.

The room was cold.

She sat up slightly and nearly shrieked at what she saw. There was a woman in the room. She was standing almost next to her. Waves of cold and terror washed over Jayla. Something inside her told her that she needed to watch this woman.

She's a ghost, Jayla thought. There's a ghost in our room.

Jayla could see right through her. Even so, she could make out her clothes, an old-time maid's uniform.

A sudden work assignment has come up for Jayla's and her younger brother Dion's father, and even though an extra two days off for spring break is great and the drive though snowy Colorado is beautiful, there is something troubling about the imposing old Stanley Hotel. Suddenly the remarks of a couple of the older guests, saying they were in for "an interesting night" makes sense.

After Jayla's midnight encounter with the ghost, the first thing she does is pull out her phone and search out information on the Stanley Hotel, which turned out to have a worldwide reputation for America's most haunted. She discovers that the ghost maid has even put her shoes by the door and tidied up their bathroom. With Dad working all day, she and Dion are stuck in the old hotel, and they decide to find out as much as possible about the resident ghost. They discover that there are other ghosts reported there. When they learn that they are too young for the "Ghost Tour," a employee takes them on a short version, and Jayla learns that Room 217 is indeed famous for its ghost, Elizabeth Wilson, and her nightly appearance, in which she always seems to be searching for something on the floor beside the bed.

If they are stuck in the hotel for at least a week, Jayla and Dion decide to spend their time figuring out what is keeping Elizabeth "stuck" in Room 217 every night.

Jayla and Dion are intrigued when she discovers that there seems to be some object beneath the carpet beside the bed, and when she finds a knife and makes a cut in the rug just large enough for her finger, she finds a locket with a photo of a woman underneath. Can this be what the ghostly Elizabeth is seeking?

Can Jayla free the ghost of Elizabeth from her nightly search?

Thomas Kingsey Troupe's series has the promising premise of young ghost hunter stories in some of America's notably haunted places, and for middle readers who prefer just a touch of scariness, his Trapped in Room 217 (Haunted States of America) (Jolly Fish Press, 2018, 2019) avoids terror and emphasizes rational and sensitive kids having their own "ghost busters" adventures in real-life famous spooky places. With black-and-white illustrations by artist Maggie Ivy on many pages, this title in the series makes for a bridge to the noted ghost stories of the master, Mary Downing Hahn, whose best-selling novels combine real empathy with ghostly encounters, include Wait Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story, The Old Willis Place, The Girl in the Locked Room: A Ghost Story, and Took: A Ghost Story, and many more (see reviews here).

Of Troupe's short and simple ghost novels, School Library Journal says, "... young middle readers "will quickly flock to this high interest, accessible thriller."

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Monday, January 07, 2019

BURP! Nova The Star Eater by Lindsey Lesley

Nova can't stop eating.

She glides through the galaxy slurping up stars at the speed of light. Her favorite? Red supergiants. But she'll eat any star she sees--white dwarfs, blue giants, binaries...

... or a juicy yellow dwarf near a pretty-bluish-green planet? Nova opens wide and...

GULP!

While Nova is savoring the warm fuzzy feeling of that tasty little star, something else is going on down below on that little planet....

Astronomers in their observatories are aghast. Beach sunbathers basking in the warm sun find themselves cooling it in the dark. Owls wake up from their daily snooze, and the day birds rush to roost in the sudden dark.

The scientists are aware of the dark implications of the disappearance of Earth's sun! They send delegations to the space station.

"What did you do to our sun? We need it back...NOW!"

At first Nova is incendiary and incensed at their rudeness. But the scientists explain that the Earth cannot live without their own little yellow dwarf, just as Nova begins to regret the ingestion with a bad case of indigestion. It seems those scratchy forests and swirling oceans are giving her a bad case of heartburn.

But none of the scientists' ideas prevail, until a little girl pops up with a simple suggestion.

And with a giggle and a Burp and a big Bloooooooop, Earth gets its beloved Sun back, in Lindsay Leslie's jolly tale of a cosmic confrontation, Nova the Star Eater (Page Street Kids, 2019). Author Leslie slips a few astrophysics factoids into her story, as her Nova does what supernovae do, expand and engulf galactic bodies with bon appetit, in this forthcoming humorous science fiction story, illustrated exuberantly with elan by John Taesdo Kim, who ends with a schematic of the sun and its solar system family, showing Saturn and its rings and little Earth with a big sign...

... THANKS, NOVA!

For more solar system fantasy fun, pair this one with Stef Wade's tongue-in-cheek demoted-planet tale, A Place for Pluto (see review here).

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Sunday, January 06, 2019

Miles to Go: Birth of the Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound by Kathleen Cornell Berman

Mornings in East St. Louis
Miles Davis
sits close to the radio.

Blocks from home,
Miles watches riverboats
bringing musicians
up the Mississippi River,
from New Orleans.

The perfect place for a boy
who loves music.

Like iconic jazz musicians Louis Armstrong and Bix Beiderbecke before him, Miles Davis fell under the spell of jazz by that same river. Music drifted through his windows, and he felt the hot beats of the dance bands, the sad sound of blues, and the rhythmic harmonies of the gospel songs, and when his father gave him a gleaming trumpet and music lessons, his path was set.

Miles played with the school band and local bands, and he got good, good enough to be accepted by Julliard School of Music in New York, but the music "on The Street," 52nd Street, where the jazz clubs were, was changing fast.

Everybody's buzzing about
Bebop.

Bebop was hard and fast, with jumpy, unpredictable harmonies and rhythms and fast notes. But...

Bebop was about change.

Miles Davis soon gets good enough to play with the bop stars--Charlie "Bird" Parker's searching sax and Dizzy Gillespie's fast and fizzy high notes--but he has other ideas about how he wants to play.

Miles hears music differently.

He doesn't like to play a lot of notes
... only the important ones.

Miles remembers what his dad had said, "Don't be a mockingbird that copies others," and finally he finds his own band and his style, a sound that was his own, strong, but sweet, a new sound, with relaxed rhythm and pure notes, and one day he wows the crowd at the Newport with his sound--the new jazz.... and becomes one of the major musicians of the century.

In her Birth of the Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound (Page Street Kids, 2019), author Kathleen Cornell Berman follows jazz legend Miles Davis through his formative years as a jazz musician who searches himself to invent a new way to play, one true to himself and true to the art of jazz. Appropriately, Berman tells Miles' story in smooth but rhythmic free verse that tells of the inner struggle that leads to memorable music in any time, ably assisted by the art of Keith Henry Brown, who uses soft watercolor illustrations in full page and spot art style to portray for middle readers the music scene that was Miles Davis's own in the world of mid-century music. For young musicians and jazz lovers, this book should be a first purchase for middle-school and public libraries.

For serious fans, Berman adds an appendix with author's and illustrator's notes, a selected discography, and a bibliography of articles and books on the life and work of Miles Davis.

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Saturday, January 05, 2019

Huggable! A Caboodles of Cuddles for the Baby You Love by Alice Luffman et al

ONE LITTLE BEAR CUB

ONE BIG BEAR HUG.

Where does baby belong? Why, with his or her family, in a warm embrace, of course!

Roger Priddy Books has a new style of board book, the "Picture Fit Board Book," with tactile raised figures of a series of endearing babies and fond families--a puppy, penguin, bear, dolphin, and koala--and the sort of hug he or she loves, whether it be in a pod, basket, or eucalyptus tree--which fit into the recessed facing page. The animals are pictured simply, yet identifiably, and the repetition in the text is enticing.

There are endearing baby animals with names to learn and some ear-pleasing alliterated text to engage the youngest in this Picture-Fit title, Picture Fit Board Books: A Caboodle of Cuddles (Priddy Books/St. Martin's Press, 2018), created by Alice Luffman, Nocole Friggens, Penny Worms, and Amy Oliver, a fun salute to family affection just published for young board book lovers.

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Friday, January 04, 2019

Sea Challenge! Shark Quest: Protecting the Ocean's Top Predators by Karen Romano Young

Who's the apex predator of the world's oceans?

Some would say carnivorous whales such as the orca, but most would say sharks. The famous line from the movie "Jaws" calls the shark "an eating machine," and the large sharks do fit that role.

"As the top predator of the Atlantic, the white shark is like the wolf of the sea, helping to maintain ecological balance by feeding on prey such as seals--especially the weaker and less fit," says shark scientist Robert Heuter. Without predators in an ecosystem, one species may take over and a cascade of imbalance flows from there.

But the truth is that Earth's apex predator is we humans!

Sharks do fit the description of super eaters. Except for the docile plankton-feeding whale shark, they feed at the top of the food chain for ocean dwellers. Their DNA is longer and more varied than ours--because they have been around for around 450 million years, plenty of time compared to modern humans, to develop immense diversity and complexities especially in feeding skills. Some forms of sharks can invert their stomachs and get rid of indigestible ingestions, like outboard boat motors and hempen dragnets. They are also the masters of varied forms of reproduction--oviporous and viviporous, with their unborn young can be nourished either by a placenta, like mammals or by the simple expedient of having the unborn pups feed on the unfertilized eggs--oophagy--or feeding on the other embryos--adelphophagy! Some sharks can store sperm for long periods, and at least one species, a blacktip reef shark, has produced a genetic clone of itself--a case of reproduction so rare that English has to borrow a Greek term, pathenogenesis, for it.

For secondary level students, Karen Romano Young's Shark Quest: Protecting the Ocean's Top Predators (Twenty-First Century Books, 2018) puts its readers deep into the study of shark. With eight intriguingly titled chapters--"The Trouble with Sharks," "What's a Shark?" "Feeding the Beast?" "Shark Sex," "Swimming with Sharks," "What Do Shark Researchers Do at Sea?" "What Do Shark Researchers Do Onshore?" and "Citizen Science for the Sharks," offers much solid science and plenty of fascinating tidbits to make for an engaging read for shark fans and a plentiful source for research reports, one pretty much on the cutting edge of shark study and the use of technology (not all shark science is done on or beneath the water) in investigation of this amazing animal.

For young adult readers who are fascinated by sharks and fancy a bit of ocean adventure, this one is absorbing reading, especially since mankind, the real apex predator, seems to be the biggest danger to sharkdom, and for those who prefer working digitally to donning a wet suit, there is plenty of groundbreaking research to entice them into shark science here. With quite an appendix--a pictorial shark guide to the eight orders of sharks, source notes, glossary, selected bibliography, further information about clubs, smartphone apps, and even adopting a shark, websites and books, and a full index with sub-headings--this one is for the real student of the species. Says School Library Journal," "Young's interweaving of dismantled misinformation and captivating "shark truths" seamlessly leads into the activities undertaken by researchers and conservationists to better understand and protect shark populations, and Kirkus Reviews adds "Shark populations are endangered due in large part to human impact, specifically fishing and finning, and how teens can act as advocates and conservationists is provided. A must purchase for libraries and fans of Shark Week."

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Thursday, January 03, 2019

I Have to Finish! Her Fearless Run: Kathrine Switzer's Historic Boston Marathon by Kim Chafee

In 1959, it was strange to see a girl running.

Girls were too weak, too fragile for sports. That's what most people thought.

But not Kathrine.

Kathrine Switzer always loved to run. And when the running coach at her college noticed her running the track, he was interested. He asked her if she could run a mile.

"I can run three!" she said.

Her college didn't offer women's track, but they had no rules against women being on their running team, so Kathrine trained with the men, and while interviewing two male members of the team for the college newspaper, she learned that they had run the Boston Marathon--more than 26 miles in one day. Kathrine was intrigued. When she switched to Syracuse University, she convinced the manager, Arnie Briggs, to let her train with the men. Soon she was running ten and then twelve miles. And she had a plan!

Katharine studied the rulebook for the Boston Marathon. It said nothing about women. After all, women were not supposed to be able to run twenty-six miles without stopping.

April 29, 1967. The day of the Boston Marathon.

A record 741 runners registered, including one "K. V. Switzer."

The only other woman who had ever completed the Marathon, Bobbi Gibb, had run disguised as a man. But Kathrine, K.V. Switzer, Number 261, ran as herself. At first, among the crowd at the start line, she ran unnoticed. But then one spectator noticed her. He ran out into the street and tried to grab her, but Kathrine outran him, losing only a glove in the maneuver. But then she heard an angry voice.

"Give me those numbers!" a man shouted. He swiped at the front of her shirt.

Another runner knocked the man off the course and Kathrine just kept running. She still had her number, but she still had 20 more miles to go.

"No matter what, I have to finish this race," she told Coach Briggs, who was running with her.

"On my hands and knees, if I have to."

And Kathrine ran on, for herself, and for all the girls and women who were about to find out that, yes, women could run marathons, and more, in Kim Chafee's Her Fearless Run: Kathrine Switzer’s Historic Boston Marathon (Page Street Kids, 2019). Although she was noted on the front pages of newspapers and made the evening news, amazingly Kathrine was expelled from the Amateur Athletic Union for "running without a chaperone."

A lot has changed for women in sport since 1967, but led by the courage of Kathrine Switzer, women now run in all the major marathons around the world, and in other kinds of races, too. Author Kim Chafee's narrative builds suspense for young readers who may not know the story of this first woman marathoner, while Ellen Rooney's illustrations keep the story of Katharine's first fearless run moving artfully through the pages. Switzer ran many steps in that first marathon, but those historic first steps for women were soon followed by the feet of many more.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2019

It Takes All Kinds! Dogs and Their People by Anne Lambelet

One beautiful days, I like to take the long way home from school.

And my favorite thing to do is look at all the dogs and their people.

People-watching has always been popular, but this young girl puts her own spin on it--observing pairs of people and their canine pets.

Some people share an uncanny likeness with their canine companions. There is a secret smile on our girl's face as she spots a chesty dandy sporting a double-breasted jacket, walking his equally deep-chested bulldog. A prim lady perches on a park bench perusing her book, while her svelt pinscher studies the newspaper, and Lord Banberry and his schnauzer O'Grady share magnificent mustachios!

Others could not be more different.

She spots a top-heavy dowager with a spindly toy poodle tripping daintily along on her leash.

And when our observant girl finally arrives home, what kind of canine companion awaits to greets her...?

There's a surprise for young readers on Anne Lambelet's last page of her forthcoming Dogs and Their People (Page Street Kids, 2019), along with charming vintage 1920s illustrations of people, pets, and the retro cityscape through which they move. Youngsters will appreciate the comic and restrained text and piquant artwork filled with amusing details of people being people and dogs being dogs, even a corgi who steals a lick of little Alexander Pemberton's ice cream cone. A unique dog story with artwork that begs to be studied, page by page.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2019

You Never Know! Lucy and the String by Vanessa Roeder

LUCY FOUND A STRING.

SO SHE GAVE IT A TUG.

Not much happens, so she tugs harder, and then she gives the red string a yank!

LUCY MET HANK!

GROWL!

Hank is one very crotchety bear. But who wouldn't be? It seems that the red string Lucy has been pulling so cavalierly is, or was... the yarn from Hank's knit trousers.

Lucy tries to coax a better mood out of Hank by hamming it up with the red yarn. She makes herself a silly, droopy cat hat, an Abraham Lincoln top hat, a lasso, and spells out an apt word.

YEEHAW!

She whirls the yarn to make it into pantaloons for herself and Hank. He scowls. She twirls up a red tutu, but it, too, is too, too skimpy to cover Hank's, er, situation.

HANK WAS STILL A BARE BEAR.

HE JUST WANTED PANTS.

Then Lucy has an inspiration. She quickly knits herself a kitschy sweater which hangs well below her knees. Then she takes off her black and white dress and offers it to Hank as a skirt. Amazingly, he likes it! Who knew? Problem solved! So Lucy impulsively snips the string between herself and Hank.

Now why is Hank SAD? Can Lucy knit up a solution to this sudden sense of separation?

In a sweet and silly story of novel forms of fashion and friendship found, Vanessa Roeder's brand-new Lucy and the String (Dial Books, 2018) creates a way to knit together an unlikely pair with a special shared bond. Author Roeder's text is as as simple as her minimalist palette of blackish, red, and white, fashioning appealing characters--Lucy with her spiky black pigtails with red bows, and Hank, whose fur seems to knitted in a herringbone tweed pattern, from watercolors, pencil, and "lots of digital string." Roeder's "string" is, of course, a symbol of the ties that bind as well as the tie that links the story together, and youngsters will sense that metaphor subliminally even as they snicker at the pants-less bare-bottomed bear Hank. Kirkus sews it all up, saying, "An imaginative and entertaining tale of crafting and friendship."

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