Thursday, January 31, 2019

Side by Sidekick! Thunder Pug by Kim Norman

Percy was a pug and Petunia was a pig.

Even so, they loved doing many of the same things.

Percy and Petunia are pals who pair up to play every day.

Of course, they pursue separate activities, too. Pug chomps bones, and Petunia prefers vegetarian provender. But they get together at dusk to play hide-and-seek and lap at puddles, jowl to cheek.

But then Petunia goes off to be shown at the County Fair and comes back a celebrity ...

... wearing a blue ribbon!

Percy is displaced by Petunia's admirers. The animals cheer and parade her around the place on their shoulders. Pug can't even get close enough to give her a high-five.

And she wears that blasted blue ribbon everywhere she goes!

Pug is suddenly a person of no importance to Petunia. He's got to find a way to up his game. And then he spots a discarded comic book about a dashing, daring caped crusader.

Percy the Pug picks up a pig chow sack and and converts it into a superhero cape, and VOILA!


Percy Thunder Pug leaps to rescue baby chicks from stinky skunks and bathing baby birds from deep puddles. It's fun, but there's still something missing from his super persona.

What this superhero needs is--a sidekick!

And suddenly, there she is, Petunia the Super Star, in blue ribbon and... cape!


Superhero and sidekick pair up to do daring good deeds... and together they are ...


Pug and Pig are a new dynamic duo in Kim Norman's latest in series, Thunder Pug (Sterling Children's Books, 2019), a sweet story which affirms the way that friendships can be reborn through changes in fame and fortune. Author Norman's narration flows with spot-on text, and Keika Yamaguchi's artwork is perfect for Norman's characters, with soft digital watercolors and page design that places the illustrations in spot art, in full-bleed single-page style, and humorous action which flows over double page spreads as both characters come together. A solid theme of independence and togetherness that soars!

Pair this one with Norman and Yamaguchi's first collaboration in this series, Puddle Pug.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Winning! American Library Association 2019 Children's Book Awards

The American Library Association has announced its 2019 awards for books and media for youth.

Winning the John Newbery Award for children's literature was Merci Medina for Merci Su├írez Changes Gears (Candlewick Press.)

Newbery Honor Medals went to Veera Hiranandani for The Night Diary (Dial Books) and Catherine Gilbert Murdock for The Book of Boy (Greenwillow Books).

The Randolph Caldecott Award for picture book illustration went to Sophie Blackall for Hello Lighthouse (Little Brown). Winning Caldecott Honor Medals were Juana Martinez-Neal for Alma and How She Got Her Name (Candlewick); A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin (Little, Brown); The Rough Patch by Brian Lies (Greenwillow); and Thank You, Omu!by Oge Mora (Little, Brown).

Clara Hartfield won the Coretta Scott King Author Book Award for A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Clarion).

King Honor awards went to Lesa Cline-Ransom for Finding Langston (Holiday House), Varian Johnson for The Parker Inheritance (Arthur A Levine), and Kekla Magoon for The Season of Styx Malone (Wendy Lamb Books).

Ekua Holmes took the King Illustrator Book Award for The Stuff of Stars (Candlewick Press).

King Illustrator Honor Awards were given to Hidden Figures illustrated by Laura Freeman (HarperCollins); Let the Children March illustrated by Frank Morrison (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt); and Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968 illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (Calkins Creek).

The King/Steptoe Award for new talent authors went to Tiffany D. Jackson for her Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968 (HarperCollins), and the new talent award for illustrations went to Oge Mura for Thank You, Omu! (Little, Brown).

The Pura Belpre' Medal was awarded to Yuyi Morales for her Dreamers (Holiday House).

The Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature was given to Elizabeth Acevedo for The Poet X (HarperCollins).

The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children was given to The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian's Art Changed Science, written by Joyce Sidman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

The Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal for books for beginning readers was awarded to Corey R. Tabor for Fox the Tiger (My First I Can Read) (Balzer and Bray), and Geisel Honor Book Awards went to David Milgrim's See Pip Flap (The Adventures of Otto) (Simon Spotlight); Sergio Ruzzier's Fox and Chick: The Party: and Other Stories (Chronicle Books), Dori Hillestad Butler for King & Kayla and the Case of the Lost Tooth (Peachtree), and Emily Tetri for Tiger vs. Nightmare (Roaring Brook).

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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Love's Labour Lost! Mirabel's Missing Valentines by Janet Lawler

Mirabel was very shy.
She'd always been that way.
She trembled at the thought of
giving valentines away.

Still, little mouse girl Mirabel hand-colors her modest little missives, cutting out red hearts and carefully printing good wishes on them. Stashing them carefully in her schoolbag, she spends a restless night worrying about approaching her classmates at school. She doesn't want to go, and she's moving rather slow. But at last she's on her way.

But unknown to Mirabel, there is a hole in her bag, and one by one her Valentines slip out and blow away in the brisk breeze.

But even unintended random acts of kindness have consequences. Each card finds someone who needs it. A lonely old woman whose mailbox is empty smiles at the heart-y card. A construction worker finds a red card with a kind sentiment. One finds its way into a baby buggy pushed by a dutiful dad. Even a garbage man, surrounded by the stinky smell, finds a card that wishes him well.

But then Mirabel discovers that her bag is empty:

"I've lost my Valentines!!" she cried aloud.

The card recipients have a moment of truth.

They hurried up to Mirabel.
"Your cards have made us smile.
Thanks for sharing them with us,
if only for a while."

Seeing how her Valentines have unintentionally brought happiness to their finders, Marabel gets it: Valentine's Day is not about her. It's all about giving. All's well that ends well, with Mirabel enjoying exchanging cards at school and returning home with more heart-filled cards than she gave away, in Janet Lawler's Mirabel's Missing Valentines (Sterling Books, 2019).

Adults forget what an angst-filled day at school Valentine's Day can be. Kids worry that they won't get any Valentines, or that they won't get one from a special person. And for the truly shy, even the act of giving Valentines is fraught with anxiety. But bashful Mirabel learns a little lesson about what giving--and receiving--means in a heart-warming rhyming story with an understated theme of what this overblown and sometimes silly holiday still says about the art of giving.

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Better with YOU! I Love You More Than... by Taye Diggs

I love you more than dancing,

but I love making up moves and moonwalking with you!

This dad has plenty of things he loves to do, but he enjoys doing them more with his son, things like going to breakfast and watching him chow down on a stack of pancakes. He likes movies, but he gets a special kick out of looking at his son in those 3-D glasses. He loves New York, but he loves it more when he and his little boy share a subway ride. Dad is partial to his own sneakers, but...

"But I love how you look in your cool little kicks!"

Actor Taye Diggs' I Love You More Than . . . (Feiwell And Friends, 2018) celebrates sharing the things he loves with his young son in all those little ways that bond child and parent. Artist Shane Evans does the honors, portraying the joy of father-son sharing in intimate illustrations. Taye Diggs' previous book about his little son Michael is Mixed Me! (see review here).

Says Publishers Weekly, "... this story that imparts a reassuring message: whether or his parents are physically present, this child is deeply loved."

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Monday, January 28, 2019

DING! Robot in Love by T. L. McBeth

It was a day like any other.

Then I saw her!

I had never seen anything so beautiful.. So... shiny!

No sooner do his optical sensors fire than his servos are in swivel and his central processor is sizzling!! He is smitten.

Robot is in love!

He moves closer, thinking to activate vocalization, but his circuit board is in total system overload.


Our connection was electric!

The next day Robot tries again. Nattily attired in spiffy suit and red bow tie, carrying a bouquet, he returns to their meeting place, determined to communicate to her how he feels.

She was gone!

Then he sees her picture in the store window--and her name!


We ran away together.

And it's true love and a dual power supply forever in T.L. McBeth's toasty warm love story Robot in Love (Henry Holt and Company, 2018). Artist McBeth's simple artwork depicts his love-stricken suitor dandily dressed, in simple black and white drawings accented with soft reds, right down to the Valentine hearts in his visual orbits. For youngsters who prefer their love stories on the silly side, this is a heart-warming Valentine Day's story which will not fail to engage the giggle gears in young readers in a sweet tale of cyborg romance.

For more offbeat Valentine fare, pair this one with Kelly DiPucchio's hilarious Zombie in Love (see review here).

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Sunday, January 27, 2019

Love Bug? Hugs and Kisses for the Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle

The Ladybug is grouchy. And when Ladybug is out of sorts, nobody is smiling!

Maybe a smile can turn a frown upside down, but it's not working with this very Grouchy Ladybug.

A little embrace can make a crocodile smile. A little smooch will make a seal flap his flippers.

A little hug can help a mama kangaroo and her joey jump with joy, a giraffe stretch tall, or get a donkey kicking up his hind hooves!

And just little kiss will inspire a peacock to ...


So can some hugs and kisses coax a smile out of that grouchy ladybug?

Favorite author-illustrator Eric Carle has crafted a nifty new picture book for the Valentine season, his just-published Hugs and Kisses for the Grouchy Ladybug (Harper Collins, 2018), in which he proves that a little love goes a long way. Carle's signature tissue-collaged artwork is iconic and instantly recognizable, especially for youngsters who already know his classics, The Grouchy Ladybug and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Pair this one with Carle's other loving and lovely Love from The Very Hungry Caterpillar (The World of Eric Carle) (see review here).

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Saturday, January 26, 2019

Trolls on Valentine's Day? Hug Day by Mary Man-Kong

What do the Trolls down in Troll Village love?

Lots of things.

Branch's favorite thing is grumpiness! It's his SHTICK, the others figure, as they leave him to his thing.

Cooper is fond of dancing, dancing, dancing. And Fuzzbert prefers tickling everybody!

But what do they all love on Valentine's Day?

Lots and lots of big Troll...


And what do toddlers and preschoolers want in their mailboxes on Valentine's Day? Maybe a sparkle-sprinkled copy of Dreamworks Trolls' Hug Day! (DreamWorks Trolls) (Random House, 2018. A die-cut, heart-shaped book with sturdy board-book covers and pages and plenty of sparkly affection to brighten a wintry holiday is just the thing for fans fond of the Dreamworks Trolls' show who will find this one the best sort of greeting card to brighten a wintry holiday that shares plenty of hugs all around.

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Friday, January 25, 2019

A First Valentine: Lots of Love, Little One by Sandra Magsamen

You are a gift and a blessing in every way.

I love you more and more each and every day.

Describing the love parents feel for their young child is almost impossible, but Sandra Magsamen's, Lots of Love Little One (Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky, 2018), a rhyming Valentine to the youngest amongst us, is a sweetly charming way to try.

Counting the ways to describe "the depth and breadth" of a mother's or father's love takes author Magsamen into funny and fanciful comparisons--more than the twirls of all the world's dancers, more than all twinkles in the stars that shine, more than all the PB and J sandwiches ever made or strands of spaghetti served in Rome! Her illustrations, however, are simple, done in bright primary colors, of top-stitched nursery playthings, including a blue elephant mother and baby and a big red heart, making this just published little book a just-in-time gift for a first Valentine's Day.

And for older toddlers, share this one with Sam McBratney's classic story of Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare's best-selling can-you-top-this tale, Guess How Much I Love You, also available in a set of book and an adorable plush Little Hare toy, Guess How Much I Love You: Deluxe Book and Toy Gift Set.

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