Thursday, June 20, 2019

Lunar Lunch? There Was An Old Astronaut That Swallowed the Moon by Lucille Colandro



Take a break, Old Lady. There's a Temp Lady who munches merrily on the moon, and we're off on a selective tour of the solar system.

The Old Astronaut chomps a comet which looks like an omelet, a meteoroid, that morphs into a meteorite on impact, a planet in orbit... --and then a rocket is on the diet docket....

and for dessert...


In a slight dietary deviation from her usual terrestrial tastings, Lucille Colandro's famous Old Lady snacks in space in her latest spoof of the famous folksong, There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly-- here Was An Old Astronaut Who Swallowed the Moon! (There Was an Old Lady [Colandro]) (Cartwheel/Scholastic Books, 2019).

With her familiar rollicking rhymes and Jared Lee's trademark scratchy-lined comic illustrations, this latest in Colandro's jolly series also includes a handy space glossary, making this gustatory read-and-sing-along song a handy introduction or review of terms for a classroom unit on the solar system. Colandro also offers an appetizer in the form of search-and-find quiz for kids to spot space objects included in Lee's busy illustrations--a fun ragout of entertaining reading and science learning.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Fox Went Out on a Summer Night: Fox Explores the Night by Martin Jenkins

It's dark and cozy in her den when Fox first wakes, but a quick look outside tells her that it's still sunny midday, not a good time for a red fox to be out and about.

But when she wakes again, the sun is setting, and her hunger hurries her out for some foxy foraging.

It is not so easy to see in the dark, but when the moon peeks out from behind a cloud, she sees something that might be a meal--a mouse.

But the mouse is too fast for Fox.

She noses a cast-off pizza box by a trash can, but there's only a scent of food there. She trots on, only to be spooked by her reflection in a mirror in a shop window. She dodges the headlights of a speeding car which beeps at her.
That was close!

Fox follows the dark shadows into a alley, where her nose notices something tantalizingly tasty.

It's someone's barbecue pit, with the fire hot and glowing, and a plate of warm and juicy grilled chicken legs, left all alone on a table. And there, dropped on the ground, is a whole one--just right for a red fox's supper--as she follows the path in the moonlight back for a delicious dinner in her den.

Conservationist author Martin Jenkins' Fox Explores the Night: A First Science Storybook (Science Storybooks) (Candlewick Press, 2018) offers a bit of nocturnal urban wildlife adventure and a little treatise on light, from several sources, in this new American edition in the Science Storybook series. Now that foxes have taken up habitation close to humans in towns and suburbs, sharp-eyed young readers will be on the lookout for these shy mammals after reading this book.

Illustrations by Richard Smythe extend the text beautifully in frames and full-bleed night illustrations that show off the effects of different forms of light experienced in the nocturnal adventures of this charming little red fox vixen. Author Jenkins add a short appendix, "Thinking about Light and Dark," and a brief index/glossary that leads back to his text. Other books in this series offering basic animal science and easy reading experience are The Squirrels' Busy Year: A First Science Storybook (Science Storybooks) and Bird Builds a Nest: A First Science Storybook (Science Storybooks).

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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Not Your Usual Day at the Beach: Roxie and the Hooligans at Buzzard's Roost by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Since Roxie's daring adventure foiled the bank robbers with the help of her town's notorious Hooligans, Roxie has hoped for a truce with that scruffy, ragtag gang of misfits.

But Roxie underestimates the Hooligans. Even when her Uncle Dangerfoot takes her and her bespectacled friend Norman along to his beach house, hoping to work on his hush-hush invention with his friend Lord Thistlebottom far from prying eyes and the press, they find a way to stowaway.

It was almost five hours later, and evening when they reached a large old house that sat back a bit from the ocean. Roxie and Norman were very stiff.

Uncle Dangerfoot reached for the latch on the trailer and opened the door. "What in thunder...?" he bellowed.

Roxie stared as Helvetia Hagus, Simon Surly, Freddy Filch, and Smoky Jo came tumbling out.

It seems as if Roxie cannot escape the Hooligans. Uncle Dangerfoot inexplicably accepts their story that their parents will not come to fetch them, and although the housekeeper and cook, Mrs. Tumbledry, is kindly, the other tenant, the Widow Bittersweet, veiled and gowned in heavy brown mourning garb, is scary weird. Rosie and Norman resolve to make the best of the uninvited guests, and Uncle Dangerfoot and Lord Thistlebottom seem totally absorbed in their secret invention... until the larcenous Helvetia, always on the lookout for a source of lucre, manages to swipe it.

The kids discover that the covert contraption is a rocket-powered jet pack, and Helvetia seizes the opportunity to try it out. Apparently the device is not quite ready for prime time, but Helvetia survives soaring above the beach, followed by a dive into the sand. The cat is out of the bag, and Uncle Dangerfoot is forced to explain the real purpose of his hideaway. He and Thistlebottom conceal their device in the Widow's baby's crib, where the petite Smoky Joe has elected to sleep, and, swathed in a baby blanket, she winds up being mistaken for the jet pack and kidnapped by the nefarious villain, Alfred Applejack.

Can Rosie and the remaining Hooligans combine forces to save Smokie Jo, or will she have to rescue them, in Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's second rip-roaring, harem scarem comic adventure, Roxie and the Hooligans at Buzzard's Roost (Atheneum Books, 2018).  In this series, Naylor's delightful ability to combine colorful and perilous adventures with picaresque humor is reminiscent of John Bellairs in his quaint and comic Gothic series which include The House with a Clock in Its Walls (Lewis Barnavelt) and his The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt (Johnny Dixon). Naylor, Newbery Award winner for Shiloh (The Shiloh Quartet), never fails to delight and enthrall readers, and this easy reading adventure novel is just right for summer nights.

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Monday, June 17, 2019

Family First! A Little Chicken by Tammi Sauer

Dot was a little chicken--who, in fact, let's say it, was a little chicken.

Sure, it's feasible to be scared of, you know, bears, or wolves, but scared stiff of...
Lawn gnomes? Butterflies?

Then one day, while adding extra security to the coop, Dot nudged a little egg that started rolling down the hill.

Dot gives chase. In fact, she's scrambling. Cluck!

The egg rolls right into the scariest place of all for Dot.
The deep, dark woods!

Braving a startled wolf and and bemused bear, Dot faces down her greatest fear--
Three very questionable lawn ornaments.

After all, that egg is family.

And when that egg comes to rest with a big CRACK, out pops a new baby sister for Dot, in Tammi Sauer's new chicken and egg story, A Little Chicken (Sterling, 2019). Facing fears is hard, but although Dot still shudders at the stony gaze of lawn gnomes, with a sister to look after, she's one plucky pullet. Illustrator Dan Taylor draws up some comical chickens in this latest by Tammi Sauer, mistress of silly critter stories.

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Sunday, June 16, 2019

Doing Time in Titular Limbo? Untitled by Timothy Young

Everybody's a critic! Carlos the Coatimundi and Ignatz the Capybara, nee Porcupine (the illustrator tired of drawing all those quills) are complaining, stuck in a book with no plot, setting, or theme. Marooned on a rock in a barren landscape, the two wannabe heroes long for a storyline in which they bravely battle dragons or monsters, bad hombres on horseback in the Badlands or atrocious octopi from a deep-sea capsule. What are they doing here, lost on big, empty pages, without even a premise?

"I've never seen a book about a coatimundi and a... wait, what are you again?"

"I'm a capybara, the world's largest rodent. He likes drawing lesser-known animals."

Carlos and Ignatz bemoan their lack of an exciting setting, only to find in a quick page turn that their creator has stuck them into a silly little red car in a page from Go, Dog, Go!

They seek refuge in the Children's Room of a library, longing to be the memorable main characters in books by other famous authors-illustrators of books like Make Way for Coatis, Coatimundi in Undies by Dr. Moose, Capybara Underpants by Dav Pilchard, Carlos and Ignatz Are Stuck in a Plothole, by Mac Barnowl and Jon Kinkajou, and Ignatz and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day, by Jaguar Viorst.
""He hardly writes a story. He just relies on characters like us to come up with the dialogue," Carlos kvetches.

And in true Timothy Young form, Ignatz and Carlos remain marooned in the desert of storyland with not a denouement in sight, until--

-- in the oldest plot device ever--DEUS, er, DINO EX MACHINA----they suddenly become dinner for a big, green T. Rex which, with both characters still lamenting a lack of foreshadowing from within its stomach, galumphs off into the sunset.
"Well, I didn't see that coming," says Carlos."

It looks like a setup for Untitled, Too, (The Sequel) in Timothy Young's latest titular spoof of the popular metafiction trope, the story within a story. Young, who professes to be a disciple of Marx Brothers movies, Monty Python, Mad Magazine, and Steve Martin, is in great form in his just-published picture book, Untitled (Schiffer Press, 2019). Author-illustrator of Looney Toon-ish-style parodies such as The Angry Little Puffin, I Hate Picture Books! and If You Give the Puffin a Muffin, Young also provides a double-page spread of library shelves with dozens of take-off titles from classic children's books that will keep young readers giggling as they peruse his parodied titles and authors. This one is a real tour de force of kiddy-lit lampooning for savvy readers to discover in a stealthy lesson in the ever-popular elements of fiction.

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Saturday, June 15, 2019

What To Do? Just Read by Leri Degman

Where do you read? When do you read? Why do you read?

HOORAY! I know how to read on my own!
But sometimes I don't want to do it alone.

You can read on trains; you can read on planes!
You can read on the swings; you can read when it rains.
Sometimes it's boring to read just one way.
It gets so monotonous day after day!

What do you do when there's nothing to do? What to do when there's everything to do?

The lively little readers in Leri Degman's latest, Just Read! (Sterling Children's Book, 2019) read anything, anywhere, with whomever they are with. They read sheet music in a music store, they read secret codes. They read rhyming signs beside the highway, and they read about exotic animals on the subway. They read in the park as they slide down the slide; they read when the family goes out for a ride. Author Leri Degman's jaunty rhymes portray kids reading and what they imagine as they read, and artist Victoria Tentler-Krylev's vivid, bustling illustrations of kids reading everywhere and anywhere show the endless ways to do it. Just do it! Just read!

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Friday, June 14, 2019

Up to Ten and Down Again! How to Two by David Soman

ONE can have fun!

A little boy's red cap flies off his head as he shoots off the end of a clearly slippery sliding board. What a ride!

But in the background, a solitary small girl in big green boots sits alone on one end of the seesaw.

It takes TWO to teeter-totter, so the boy jumps on!

Just then a girl with a jump rope hops into the scene. Can they make it a THREEsome?

The seesaw is forgotten as the two kids each take an end of the rope and the little girl jumps in--just as a boy with a ball walks up.


Play FOURsquare, of course, as they toss the ball around the little court painted on the pavement.

But the play group grows to include a boy pushing his toy bulldozer dump truck around in the sand box, and all FIVE get busy building a mountain in the middle for the trucks to move.

And when a sudden shower threatens, all FIVE run for the shelter, where a single girl makes SIX as she joins them in a circle game while they wait out the rain. Soon it stops, and when they spot a boy outside stomping through the puddles, they all race out to splash along with him, where the SEVEN splashers see a girl swinging from a tree branch, and they become a group of EIGHT playing hide-and-seek among the trees. And when a boy with a magnifying glass appears, all NINE get to peer through his glass at the turtles in the pond. And when one spies a boy alone on a bench, they're a team of TEN.

There's always room for ONE more, in author-illustrator David Soman's latest, How To Two (Dial Books, 2019), which, cleverly disguised as a counting book, is also a delightful dissertation on how each new child in free play helps the group morph into different games. And the number fun is not over, as in two double-page spreads, parents and grandparents converge to take each one back home, where the little boy in the red cap and his mom become a cozy TWO at story time.

Soman's artwork, celebrated for his part in the popular Ladybug Girl series, shines here as he creates a diverse, but charmingly individualized group of children doing what they do best--play--devising a series of pick-up games in their small park that goes up to ten and down again. Soman works his illustrative magic as each new prospective playmate appears, foreshadowing just what is going to happen next, making this new easy-to-read picture book the kind kids will come back to over and over again, long after they've mastered counting. "No two ways about it--this one is a delight." raves Kirkus Reviews.

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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Shadowing Shackleton! Captain's Log: Snowbound by Erin Dionne

Monday is "All about Explorers Day" at school and I'm reporting on the amazing explorer Ernest Shackleton!

Our little student is psyched. His tri-fold project board is completed, with an icebound sailing ship and its seamen frozen into styrofoam ice, framed by his neatly printed report and carefully mounted, cut-out photographs of the principals of the voyage. And he knows everything about the heroic English explorer of the South Pole's ocean. He can't wait for Monday!

But irony of ironies, Monday dawns with a blizzard. Our boy is marooned on their rocky coastline with his own crew--his parents, his dog, the ship's cat, and his pesky little brother, hereinafter called The Scalawag.

The Scalawag wastes no time. While the boy forms a shore party to explore the coast in his improvised dogsled, spotting a fur seal (his furry-coated neighbor with his snow blower), the Scalawag is up to no good, making off with the ship's hardtack rations (Mom's cookies). And our young explorer's favorite tankard and quill pen also go missing. But before they can be tracked down, all hands are to called to duty clearing the ice from their own deck.
Captain's Log. Day 3: The Endurance was crushed by ice in the Weddell Sea and twenty-eight men were stranded on ice floes. Although we have not yet reached such dangerous circumstances, our provisions are low. The hardtack is dwindling. I fear we may never resume our voyage.

And rations are growing short. Our boy is certain that The Scalawag is hoarding the hardtack. A raid must be made on the Scalawag's quarters, wherein the remnants of hardtack are mostly returned to the ship's stores. But...
Mutiny! The crew has turned against me! I am confined to quarters! My only joy is that The Scalawag is also contained.

Luckily, this crew's blizzard doesn't require clinging to floating ice floes, setting out in sail-rigged lifeboats, and slogging across 800 miles of icy ocean before reaching a whaling station, as Shackleton's did. In fact, on Day 5 of the ship's log, our boy, nicely turned out in his naval uniform, and The Scalawag, definitely well-fed, pile into the family car, Explorer project and all, and head back to school, where the project receives a warm welcome, in Erin Dionne's Captain's Log: Snowbound (Charlesbridge, 2019). Author Dionne offers up an Author's Note which logs her own time marooned on snow days, and she also includes the complete written report on Shackleton's voyage and a glossary of salty nautical terms, while artist Jeffrey Ebbeler's humorous illustrations of the family ship's log  record some memorably marooned snow days.

When the time comes (as it will for most schoolkids) when they must prepare a report on a famous historical personage, this one will be a great read-aloud to kick off the project, and young elementary grade students will love the family's snow-day sight gags which illustrator Ebbeler includes in his comic artwork. Adds Kirkus in their starred review, "When a young adventurer is snowed in, his predicament begins to parallel that of the icebound Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton," and both author and illustrator "enrich a story that takes its pretend play very seriously."

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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The Way: Zen Happiness by Jon Muth

What do you do when you get to the top?


Stillwater, the stolid, gentle Zen panda is back in an elegantly illustrated little gift book by the Caldecott-winning author-illustrator Jon J. Muth.

Stillwater shows his small friends the best way to go with inspired aphorisms, one for every month and each season, as he offers damp children a big red umbrella and a chance to return as many beached starfish to the sea as possible, even if it is impossible to toss them all back.

How can you continue climbing and observe stillness at the same time? Sit calmly and think.

If we become what we think--we can create our own world, and out world can be changed.

Caldecott artist Jon J. Muth's pithy guide to behavior, Zen Happiness (Scholastic Press, 2018), offers children calming pearls of wisdom, personal proverbs to live by, and lovely pastel illustrations in this latest book about finding peace and joy. Says School Library Journal, "A book that encourages mindfulness, love and self-awareness."

Share this one with Muth's Caldecott book Zen Shorts (Caldecott Honor Book) and sequels (see reviews here).

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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Power Princesses: Briar and Rose and Jack by Katherine Coville

All Queen Mervyn has ever wanted is about to come to pass in the birth of this long-awaited child. Only one wise woman is allowed to attend the Queen, an unsightly crone named Hilde--part wise woman, part midwife, and. some say, part fairy.

The time is at hand. Outside the chamber, King Warrick hears a lusty cry. "At last," cries the king. "An heir!"

But within the chamber, Hilde trembles, feeling a surging sympathy for the infant even as her heart sinks. She places the baby in Queen Mervyn's arms. The Queen draws back the blanket and gasps. The infant has a protruding brow, a sagging eyelid, and coarse, asymmetrical features. But something happens. The ugly little face breaks into a smile. The queen is charmed. "Ahh, the sweet little thing!" she says.

But almost immediately a second daughter is born, this one with an unearthly beauty even as a newborn, and to please the King, the Queen and Hilde decide to name her Rose and to present the beautiful child as the rightful heir. Hilde names the real firstborn Briar and agrees to raise her as an orphaned child of neighboring nobles. At their christening the Fairy Queen grants Rose lifelong beauty and charm, and by Hilde's intervention, Briar is given strength and intelligence. And then the jealous Gray Fairy intervenes with a curse on Rose, that on her sixteenth birthday the prick of a spindle will cause her to sleep for a hundred years, to be wakened only by the kiss of a true love.

The two secret sisters spend all their time together as they grow and delight in slipping away from the castle to play in the forest near the village, where they befriend the struggling Mother Mudge and her son Jack. The village peasants never seem to have enough to eat because of the Giant Tax, levied by the King to buy off the Evil Giant whose raids become ever more greedy. Despite the fearful giant, however, the three children become loyal friends and swear an oath that together, as the "Giant Killers," they will someday save the kingdom.

But sweet-natured Rose, accustomed to being loved by all, is easily misled by the "mean girls" of the court, Lady Arabella and her minions, who play cruel pranks on Briar, excluding her from their fun, and Briar finds herself turning more and more to Mother Mudge and Jack for companionship, where she resolves to save the half-starved villagers from the King's oppressive Giant Tax. And then she overhears the King telling the Queen that to save their secret fortune and their kingdom he must compel Rose to marry the old and cruel King Udolf. And when Briar tells Rose about the marriage being arranged for her, Rose chooses the prick of the spindle for herself rather than face the fate her father requires of her, and Briar realizes that she alone has the love and loyalty to save her sister.

In Katherine Coville's forthcoming Briar and Rose and Jack (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Clarion, 2019), the tales of Sleeping Beauty and Jack and the Beanstalk come together in a fantasy novel set within a folkloric medieval framework which affirms the power of courage, friendship, and love to overcome the magic of evil. As in her earlier fractured fairy story, The Cottage in the Woods, which mixes a classic Jane Austen story with the classic Goldilocks setting, in her new novel for savvy middle readers Coville introduces into the old tale of "spell-binding" and true love a modern sense of personal and social responsibility in the face of corruption, greed, and evil.

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Monday, June 10, 2019

How to Hide in Plain Sight: Undercover Ostrich by Joe Kulka

I notice a lot of animals are super sneaky.

A chameleon can change colors to stay hidden.

But do you know who is the sneakiest of all?


You've never seen a surreptitious ostrich? That proves just how stealthy ostriches can be!

See those three birds perched on a power line? (Would you believe one of them is an ostrich?) See those four birds cheerily splashing in two birdbaths? (Guess what? One is an ostrich, keeping a low profile.) Ostriches have been known to swim majestically down a river, dodging ducks, pretending to be a swans. (Plumage is plumage, right?)

And that trench-coated commuter on the subway, blending in with the mini-skirted teen and that sophisticate with his iphone and earbuds? Yep! That slouchy brown fedora is hiding a clandestine ostrich.
An ostrich could be in your house right now, and you would never know it.

That, er, interesting lamp with the fringed lampshade in your living room? (Check the neck!) Could that sub rosa ostrich in the backyard be stalking a bird feeder? Isn't it absurd that a bird that big would hide out in your own backyard just to pilfer some sunflower seeds and peanuts?

But beware! There could be also be peanut-obsessed undercover elephants out there by the sandbox, in Joe Kulka's jolly and absurdist Undercover Ostrich (CarolRhoda Books, 2019). Author-illustrator Kulka's heightens the irony of his narrator by filling his full-bleed, double-page spreads with goofy, gangly, googly-eyed ostriches trying to keep themselves covert with visual gags which will give young readers fits of giggles.

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Sunday, June 09, 2019

Never Bludgeon A Curmudgeon! The Unbudgeable Curmudgeon by Matthew Burgess

Her brother is in a mood. Not a good mood. Beyond a bad mood!

His bad mood has morphed into a curmudgeonly mood!

He's unmovable, immobile, mired (but not admired) in that mood.

He's such a grumpus that his red hair has turned into fright wig. His eyes are baleful. He's a fang-face with werewolf feet.

And he refuses to budge even for fudge! He won't scooch even a smidgen!



But be careful. Curmudgeonliness can be communicable! If you push and shove a curmudgeon, you might soon find yourself transmogrifying into one yourself!

How to free someone from a frightful funk is the subject of Matthew Burgess' brand-new The Unbudgeable Curmudgeon (Alfred A. Knopf, 2019), a picture book which tackles a familiar subject-- what to do when someone is having a terrible, horrible, no-good, etc., day. Should you pass your mood on to your sister? Probably not. Two curmudgeons are not better than one! A hug can't hurt, in this tale of a fungible state of mind, in which illustrator Fiona Woodcock gives her little grumpy siblings a chance to change their mood with her comic two-toned illustrations set against bright white pages.

And if this book isn't curative, take a couple of Caldecott Winners--When Sophie Gets Angry--Really, Really Angry… (Scholastic Bookshelf) and Where the Wild Things Are-- and call me in the morning.

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Saturday, June 08, 2019

Vamos a Contar! One Is A Pinata! by Roseanne Greenfield Thong

One is a rainbow.
One is a cake.
One is a pinata
that is ready to break!

One thing we can count on is that everybody loves a party, especially when there's a pinata waiting at the end of the fun.

But before we get the surprises hidden inside the pinata, there are duo of maracas to shake and a pair of zapatos (shoes) for happy feet. There's a game for two and sonrisos (smiles) abound when the ice cream cones come around.

And it's not a party without at least tres barbujos (three balloons) to pop. There are goodies to eat with cocoa and kites (cometas) to be flown, salsa to snack on and fruity aguas (drinks) and frutas on a stick, and if there is a rain shower, you can count on nine paraguas (umbrellas) to go around and a puddle for everyone.

How many candles (velas) are there to celebrate the fiesta? Ten, my friend, for you, diez para tu'!

And for those tired out by the fiesta, there are plenty of yawns and somnolent siesta!
There are so many numbers,
we love to contar,
From uno to diez,
Can you count that far?

In Roseanne Greenfield Thong's brand-new bilingual counting book, One Is a Piñata: A Book of Numbers (Chronicle Books, 2019), the author's rhyming text teaches a bit of Spanish vocabulary, while award-winning artist John Parra provides just the right number of items on each brightly-colored spread filled with young party-goers to associate with the number.

"An obvious choice for any picture book collection, this book teaches counting skills and new words while celebrating Hispanic and Latinx culture," says School Library Journal.

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Friday, June 07, 2019

At the Bottom of the Big Slide: A Friend for Henry by Jenn Bailey

It isn't always easy to find a friend.

In Classroom Six, second left down the hall, Henry was looking for a friend.

But Vivianne, who shares his easel in art, is like a kaleidescope--all mixed-up colors. Even her fingernails are each a different color.

"My mommy painted them!" Vivianne waved her hands too close to Henry's face.

"Painting on people is against the rules!" said Henry.

But when Henry tries to befriend Vivianne by painting rainbows on her shoes, she gets really angry! Henry doesn't understand. And when Henry arranges the carpet tiles in a perfect pattern for story time, boisterous Samuel leaps onto them and scatters the squares, claiming it is his magic carpet. And when Henry logically points at the label which clearly shows they came from Rug World, Samuel refuses to listen.

At snack time Jayden takes three crackers, not two, like Mrs. Magoon said. Riley makes a muddy worm nest right on the swing seats at recess. Nobody seems to follow the rules.

At free time, Henry sits alone,watching the class goldfish, Gilly, swim around in his bowl. He's alone, too. But then Katie comes over. She likes Gilly.
"Want to play blocks?" Henry asks. He adds, "I don't like triangles."

And Katie's good with a triangle-free construction, in Jenn Bailey's A Friend for Henry (Chronicle Books, 2019), and it looks like he and Katie are going to be the kind of friends who can make and keep each other's special rules. Finding a good friend is a bit like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, and finding the right match can be hard, as shown in this insightful story of making friends that can share and still respect differences.

Mika Song's gentle black-line illustrations add depth to this account of the personal accommodation that friendship requires. Says Kirkus Reviews, "Whether on the spectrum or not, friends don't have to share everything, just enough, and this book sweetly provides."

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Thursday, June 06, 2019

Are You My Mother? Hello, I'm Here! by Helen Frost

I'm out in the world--
I don't know where.
Mama! Papa!
Hello, I'm here!

Hatching is hard!

The baby sandhill crane has a lot of work just to get out of his shell. But then, what does he do?

He tries to stand up. One leg, then the other.
Hey, who's this?

Are you my brother?

The two chicks try their long legs and start to wander toward the water. There's something they're supposed to do there. Should they wade in to see?
No! Snapping turtles!

Stay close to me.

Mama strides swiftly over to head the twin chicks off before they wade in. She spreads her wide wings protectively as she quickly diverts their attention with something to eat...
... a snail for a treat!

One chick admires a group of cranes flying overhead. Is that what Mama can do with her long wings? Will he learn to fly like that, too?

The birth of two new American sandhill cranes is a big deal, but now it's time for a rest in the nest, in Helen Frost's latest nature poem, Hello, I'm Here! (Candlewick Press, 2019), which describes the first day of sandhill chicks. Despite their format as rhyming quatrains, Frost's verses convey some engaging nature science about these tall, impressive birds capable of migrating to the arctic portions of North America and Siberia on their strong, almost seven-foot wings. Rick Lieder's lovely closeup color photographs illustrate Frost's expressive rhyming narrative in a way that will help young readers identify with the little sandhill cranes' first days as they do what all little ones do--eat, explore, learn, nap, and follow their mothers. "These simple abcb quatrains scan beautifully--a good thing, since this will likely be requested over and over. Perfectly matched text and images make this a grand entrance," says School Library Journal.

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Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Leaving Home: Clare's Goodbye by Libby Gleeson

Come on, Clare," said Rosie. "It's time to say goodbye to everything."

Jacob grabbed Rosie's hand. "We have to say goodbye to the tree house."

It's been a good house, a happy house for the children.

On moving day the older ones try to keep little Clare busy, organizing last visits to their favorite places, beginning with the tree house.

Jacob climbs part-way up the ladder, but then stops to rest his cheek against the tree's bark. Rosie's suggestions to visit Clare's snail nest and Jakob's suggestion to visit the grave of their bunny Blossom only make Clare sadder. Rosie suggests writing their names in their now empty sandbox, but Rosie just looks away quietly.

As the rooms slowly become empty of their things, Rosie and Jakob watch. It's not their home anymore. But where is Clare? They look upstairs in the bedroom.
In the room there was only Clare, and she was dancing.

Everyone deals with loss in different ways, and in Libby Gleeson's Clare's Goodbye (Little Hare Books, 2018) little Clare finds her own way. Moving is always hard for children, especially when it means leaving the only home you've known, and Gleeson's sensitive story of what is left behind reminds youngsters that sad feelings can be expressed in many ways. Artist Anna Pignataro's soft and expressive illustrations don't sugarcoat the emotions of a farewell to a beloved house and offer a lesson in empathy for children who have never known a move. Says School Library Journal, "Impressionistic illustrations dominated by charcoal and pencil..., watercolors and collage create the quiet mood. Heavy use of charcoal shading around the children, like an aura of sadness, visually express the real difficulty children have learning to say goodbye."

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Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Eggs-capade! The Chickens Are Coming! by Barbara Samuels

One day Mommy, Winston, and Sophie saw an interesting sign:

I'm moving and I can't take them with me!

Inexplicably, Daddy declares that chickens can be pets, and Winston immediately expresses a wish to walk a chicken. And before they know it, their backyard is transformed into a hen habitat and ... Sophie declares,

There are five different sorts of hens--Desiree, Daphne, Divina, Delilah, and Dawn--one striped and speckled French hen, one Rhode Island Red, one fat and fluffy Chinese hen, one sleek golden hen, and one with a topknot of long, droopy feathers. They all run away from Winston's attempts to make friends.
"Why don't they like me?" he shouts.

As the chickens settle down in their lovely new coop, the kids can't wait for their eggs--those all-they-can-eat eggs. None are found. What they do find is... ... plenty of chicken poop to scoop!

Sophie serenades the hens with her violin tunes and Winston reads them bedtime stories.

Finally there's a wake up call from the chicken coop.

And the next morning, there are eggs all over the yard, but it seems that the chickens have made an eggs-cape!

But when Sophie suggests that they follow the poop trail, the kids discover all five hens hanging out in the family room, roosting on the sofa, watching a video, and snacking on last night's leftover pizza.

And there are all the eggs they can eat for breakfast in Barbara Samuels' homey and cozy chicken story, The Chickens Are Coming! (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019), illustrated in jolly style by the author to show off the individual differences between family members and their poultry pets. With the new popularity of raising chickens in urban settings, this brownstone-dwelling, adventurous city family stars in a story that hits the ups and downs of poultry raising with good humor and just enough poultry lore for a fun read-aloud that kids will find egg-cellent storytime fare."Samuels gets excellent comic mileage by drawing her hens as unblinkingly unflappable," quips Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal sums this chicken caper up, saying "Chickens rule the roost."

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Monday, June 03, 2019

Hooray! It's True! Celebrate You! by Sherri Duskey Rinker


Bring out the balloons, the confetti, the gifts, and perhaps the cake. It's your day to celebrate!

You'll pardon us if we take a moment to remember how far you've come, the challenges you have overcome, just how much you've done, and the great things that lie ahead!

In noted picture book author Sherri Duskey Rinker's latest, Celebrate You! (Balzer and Bray, 2019) her better-than-a-greeting-card salute to celebrating accomplishments is just the thing for graduations, scholastic and otherwise. With her perky little penguin standing in for honored guest, friends and family appear to share in the festivities.

And that's not all! There are plenty of awesome adventures and august events ahead, as hinted in Rinker's jolly send-off, created with lighthearted illustrations featuring a pizzazz-y penguin celebrant and a menagerie of well-wishers by A. N. King. 


Sunday, June 02, 2019

Ascent of a Dissenter! Dissenter on the Bench: Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Life & Work by Victoria Ortiz

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was born Joan Ruth Bader in 1933, a few days after Franklin Delano Roosevelt was sworn in. This year was the worst of the Great Depression. Shortly before Ruth was born, Adolf Hitler had been appointed the German chancellor of the Third Reich, ushering in the horrors of Nazism. A week after her birth, the first concentration camp in German was established at Dachau. The Baders' Flatbush neighborhood was lively, with Italian, Irish, and Jewish families living and working and playing side by side.

In some ways it was the worst of times in the world, and yet the best of times for "the notorious RGB" to have been born. Despite the frightening world of atrocities and world war, little Ruth was fortunate in her home, particularly her mother who wanted much and expected much of her daughter and ...
Ruth was everything her mother wanted her to be.

Ruth was taken to the public library, concerts and the opera, learned to play the cello, made nearly perfect grades, and earned a scholarship to Cornell, where the pretty freshman from Flatbush met her future husband, Marty Ginsburg. Along with her ability to get by on very little sleep, Marty was one of the keys to Ruth's later success in the law, helping raise two children in an early example of gender equality. Despite encountering gender discrimination herself at her job and as a law student, Bader still graduated with honors from Columbia Law School and earned a coveted position as law clerk to District Court Judge Edward Palmieri and became especially absorbed in the area of individual rights as established in the Bill of Rights and in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. And as lawyer and later judge and justice, she took on some of the major civil rights cases of the time.

Along with Ruth Bader Ginsburg's own personal history, author Victoria Ortiz's Dissenter on the Bench: Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Life and Work (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Clarion, 2019) intersperses the stories behind some of the important cases of her career--cases involving unreasonable search and seizure, a strip-search for a honor-roll middle-school student on the word of another student; a gender equality case in which a man had been denied a tax deduction for home-care for his elderly parents allowed only for women and one in which a surviving male parent was denied surviving spouse benefits under Social Security; the Lilly Ledbetter case for equal pay for equal work; and the famous Frontiero case in which Ginsburg advocated for equal benefits rights for pay women in the military. "Women's rights are human rights," was her belief.

But in addition to her exposition of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's stellar legal career, Ortiz's accounts also includes some intimate looks at the personal life of the "notorious RBG," her friendship with ultra conservative Justice Scalia based on their mutual love for opera, her speaking role in the opera "The Daughter of the Regiment" at the Washington National Opera, her gourmet-cook husband Marty's popularity with the other justices' wives at their monthly spouse potlucks, and RBG's devotion to physical training and travel. With plenty of professional and family photos and a solid appendix containing a copy of the Bill of Rights, her often prescient dissenting opinions--from Bush v. Gore to Citizens United v. FEC, to Burwell v. Hobby Lobby--chapter notes, bibliography, and a detailed index, this slim and highly readable biography of a one-of-a-kind SCOTUS justice should be a first purchase for public and school libraries.

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Saturday, June 01, 2019

Shape-Shifting! My Shape Is Sam by Amanda Jackson

Sam had four even sides. Four pointy corners.

He lived in a place where everyone had a job, depending on their shape.

But Sam has a yen to be like the Circles. They were smooth. They kept things rolling and turning.

To Sam, squares were dull, just building blocks for buildings and bridges. They weren't going anywhere.


But turning his square corners into curves was a problem. Sam tried wedging himself inside of a hoop, and bumped up to the top of a hill.
He tipped and tottered


Sam was on a ROLL! On the fast track! Even when his hoop hit a big stone and bumped him out, he kept on going. It's a rough ride to the bottom but in the process, Sam rubbed off his pointy corners.
"That was amazing!" cheered a square.

And without those sharp corners to define him, Sam is a very versatile shape. He's shaped his own identity and there are many new things Sam can now do, in Amanda Jackson's My Shape is Sam (Page Street Kids, 2019), illustrated in joyful geometrical form by Lydia Nichols. Said American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be." And now our little square can define himself simply as SAM! In this forthcoming picture book young readers can get a review of the concept of squares and a little lesson that states that sometimes you can put a square peg into a round hole after all.

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