BooksForKidsBlog

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Potluck Party! Dumplings for Lili by Melissa Iwai


IT'S A SPECIAL DAY! NAI NAI SAYS, "LILI, DO YOU WANT TO HELP MAKE BAOS?"

Lili is delighted. Bao are little bundles with a delicious things inside, soft and warm and juicy dumplings! And Lili loves making them with her grandmother. But there is one problem. When Nai Nai goes to her refrigerator she finds she has no cabbage! How is that possible? She always has cabbage--except when she doesn't! Nai Nai's recipe's secret is big fresh cabbage leaves to line the steamer to simmer the dumplings properly!

"ZAO GAO!"NAI NAI EXCLAIMS IN EXASPERATION!

But... no problem! Her Polish friend Babcia on the sixth floor usually has cabbage. She sends Lili to borrow some. Lili discovers that the elevator is out of order, so she dashes upstairs, where Babcia is having a problem with her special recipe for pierogi. Her potatoes have sprouted. She hands Lili a big cabbage but asks her to run down to Granma's apartment on the sixth floor to see if she has some potatoes to spare. Lili thanks Babcia and hurries down with the cabbage to Nai Nai and back up to Granma's kitchen to borrow the potatoes for Babcia. But Granma has her own culinary emergency, too!

"HOWDEEDOO!" SHE SAYS, HUGGING LILI.

She has potatoes, bu she's making her special Jamaican meat patties and her garlic buds are all wrinkly and dried out. She wonders if Lili would run down to Abuela on the fourth floor to see if she has some to spare for her recipe. Lili agrees and runs upstairs with the potatoes for Babcia and back down to Abuela's, who has plenty of garlic to spare for Granma, but she is fresh out of cumin for her tamale fillings! She asks Lili to run down to see if Nonna on the third floor has some to spare. Nonna does, but by the way, she asks, could Lili trot up to Teta's to see if she has some olive oil to share for her ravioli recipe?

By this time Lili's trot has slowed down to a tired trudge, but there's a heavenly smell coming from Teta's kitchen.

TETA IS MAKING FATAYER!

Teta has a big bottle of olive oil for Nonna, so Lili treks up to make her delivery to the waiting Nonna and finally heads back down to Nai Nai's kitchen on the ground floor to recount her grocery delivery adventures. Nai Nai and Lili laugh at the ups and downs of her travels as they take out the dumplings steamed with cabbage leaves "imported" from the top floor.

The tall building is filled with the smells of irresistibly delicious finger foods, so what else is there to do but to leave their hot kitchens and take their special dishes downstairs to the cool courtyard to share a potluck party for everyone, in Melissa Iwai's just published Dumplings for Lili (Holiday House, 2021).

Little Lili has certainly worked up an appetite procuring ingredients for the tasting party feast, and author Melissa Iwai includes the recipe for baos and even saves one big surprise for Lili (and her readers) for the ending. Iwai's sprightly, colorful, and joyful illustrations of cooks from all over the world making their specialties set off a funny story that proves that many cooks definitely don't spoil the broth in this modern multicultural version of the old folk parable of Stone Soup.

Says Publishers Weekly, "A resonant portrait of intergenerational care, and a toothsome celebration of how food unites a multicultural community.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, September 24, 2021

Aliens! Becoming a Jellyfish by Grace Hansen

You don't have to rocket to outer space (or even visit Roswell, New Mexico) to see alien creatures. Take a trip to your nearest aquarium or just pack your swimsuit and goggles and snorkel around in some ocean shallows and you may see that truly outlandish but numerous sea alien, the common and uncommon jellyfish.

About as different from the human form as a creature can be, these transparent, sometimes colored, sometimes almost as clear as glass, tentacled creatures equipped with weapons that can zap are fascinating forms of sealife. Beginning as eggs, they hatch as larva and float free in the sea until they find a suitable rock or similar surface on which to attach and turn into colorless polyps, mostly invisible, to grow and combine with others to form a column of strobila, looking like a stack of open colored umbrellas, which gradually break loose and float off solo.

THE POLYP IS NOW AN EPHYRA, AN IMMATURE JELLYFISH.

It floats free in the sea as it grows.

AT LAST IT BECOMES A MATURE JELLYFISH....

IT MOVES BY PUSHING WATER OUT OF ITS BODY. IT EATS PLANTS, FISH, AND EVEN CRABS!

It's a fascinating group of weird and sometimes surprisingly lovely sea creatures that can pack quite a zap, depending on how we interact with them, as described in Grace Hansen's Becoming a Jellyfish (Changing Animals) (Abdo Publishing). One of the standouts in the publisher's Changing Animals series, this one provides stunning full-page color photographs on almost all pages and minimal "just the facts" information about this amazing alien life form among us. The author also offers backmatter than includes More Facts and Glossary. Minimal descriptive text and eye-catching photographs that extend the text make this one great for building the knowledge base for preschoolers and references for classroom units and assignments in the primary grades.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Both Sides Now: Yes & No by Elisha Cooper

GOOD MORNING! GOOD MORNING!

MY DEARS, ARE YOU AWAKE?

A new owner has two new pets--a dog and a cat--hoping that they will be good company for each other.... But little does she know that dogs and cats don't exactly have compatible.. er,.... world views.

Their answers? "YES!" AND "NO."

The pup bounces up, full of vim and vigor for the new day! The cat lolls, eyes still closed, on their rug.

The little doggie can't wait to begin. The cat says "HMPFF!" So the puppy grabs the rug in mouth and drags it out from under the cat. Now she's up!

The pup is SO up for his breakfast kibble. The cat eschews her cat crunchies and stalks away, nose in the air.

It a work day for the new pet owner, who has hopes the dog and cat will amuse each other. The cat flees to a table, imperiling a lamp, and then to the mantel, bringing down some books, and dashes for the sanctuary of the bathtub. The owner decides that perhaps it's a perfect day for playing outside.

"YES!" "YES!" "YES!" SAYS THE POOCH.

He rips and romps and chases his tail, while the cat walks the fence, finally leaping to a tree branch, above it all.

The dog gnaws a gardening boot, pulls the laundry down off the clothesline, and chases a bunny into its hole, where he begins a grand excavation in the lawn, while the cat naps well above the fray on his trusty branch.

"ENOUGH!" SHOUTS THE DISGRUNTLED OWNER"

BOTH OF YOU! GO!

Sadly the exiles climb to the top of the hill behind their house. The two outcasts sit together as the sun drops lower in the sky. At least they have each other.

Finally the owner calls them in, offering cat chow and doggie dinner.

WELL, OKAY....

"DID YOU HAVE A GOOD DAY?" SHE ASKS.

"YES AND NO. THE DAY WAS GOOD,"

"BUT NOW IT'S DONE." THINKS THE POOCH.

But there's always tomorrow, in Elisha Cooper's little menage a trois, Yes And No (Roaring Brook Press, 2021). And in the Caldecott-Award-winning author-illustrator's latest, where, as the owner wishes them good night, the dog begins to snooze immediately, while the cat--who marches to a different drummer--whispers "NO!" as he slips out the window into the night.

As Publisher's Weekly puts it in their starred review, "Sweetly comic . . . this sustained conversation offers giggles, reassurance, and warmth. Readers may even recognize themselves in a certain hound’s bedtime reluctance to say goodbye to the day’s pleasures.”

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Trend Setter! Stephanie's Ponytail by Robert Munsch

ONE DAY STEPHANIE SAID, "MOM, NONE OF THE KIDS IN MY CLASS HAVE A PONYTAIL. I WANT A NICE PONYTAIL COMING RIGHT OUT THE BACK.

A little dubious, Mom complies, and as predicted, the kids at school pronounce her ponytail not just ugly, but...

VERY UGLY!

But, to Stephanie's surprise, the next day all the girls have copy-cat straight-out-the back ponytails!

"YOU ARE ALL A BUNCH OF COPYCATS!" STEPHANIE SAYS.

So the next day, Stephanie switches her ponytail from the back of her head to the side, right over her right ear.

And the other kids declare her new style UGLY.

"IT'S MY PONYTAIL AND I LIKE IT!"

But the next day, all the nay-saying girls and a few of the boys are sporting over-the-ear ponytails. So Stephanie, over her mom's objections, asked for a ponytail coming out of the top of her head. Her schoolmates pronounce it almost too ugly for words, but... the next day....

IT LOOKED LIKE BROCCOLI WAS GROWING OUT OF THE TOP OF THEIR HEADS.

So Stephanie tried wearing a ponytail hanging down over her face, and the next day--everyone else did, too. bumping into everything.

... AND THREE GIRLS WENT INTO THE BOYS' BATHROOM.

What's left to do with a ponytail? Nothing!

Stephanie tells her classmates that they haven't a brain in their heads!

"TOMORROW I'M GOING TO SHAVE MY HEAD!"

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but in this spoof of human frailty, Robert Munsch's Stephanie's Ponytail (Classic Munsch) (Annick Press), Stephanie tosses her ponytail and has the last laugh at her gullible and hairless followers. Author Munsch's nutty noodlehead tale and comic artist Michael Martchenko's jolly illustrations offer plenty of giggles to youngsters fond of the sort of absurbities that Munsch's stories are guaranteed to provide. "Predictable, irreverent Munsch,” says School Library Journal.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Leo Dances! Leopold's Leotard by Risa Wallace

LEOPOLD LOVES TO DANCE.

He leaps gracefully on the basketball court. In his ballet class he wants to be a dancing ostrich in the recital. But their teacher, Miss Linda, says they are all going to be bumblebees. Leopold wants to be a killer bee. Miss Linda says no. All the bees must be the same and remember all the steps while pointing their toes.

When the costumes arrive, they are scratchy and yellow, with black stripes. Leo doesn't like the leotard. What's wrong with his sock feet and shorts?

On performance day, Leopold is not happy onstage. His ballet shoes feel too short. His bumblebee headband is too tight. His leotard is hot and itchy.

HE WISHES HE'D GONE TO THE BATHROOM ONE MORE TIME!

The lights are so bright that he can't see where he is on stage. Leo forgets the dance steps. His shoes pinch. He takes off his too-tight bumblebee headband. But he's still too hot.

SO HE TAKES OFF THE LEOTARD.

HE FEELS THE BREEZE! THE MUSIC SOARS!

It's a ballet finale that that the audience and his family will never forget, in Risa Wallace's newest, Leopold's Leotard (Orca Books, 2021). Artist Risa Hugo's colored pencil and gouache illustrations manage to portray her charming little dancers while managing to figleaf the main character's au naturel performance right down to his final wave from halfway behind the curtain.

Quips Kirkus Reviews, "The bright, delicate illustrations portray a very free-spirited (and self-absorbed) boy as well as the varying moods and amusing reactions of his fellow dancers. Whether or not Leopold can be viewed as a role model for aspiring dancers is open to discussion, however."

Labels:

Monday, September 20, 2021

Art for Art's Sake! Arlo Draws An Octopus by Lori Mortenson

Arlo thinks octopuses are really cool. He decides to draw one! He's drawn houses and trucks and even his aunt's pet alligator! How hard can it be?

An octopus has a big round head and hardly any face. They have eight tentacles, all pretty much the same. Easy peasy! What could possibly go wrong?

ARLO PICKED UP A CRAYON. HE BEGAN TO DRAW. THE HEAD DID NOT LOOK LIKE A HEAD.

IT LOOKED LIKE A BIG SILLY HILL.

That should have been the easy part. The tentacles, eight of them, with all those suction cups, now that was the hard part. Arlo tries harder. but...

THEY LOOKED LIKE SQUIGGLY ROADS THAT WENT NOWHERE.

But Arlo refuses to be a quitter. Resolutely, he began to add the suction cups. Arghhh! Now they looked like stupid bubbles in the water!

"I HATE DRAWING OCTOPUSES!" ARLO SHOUTED.

He wadded up his drawing and threw it over his left shoulder. Rats! He can't even be a successful litterbug. He gets up dutifully to reclaim his trashed drawing, but when he opens it up, he finds an octopus artist has just tossed a pretty good likeness of him, right down to his favorite shirt. Meanwhile a purple octopus is perusing Arlo's sketch of him. He says it looks just like his favorite, Aunt Zillah!

It seems that good art lies in the eye of the beholder, in Lori Mortenson's just published Arlo Draws an Octopus (Abrams Books, 2021), and perhaps both young artists learn not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. After all, we know that artist Roy Sayegh's illustrations made the cut for this book. Maybe it's a good idea to get a second opinion! Says Booklist, "A playful, reassuring picture book."

Labels: , ,

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Speak Your Piece! Alaina And The Great Play by Eloise Greenfield


I HEARD MY MOM COMING UP THE STEPS, SING THE SONG ABOUT ME--"ALAINA, MY BEAUTIFUL ALAINA" AND I KNEW THAT SLEEP TIME WAS OVER.

TODAY I LAUGHED AND STOOD UP ON THE BED, AND I JUMPED AS HIGH AS I COULD.

>"I'M UP! I'M WAAAY UP IN THE AIR!"

For Alaina, this is a big day--the second grade play--and out of all the Kindergartners, she has been picked to make a speech at the end--only five words, but she can't wait!

Dressed in brand-new jeans, she waves goodbye to her mom, who promises to be back in the afternoon to see the play and hear her speech.

As the day goes by, the school fills with anticipation. Alaina says her speech over and over in her head and to anyone who will listen. It seems the whole school is a-twitter with anticipation, especially after lunch when they catch a glimpse of parents heading for the auditorium and of the second-graders, dressed like college students--the boys in letter tees and the girls in makeup and dangly earrings. At last they arrange themselves on the stage, ready to pretend to chat, joking and laughing, like real grown-up college students.

Alaina takes her place in the wings, just out of sight of the students and parents seated in the auditorium, the five words of her speech running constantly through her head. The curtains open and the play begins. The actors pretend to get mad at each other. The yelling seems so real tha Alaina wants it to stop. But then they settle their problem and have a party--with dancing!

MISS WHEELER CLOSED THE CURTAINS, REALLY REALLY SLOW.

THEN THEY OPENED AGAIN, AND THE KIDS BOWED, AND THE AUDIENCE STOOD UP AND CLAPPED AND CLAPPED.

And then it was time for Alaina to come to center stage and say her speech. But carried away by the thrill of performance, when she opened her mouth, different words came out!

"WASN'T THAT GREAT? WASN'T IT STUPENDOUS?"

And as Alaina finishes off with a few cartwheels, Miss Wheeler gives her a look and quickly begins to bring down the curtains.

But in noted author Eloise Greenfields's latest, Alaina and the Great Play (Alazar Press, 2021), the stagestruck Alaina has the last word, or words--

"THANK YOU FOR COMING! GOODBYE!

Author Greenfield catches perfectly the nervous excitement and energy of a school performance with parents present, and artist Colin Bootman's glowingly realistic paintings capture the magic of a school play day in this outstanding books for preschool and primary readers. Writes Booklist's reviewer, "A wonderful story to explain what theater is and how it conveys storytelling to an audience."

Labels: , , ,

Pet's Choice! All Pets Allowed (Blackberry Farm 2) by Adele Griffin

The date is October 10, 10/10! Twins Becket Branch and her brother Nicholas Branch are about to celebrate their birthday, the big Ten-O, their first birthday at Blackberry Farm.

"THAT'S SOME UNBEATABLE, UNREPEATABLE BIRTHDAY LUCK AND WE'VE JUST GOT TO MAKE THE MOST OF IT!" SAYS THE EBULLIENT BECKET.

While his sister Becket plans another spectacular birthday bash, Nicholas, the introvert, would prefer a Mellow 'Cello playlist and definitely no ball games or sparklers in the cake this year, thank you! But although he seems to be anticipating all the ways parties can go wrong, especially with guest Travis and his SuperSquid Squirty on the guest list, he kindly goes along with his twin's plan to invite the whole class.

But the other good news about this birthday is that their parents have told them that they can adopt a new pet from the Rescue Center. Becket wants a lively dog, but Nicholas favors a nice quiet cat. But Mom and Dad have a solution: They can pick one of each!

Outside the pet shelter, Becket runs in happy circles, panting and chanting...

"DOG! DOG! DOG!"

Nicholas whispers quietly to no one in particular...

"I CAN'T BELIEVE IT. A CAT! FOR ME!"

The twins go home with their new pets in their new carriers, Becket seeing herself romping with the dog she names Dibs, while Nicholas is dreaming of quiet evenings with Given the cat calmly curled up and snoozing to the soft sounds of Mellow Cello playing in his room.

SURPRISE!

Things are not always what they seem. Fate has determined that Dibs the dog is a Fraidy Cat, who can't let Becket out of his sight without howling: he quivers when he hears Dad's big voice, and hides his head when Becket's friend tries to take a snapshot of her new pet. Meanwhile, Nicholas discovers that Given is a photogenic and extroverted feline, posing happily for Becket's friend who uses the pictures as advertisements for the school carnival. When Becket searches for her twin, she finds him secretly hiding with a pillow and book in the bathtub with Dibs quietly sleeping beside him.

NICHOLAS SIGHS. "THERE'S TOO MUCH FUSS AROUND GIVEN. TRAVIS HAD EVEN SAID, 'MY CAT IS TOO COOL FOR ME!'"

"HE'S RIGHT. I THINK GIVEN IS BRAVE AND FUN. THE TROUBLE IS, I THOUGHT MY VERY OWN CAT WOULD BELONG TO ME. BUT GIVEN THRIVES ON BEING WITH LOTS OF PEOPLE."

"WELL," BECKET ADMITTED, "DIBS DOESN'T WANT TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH ANYONE. HE'S SHY AND HARD TO TRAIN, TOO!"

The mismatch is obvious. The twins are afraid that they have made the wrong pet choices. But when both of the pets disappear, the twins discover them safely watching over each other and realize that perhaps between them and their two pets, together they have a perfect match after all, in Adele Griffin's latest Blackberry Farm story, All Pets Allowed: Blackberry Farm 2, illustrated lovingly by Caldecott artist LeUyen Pham, (Workman/Algonquin Books, 2021). In this second book in their series, one that celebrates what Beverly Cleary's Ramona Quimby called "a good, sticking-together family," middle readers see differences resolve into an advantage for all. As the Branch family says, "Many Branches, one tree!"

Adele Griffen and LeUyen Pham's first collaboration in this series is The Becket List: A Blackberry Farm Story.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Home Making: House Mouse by Michael Hall

ONE CHILLY MORNING, A MOUSE TRAVELED....

The Mouse climbed up and over a high hill, and paddled across a wide stream and wandered into a patch of wild asparagus, and spots ...

SOMETHING WARM AND WELCOME.

It was a warm, welcoming fire. But it needed something to keep it in, so she made...

A STOVE!

The stove keeps the fire going and the mouse went...

WHERE THE CHILLINESS WASN'T...

and the fox won't go near the place where the fire is. So Mouse builds a beautiful stone floor for the stove, and then a strong wooden roof to keep keep her fire dry and her asparagus soup simmering on the stove. But she still needs something.

And when one night when she heard a sound...

KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK,

Nobody was there until Mouse builds a strong wooden door to open. And at the door there were weary wanderers who needed to be inside, with a sack of veggies that needed making into soup.

And they did.

And the House Mouse is always happy to welcome all to sit by her warm fire, in author-illustrator Michael Hall's latest picture book, House Mouse (Harper/Greenwillow, 2021). In his trademark geometric mixed media art, Michael Hall has his character craft his own home to express the wise words that it takes a lot of living to make a house a home. Creating a home takes hard work and like a good soup, just the right ingredients and someone with whom to love the house and savor the soup.

Says Horn Book's reviewer, "Hall’s use of onomatopoeia and geometric shapes (a triangle for the mouse’s body; rectangles for the house’s frame and floor) naturally emphasize and extend the construction theme. . . . . This tale of a mouse and her house is aglow with tenacity, generosity, and good cheer.” For more of Michael Hall's storytelling magic, see some of his other noted pictured books, Wonderfall, and My Heart Is Like a Zoo and Red: A Crayon's Story.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, September 17, 2021

The Smells of Summer: When Lola Visits by Michelle Sterling

 

HOW DO I KNOW SUMMER IS HERE?

Summer everywhere has its own scents--ripening fruit in the middle of the table, sweet-smelling, blooming trees everywhere in the neighborhood. But when Lola comes for her summer visit, there are new smells in the kitchen--like mango preserves that simmer fragrantly on the stove, and unfamiliar smells like the salty smell of dried squid and sweet Filipino milk candy from her open suitcase; the smell of her custard-covered cassava cake in the oven. And while they wait for the flan to get firm, Lola tells them the funny story of how the first time Mom tried to make it, she got the amounts of salt and sugar switched.

When Lola comes, she brings not just old scents, but future memories.

And that summer Lola helps make new ones--the chlorine smell of the pool where the girl first learns to float, the strong seawater smell of swimsuits drying, stiff and salty and sandy, at the beach. The green smell of fresh banana leaves spread on the old wooden table, filled with freshly cooked shrimp and lobster and the acrid smell of fireworks that celebrate the summer holiday, and...

FRESH FISH AND BROWN-SUGARED BANANAS ON THE GRILL.

And then the hot scent of sudden rain sizzling on the steamy tarmac at the airport where they tell Lola goodbye.

But now there are new smells, the smells of fall...

...freshly sharpened pencils to go into the brand-new stiff school bags, but also there are...

THE LAST SWEET BITS OF SUMMER IN LOLA'S JAM.

The memories are mixed with the sweet scents of summer, in Michelle Sterling's just published When Lola Visits (Katherine Tegen Books, 2021).

While everyone will have their own sweet memories of childhood summers--the smells of the inside of the ice cream truck, vanilla and chocolate together, and grape and banana popsicles dripping on the sidewalk, Saturday night barbecues, and squishy flipflops in the bottom of the beach bag--the deep memories of visiting grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins and best friends, all belong with these summer memories. Artist Aaren Asis provides the soft, sheer illustrations that capture the illusive memories of summers past. Says Kirkus, "This is a beautiful, tender expression of family and love that spans generations and great distances. The illustrations add so much life and context to the words."

Labels: , ,

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Who's That Brave Girl? Out Into The Big Wide Lake by by Paul Harbridge

THERE WAS A KNOCK AT A DOOR. KATE WASN'T SUPPOSED TO OPEN IT--EVEN THOUGH SHE WAS BIG NOW.

THE DOOR OPENED. A BIG WOMAN STOOD THERE! "GRANDMA!" CRIED KATE AND RAN TO THE DOOR.

Kate's dad says that Grandma wants her to come and stay with her for the summer, like her big sister has done already.

"BUT KATE...?"

"WHY NOT? GIVE HER A CHANCE." SAID GRANDMA.

So Kate finds herself on the train on the the way to Grandpa's and Grandma's store by the lake. It seems like a long way, and it feels strange without her mom and sister with her. But grandpa and his little dog Parbuckle meet them with his boat, and Grandma starts the motor on the boat and soon they arrive at their little store across the lake.

And the next morning, Grandpa invites Kate to help him deliver groceries to the people around the lake. He shows her how to start the motor and how to steer it left and right and in circles.

A NATURAL SAILOR! SAYS GRANDMA.

Grandpa and Kate deliver groceries to happy people around the lake until they come to one place with big rocks around the landing. A grim-faced man is sitting there on a rickety old dock.

"YOU'RE LATE!" SAID THE MAN.

HELLO WALTER," SAID GRANDPA.

With a frown Walter took the box of groceries.

"BRUISE ON THIS APPLE," SAID WALTER. "THAT GIRL MUST HAVE DROPPED IT."

"SHE DID NOT." SAID GRANDPA.

All summer Kate helped Grandpa deliver the groceries. She liked all the people on the lake--except Walter--and practiced steering the boat through the waves. But one morning as they are about to leave for their delivery route, Grandpa had a sudden bad pain in his chest and sat down fast. Grandma had to drive him to the doctor's office, leaving Kate alone. Kate waited for a long time, and then decided to deliver the groceries all by herself. Why not? She knew how by now. She set off and delivered the groceries without a problem. Finally, only Walter's box was left. Kate steered the boat carefully through the big rocks. Walter was waiting for her. He looked unhappy to see her.

WHERE IS YOUR GRANDFATHER?" HE ASKED GRUFFLY.

"SICK!" SAID KATE, POINTING TO HER CHEST.

Suddenly Walter stepped into the boat and ordered her to take him back to her grandparents' store.

Kate steered the boat carefully against the wind and waves, and when they arrived at their dock, the doctor was just telling Grandma that Grandpa would be all right after a few days of bed rest. And in Paul Harbridge's just published Out into the Big Wide Lake, Kate learned that cranky old Walter is Grandpa's brother and her own great-uncle. And Grandma was very proud of how well she had delivered the groceries and piloted the boat safely home. And why not?

Artist Josee' Bosaillon's illustrations extend the narrative and help older readers to discern than Kate is a Down's syndrome child, one who is lucky to have a family who gives her support in becoming self sufficient, capable of doing tasks on her own. Younger readers will just be glad that she got to steer and run the boat all by herself.

Booklist says, "A heartening Canadian picture book with an emotionally resonant ending.”

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Midnight Peeper Creepers! The Froggies Do Not Want to Sleep by Adam Gustavson

These young dreamtime deniers do not want to snooze the night away. Instead, resorting to stealthy sneaking, they tiptoe outside where they can steal away through the night.

There in the dark they can hop happily, dance to their accordions, accouter themselves in dramatic costumes, and practice pedaling unicycles. They race through the dark roadways in red roadsters, joust with toilet plungers, and wrangle wild crocodiles. They want to practice ballet underwater, sing operatic arias, and pilot their spaceships ...

... ZIPPING THROUGH THE GALAXIES...

...DRINKING FIZZY SODA AND HOLDING BURPING CONTESTS WITH STRANGE, ALIEN LIFE-FORMS.

They do not fear jelly-fish-like monsters with squeezy, tickly tentacles that toss them downward through the clouds....

... and back to bed, in a tumultuous pile, to sleep, perchance to dream... while perchance a stray space monster rumages in a dastardly raid downstairs on their fridge....

And all this is done before midnight, with first-time author-illustrator Adam Gustavson's amphibian adventurers pursuing their dreams as nightie-night naysayers and bedtime avoiders, all the way to space and back. With strikingly conceived and drawn illustrations with a tip of the artiste's tam to Sir John Tenniel's and Kenneth Grahame's humorous amphibian characters, and told with a joyous narration in detailed two-page spreads, Gustavson's The Froggies Do NOT Want to Sleep (Charlesbridge, 2021) features fearless little frogs who live every child's dream of freedom from bedtime. This stupendously gleeful story of what to do when you should be snoozing is a five-star winner for picture book lovers of all ages.

Kirkus Reviews, "A zany, rib-tickling bedtime tour de force."

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Cat and Mouse! Brave As A Mouse by Nicolo' Corozzo

 

"WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY?" MOUSE ASKED GOLDFISH.

"YES!"

But all too soon three little cats appear and ask to join the game. (That doesn't seem like a good idea to Mouse!)

Mouse darts off, challenging the three cats to a game of chase.

"IT WAS A WILD IDEA. IT WAS A BOLD IDEA!"

Out of the parlor and into the bedroom she scampered, up the sheer curtains to the top of the window. Almost cornered, the little mouse leaps, dashes down the stairs and into the kitchen pantry!

BUT WAS IT A GOOD IDEA?

Yes! The cats are distracted by the bags of cat food there, And their tummies stuffed, they do what cats do best--catnap!

So Mouse has another idea. And with help from the others, they fill a teacup with water, goldfish jumps in, and all the mice help carry him out of the house, safe from the cats, and down to the pond in the park, where the goldfish finds a place safe from all cats!

IT WAS A WILD IDEA. IT WAS A GOOD IDEA!

And there's a happy ending for Goldfish, in Nicolo Corozzo's beautifully self-illustrated story of a lucky fish, who gets by with a little help from his friends, in Brave as a Mouse (Random House, 2020). Corozzo's noted artwork is both realistic and fanciful, done in muted colors and with delightful detail that fills the pages with lively action set before the charmingly homey interior backdrop of the old house. Says Horn Book, "“An entertaining game of cat and mouse. And one lucky fish.”

Labels: , , ,

Monday, September 13, 2021

A Little Help from Her Friends! Nothing Scares Spider! by S. Marendaz


SPIDER IS PLANNING A BIG ADVENTURE!

SHE WAS GOING TO BE AN EXPLORER.

"I AM GOING TO SEE THE WHOLE WIDE YARD!"

Her friends, Caterpillar, Bumblebee, and Ladybug, who lack her bite and web-weaving powers, are frightened for her.

"WHAT ABOUT FEARSOME FISH, HUNGRY BIRDS, AND THE CLEVER CAT???" THEY ASK.

Spider chuckles at her feckless friends. Spiders don't fear anything! she boasts.

And what about THEM, alone without Spider's defensive powers?

Spider expansively promises to leave a lifeline of web behind her for fearful friends to tug on if they need her powers.

BUT ONLY FOR EMERGENCIES!" SPIDER INSISTS.

Freedom at last, thinks Spider, making it to the tall trees, oblivious to the peckish redbird with an open beak about to dive down and have her for lunch. But suddenly there's TWANG and a tug on the web from Ladybug, who has detected an interloper in her flower. Dragged back, Spider grumpily points out the it's only Bumblebee backing into the bloom. Unaware of the bird, Spider hustles back to cool half of her feet in the pond, where a hungry Fearsome Fish is rising to the surface about to suck her in.

"TWANG!"

Back snaps Spider to where Caterpillar is cowering from something big and frightful behind him.

IT'S YOUR OWN SHADOW," SHOUTS SPIDER. "THIS WEB IS FOR EMERGENCIES ONLY!"

But when Spider returns to continue her adventure, she finds herself finally facing FEARSOME FROG--alone.

If ever Spider has needed a few good friends, it's now, in S. Marendaz's Nothing Scares Spider! (Tiger Tales, 2021), as the tables are turned in this funny story that proves that a friend in need is a friend indeed! And Spider learns that perhaps adventuring is better done with a retinue of those friends you can trust. Kids will enjoy seeing Carly Gledhill's hapless comic critters discovering their courage when they come to the rescue of their friend. It's one for all and all for one, in this story of fear and friendship.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Song of the The Sleepy Sea: Ocean Lullaby by Laura McGee Kvasnosky

SONGS FLOAT UP, MOON SMILES DOWN

WHILE WE ROCK TO OCEAN SOUND.

A family sits, circled around by the sea, the littlest cuddled in Mom's arms, soothed by the soft sound of the waves. The seaside scene grows more still as night comes on. In the tide...

DOLPHINS DRIFT, MANTAS GLIDE.

SEALS SNORE ON THE SHORE.

The sea sings its steady sonorous song, a seaside lullaby's steady rhythm to the breaths of the now sleeping child.

The sybillant sea works its magic on everyone, child and adult, as everyone gives over the the ocean's song, in Laura McGee Kvasnosky's lovely lullaby of ocean sounds, in Laura McGee Kvasnosky's Ocean Lullaby. Framed by artist Kate Harvey McGee's charming black line and muted color illustrations, this striking picture book captures the mystery of the seas rhythmic ebb and flow in a gentle restful song of rest, just right for bedtime. Says Booklist, "This dreamy paean to the ocean’s mesmerizing influence [is] guaranteed to soothe little ones at bedtime."

And don't miss Kvasnosky and McGee's other collaborations, Little Wolf's First Howling and Squeak!

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, September 11, 2021

It's A Dog's Life! If I Were A Dog by Joanna Cotler

IF I WERE A DOG, I'D BE SILLY, JUST LIKE ME.

This young dog lover dreams of a compatible dog. He could be a Dachshund, a terrier, a bulldog, or even a Doberman, but he needs to be nosy but a little shy, big or small, fond of fetching--fast or a slowpoke, playful or grumpy, or even a little bit of trouble. But there's one thing that is most important.

IF I WERE A DOG, I'D BE LOVED... JUST LIKE ME!

The main character in veteran children's author Joanna Cotler's latest, If I Were a Dog (Philomel Books, 2021), is dreaming of a first dog, what he or she would do, which is important when becoming a dog owner, and Cotler shows doggie behavior in many of its possibilities. Illustrated by the author, adorable pups of different breeds are depicted, doing what dogs do, cuddling or being grumpy, bouncy or sleepy, but always needing and giving ... love! Says School Library Journal, "An intuitive, joyful book that gives children agency to imagine their own doggy selves, but also creates a foundation for discussions on differences and similarities."

Labels: , ,

Friday, September 10, 2021

Optical Confusion: What Ollie Saw by Jourke Akveld

THIS IS OLLIE.

HE HAS A FATHER AND A MOTHER.

AND A SISTER HE SOMETIMES WISHES HE DIDN'T HAVE.

Ollie and his big sister don't see eye to eye

His mother loves going places on "excursions" that she calls "Happy Family Times!" Ollie often thinks their times would be happier without his wet-blanket of a sister!

OLLIE'S SISTER USUALLY GRIZZLED!

When they take the train through the countryside, she thinks the grazing bovines are boring! Ollie prefers to see them as snorting water buffaloes with enormous horns capable of squashing a sister. When the family drives to see Granma, his sister grizzles rather grimly at the traffic jam. Ollie himself sees a circus parade with clowns and jugglers in the cars. And when Ollie's papa takes them out for a cruise in their sailboat, his sister sees a slow boat, but Ollie sees it as a pirate ship with his sister tied to the mainmast.

"YOU NEED GLASSES!" OLLIE'S SISTER WOULD SAY.

Ollie didn't see it that way, so when his teacher asked him to identify the letter A on the alphabet chart, he imagines the letter as a series of birds with long pointed beaks.

His teacher declares that he needs glasses!

I KNEW IT!" SAID HIS SISTER.

But Ollie is determined to make sure that he continues to see things the way he likes them, in Jouke Akveld's What Ollie Saw (IQ Levine Querido, 2021), who prefers to see his world his way. This is a whimsical porcine parable preferring imagination over grizzly grumbling that will appeal to younger brothers. Artist Sieb Posthuma's droll scratchy black line drawings, accented by strong reds and blues, extend the comic story of sibling rivalries.

Quips Kirkus Review, "... quirky yet calming."

Labels: , ,

Thursday, September 09, 2021

Critter Counting: Blue Ridge Babies by Laura Sperry Gardner


Up in the Appalachians, where the tall trees grow, you can count on plenty of critter to count and get to know.

The early summer trees and grass are thick and green, so sharpen your eyes and see who can be seen!

OVER IN THE BLUE RIDGE IN THE LEAF-DAPPLED SUN LIVED A GENTLE MOTHER DEER AND HER LITTLE FAWN ONE.

"HIDE!" SAID THE MOTHER. "I HIDE," SAID THE ONE.

"SO THEY HID IN THE FOREST FULL OF LEAF-DAPPLED SUN!

The little fawn's coat is dappled with light spots and can vanish into the sun-spangled greenery around him. But what about two baby bears gobbling ripe fruit in the berry patch? They don't have to hide. Their mother is an apex predator and can defend her babies well, but they need to eat all they can before winter comes through.

"FORAGE!" SAID THEIR MOTHER. "WE FORAGE," SAYS THE TWO.

Meanwhile, in a flowering dogwood tree, what do we see? A proud mother cardinal and her bright fledglings THREE.

"FLY," SAID THE MOTHER! "WE FLY!" SAID THE THREE, AS THEY FLEW FROM THEIR NEST HIGH UP IN THE TREE..

And nearby in a white oak tree Mother Owl is also encouraging her four owlets to soar.

"HOOT!" SAID THEIR MOTHER. "WE HOOT!" REPLIED THE FOUR.

And on the hillside nearby, Mother Groundhog has her own lesson to teach:

"DIG!" SHE SAYS!

(Bedtime comes early for her little groundhogs, because her chucklings will have to get up very early in the spring to dig a den to make sure winter is on its way out for all the others.)

And what do the other little forest animals learn to do? Well, in Laura Sperry Gardner's joyful rhyming seasonal story, Blue Ridge Babies 1, 2, 3: A Counting Book (Page Street Kids, 2021), the six young foxes practice pouncing, seven little bunnies must learn to nibble, eight little squirrels must practice their skitters and all ten little fishies swim swiftly. And what do ten baby salamanders do? They SLITHER!

With an appendix that explains the notable fauna of the Blue Ridge area of the Eastern Forest area of North America, and the music to the familiar tune that goes way back to the popular song "Three Little Fishes." and with lively meter and rhyming text, this is a book that teaches one or a group the fun of counting as well as the flora and fauna of our beloved eastern woodlands. Says School Library Journal, "artist Stephanie Fizer Coleman's illustrations, in some places displaying a translucence-like tissue-paper collage, are bright and inviting for the prereaders who are going to adore this."

Labels: ,

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Differences! The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt by Riel Nason

ONCE THERE WAS A LITTLE GHOST WHO WAS A QUILT.

His mom and dad were wispy white, like all his friends, who easily whirled and flew with ease around him. He was heavy and not a fast or strong flyer. His parents pointed out that one of their ancestors was a checkered tablecloth and that his grandmother was an elegant lace tablecloth, but that did not help.

THE LITTLE GHOST DIDN'T LIKE BEING DIFFERENT.

BUT THERE WAS ONE DAY IN THE YEAR THAT ALWAYS CHEERED HIM UP--HALLOWEEN!

It was great! The children a came out as soon as it was dark, dressed as ghosts. Everyone made ghost decorations to hang in the trees, and all his friends loved to hang around unnoticed in the trees to watch everything that happened. The little ghost who was a quilt was sad that he couldn't do that, but he always tried to find some place, like a clothesline, to hang around, too. This year he managed to fold himself over a porch rail so that he could see what the kids were doing when they rang the doorbells.

All was well until a woman dressed as a witch and a little girl in a tutu came up on the porch. The little girl complained of being cold, so as they left her mother picked up the little ghost who was a quilt and wrapped him around her and took them back to their house, where the little girl sorted her candy and wiped her chocolatey hands all over him. But he felt strangely cozy, when, after the little girl fell asleep, her mother folded him gently, admiring his colors. Then he was alone and he slipped up the chimney and flew back home.

THE LITTLE GHOST'S FRIENDS RUSHED TO HEAR EVERY DETAIL OF HIS ADVENTURE.
THEY FLEW SLOWLY WITH HIM ALL THE WAY HOME.

It had all happened because he was different sort of ghost. And now what a Halloween tale he has to tell, in Reil Nason's The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt (Tundra Books, 2020). Author Nason's ghost story about being a bit different from peers has a lovely theme told unself-consciously in perfect harmony with the illustrations by Byron Eggenschwaler, in which the author makes good use of the focus on the little ghost quilt, its pleasing blue and white pattern standing out against the darker muted shades, which sets up the differences that readers see on each page.

Publishers Weekly calls this gentle Halloween story "... a pleasant, slightly eerie world where the ghosts’ cobwebbed haunted house and a contemporary neighborhood fit comfortably together."

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Sounds of the Day! What Does Little Crocodile Say? by Eva Montanari

How does the first day of Daycare School go? It begins early....

THE ALARM CLOCK GOES RING! RING!

Daddy Crocodile's morning tickle-tickle earns a "Tee Hee" giggle. With a splash to wash up, it's time to zip-zip up Little Crocodile's pants! He's ready to go ... somewhere!

Their door closes behind with them with a solid...... WUMP!

THE CAR GOES VROOM, VROOM.

And when Dad parks the car, they go up, up, up, to a doorbell that goes...

DING-DONG!

Inside there is Mrs. Elephant, with a cheery good morning to Little Crocodile. And there are what seems like a lot of other little ones, saying lots of things, like "Tweet" and "Meow" and even "Arooo!" Mrs. Elephant takes Little Crocodile up in her arms.

"AND WHAT DOES LITTLE CROCODILE SAY? "WWWWAAAH!"

Wiping away a tear, Dad goes away for the day. Mrs. Elephant holds Little Croc on her lap while she begins to read... "Once Upon A Time." She continues to hold Little Crocodile while she shows him how the toy drum goes Tat-a-Tat and the triangle goes...

TING!

Interes-ting! Little Crocodile joins the band parading all around the playroom, blowing his horn at the end of the line. Soon it is time for (YUM YUM) lunch! And after that, how does naptime go?

ZZZ ZZZ ZZZ zzz zzz zzz!

Time goes fast, and just as Little Crocodile is chasing down a big soapy bubble to pop, there's a sound at the door.

THE DOOR GOES KNOCK KNOCK!

And how does Little Crocodile's first day at daycare go?

It goes great! It ends with the sound of many big kisses for Daddy Crocodile, in Eva Montanari's What Does Little Crocodile Say? (Tundra Books, 2021). As in her first Little Crocodile story, What Does Little Crocodile Say At the Park? author-illustrator Montanari tells the story of a first day away at preschool with the sounds of that big day. Montaneri's charming faux naif illustrations, done in slightly scribbly colored-pencil drawings evoke the mood of this story that ends with an upbeat last sound, "See you tomorrow!" A fine book for reading aloud to youngsters about to leave babysitting behind for the first day of of nursery school, one with several short sight-words good for beginning readers.

Labels: , ,

Monday, September 06, 2021

Waiting for Breakfast! Early One Morning by Mem Fox

EARLY ONE MORNING A LITTLE BOY WENT FOR A WALK IN SEARCH OF A COUPLE OF THINGS FOR HIS BREAKFAST.

Followed by a nosy hen, he walks past the old green farm truck.

BUT TRUCKS DON'T LAY THEM!

The little boy keeps going, passing an old green farm truck and the red tractor, a haystack, a pony in the pasture, and a sheep. He queries the brown cow, too, asking each one his question. (His hen seems to be thinking, "What am I, chopped liver?")

SO WHO DOES LAY THEM?

He heads for home, where breakfast eggs are waiting for him and his mother!

And of course he knows the answer all along, in beloved author, Mem Fox's latest, Early One Morning (Beach Lane Books, 2021).

Veteran Aussie author Mem Fox gently builds a little tension into her tale, as savvy kids will be bouncing in their seats because, of course, they know the answer to that question, "So who does lay them?" Veteran award-winning artist Christine Davenier keeps her cute little overall-clad protagonist moving from left to right on each page until breakfast is ready, done up in her signature upbeat but softly illustrated style. Mem Fox is also the author of Koala Lou. Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes padded board book, and Hattie and the Fox. and Christine Davener is the illustrator of Miss Lina's Ballerinas and the Prince series, and Julie Andrews' very popular The Very Fairy Princess and its very many sequels.

Labels: ,

Sunday, September 05, 2021

The Launch! Space Race by Rebecca Stefoff

YOU are living in the mid-1900s. The world's two rival superpowers each want to be first into a new frontier: space. But space is full of hazards. Sending a machine, an animal, or person into it will take skill, hard work, and daring

"WE WILL BURY YOU." Nikita Krushchev, the premier of the Soviet Union, had thrown down the gauntlet. Allies of the United States in World War II, the Communist Soviet Union had almost immediately taken over much of war-torn eastern Europe. In a sort of quasi-war, they had exploded their first atomic bomb and launched the first earth satellite, and now the race to space was on. So far the U.S. was losing. The Soviets had already sent a monkey, a dog (the famous Latka) and a man into space, orbiting the earth in a space craft and returning to earth safely.

But the United States accepted the challenges of manned flight into space. A cadre of super-skilled jet pilots who had flown to the edge of space were chosen to be America's "astronauts" whose mission it was to outdo the Soviet "cosmonauts" and eventually place the first man on the moon, as President John F. Kennedy said, "in this decade."

What was it like to design and fly those first spacecraft, "to bravely go where no man has gone before?" Many choices had to be made in the building and flying of those first few fragile spaceships. Thousands answered the call to do the work and many decisions--the right choices--had to be made, some ending in failure and loss of life. Would you have had "the right stuff" in the space race?

YOU CHOOSE.

You are a crack electrical engineer who wangles a secret role in testing atomic weapons by designing electronics to detonate them at long distances. From the supposedly safe distance in a Navy ship, you watch your efforts succeed with more than the expected success. Many on the ship receive a high dose of radiation from the fallout. You are horrified. You didn't really wanted to help create weapons that can cause mass death. You fear your choice may cause your own death from the long-term effects of that overdose of radiation. Should you continue with your work, or perhaps find different work with less dire consequences. You choose.

Your engineering qualifications earn you a job at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, working under the former Nazi rocket designer Werner von Braun to design the electronic communications that will enable a spacecraft that can separate from the Redstone rocket to orbit earth and return safely to earth. But the first design fails a previous lab test because of the length of one connective prong. You worry about that design. Should you speak up about your concerns, or say nothing and let the final trial go off on schedule. You choose.

There is a failure, and the prong is the cause. Should you leave electrical engineering for a job without the high stakes of rocketry--like becoming a science teacher who trains scientists for the future? Or should you continue perfecting the project of designing the separation process that allows a space capsule to separate from its rocket in space and orbit earth. You choose.

Should you, a woman pilot, try out for the job of astronaut? After all, some scientists aver that women have more of "the right stuff" than do the hot-shot pilots in their first trials. What could happen if you try to qualify? Will prejudice against women rule out female astronauts forever? Could you be the first female astronaut, or will that role wait for another to sally into space for that thrilling ride? You choose.

As Dumbledore famously said to his aspiring young sorcerer, "it is in your choices, Harry Potter..." and there are 37 choices and 16 potential endings that result in Rebecca Stefoff's Space Race: An Interactive Space Exploration Adventure (You Choose: Space) (Capstone Books), a book that offers middle elementary and middle school readers actual personal choices faced by real persons in the era of the race to space. Like its predecessors in The Oregon Trail and Choose Your Own Adventure series, this series offers the sort of adult decisions to be made in this challenging historic period in which real-world, life-and-death choices created the world we now live in. This book inspires kids to keep turning pages and considering their decisions to their conclusions, and it is well-suited for young readers in the years in which they begin to learn to consider the possibilities as they choose their own paths in life.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, September 04, 2021

Five Senses and Feelings: If I Were a Tree by Andrea Zimmerman

>

IF I WERE A TREE, I KNOW HOW I'D BE.

I'D STAND TOWERING TALL, HIGH ABOVE ALL.

Two children, brother and sister, set off with their parents on a camping trip into a forest. So many trees! How does it feel to be a tree?

I'D FEEL NESTS IN MY BARK, BATS HIDING TILL DARK.

THE CLIMBING OF BOOTS, AND WORMS BY MY ROOTS.

And what would they taste if they could be a tree?

PEBBLES AND STONES, OLD BURIED BONES...

What does a tree smell? . . .

HONEY AND BEES, SKUNK ON THE BREEZE?

But what does a tree hear?

FAR THUNDER'S LOW GROWL, THE HOOT OF AN OWL?

Under the tall trees, the two realize that the trees, living creatures like them, sense their world both differently and the same, in Andrea Zimmerman's elegant, evocative verse. In a complex stanza form, beginning and ending in the same question, the author inserts a quatrain with appealing internal rhymes that reveal how a tree senses its environment. With the lovely color print illustrations of Jing Jing Tsong, noted writer Zimmerman's If I Were a Tree (Lee and Low Books, 2021) unites child and tree, filling up their senses with the beauty of sensing the world like a tree. This poetic book is a natural for across-the curriculum science for fall, with its emphasis on the seasonal changes and a wonderful review of the five senses, and also offers an intense lesson on the sensory system of trees, an experience of sharing and being at one with the world all around, seeing ...

HILLS MISTY WITH FOG, THE LIFE IN A LOG.

Says Kirkus' starred review, "Enjoy and observe nature with all your senses."

Labels: , , ,

Friday, September 03, 2021

"How Can That Be?" Elephants Do Not Belong in Trees by Russ Willms


THERE ONCE WAS A BIG BUSHY TREE WITH A FAT TRUNK WHICH SAT IN THE MIDDLE OF A WIDE MEADOW. MANY ANIMALS MADE THIS TREE THEIR HOME. . . .

Until the day an elephant moved right in.

"THIS IS MY NEW HOME!" SAID LARRY.

"ELEPHANTS DO NOT BELONG IN TREES!" THE OTHERS SAID.

Larry took up too much space in the tree. Bird wanted her babies' nest safe. Squirrel wanted access to his nut storage space. Monkey wanted to swing through the branches safely. Elephant is too big! But their grumbling didn't budge Larry.

But, WAIT! What's that?</p>

VROOM!

Rumble! Rumble! Rumble!

It was a BULLDOZER! And it was trying to push down their TREE! This cannot BE! But what can a bunch of little-bitty animals do to stop a bulldozer?

But Larry is BIG! He reaches down from his perch with his long trunk and slurps up all the pond water his long trunk can hold and . . .

SPLOOOOOSH!

And when Larry blows the bulldozer away, the others decide that maybe Larry does fit in after all, in Russ Willms' Elephants Do Not Belong in Trees (Orca, 2021). A friend in need is a friend indeed, and perhaps Larry is just the right size to share their tree. With comical characters and an unexpected surprise slapstick ending, preschoolers will love read-alouds of this simple story, while primary graders who can read this book themselves will understand this little lesson in finding a unusual friend in unexpected places.

Says School Library Journal, "Filled with delightful onomatopoeia and expressive changes in font to aid in dramatic story times, this quirky, humorous story will delight young children and invite discussion on acceptance."

Labels: , ,

Thursday, September 02, 2021

It's Here! What Is Climate Change? by Gail Herman

A skinny polar bear doesn't look much like a little yellow bird, but the huge white polar bear is the canary in the coal mine in the matter of climate change. Since 2016, the waters of Hudson's Bay have not frozen in November as they have always done. Starving polar bears who depend on sea ice to support their diet of seal have become common since then. There's no doubt that a warming planet has warmer oceans, lakes, and rivers, which threaten all living things on Earth in some way.

Gail Herman's slender non-fiction book, What Is Climate Change? (What Was?) (Penguin Workshop) tells it like it is for middle elementary and middle school readers. The author explains the difference between weather and climate, and describes how temperatures and rainfall have been collected by scientists over time, especially since 1880, when international temperature readings began to be collected all over the world, showing a rise in world temperatures of of three degrees Celsius or 5 degrees Fahrenheit over that time.

"Nearly all-97 percent--of climate scientist agree: Humans, and their impact on the Earth, are making a difference. We are just realizing the scale and permanence of the change."

"Recent human activity is he reason why Earth is warming and also wbhy it's happening at such a rapid rate. Some feel we should even mark this as a new era, much like the Age of the Diniosaurs: The Age of Humans."

In short, pithy chapters Herman covers how climate has varied wildly throughout earth's history, and how since the Industrial Revolution greenhouse gases from burning wood and fossil fuels like oil, coal, and natural gas have formed a layer in which such heat cannot escape the earth's atmosphere. She also points out how deforestration has led to loss of the natural cooling ability of vegetation from human activities, leading to a "vicious cycle" of more and more heating of soil, air, and water, causing ever more dangerous heat waves and extreme weather events, famines and fire events, and storms and ocean rise that threatens islands and coastal areas throughout the world.

Herman also recounts the names and work of scientists and world leaders who have worked rather heroically to bring an understanding of the seriousness of the global problem and to try to slow down the dire results of continued global warming. The skinny polar bear adrift on the melting ice floe is a poignant symbol of mankind in the face of the climate change we all are creating. With much information presented with clarity and detail and an appendix with a Timeline of Climate Change which begins in the U.S. with the first factory in Rhode Island in 1790 to Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement in 2017, A World Event Timeline, and a Bibliography with books and websites, this succinct illustrated overview of climate change offers considerable information to students in Grades 3-8.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Stage Fright! Clark the Shark and the School Sing by Bruce Hale


Clark the Shark, the kid with the killer smile, is happy when his teacher makes an announcement.

"CLASS, NEXT WEEK IS THE SCHOOL SING!"

Clark is psyched! He begins to belt out the first line of their song, "When You're Happy and You Know It," He loves that song! Most of the class already know it, and they are soon belting it out with bravado, too!

"IF YOU'RE HAPPY AND YOU KNOW IT, CLAP YOUR HANDS...."

The teacher is pleased, but then she says...

"GOOD JOB. NOW WE LEARN THE DANCE!"

"DANCE???"

And the usually confident Clark the Shark discovers that he can't sing and dance at the same time. He turns in the wrong direction and everyone else gets mixed up. Clark is killing the rehearsals and he knows it!

"WHAT IF I MESS UP?"

Their teacher tells the class just to relax and enjoy the experience. The rest of the class seems fine with that advice. But when that curtain opens on the big night....

THEY FROZE!

Can Clark the Shark come through in the clinch?

You bet your dorsal fin he can! The show must go on, in this debut of Bruce Hale's Clark the Shark's (Level 1) Comic Books for beginning readers, Clark the Shark and the School Sing (I Can Read Comics Level 1). Illustrated by Hale's comic partner, Guy Francis, this new series is sure to be a hit with the early reader set. Kids can count on Clark the Shark to save the day in comic fashion. This one is a sure-fire winner for reading aloud before that curtain opens on a real-life class program.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Frightful First-Day Little Ghoul Goes to School by Jeff Czekaj

TOMORROW WAS THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, AND LITTLE GHOUL WAS NERVOUS.

"DON'T WORRY, MY LITTLE MAGGOT," SAYS HER MOTHER.

Mom promises that everything is going to go perfectly ghastly tomorrow. Little Ghoul reassured herself by downing a package of creepy crispies and brushed her teeth with rotten onion toothpaste, and her mom gave her a great big slobber and tenderly tucked her in.

But the next day dawned dreadfully. Instead of the cold and rainy day she's hoped for, it was disgustingly sunny. Instead of a decrepit old clunker of a bus, it's your standard cheery yellow school bus. The driver had an unpleasantly happy smile and the kids are boring normal children.

Little Ghoul is met in front of the school by a perfectly friendly principal who shows her to a putridly pink classroom and a standard-issue middle-aged teacher with another unpleasant big smile. At least she has lunch to look forward to. Her mom is sure to have packed her favorite brown-maggot and brown banana peel sandwich. Her stomach lurches when she sees a PB and J sandwich and cookie instead.

At least art class gives her a chance to rip up paper and splatter paint all over it. But her heart sinks when the teacher praises her dynamic work and posts it on the display board. The librarian tells the class that each student may check out a book to take home a book, but it's hard for Little Ghoul to pick one. Which is worst--Cute Babies, Happy Kittens, Adorable Squirrels??? She chooses the least abominable title, The Frightful Guest by Edward Scary.

To top off this perfectly dismal day, a boy approaches to shake hands.

"HI!" HE SMILED. "MY NAME IS BEN!"

"LET'S BE FRIENDS!"

"FRIENDS? FRIENDS!" "GHOULS DON'T HAVE FRIENDS!"

Suddenly, Little Ghoul WAKES UP!

It was all a NIGHTMARE! Maybe Little Ghoul's real first day will go better, that is, more ghastly!

Today is cold and rainy with just the right touch of thunder! Things are looking up already!

And this first day happily goes absolutely frightfully. She learns slime-oozing and her lunch is perfectly repulsive! All's well that ends abominably, in Jeff Czeka's Little Ghoul Goes to School (Balzer and Bray/HarperCollins, 2021). The more savvy third graders may even recognize the allusions to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and the much-loved master of creepy middle grade mysteries, Edward Gorey. "... Sure to scare away the first-day-of-school nerves,” says School Library Journal.

Labels: , ,

Monday, August 30, 2021

Apex Predator? I Am the Shark by Joan Holub

"I'M THE TOPS! I'M THE APEX PREDATOR.

I'M THE BEST! NONE OF YOU DO IT BETTER!"

"I AM THE GREAT WHITE SHARK! I'M THE GREATEST SHARK IN THIS BOOK!"

(NO, YOU'RE NOT......!")

Whale Shark cruises by, bragging that he's bigger than a bus, the largest and therefore greatest fish on the planet.

("INTERESTING THEORY...!")

Dwarf Lantern Shark. who, as the smallest shark, dodges in and out, says he can hide anywhere and doesn't have eat much, saving time on hunting.

But Hammerhead Shark claims the biggest brain with all that space between his eyes. And his dark top side and white belly make him almost invisible to prey looking down on him and prey looking up at him.

"I'M THE SNEAKIEST SHARK IN THIS BOOK!!"

("NO YOU'RE NOT... !")

Angelfish Shark swims up from under the sand at the bottom of the sea. He brags that his camouflage makes him the most stealthy shark in the sea.

Great White Shark refuses to be put down, even when tattooed tough guy Tiger Shark claims he eats trash and metal car parts for breakfast, and Greenland Shark brags that he is 400 years old. Nobody can top that longevity, so Great White Shark sets off to prove he's the fastest swimmer among his finny kin, until...

("NUH-UH!")

Mako Shark, churning out 46 miles per hour, passes him like he's standing still!

Darn! It seems that the whole kit and kaboodle of the shark kingdom are pretty cool creatures, in Joan Holub's latest, I Am the Shark (Crown Books, 2021).

In this pescine power struggle amongst the sharks portrayed in the jolly cartoons of noted illustrator Laurie Keller, Holub's just published primary-grade book provides an introduction to shark lore that is both funny and informative for young readers. Author Holub imbeds considerable information in the text, including a diagram of a shark's shape and innards, and even appends her  "Fintastic Sharks Facts." Says Kirkus, "This book will be swimming off the shelves."

Labels: ,

Sunday, August 29, 2021

The Bare Facts: Those Are Not My Underpants! by Melissa Martin


One morning when Bear Cub comes outside, he notices something unexpected hanging on a limb right out his door. Clearly someone had misplaced a pair of underwear. Bear Cub has simply got to get to the bottom of this!

"HI, SQUIRREL," HE SAYS. "ARE THESE YOUR UNDERPANTS?"
"NO. THERE'S NO HOLE FOR MY TAIL!" SQUEEKS SQUIRREL.

Turtle's no tattletale. He shows off the striped undershorts under his shell. Oh, well. Bear Cub moves on until he meets Owl, who says owls only wear sparkly briefs. Beside a rushing stream, he questions Salmon, who says he only wears sleek swim trunks.

In his cave, Bat, already hanging upside down from the ceiling, shows off his glow-in-the-dark bikini bottoms. Skunk sniffs the scanty panties and ventures that they don't stink enough to be his!

Then Bear Cub spots snake's head sticking out of his hole.

"HI, SNAKE! ARE THESE YOUR UNDERPANTS?

"NO!"

"ARE YOU SURE?"

"YES. SNAKES ONLY WEAR L-O-O-O-N-G UNDERWEAR!"

They are not Beaver's briefs either. He blushes and says that beavers are too shy to show off their underpants. And when questioned, Moose points out that he has to wear Extra Large underwear!

Bear Cub's case is about out of suspects. Back home, Mama Bear spots him with the mysterious tightie whities in hand.

"BEAR CUB! WHY ARE YOU CARRYING YOUR UNDERPANTS AROUND? I WASHED AND HUNG THEM OUT TO DRY LAST NIGHT!"

Looking down, now it's Bear Cub's turn to blush!

The case of the bare bear is solved, in Melissa Martin's newest, Those Are Not My Underpants! For the reading circle bunch, any mention of unmentionables, be they briefs or lingerie, is a sure-fire giggle getter, and with the award-winning artist Troy Cummings' lighthearted illustrations, this story promises a laugh a minute.

Says Booklist, "A solid contribution to that important children’s book category, adorable animals wearing underwear!"

Labels: , , ,