Thursday, April 25, 2019

Super Sister! Lucia the Luchadora and the Million Masks by Cynthia Leonor Garza



It's hard being a superhero with a little sister along who leaps in bib overalls and lands like a lummox!

In disgust, Lucia rips off her silver mask and tosses it on the grass.

And when she looks back, it's gone.

Lucia mounts a mask hunt, and finally finds it, along with little sister Gemma, in her treehouse. But Lucia is not happy to see it.

Lucia tattles to her grandmother, who mends her mask and agrees that Gemma is wrong to ruin her big sister's things. But Abuela also points out that Gemma is just trying to be like her--a superhero! Gemma is not convinced that imitation is the highest form of flattery. She doesn't warm to Abuela's dictum that adventures are best shared, either. But she does like her grandmother's super idea.

There are mariachi music and fruit sweets there--and Mil Mascaras--lots and lots of masks! There is even a little lost kitten that Grandmother falls in love with, too--and they can keep it!

And perhaps when Gemma has her own mask, she will leave Lucia's alone. Perhaps the perfect mask will transform her clumsy little sister into a real superhero luchadora!

And then Lucia realizes that she has mask-lust, too. She takes off her old mask and tries on lots of new ones, each with its own possible super-special powers. But where is her old one? Lucia looks frantically through all the new ones! Is her silver mask lost forever? Lucia is near tears when little Gemma offers her own new mask!

Sometimes an energetic and adoring little sister can come in handy, in Cynthia Leonor Garza's Lucia the Luchadora and the Million Masks (POW Books, 2018),, and it looks like the shared adventures have already begun for Lucia and Gemma. Garza's super-story is illustrated in bright mercado colors in the vibrant spot-art and full-bleed pages painted by artist Allyssa Bermudez. Of this super sweet sister story, Kirkus says in its starred review, "Garza’s buoyant wordplay and delightful characters also continue to shine. Equally, Bermudez’s vibrant, action-packed pictures epitomize pure zany fun."

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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

True Tales of Two Pals: Big Dog and Little Dog: Tales of Adventure by Dav Pilkey

On their adventure walk Big Dog and Little Dog see something a little strange.

Big Dog thinks it is a kitty.

Ssssss. But it does not smell like a kitty.

Big Dog and Little Dog like adventures. But they absolutely do not like smelling like that kitty smells.

Some adventures make for bad smells.

But there's always another day for Big Dog and Little Dog, who know how to make the best of each day--and night.

One night Big Dog and Little Dog go happily to their own beds, one big and one little. But then they both get lonely. Does Little Dog move to Big Dog's big bed? No. They both sleep on Little Dog's little bed. It's little, but it's not lonely.

Big Dog and little Dog like to make the most of fun on days with muddy puddles... and then they shake and shake and share the fun and mud with their owner! And one day they have to play inside. There are no smelly kitties and no muddy puddles, so they play with the sofa. They play tug of war with the cushions. But what is this white stuff coming out of the cushions? This adventure has not gone well.

In the five funny doggy tales in Dav Pilkey's Big Dog and Little Dog Tales of Adventure (Green Light Readers Level 1) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019), there are two dog buddies who share their good and bad days in this easy reader for emerging readers. Author Pilkey's black-outlined colorful characters keep the stories fun, and Pilkey also adds some games and puzzles about each story to reinforce the vocabulary and pages that practice the sequencing skills presented in each Level 1 story. Dick and Jane never had so much fun as Big Dog and Little Dog do!

Pilkey is of course the much celebrated author of doggone good giggle-bait classics such as Dogzilla, Kat Kong, The Hallo-Wiener and the best-selling Captain Underpants: 10 Book Set and its many sequels and spinoffs. Dav Pilkey even claims his own authorial cred, earning an actual Caldecott Honor medal for his book The Paperboy.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The Watchtower: Hello, Lighthouse by Sophie Blackwell

On the highest rock of a tiny island at the edge of the world stands a lighthouse.

It is built to last forever, to send its light out to sea, guiding ships on their way.

Nothing seems more lonely than a lighthouse, but the lighthouse needs its keeper to trim the wick and tend its light, and he soon arrives, all alone, to live in the round rooms--kitchen, bedroom, office, and the all-important light room--and to faithfully keep his logs. It is a solitary life, his light sending out its one message. I'm here.
Hello, Hello, Hello!

But then his wife arrives, belayed over in a bosun's chair to join him, and in time a baby comes, and the rooms are bustling with family life, love and duty--small lives of monotony and bravery, routine and high adventure, the ephemeral amid the eternal as quiet seas change to giant waves that engulf the little island and sailors on sinking ships need rescue at sea.

Sophie Blackwell's 2019 Caldecott Medal book, Hello Lighthouse (Little, Brown and Company, 2018) is a real tour de force of a picture book. Her precise, somewhat stylized style has the feel of an eighteenth century New England handbook, the stalwart straight lines of the lighthouse set against the curves of the ever-changing ocean, its light piercing the night to steer ships to safety. Blackwell's story juxtaposes dull sameness and dire dangers, all in lovely artwork that enlivens her narration, a single family's daily life and their work, lighting the way for others to safe harbor, with the eternally changing sea all around them. This beautiful book, complete with gatefold sea view, brings to life a now-lost period, but Blackwell's detailed watercolor illustrations celebrate its time and the lives of those who kept it bright. A unique and engaging book that is a must-have.

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Monday, April 22, 2019

Stormy Weather! The Storm by Sam Usher

When I woke up this morning, the wind was rattling the windows. I couldn't wait to go outside.

Granddad said, "It's a perfect day to fly the kite! But we'll have to find it first."

There's a big storm a-brewin'! It's time for some breezy fun.

Boy and grandfather look for the kite in the kitchen. They don't find it, but they do find Granddad's old cricket bat. He demonstrates his swing, and they move on to the study, where Granddad's stack of mail remind them of their trip by boat to post a very important letter. In the cubby under the stairs they come across the telescope, which reminds them of the time they picnicked in their secret cave.

And then they find the KITE!

With caps and scarfs and jackets to keep them warm in the wind they head out to the park at last!
The kite flew so high.

Granddad said, "Hold on tight!"

And well they should, as the wild wind lifts them up, along with all the other airborne kite flyers, into a carnival of kites--whale kites, clown kites, a gorilla kite, even a dragon kite. Boy and Granddad hitch a ride on the dragon as they struggle to hold on to the string. The boy drops it, but Granddad grabs him in time for them to ride the kite down, just as the sky darkens and lightning spikes! But luckily, the wind blows them back to their own doorstep, and inside, over a cozy cup of tea, the two watch as the storm crashes and flashes at the windows.
"The best adventure is an adventure shared," Granddad said.

And it's quite an adventure in Sam Usher's Storm (Seasons with Granddad) (Templar/Candlewick Books, 2018). With whimsical watercolor illustrations, the boy and his unflappable grandfather share another memorable escapade, the sort that grows in the telling. Any kid would love to have such shared adventures with such a grandfather to remember. Says Kirkus,"Usher's watercolor and ink illustrations and his shifting use of color, light, and shadow evokes peril excitement, and finally the security of the kitchen. Other books in the Seasons with Granddad series are Sun (Seasons with Granddad), Rain (Seasons with Granddad), and Snow (Seasons with Granddad).

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Sunday, April 21, 2019

Purloined Posies! The Case of the Missing Chalk Drawings by Richard Byrne

Out in the school playground, all the chalks are having recess fun drawing flowers.

But when they came back from lunch...


The chalks draw a blank! Who could have made their flowers disappear? Their teacher, Mrs. Red, makes some big red signs.

The chalks draw even more flowers. But when the little chalks come back after story circle time, the flowers are gone AND the fence for the schoolyard seems also to have been erased! Obviously there is a pitiless posy pilferer in the neighborhood. Mrs. Red calls the police.

Sgt. Blue lines up some suspicious-looking characters. None of them seem to have been caught red-handed until Sgt. Blue has them all turn around. One has a chalk-dusted red bottom! Aha!

But the culprit escapes in a cloud of chalk dust! Not to be outdone, Officer Blue has the little chalks prepare a trap--the most colorful drawing of all, one that the evil Eraser cannot resist!

Aha! The suspect soon appears. Sgt. Blue is about to collar the crook. But the Eraser pleads an alibi that all the chalks cannot refuse.


Chalks and erasers go together like ying and yang, in Richard Byrne's artsy mystery story, The Case of the Missing Chalk Drawings (Henry Holt and Company, 2018). Author Byrne's well-paced page turns perfectly set up each vignette, with his many-hued, googly-eyed chalks bright against black background pages, and this case is cracked with a solution which suits all. As School Library Journal says, "In addition to being pure fun, the story demonstrates the importance of understanding motives before judging actions."

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Saturday, April 20, 2019

Looking for Love: Love, Z by Jessie Sima

A little robot named Z goes out one day hunting for adventure and finds a message in a bottle. All that is still legible on the letter are two words.


Little Z doesn't have a clue what "love" means and who or what "Beatrice" might be, but they sound important. At bedtime he asks his family of rusty robots, as they sweetly tuck him in to bed with a story and a clanky kiss. They can only say...

But Z cannot leave the question unanswered. Setting out on a quest, he spots a sturdy sailboat with a kitty for a captain.
"Hello, I am looking for Beatrice. I am looking for what love is, and she will have the answer."

But as they sail on, nobody has a clue.
"What's a Beatrice?"

But everyone has a different definition of what love is. The crow says its sharing delicious food--even if you want it for yourself. Kids playing in the park all have their own ideas. One says it's butterflies. One says it's a million puppies, and another thinks of snowflakes on his tongue.

All of these don't really compute for Z either. Beatrice must be the only one who knows. He has to find her. Z and Kitty Captain sail on until, weary, they spot a small island with a cozy house. They disembark and knock at the friendly-looking blue door. A woman opens it.
"Hello. I'm Beatrice," she says.

She brings Z and Kitty in beside the fire and Z explains the object of their mission. Beatrice says she has to think about that query, so she does, while she offers fresh baked cookies, plays a game of checkers with Z, and they dance to her old Victrola. At last she explains.

"You'll know it when you feel it,"

Z is unsure what to make of her answer, but as he prepares to power down, there's a sudden knock at Beatrice's door.

It's Z's whole family of old rusty robots who've been searching for him, bringing his favorite bedtime story, his night-light, and good-night kisses from all, and at last Z has a feeling that does compute, in Jessie Sima's Love, Z Simon and Schuster, 2018).  A sweet story in which Z goes looking for love in all the right places, Sima's soft and simple illustrations extend the storytelling, right down to Z and the rusty robots shoving off for home, leaving Kitty and his flotsam bottle, tagged "Love, Z" with Beatrice. Sima's other books include Not Quite Narwhal, smf Harriet Gets Carried Away (read reviews here).

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Friday, April 19, 2019

Going with the Floe! Sea Bear: A Journey for Survival by Lindsay Moore

Polar bears are patient beasts,
as patient as glaciers.

A female polar bear rides the currents bearing a large chunk of ice toward the Arctic coast. For her, this journey is no pleasure trip. She has to survive as the ice mass melts into an shrinking ice floe. Her journey is not just for herself, but for her unborn cubs, who need to be born in a den on land. When the floe melts from under her, she knows what she has to do.
I am a sea bear... meant to paddle.
I swim with narwhals...
and glide under whales...

The second night the waves grow in height and the wind in wildness.

There's nothing left to do but swim.

And swim she does, finally pulling herself onto shore after three days of swimming. But spring melt means summer is coming. Summer is a lean season for polar bears, while the seals grow fat at sea, and the mother bear tries to feed her fast growing cubs, knowing that summer always ends soon in the Arctic, and she must teach them the ancient ways of patience.

Lindsay Moore's brand-new Sea Bear: A Journey for Survival (Greenwillow Books, 2019) is a lovely, lyrical and hopeful look at the dilemma of Arctic animals caught in a food web that is threatened by changing climate. In a sweetly-told nonfiction picture book, Moore's beautifully layered blue-green multiple media--watercolor, colored pencil, crayon, and ink--are superbly executed, and the book's design is perfect for its picturesque subject. The author also includes a useful appendix for young nature science lovers.

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Thursday, April 18, 2019

Dear Spring, Come In! William Wakes Up by Linda Ashman

When William wakes, he feels a change in the air and hears a distant but welcome song.

"It's been a long and wintry wait--
We need a cake to celebrate!"

William turns to his bedfellows--a motley assortments of snoozing animals--but only Chipmunk makes it up to join him.

But cake baking is a big job, and soon little chipmunk crashes! There's way too much for two to do!

The two return to the bedroom and proclaim that spring has arrived, and Porcupine ceases to snore and offers to sweep the floor. But he, too, soon tires of his task....

William returns to recruit some help from the others, still lost in slumber.
"Today's the day--
A special guest is on the way!"

Groundhog gets up and hustles out to help, but before long, he's too tired to tidy up, too. William heads back to the bed, where only Bear and Raccoon are still dozing. Bear rouses himself, not to late to help decorate the cake!

The house is spiffy, the cake is nifty, and everyone is ready to welcome their long-awaited guest. At last Raccoon rouses himself and rolls out.
"Did I hear 'cake?'
Don't start without me--
"I'm AWAKE!"

Will Raccoon get cake? Will he make up for sleeping on the job? There's a lot to do before the bluebird of spring appears, in Linda Ashman's just published William Wakes Up (Disney Hyperion, 2019). And there's a slice of cake and work aplenty waiting for Raccoon (perhaps beginning with the washing up?) in Ashman's charming salute to spring. With her engaging rhyming narration, Ashman's page turns build tension as one by one, each character makes his appearance until the mystery guest finally flies in for the picnic, while artist Chuck Groenick's wide-eyed and willing William, his cozy cottage, and his animal friends are perfectly crafted characters for this upbeat and heart-warming seasonal story.

Linda Ashmon's and Chuck Groenick's companion book is William's Winter Nap.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Midnight Special: Night Train: A Journey from Dawn to Dusk by Annie Cronin Romano

Night train wakens to the dusk,
Journey starting, day departing--

The romance of the steam train--the rhythm of the rails, the chug and the clatter, the screech of the brakes and the lonesome whistle--all are the subject of Annie Cronin Romano's book, Night Train: A Journey from Dusk to Dawn (Page Street Kids, 2019), on the continuing mysterious appeal of the midnight special, its headlight piercing the dark and its horn blowing for the crossing as it moves through the dark, mostly sleeping world.

Its drivers driving, its smokestack billowing, the night train crosses the trestles over the rivers, pushes through tunnels underground, blows by small stations, dark and deserted, steams by small towns sleeping, snug and safe.
Boxcars rattle, spooking cattle.
steady crawling, never-stalling, night train.

As it passes through dark wheat fields, cattle standing like sleeping statues, or horses racing the train in their fields, perhaps those people lying awake in the wee hours find reassurance that the night train is on duty, getting the goods to people who will be waking soon, moving sleepy people in the passenger cars to their destinations, a trusty servant who doesn't mind working the night shift.

Author Annie Cronin Romano captures that romance of the legendary midnight train in her forthcoming book with lyrical blank verse that conveys the sound and presence of that train as it makes its way, left to right, through the dark world and through her picture book until the break of dawn ends its run, backed up by Ileana Soon's blue-black illustrations of the train and the landscapes it traverses, until it comes to rest, its work done for the day.
Journey finished, dark diminished--
sunlight streaming
finally dreaming
night train.

Says Kirkus Reviews, "Romano's rhythmic poem is filled with repeated sounds, internal rhymes, and evocative imagery...Soothing words and steady rhythm make a solid bedtime story for young listeners..."

For younger sleepyheads, pair this one with Sherry Duskey Rinker's top-selling Steam Train, Dream Train (review here), or for somewhat older bed-goers, share Andrea Rosenbaum's exceptional Trains Don't Sleep (review here).

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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Easter Egg Hunt! The Easter Surprise (Sweet Pea and Friends) by John and Jennifer Churchman

Sweet Pea the sheep had promised Fern a surprise today.

Fern the Bunny is curious. She heads for the barn, but on the way she hears two squirrels chattering. What is going on?
"I didn't put it there, did you?" one squirrel says.

Fern sees it, a beautiful painted egg. But it doesn't have stripes or polka dots. It has a lovely little miniature painting of Mo the Kitten right in the middle. Fern hurries to show it to Mo. But Mo has something to show, too!
"Look what I found! " Mo says.

He has found an egg painted with a picture of Keeper, the goose. It's a mystery, and Fern and Mo are on the case!

One thing leads to another! Following the trail, they find that Keeper has found an egg that leads them to Maisie the sheepdog and then to Little Finn the lamb who has an egg with a painting of the rooster on it. Another clue! They dash to the chicken house. The detectives soon have a basket full of beautiful eggs, but the chickens say they know nothing. Who could have left them?

John and Jennifer Churchman's latest in their series about the animals on their Vermont far, The Easter Surprise (Sweet Pea & Friends) (Little, Brown and Company, 2019) lets youngsters join in the fun of an idyllic old fashioned egg hunt, with tall grasses and clumps of wild flowers concealing the not-too-well hidden eggs, real eggs colored by someone who is happy to watch the youngsters find the eggs one by one. John and Jennifer Churchman provide the soft watercolor illustrations combined with photos of their own farm animals in a lovely story of an old-fashioned Easter egg hunt which will encourage sharp-eyed youngsters to help with the search.

John and Jennifer Churchman's popular series began with The SheepOver (Sweet Pea & Friends) (see reviews here).

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Monday, April 15, 2019

The Importance of Being Earnest: The Good Egg by Jory John




This good egg is a natural, free-range good egg. Back on the farm, life was simple, eggs-actly the same for all.


The Good Egg tries to be helpful to everyone--carrying groceries for old ladies and fixing flat tires for folks in need.

But the rest of the guys in his carton are not such good eggs. They break all the rules, and they joke that that's just how they roll!

Keeping up his Grade AAA rank and keeping all those rotten eggs in line is HARD. He tries not to let his fellow eggs spoil his attitude. but being soft with them is only making him too hard-boiled, and ...

The Doc advises a yolk transfusion and some eggs-treme solitude.

Finally the Good Egg discovers that he's a lonely only egg, and that's not so good. It takes all sorts to make a well-rounded carton, in Jory John's newest, The Good Egg (Harper, 2019). The sequel to John's top-selling 2018 book, The Bad Seed, offers some good life advice mixed with plenty of punny yolks, er, jokes, and eggs-pertly comic artwork by gifted illustrator Pete Oswald. Says Kirkus in their starred review, "Both text and art complement each other perfectly.Eggs-quisitely excellent."

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Sunday, April 14, 2019

One Chic Chick: Furry Chick by Annie Auerbach



As soon as her fuzzy, furry, touchable feathers are dry, Baby Chick is ready to start the day. She's a farm chicken, so she is welcome to trot behind Mama and introduce herself to all the new baby animals in the barnyard--a piglet with a curly tail and a little wobbly gray filly. And what's that wiggly thing? A worm, just in time for -- lunch!

Annie Auerbach's little touch-and feel board book, Furry Chick (Mini Friends Touch & Feel) (Barron's, 2018), lets Baby Chick lead the tour of the baby animals that come with the spring. Laura Rigo's adorable colored illustrations make this furry chick a better (and longer-lasting) treat for the Easter Basket that any sugary peeps!

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Saturday, April 13, 2019

Vive La Difference! What If? by Sandra Magnamen

What makes you different makes you amazing!

After we're born, the first thing we have to learn is that we are now--a separate being!

As we grow, we learn that we are not only separate--we are onlies, each one of us unique in all the world. It's quite a concept to get used to!

And that is the message in Sandra Magnamen's latest little book, What If?: What makes you different makes you amazing! (Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky, 2019). Magnamen uses various familiar animals in her simply drawn concept board book to point out all the ways we are different. We are all one of a kind!

And all in all that's a good thing! It would be a shame to all be the same. BORING!

The mouse is, well, quiet as a mouse, and sometimes quietude is exactly what is needed to get the job done.

If you like to make some noise like a barrel of monkeys, your joie de vivre helps your friends let go and have some fun! Each one of us is a new and different surprise to get to know. And that means that our world is full of surprises!

Vive La Difference! Be yourself, your best self....
'Cause today is the perfect day to be exactly and totally YOU!


Friday, April 12, 2019

They're Not Just For Fish Bait Anymore! I Can Only Draw Worms by Will Mabbitt

What do you do when you want to make a picture book but you're not that good at drawing pictures?


Here's ONE worm.

But when our artist draws TWO worms, it's hard to tell Worm One from Worm Two.

So he gives Worm TWO glasses. Who knew he could draw glasses?

Now what to do? Worm THREE looks just like Worm ONE!

Hey, WAIT! How about making Worm THREE yellow! Our novice artist is on a roll!

But worms are hard to control (like herding cats). Worm FOUR tries to take over the action, and Worm FIVE is looking a little under the weather.

And Worm SIX insists that he must ride on a flying unicorn.

But where there's a Will (Mabbitt), there's a way, in Mabbitt's just published I Can Only Draw Worms (Penguin/Random House, 2019), a counting book that gets the counting lesson done with such glorious and resourceful silliness that preschoolers will be reaching for their crayons and creating their very own worm counting books. Mabbitt manages to get plenty of attention with changes in page color (pink worms look especially lovely against a black background), while kids will get a giggle at how the artist creatively solves his unicorn block and learn to count with this new numbers book which is not at all creepy-crawly.

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Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Growing Season: Raccoon Rescue by Kama Einhorn

These woods are wide and wet and wild. These woods are soft and green and mossy. And now these woods are our new home.

We knew exactly what to do when we got here, even though we're only twenty weeks old. Here we are living where we were supposed to live all along.

Four helpless baby raccoons, each no bigger than a lemon, are discovered abandoned in a hollow tree. Kind human hands lift them out of their nest and they are transferred to just the right place for such orphans, an animal rescue center called WildCare. A kind raccoon specialist named Shelly takes them under her wing.

Feeding comes first, for the little raccoons have been alone for three days. But first Shelly paints their toenails four different colors, Flashy Fuschia, Blue Me Away, Orange Zest, and High Line Green. Since the tiny babies looks so much alike at this stage, Shelly must know which is which as they are cleaned and fed bottles in matching colors. Carefully weighed and bottle-fed every two hours, the little orphans begin to thrive, gaining weight and settling in to life in the baby raccoon nursery.
"I, Mr. Green, have always been very clever. I was the first to figure out how to use the nipple on the bottle, and, later, how to use a lot of our toys."

With the largest of the four, Mr. Blue, leading the way, the little rescue raccoons grow fast,  mastering all sorts of foods, from fruit to acorns to crayfish (after all, they are omnivorous, just like their human caretakers), and by the time the youngsters are about five months old, they are ready for Mr. Blue to lead them into the woods where a pond awaits them with all kinds of delicious goodies and games.

Big Mr. Blue seems seriously ready to disappear into the woods right away. Two others follow quickly. But Mr. Green is more reserved about following.
"I was the last one to disappear into the wild.

Shelly called up to us in our tree. "You know what to do!" she said. About one second later, we turned all our attention to dinner. And so the forest feasting began."

With their manual dexterity, their omnivorous diet, and considerable intelligence, North American raccoons have spread over much of the globe. That success has made them prone to injuries and also likely to become urban problems, which is where animal rescue and relocation centers come in, raising lost babies, helping hurt adults, and finding them safe homes in wild areas. Kama Einhorn's just published Raccoon Rescue (True Tales of Rescue) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019), amply illustrated with adorable color photos, offers elementary readers a close look at the fun and serious work that goes into raising wild animals to return successfully to their native environments. Readers will enjoy the funny situations that baby raccoons get into as they learn about raccoon's natural behaviors that make them so successful as North American wildlife. Author Einhorn offers an appendix--an author's note, index, and glossary, and advice on how to help her favorite animals life with humans safely--which makes this a great source for animal science reports. "Raccoons Rule," is the word for this book!

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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Learning the Hard Way! Koko and Bo by Lisen Adbage

Koko is in his contrary phase!

They've has been at the playground for four hours. The sun is sinking low. Bo declares it's time they go home.



Bo goes inside, but when it begins to get dark, there's a ring at the doorbell.

Koko has found it boring outside and rather lonely.

After dinner and puzzles and snacks, Bo announces that it is bedtime. Koko says NO!

Not surprisingly, Koko finds his way to bed eventually. But when morning comes and the well-rested Bo declares it's time to get up, Koko says he doesn't want to.

Koko persists in staying in bed while Bo enjoys a leisurely breakfast and gets all her morning chores done.

At last hunger drives Koko to get up. His oatmeal has gotten cold, but by then, it tastes pretty good. Then Bo declares it's time to go out for groceries, but when a raincoat is suggested, Koko says NO!

After a rainy bike ride to the grocery, Koko complains of being cold. Luckily, Bo has an extra sweater. And when Koko declines to sit in the grocery cart seat, Koko watches him wander off, ready to rescue him when the store manager has to announce a woeful missing child over the loudspeaker.

"Experience keeps a dear school," said Benjamin Franklin's famous saying, and Bo is clearly letting Koko learn a few things the hard way, in Lisen Adbage's Koko and Bo (Enchanted Lion Books, 2018). Adbage's storytelling is simple, spare, and pointedly predictable, letting her funny illustrations and book design make the case for letting kids learn to take sensible advice even if they have to experience a few consequences in Franklin's "dear school.""Sublime," says Kirkus Reviews. "The author's choice to present life without lecturing shows uncommon respect for her readers."


Tuesday, April 09, 2019

There Goes the Neighborhood! The Neighbors by Einat Tsarfati

I live in a building that is seven stories high.

Every floor has a slightly different door.

Actually that's an understatement.

Each of the doors is wildly different--in strange ways.

The door on the first floor has five locks and a surveillance camera. Who would want to keep other people out badly enough to lock all those locks? The girl imagines a den of black-clad masked thieves living in an apartment filled with exotic loot--including the marble Venus de Milo, the Mona Lisa, and King Tut's mummy.  Even the baby's tchotchke toys are enormous diamonds!

The second floor door always has animal tracks around the doormat. A tiger must live inside, with a former explorer,  in an indoor jungle of vines. The third floor has only a bike wheel, but the imaginative girl envisions a troop of acrobats rehearsing inside.

When I reach the fourth floor,
the light always shuts off...

The girl hurries past that landing. Could a family of vampires be tucked within their coffins inside? Yikes!

The fifth door smells like pickled fish.

She's sure a pirate must be living inside with his mermaid wife who has a taste for herring. Gross!

But the sixth floor door has musical rest symbols and wonderful music is to be heard coming from under that door.

At last she reaches her own plain Jane door on the seventh floor. It's a bore, a total snore!

Her apartment has ordinary furnishings, and her parents are, well, pedestrian. The only excitement going on there is the decor in her own room. She loves her parents, but... nothing to see there!

But there's a surprise ending for young readers with the final page turn. As the girl snoozes, perchance dreaming of exotic scenes, her parents are suiting up as caped crusaders, responding to a call for help from the red telephone and about to leap from their window into nightly escapades, in Einat Tsarfati's The Neighbors (Abrams Books, 2019). In this funny and fanciful tale, it seems that the girl indeed comes by her fantastical imaginings naturally. Tsarfati's lavish and humorously detailed illustrations are a delight to the eyes for young readers, with an ironic ending that is great fun. The girl's imaginings are wonderfully elegant and extensive, but the last laugh is the best when artist Tsarfati reveals what's been going on right under her nose in her own apartment.

Publishers Weekly praises this one, saying, "Tsarfati offers accomplished execution, sureness of line, and restrained, urbane humor." Kirkus concurs with "Delightfully ambiguous and recursive."

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Monday, April 08, 2019

Get Crackin'! Peeping Beauty by Brenda Maier

Mama and Papa are excited as they tuck their three identical little eggs into the nest for the night!


But not quite.

Early in the morning two of their eggs begin to quiver and and shiver, and one after the other there's that sound they've been waiting for!

Mom and Papa are thrilled with their duo of little yellow chickies. Then they all crowd around the last egg, still sleeping, and wait.... And wait. AND WAIT!

Waiting is hard for little ones, so Big Sister suggests a party. They party down, doing the chicken dance.

Still there's not a peep out of that remaining egg.

Big Brother suggests they try riddles. Then Mama decides it's time to read some stories. She reads The Princess and the Peacock and Beauty and the Beak, as the two new chicks begin to look sleepy. Then she pull out her favorite, the story about the sleeping princess.

That peep seems to be coming from inside the egg!

The third egg cracks, and out steps their own little Peeping Beauty! But that's not ALL. There's another surprise in store for youngsters, in Brenda Maier's, Peeping Beauty (Aladdin Books, 2019). There're plenty of chicks hatching, and who isn't ready for a change of season, with its new chicks and lambs and bunnies and budding flowers, and a spot of wordplay by author Maier. Artist Zoe Waring pulls out all the stops with her fluffy chicks and pastel Easter egg palette in a funny springtime readalong for young readers.

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