Henkes, Kevin. 2017. In the Middle of Fall. HarperCollins (Greenwillow Books). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-257311-7. Illustrated by Laura Dronzek.
It is mid-fall and the leaves have turned bright orange, red, and yellow. The sky is dark, the weather is chilly and pumpkin and apple picking are in full effect. With a large gust of wind, the leaves fall and the season fades into winter. This text illustrates, quite simply, the beauty of fall and the transition into winter. Children are often fascinated by the changing of seasons and the colors and memories associated with each change. In the Middle of Fall allows children to make connections with what they know about fall and it taps into the senses allowing the reader to think about what fall looks like, feels like and sounds like. The large and colorful images used in this book help capture the reader’s attention and they allow the reader to visualize the activities and characteristics of the fall season, for example. The lulling short sentences and simple vocab crafted by Henke make it easy for the reader to focus on and comprehend individual ideas that the author presents. The content and detailed illustrations will inspire readers to observe the nature around them because it will not stay the same for long. Recommended for ages 4-8. (TLA)
Akveld, Joukje. 2018. Get on your Bike. Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Co. (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). 30pp. $18.00. ISBN 978-0-80-285489-6. Illustrated by Philip Hopman.
Conflict and compromise are both reflected in this relatable story of two friends who get into an escalated argument. Tensions are high as Bobby and William fight back and forth about an unknown issue. William eventually asks Bobby to get on his bike and leave. Bobby rides off and goes wherever the city traffic lights guide him. He lets his surroundings distract him from his problems back home as he cools off after the fight. During his travels, he realizes maybe he is at fault and he returns back to William in hopes they can make amends. Bobby and William’s fight is something that would resonate with many readers, making this book a helpful way for students to make text-to-self connections. Using this book is a good way to teach children how to solve an argument and what different strategies exist for “cooling off.” Additionally, the illustrations are very busy and detailed, forcing the reader to look very closely in order to pick out the main characters. The detailed images show the reader all the distractions allowing Bobby to forget about his fight with William. The author chose to leave out key details, so readers are required to predict and infer information. Recommended for ages 4-8. (TLA)
Engledow, Dave. 2017. The Little Girl who Didn’t Want to Go to Bed. HarperCollins. 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-242537-9.
Dave Engledow adds a touch of humor to this lighthearted and relatable story of a little girl who refuses to go to sleep. The little girl, afraid of missing out on any fun happening during the night, was doing everything in her power to avoid going to sleep. She cleaned, hid herself, and played in her room until finally, the sun began to rise. The next day, the little girl was so exhausted she was unable to enjoy the fun and busy day ahead of her. The person versus person conflict in this story will resonate with many young readers who also argue with their parents about their bedtimes. The theme, which is implied by the characters’ actions and the outcome of the story, is a good reminder that sleep is important and if you stay up at night, you will reap the consequences the next day. The real-life photographs used in this book provide a vivid account of the story and add a humorous aspect, which requires close observation and inferring on the readers behalf. This book also teaches readers a multitude of concepts including basic math and beginning letter sounds. This book is best suited for children ages 4-8. (TLA)
Tubb, Kristin O’Donnell. 2017. A Dog like Daisy. HarperCollins (Katherine Tegen Books). 192pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-246324-1.
Have you ever wondered what goes on in a dog’s head? Tubb allows readers to find out in her compelling tale about a dog and its owner who are struggling to overcome their difficult pasts. Daisy, a two-year-old pitbull mix, has only two days until she has to get “put down” at the pound she currently resides. Luckily, a brave war veteran named Victor comes to the pound and decides to adopt her to use as his service dog. Daisy overhears him saying that if she is unable to be trained in 10 weeks, she will have to be returned to the pound. Daisy makes it her mission to work hard to pass the test and protect her new family, although this is a more difficult task than she anticipated. Told through the dog’s perspective, this story gives an honest and accurate take on what it is like to have a service dog and what it is like to struggle with PTSD. Both Daisy and her owner Victor change immensely throughout the story as both of them struggle with overcoming obstacles from their past. Since the story is told through Daisy’s perspective, she becomes a three-dimensional character in which she allows the readers to hear her every thought throughout her journey. Daisy is a lovable, kind-hearted character that children will remember long after reading this book. This book is best suited for children ages 8-12. (TLA)
Briggs, Paul. 2017. Catch my Breath. Disney (Disney-Hyperion). 48pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-48-472837-6.
When a boy’s mother tells him to slow down so he can catch his breath, curiosity takes over as he begins to wonder where his breath could possibly go. As his breath, depicted as a pink bubble, zooms away, he goes on a quest to capture it. He chases it through farms, forests, and the sea without any luck, only to get it back when he least expected. Some examples of this include, “take my breath away” and “hold my breath.” These sayings expose young readers to figurative language and allow opportunities for exploring their meanings. This humorous and imaginative tale would best fit readers ages 5-8. Children would likely enjoy searching for and following the pink bubble of breath on each page as it whizzes away from the boy. The pages are mostly white with black sketches. Splashes of color to certain objects help the reader focus on what is important. For example, the bubble of breath is almost always pink, making it easy for the reader to spot it and follow it along its journey. The white pages and pastel colors help to convey the light and bouncy mood. Straight lines such as the horizontal sidewalk and vertical brick walls are used to give the reader a sense of stability and safety. When the child starts chasing his breath, curved and diagonal lines are used to convey the chaos of trying to catch the breath, and they show a more imaginative side of the story. Lines are also used to show movement and action. For example, curved lines show the breath moving and water splashing. (TLA)
Ashman, Linda. 2017. William’s Winter Nap. Disney (Disney-Hyperion). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-48-472282-4. Illustrated by Chuck Groenink.
On a cold, dark winter night, William settles down for a long winter nap. As he falls asleep, he hears a tapping sound at his window and finds a squirrel, the first of many critters, asking if it can come inside to sleep. William and the squirrel curl up in bed only to hear the next critter knocking at the door. As the story develops, more and more animals come to William’s home and squeeze into his bed, only to wake when the warm spring light begins to shine. The rhyming phrases allow readers ages 3-6 to predict which mystery critter will show up at William’s home next. The texture used in the illustrations allow readers to imagine how each critter feels. For example, the illustrator included many lines of different colors and lengths to depict the sharp needles on the porcupine’s body. The textured walls of William’s bedroom allow readers to feel the crevices of the rough and ridged wood. Color also conveys the mood. In the beginning of the story, William is all alone in his big, empty room. This illustration is full of dark browns and grays with only a lantern shining some yellow light. These dark colors give a sense of loneliness and mystery. Each time the characters hear an unfamiliar noise, dark colors create the eerie mood. When all of the critters are asleep with William in his bed, there are warmer colors such as oranges, reds, yellows, and whites. This color contrast shows the passing of time as well as the change in mood from mysterious to warm and bright. (TLA)
Teague, Mark. 2017. The Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Bad Wolf. Scholastic Inc. (Cartwheel Books). 48pp. $5.99. ISBN 978-1-33-81577-4.
This interactive and engaging story puts a humorous spin on the classic folktale The Three Little Pigs. In this contemporary version of the folktale, three little pigs live on a farm until their owner decides to move to Florida. Before the farmer leaves, he pays the pigs for their hard work and sends them on their way. The pigs decide to build houses for themselves. The first pig, in order to save money to spend on potato chips, decides to build his house out of cheap straw. The second pig, wanting to save money for sody-pop, builds a house of sticks. The third pig, not caring about junk food, built an expensive and strong house out of brick. When a hungry wolf comes along, the third pig’s house is the only one that is safe and sturdy. The three pigs watch as the wolf faints after trying hard to blow down the brick house. The pigs decide to invite the wolf inside to make him food and they soon become friends. Young readers ages 3-5 would likely enjoy this humorous and interactive book. Activities and questions are included throughout the book to engage readers and develop problem-solving abilities, reading comprehension, pre-reading skills, memory strength, and social development. In this version, readers will learn about the importance of kindness and forgiveness. Although the wolf demonstrates nefarious behavior in the beginning, the pigs still take him in their brick house and help him become a better wolf (person). Rich and vivid colors such as red, pink, yellow, blue, and green are used in the oil painting illustrations to attract attention and reinforce the happy and humorous mood. (TLA)
Andreae, Giles. 2017. Be Brave, Little Penguin. Scholastic Inc. (Orchard Books). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-33-815039-1. Illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees.
Pip-Pip the penguin is the smallest penguin in the family. As he watches the other penguins play and swim in the sea, he plays all by himself on the ice, feeling lonely and sad. Pip-Pip wants to join his friends in the sea, but he is afraid of water. His mom comforts him, telling him everyone has something they are afraid of and his feelings are normal. Pip-Pip thinks about all of the terrible things and what could happen if he enters the sea, but his mom prompts him to think about all of the wonderful and exciting things that could happen if he was to be brave and take the risk. Pip-Pip takes his mom’s advice and jumps into the sea. He finds out his mom was right and has a blast soaring, flying, and swimming in the water. Readers will experience personality development when they learn things can be scary, but being brave and taking a risk can open the door to something new and exciting. The characterization of Pip-Pip will appeal to young readers ages 3-5 as they will likely relate to being brave and overcoming fears. They will sympathize with the little penguin as he plays by himself and is teased for being afraid of the water. Language development is also supported through the rhyming words used in this text. Rhymes used in this picture storybook stimulate interest and create a whimsical feeling when read aloud. Readers can use the rhyming words to make predictions and participate in reading the story. Color contrast is used in the illustrations to depict the moods such as scary and dangerous, but also happy and exciting. When Pip-Pip is thinking about all of the scary and dangerous things in the sea, dark colors such as purple, black, and blue are used to color the water. When Pip-Pip’s mom discusses all of the good things in the sea, bright and warmer colors such as light blue, teal, and white are used to create the mood of happy and exciting. (TLA)
Kraatz, Jeramey. 2018. Space Runners: Dark Side of the Moon. HarperCollins. 352pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-244602-2.
Benny Love and his gang, the Moon Platoon, have temporarily fought off alien invaders attempting to destroy Earth, but the war is far from over. The Moon Platoon’s fearless leader, Elijah West, is still missing after his car had been sucked inside the alien mothership. Tensions rise as the characters struggle to decide a plan of action. Benny suggests going to the dark side of the moon to get help from one of Elijah’s long lost partners. However, they are unsure if this man can be trusted. The gang needs to decide quickly on what to do because the aliens are not done fighting yet, and planet Earth is in danger. Readers are drawn into this science fiction novel through suspended disbelief. Realistic emotions and themes portrayed allow readers to believe the story could have possibly happened. Benny Love has grown up in poverty, living in a trailer home with his two brothers and grandmother. As the story begins, Benny is still stuck on the moon, worrying about his family back home, wondering when and if he might see them again. The feelings and emotions Benny goes through during his space journey suspends disbelief and allows readers to relate to him and his internal struggles. Themes of teamwork, leadership, and perseverance in the face of obstacles are conveyed, also helping to suspend disbelief. Detailed descriptions of futuristic technology such as flying race cars and holograms spark curiosity and allow readers to consider the possibility for something like this to happen in the future. (TLA)
Wu, Mike. 2017. Ellie in Concert. Disney (Disney-Hyperion). 40pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-48-471238-2.
The zoo is a noisy place, especially for Lucy, the giraffe. She is so exhausted, but she cannot sleep because of all the clatter. Her friend Ellie the elephant feels bad and wants to help her. She hears a bluebird singing her babies to sleep and gets an idea. Ellie thinks if she can get the other animals to learn a song, they can sing it for Lucy and she will be able to fall asleep. With the help of her gorilla friend, Gerard, they organize the animal sounds into sections, just like an orchestra. As nighttime arrives, Ellie begins directing her choir of animals and beautiful music fills the air. When Ellie asks Lucy if she likes it, she sees Lucy has already fallen asleep. Ellie was successful. Readers ages 5-6 will learn themes of friendship and the power of music. Readers will also appreciate Ellie’s attempts to help her friend as she perseveres after initially being unsuccessful. Repetition is used throughout the story to engage readers and encourage them to read along, imitating the animal sounds. Children will likely feel this story is both real and believable because of the realistic setting and emotions of the animal characters. (TLA)
Senzai, N.H. 2018. Escape from Aleppo. Simon & Schuster (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). 336pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-48-147217-3.
As Nadia and her family are attempting to escape their war-torn city of Aleppo, another bomb hits, causing Nadia to become separated from her family. Nadia relies on her instincts as well as several strangers as she desperately tries to flee to safety and reunite with her family at the Turkish border. Nadia’s story serves as a harsh reminder of what many people live through every day. Descriptive language such as, “deafening roar” and “muffled footsteps” are used to describe the dangerous and destructive atmosphere. Arabic vocabulary words are included and italicized in the book to teach readers about the Syrian language and culture. As the storyline continues, readers are taken back to scenes in Nadia’s life three years earlier to contrast the differences between Syrian life in 2010 and life in 2013. By including these flashbacks, readers are able to relate with Nadia since her life was very typical of a teenage girl. Because of this, readers are able to understand Nadia’s perspective and think about what their life might have been like if they lived in Syria during a time of war. Based on current events, this novels gives an accurate and honest account of the complex, volatile issues of the Syrian War in 2013. (TLA)
Grant, Michael. 2018. Purple Hearts. HarperCollins (Katherine Tegen Books). 576pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-06-234221-8.
Now on to the third book of the Front Lines trilogy, the three main characters, Rio, Frangie, and Rainy, have undergone complete transformations since their innocent days in book one. It is now June 6th 1944 and the girls have decided to continue fighting for the remainder of World War II. Focused around real events nearing the end of the war, alternate history is created and told through the three main female characters, who are fighting alongside men on the front lines in Europe. Although women would not have been fighting in the front lines of WWII, the remaining events of this story give an accurate portrayal of what happened in 1944: beginning with D-Day and continuing on with Liberated France, the Hürtgen Forest, the Battle of the Bulge, VE Day and the discovery of the concentration camps. Fast paced action will engage young adult readers and have them wondering who will survive after each horror unfolds. The soldiers face death, lice, bullet wounds, splinters, fire wounds, extreme temperatures, trench foot, and many other challenges accurate to the situation and time period. The reader will experience all of these vicariously in stark, honest, and accurate descriptions. Underlying themes of equality for both women and black people are portrayed as the characters face discrimination and segregation. Values such as loyalty, bravery, and resiliency reflect those of real soldiers who fought during the war. Insight into the girls’ thoughts also allows readers to have a firsthand account of what emotional struggles WWII veterans faced. The most prominent of these: loss of hope in humanity and even the loss of memory of what the world once was. Readers will undergo feelings of tension, fear, and empathy as they put themselves in the positions of Rio, Frangie, and Rainy. Although sometimes hard to read, historical fiction fans will appreciate the honest account of the horrors of war without the sugar-coating of events. (TLA)
Giovanni, Nikki. 2018. I am Loved. Simon & Schuster (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-53-440492-2. Illustrated by Ashley Bryan.
This vibrant collection of poems evokes feelings of love and warmth through its energetic and optimistic pages, and was written to build readers up and explore the interconnectedness between generations. While a few poems are tinged with sadness, dealing with aging and loss, the rest of the poems are wistful and optimistic, as they touch on topics of love, nature, humanity, and black ancestry. Metaphors and figurative language such as the verses included in the “Kidnap Poem” will allow readers ages 4-8 to think critically about the text. Readers will be engaged and invited to read along with rhymes such as “But now I’ve the urge/for my spirit to surge/and I shall go of/to sea” as written in the poem, “Paula the Cat.” Rhythmic poems such as, “Do the Rosa Parks” include repetitive lines and syllables such as, “do the rosa parks/say no no/do the rosa parks/throw your hands in the air/do the rosa parks/say…no no/ do the rosa parks/tell them that’s not fair.” These rhythmic verses engage readers and teach them about the power of sitting down to stand up. Bright watercolor paintings fill the pages with colors such as red, yellow, blue, orange, and green, creating a cheerful and light-hearted mood. The abstract shapes and curved lines convey a whimsical feel and reflect the flow and optimistic mood created by the poems. (TLA)
Lear, Edward. 2017. The Pelican Chorus: And Other Nonsense. Simon & Schuster (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-48-147049-0. Illustrated by Fred Marcellino.
This collection of nonsense poems will engage readers from the get-go as they read about the absurd and humorous lives of characters in three different poems. The first poem, titled “The New Vestments,” details the story of a man who builds an outfit made out of bizarre materials such as pancakes, dead mice, chocolate, and cabbage. He faces the issue of humans and other animals eating his outfit, leaving him exposed. Rhyming words such as those included in the verse, “Three kids ate up half of his pancake coat/And the tails were devour’d by an ancient he-goat,” emphasize sound and invite readers to join in. The second poem utilizes both imagery and repetition as readers are taken through the journey of an owl and cat who wish to get married. An example of this is included in the verse, “And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,/ They danced by the light of the moon,/The moon,/The moon.” The descriptive language included in this poem allows readers to see and feel the setting of the story, imagining that they are there with the characters. The last poem, titled, “The Pelican Chorus,” incorporates nonsense words such as “flumpy” and “Ploshkin.” These words provide humor and spontaneity. Repetition is also used in this poem when the birds repeatedly recite the phrase, “Ploffskin, Pluffskin, Pelican jee,/We think no birds so happy as we!/ Plumpskin, Ploshkin, Pelican jill,/We think so then, and we thought so still!” This repetitive phrase encourages young readers to make predictions about the text. Detailed, humorous illustrations support the poems and will draw readers ages 4-8 in as they read these absurd nonsense stories. (TLA)
Fishman, Jon M. 2017. Meet a Baby Koala. Lerner Publishing Group (Lerner Publications). 24pp. $25.32. ISBN 978-1-51-243383-8
Koalas are marsupials living in the forests of Australia. They are born after only thirty five days of gestation. Then, they travel to their mother’s pouch where they stay, nursing and growing, for the next six months. After this, they leave the pouch and begin exploring the outside world. They spend most of their time in trees eating eucalyptus leaves. Koalas in the wild live between thirteen and seventeen years, and they are considered one of Australia’s most beloved animals. Real photographs of koalas are included along with the informational text giving readers an accurate portrayal of the physical characteristics of koalas along with the environments in which they live and grow. Captions next to the images assist in clarifying the text as well as introducing interesting facts about marsupials. Analogies such as the comparison of the size of a newborn koala to a jellybean are used to help youngsters, ages 6-9, understand the size and weight of koalas throughout different developmental stages in their life. The text is organized in chronological order from the time a koala is conceived to the time it leaves its mother to begin a life of its own. This order makes it easy for readers to follow along and understand the life cycle of a koala. A glossary and index are included in the back of the book along with a list of further reading resources to guide students in additional exploration. (TLA)
Strasser, Susanne. 2018. So Light, so Heavy. Charlesbridge Publishing. 22pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-1-58-089849-2.
An elephant and other animal friends want to play on a teeter-totter, but they face one problem: none of the other animals weigh enough to tip the teeter-totter. A variety of animals, including a penguin, monkey, ostrich, giraffe, and hippopotamus, join one another on the end of the teeter-totter in hopes of outweighing the elephant. They hope to make it possible for them to move up and down on the teeter-totter. Youngsters are introduced to concepts of weight and balance as they observe the animals on the teeter-totter. Simple illustrations of the animals on the teeter-totter will help readers visualize abstract concepts such as weight and balance as well as encourage them to make predictions about which animals will outweigh the elephant based on their size. Bright colors such as red, blue, and yellow depict the light and optimistic mood. The tone of the concept picture book is simple and casual with few words on each page, making it a good fit for beginning readers ages 4-6. (TLA)
Rinker, Sherri Duskey. 2017. Big Machines: the Story of Virginia Lee Burton. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 48pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0544715578. Illustrated by John Rocco.
Author and artist Virginia Lee Burton, also known as “Jinnee,” is remembered as graceful and talented. In this tribute to Burton, readers learn the history of Jinnee’s life, as well as information about some of the big machines she illustrated and wrote about.In school she studied art and dance, and later worked as a newspaper artist. Her sons, Aris and Michael, loved big machines. Inspired by their interest and enthusiasm, Jinnee wrote and illustrated numerous books about big machines and dedicated them to her children. Some of these machines included trains, a steam shovel, a tractor, and cable car. For readers unfamiliar with Jinnee’s books, a summary of each is provided and incorporates Aris and Michael’s reactions as they watch their mother bring their favorite machines to life. Elements of wonder and magic are included throughout the book as the author describes Jinnee as a magician who uses her artist tools as wands to create spectacular drawings. The illustrations mimic Burton’s style and convey the magic of creation, as they depict Jinnee drawing a train and physically stepping on its ladder to help her reach the top of the train. Each illustration works to convey a cheerful mood with its bright colors, such as red, yellow, green, and pink. The mostly-white background of each page represents the canvas in which Burton used while “working her magic.” Located in the back of the book is a page providing additional information about Jinnee’s life, in addition to authentic photographs and images of Jinnee and some of her early artwork. Students will learn the history and magical work of Virginia Lee Burton as they read this informative and light-hearted story. (TLA)
Simon, Seymour. 2018. Exoplanets. HarperCollins. 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0062470584.
Planets circling stars outside of our solar system are called exoplanets, thousands of which
are scattered throughout the Milky Way. Scientists are searching for ones with inhabitable
characteristics where life may be found. From page one, readers are fully engaged and prompted to think about life beyond the solar system and the possibility of alien existence. Readers will learn about the technology used to learn more about exoplanets such as
telescopes and radio signals. The author discusses the possibility of life beyond earth objectively, allowing readers to form opinions of their own. Analogies are used to help young readers grasp the idea of how large our universe really is. All-black pages will help readers imagine the solar system and feel as if they are there. Simple text with bolded technical terms is used so readers can look them up in the glossary if necessary. Challenging questions are incorporated to engage readers and prompt them to think critically about life beyond Earth. Large, colorful illustrations and photographs are included to support the text and give students visuals of space and exoplanets. A glossary, index, and a “read more about It” section are included at the end of the book to enhance readers’ understanding of the concepts in the book. (TLA)
Vernick, Audrey. 2018. The Funniest Man in Baseball: the True Story of Max Patkin.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0544813779. Illustrated by Jennifer Bower.
Max Patkin’s childhood dream was to become a major league baseball player and began playing in the minor leagues in hopes of working his way up. During a game, Patkin pitched against superstar player Joe DiMaggio and gave up a home run. While DiMaggio was running the bases, Max ran after him, mimicking the way he ran and making silly faces. The crowd burst into laughter and Max became well known across the country for his humorous antics. After an injury, he was let go from his minor-league team and his dreams of becoming a major-league player slipped away. However, Max continued his career as a “baseball clown,” traveling to baseball games, performing humorous acts, and making the crowds laugh. He retired at age 75 after performing at more than 4,000 games. Patkin met many baseball Hall of Famers throughout his career, including Yogi Berra, Hank Greenberg, and Babe Ruth. Young readers will learn themes of adaptability and perseverance while learning about the obstacles Patkin faced along the way. Balance between accurate historical information and a narrative will engage readers as they learn about Max’s life. Historically accurate illustrations support the text and allow readers to see what baseball uniforms looked like in the 1940s. Bright colors like yellow, blue, red, and green are used to create the book’s optimistic and humorous tone. A bibliography and photographs of Max performing his routine are included at the end of the book to supplement the story. Children will walk away from this story feeling inspired to chase their dreams while remembering to not take life too seriously. (TLA)
Voiland, Adam. 2017. ABC’s from Space: A Discovered Alphabet. Simon and Schuster (Paula Wiseman Books). 40pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-1481494281.
26 satellite images discovered and made public by NASA and other government agencies each hide one letter of the alphabet within its features. Readers must carefully examine each satellite image in order to find the letter hidden in each photograph. Elementary readers will experience cognitive development as they search for the letters and learn more about different geographical features throughout the world. High-quality, colorful photographs engage readers and give them insights on what our world looks like from space. A detailed description of each page is included and explains what each photo represents, what part of the world it’s located in, the type of image used, and the date in which the image was taken. A map of letter locations is included as well in order to show readers where each photograph was taken. An “FAQ” section allows students to learn more about satellite images and the geographical features represented throughout the book. Lastly, an index is located in the very back of the book to aid students in vocabulary development. Readers will enjoy learning about the diversity and beauty of our planet while examining these photographs. (TLA)
Vickers, Elaine. 2017. Paper Chains. HarperCollins. 304pp. $13.59. ISBN 978-0-06-241434-2.
Paper Chains tells the story of a friendship between Ana and Katie, two fifth graders, trying to navigate family, friendship, and school. Ana struggles with living without a father, after her father left to play professional hockey. Ana’s mother becomes very distraught and withdraws herself from the family, leaving Ana as a caretaker for her younger brother. Katie, adopted at a young age, wonders about her birth parents. Katie becomes concerned about how Ana will view her knowing she is adopted. Both girls are afraid to confess their struggles to each other and instead decide to keep secrets. Vickers heart-warming story is a great reminder that families are all unique, and friendships are worth fighting for. Themes prevalent in Paper Chains include friendship, family, and personal growth. (APA)
Kheiriyeh, Rashin. 2018. Saffron Ice Cream. Scholastic Inc. (Arthur A. Levine Books). 40pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-1338150520. Illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh.
Saffron Ice Cream tells the story of Rashin and her first trip to Coney Island. While traveling to Coney Island with her family, Rashin reminisces about trips to the Caspian Sea with her family in Iran. Kheiriyeh makes many cross-cultural comparisons that could be further developed. The playful pictures help to lighten the mood and explain the differences between Iranian and American culture. By the end of the book, Rashin meets a new friend. Saffron Ice Cream lacks plot, and Rashin does not develop as a character. Themes prevalent in the book include friendship and family. (APA)
Rylant, Cynthia. 2017. Henny, Penny, Lenny, Denny, and Mike. Simon & Schuster (Beach Lane Books). 40pp. $14.57. ISBN 978-1-4814-4523-8. Illustrated by Mike Austin.
Henny, Penny, Lenny, Denny, and Mike tells the reader of a thrilling aquarium. Henny,
Penny, Lenny, Denny, and Mike are five “fab” goldfish that meet a young girl one day at a pet shop. She takes them home and put them in a tank. They must share the tank with a goldfish who none of them like. The girl decides to add two more fish, a clownfish and an angelfish; still, no one enjoys the presence of the snail. After the new fish, a castle is added that the fish are intrigued by. Lenny goes to check out the castle and gets stuck in the doorway. The snail, who everyone had ignored, helps to free Lenny by using his suction cups. Once Lenny is free, everyone celebrates the courageous actions of the snail. The illustrations employ vivid and intriguing colors. For example, the orange goldfish provide an energetic contrast with the blue swirls of water and bubbles. The use of purples, greens, and oranges create an animated and appealing story to young audiences. Themes prevalent in Henny, Penny, Lenny, Denny, and Mike include inclusivity, helpfulness, and friendship. (APA)
Wiesner, David. 2018. I Got It! Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). 32pp. $12.45. ISBN 978-0-544-30902-9.
I Got It! is a wordless picture book that illustrates the determination and perseverance required to catch a baseball. A young boy fails many times during a game to catch the ball but does not give up. The use of scale in the illustrations helps to convey the emotion and imagination of catching the ball. For example, the vertical lines of the young boy reaching out and running helps to display to the reader the energy and speed he possesses. By the end of the story, the young boys catches the ball and is praised by his peers. Themes prevalent in I Got It! include dedication, perseverance, and hope. (APA)
Zathen, Jane Breskin. 2018. A Moon for Moe and Mo. Charlesbridge Publishing Inc. 48pp. $17.99. ISBN 9781580897273. Illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini.
Set in Brooklyn, New York, two young boys, Moses Feldman (Moe) and Mohammed Hassan (Mo) are engaged in an interfaith friendship. Both of the boys have different religious backgrounds; Moe is Jewish and Mo is Muslim. Despite their different religious beliefs, the boys have many things in common. After meeting in the supermarket, the two boys become friends. Many weeks passed until the boys could reunite; Moe was preparing for Rosh Hashanah while Mo was preparing for Ramadan, two important holidays in the Jewish and Islamic faith. Finally, the two boys meet in the park one day. The boys convince their moms to have a picnic with both families. Both the families of Moe and Mo unite to have a picnic and share traditional food from Rosh Hashanah and Ramadan. Amini creates comparisons between the two boys with mirrored images. The facial features of both of the boys reveal create parallels between their emotions. Themes prevalent in A Moon for Moe and Mo are friendship, religion, and peace. (APA)
Day, Nancy Raines. 2018. Pirate Jack Gets Dressed. Simon & Schuster (Beach Lane Books). 40pp. $16.67. ISBN 9781481476645. Illustrated by Allison Black.
This story details Pirate Jack getting dressed and ready for the day. Pirate Jack puts on clothing articles corresponding to different colors in the rainbow. Traditional pirate words such as “aye,” “me,” and “ye” are used to create rhyming patterns. Pirate Jack Gets Dressed does not focus on character development or meaningful themes. That being said, Pirate Jack Gets Dressed teach children about colors and common clothing items. Allison Black illustrates with bright bold colors. Curvy lines create a bright and light atmosphere throughout the text. (APA)
Krisher, Trudy. 2018. Bark Park! Simon & Schuster (Beach Lane Books). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1481430760. Illustrated by Brooke Boynton-Hughes.
This story begins with a chihuahua and a great dane anxiously waiting at the front door of their house for their owner to bring them to a neighboring dog park. Once at the park, dogs and their owners enjoy themselves on a sunny day. The story concludes with both dogs and owners going to bed for the night after a busy day at the park. Illustrations of different breeds of dogs as well as humans of different ages, genders, ethnicities, and religions emphasize the joy diversity brings to day at the park. Brief sentences included on each page bring a cheery atmosphere to the story. Bright colors are used sparingly to help bring out certain elements the illustrator wants readers to focus on. This book is a great read and its emphasis on friendship and enjoyment will resonate will dog lovers of all ages. (APA)
Yolen, Jane. 2018. A Bear Sat on My Porch Today. Chronicle Books. 32pp. $12.37. ISBN 978-1452102498. Illustrated by Rilla Alexander.
This pleasant, upbeat story is about animals who sit on the porch of a child’s house. The first visitor is a bear and while the child does not appreciate the animal’s presence, they allow the bear to stay as long as it does not scare their mom. Next, a squirrel joins the bear on the porch. Again, the child is wary of the animal, but allows it to stay. A skunk, a possum with her babies, a raccoon, a moose, and a blue jay all join the bear and squirrel until the porch finally breaks. The animals and the child work as a team to rebuild the porch. In the end, all the animals are welcomed on the porch by the child to relax. The illustrations bring attention to the animals and the child by coloring them and keeping the background bare. Curvy lines and the use of crayon-like artwork bring a whimsical and amusing vibe. Readers of all ages will appreciate the book’s themes of inclusivity, teamwork, and sharing. (APA)
Yolen, Jane (reteller). 2018. Atalanta the Huntress. In Not One Damsel in Distress: Heroic Girls from World Folklore. (pp. 1-10). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). $15.99. ISBN 978-1-32-890020-3. Illustrated by Susan Guevara.
After desperately wishing to be bore a son, King Iasus receives his daughter, Atalanta, instead. Disappointed, he takes the infant into the Calydonian forest and leaves her to die. A mother bear happens upon the abandoned baby and takes Atalanta into her care. After three years with the bear, a hunter discovers Atalanta and adopts her. At the age of 13, her step-parents die, leaving her alone in the forest to face a destructive red-eyed boar. Atalanta goes to King Oeneus for help, who sends warriors into the woods to help fight off the beast in response. However, Atalanta’s knowledge of the forests ultimately leads to the boar’s defeat. After receiving word about the boar hunt, King Iasus invites Atalanta back to the kingdom and asks for forgiveness. Atalanta forgives him and eventually finds the love of her life, Melanion, with his assistance. Themes prevalent in the plot include empowerment and strength, both of which are illustrated by her battle with the boar and her resilience in the face of abandonment and tragedy. (APA)
Henkes, Kevin. 2018. A Parade of Elephants. HarperCollins (Greenwillow Books). 40pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-06-266828-8.
In this appealing book for young readers, five big, colorful elephants parade around the pages in a whimsical manner. The style of the text offers repetition and flow in bold letters, keeping the reader engaged as they learn basic numbers, shapes, and adjectives. Bright and bold pastel colors such as pink, blue, green and yellow are used to depict the elephants behind a basic white background. This allows readers to focus on the elephants’ actions. Because the elephants eventually go to bed at the end of the story, this is a perfect book to read at bedtime. (APA)
Diehl, J.H. 2018. Tiny Infinities. Chronicle Books. 352pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1452163352.
While everything she knows is ripped away from her, Alice’s only places of solace are the swimming pool and the old tent in her backyard. One night, she recognizes the new neighbor’s young daughter standing in the middle of the road as a car speeds towards her. Alice races to the girl and pulls her out of the way just in time. Alice quickly learns that the girl, Piper, is mute. Over the summer Alice forms a bond with Piper aided by her new friend Harriet’s fascination with fireflies. This charming story relates what it is like to feel alone in an ever-changing, uncontrollable world. The characters are simple, yet relatable for many junior high girls who may feel like they are constantly misunderstood by the adults in their lives. The plot is predictable but comforting, as some aspects of Alice’s life are able to return to a sense of equilibrium by the end of the story. While it is may not interest those looking for a more challenging narrative, this book is appropriate for middle school readers in search of an enjoyable story interested in reading for entertainment. (ALB)
Polacco, Patricia. 2017. Remembering Vera. Simon and Schuster (Paula Wiseman Books). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1481442275.
This adorable children’s book retells the true story of a U.S. Coast Guard mascot
and hero, Vera the dog. The author does an impressive job of telling the story and contributing illustrations to bring the characters to life and grant them a general sense of motion. The story always seems to be moving forward as the illustrations give motion to the boats, humans, and animals depicted. A fascinating story for young children, this book shares a commonly forgotten piece of history in new, vivid detail. (ALB)
Beebe, Katy. 2018. Good Morning, Harry Good Night, Daddy. WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). 40pp. $17.00. ISBN 978-0802854506. Illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev.
In this story, a young boy named Henry lives with his mother, his Gran, his baby brother, and his father, who works nights as a train conductor. The boy spends most of his time with Gran and his mother. His emotional bond with them is displayed by a white glow that surrounds these characters on each page of the book. The soft pastel colors of orange, yellow, and gold give a feeling of safety and warmth Harry feels even when his dad is at work. These colors are in contrast with the dark blues, greys, and greens on the pages depicting the father at work as the train rides through woods, mountains, and valleys. These colors give the impression that he is in a much less desirable place than the rest of his family. His desire to return to his family seems to promotes the story’s emphasis on strong family bonds. Many whimsical shapes help the reader identify the relaxed atmosphere of the story while the father is at work and when the rest of the family is at home. The story has a simple plot with very little character development, but its soothing illustrations and lack of intense conflict make this an appropriate bedtime story for young children. (ALB)
Joyce, William. 1996. The Leaf Men: and the Brave Good Bugs. Simon & Schuster (Atheneum Books for Young Readers). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-4814-8955-3.
From the beginning, it is abundantly clear this is a story intends to take the reader on an adventure. It opens with an old woman and two children in her garden as she tries to recall the details of a childhood story. Soon, she falls ill and can no longer care for her beautiful garden and the reader is transported to another world where vibrant bug characters are attempting to save the dying greenery. The Doodlebug Guild bravely volunteers to climb to the top of the tallest tree to call for the Leaf Men to come save the garden. On their way up, the doodlebugs must endure a storm and an attack by the evil Spider Queen. Thankfully, one doodlebug escapes and makes it to the top of the tallest tree to call for the Leaf Men. They arrive quickly to save the rest of the Doodlebug Guild and defeat the Spider Queen, saving the garden in the process. The plot of this story is heavily supported by the captivating illustrations. The realistic drawings bring life to the characters and the vividness of the setting in the garden. The greens of the plants pull the reader into the world of the bugs in the story. The lack of hard or harsh lines and organic shapes add to the realistic feelings of the illustrations. The plot weaves together multiple conflicts at a time seamlessly. This book brings all the fantasies and musings of young children to life and parents and teachers who wish to strengthen children's’ imaginations should consider reading sharing this story with the young people in their lives. (ALB)
Wright, Kenneth. 2018. Lola Dutch. Bloomsburry Publishing (Bloomsburry USA Children’s Books). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1681193. Illustrated by Sarah Jane Wright.
Like many people, Lola Dutch begins her day with breakfast and ends it with bedtime. However, Lola also starts her day by greeting her whimsical friends, Gator, Pig, Crane, and Bear before heading to the kitchen to make something special for breakfast. It is easy to get a sense of Lola’s vast imagination when she is shown in the kitchen because of the vibrant yellow, green, and pink colors used. The lack of hard lines or edges add to the light-heartedness of the illustrations throughout the book. As the plot builds, the reader gets a sense for the different personalities of the several characters. Lola is leader of the group who decides where they will go and what they will do, while Gator, Pig, and Crane happily follow along. However, Bear seems to be a parental figure who helps Lola carry out her ideas while keeping the rest of group together and safe. Young readers will find themselves captivated by Lola’s imaginative adventures and may even want to create their own. (ALB)
Agee, Jon. 2018. The wall in the middle of the book. Penguin Random House LLC (Dial Books for Young Readers). 48pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0525555452.
At the beginning of this tale, a young knight explains the wall in the middle of the book is for protection from the wild animals and the ogre on the other side. After the knight’s side of the wall floods, he is saved by none other than the scary ogre himself, who turns out to be kind and friendly. Intermediate readers will appreciate the story’s simple, easy to pronounce vocabulary and will quickly pick up on the story’s emphasis on remaining open-minded. Colorful watercolor characters like the orange tiger, grey rhino, and green ogre catch the reader’s eye, especially in contrast to the red of the brick wall. While there are not many solid lines in the illustrations, the wall itself is a clear divide between the knight and what he believes to be the evil lurking on the other side. Children building their confidence as independent readers may enjoy reading this for pleasure or before bedtime. (ALB)
Dobner, Rory. 2018. The ink house. Laurence King Publishing. 64pp. $19.99. ISBN 978-1786270771. Illustrated by Rory Dobner.
This enchanting tale centers on Ink House, a mansion that houses a reservoir of ink in the basement for artists and writers to use for their work. When its owner floats away his annual hot air balloon trip, woodland creatures arrive for a celebration.All animals create works of art, poems, songs, and other literary forms with the ink. When the animals see the hot air balloon return, they abandon the mansion until the owner’s next trip. Despite the minimal use of color, the illustrations feature many different patterns and textures readers will find visually appealing. Each page is different and effectively uses simple lines to create intriguing images. Different artistic techniques such as cross-hatching create layers, shadows, contrast and emotional depth. Adults and children alike will enjoy this creative, engaging story before bedtime. (ALB)
Greene, Rhonda Gowler. 2018. Let’s go ABC! things that go, from A-Z. Bloomsbury Publishing (Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books). 40pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0802735096. Illustrated by Daniel Kirk.
Different modes of transportation and their corresponding letter of the alphabet are featured in this alphabet concept book. Vibrant colors like red, blue, orange, and green instantly draw readers to these glossy illustrations. The story’s focus on transportation will keep children interested in cars, train, planes and many other modes of transport engaged while they learn their letters. Young children will enjoy guessing what each letter stands for and the book’s first person perspective allows the reader to feel as if they are personally involved these different modes of transportation. This book is perfect easy read for children eager to learn their ABCs. (ALB)
Mahin, Michael. 2018. Stalebread Charlie and the razzy dazzy spasm band. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-54-794201-8. Illustrated by Don Tate.
Music is a universal language all human beings can understand and use as an outlet for creativity, but for Stalebread Charlie and his band, music is necessary for their survival. In New Orleans in 1895, Charlie and his friend Warm Gravy tire of stealing and decide to create a spasm band to earn a living. The pair recruit other homeless children and orphans for the group and make instruments out of garbage they find on the street. Their style of jazz music becomes wildly popular and make enough money to feed everyone in the band. Bright greens and blues featured in illustrations of the main characters make them easy to identify against the subdued, earth tone backgrounds. Musical sounds add texture to the illustrations and are denoted by curved lines and extra splashes of bold pinks and yellows. These playful drawings contribute to the story’s focus on imagination and creativity. Children ages 4-7 will enjoy this tale, but elementary classrooms studying the origins of different varieties of cultural music in the United States may find value in it as well. (ALB)
Yolen, Jane (reteller). 2018. Nana Miriam. In Not one damsel in distress: heroic girls from world folklore. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). $15.99. ISBN 978-1-32-890020-3. Illustrated by Susan Guevara.
When a monstrous hippopotamus begins to terrorize villages up and down the Niger River, communities send their best hunters to kill the beast. After all of these hunters fail, only Nana Miriam and her secret magic powers remain as the area’s last hope. Nana Miriam is a strong, intelligent girl who is celebrated for her strength. One illustration accompanies the text, and it depicts Nana Miriam defeating the hippopotamus while wearing a feminine dress with traditional prints. This is an empowering storying for young girls who may be in search of positive images of strong female leaders. (ALB)
Donald, Alison. 2018. The new liBEARian. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-54-497365-7. Illustrated by Alex Willmore.
Alison Donald’s The New LiBEARian is an imaginative and colorful story about a class whose librarian goes missing, only to be replaced by a bear. The elaborate illustrations prompt readers to observe closely, as the pictures descriptively show the story taking place. As the book progresses, students are given chances to hypothesize, with help from clues about the plot and characters in the text. Overall, Donald’s The New LiBEARian is an exciting and magical story, which focuses on cognitive development with its readers. Additionally, there are moments within The New LiBEARian to encourage personality and social development. The students in Donald’s work are troubled when their librarian goes missing. Thus, their emotions and behaviors present readers with a model of appropriate classroom demeanor, despite the challenge they had encountered. (ERB)
Crum, Shutta. 2017. Mouseling’s Words. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-54-430216-7. Illustrated by Ryan O’Rourke.
A story with a surprising ending is precisely what Shutta Crum’s Mouseling’s Words provides its readers. Mouseling’s Words presents numerous opportunities for language development for readers, as there are several instances to practice complex vocabulary words with one’s class. Crum’s work also promotes personality development, as the main character, the mouse, goes through a life-changing transition when exposed to the real world, overcoming personal barriers. The surprise ending is a time for readers to undergo social development, considering an unexpected friendship forms between the mouse and the cat. Cognitive development is also prompted by the illustrations, such as comparing the mouse’s experiences and emotions to the reader’s, hypothesizing what could potentially happen next in the story, or even summarizing the book as a whole. (ERB)
Sonnenblick, Jordan. 2017. The secret sheriff of sixth grade. Scholastic (Scholastic Press). 208pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-54-586320-9.
Educators looking for a longer read-aloud to empowers students should checkout Jordan Sonnenblick’s The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade. The person versus person conflict, which occurs throughout the book, revolves around a sixth grade boy who is passionate about making a difference in his life and in his school. The story is told from the young boy’s perspective, which gives readers a personal connection to his experiences and the decisions he makes. Developing characterization of the main character gives readers opportunities to reflect and overcome their own challenges. The book does touch on issues such as alcoholism and bullying, these are realistic topics students may be encountering inside and outside of school, and must be addressed sooner, rather than later. (ERB)
Barton, Chris. 2017. Book or bell? Bloomsbury Publishing (Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books). 40pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-68-119729-6. Illustrated by Ashley Spires.
A children’s book with a sequential order of events and an abstract antagonist is exactly what Chris Barton’s Book or Bell? is for classroom libraries. The beginning consists of character introductions, the middle consists of the climax, and the end consists of the resolution, which are all parts of well-rounded story. The main character wants to finish this impeccable book he has come across, but continues to be interrupted by the school bell. The setting in Barton’s book acts as the antagonist because the environment at the school and the loud ringing bell are causing problems for the students and the teachers. The illustrations further portray the emotions and feelings of the characters. Later, when the week reaches Saturday, the characters finally find peace and are able to enjoy themselves. (ERB)
Hooks, Bell. 2017. Grump groan growl. Disney (Disney-Hyperion). 40pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-1-36-800782-5. Illustrated by Chris Raschka.
For elementary teachers looking for a book recognizing negative feelings and moods as valid expressions, Bell Hooks’ book is the answer. The use of line and color should also be a deciding factor for classroom libraries. Not only does the book accept all types of moods, but it encourages readers to move forward with life through the colorful and abstract illustrations by Chris Raschka. The author’s use of line expresses the cycling motion and energy of students who find themselves in moods of negativity. Raschka does this by rapid, black brush strokes. His use of watercolors conveys the calmness children find when coping. This creates interactive, visual effects for the audience. Overall, the art throughout this children’s book is vibrant and brings outstanding visual aspects to communicate the main theme throughout the book. (ERB)
Tourville, Jacqueline and Amy Guglielmo. 2017. Pocket full of colors: The magical world of Mary Blair, Disney artist extraordinaire. Simon & Schuster (Atheneum Books for Young Readers). 48pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-48-146131-3. Illustrated by Brigette Barrager.
This is a children’s book that overflows with vibrant colors and endless adventures. The book describes a young girl who is mesmerized by all the different colors in the world and her journey in exploring and uncovering them. The colors used in the book communicate the energy and excitement of the main character, Mary, along with the struggles she encounters. The text further explains each color Mary comes across. The illustrations expose the colors in full for readers to see. This book is a wild whirlwind, which entices audience members by vivid uses of color and Mary Blair’s extraordinary life story. (ERB)
Greenawalt, Kelly. 2017. Princess Truly in I am Truly. Scholastic Inc. (Orchard Books). 40pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-94-380604-1. Illustrated by Amariah Rauscher.
Every classroom library needs a children’s picture book to inspire youth to embrace their uniqueness and enjoy life. This story book encourages readers to use their imagination and accept their quirkiness. For example, Truly, a young girl and the main character, embraces her love for frogs and being a dinosaur trainer. Children will get a laugh from Truly’s interests and voice throughout the story, as it is bubbly and wild. Rhyming keeps students actively engaged with the text, while practicing sight words and common vocabulary words of elementary aged students. This book is supportive in emotional and social development, as it inspires children to be their true self. (ERB)
Lodding, Linda Ravin. 2017. Little Red Riding Sheep. Simon & Schuster (Atheneum Books for Young Readers). 40pp. $17.09. ISBN 978-1-48-145748-4. Illustrated by Cale Atkinson.
Children enjoy story books with talking animals, especially entertaining ones. This book echoes the traditional “Little Red Riding Hood” story, but the main character is a sheep. This is not any sheep though, this sheep likes to argue with the author and change the story to tailor the storyline to its own interests and opinions. Readers are intrigued by the disagreeing sheep, along with the twisting and surprising plot. The illustrations are full of bright colors; for example, yellow trees and purple bushes engage children in a new version of the classic story. The dialogue between the sheep and author brings giggles and smiles to audience members, as characters bicker back and forth. (ERB)
Denchars, Marion. 2018. Bob’s Blue Period. Laurence King Publishing. 32pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1786270702.
Children enjoy books with talking animals because the plots are memorable and relatable. Two friends, Bob and Bat, are separated for the first time. When Bat goes away, Bob becomes very sad. He uses the color blue for everything he paints, because he is so sad. The use of line and texture make this book different from other children books. The illustrator mimics the texture of a fingerprint for the head of each character. Crayola markers are used for each line. Because Bob overuses the color blue, his friends decide to take him to a sunrise where he can be exposed to other colors. He is enlightened and instantly adopts reds, oranges, yellows, purples, and greens into his paintings. Finally, he is reconnected with his friend, Bat. Children will find this book interesting because the animal characters have human-like characteristics. Also, the illustrations are unique in their use of color, line, and texture. (ERB)
Anderson, John David. 2018. Granted. HarperCollins Publishers (Walden Pond Press). 336pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0062643865.
According to Norton (2011), young adults are interested in stories about non-human characters that challenge their understanding of reality. Ophelia is a fairy and is given her first assignment she must complete: granting a wish to a human. She sets out in search of a female child, hoping to give her a new bicycle. However, Ophelia ends up on a path different than the one she planned and meets a dog named Sam. Adventure after adventure, Ophelia and Sam become friends and travel companions. During this time, Ophelia goes through a period of self-discovery as she contemplates what is right and what is wrong. Imaginative young adults will enjoy this story of magic, adventure, friendship, and love. (ERB)
Charles, Tami. 2018. Like Vanessa. Charlesbridge. 288pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1580897778. Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton.
Many youth enjoy historical fiction. Self-discovery in the modern world is a common theme and is easy for students to relate whatever the time period. Vanessa is an African-American girl in middle school who is struggling to find herself. She has a hard time accepting not only her skin and her body, but also her family; Vanessa’s grandfather struggles with addiction and her mother is not a part of her life. In 1984, Vanessa Williams becomes the first ever black woman to win the Miss America Beauty Pageant. Vanessa’s school decides to put on a beauty pageant of their own. Convinced by her teacher, Vanessa enters. In order to follow her dreams, Vanessa learns to love herself, as well as confront the neighborhood bully. She eventually figures out that her worth is much more than the scores she earns and the talent she possesses. Vanessa is able to follow her dreams and discover herself with the help of family, friends and teachers. Readers are pulled into this story about the identity of a young African American girl. This moving story can be used with any youth who have lost touch with who they are or are unsure of who they can become. (ERB)
Tolan, Stephanie & Tolan R.J. 2017. Applewhites Coast to Coast. HarperCollins (HarperCollins Children’s Books). 320pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0062133205.
Young readers are drawn to contemporary realistic fiction books for the adventures and the connection to the real world around them. Jake and E.D., two young homeschoolers, join Jeremy in a road trip competition from coast to coast; they’re on an educational expedition, in hopes of winning the big prize. Jeremy’s niece, Melody, comes along for the ride and her rebellious ways catch Jake’s attention; their chances at winning the big prize is threatened by Melody’s wild and crazy behavior. From pit stop to pit stop, the group experiences once in a lifetime events, including fainting goats, cockroach infestations, and stolen cars. Readers will love this engaging and entertaining chapter book for its unique plot and kind-hearted humor. Many readers may relate the story to their own experiences on roadtrips. This is a story of teamwork and determination that will have young adults wanting to read more. (ERB)
VanDerwater, Amy Ludwig. 2018. With my hands: Poems about making things. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0544313408. Illustrated by Lou Fancher & Steve Johnson.
One of the values of poetry for young children is that it can teach them about concepts around the world; in this case, using one’s hands to make things. Poetry also helps students identify and express themselves. Poems about common activities children do with their hands allow students to connect with the text. The poems keep children engaged because of the repeated use of rhyme and unique activities described in each one. Children are able to connect the poems to his or her own experiences. Imagery such as baking cookies, soap carving, and building forts engages readers. Children are able to imagine what those activities look, feel, taste, smell, and sound like. Students are excited to turn the page and think back on memories through these poems. (ERB)
Weatherford, Carole Boston. 2017. In your hands. Simon & Schuster (Atheneum Books for Young Readers). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1481462938. Illustrated by Brian Pinkney.
Parents cherish the moments in which they are able to witness their child growing up. Letting children know how much they mean to their parents is challenging. Children have a difficult time grasping the precious nature of their own childhood memories. Nevertheless, young students will enjoy this book that depicts the love and care an African American mother has for her son. With the help of large, colorful texts, and realistic sketches, this book is written as a prayer; this structure takes the connection and relationship of the mother and child to a more spiritual and emotional level. Youth will enjoy looking back at their childhood and reminiscing with their caregivers, family, and friends. (ERB)
Montgomery, Sy. 2017. Amazon adventure: How tiny fish are saving the world's largest rainforest. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 80pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0544352995. Photographs by Keith Ellenbogen.
Non-fiction books must be accurate and organized all while appealing to children’s curiosity of the natural world. Tiny fish saving the world’s largest rainforest is a mind-blowing concept not only for young children, but for adults as well. The Amazon Rainforest experiences a wet and dry season. During the dry season, piabeiros, or fisherman, work quickly to rescue the fish because the river levels drop dramatically. The fish are kept away from a changing river during this time period. The Amazon River contains toxic chemicals and water levels change on the daily during the dry season. Readers learn the importance of these fish to the Amazon River; they help with preservation of the rainforest and the river, which provides oxygen to the rest of the world. Children will also read about how each species of fish plays a part in the communities along the river. For example, people from villages put on festivals to honor the fish and their part in the cycle of life. The table of contents provides quick navigation for readers who are looking for a specific topic, and the index gives readers the chance to navigate the book by concept and/or keyword as well. Readers are provided with web resources for more information, as well as a bibliography to support any part of the reading and/or facts provided. The book is engaging and realistic in that it covers a mind-boggling current topic. The photographs will capture the reader’s eye and interest. (ERB)
Burns, Loree Griffin. 2017. Life on Surtsey: Iceland’s upstart island. Houghton Mifflin Publishing Company (HMH Books for Young Readers). 80pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0544687233.
Children are intrigued by the phenomenon of the natural world and non-fiction books can stimulate interest and are an easy tool for students to reference if needed. The accuracy of the information must also be taken into account. The island of Surtsey formed after a volcano unexpectedly exploded under the sea. Readers learn about the wildlife on the island and what research is being done by scientists as a result. Researchers are observing the birds and insects living on the island and scientists are examining how the land and life have changed over time. The table of contents provides easy navigation for readers who are looking for a specific aspect of the island, and the index gives readers the chance to navigate the book by concept and/or keyword. Readers are also provided with resources for more information, as well as a bibliography. Young adults will appreciate this book for the raw and natural material it contains; it even includes real life photographs. It will interest the nature lovers in the classroom, but also sparks curiosity in the students who are beginning to appreciate the sciences. (ERB)
Wittenstein, Barry. 2018. The Boo-Boos That Changed the World: A True Story About an Accidental Invention (Really!). Charlesbridge. 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1580897457. Illustrated by Chris Hsu.
The “true story” of the invention of the Band-Aid has readers curious about what really happened, and provides information about the origin of the everyday object. Readers would not expect that the creation of the Band-Aid started in the kitchen of Earle and Josephine Dickson in 1917. The book recounts how Josephine was an accident prone wife and constantly had boo-boos from using sharp cooking utensils. Her husband, Earle, decided to fix that by making a sticky bandage out of tape and gauze, thus creating the Band-Aid. The young couple took their idea to Earle’s boss, and soon enough Band-Aids started to appear around the world. More and more people were able to take care of their boo-boos because of Earle and Josephine Dickson’s idea. The illustrations complement the story, revealing, scene by scene, the process the Dickson couple went through in designing the product. Students connect with the pictures that portray the everyday life of the people in 1917, and can easily relate to the need of bandaging a scrape or cut. At the end of the book, the author’s note provides readers with more information about the innovative couple and their invention of the Band-Aid, as well as a timeline with specific details and dates. A list of resources is also included so readers are able to read more about the Band-Aid and other medical inventions. (ERB)
Sayre, April Pulley and Jeff. 2018. Warbler Wave. Simon & Schuster (Beach Lane Books). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1481448291. Photographs by April Pulley Sayre.
Children enjoy reading informational books with pictures that bring the topic to life and into the classroom. Students enjoy experiencing something they would normally not be able to; for example, seeing a warbler up close. The illustrations are enlarged to cover the entire page which encourages reader engagement. This design and layout allows the pages to come to life; readers feel like they could touch the wings of a warbler and the leaves of a tree. The images of nature are vibrantly green, and the warblers bright yellow, which catches the eyes of students. Rhyming occurs throughout the text, aiding students’ language development and improving engagement. Children are taken on a visual tour through nature, which encourages them to be curious about the outdoors, use their imagination, and learn of the wildlife surrounding them. At the end of the book, there are several pages with additional information about warbler migration. A list of resources reinforces the credibility of the information and provides students with texts to explore and learn more about birds. (ERB)
McCarthy, Meghan. 2018. All That Trash: The Story of the 1987 Garbage Barge and Our Problem with Stuff. Simon & Schuster (Paula Wiseman Books). 48pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1481477529. Illustrated by Meghan McCarthy.
Children are interested in random and unique informational topics, such as the nation’s
fluctuating garbage problem. Readers are also drawn to books that they can relate to their own daily life; in this case, how much trash they produce in a day. In 1987, excessive amounts of garbage were flooding the country. To fix this devastating problem, waste contractors loaded a barge, the Break of Dawn, with 3,186 tons of New York’s trash and set it out into the ocean. The state hoped to dump the garbage in another state. Students learn that no other states wanted to take the trash off of their hands, not North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, or Louisiana. The barge even traveled to Mexico, Belize, and the Bahamas, but nobody would take the garbage. Can children blame them for refusing to help? In the end, New York decided to burn the trash into 400 tons of ash. Cartoon-like illustrations are enjoyed by readers, as they keep children connected to the text. Children are more likely to be engaged when they looking at familiar forms of media they prefer, like Saturday morning cartoons. At the end of the book, more information is provided about the Break of Dawn with specific details about its journey, as well as garbage and recycling facts, and a bibliography. (ERB)
Hartfield, Claire. 2018. A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). 208pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0544785137.
Youth are interested in period specific nonfiction texts. In the case of this book, children will feel a deeper connection while reading because the physical evidence helps them visualize the story. The Chicago Race Riot is a controversial topic in classrooms because of the violent conflict. However, that does not mean racial injustice should not be addressed in the classroom. Informational children’s books can introduce them o controversial topics, while still remaining appropriate. The table of contents provides a layout of the events before and after the riot. The text includes the migration of African Americans to the North, the death of Eugene Williams, and President Woodrow Wilson’s reaction to city-wide uprisings. Children read about the many lives impacted by racial inequality, most of which resulted in bloodshed. Black and white photographs from the time period deepen readers’ understanding and build on their knowledge of the Chicago Race Riot of 1919. Although it is a lengthy, the text is well supported with evidence from newspapers, journals, speeches, interviews, and other sources. A bibliography is included at the end of the text, as well as additional notes and an index for efficient navigation of the people and events of the Chicago Race Riot of 1919. (ERB)
Krull, Kathleen. 2018. No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. HarperCollins. 48pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0062560117. Illustrated by Nancy Zhang.
Children enjoy autobiographies because it teaches them about important people and their various contributions to society. The story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is about her fight for fairness. As a child, she strived to be the best, in a time when girls were often considered inferior to boys. After her mother died, Ruth devoted her life to fulfilling her mother’s dreams for equality. Ruth went to college and eventually, after experiencing mistreatment as a woman and as a human, she became a member of the U.S. Supreme Court. Her story teaches readers about being fearless and fighting for what is right, especially in world full of wrongdoing. It is about achieving one’s dreams, despite the challenges he or she may face. Students are inspired by Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s actions of supporting and promoting equality for both men and women. The large, colorful illustrations help convey Ruth’s bravery and the positive impact her actions had on the nation. A list of resources is included at the end of the book for more information, as well as a detailed timeline with specifics of Ruth’s life. (ERB)
Pinkney, Andrea Davis. 2018. Martin Rising: Requiem For a King. Scholastic Inc. (Scholastic Press). 128pp. $19.99. ISBN 978-0545702539. Illustrated by Brian Pinkney.
Students enjoy this compilation of poems because it commemorates one of the most influential leaders of America, Martin Luther King. Jr. The illustrations convey the lasting impacts he had on the nation, and its actions towards justice. The illustrator’s use of color and line exemplify the visions and emotions of Martin Luther King Jr. and his supporters. The most striking images include the illustrator’s use of deep blues for sadness and worry, and harsh line use for anger and frustration. The abstractness of the illustrations prompt children to use their imagination and connect with the text. Readers learn about Martin Luther King Jr.’s desire for peaceful activism and his dream of creating a nation that values equality for all its people. The poems reflect Martin Luther King Jr.’s last months alive, including some of the moments that prove most impactful and emotional. The heartfelt and endearing poems honor the courageous leader and the influence he had on America’s citizens. At the end of the book, there are reflections from both the author and artist, as well as a detailed timeline about the life of Martin Luther King Jr. Students will also find real photographs of Martin Luther King Jr. and important historical events during that time as well as a list of sources for more information. (ERB)
Dewdney, Anna & Duncan, Reed. 2018. Llama Llama Loves to Read. Penguin Random House LLC (Viking Books for Young Readers). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-67-001397-5. Illustrated by JT Morrow.
For readers as early as two, this children’s book encourages learners at the beginning of their journey. Its theme of personal development begins when Llama llama starts counting, writing, reading, and next continues on to learn about letters, words, sentences, and stories. Llama’s knowledge continuously builds so near the end of the story rather than learning to read he is reading to learn classroom directions. This piece of literature is tastefully written with creative rhymes as well as lively animals in the classroom on every page. (JSC)
Stoddard, Lindsey. 2018. Just Like Jackie. HarperCollins. 256pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-265291-1.
Robbie is a lovable fifth grader who struggles to manage her anger. She forms her own identify despite not knowing any of her roots or her family background. This story takes place in Vermont where Robbie and her grandpa live alone near the woods and seasonally tap sugar maples for sap. This setting provides many metaphors for trees and people. While in school she occasionally loses her temper and is put in Group Guidance with Oscar, Candace, and the school bully Alex Carter. Robbie later finds out that each of these students is fighting their own battles, some of which include issues with siblings, divorce, and cancer. The Group Guidance teacher, Ms. Gloria, even has her own family struggles. Alex Carter develops as a character and invokes a sweetness and sense of compassion in Robbie. Once Robbie learns how to empathize with him, her whole school experience improves. Just like Jackie is written with life lessons that emphasize the importance of family and friends. (JSC)
Buquet, Jean-Luc. 2018. Herodotus the Hedgehog. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing
Company (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). 52pp. $17.00. ISBN 978-0-8028-5498-8.
Readers, four to eight, may discover a new curiosity towards the diversity of the surrounding environment as they follow Herodotus, the hedgehog, wandering through the forest asking other animals about their spirituality. Herodotus started his wandering because he heard a bear calling to his Great Spirit. Afterwards, Herodotus starts to question the spirituality of other animals. He seeks out the wise hedgehog, Venerable, to ask him if there is a Great Spirit Hedgehog. Venerable tells Herodotus the one thing the hedgehogs know is that the sun rises and sets. The calming earthy greens of the trees, grasses and hills are soothing to the readers as they process this abstract concept of religion. Readers will observe minimal applications of warm colors throughout which include the pink background of the sheep, the head of the hoopoe, and the rich orange sun on the last page. Both the sheep and the hoopoe had encouraging faiths of appreciating the other animals in the gardens, meadows, and hills in the story. Line is used to portray a calming mood. For instance, the curvy lines of the trees in addition to the horizontal landscape, rather than abrupt straight vertical lines, has a soothing effect on the readers. On the last page of the text, light is used to complement the brilliant white of the hedgehogs as they watch the warm sun set, and the bright white moonrise. Emphasized by the use of light in addition to the warm colors, readers will appreciate the theme of the importance of respecting the beliefs of others, and caring for them as well, just like the sheep, hoopoe, and hedgehogs. (JSC)
Long, Loren. 2018. There’s a Hole in the Log on the Bottom of the Lake. Philomel
Books. 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-399-16399-9.
Readers will sing along to this classic children’s song with its whimsical mood. In this
variation, there are two commentators, a snail and turtle, who add comical interjections.
These two recognize the chaos of the lake bottom without letting it interfere in the song. The plot begins with a simple log on the bottom of the lake, then as animals stack onto the log, the illustrations become busier as the text becomes lengthier with the tuneful repetitive style of song. A school of fish fills the pages as the story progresses; the fish are a warm orange that adds to the playfulness as well as the joyful mood of the book. Many of the colors in the book are earthy greens, browns and natural colors that match the setting of the bottom of the lake. The soft lines of the weeds at the bottom of the lake are consistent throughout the plot, showing movement to match the lyrics of the song. Children will likely giggle and smile after they finish reading or singing the song enhanced by whimsical illustrations. (JSC)
Vecchini, Silvia. 2018. Phone Call with a Fish. Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Co (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). 48pp. $17.00. ISBN 978-0-8028-5510-7. Illustrated by Sualzo.
Young readers will be enchanted by the mystery of the boy who never talks. He always sits close to the window, and wears a horizontal striped shirt, which shows his calm and quiet demeanor. There is one girl particularly curious about this boy’s disposition. Talking is a vital part of her personality, which she compares to breathing; she does not understand how he can be so quiet. The theme of diversity is instrumental to the message. As the girl tries being quiet like this peculiar boy, she learns about personal development and identity, another important subject. She learns more about this quiet classmate when the class takes a field trip to the science museum. The setting of the school is illustrated with neutral greens, blues, and yellows until the setting changes in the museum where there are rosy pinks and vibrant blues. The colors of the museum create a mystical affect as many exhibits in the museum amaze the curious girl. There was one in particular that really excited her. It was a fish tank with a phone inside where she listened to the phones mysterious and beautiful sounds that came from the silence of the water. A sign explained that fish are not mute; instead, they send messages of danger and love. She immediately took the hand of her quiet classmate to show him this exhibit and decided that he is a fish, with messages of his own. Readers will have the opportunity to expand their imaginations while reading, and may find a new desire to pair up with an unlikely friend and see what secret messages they may send. (JSC)
Lai, Trevor. 2018. Piggy Let’s Be Friends! Bloomsbury Publishing (Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-68119-068-6.
Piggy is an adventurous critter in the forest who wants to be friends with everyone. He has glasses and overalls that are a brilliant red. Details of his home including the door and curtains are also bright right, which shows the warmth of his home above ground. Piggy soon encounters a mole, Miles, who is very reserved, but also lonely without any friends that live with him underground. Miles wears shades of purple, along with having rugs, candles, and books that are also purple. This is significant because this cool color matches the underground setting of Miles’ home. Every time Miles gets nervous he sneezes, so after any interaction with Piggy he anxiously leaves because of his sneezing. Piggy and his friends make it their mission to make Miles feel included in their friendship, so they invite him to their tea party. Once Miles shows up to the party, he gets nervous, sneezes, and then drops a cake he worked hard to make on top of himself. He is laughed at, and very embarrassed. After he retreats to his lonely home underground, his new friends show up and have their first underground tea party altogether. The theme of friendship is seen in Piggy’s perseverance and determination to be Miles’ friend. Young readers will be encouraged to develop socially, learning the value of identity and belonging to a group. (JSC)
Kolb, Andrew. 2017. Les & Ronnie Step Out. Penguin Random House LLC (Nancy Paulsen Books). 40pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-54619-8.
The playfully patterned illustrations paired with vibrant colors will have readers admiring every page. Les and Ronnie are two extremely different personified feet who do not agree on anything, especially their fashion sense. Les is very cautious just like his style, shown through his consistent neutral and earthy colors. Ronnie wears energetic reds and lively greens to match his love of trying new activities such as dancing, which disgusts Les. While the colors catch the readers’ eyes throughout, the illustrations are also enhanced by the use of lines. Most of the lines are horizontal to balance out the excitement of the dynamic use of colors. Although, when any dancing occurs, there are chaotic diagonal lines and shapes to showcase the disorganized setting. This is just how Ronnie likes to live life: with a little spontaneity. Les and Ronnie’s differences seem very problematic, until Ronnie sprains his ankle and has to get himself wrapped. With this injury he can not dance or try new things, so his dulled attitude matches his dreary color scheme of a plain white wrapped foot. Les enjoys this peaceful time when he has greater opportunity to do some of his favorite activities that are less exhilarating for Ronnie. Once Les notices Ronnie is feeling down, he tries to cheer him up. Nothing seems to work, until Les gets the idea to try on one of Ronnie’s fun patterned shoes and dance. Ronnie is stunned that Les has stepped so far outside his comfort zone and he cheers up right away. Ronnie could not wait to dance with Les once the sprain healed. Themes in this book encourage readers to develop socially by getting along with a group and accommodating personal preferences. Les learned to put his injured friend’s needs above of his own to cheer up Ronnie. Just like Les, readers will learn that when they go outside their comfort zone, it may feel silly at first but the outcome of trying a new activity is very rewarding; they may even find a new favorite hobby. (JSC)
Horowitz, Dave. 2018. Never Satisfied: The Story of the Stonecutter. Penguin Random House LLC (Nancy Paulsen Books). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-54846-8.
Young readers will relate to Stanley the stone cutting frog who consistently wishes for a bigger and better life than his own. Stanley has a hard time making a living cutting stones, so he wishes to be a businessman, then a king, next the sun, and the list goes on until Stanley is a stone, bringing his journey to a full circle. Readers will recognize Stanley as he moves onto the next personified character with his consistent bright white frog eyes. The frequent use of lively greens, vibrant reds, and brilliant blues give energy to the pages as Stanley still is not satisfied by any lifestyle. The effect of the construction paper illustrations encourages readers to relate to Stanley, because its simplicity inspires the young audience to start their own construction paper designs as well. Stanley’s quest for a better lifestyle will encourage readers to develop socially by exploring their own identity and learning that maybe it is not so bad to be yourself. (JSC)
Wallis, Quvenzhané. 2017. A night out with mama. Simon & Schuster (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-5880-1. Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton.
Actresses like trying their hand at other crafts; some sing, dance, or cook, and some, like Quvenzhané Wallis, write children’s books. Wallis, known as the youngest individual ever nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress, relates her experience of her first awards show. She details the excitement of the event that comes with new shoes, a fancy dress, and even a professional hair stylist. The evening becomes a special night full of smiles and ice cream with her mother. Aspiring thespians will enjoy this glimpse into a world of Hollywood glamour and will appreciate the family values emphasized in the book. (KAC)
Parks, Tiffany. 2018. Midnight in the piazza. HarperCollins. 304pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-264452-7. Illustrated by Becca Stadtlander.
Thirteen-year-old Beatrice Archer is forced to leave Boston when her father, a historian, takes a new job across the globe in Rome. Though she is reluctant to move, upon her arrival, Beatrice is caught up in the beauty of the ancient ruins and art around the city. Soon, she finds herself eating gelato, learning Italian, making new friends, and uncovering a mystery within a local piazza. Though there are a few clichés in the novel, such as a dead mother, a new city, and a father too busy with work to pay attention to his daughter, Beatrice’s fiery spirit keeps the story engaging, and readers will find themselves following her footsteps on the cobblestones of Rome as they try to solve the mystery of the missing turtle sculpture. (KAC)
Moriconi, Renato. 2018. The little barbarian. Wm. B. Eerdmans Book Publishers (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). 48pp. $17.00. ISBN 978-0-8020-5509-1. Illustrated by Renato Moriconi.
Follow the little barbarian on his daring adventures without having to read a word! In
this clever, wordless picture book, the little barbarian faces terrifying trials on his trusty
steed. Readers will follow him over ravines, through fires, and across oceans of
monsters. As he battles his way to the last page, the little barbarian fights snakes, cyclopes, and manticores. Readers can look forward to surprise twist on the final pages. Watercolors create a soft texture which makes illustrations a little less fearsome. The soft lines of the little barbarian character suggest youth and humanity while the sharp talons, teeth, and arrows seem to pose real threats. The bright, vibrant colors create an adventurous tone on every page. (KAC)
Colón, Raúl. 2018. Imagine! Simon & Schuster (Paula Wiseman Books). 48pp. $16.19. ISBN 978-1-4814-6274-7. Illustrated by Raúl Colón.
In this colorful tale, a young boy wanders into a museum where the paintings come to
life. They dance around the museum with him and into the streets of New York where they go on a roller coaster, visit the Statue of Liberty, eat hot dogs, and much more. The illustrations are the most important part of this story, as there are no words. The clean lines and geometric shapes help build the bustling city of New York on every page. Vibrant colors show glee and excitement and help characterize the busy city full of wonder around every corner. The textures of the grass and trees in Central Park contrast with those of the buildings and streets of the downtown area. Readers will be transported and invited to take part in a page-turning adventure through these incredible illustrations. (KAC)
Ashman, Linda. 2018. Outside my window. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). 40pp. $17.00 ISBN: 978-0-8028-5465-0. Illustrated by Jamey Christoph.
Simple rhymes carry the reader from Morocco to Paris and many more cities around the world in this book. The illustrations show what different places around the world look like to the children who inhabit them. Colors and textures change to reflect the location’s overall tone, but the illustration style stays consistent. The enchanting illustrations will transport readers to places they may not even realize exist while also imparting a message about the importance of global diversity and unity. While the world is a big place full of unique cultures and landscapes, the same moon shines outside everyone’s window at night. (KAC)
Underwood, Deborah. 2018. Monster and mouse go camping. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-5446-4832-6. Illustrated by Jared Chapman.
Monster and Mouse are good friends, but they are both very different. Monster loves snacks and Mouse is adventurous. Mouse suggests they go camping, and at first Monster does not want to go. However, when Mouse says he will bring yummy food, Monster decides to tag along. In the end, Monster accidentally eats all of the camping gear and Mouse forgets to pack the food. After the pair accidentally scares some other campers away, they take over the other campsites and eat all the food. Even when things go wrong, the pair learn the value and comfort of having a good friend. Readers may be inspired to go outside of their comfort zones with friends of their own. (KAC)
Lang, Diane. 2018. Fur, feather, fin―all of us are kin. Simon & Schuster (Beach Lane Books). 48pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-4709-6. Illustrated by Stephanie Laberis.
Poetry and vibrant illustrations make science easy and entertaining as readers learn about the connection between all living creatures. With an alternate rhyming pattern, this story presents scientific material an exciting, easy to read manner. Readers learn about the different animal families, from mammals to detritivores and illustrations show key differences between these families. Different environments and the various animals who inhabit them are color coded. For example, deep greens and earthy tones are used for amphibians who live in ponds and reptiles who live in swamps. Dark blues and purples show the depths of the ocean, while lighter blues depict shallow waters and the sky where birds soar. Valuable information about animals and their classifications is presented in a easily digestible way for young readers who may develop a deeper appreciation for life sciences after engaging with this material. (KAC)
Shneman, Drew. 2018. Don’t eat that. Penguin Random House LLC (Viking Books for Young Readers). 40pp. $17.86. ISBN 978-1-1019-9729-1. Illustrated by Drew Sheneman.
While trying to earn badges for her sash, a young scout named Gertie, runs into a hungry bear who does not know what to eat. Gertie saves the bear from eating rocks, skunks, and pinecones. She discovers the bear does not know how to hunt or swim, and dramatic irony allows the reader to understand the bear was released from a zoo. After many difficulties, Getrie teaches the bear to fish using a pole, which berries are safe to eat, and how to safely retrieve honey without being stung. Comic-like illustrations are interlaced with puns to create a playful and silly mood. Bright greens and blues show a summer day in a forest, creating a non-threatening setting. Readers will appreciate the entertainment value of the story and may also develop a better understanding of how omnivores like the bear tend to eat. (KAC)
Yolen, Jane (reteller). 2018. Fitcher’s Bird. In Not One Damsel in Distress: Heroic Girls from World Folklore. (pp. 17-26). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). $15.99. ISBN 978-1-32-890020-3. Illustrated by Susan Guevara.
A widower lives in Cologne, Germany with his three daughters, Gretchen, Gretel, and Erna. The daughters are hardworking and beautiful. The city of Cologne is plagued with the dark deeds of a wizard who lives outside of the city limits. The devilish creature often comes into the city disguised as a beggar asking for bread and steals the young beautiful women of the town away to his mansion. Each time he does this, he shows the girl his estate and entrusts her with a large white egg to keep safe. He tells her she may go into every room, except one. Without fail, every time the wizard leaves, the new girl cannot help her curiosity and goes into the room she was told never to enter. In the room lies a tub of the bodies of the mangled bodies and blood of the girls who have had the same fate before her. Each girl is so shocked by what she sees in the room she drops the egg in the tub, staining it with blood. The wizard then returns, sees the stained egg, atd kills the girl.
One day he steals Gretchen and she falls to the same fate. The next day the same happens to Gretl. When Erna is stolen by the Wizard, she leaves the egg in a makeshift nest on her pillow when she goes to look at the forbidden room. Because she does not have the egg with her, she does not drop it into the tub and stain it. When the wizard returns and sees the pristine egg, he announces he must marry Erna. Luckily, Erna is a clever girl and is able to revive her sisters and send them home. Erna is able to escape by disguising herself as a bird. This person versus person conflict shows how a cunning mind can win any situation. The setting and tone are eerie and sets the mood for the devilish antics of the wizard. Erna is a strong female character who outsmarts the male character in many ways. Readers will see an example of female strength, cleverness, and ability. (KAC)
Stewart, Lizzy. 2018. There’s a tiger in the garden. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-3287-9183-2. Illustrated by Lizzy Stewart.
Nora finds herself bored with nothing to do one afternoon while visiting her grandmother’s house. Her grandmother urges her to go outside and look for the tiger she saw in the garden earlier. Nora is stubborn and refuses to believe a tiger could possibly be in the garden, but agrees to explore with her toy giraffe, Jeff. Deep green plants and bright blue dragonflies the size of birds lead Nora far into her grandmother’s garden. The pants have smooth and curved lines which evoke a sense of safety in the adventures of Nora the seemingly never-ending backyard. The setting serves as a symbol for Nora’s imagination as the garden grows bigger and deeper. No longer bored, Nora returns to her grandmother’s kitchen with a newfound sense of creativity and adventure. Nora tells her grandma there really is a tiger in the garden, and there is a mermaid in the bathtub, too. (KAC)
Fan, Terry, & Fan, Eric. 2018. Ocean meets sky. Simon & Schuster (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). 48pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-48-147037-7.
Illustrations and writing work in tandem to create a magical universe of in which the main character, Finn, revisits the stories his grandfather told prior to his passing. Readers learn about Finn’s late grandfather his stories, as well as the things he would have said to Finn if he were with him that day. The illustrations are dark and tend towards realism at the beginning of the story. However, once Finn begins to imagine his adventure in a boat built to honor his grandfather, the lines of the illustrations become less stoic and the colors get lighter to suggest a positive shift of tone. Readers will enjoy the meaningful and imaginative nature of Finn’s journey. (EMC)
Thompson, Holly. 2018. Twilight chant. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-54-458648-2. Illustrated by Jen Betton.
During the most enchanting time of night, a family makes their way through the forest after a day at the beach. As they make their way home during the dazzling hours of twilight, the family encounters many creatures who enjoy going out at night, like fireflies, foxes, and skunks. Thee lyrical text establishes a sirenic rhythm which may lull readers into a peaceful state of mind before bedtime. The setting is rooted in the mood of the story. Soft illustrations composed of pinks, purples, and greens make for a dream-like, soothing fantasy as the family’s trip home unfolds. The colors of the illustrations become progressively darker throughout the story until the family finally reaches home at nightfall, but the story maintains its pleasant tone. (EMC)
Olien, Jessica. 2018. Right now. HarperCollins (Balzer + Bray). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-256828-1. Illustrated by Jessica Olien.
Readers are encouraged to value themselves as they are every moment of their lives in this story. The speaker directly addresses readers through the second person point of view in brief sentences like "You are a cloud and a ray of light. You are the tallest tree. An open door. A silly dance." The second person perspective and absence of main of characters allows readers to become the main character themselves. Bright colors like light blue, yellow, orange and pink add a cheerful atmosphere to the story. The Illustrations are simplistic and often feature children interacting with nature, which contributes to the book’s emphasis on developing identity through interactions with the natural world and oneself. Children of all ages will feel more comfortable embracing their identities after reading this story. (EMC)
Tallec, Oliver. 2018. Who was that?. Chronicle Books. 32pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-45-216990-3.
Children must recall details about characters from page to page in this memory boosting book. After they are invited to “Blow out the candle and turn the page,” readers are asked to recall who was wearing a specific article of clothing or where they were on the page. Color pencil illustrations of cute critters and children boast bright colors like yellow, orange and read, which adds a sense of lightheartedness to the deceptively simple memory games. These riveting games will surprise readers at every page turn and challenge them to pay close attention to the smallest details of each illustration. (EMC)
De Sève, Randall. 2018. Zola’s elephant. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-32-888629-3. Illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski.
Zola has a new neighbor. Her new neighbor is afraid to go over to Zola’s house and makes up a story. She says Zola must have an elephant and she must be too busy doing things with this animal friend to make more friends. She makes up reasons for the different things she hears, sees, and smells, all explanations for why she believes Zola has an elephant. The darker and more empty illustrations, which contrast the colorful and imaginative illustrations of the other girl’s elephant stories show that in reality, Zola is lonely and nervous about her new home. Following themes of imagination and friendship, the final scene shows the girl going over and making friends with Zola. She finds out Zola does not have an elephant, but is happy to have a friend in her new town. (EMC)
Yolen, Jane (reteller). 2018. Li Chi Slays the Serpent. In Not One Damsel in Distress: Heroic Girls from World Folklore. (pp. 33-37). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). $15.99. ISBN 978-1-32-890020-3. Illustrated by Susan Guevara.
With themes of honor, bravery, and resisting feminine stereotypes, this traditional tale shows the courage of Li Chi who defies the odds to slay a monstrous serpent. Li Chi offers herself as the serpent’s next victim after nine young women were sacrificed. She was not planning on allowing herself to be sacrificed – she brought along a hunting dog and a sword, with plans to slay the serpent. Li Chi sent off the soldiers who followed her and tempted the serpent out of its cave. When the snake emerged and started eating the food she offered him, she and the dog slayed the serpent. Through this, Li Chi was able to bring honor and riches to her poor family. (EMC)
Heos, Bridget. 2018. Fairy’s first day of school. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 9781328715593. Illustrated by Sara Not.
A young fairy embarks on her first day of preschool and has experiences human children may have like show-and-tell, learning letters and numbers, and naptime. However, because the characters are fairies, there are slight magical twists to these activities; for example, they ride a flying goose to school instead of a bus. Parents may want to read this book with children nervous about their first day of school. The magical fairyland setting and its characters are whimsical and endearing. Children yet to have their first day of school may take comfort in Fairy’s positive, fun-filled experience as they prepare for one of their own. (LGF)
Pla, Sally J. 2018. Stanley Will Probably Be Fine. HarperCollins. 288pp. $11.72. ISBN 978-0-06-244579-7. Illustrated by Steve Wolfhard.
Stanley Fortinbras has sensory processing issues and is unable to handle large crowds and loud noises. Everything from going outside, attending school, and his homelife causes him great discomfort and stress, which often leads to panic attacks. However, Stanley finds solace in superheroes and processes his life through the lens of comic books in order to cope. When he hears about a contest called Trivia Quest, a treasure hunt for comic book related clues, Stanley and his friend John sign up to win VIP tickets to Comic Fest. Stanley signs up for this competition with his friend Joon, but the pair get into a fight and split up. Stanley is forced to face his fears as he tries to win the contest and regain Joon’s friendship. At first this is difficult, but overtime Stanley learns how to face his problems and stand up for himself. Children with sensory processing issues like Stanley will find his character relatable and may be inspired to confront their own problems as well. (LGF)
Turk, Evan. 2018. Heartbeat. Simon & Schuster (Atheneum Book for Young Readers). 56pp. $17.99. ISBN 9781481435208. Illustrated by Evan Turk.
Whales have been used and abused throughout world history, as this tale of a whale calf whose mother is killed by whale poachers demonstrates. After the mother whale is poached, readers are shown the various ways in which whales are used. Historically, whales have been used as illuminant for early light sources, oil during the Industrial Revolution, and guns during World War I. Once NASA launched the spaceship Voyager with a record that contained humpback whale songs and the desire to protect and appreciation for the species increased. Bright colors like blue, pink, red and orange show the majesty and beauty of these creatures. A whale-watching ship towards the end of the story hosts black and white humans, with one little girl who is purple. She is different from the people surrounding her and is able to connect with the calf who has lost her mother. The two sing together and the whole world begins to sing along as the characters change from black and white into bright vibrant reds, yellows and oranges as humans begin recognize the beauty of the whale and the need to protect these beautiful creatures. Readers will be taken in by the beauty of illustrations and will develop a greater appreciation for one of the oceans’ largest creatures. (LGF)
Gonzales, Mark. 2017. Yo soy Muslim: A father’s letter to his daughter. Simon & Schuster (Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1481489362. Illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini.
In a letter to his daughter, a father writes a letter in which he broaches the questions she will encounter throughout life as a Latina Muslim. He encourages her to take pride in her identity, but also informs her of some of the problems she may encounter throughout her life; she may be asked “what” she is and interact with people who hold prejudiced views of her religion and race. He encourages his daughter educate people about her background and disregard those who try to harm with with their bigotry, as her heritage is worth being proud of. Illustrations use a vibrant rainbow of colors and variety of textures to signify the importance of diversity in our world. Diagonal lines signify movement as the father and daughter fly through the skies to discover the unknown, as he believes it is necessary to take risks in order to develop a greater understanding your ancestors. As the story goes on, the style of the text changes and the characters dance in order to convey the feeling of freedom. This illustrates how the father wants his daughter to feel about her heritage. Young readers will learn the importance of embracing diversity and self-acceptance. (LGF)
Underwood, Deborah. 2018. Walrus in the bathtub. Penguin Random House LLC (Dial Books). 40pp. $16.22. ISBN 978-0803741010. Illustrated by Matt Hunt.
Discovering a walrus in a bathtub is rather shocking, especially when it decides to live in the bathroom of a new home! As a family walks into their new home, the discover a walrus is living in their bathtub. This walrus is noisy and tends to make messes, which compels the family starts to discuss moving out. However, once they realizes the walrus was simply attempting to welcome them in their new house, the family decides to stay. They all agree to make compromises and begin to enjoy spending time together. The colors are vibrant and convey the wild, silly nature of the situation. Vertical lines illustrate the movement of water when the children wring out towels and when the water spills over the sides of the bathtub. Horizontal lines then depict the sturdiness of the house and its unchanging nature. Curved lines show the movement of the tidal waves the walrus would cause in the bathroom. The story is told through numbered lists, which may serve as a counting lesson for young readers as they enjoy the walrus’ wacky antics. (LGF)
Faulks, Ben. 2018. Watch out For muddy puddles!. Bloomsbury Publishing (Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-68119-627-5. Illustrated by Ben Cort.
Jumping in mud puddles after rainfall is an exciting activity, but these small pools of water can host surprising objects and people like soccer balls, socks, even underwater kings! Dangerous things can be found in puddles as well, like crocodiles and even pirates. When these puddles freeze they may cause unsuspecting people to slip. Puddles may even cause whirlpools and make children dizzy, while jumping in deep puddles will make them sink through the planet. Despite their dangers, puddles are fun to splash around in, but everyone should think twice before jumping in due to their unpredictable nature. The colors are vibrant and depict the excitement jumping and splashing in puddles can cause. Vertical lines display water’s movement in the puddles, while curved lines convey their mysterious nature. The illustrations change from a horizontal viewpoint to vertical one when a little boy jumps into a deep puddle and falls through the planet. The reader sees the air bubbles in the water as he falls deeper and deeper to show movement. Some of the text moves with the water to show movement as well, especially in illustrations of the whirlpool is being discussed. Readers will enjoy this whimsical story and will feel compelled to take the necessary precautions the next time they encounter a puddle. (LGF)
Wheeler, Lisa. 2018. People don’t bite people. Simon & Schuster (Atheneum Books for Young Readers). 40pp. $16.19. ISBN 978-1481490825. Illustrated by Molly Idle.
Some children bite to release anger or to get something they want. Rhyme and four line stanzas explain “A friend will never bite a friend. Biting is for food!” in a hilarious manner. This rhyme scheme turns this serious topic into a light, amusing lesson. While animals and babies may bite but this is because they can not use words. Children are reminded to use their words instead of hurting family and friends. The illustrations compliment the message perfectly through the use of bright colors, simple shapes, and smooth lines. Bright blues, yellows, and pinks evoke laughter and excitement. The characters are cartoon-like and have dramatic expressions which add to the lightheartedness of this book. Soft, smooth lines make objects easy to identify and allow children to connect them to their own life. Motionless characters are depicted with circular heads and triangular bodies, while others include diagonal and horizontal lines to convey movement. (LGF)
L’Engle, Madeleine. 2018. The other dog. Chronicle Books. 48pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-8118-5288-9. Illustrated by Christine Davenier.
Have you ever wondered what a dog thinks when its owners bring home a baby? When a baby, or as the author puts it, another “dog,” is brought into Touché’s life, she describes her jealousy and complains about feeling unappreciated for her skills. Touché is able to do special tricks, sits perfectly still when groomed, and is useful when it comes to household chores. She is also upset she has to go out in the rain during walks whereas the baby, Jo, gets to lay in a carriage. However, as Jo grows older, Touché slowly learns to love her and realizes “in every home there should be at least two dogs!” Muted watercolor illustrations create a calm tone. Golden yellow represents happiness and gaiety in the dog’s actions. Colors change from light to dark when Touché discusses her jealousy to convey anger and sadness. Looping lines display the dog’s texture, while horizontal lines convey movement when the dog or baby are walking together. Young readers will learn how to cope with feelings of jealousy when an infant sibling is welcomed into their household. This tale’s creative perspective helps children realize their experience is universal, and even dogs face the same challenges. (LGF)
DePaola, Tomie. 2018. Strega Nona’s magic ring. Simon & Schuster (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-48-147761-1.
In the small town of Calabria an old woman known as Strega Nona, or Grandma Witch, lives in a small house aiding the other villagers. A young man named Anthony lives with Strega Nona and helps her with chores and other tasks. When the weather begins to turn into spring, Strega Nona notices that Anthony is beginning to struggle with his chores, seemingly in a state of melancholy. She states he has spring fever and advises he needs a little “Night Life,” telling him to attend a local dance. She later decides she needs some “Night Life” herself and decides to use her magic ring to disguise herself as a beautiful young woman. This use of magic is noticed by Anthony and he becomes intrigued by her actions. He decides he will also use the magic ring to become beautiful and find someone to dance with him. Anthony believes the women will not dance with him due to his physical appearance. Anthony then creates a plan to steal Strega Nona’s ring for the night, wanting to experience the “Night Life.” At first his plan was going the way he wanted, but soon learns how stealing may have been the wrong answer to his situation. Women chase him throughout the city wanting to dance with him. This unwanted attention makes Anthony want to take the ring off and turn back into his normal self. He tries to take this ring off, but to no avail. He arrives back at Strega Nona’s home and he begs her to help him. In the end she assists him in taking the ring off and he turns back to his normal self, learning how being beautiful is not always the answer to everything. The character of Strega Nona is very helpful and selfless with her actions. The character of Anthony is helpful like Strega Nona, but tends to do things for himself, wanting what is best for him. In the final scene, Anthony learns to look at what is on the inside rather than physical beauty. Readers will learn beauty is not solely based on looks, it can be found through being kind or helpful. The setting is used as mood, especially when it comes to the village square, which represents merrymaking and excitement, and Strega Nona’s house, which represents hard work and magic. The illustrations contain muted but realistic colors such as brown, which represents nature and mud that Anthony works with every day, and the color of light pink, which represents beauty. Many of the lines are curved, which conveys the unknown when it comes to the magic Strega Nona wields to become beautiful and young. Curved lines are also used when it comes to the fields in the countryside, which represent movement when Anthony is running from the village women. Textures are evident to show the differences between clothing, the hair on the characters, and the fields in the countryside. (LGF)
Bell, Eric. 2017. Alan Cole is not a coward. HarperCollins (Katherine Tegen Books). 272pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-256702-4.
Alan Cole is a boy going through middle school with the usual struggles for kids his age. Alan is an extraordinarily talented seventh grade boy, but it is difficult for him to prove it to even himself. He lives with his abusive father, his inattentive mother, and a bullying brother. Alan sees himself as no more than a spineless coward, or a worthless “goldfish”: a nickname given to him by his father. Even though he has a passion for painting and drawing, he hides it from his father because he thinks his father will be disappointed in him. Alan’s stagnant life quickly gets much more action when his brother, Nathan, learns his deepest secret: he has a crush on another boy. Nathan decides it is again time for a round of Cole vs. Cole: seven seemingly impossible tasks in which whoever completes the most tasks gets to share the dark secret of the other. In his determination to keep his sexuality private, Alan does whatever it will take to complete the tasks, including standing up to his dad, becoming the most well-known kid in school, learning to swim, and getting his first kiss. Over the course of a week, introverted Alan makes new friends who are willing to help him through his task. His hard work and perseverance pay off in an unexpected change of heart when he admits his feelings to his crush before Nathan can. He is no longer ashamed of who he is or of his sexuality, and uses his new-found popularity as a way to make a positive change in his school.
Alan’s character is dynamic and readers will easily sympathize with him. This book opens the eyes of readers who have not had to worry about the public or their family’s opinion on their sexuality. Not only can the reader sympathize with his struggle over his sexuality, but also his tough life in middle school and his sorrowful family drama. Being able to read how Alan thinks and grows throughout his struggles vividly shows how effective the characters can connect with a wide audience, even outside the suggested age range of eight to twelve years. Through Alan’s narration, readers can also connect with his friends and family. All the characters have a reason for the way they act; however, the reasons are not apparent until later. Once those reasons are learned, the book is given much more depth and quality as a young reader book. The setting and plot are realistic of a common middle school atmosphere and common challenges, which occur in school and homes. The conflicts are authentic and not solved too easily. There are person vs. self, person vs. person, and person vs. society conflicts in this novel. Because of the social commentary, there are several reasons this book could be used in schools forthe quality of a story and well intentioned literary elements. (SAH)
Thompkins-Bigelow, Jamilah. 2018. Mommy’s khimar. Simon & Schuster (Salaam Reads). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-53-440059-7. Illustrated by Ebony Glenn.
A young Muslim American girl loves to wear her mother’s Khimar, or headscarf. A khimar is also commonly known as a hijab. The little girl especially enjoys wearing her mother’s yellow khimar around the house while she plays and allows her imagination to take over. The most important part of wearing her mother’s khimar is the feeling of love she feels when she wears it, even when her mother is away. The plot explains how family members can love each other, even if some practice different religions than others. It also presents how beautiful a head scarf is and how meaningful they can be to the people who wear them. The text reveals the little girl’s innocent thoughts and opinions about her mother’s khimar as readers are led through her daily life of school and play. Beauty, fashion, and respect for Muslim American women are exemplified, and the plot highlights an item of clothing, has had little literary acknowledgement thus far in the United States. It is essential for all readers to understand different cultural attributes of Muslims and the respect for headscarves. Teachers and parents could use the text to educated children about the different names of a khimar and its significance, but it should be accompanied by a supplemental source with a stronger message. (SAH)
White, Dianne. 2018. Who eats orange?. Simon & Schuster (Beach Lane Books). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-53-440408-3. Illustrated by Robin Page.
Non-fiction books are a wonderful way to teach children about the world around them. Who Eats Orange? by well known author, Dianne White, intertwines gorgeous illustrations with a color theme to highlight various foods animals eat. Children will recognize most of the animals including a goat, giraffe, and bear, but they will also be introduced to new creatures such as the yellow-bellied marmot and quetzal. Also introduced are the habitats in which these animals can be found. The question and answer format paired with the brightly colored illustrations makes this an engaging read aloud for young children. An appendix at the end gives additional information on the animals and the food they like to eat. Animals are divided by habitat, which could create a fitting introduction to a non-fiction unit on where animals live and their diets. The illustrator uses a watercolor-on-paper collage style of illustration which give the animals and foods on the pages a vibrant and well textured look. From looking at the illustrations, readers can feel the soft fur of the fox and the coarse bumpy skin of a turkey’s head. The white background gives emphasis and life to the pictures on the pages, giving children no issue locating the point of attention on the page. Their purpose being to inform readers and facilitate connections with the diets of the animals and show similarities or differences. This could also be a fun writing prompt for what foods a child enjoys eating. If used for no other purpose than to analyze the style of illustration, this book has brilliant colors and design, which will no doubt capture the attention of the children reading or listening to the book. (SAH)
Wolff, Ashley. 2017. Where, Oh Where, is Baby Bear?. Simon & Schuster (Beach Lane Books). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-48-149916-3.
Part of Wolff’s collection of Baby Bear books, Baby Bear and his mother are heading out of their cave to look for food. Baby Bear lets his curiosity lead him to wander away from his mother, causing her to worry. Every time his mother looks for him, Baby Bear has disappeared. Again and again she has to call out “Where, oh where, is Baby Bear” and then her little bear responds. Readers will enjoy spotting where Baby Bear is heading and where he is hiding as the plot progresses. The repetition is handled well, giving the book a lovely rhythm when being read aloud, even with a small twist at the end. The illustrations are crisp and filled with details of their forest home. Each page gets progressively darker as a golden sunset turns to a blue-violet nightfall. As darkness approaches, images of plants and water are shown with natural colors to add the effect of nighttime in the forest. Deep greens for plants and grass are shadowed and warm. Night can be a frightful thought, Wolff’s illustrations say otherwise; but for the bears, it is the time when they look for food. Baby Bear feels comfortable enough to wander away from his mother, yet she still has to call him back. In addition to a sense of safety even in the dark, the bears are given a peaceful image as well. Though bears can be perceived as scary or aggressive, the illustrations in this page convince the readers otherwise. Both Baby Bear and his mother are illustrated with kind, round eyes, soft fur, and mouths as if they were smiling. This element of characterization of animals allows readers to connect with the characters while they laugh at Baby Bear’s antics. Wolff’s illustrations are incredibly detailed and intricate, even with the addition of other woodland animals on every other page including otters, deer, and salamanders. To get the full concept of each page, readers should spend time inspecting all parts of each illustration to see small details which would otherwise be missed. The illustrator’s use of black lines to outline shapes and add texture, is artistically stylish and resembles printmaking. Not only would young children enjoy the text of this story, the illustrations are beautifully captivating and add to the content of the book. (SAH)
McKee, D. 2017. Elmer and the tune. Penguin Random House LLC (Andersen Press USA). 32pp. $12.83. ISBN 978-1512481242.
Elmer walks through a vibrantly colorful jungle alongside his friend Rose, a pink elephant, who has a catchy tune stuck in her head. Due to her perpetual humming, the tune gets stuck in Elmer’s head as well. As Elmer walks through the jungle, colored pencil illustrations make the pages come alive with color. Elmer and his unique patchwork design are the focal point of each page. In contrast, each of the creatures he meets throughout the day blends in with their surroundings. For instance, the tiger’s stripes camouflage him against the tall bamboo and the crocodile’s green scales match the dark water and aquatic plants around him. As Elmer meets each of the animals on his stroll, his humming of Rose’s tune spreads and eventually gets stuck in every animal’s head. In a jungle-wide discussion of this problem, the animals decide the best way to solve this problem is to simply sing a new song. Readers will relate to this common frustration of having a song stuck in their heads, and will appreciate learning a possible solution to this silly problem. Bright colors and sketched lines will appeal to children because of its youthful illustration style, as if it was something they could draw themselves. Characterization grants the animals expressive facial features, personalities, and a relatable issue which connects readers to the animals. The simple storyline and easy words make this a pleasurable story for young readers to build stronger literacy skills. There is little to no character development or a message, however still an enjoyable story to read, especially for the illustrations. The conflict is character versus self as it is a personal challenge to forget a song from one’s mind, yet, as the book concludes, an elephant never forgets. (SAH)
Sibley O’Brien, Anne. 2018. I’m new here. Charlesbridge. 32pp. $15.82. ISBN 978-1580896122. Illustrated by Anne Sibley O’Brien.
Readers meet Maria, a girl from Guatemala, Jin, a South Korean boy, and Fatimah, a Somali girl who wears the hijab as they try to adjust to their new lives. Maria struggles with expressing herself through language, a problem she never had in her home country. In the American school she is confused by the strange sounds of English words and phrases from her peers cleverly represented by phonetically spelled speech bubbles. This shows how foreign the English language sounds to Maria. Jin’s greatest struggle is writing, as he feels shut out from the world due to his inability to write with an unfamiliar alphabet. Fatimah struggles with feeling out of place in her classroom. No one looks like her or has the same life experiences, which makes her feel sad and alone. Gradually, each child begins to bridge the gap through soccer, stories, shared words, and artwork until they finally feel like part of a community. A note about the author’s own challenges as an immigrant follows the story, which adds a real-life example of the difficult transition English language learners like the three children face to the book. O’Brien’s watercolor and digital illustrations masterful use of perspective, white space, and the contrast between the children “back home” and in their new settings highlights the transition from the role of an outsider to an “insider.” Watercolor brushstrokes in geometric and organic shapes allows readers to feel as if they are in the classroom with the students. Imperfect lines for letters, especially for Jin, display the complexity of reading or writing in an unfamiliar language. Attention to detail in the illustrations shows the cultural and physical diversity among students, culturally and physically. For example, in addition to the features which make Maria, Fatimah, and Jin different from their peers, diversity is shown by the illustration of a boy in a wheelchair and other students of various races all together in their classroom community. (SAH)
Trimmer, Christian. 2018. Snow Pony and the Seven Miniature Ponies. Simon & Schuster (Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers). 48pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-48-146268-6. Illustrated by Jessie Sima.
Snow Pony and the Seven Miniature Ponies is an amusing variation of the classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs folktale, which could be used to expand the imagination of readers, or simply for the pleasure of reading a heartwarming tale. Snow Pony has a brilliantly white coat and a jet black mane and tail, a striking image among the other ponies at the stable. Snow Pony and her favorite rider, Charmaine, would put on shows for the other ponies and visiting children, usually singing and dancing. Everyone loves Snow Pony and her talents, except one mean pony named Queenie. Queenie is jealous of the attention Snow Pony receives from the others and plots against her. Just as the jealous pony hopes, Snow Pony loses her way as she followed Queenie’s trail of apples into the forest, which resulted in her finding the home of the seven miniature ponies. Each of the ponies has a unique job such as the carrot grower, beekeeper, and tax attorney. Snow Pony enjoys staying with the ponies, but she misses Charmaine and performing dearly and knows she must return home. Most people and ponies (except Queenie) were happy to see Snow Pony return home, along with her new friends. Set in a barnyard and the deep woods, Snow Pony’s adventure mimics the classic folktale’s person against person conflict. Snow Pony is disliked by another character and is tricked into getting lost in the woods, and her challenge is finding her way back home. Through Snow Pony’s adventure, theme is revealed in the nature of the conflict as well as personal development. She shows growth through her development of courage when she goes out in the dark woods to face the scary creatures the miniature ponies described, as well as finding her way when she was lost. Characterization of animals makes this an enjoyable story for children, especially if they are already familiar with the story of Snow White. In addition to the vocabulary, the illustrations are expressive through watercolors and pencil. Emotion of the ponies, people, and Charmaine’s dog are clearly represented by the expressions on their faces. Thought bubbles are often present above characters’ heads to convey what they are thinking or speaking. Differences in color choice conveys the mood of each illustration. When Snow Pony is happy and comfortable, bright greens, blues, red, and white are used. When she is nervous or feeling unsafe, deep blue, purple, and dark green represent the daunting darkness in the forest. Shapes are mostly organic, as most of the setting is outdoors in nature where trees, grass, and other plants are present. Readers will recognize the scruffiness of the miniature ponies, and sleekness of Snow Pony’s fur through sketched wavy lines, or lack thereof, on the coats the ponies. Trees and grass appear fluffy and hazy due to soft paint brush-marks. Hard horizontal lines are used in fences and buildings to show structure and sturdiness. Vertical lines show height in trees, which intimidate Snow Pony when she is lost in the woods. White sparkles surrounding Snow Pony help to remind readers variation of a well-known fairytale. (SAH)
Betton, Jen. 2018. Hedgehog Needs a Hug. Penguin Random House LLC (G.P. Putnam’s
Sons Books for Young Readers). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-52-473712-2.
Hedgehog realizes he is feeling particularly blue while sitting in his nest one morning. Thinking to himself, he realizes he would feel better if someone were to give him a hug, but his prickles may be a deterrent. Wandering around the forest, Hedgehog asks, Rabbit, Raccoon, and Turtle for a hug, but they all gave him a reason why they cannot. This made Hedgehog feel even more dispirited. After a close encounter with a hungry fox, Hedgehog finally finds a friend who wants a hug too, Skunk. Skunk is also having an unhappy day and also cannot find a friend to give her a hug. The two friends embrace and then go about the rest of their days much happier. A strong element of design in this children’s book is the abundance of color and detailed nature scenes. By applying different shades of green on the forest floor among grass and plants, shadows are easily visible and show where the small animals of the forest choose to hide. Dark browns in dirt and trees represent the earthy tone of Hedgehog’s home. In the style of watercolor on canvas, the artist’s attention to detail is shown in her delicately painted rocks, logs, grasses, and shadows. The animals also have facial expressions, which portray the somber mood. Readers can feel the spikiness of Hedgehog’s prickles, the bushiness of the fox’s tail, and the softness of Rabbit’s fleecy coat. Most pages have a white background, which give the effect of light and daytime, even though Hedgehog is feeling melancholy. Most shapes in the illustration are organic as they are depicting elements of nature, which change constantly with wind and weather. Lines are somewhat undefined, a characteristic of watercolor, which emphasizes the abundance in scenes of nature. As an easy reader book for children, readers will sympathize with poor Hedgehog and develop emotional intelligence. The plot consists of a person versus society conflict because of Hedgehog’s difficult search for comfort. There is a style of repetition when his request for a hug gets turned down by several of his friends. Characterization is evident in the emotions and human-like dialogue between the animals, making this an appealing book to young children interested in animals. (SAH)
Brown, Margaret Wise. 2018. A home in the barn. HarperCollins. 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-623787-9. Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney.
As cold winter days loom nearer, the animals of the barnyard prepare for the snowy season. Mice move from their nests in the field and make new nests in the big red barn. The warm barn is a sturdy structure with room for all animals to cozy up and hide from the brisk winter winds and drifting snow. Goats, cattle, cats, swallows, horses, pigs, and chickens all huddle together to keep each other toasty. Though the animals and little boy are the main characters, the blustery wind and the barn itself are supporting characters, which show the setting as an antagonist. The wind is the antagonist and the barn is the solution for the shivering animals. The style of repetition and rhyming in the text make this enjoyable for young listeners and readers alike. Onomatopoeia words swoop through the drifts of snow to mimic wind, or above the animals to show the sound that each makes.
Illustrations by a Caldecott medalist depict the sequence of events with intricately painted scenes of animals, a boy, and a barn. Pencil lines accompanied by watercolor convey the effect of a dimly lit barn and commotion amongst the various animals all crowded together. Wherever there is space, there is an animal. Curved lines show drifts of snow over the stacks of hay, the trees blowing in the wind, and the detail of the straw-lined floor of the barn. Straight lines depict structure in fences, windows, and buildings, especially the big red barn. The red from the barn is the most striking color on any of the pages, as it is the focal point of the story. Shades of gray, light blues, and whites are used to convey the frostiness of the snow in the fields and on the roof of the barn. Prior to the snowfall, corn stalks, grasses, and leaves on trees are represented with tan, muted yellow, orange, and light green to convey an autumnal mood. Black is present in the shadows of the barn, spots on pigs, and feathers on chickens. Shapes are mostly organic, which portray the living creatures, while geometric shapes represent inanimate objects such as water pails, fences, and the barn. The presence of multiple styles of lines communicates texture. Horses, goats, and cattle have fluffy winter coats, the newborn calf has sleek and silky fur, and the chickens have ruffled feathers. The wildness of the pony’s mane is evident because of the curved lines as well as the messiness of the straw floor. Young readers will be captivated by the illustrations and appreciate the pleasant, comforting style of the text to practice their early literacy skills. (SAH)
Yolen, J. 2018. (re-teller). Brave Woman Counts Coup. In Not One Damsel in Distress: Heroic Girls from World Folklore. (pp. 38-43) Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). $15.99. ISBN 978-1-32-890020-3. Illustrated by Susan Guevara.
Makhta, the daughter of a chief, Tawa Makoce, lived in what is present day Minnesota with the rest of her White River Sioux tribe. She was beautiful and proud. Her father, Tawa Makoce, was an excellent warrior in his youth, and his three sons followed in his footsteps. When the three boys die in a battle against the enemy Crow tribe, Makhta swore to not marry until her brothers’ deaths were avenged by “counting coup” on the Crow. Though she would not marry, several fathers approached Tawa Makoce with gifts and to ask permission for their sons to marry his daughter. Makhta kept her promise, even with the numerous offers for marriage; she was determined to fight alongside the male warriors and prove herself in honor of her brothers. Makhta declared she would “count coup,” or use her father’s coup stick to hit the Crow people in battle without injuring herself. Any blow against the opponent counted as a “coup,” the more coups, the more prestigious a warrior becomes. The male warriors highly objected to a woman accompanying them in battle, but because she was the daughter of the chief, they grudgingly agreed to let her join.
In battle, her horse was hit and falls, leaving Makhta vulnerable. One of her people, Red Horn, a man who had asked her hand in marriage, rode by her on his own horse, not stopping to help her. When Red Horn refused to stop and help her, a more timid man, Little Eagle, helped her get up and escape from the area of battle. Little Eagle was in love with Makhta, but never admitted it because he was so shy, even though she already knew how he felt about her. The battle was won, but unfortunately Little Eagle was fatally injured in the battle. Before he died, he and Makhta were married there on the battlefield. When Makhta, now called Brave Woman, and the rest of the warriors returned home, Red Horn was disgraced for not stopping to help Brave Woman, while Little Eagle and his act of courage were glorified. Brave Woman promised to not wed anyone else, and grieve the loss Little Eagle, just as she grieved her brothers as long as she lived.
The conflict represented in the plot is person against society because Makhta goes against the norms for women of her time. Her change of heart when she decides to marry Little Eagle shows her character development. This folktale would promote the understanding of cultural heritage of this particular tribe of Native Americans. This is relevant to readers today because it is an empowering story, especially for young girls reading about how Brave Woman/Makhta challenged the typical role of a woman in society, and succeeded. The one illustration was of the scene when Makhta and Little Eagle are married by a blood bond. One can clearly see the somber looks on the characters’ faces at the death of Little Eagle. The illustration is done in grayscale; however, the different shades of gray convey depth and texture. Lines also help with the portrayal of texture. For example straight lines in the arrows, grass, and the feathers in the headdress give the effect of stiffness. Curved lines show the figure of the people, the horse, and the bow in Little Eagle’s hand. (SAH)
Tabor, Corey. 2017. Fox and the bike ride. HarperCollins. 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 9780062398758. Illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark.
Fox and his friends are getting ready to go on their annual bike ride. However, but Fox is not as excited as his friends. Fox thinks the bike ride is boring; since he is in charge of getting the bike ready for the day, he decides to remove the brakes in hopes of to adding some excitement to their bike ride. However, when they get to their typical snack stop at the top of the mountain, they can’t stop! Thanks to Fox, they fly down the mountain, through the clouds, and into the ocean. After a near collision with sharks, they find themselves safe and sound to eat their snacks. The animals all ended up having a blast because of Fox’s secret idea!
In this action-packed fiction book written for children ages 4-8, the main theme presented is cooperating with others. Each page is filled with beautiful multimedia prints that correlate with the exciting story line. The illustrations help develop the story and make the seemingly ridiculous tale come to life! In addition, the group of animals who learn to cooperate can be models for young readers. The book personifies the animal characters and readers can relate to them as they, too, learn to collaborate with their friends. When Fox intentionally removes the brakes, the other animals are mad at first. Eventually, they end up thankful for the adventurous trip they had. This story teaches that even if things do not go as planned, problems can be solved by working together and it is always a blessing to be with each other. (ABH)
Blake, Quentin. 2016. Three little monkeys. HarperCollins. 40pp. $18.99. ISBN 9780062670670. Illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark.
Many people have pets such as dogs or cats. Hilda Snibbs, however, has three little monkeys named Tim, Sam, and Lulu. In this exciting tale, the monkeys make a big mess as Hilda leaves for the day. After multiple days of coming home to a mess, Hilda is fed up with the monkeys and their tricks. She comes home the next day and is distraught to find Tim, Sam, and Lulu gone! She is extremely worried until finding them hiding in her cupboard. Although life with the monkeys is always hectic and full of mischievous behavior, Hilda loves them.
This is an exciting fiction book for readers ages 4-8 who can follow a storyline and the progression of events. The story teaches young readers about cause and effect. For example, Hilda leaves to get a new hat after the monkeys destroy hers. The next day they destroy her yarn and when she leaves to get more yarn, they ruin the soup. She then leaves to get new soup ingredients, and the actions continue. Children understand that the actions of the monkeys create consequences for Hilda. (ABH)
Magaziner, Lauren. 2018. Wizardmatch. Penguin Random House LLC (Dial Books for Young Readers). 304pp. $16.99. ISBN 9780735227781.
Lennie Mercado is living the dream. She has magic powers, and can even stay invisible! Her grandfather is the Prime Wizard de Pomporromp and when he retires, she decides to compete to win his title and all of his magic powers. Lennie struggles with her conflicting desires to win Wizardmatch and also possibly sabotage the entire competition. Wizardmatch is an exciting book that young adults will enjoy reading. The plot and characters grab their attention and the conflict encourages them to keep reading in order to see the resolution. Readers can understand more about dealing with conflicts within a close family after reading this book and could use Lennie’s actions as a guide if they are having similar experiences in their own lives. Wizardmatch is written in third person point of view, which gives readers opportunities to connect with all characters. This text is not realistic, though, and these are some reasons why students may not be able to relate to it. For example, it takes place in a world where people have magical powers and there is a competition in order to be the next ruler, which makes the plot unrelatable for readers. It took a while to get to the climax of the story, which would be an issue if a reader wasn’t able to stay focused and engaged for a long amount of time. (ABH)
Bliss, Harry. 2018. Grace for Gus. HarperCollins. 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 9780062644107.
Grace is a shy girl in her classroom who is determined to help raise money in order for their class pet, Gus, to have a friend. In Grace for Gus, a book without much text, readers watch Grace’s adventure as she goes out of the house at night and displays her many talents in order to raise money. The next day, she is able to fill the class’s fundraising money for Gus’s new friend!
The classroom setting in Grace for Gus is something that many readers will be able to relate to. Students may also remember a time when they have wished for something, worked for it, and seen the results of their work. This story includes an eventful plot in which Grace is busy all night fundraising. Readers are hooked from the beginning when Grace and the other classmates are presented with the problem of needing to raise money. The plot is well developed; readers are always surprised at what she does next. Although it’s an exciting text, it does not include a realistic plot or characters. While reading this book, students may be entertained and begin to think of their shy classmates in a different light. (ABH)
Sullivan, Tom. 2017. Blue vs. Yellow. HarperCollins (Balzer + Bray). 48pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0062452955.
The battle to decide the best color of them all begins as blue and yellow face off and compare the best qualities of each of them. Blue points out it is obviously the best, as it has his own type of music, the biggest type of animal, and the best food. Yellow argues that it is even better, because it is the color of all of the instruments, the fastest animal, and even better food. Blue and Yellow continue to argue until they create a new color-green! At this point, they decide that they are the best together. But wait- Red wants to be in the competition! The book ends with a Blue vs. Yellow vs. Red preview to the next big color battle!
Color is a very widely used visual technique within Blue vs. Yellow. Tom Sullivan conveys the meaning of comparison by comparing two colors; he uses only those colors in his illustrations in order to show the viewpoints of each side. In addition, line demonstrates movement as two vehicles are driving towards each other. In this situation, readers are able to notice the movement of the vehicles without a prompt from the text. Shape conveys the many objects that are represented by both blue and yellow. Throughout the book, color helps convey the comparison to readers, even when two new colors are introduced. Students will love to follow along as the illustrations show everything that’s great about each color! (ABH)
Jeffers, Susan. 2017. Jingle Bells. HarperCollins. 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0062360205.
The readers of Jingle Bells are able to follow along to a popular holiday song and watch as a girl, boy, and their dog take a ride in the snow to their grandmother’s house. Susan Jeffers aligns the illustrations with the lyrics to the tune “Jingle Bells” and includes energetic animals that get in the way of the travelers throughout their trip. After a couple exciting events, the kids finally arrive at their grandmother’s house.
The use of color is especially prominent in this book, and Jeffers uses colors to illustrate the most important characters and events in each page. The white background throughout the book shows the readers that the story is taking place in a snowy natural environment. These calming colors also convey the mood of this leisurely trip. In addition, Jeffers uses color to highlight the most important events or characters on each page. On a typical page, the calm, white, snowy background is accompanied with a colorful illustration of the horse-drawn sleigh and the two children riding in it. Throughout the illustrations, line depicts a natural, real environment that is filled with the trees and hills that would be seen on a real sleigh ride. Texture also reveals landscape, as readers are able to identify the animals that they find along the sleigh ride. (ABH)
Hoff, Syd. 1979. Santa’s moose. HarperCollins. 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-264308-7.
Santa’s sleigh is typically not pulled by a moose, but Milton is happy to be the first one to help out. Milton sees eight reindeer preparing to help Santa and asks to join them. The reindeer happily accept his offer, but it takes Milton a while to get used to all of the demands of the job, including being patient and landing softly. As the night goes on, the reindeer get too tired to keep going. Fortunately, Milton is able to pull the whole sleigh and save Christmas. Many literary elements are present within the story, including a setting young readers will enjoy and relate to, especially if they celebrate Christmas. This spin on the classic tale of Santa’s eight reindeer makes an interesting story for readers invested in knowing how Santa gets toys to all of the children’s houses! Apparent themes are the power to support others and endurance. Milton is discouraged with his clumsy behavior and considers turning back, but with the support of his reindeer friends and Santa, perseveres and ends up being the hero of the story! Colorful, life-like illustrations allow readers to follow along with the text. (ABH)
Muth, Jon. 2017. Mama lion wins the race. Scholastic (Scholastic Press). 56pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-545-85282-1.
Tigey and Mama Lion are close to the finish line in the big race when they slam on the breaks, allowing the Flying Pandinis to win the first place trophy! Readers learn why Mama Lion and Tigey choice to take second place, but will feel as if they still won in the end. When a tire flies off the pair’s car during the race, the Flying Pandinis risk losing their lead to help them out. In return, Tigey and Mama Lion allow them win the race. Brightly colored, dynamic illustrations aid the reader in understanding the plot.The story encompases what it means to be a good friend and Muth emphasizes the importance of helping others when you have the opportunity, like the Flying Pandinis did. Tigey and Mama Lion both leave the race feeling accomplished with new friends, a special new cup, and a feeling of satisfaction brought about by their good deeds. Readers can apply these themes in their daily lives and will see the positive impact selfless friendship can have on themselves and others. (ABH)
Liu, Cynthea. 2017. Disney princess bedtime stories: The best-friend sleepover. Disney (Disney Press). 304pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-148474711-7. Illustrated by Disney Storybook Art Team.
In one of the many stories in this collection, Liu emphasizes the importance of friendship as best friends Princess Tiana and Charlotte realize they have been putting each other second. After finally accomplishing her dream of owning a restaurant, Tiana is too busy to help Charlotte dress shop. They argue and Charlotte storms away, but both feel terrible afterwards for losing sight of how much they value each other. Tiana finds Charlotte cooking in her kitchen the next morning and the pair apologize to each other. They proceed to have a best friend day, followed by storytime before going to sleep. Colorful, detailed illustrations help readers follow along with this tale as they are encouraged to place friendship above all else. Although Tiana is busy with her restaurant, she is never too busy for her best friend, and while Charlotte wishes Tiana could help her shop, she remembers that Tiana has other responsibilities as well. Readers are reminded to be thankful for their friendships and will love reading this book as they are get ready for bed. (ABH)
Baltazar, Armand. 2017. Timeless: Diego and the rangers of the Vastlantic. HarperCollins (Katherine Tegen Books). 624pp. $19.99. ISBN 978-0-06-240236-3.
Diego lives in a world where eras are not a contemporary concept: his world is comprised of the past, present, and future simultaneously. This strange world works seamlessly until his father and the city are in trouble, which forces Diego to use his new power to bring everything back to normal. Realistic illustrations and an intriguing plot draw readers into the tale of a world unlike theirs, but with some striking similarities, such as school, friends, families. Balazar creates a setting in which portions are familiar to readers but is ultimately rooted in fantasy, because Diego’s world lives is able to accommodate any situation. Readers can relate to Diego’s desire to please family and friends and his love for them.The third person point of view presents readers with the opportunity to relate to any character. (ABH)
Burks, James. 2018. When pigs fly. Disney (Disney-Hyperion). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-148472524-5.
Pig siblings Henry and Henrietta are spending time together when Henry decides he is going to fly. The two pigs go through many trials while trying to fly, including flapping wings, creating wings, being attached to a kite and fan. The two finally get airborne when Henrietta uses her creativity to draw the background of a sky and put a fan in front of their “plane”, so they would have the experience of flying. Pigs cannot talk and do not have the same motor skills humans do, as Henry and Henrietta are able to do in the book, so readers are aware this is a fantasy from the beginning. However, readers can identify with Henry’s struggles and wishes and Henrietta’s helpful nature. (ABH)
Hiranandani, Veera. 2018. The Night Diary. Penguin Random House LLC (Dial Books). 272pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-7352-2851-1.
As India splits in two, half-Muslim, half-Hindu Nisha receives a beautiful journal for her twelfth birthday. Nisha addresses her journal entries to her mother, who died during childbirth. These entries describe Nisha’s journey as her family flees Pakistan for India, where they can practice their Hinduism religion freely and safely. Nisha details her struggles until her safe arrival in India, where she finally gains friends and a newfound feeling of acceptance. The story’s characters, settings, and events accurately reflect the historical reality of Pakistan and India’s tumultuous separation in 1947. Nisha’s love for her family is apparent in her entries and may help readers appreciate and relate to the main character and her smaller struggles, such as meeting new friends. This an appealing story in which young adults can learn about others’ struggles throughout history and around the globe. (ABH)
Crowder, Melanie. 2017. Three Pennies. Simon & Schuster (Atheneum Books for Young Readers).192pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-7187-9.
Marin is in-between foster homes when she decides to search for her birth mother, convinced their reunion will solve all of her problems. Marin believes in the ancient Chinese text, The Book of Changes, and carries three pennies whose purpose is to predict the future. Multiple narrators, including Marin, an owl, the city of San Francisco, Marin’s social worker, and a potential adoptive mother shape the story with their unique perspectives on the events of the story. Upper elementary readers will remain engaged while they follow Marin’s decisions as the adoption process comes to a close. Readers with similar life experiences can also relate to Marin’s story. The storyline combines fictional concepts with realism in a manner all readers are sure to enjoy. (ABH)
Goetz, Steve. 2018. Old MacDonald had a boat. Chronicle Books. 44pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4521-6505-9. Illustrated by Eda Kaban.
The nursery rhyme “Old MacDonald had a Farm” is transformed in this humorous book. Young readers follow along as Old MacDonald and his wife build a boat with the help of their animal friends. Each verse of the tale adds a new action or item required to make the boat, and the story happily ends with the boat’s completion. Young readers who enjoy the classic nursery rhyme will be thrilled to mix new words into the song and find out how the MacDonalds built their boat. The original rhythm is present in the text and features repetitive verses sure to work their way into readers’ heads. Parents and children are sure to enjoy this intriguing, playful picture book. (ABH)
Reynolds, Jason. 2017. For everyone. Simon & Schuster (Atheneum Books for Young Readers). 112pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-8624-8.
This book of poetry is an encouraging open letter to readers grappling with the unpredictability of life. People of any age, gender, race, and class can relate to the text, as it contends with the questions all individuals face: what if my plan does not work out? How does one stay motivated? How is change created? All of these questions and more are answered through Reynold’s captivating narrative poetry. The verses do not follow a certain rhyme scheme, but instead endeavor to tell the story of life in the simplest terms possible. Although this book may not contain a style of poetry most are familiar with, readers will find all the encouragement they need in this powerful poem. (ABH)
Furstinger, Nancy. 2017. Unstoppable: true stories of amazing bionic animals. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers).128pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-544-87966-9.
This fascinating book shares true stories of animals of all shapes and sizes with bionic limbs, including a dog humorously named Chris P. Bacon. Each creatures’ life drastically improves after receiving prosthetics, braces, orthotics or wheelchairs specially designed for them. Nine-year-old Averie and her dog Hattie May – both bionic limb users – are featured at the end of the book. Readers will learn about advances in adaptive technology, such as 3-D printing and brain-controlled prosthetics, that aid disabled animals and humans alike. Photographs complement the stories and help readers visualize the information provided. The book include a glossary, bibliography, additional research sources, and an index for curious minds interested in further information on the topic. (ABH)
Grady, Cynthia. 2018. Write to me: letters from Japanese American children to the librarian they left behind. Charlesbridge. 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-58089-688-7. Illustrated by Amiko Hirao.
Following the enactment of Executive Order 9066, Japanese American children and their families were forced to leave their lives in San Diego and report to an internment camp in Arcadia, California due to racist anti-Japanese sentiment in the United States during World War II. During their three-year imprisonment, the children write to their librarian, Miss Breed, to share information about their new lives. Miss Breed remains in contact with the children and sends craft supplies, newspapers, soap, and seeds. Japanese Americans were allowed live anywhere upon their release, but many left for different countries, cities or states, as their home was no longer a place they recognized. Others returned to San Diego and remained in close contact with Miss Breed. Excerpts from the children’s letters are complemented by simple, crayon illustrations and photos of interned Japanese Americans. The book also includes a timeline of Miss Breed’s life, the selected history of Japanese People in the United States, author’s notes, and a bibliography for further information. The story is an accessible resource for readers interested in learning the history of Japanese American internment. (ABH)
Bardhan-Quallen, Sudipta. 2018. The United States v. Jackie Robinson. HarperCollins (Balzer + Bray). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-228784-7. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie.
While legendary baseball player Jackie Robinson may be known for his skill on the field, readers may not be aware of his other life accomplishments. Readers follow Robinson’s life from his childhood as a member of the only African-American family on his block in California to becoming one of the first African-American athletes offered a college scholarship. While he was talented enough to play sports professionally, Robinson ultimately left college because of the lack of opportunities to play professional baseball because of racial segregation in the leagues. Robinson served in the United States Army during World War II after leaving college, where he was also forced to contend with racial segregation. One day, Robinson was asked to move seats by a white bus driver because of his race. He refused and was brought to trial by military police, where Robinson ended up winning a legal case against the United States of America. Jackie Robinson is an important historical figure because of his achievements and the manner in which he fought against discriminatory policies and behaviors. The illustrations allow readers to connect with Robinson and his life, as they are modeled after real photographs of the man himself. In addition to the story, the book also provides a timeline and additional information about Robinson’s life. Young readers will find this biography of Robinson’s life memorable and may feel inspired to stand up to discrimination as well. (ABH)
Thomas, Isabel. 2018. Amelia Earhart: Little guides to great lives. Laurence King Publishing. 64pp. $11.99. ISBN 978-1-78627-160-0.
Many young readers will most likely have heard of Amelia Earhart, but may not know the significance of her actions. Readers learn more about Earhart, the most famous female aviator of her time and possibly today, beginning with her birth in Kansas, her record-breaking feats, and ending with her attempted flight across the world at its widest point. Earhart died during this flight but the details surrounding her death remain unknown. Readers are exposed information about this extremely fascinating woman and her intriguing life. An index, glossary, timeline, and additional information are provided at the end so readers my learn further information about Earhart. Because Amelia Earhart was one of the most famous aviators of her time and remains so today, readers will be hooked by the events of the story. The illustrations help readers create connections with the text and are based on real photographs of Earhart. Young readers will be motivated by Earhart’s story to be bold and achieve their goals. (ABH)
Sanchez, Anita. 2018. Itch!: Everything you didn’t want to know about what makes you scratch. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 80pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-544-81101-0. Illustrated by Gilbert Ford.
Readers who wonder why the human body gets itchy will learn all about the various reasons why people scratch themselves. Information about different forms of itches and their origins, such as bites, allergens, fleas, certain plants, mosquitoes, tarantulas, fungi, and bed bugs are shared over the course of nine chapters. Readers learn from scientifically accurate, attention-grabbing illustrations which allow them to visualize the concepts discussed. Students who have thought critically about the human body will likely discover answers to their questions in this text. Included at the end of the book are an author’s note, glossary, notes, bibliography, websites, and an index for those interested in learning more about the body. (ABH)
Eliot, Hannah. 2018. Ramadan. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). 24pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-1-5344-0635-3. Illustrated by Rashin.
Many young readers in the United States may not know much about Ramadan but will gain more information about the celebration after reading this. The information is easy to understand and process, even if readers do not practice Islam. Vibrant illustrations allow readers to visualize the information and events presented. Although it’s goal is to inform readers about the holiday and its tradition, it does not include an index, glossary, bibliography, or other sources for further learning. This may not be necessary for the age level of this book, but it is important to develop the skills necessary to determine the book’s factual accuracy from a young age. Young readers will develop an appreciate for Ramadan in this colorful and easy to understand tale. (ABH)
Pattillo Beals, Melba. 2018. March forward, girl: From young warrior to Little Rock Nine. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 224pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-328-88212-7. Illustrated by Frank Morrison.
Young readers will learn the history of the Little Rock Nine and other significant events during the Civil Rights Movement in this memoir of by one of the Nine, Melba Pattillo Beals. She relates her experiences growing up as a member of this movement and discusses her fears, her motivations and the stories of those who supported her during this difficult time. She also shares the aftermath of the Little Rock Nine events and the struggles involved in describing her experience to those who have not shared her experience as someone on the forefront of the struggle towards desegregation. Readers will gain knowledge about this brave individual who holds an important role in our country’s history which all citizens should be aware of. The memoir addresses racist stereotypes about African Americans which occurred during this time and unfortunately continue to persist today. The illustrations and real photographs of the era are beneficial, as they allow students to visualize the information presented. Readers must think critically as they read this account in order to determine their own perspective of the events. Readers will broaden their understanding of the events surrounding Little Rock in this informational book one of the group’s members. (ABH)
Jenkins, Steve. 2018. Apex predators: the world’s deadliest hunters, past and present. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-544-67160-7.
Readers will learn about the world’s deadliest hunters and how they managed to rule their respective ecosystems in the past and present. Paragraphs about the characteristics of these predatory animals are accompanied by illustrations based on scientific descriptions of the animals and size comparisons to the average human. Readers can compare current and past predators as they make their way through this informational text. In order to process the information, readers must carefully consider the differences between animals who lived up to 500 million years ago and those who are still alive today. The text begins with existing predators and continues to go back in time until it reaches now extinct and arguably more deadly creatures. Readers of all ages interested in the passage of time or predators will find this especially valuable. (ABH)
Wise Brown, Margaret. 2017. Good day, good night. HarperCollins. 40pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-06-238310-5. Illustrated by Loren Long.
Eye-catching illustrations with intricate details and rich colors will pull readers into the life of a young bunny. Throughout his day, the bunny greets his surroundings and tells the world goodnight as the sun sets. Young children in the preschool age range will enjoy the vivid pictures which reenforce vocabulary used regularly in daily life, as well as the simple word patterns used on each page. While it is cheerful and bright, the book does not have a real plot. However, readers ages 4-8 will enjoy reading this tale and develop greater literacy skills before bedtime. (AJ)
Kuefler, Joseph. 2018. The digger and the flower. HarperCollins (Balzer + Bray). 40pp. $19.99. ISBN 978-0-06-2424334. Illustrated by Joseph Kuefler.
In a world of non-stop digging, pushing and building, an excavator finds a flower growing amongst the rubble. Initially, it seems as though the story is all about construction vehicles, but it quickly evolves into a lesson on how to maintain the environment. Young readers will benefit socially from learning how the main character feels after something he cares about is ruined. Lessons about maintaining and caring for our environment can also be seen towards the end of the book. Young readers ages 4-8 will also cognitively benefit from learning new vocabulary about construction equipment and about the life cycle of plants (AJ)
Verdick, Elizabeth. 2017. Small Walt. Simon & Schuster ( Paula Wiseman Books). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-148-144845-1. Illustrated by Mark Rosenthal.
A small but determined snow plow goes on the ride of his life is in this twist on the classic tale “The Little Engine That Could.” The rhythmic cadence of the words will delight young readers. A message of perseverance will resonate with readers as Walt works to clear snow during a treacherous blizzard. The illustrations on every page pair well with the story and allow children to see the obstacles this small snow plow must overcome. Walt is shown by all the other snowplows and humans that he is not good enough to be like the another snow plows. Walt’s success at the end of the story provides a resounding message of support for the values of perseverance and determination young children will find inspiring. (AJ)
Grossi, Craig. 2017. Craig and Fred young reader’s edition: a marine, a stray dog, and how they rescued each other. HarperCollins. 256pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0062693358.
The true story about a man and his dog will resonate with nearly every reader as a Purple Heart recipient and a stray dog unite under unlikely circumstances. Young readers will understand the gravity of the author’s struggles through its use of accessible vocabulary and writing style. During his time as a marine in the Sangin District of Afghanistan, Grossi finds a stray dog whom he developed strong bond with. Once his deployment came to an end, he knew Craig had to come back to the United States with him. Despite times of danger and uncertainty, moments of joy and lightheartedness spread throughout foster a pleasant tone which seems unique for a book about war. The challenges the pair face show themes of love, loyalty, respect, and determination and readers will develop a deep connection with them. (AJ)
Shannon, David. 2017. Bizzy Mizz Lizzie. Scholastic (The Blue Sky Press). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-545-61943-1.
Mizz Lizzie is a busy bumblebee who always seems to have something going on. She buzzes from place to place without making any time for rest or relaxation. The lines of the illustrations make it appear as if Lizzie is always in motion. Whimsical, organic shapes and the use warm colors develop a pleasant tone throughout. Readers will learn how to value relaxation and rest in order to combat feelings of stress and self-criticism. Mizz Lizzie struggles with herself because she believes she will only achieve her dreams if she is perfect. Her best friend, Lazy Mizz Daizy, seems like a negative influence on Mizz Lizzie at first, yet through the use of white and other calm colors the author establishes MIzz Daizy as a character whose more relaxed approach to life is one all readers can learn something from. (AJ)
Sîs, Peter. 2017. Robinson. Scholastic (Scholastic Press). 48pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-545-73166-9
Adventurous young readers in search of an epic journey may look no further than this magical tale. The boy is excited to go to school in his Halloween costume, Robinson Crusoe, but is ridiculed by his classmates. At home in bed, he proceeds to dream up a grand adventure and achieve his goals in spite of his classmates’ ridicule. Color is the strongest aspect of this book, as light blues establish a relaxing setting, while dark grays cultivate a sense of approaching danger. The shapes used while the boy is awake are geometric, which implies seriousness. This is a direct contrast to the shapes and lines while the main character is dreaming, as they tend to blur the distinction between fiction and reality. The title plays homage to the author’s favorite adventurer, Robinson Crusoe, who teaches the reader lessons of kindness as well as perseverance. (AJ)
Dillon, Diane. 2018. I can be anything! Don’t tell me I can’t. Scholastic (The Blue Sky Press). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-338-16690-3.
Zoe is a brave young girl with an adventurous, determined spirit. She has incredibly ambitious goals, but has one small problem; there is a little voice inside her head who always brings up her imperfections. With every new goal, the little voice always creates a reason why Zoe should not pursue her passions. However, because Zoe is brave and determined, she always finds the strength to tell the voice she should persist. The illustrations in this picture storybook help propel the text to carry the reader’s imagination beyond the words. Primary colors like red, yellow, and blue create a bold and adventurous tone readers may be empowered by. Young readers will learn how to dream big how to develop the strength to achieve their dreams. The importance of education is also imparted upon readers, as Zoe discovers she needs to learn how to read and write in order to attain her goals. Children will feel empowered to pursue their dreams without being deterred by their fears (AJ)
Robertson, Michael. 2017. The three little pigs: A finger puppet theater book. Scholastic (Cartwheel Books). $16.99. ISBN 978-1-388-151626.
A classic folktale gains a new twist in this retelling of The Three Little Pigs. Children will see this tale in a new light as they act out the story with finger puppets. The value of hard work is evident but young readers will also learn the value of forgiveness when the pigs realize they must to forgive and care for the wolf despite his misdeeds. The pigs ;ater realize the wolf did not intend to hurt them, but was instead in search of food. The illustrations are relatively simple and include primary colors like red, blue, and yellow. Lines help demonstrate movement, such as when the wolf blows down the pigs’ houses throughout the story. Children's’ social development will benefit from learning the values of kindness and empathy. (AJ)
Shaffer, Jody Jensen. 2018. A chip off the old block. Penguin Random House LLC (Nancy Paulsen Books). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-399-17388-2. Illustrated by Daniel Miyares.
A pebble named Rocky has huge dreams to become great like his family members, who are all spectacular rock formations. Rocky shares his aspirations with his parents, who remind him he is just a pebble and unlikely to achieve this goal due to his small size. Rocky sets off on an adventure of epic prepositions to obtain advice from his relatives. Rocky is continuously discouraged on his journey until he finally stumbles upon a situation where he fits in perfectly. Rocky travels all over the United States to many different famous landmarks in order to keep young readers engaged as they learn about the country’s various landmarks. Word play with rock related vocabulary adds humor to the story such as “It was clear the two of them didn’t share the same sediment.” These moments of humor increase older readers’ enjoyment, but may go unnoticed by younger readers. Unexpected twists in the plot will keep readers of all ages interested. Whimsical illustrations bring more energy to the story with bright colors like green and yellow, which bring otherwise dull gray rock formations to life. This lively story will encourages children of all ages to believe in their wildest dreams. (AJ)
Kirby, Matthew J. 2017. Island of the sun: The dark gravity sequence. HarperCollins (Blazer+Bray). 400pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-222490-3.
The future is bleak and cold, but there is a beacon of hope in a form of twelve-year-old Eleanor. The earth is in imminent danger of another ice age, and the world believes this is part of natural weather patterns. She refuses to accept this explanation after experiencing a connection to an alien lifeform stealing the world’s power. Eleanor, her mother, and a few other trusted individuals set off on a quest to stop the aliens from completely destroying the earth. To make matters more complicated, the are all under strict surveillance and persecution by the United States government and the United Nations. Their journey takes them around in globe as they attempt to save the planet and themselves. Real-life cities, realistic modes of transpiration, and realistic people allow readers to suspend their disbelief and immerse themselves in the plot. Through Eleanor’s point of view, readers are able to understand the plot. In addition to her perspective are many different conflicts, which characters seem to run into chapter after chapter. All of the ensuing and recurring setbacks and altercations make the plot move quickly, which entices the reader to continue reading. The setting establishes a very dismal mood that lingers throughout the novel, which creates an atmosphere where heroes can arise even in the most unlikely circumstances. (AJ)
Tyre, Lisa Lewis. 2018. Hope in the holler. Penguin Random House LLC (Nancy Paulsen Books). 224pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0399-546310.
Being eleven-years-old is a struggle for most people, but Wavie’s problems are especially challenging in comparison to those of her peers. Her mother struggles to make ends meet as a single parent with a minimum wage job at a local Walmart. To make matters worse, Wavie’s mother passes away after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Once her mother passes, she is supposed to live with her best friend and her grandmother, but this changes when a woman suddenly shows up and claims to be Wavie’s aunt. Wavie never knew she had an aunt, and is even shocked when the woman is granted temporary guardianship over her. It quickly becomes apparent her aunt has ulterior motives for doing so, as she uses Wavie for a social security check and free labor around the house. While Wavie’s home life may be awful, she is still able to make close friends and keep her mother’s memory alive by learning about her past. The values of the story hook readers from page one. While Wavie’s situation is not universally experienced by the vast majority of American youth, the values conveyed by the themes immerse readers of all ages in deeply felt emotions. Themes of loyalty and the importance of friendship are common in stories of modern fiction, and are extremely prevalent in this book. Friends bring Wavie hope and are unwavering in their support for her. As young adults ages 8 – 14 develop, they often rely more on their friends and less on their parents. This important part of social development is shown as being a relatively easy transition, which in turn gives young adult readers a positive example of what healthy friendships look like, even when facing exceptionally harsh real world situations. The settings create the tone, and while both are incredibly dismal and often times hopeless, they do not drown out the possibility of a happy future. As a narrator, Wavie offers an authentic point of view which allows the reader to develop a deep sense of empathy for her struggles. (AJ)
Gratz, Alan. 2017. Refugee. Scholastic (Scholastic Press). 352pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-545-88083-1.
Told from three separate perspectives and time periods, readers understand the effects of war and persecution on young children and adults. The first narrator is Josef, a young Jewish boy living in Nazi Germany. He had a pleasant life in Germany before the Nazi’s gained political power. His father serves as a lawyer until he is forced to give up his job because of his religion. Josef’s family is forced into progressively more horrific situations until they flee the country in search of safety. The second narrator is Mahmoud, a boy living in the midst of the Syrian conflict. Syria is experiences constant warfare between the Syrian army and the rebel forces. He tries his hardest to be invisible, because it is the best survival tactic. Mahmoud and his family eventually decide to seek refuge in Europe, but getting there is much easier said than done. Isabella offers the third prospective as a young woman in 1990s Havana, Cuba when a riot breaks out against the Castro regime. Those who are caught openly opposing the communist leader are thrown in prison without little knowledge of when they may be freed, if at all. As the situation escalates, she leaves on a raft to seek protection in America. The plots and themes reflect historical and contemporary lives, which shows readers the commonalities between current crises and those of the past. Josef and Isabella’s perspectives bring history to life. While these stories are works of fiction, close attention is paid to historical details. This allows readers to experience historical situations in literature not present in nonfiction books. The child narrators foster connections for young readers ages 9-12 years. These children live extremely dangerous lives under horrific circumstances which they have no control over. Establishing a connection between the audience and the three narrators allows readers of all ages to have more empathy for those currently facing the realities of war. (AJ)
Vamos, Samantha R. 2018. Alphabet Boats. Charlesbridge. 32pp. $14.99. ISBN 987-1-58089-731-0. Illustrated by Ryan O’Rourke.
Learning the alphabet can be a struggle for many young children, and alphabet book are
an effective and popular tool used to assist the learning and memorization of the letters. While alphabet books are numerous, Alphabet Boats by Samantha R. Vamos combines the alphabet with different kinds of boats in rhythmic sentences on every page. The first line of every page states the letter and the corresponding type of boat, and the second line is used to provide a short description of the specific type of boat. For example, “A is for airboat. Its flat hull skims glade and shoal” (3). Every page, excluding the introductory page and a final page, uses the same pattern. The predictability of this form eases young readers into focusing on the content; readers only need to pay attention to the letter, words and illustrations on each page. The illustrations serve to give the reader a visual representation of the type of boat described on the page. Letters repeated multiple times on every page help young readers to associate the symbol of a letter with the name of the letter and the phoneme each letter makes. The vocabulary used is specialized boating vocabulary; for example, “H is for houseboat, a motorized home to move or moor” (10). Using complex vocabulary without definitions could potentially lessen the ability to teach readers both about boating and learning the alphabet. A dictionary listing the different kinds of boats seen in the book can be found at the end. The definitions are brief, but informative. (AJ)
Lewis, J. Patrick & Yolen, Jane. 2017. Last Laughs: Prehistoric Epitaphs. Charlesbridge. 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1- 58089-706- 8. Illustrated by Jeffrey Stewart Timmins.
Dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals are no longer living; the cause of their
extinction is unknown. Last Laughs: Prehistoric Epitaphs by J. Patric Lewis and Jane Yolen
attempts to answer how the dinosaurs died by proposing highly unlikely and silly scenarios. Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines epitaph in two different ways: first, “An inscription on or at a tomb or a grave in memory of the one buried there” and second, “A brief statement commemorating or epitomizing a deceased person or something past.” In the spirit of an epitaph, the authors write a poem describing the extinction of multiple different types of prehistoric animals. Many different types of poetry are used in the book, each page telling a different story. One example of a limerick is evident in “Terror Bird Kicks the Bucket” (23).
Seven feet high,
he could not fly,
though he tried-
it’s how he died.
Still kicking as he fell off a mountain.
The first and second lines rhyme as well as the third and fourth. The fifth line contains a
surprising element, which makes this poem a typical limerick. Each page has a poem about the death of a dinosaur, as well as short paragraph giving factual information about the specific extinct animal. The illustrations on every page contain a picture of how the dinosaur died, and depiction of the prehistoric landscape. The majority of the illustrations are done in dark colors with red tents, which suggests imminent danger for the dinosaurs. All of the animals are done using bright colors, which makes the dinosaurs the center of attention on every page. (AJ)
Jenkins, Steve. 2018. A House in the Sky: And other Uncommon Animal Homes. Charlesbridge. 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-58089-780-8. Illustrated by Robbin Gourley.
Animals are depicted in a multitude of different ways in children’s literature and are common subjects in many informational texts. Many children are fascinated by animal life. Every page in A House in the Sky: and other Uncommon Animal Homes by Steve Jenkins showcases a different animal and provides facts about what kind of shelter the specific animal lives in. Many different types of animals are seen in this book including mammals, birds, insects, and crustaceans. Each page uses large printed words that broadly describes each animal’s shelter. “A house can be under the ground…” (4). Elsewhere on the page is a more in-depth blurb about the living accommodations. For example, a reader may learn that “A badger excavates its burrow with power claws. It makes a new den often, and it may sleep in a different home every night” (4). By using the large text, the author is able to maintain the essence of a story that flows from page to page. The smaller more specific text gives the reader more factual information about the different forms of shelter and the kinds of animals that inhabit them. By using these specific blurbs, the reader is able to choose which animals to read about based on their own interests. A glossary is included at the end with further information about the animals showcased in the book. The illustrations done by Robbin Gourley are in muted pastel tones. They appear painted with blurred lines around the borders of every image. The animal found in the illustrations is the focus and are done with harsher lines and colors in comparison to the background drawing the reader’s eye towards the animal and its habitat. (AJ)
Simon, Seymour. 2018. Icebergs & Glaciers. HarperCollins. 31pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-247039-3
Some children may know that icebergs can be found in the ocean and that they are the reason for the sinking of the Titanic. Seymour Simon sets out to further educate readers about these frozen mountainous structures in Icebergs & Glaciers. This informational text takes readers on an adventure to a scarcely populated environment to teach readers exactly what icebergs are, how they move, and how they were formed. Each page features a photograph to accompany the information. Each page progresses in detail about the icebergs and glaciers; it is imperative that readers pay close attention to the details on previous pages. Specific vocabulary is bolded, and the definitions to these words can be found in the glossary at the end of the book. The photographs are grand and show the scope and size of icebergs and glaciers. Other photographs are taken from microscopes, which allows the reader to see incredibly small details in the otherwise massive landscapes. (AJ)
Patrick, Denise Lewis. 2018. A Girl Named Rosa. Scholastic Inc (Scholastic Press). 48pg. $4.99. ISBN 978-1-338-19307-7.
Rosa Parks is a well-known individual, remembered for her courage during the Civil Rights movement. Her infamous refusal to leave her seat on a Montgomery bus as well as many other aspects of her life are documented in a biography for young readers. The plot takes the reader though Rosa Park’s life beginning with her young years in Pine Level, Alabama. Rosa’s father left home to find work when she was only three years old. After her dad left, Rosa and her mother moved back with her parents. As she got older, Rosa worked diligently both at school and her multiple jobs. Rosa’s grandfather instilled in Rosa the values of self-respect and courage despite adversity. Her husband also encouraged her involvement in the civil rights movement. The setting stays in Alabama throughout the book, but is written over the course of forty-five years. The setting establishes a dismal mood but, through Rosa, the reader is able to see hope for a brighter future. The most powerful aspect of the book is the theme of courage. While the biography is accurate, the atrocities committed against African Americans are understated throughout the book. The racist acts of white society are summed up in the following statement: “Across the country, there were white groups who used violence to frighten, and sometimes hurt, black people. In Rosa’s community, gangs of white men wearing robes and masks sometimes attacked black people, setting fire to their churches, schools, and homes.” (16) The illustrations use color to imitate the mood described on the page. Darker colors oftentimes show ensuing danger or difficulty for Rosa and her family, while light colors are used in contrast to imply a lighter mood or convey success. The illustrator uses more detail in the faces compared to the rest of illustration. Manwill distinctly uses lines to show emotions on the characters faces. The book contains both a timeline and a glossary of the words that are bolded throughout the chapters. The timeline has real photographs of Parks and her family. Lastly, the book does a short profile about an eleven year old girl who is still working towards racial equality to empower young girls to bring about change in today’s society. (AJ)
Keller, Sunny. 2017. Lifehacks for Kids. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 203pg. $14.99. ISBN 978-1-328-74213-1.
Informational books get a new interactive twist with Sunny Keller’s book, Life Hacks for
Kids. Crafts and creations of all kinds are pictured on each page with detailed step-by-step
instructions. The crafts are separated into different categories. In between chapters, Keller answers questions about her life. These crafts encourage children and adults alike to channel their creativity by making something unique and entertaining. Some of the categories encourage recycling by showing readers how to make something new out of their trash. One of her ideas is to make an at home bowling alley with old water bottles (6). The reader is learning to be resourceful and sustainable by creating something as simple as a bowling pin. There are photographs on every page showing the reader step-by-step what their project should look like. There are very bright colors on every page, which keeps the mood light. Keller also encourages readers to further their own creations by putting their own personal designs and twists on every project. (AJ)
Hood, Susan. Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World. HarperCollins. 33pg. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-06-269945-9. Illustrated by Selina Alko, Sophie Blackall, Lisa Brown…et all.
Empowering young readers is an important part of children’s literature. Depicting diverse heroic figures who reflect the physical and emotional identities of these students is a key part of creating quality literature. Shaking Things Up by Susan Hood profiles 14 young women who have changed the world in different ways. Each story is distinctly written in its own form of poetry and tells stories of young women who did extraordinary things. The poetry differs in rhythm, rhyme, and shape. The book opens with the story of the first ever female firefighter in New York City, Mary Anning. In the late 1780s, her job was to feed the firefighters; when they all fell ill with influenza, Mary took the city’s safety into her own hands and pulled the fire cart and worked by herself. The last girl shown is Malala Yousafzai, who won the Nobel prize in 2014 for her commitment to educating girls. The biographical characters while all being female, are very diverse. They lived in different time periods and places spanning continents and over two hundred years. The diversity of the girls shown in the book allow those from many different backgrounds to connect and feel empowered. Thirteen different women illustrated this book. The majority of the illustrations are done over a plain white background, which makes the images have a dreamlike and airy quality. Lots of lines are used to mimic the movement and action of these incredible girls. Lots of red and other intense colors are exciting and empowering. (AJ)
Swanson, James L. Chasing King’s Killer: The Hunt for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Assassin. Scholastic Inc (Scholastic Press). 255pg. $19.99. ISBN 978-0-545-72333-6.
Martin Luther King Jr. is arguably one of the most influence people in modern history. During his life he preached tolerance and understanding; he encouraged the practice of peaceful protest despite facing horrendous violence and hate from hundreds of thousands of white Americans. Reverend Dr. King was assassinated on his balcony at a hotel in Memphis Tennessee. Chasing King’s Killer: The Hunt for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Assassin by James L. Swanson tells the story about looking for the murderer. The book talks in depth about what was going on in Dr. King’s life, as well as his assassin’s. It mentions the political and cultural climate of the United States during this time. The book takes place in many different places and spans years. The murder took place in Memphis, so a lot of the book is set there. Swanson gives the reader a very in-depth look into the assassin before, during, and after the murder, showing the reader a viewpoint that is not always seen in children’s literature. Since this informational book is set in the past, giving the reader background knowledge from this specific time period helps the reader to understand the racial tension and discrimination as well as hateful words and actions that were incredibly common at the time. For younger readers this information is crucial to understanding not only why Dr. King was so important, but also what civil rights and segregation are. After the conclusion of the book, the author lists other books which talk about the assassination, as well as giving more in-depth information that is not crucial for the book, but is a great source of information for those interested in the topic. (AJ)
Van Biesen, Koen. 2017. Roger is going fishing. WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). 42pp. $16.00. ISBN 978-0-80-285491-9.
This book was written for the age of approximately 4-6, or lower elementary aged students. It works on readers’ cognitive development. Thanks to the illustrations, children can learn to associate pictures with words and sounds. As an example, there are cows illustrated and the word “moo” also appears on the same page. Readers can take in the descriptions being provided and come to conclusions based off what may be occurring within the story. This story covers a short range of time, which can give students perspective in how many things can happen in the short time of biking through town. (LEK)
McCleery, Peter. 2018. Bob and Joss take a hike!. HarperCollins. 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-241532-5. Illustrated by Vin Vogel.
Readers of all ages, specifically middle elementary aged students, will enjoy this picture book. It focuses on personality development and social development. The book emphasizes the importance of responsibility for others, and one’s role in society. The idea of doing one’s part can be crucial to the success of others. With social development, the plot covers the concept of teamwork and collaboration. Working together to solve problems can sometimes be more beneficial than solving them alone. An example from the book was when they boys became lost in the woods and needed to work together to get themselves back to camp. (LEK)
Sierra, Judy. 2018. The great dictionary caper. Simon & Schuster (Paula Wiseman Books). 40pp. $17.99 ISBN 978-1-48-148004-8. Illustrated by Eric Comstock.
The intended age range is for elementary students of all ages. It can be incorporated into any language lesson plan as it covers a wide range of vocabulary terms as well as word types. The author includes language elements such as onomatopoeias, rhyme, homophones, interjections, and many more. There is a hidden theme of personal development through this plot. The readers can grow in their understanding of language, to develop a stronger vocabulary and language background. The elements and topics listed throughout this book help readers expand their vocabulary knowledge and understanding of how a word relates to other words. An example from the text comes from the homophones page, where the author states the words “tango two-by-two” and provides a picture of words, which fall under this category such as “ate” and “eight.” (LEK)
Tolonen, Tuutikki. 2015. Monster Nanny. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 304pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-54-494354-4. Illustrated by Pasi Pitkanen. Translated by Annira Silver.
The intended age range is upper elementary aged students in grades four or five. There is a clear theme revealed by changes in characters throughout this plot. The main theme is to accept others for who they are. An example of this would be with the monster and his connection to the children he is in charge of for two weeks. The children originally are hesitant to get too close to this creature, as they are unaware of what it is. By the final scenes, the children grow to be very fond of this monster. Another theme in is growth through expression. The monster does not speak any English; therefore, communication seems nearly impossible during the rising action. However, the monster has learned to express himself through drawing, grunting, and even the use of emotions and facial expressions. (LEK)
Hoefler, Kate. 2017. Great big things. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-54-477477-3. Illustrated by Noah Klocek.
The illustrations within are full of colors, which convey the mood of the story. The overall mood is portrayed through positivity. An example is from the last two pages where the mouse has found a crumb and realizes it is the little things in life which make life worth living. The colors on the first set of pages are dark and dismal with a gradual increase of light in what appears to be the sun rising over the mountains in the background. The final page is bright and lively as if the sun has finally fully risen. The colors are golden and yellow, which convey a positive and happy mood. This allows the readers, ages 4-7, to feel similar emotions as characters in the story are feeling. (LEK)
Britt, Paige. 2017. Why am I me?. Scholastic Inc. (Scholastic Press). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-33-805314-2. Illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko.
The illustrations within are full of many different colors, which convey the differences in people and society. Therefore, the illustrations help readers understand the differences between what makes them who they are, and how other people are created. An example of this is found throughout the story between two characters of different color. The differences between them are the color of their skin, but also the color of their clothing and hair, and not just color but height and shape as well. Their appearances and experiences are what shape them to be who they are. (LEK)
Bergmann, Andy. 2017. The starry giraffe. Simon & Schuster (Aladdin). 40pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-48-149100-6.
This is a picture storybook with a clear theme of personal development throughout the story. The giraffe is hungry and finds an apple tree, but other animals who cannot reach the tree are hungry too. The giraffe makes the choice to help each animal and feed them first, until the last apple is given away. The giraffe is feeling disheartened towards the end, but finds his own apple tree and many more to eat all by himself. He did not however, eat an apple until he had helped everyone else eat too. This shows his care for others and his selflessness. Though he was hungry and wanted to eat the apples, he knew others who were hungry had no way to reach the apples. He went out of his way to grow in his personal development. Because the giraffe is selfless, he is developing his personality. He will continue to grow in his ability and willingness to help others, just like he did throughout the plot. (LEK)
Kann, Victoria. 2017. Pinkalicious and the babysitter. HarperCollins. 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-256689-8
This is an easy-to-read story with elements of cognitive development. Throughout the plot, the main characters are conflicted. The young boy is anxious about having a babysitter, but eventually grows fond of her. He breaks through the social barrier and realizes new people are not always bad – change can be positive. Later, both the brother and the sister are served peas with their meals. Neither of them wants to eat them, so the babysitter makes a game out of it. The children come to realize the peas are not disgusting. This is growth in their understanding of taste. Another concept stressed is social development. At the end of the story, the brother drops his mom’s mug on the ground and it shatters. Instead of crying about it, throwing it away, or pretending it did not happen, the three of them decide to make a mosaic out of the broken pieces. Though they could have kept it a secret and not told their mother they broke her mug, they made the right choice and made the most of this problem. They confronted it head on and successfully created a piece of art from a disaster. (LEK)
Rutten, Mélanie. 2018. The rabbit and the shadow. WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). 54pp. $18.00 ISBN 978-0-80-285485-8.
There is a compilation of six short stories within this book. Each story flows to the next, maintaining the story line and two main characters, Rabbit and Stag. There are also six total characters throughout the story. Each character grows in their abilities and personal challenges. Therefore, there is a clear theme revealed by changes within the characters and each character’s personal development. Highlighting one of the main characters, which conveys these themes is Rabbit. He is best friends with Stag in the beginning, but when the Stag says they will not be able to be together forever, Rabbit decides to disappear. Rabbit, like any other human or animal, realizes he must learn to survive and be on his own. He learns the concept of independence. This occurred through the story itself, but at the end, the two friends are reunited, and Rabbit understands just because they are growing up, it does not mean they have to grow apart. There are also great uses of color. When there are dreaming scenes, the colors are mixed and the pictures themselves are all bunched together. For example, when the setting is sad, or it is night time there are dark and dull colors used. The uses of these colors, allows readers to grasp the emotional context being presented. (LEK)
Rylant, Cynthia (reteller). 2017. Sleeping Beauty. Disney (Disney-Hyperion). 40pp. $16.99 ISBN 978-1-42-312108-4. Illustrated by Erin McGuire.
Sleeping Beauty is a young girl, who is cursed and sleeps for 100 years before she wakes up from a prince’s kiss. There is a slight element of cognitive development throughout. Readers, ages 4-9, will gain a deeper understanding of patience as they follow the plot and the conflicts in this fairy tale. Even though Sleeping Beauty was asleep for a long time, the townspeople had to be patient and wait the 100 years before she would wake up. There is also a clear use of color. The darker the colors, the more evil or bad it is. The brighter the color, the safer or more trustworthy it is. As an example, the sharp thorny vines created by the evil fairy were black. The prince and the good fairies, however, were bright and colored in more lively and appealing hues. (LEK)
Costello, David Hyde. 2017. Little Pig saves the ship. Charlesbridge. 32pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-1-58-089715-0
There is a strong concept of cognitive development portrayed throughout the plot. Little Pig is left at home with his dad while his siblings go to a sailing camp. Little Pig wants to go, but is too little and inexperienced, so his siblings leave him with a book on how to tie knots. Little Pig practiced and mastered some techniques in his spare time. One day, his dad takes him to a stream where they build a dock for the boat Little Pig has made. On the last day, there is a big gust of wind, which blew the ship down the stream. Little Pig and his dad cannot catch it and the stream was too deep to walk through. Thinking ahead, Little Pig runs to the nearby bridge, ties a knot he learned how to make from his book and drops it down to catch the boat as it passed by. This example demonstrates Little Pig’s growth. He went from not knowing the ropes of sailing, to practicing his skills, and finally began applying his skills in order to save his boat. (LEK)
Mull, Brandon. 2018. Five kingdoms: Time jumpers. Simon & Schuster (Aladdin). 448pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-1-44-249712-2.
The main characters are all humans with human characteristics, but non-human qualities. Each of the friends in the story has a power, Cole’s is strength. This quality is displayed on page 174 when Cole picks up a sword and “energizes it,” awakening the power within. Cole and his sidekicks are from Arizona, but are currently stuck in the Five Kingdoms. Their destination in this final book of the series is Creon, where they are to defeat Ramarro, an albino man with long white hair who stands at least eight feet tall. Though Ramarro does not possess standard human characteristics, he is portrayed in a way making him seem real. He has strengths and powers just like Cole who is a human, and he can communicate in the same language even though he is from a non-existent realm. There are strong themes also conveyed throughout, which portray feelings and emotions readers can relate to. An example of this relates to the battle where Cole and his friends finally meet Ramarro. They are confronted with a fight or flight response after encountering something they are internally afraid of. This is something readers can connect to, as these are emotions they can feel. The author also creates a believable setting for readers. Though the story is taking place in the Five Kingdoms rather than Earth, the features found in the fantasy realm are realistic. Creon has grass, ponds, streams, and buildings. These buildings when the group first encounters them, are charred and smoke is expelling from the debris. This is a realistic comparison to reality when a building is burned down. (LEK)
Perez, Celia. 2017. The first rule of punk. Penguin Random House LLC (Viking Books for Young Readers). 336pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-42-529040-8.
Malu is a biracial Latina with a passionate soul. This contemporary realistic fiction shows a few elements of her culture. The primary focus is on the setting and what happens within it. Malu attends Posada Middle School where she has the desire to fight for things she believes in. This relates her story to the contemporary world readers live in. A relatable example is when she has people sign a petition for cafeteria food changes. Malu is dealing with issues of doubt as many of her classmates feel as though she is not who she appears to be. Therefore, she sets out to prove herself by sticking up for what she believes in. One way she does this is by performing a song in Spanish in front of her peers. The overall theme of this book is to stay true to oneself. This relates to young adults, ages 8–12, as they are often under societal pressures causing them to wear the figurative “mask.” The strong and independent personality Malu portrays is an appropriate role model. Her characteristics are such that readers can strive to be just like her. (LEK)
Napoli, Donna Jo. 2018. Hunger: A tale of courage. Simon & Schuster (Paula Wiseman Books). 272pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-1-48-147749-9.
This is a historical fiction book based on the Irish potato famine in 1846. The main character is Loraine. The land Loraine and her family live and grow their potatoes on is owned by an English landlord. The family is struggling to finds ways to make ends meet, until Loraine befriends her landlord’s daughter Susanna. Told through the perspective of Loraine, readers get a strong sense for what young adults experienced during this devastating time. Napoli clearly displays the time period and demonstrates the emotional distress people experienced during the famine. An example of this occurs when Emmet, a family friend, became so ill he began coughing blood. The need for food was growing stronger as each day passed. This is something not all young adults will relate to, but the descriptions given by Napoli allows readers with no relation to the concepts a glimpse into what life is like in starvation mode. This can give young adults a greater sense of appreciation for what they have. (LEK)
Wright, Richard. 2018. Seeing into tomorrow. Millbrook Press. $19.99. 32pp. ISBN 978-1-51-241865-1. Illustrated by Nina Crews.
This is a haiku based on the spring time and looking ahead to tomorrow. The haiku details elements of things the reader may see when spring arrives. These sights are emphasized through vivid illustrations. The illustrations are photographs of the described concept, which are then meshed together to create the image. For example, the author describes a tree. The illustrations then are tiny images of tree leaves and branches overlapping to create the tree. Each page then has an image of an African American boy. The boys’ pictured stand out above the images and are not segmented into tiny photos but rather, are one whole unit displayed over the other images. This allows readers to see the boys as whole people and the objects themselves as pieces of their worlds. The colors are also important. When thinking of spring, the color green tends to come to mind. Growth and blooming triggers readers to assume things are getting green again. Another color is blue with the sky being clear and the sun shining down. These colors are both emphasized throughout each image. Relating back to the African American boys displayed, Crews intended to incorporate boys of color to symbolize Richard Wright and the way he viewed the things he wrote about. The boys are symbolic to the original author of this haiku. (LEK)
Lendroth, Susan. 2018. Hey-ho to Mars we’ll go!. Charlesbridge. $16.99. 40pp. ISBN 978-1-58-089744-0. Illustrated by Bob Kolar.
This is a space version of the classic folk song “The Farmer in the Dell.” The story follows the path of a rocket ship from Earth to Mars with each step matching the tune. Each page has a descriptive section to go along with each portion of the journey. This detail emphasizes what is really occurring in each phase of travel. The words on the page also coordinate with the concept of space. Words on Earth are down at the bottom of the pages and right side up. When the rocket reaches outer space, the words begin to turn all over the page, often times having the reader rotate the book 180 degrees to read what is being said. This can give readers a sense of what it would be like to float around and freely move in space. The book does not follow traditional flow of text and neither do human bodies in space. The final element to touch on is color. This book keeps the solar system and outer space itself very dark and dull as it would be in real life. However, the rocket ship and Mars are bright and easy to spot. Once inside the rocket ship things are bright and white to help illuminate things within the rocket even though the outside surroundings are dark. (LEK)
Gomi, Taro. 2017. I know numbers!. Chronicle Books. 40pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-45-215918-8.
Numbers and their application to the real world are the focus of this concept book for young readers in lower elementary grades. Each page introduces a new way to use numbers in life. The illustrations then build upon what the page is saying. For example, on page 8, the author mentions numbers are a part of price tags. The illustration then has an open market with food labeled with prices. Having the illustrations depict the concept, allows readers to understand the idea presented on the page. Another example is clothing. The size of the clothes is known based on the number shown on the tag. All of the examples relate to the lives of people of all ages. This helps make things applicable and relevant for young readers who are just learning about the value of numbers (LEK).
Killion, Ann. 2018. Champions of men’s soccer. Penguin Random House LLC (Philomel Books). 304pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-39-954898-7.
Those who have a strong interest in soccer will be interested in this book intended for upper elementary aged students. The chapters consist of a collection of biographies about some of the most well-known professional soccer players. Statistics at the end of each biography highlight the accomplishments of each player during their career. There is a section listing all the leagues in the world. Another section deals with the United States World Cup starting lineup. The final section discusses World Cup highlights and upcoming superstars. Terminology throughout is rooted in soccer concepts. The end notes of the book include a table of contents, photographs of the players, and an index. A reference page would have enhanced the credibility of the information conveyed about each player. (LEK)
Shetterly, Margot Lee. 2018. Hidden figures: The true story of four black women and the space race. HarperCollins Publishers. 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-274246-9. Illustrated by Laura Freeman.
Students who are interested in women’s rights and concepts relating to space are most likely to read this book. The intended age range is for lower elementary students. (LEK)
Turner, Tracey. 2016. Animalsaurus: Incredible creatures from prehistoric and modern times. Bloomsbury Publishing (Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books). 96pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-1-68119-544-5. Illustrated by Harriet Russell.
Students who are interested in animals from prehistoric and modern times and are in upper elementary, would most likely read this book. (LEK)
Zuckerman, Gregory. 2018. Rising above: Inspiring women in sports. Penguin Random House LLC (Philomel Books). $17.99. 224pp. ISBN 978-0-39-954747-8.
Children who are interested in women playing professionally in varying sports would be most likely to enjoy this book. This is age appropriate for students in upper elementary and early secondary school. This is a biographical novel and covers ten professional female athletes from a wide array of sports, including to soccer, tennis, and gymnastics. There are also endnotes such as a table of contents laying out the rest of the book, an index, and a bibliography. The bibliography is broken up by each athlete and where the author found the information. For students who are interested in a player, the bibliography is beneficial to use in their own research. For a handful of the athletes, the author conducted personal interviews to gather back stories from the player. With each chapter, Zuckerman discusses the athletes life growing up, how they came to love the sport and then touches on their professional career as well. For example, Simone Biles was interviewed personally for this book. She discusses her childhood and the struggles she went through to get herself to the Olympic games, where she became a gold star Olympian in gymnastics. (LEK)
Going, K. L. 2017. The shape of the world: A portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright. Simon & Schuster (Beach Lane Books). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-44-247821-3. Illustrated by Lauren Stringer.
Children appreciating art would be most interested in this book. It targets children in elementary school. This biography follows the life of Frank Lloyd Wright. There is a clear emphasis on the illustrations providing a vivid visual for readers. The colors are vibrant and realistic. They also portray the feelings and weather conditions over time. Shape is another big factor emphasized. The shapes of objects are very realistic and help readers identify what is happening. For example, there is a page toward the middle of the book with raindrops and lightning and a river. The raindrops are depicted with differing circle sizes, the lightning is in jagged shapes, which are surrounded by dark rolling clouds, while the river shows movement and direction compared to the bank and trees that are sedentary around it. The author also provides endnotes with a sources page citing where he gathered his knowledge, as well as a key of works page. In this section, the author gives credit to the sections of the book where Wright’s architectural structures are conveyed in the illustrations. (LEK)
Tomsic, Kim. 2018. The 11:11 wish. HarperCollins (Katherine Tegen Books). 368pp.
$16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-265494-6.
Everyone makes wishes; whether we are young or old, we make them on birthday cakes, eyelashes, or wishbones. Perhaps few people believe they will come to fruition, but what if we could make them a reality? On one hot, Arizona day, Megan finds a way to make her wishes come true at her new school. One of her teachers has a cat clock in the classroom which looks just like the one her grandmother used have. When Megan was a little girl and the clock would show the time 11:11, her grandma would say a rhyme and make a wish. Megan misses her grandma and the comfort of her home in Colorado and decides to say the rhyme and make a wish for old time’s sake. To her surprise, the wish comes true! Megan creates a plan to amaze her classmates with fun activities to gain popularity and feel accepted. Soon, her new friend Ally encourages Megan to run as co-captain and help her win the spirit captain election. Megan knows her newfound magic can help her and plans to assist her friend. However, the more wishes she makes, the more Mehan begins to change. She calls her grandmother in a panic and learns she must pay the cost for each use of magic, no matter what it may be. Megan now has to figure out how to seem “normal,” make friends, help Ally, and undo the magic before the day of the election. The plot encourages students, especially those in middle school struggling to find friends, to be themselves. Young readers ages 8-12 who stay true to themselves will develop more genuine friendships. No one needs any magic to make friends, except the “magic” already inside. (KLK)
Sliwerski, Jessica Reid. 2017. Cancer hates kisses. Penguin Random House LLC (Dial Books). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 9780735227811. Illustrated by Mika Song.
Those who have had a family member with cancer or another life-threatening disease know what a terrifying, confusing time it can create, especially for families with young children. Parents are often unsure of the best way to tell their kids what is happening when a family member is ill. In this book, Mama is fighting cancer while trying to be the best mom she can be. Her children distract her from the hardships of the disease and fuel her desire to defeat the cancer. Love and family relationships are one of the best medicines to give to a cancer patient, as it often helps patients recover faster from a surgery or a round of chemotherapy. Love holds families together despite life’s greatest trials. This story helps parents show their kids that while they may lose their hair or feel tired after chemotherapy, they are still there to love and support them. (KLK)
Jacoby, Sarah. 2018. Forever or a day. Chronicle Books. 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4521-6463-2.
Time is a tricky thing to grasp and people often say “there are not enough hours in the day.” Many wish they had more time, while others believe days go by too slowly. Everyone has different thoughts on time where it goes once it has passed by, and what the future time will bring. People can choose to follow time or ignore it, but once it is gone, there is nothing to do but let it pass by. Watercolor illustrations allows warm colors like orange and yellow flow and mix together. A number of other colors like blue, purple, and green portray different parts of life where time may be. Different lighting sources, like sunshine, lamps, and artificial light in buildings also convey the passage of time. This powerful poem about treasuring time and making it count will resonate with readers of all readers; however, it is important for children and adults to use their time wisely. (KLK)
Verde, Susan. 2018. Hey, wall: A story of art and community. Simon & Schuster (Paula Wiseman Books). 40pp. $17.99 ISBN 978-1-4814-5313-4. Illustrated by John Parra.
Throughout the story, various characters pass by a dirty, decrepit stone wall. As each season passes by, the wall never changes. One day, a young boy with a bright dea wants to make a change in his neighborhood. The boy gathers his art supplies, friends, family, and neighbors and they all begin to share their stories and make the wall their own. The community graces the cracks and stone with color and laughter, which shows how the neighborhood connects and cares for each member in it. As the end of the day draws near. the wall is covered in exquisite color, memories, stories, and dreams from the neighborhood. Community and expression are the main themes of this book. Neighbors constantly share stories, cultures, and meals throughout the seasons and come together to remodel the wall. Young readers will learn community is valued aspect of life which builds communication skills, true friendships and connection they should not take for granted. (KLK)
O’Brien, Anne, Sibley. 2018. Someone new. Charlesbridge. 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-58089-831-7. Illustrated by Anne Sibley O’Brien.
In this companion to I’m New Here, three American-born students help three new students who have immigrated from other countries. Maria is from Guatemala and Jesse wants to assist her because as a former new student, he understand the challenges of adjusting to a new environment. However, Jesse is unable to understand Maria because she does not speak English. After Maria practices English, the two are able to communicate and form a friendship. Jin is from Korea and his student ambassador is Jason. Jason finds it difficult to read his writing. Both struggle to read each other’s writing until the boys decide to communicate through comics and illustrations. Soon, Jin and Jason begin to lean more about each other and begin to teach each other how to write in their respective languages. Fatimah is from Somalia and Emma is her student helper. Fatimah is extremely quiet and is too petrified to speak to anyone. Emma struggles to help and communicate with Fatimah. One day, Emma draws a picture of herself and Fatimah together and they begin to create pictures of their lives to communicate. These stories exemplify the themes of friendship and acceptance. The relationships start out rocky, but after the students put forth new knowledge and develop new ways to communicate with the other the friendships become stronger. The three students from different countries are portrayed with empathy and with the absence of stereotypes. Readers are able to easily connect with the story, especially if they have recently moved themselves or have new students in their class. (KLK)
Ruzzier, Sergio. 2018. Fox and Chick: the party: and other stories. Chronicle Books. 56pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-1-4521-5288-2.
Every day fox attempts to live his life, and each day he is interrupted by his friend Chick. In each short tale, Chick appears with a problem or a request while Fox tries to relax. Fox does his best to help Chick, but it becomes frustrated as he continually has to explain his actions or contend with Chick’s everchanging ideas. These three short stories are an entertaining bedtime story for young children. Friendship is the strongest theme amongst all three plots because no matter what happens during the story, Fox and Chick hug and celebrate their friendship at the end. The lines in the illustrations are curved and soft in each picture. The soft lines keep the story welcoming and friendly. There are few frustrating moments in the book, but even when these moments appear, the lines maintain a soft and calming tone for readers. Fox is calm and more mature, while Chick seems like a demanding child who does whatever he desires without concern for the consequences. These brief, humorous, and playful tales will brighten anyone’s day and shows the love and bliss inherent in authentic friendships. (KLK)
Gorman, Chris. 2018. One of a kind. Penguin Random House LLC (Nancy Paulsen Books). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-5247-4062-7.
Everything seen, done, and experienced is the result of diversity around the world. Diversity makes the world unique, vibrant, and intriguing. The main character struggles with being different and feeling alienated from the world. He is constantly ponders why he is different and what the reasons may be. His outfits? His attitude? His music? Eventually, the boy finally discovers if those who feel different find others who feel similarly, they can become one community and celebrate their uniqueness.In fact, the best friendships always embrace differences. The theme coincides with the plot which allows children to accept themselves, believe in their dreams, and follow them. The illustrations complement the plot and the themes. The only color on the pages are the words of the story drawing the reader’s attention to the text. The lines are connected, curved, and soft to create an inviting and warm feeling to help the reader understand difference is amazing and should be celebrated. (KLK)
Allen, Elanna. 2018. Pet dad. Penguin Random House LLC (Dial Books For Young Readers). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-525-42826-8.
At one point or another, children always seem to ask for a pet. Plum desperately wants a pet and would do absolutely anything to own one; even turn her dad into a pet! Plum begins to experiment and turns her father into one. There are multiple issues with this, as her father refuses to perform tricks and Plum struggles to figure out how to train him. Eventually, Plum discovers her dad can be a pet and her dad at the same time and the pair end the day snuggled in each other’s arms as they celebrate their human and pet qualities. There are few colors in this book; the trees and grass are a blue-grey which conveys a muted background to show off the bright color of Plum’s shirt and her dad’s tie. Each time Plum’s father says “no,” the word is shown in large bright orange text. The important parts of the theme connect with the orange, bolded words. After Plum’s realization, the orange words are now “hug,” “love,” and exciting activities she does with her dad. While pets are intriguing and delightful, the prized “pet” may already be at home. (KLK)
Yolen, Jane (reteller). 2018. Mizilca. In Not One Damsel in Distress: Heroic Girls from World Folklore. (pp. 57-63). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). $15.99. ISBN 978-1-32-890020-3. Illustrated by Susan Guevara.
In far-off Romania, Mizilca is the youngest of three daughters of a brave knight. However, the knight has become ill and cannot go and serve the sultan. According to tradition, only a son is allowed to take their father’s place to serve. Disguised as men, each daughter wants to serve in his place. The two oldest daughters turn back from obstacles their father has placed for them. Mizilca finally convinces her father to allow her to go and serve the sultan. Unlike her sisters, Mizilca is not frightened by anything on the path and reaches the palace to begin her duties to the sultan. The sultan is not sure if she is a man or a maiden. Throughout the year she serves as a knight,, the sultan tries to fool her to reveal herself. Mizilca manages to see the tricks and finishes her year of service still undercover as her father’s son. The sultan confesses he never could figure out if she was a man or maiden. Mizilca rides away without saying a word and returns home for a victory feast. The theme of being brave and showing women can do anything a man can do, dominates the plot. It gives women power and confidence to go out and be the hero for once. The title speaks for the traditional tales, and they are empowering and send important messages to any reader. Not only was the heroine brave, she cares about her family, and she is kind, beautiful and confident. Society focuses on the beauty of women when other characteristics should be dominant, such as intelligence, integrity, courage, and compassion. (KLK)
DePaola, Tomie. 2018. In a small kingdom. Simon & Schuster (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). 48pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-48-149800-5. Illustrated by Doug Salati.
The plot of this story begins with the beloved king dying and leaving the kingdom and his imperial robe to his youngest son. When the prince’s half brother discovers his brother inherits the kingdom, he is angry. The brother then decides to take the imperial magical robe because if the prince loses the robe he will not be able to rule. The brother then rips it and throws the robe into the wind. When the prince discovers the robe is gone he locks himself in his room. The prince feels he disappointed the kingdom and does not believe he should be the next ruler. Outside of the gates of the kingdom, there are children playing with pieces of the robe. The children find as many as they can and bring it to Amah. Amah and the sewers begin to sew the robe back together. When they discover there is not enough material, they ask the villagers to collect fabric meaningful to them to complete the robe. It is completed at last and Amah brings it to the prince. The prince rejoices and thanks them and claims each time he wears it the robe will remind him of his love for the kingdom and the kingdom’s love for him. The donated fabric and new robe reflect the prince’s love for his kingdom. The theme explains how love can overcome all problems and help in the darkest of times. The artwork shows diverse characters of all colors. The prince is in fact African American and the villagers seem to be portrayed as Native Americans showing all the parts of cultures making up the world. The details in the illustrations are detailed: when the children are looking for the fabric it is all over the page and in different heights. Some of the fabric is in the air, a few pieces are in trees, and others are on the ground or stuck by a rock or in mud. The waves of the river are curved and show flowing movements and seem to have choppy waves from the wind blowing the fabric as well. The lines throughout the book are soft and calm, even as the village hurries to complete the robe, they stay calm to make it perfect. The plot is beautiful and shows how leaders also need guidance and love. (KLK)
Polacco, Patricia. 2018. Holes in the sky. Penguin Random House LLC (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers). 48pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-1-5247-3948-5. Illustrated by Patricia Polacco.
Patricia Polacco’s favorite person in the whole world is her Babushka. She enjoys sitting in the backyard and gazing up at the stars with her. When Babushka falls ill and passes away, Patricia is left to deal with the earth-shattering loss. After her family sells their farm and moves to California, Patricia meets Stewart, a boy who lives down the street. She and Stewart form a fast friendship as he shows her around her new neighborhood. Soon, Patricia is introduced to Stewart’s grandmother, Miss Eula, and she is amazed by how familiar Miss Eula seems to her, as if they have meet somewhere before. Miss Eula shows Patricia and Stewart how to be compassionate because their grumpy neighbor, Ms. Bacci, is more than meets the eye. Lead by Miss Eula, Stewart, Patricia, and the rest of the neighborhood help Ms. Bacci by giving her something she once lost. Through this act of kindness, Patricia learns she and Ms. Bacci have more in common than she would have imagined. Polacco paints a story of empathy and growth through loss. The colorful imagery ties the whole story together and draws the reader in to show a treasured memory from the author’s childhood. (ACL)
Arnold, Elana K. 2018. Bat and the waiting game. HarperCollins (Walden Pond Press). 192pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-244585-8. Illustrated by Charles Santoso.
Bixby Alexander Tam, or Bat for short, only cares about Thor, a baby skunk his family finds and plans to care for until he is strong enough to go out on his own. Bat has an eye for detail in all aspects of life, but especially when it comes to Thor, who he schedules his whole day around. When his sister Janie gets a lead role in the school play, the whole family has to change their schedules. Bat does not get to spend as much time with Thor because of his mother’s new work schedule. However, Bat enjoys being at school and conducting a project about Thor with his friend Israel. Bat ends up going to Israel’s house after school when his mother can’t pick him up. As much as Bat enjoys spending time with Israel, he is anxious for everything to go back to normal so he can spend time with Thor. His anxiety drives him to make a pretty critical mistake his sister may not easily forgive. Readers do not know until the middle of the story, but Bat has autism. His thought process and attention to detail bring the reader into his everyday life and how his autism influences his relationships and point of view. While he may make mistakes sometimes, Bat’s relationships with his family and friends are positive and everything turns out well for him in the end. (ACL)
Hall, Kristen. 2018. The honeybee. Simon & Schuster (Atheneum Books for Young Readers). 48pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-6997-5. Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault.
This is a delightful, educational portrayal of the lives of bees for students ages 4-8. Readers are lead through the pollination process and nectar collection bees conduct in order to make honey. The narration style is simple, but effectively uses accessible language to explain how bees live. The illustrations allow readers to follow the flight of the honeybee as it works with its fellow bees to collect nectar and bring it back to the hive. More complex topics, such as the “dance” bees do outside their hive to communicate the location of their nectar source to those inside is also detailed in a clear manner. Young readers will enjoy this entertaining explanation of the lifestyle of bees. (ACL)
Blanc, Katherine. 2017. Melvin the mouth. Charlesbridge. 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-58089-714-3. Illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler.
This is an inside look at the childhood mind of Mel Blanc, known as “the man of 1,000 voices,” who voiced virtually every “Looney Tunes” character and countless others. Young Melvin and his wild imagination can produce an astounding number of sound effects and he even describes himself as “the fastest mouth in the world.” He finds household chores much more fun when he imagines himself as something else, like a tiger, a tornado, or even a dump-truck, while making the appropriate sound effects to match. Sometimes his imagination gets the best of him and he accidentally wreaks havoc at home and at school. Everyone from his parents to the playground monitor at school tells Melvin his mouth is going to get him in trouble, but Melvin will not let anyone get in the way of his sound effects. The illustrations effectively depict Melvin’s wild imagination and the use of onomatopoeia alongside images of his imagination allow readers to understand the sounds he is making and why. Melvin’s detailed facial expressions also convey the tone of the book well. Readers will never tire of young Mel Blanc and the unique sounds he produces. (ACL)
Zoboli, Giovanna. 2017. Felix. Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Co. (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). 32pp. $17.00. ISBN 978-0-8028-5506-0. Illustrated by Simona Mulazzani.
Felix the cat has a nice life in his owners’ home, but one day he realizes he wants to explore the world. He decides to visit his big cat cousins around the globe and proceeds to travels to India to visit the Tiger family. After eating breakfast together Felix prepares to go to his next destination, but before he leaves, the Tiger family gives him a lotus flower as a souvenir. Felix travels to China to visit the Snow Leopard family. Over tea, they discuss how they keep their fur “soft and gorgeous.” Before Felix leaves, his cousins give him a peony. Soon, Felix is off to visit his cousin the Lynx in Russia. They eat caviar while his cousin shows Felix his family photo album. Before Felix leaves, his cousin the Lynx gives him a birch spring to take with him on his journey. Felix makes many more stops around the world before returning home with a memento from each destination. The illustrations use warm colors like orange and red to depict the home of the Lynx’s desert home in the United States to depict a warm climate. In contrast, the Snow Leopard family’s home in the mountains of China uses deep blues and light greys to create the illusion of the cold climate. Young readers ages 5-9 will find delight in this imaginative explanation as to why outdoor cats like to wander off. (ACL)
Yoo, Paula. 2018. The perfect gift. Lee & Low Books, Inc. 32pp. $5.95. ISBN 978-1-62014-568-5. Illustrated by Shirley Ng-Benitez.
Mei wants the best for her little brother Ming, whom she loves very much. She often enjoys spending time with Ming and drawing pictures of him. Soon, Ming is going to be 100 days old and the family will throw a big party to celebrate. They dye eggs red for good luck and clean the house so it will be spotless for visitors. Mei wants to find the perfect gift for her brother, but the day of the party arrives and she still does not have a gift for Ming. Mei is upset, but her grandmother comforts her and says “the perfect gift comes from the heart.” Mei goes to her room and suddenly gets the idea to make a book out of all her drawings of Ming. When she presents the book to him, he appears to be quite happy with it. The plot gives insight into this unique Chinese tradition. Red is a dominant color in the illustrations because the color signifies good luck in Chinese culture. Young readers will learn the perfect gift isn’t necessarily something that can be bought, it has to come from the heart. (ACL)
Sandall, Ellie. 2018. Everybunny Count! Simon & Schuster (Margaret K. McElderry Books). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-5344-0014-6. Illustrated by Ellie Sandall.
Get ready for a fun, adventurous game of hide and seek with some silly bunnies and
funny foxes! The bunnies and foxes love to play hide-and-seek and count while they do so, which makes their game entertaining and educational. The animals sneak around the forest and find things all around them to count between the numbers one and ten, both ascending and descending. This counting concept book is a wonderful, colorful adventure for readers who are just beginning to learn their numbers. The illustrations us warm colors like pink and yellow to invoke feelings of whimsy. There are a variety of greens to enhance the setting of the animals’ game in the forest. The illustrations give counting a fun new way for readers to learn their numbers with a numerical, intriguing plotline. (ACL)
Ohi, Debbie Ridpath. 2017. Sam & Eva. Simon & Schuster (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-1628-8.
Sam and Eva are artists. However, Sam prefers to create independently, while Eva likes to collaborate. The pair have different ideas on what to draw. Soon, Sam’s dinosaurs and Eva’s furry illustrations begin to wage war; their ideas clash and collide until Sam’s illustrations go too far and an upset Eva decides to leave. Sam is left alone with the drawings and realizes the activity is no longer interests him without Eva. As he is overwhelmed by the warring art, Eva returns to save Sam from the colorful, messy battle. Afterwards, the two decide to start on a new page as friends and artists. They discover they are not as different as they previously thought. The illustrations are lively and appear to take on their own personalities. Because they never settle on one color scheme, there is a constant feeling of chaos. Sam and Eva personalities are displayed through their art and the words they paint across the pages to edit certain plotlines in the war that they don’t agree with. This lack of consistency adds to the feeling of chaos in the plot, conflicts, and themes. Readers are left guessing as one illustration may appear on one page and disappear on the next, which makes the plot delightfully unpredictable. (ACL)
Yolen, Jane (reteller). 2018. The Samurai Maiden. In Not One Damsel in Distress: Heroic Girls from World Folklore. (pp. 78-83). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). $15.99. ISBN 978-1-32-890020-3. Illustrated by Susan Guevara.
Tokoyo is the the daughter of a banished Samurai lord. The emperor banished to a cluster of islands at the edge of Japan. When she is old enough, Tokoyo decides to set out to find her father, even though to search for banished individuals is punishable by death. She sells all she owns in order to buy a small boat to sail to an area near where her father was abandoned. One night, she comes across a priest about to throw a young girl off a cliff. She rushes to save the girl and demands the priest explain himself. He says his town is plagued by a sea serpent, Yofune-Nushi. This serpent causes devastating storms for the town unless a girl under the age of fifteen is thrown from the cliff to the serpent. Tokoyo considers all of this and decides to offer herself in place of the young girl. She takes her one possession, her father’s dagger, and dives into the sea with the intention of defeating the serpent. While swimming, she finds a cave; within it, there is only a wooden statue of the emperor who banished her father. At first, she is angry, but then she decides to be forgiving and takes the statue with her. On her way out of the cave, she meets the evil serpent. After a struggle, she defeats the serpent and brings its head and the wooden statue back to the priest. The town celebrates for seven days, and word of Tokoyo’s deed eventually reaches the emperor. He suffered from an unknown illness, but was cured as soon as Tokoyo emerged from the sea with his wooden statue. He and his advisors come to the conclusion Tokoyo has saved the emperor’s life with her actions, so in return he repeals her father’s banishment. The two are reunited and live out the rest of their days in happiness. This tale weaves a colorful story of bravery and determination, and this is especially powerful given the age of the protagonist, Tokoyo. Her strength and reserve towards finding her father gives the readers a strong role model. Tokoyo is a character who will not take no for an answer and she will stand up for what is right, sacrificing herself in the process if need be. (ACL)
Jackson, Richard. 2018. A kiss for Akaraka. HarperCollins Publishing (Greenwillow Books). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-265196-9. Illustrated by E. B. Goodale.
Lula and her father are raking leaves in the yard and Lula’s imaginary friend, Akaraka, is helping them. Lula’s father playfully asks Lula where Akaraka might be in the yard, and asks Lula if she is singing, dancing, or raking the leaves. Lula laughs at her father’s questions, and answers, matter-of-factly, Akaraka is an imaginary girl and cannot do any of those things. However, she asks her parents to set a place for Akaraka when she and her father come inside to eat chocolate pudding together. She offers to eat Akaraka’s bowl of pudding, as Akaraka is an imaginary girl who cannot eat chocolate pudding. Her parents allow it, but on the condition that Lula and Akaraka take a nap first. The reds, oranges, yellows, and purples of the leaves Lula and her father rake give the reader an accurate depiction of autumn. The leaves are a constant presence in the settings whether they are outside, or whether they are house decorations – her wallpaper is decorated with leaves, as is her comforter on her bed. Akaraka is often portrayed as a silhouette in leaves so the constant presence of the leaves is a reminder to the reader that Lula’s imaginary friend is always present with her. The story is a whimsical and heart-warming, a lovely image of a fall day. (ACL)
McCarthy, Jenna. 2017. Lola’s rules for friendship. HarperCollins (Balzer + Bray). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0062250186. Illustrated by Sara Palacios.
Lola knows what it means to be a good friend. When she and her family move to a new house in a new neighborhood, Loa must put her knowledge of friendship to the test and make new friends. Lola wants to find a friend with similar interests, a commitment to honesty, and the ability to compromise. Lola believes friends are like flowers and wants to pick as many as possible. The detailed illustrations convey joy, help children see what friendship looks like, and allows young readers to understand what true friendship entails. Additionally, this book promotes social development, children ages 3-4 start to play with each other and develop friendships. Often times, however, children do not know how friendship works or what it is.Young readers will learn how to develop positive, healthy friendships throughout their lifetime. (CEL)
Stainton, Sue. 2017. I Love Cats! HarperCollins (Katherine Tegen Books). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0062438829. Illustrated by Bob Staake.
In this companion to I Love Dogs!, a young girl professes her love of cats in and makes it known she loves them whether they are big, small, hairy, angry, wiggly, fiery, or weird. This book promotes both cognitive and language development in young children. Children will learn how to organize and classify words by matching alike things throughout the book. Cats are classified by physical attributes on the first page, while the next page details their unique personalities. Another page classifies the cats based on their abilities. Young readers will develop an understanding of how these cats relate to each other. Children may also begin to choose two cats and compare them, whether they are on the same page or on different pages. Language development is also promoted as children are exposed to new words not necessarily used in a daily context like “fiery,” “wiry,” and “prancing.” Children struggling to define new words can look at the colorful illustrations for assistance. This is an effective, engaging tool for young children’s cognitive and language development. (CEL)
Pyron, Bobbie. 2018. A pup called trouble. HarperCollins (Katherine Tegen Books). 208pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-268522-3.
An adventurous coyote named Trouble finds himself lost and afraid in New York City miles away from home. From the moment he was born Trouble’s mother knew he was mischievous because he was always running off and getting into dangerous situations. One day, Trouble jumps into the back of a pickup truck heading to New York City and gets lost as he tries to find his way home. Trouble is unable to hear his family singing to him to lead him home or smell his mother’s scent. He makes friends in Central Park with a prankster crow, a shy opossum, and a poetic poodle who try to help him get home. When the humans discover a coyote is running wild throughout the city, Trouble finds himself in many life or death situations as humans call animal control on him. Trouble develops as a character after realizing he cannot be so careless and must be more thoughtful about his actions. Young readers ages 8-12 will reflect on the value of reflecting on their actions as they read this exhilarating tale. (CEL)
Tsurumi, Andrea. 2017. Accident! Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 48pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-544-94480-0.
When an armadillo named Lola knocks over a jug of red juice all over her white couch, she runs to the library to hide until she becomes an adult. On her way to the library, Lola unintentionally causes a chain of chaotic events. After she arrives at the library, she accidentally knocks all of the bookshelves over. As Lola tries to escape, she falls down. A red bird who witnessed the chaos tells Lola while all of her messes she may have been accidents, she still must clean up the mess. Afterward, Lola returns home and cleans the white couch. Lola learns it is not acceptable to avoid problems by running away and eventually understands all of the other catastrophes could have been avoided if she had cleaned up her original mess. Young readers can relate to Lola and her desire to avoid tough situations. As a character, Lola develops by realizing accidents are a part of life. Although readers ages 4-7 may believe avoiding problems is easier, they will learn it is better to behave with integrity and confront them directly. (CEL)
Sehgal, Kabir & Sehgal, Surishtha. 2018. Festival of colors. Simon & Schuster (Beach Lane Books). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-2049-5. Illustrated by Vashti Harrison.
Holi, the Indian festival of colors, symbolizes new beginnings, friendship, and forgiveness. Holi is celebrated each spring when fresh, new colors appear in nature. Brother and sister Chintoo and Mintoo prepare for Holi as they collect a variety of flowers from their garden and eventually grind the petals into powder. The powder is then mixed with water to make a variety of colors, including pink, yellow, green, and purple. Family, friends, and neighbors throw these powders on each other while singing, dancing, and feasting during the festival. The illustrations use vibrant colors to convey a sense of beauty and community. The red, orange, and yellow flowers represent friendliness and a welcoming environment for everyone during the festival. Young readers ages 2-8 years may wish to participate in these festivities as they learn more about this stunning Hindu celebration. (CEL)
Agee, Jon. 2017. Milo’s hat trick. Penguin Random House LLC (Dial Books for YoungReaders). 40pp. $17.99 ISBN 978-0-7352-2987-7.
Struggling magician Milo has one more chance to perfect his magic trick. Milo’s theater manager informs him he must pull a rabbit out of his hat – or else. In his quest to find a rabbit, he discovers a bear who impresses Milo by jumping into his hat. Milo decides to use the bear for his magic trick instead. After losing his hat and bear on the train, Milo becomes anxious because he needs both in order to perform his magic trick. Just as he is about to get on stage, Milo miraculously sees his hat sitting in the front row. Once reunited with his hat and bear, Milo successfully perform his hat trick. The illustrations use soft, muted watercolors to convey Milo’s insecurities. Additionally, loose lines outline the illustrations to convey Milo’s insecurity regarding his skills as a magician. Young readers ages 5-8 years will develop confidence in their own abilities as they read this entertaining story. (CEL)
Bang, Molly. 2018. When Sophie thinks she can’t… Scholastic (The Blue Sky Press). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-338-15298-2.
When her sister tells her she is not smart, Sophie begins to think she cannot do anything right. Sophie becomes discouraged as she struggles to put a math puzzle together. At school, Sophie’s teacher Ms. Mulry writes the word “smart” on the board and tells the class they need to exercise their brains by thinking critically. Ms. Mulry has the students do this by completing math puzzles with geometric shapes. Sophie immediately begins to think negative thoughts because she believes “…can’t do puzzles.” As Sophie and the rest of the class struggle with these puzzles, Ms. Mulry tells them “the most important word is yet.” She encourages the class to persevere so they may succeed. Many children can relate to Sophie’s insecurities and may give up when they face difficulties. When children are encouraged to develop a growth mindset, they are more engaged in schoolwork and capable of responding to a challenging problems. (CEL)
Freeman, Laura. 2018. Natalie’s hair was wild! Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-328-66195-1.
Natalie’s hair has a mind of its own and it cannot be tamed or restrained. Eventually, Natalie’s hair becomes a home for various animals, including a frog, owl, fox, ostrich, zebra, giraffe, and an elephant. Natalie’s hair becomes frizzy and tangled as the animals make her hair their new home. Eventually, Natalie decides she wants her hair back, so she decides to make all of the animals leave. She enlists professionals from the zoo and fire department to help her catch the animals and get them home safely. As soon as the animals are gone, the firefighters use their hoses to wash her hair while the zookeepers rake through the knots and trim her hair. Natalie learns the importance of taking care of her hair, because a head of hair is no place for zoo animals. Young readers will learn the importance of proper personal hygiene intended for children who do not like to wash, brush, and keep their hair neat. Detailed digital illustrations to show children the implications of not taking care of their hair. (CEL)
Murdock, Catherine Gilbert. 2018. The book of boy. HarperCollins (Greenwillow Books). 288pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-268620-6. Illustrated by Ian Schoenherr.
Boy, a quiet servant with a mysterious past, prefers to spend his days talking to goats and climbing trees. Boy is often mocked and criticized by the people in the village because of the large hump on his back. One day as Boy does his daily chores, a pilgrim named Secondus approaches him to compliment his climbing and jumping abilities. Secondus requests Boy’s help as he travels to Europe to gather the seven relics of Saint Peter. Boy is hesitant at first but eventually agrees to help Secondus on his journey so Saint Peter can make his hump go away. Unaware of Secondus true intentions, Boy is quickly introduced to danger, greed, and deceit as he sets off on his six-day adventure to Saint Peter. Narrated from Boy’s point of view, elements of fantasy, like placing the servant and pilgrim in bizarre situations and humanizing goats, are prevalent in the tale. Themes like battles between good and evil and perseverance in the face of obstacles are present in the story. The setting is a world in which these unusual circumstances are believable, as Boy faces the moral consequences of their adventure. (CEL)
Willems, Mo. 2017. Sam, the most scaredy-cat kid in the whole world: a Leonardo, the terrible monster companion. Hachette Books (Hyperion Books for Children). 48pp. $17.99 ISBN 978-136800214-1.
Sam is afraid of anything and everything, making him the most scaredy-cat kid in the whole world. The only thing Sam is not afraid of his friend Leonardo, the terrible monster. One day, Sam and Leonardo meet another monster named Frankenthaler and his best friend named Kerry. Sam soon discovers Kerry is the second most-scaredy-cat kid in the whole world because she is terrified of anything and everything as well. In order for Sam and Kerry to become friends, Leonardo and Frankenthaler devise a plan to leave Sam and Kerry alone so they can become better friends. Sam and Kerry work together to find common ground and overcome their fears to begin a friendship. Readers will learn how to appreciate similarities while also respecting differences between themselves and their friends. The illustrations use small, imperfect lines to convey Boy’s fear and hesitation. Lines are also used to display motion, as Boy continuously runs away from his worries. The illustrations use smooth background colors like green and purple on each page. Color is also used in the text to emphasize Boy’s feelings of terror and uncertainty. (CEL)
Donne, Elena Delle. 2018. Elle of the ball (hoops). Simon & Schuster (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). 160pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-5344-1231-6.
Six-foot tall seventh grader Elle feels like an outcast because of her height. When she tries out for the school’s basketball team, Elle is mocked by her teammates for her tall stature. Additionally, Elle is insecure about her appearance as she prepares for the annual cotillion required to attend her school. With support from her friends and family, Elle tries to remain true to herself. Many young readers, especially students in middle school, will relate to the internal conflicts Elle faces. The realistic setting gives children an opportunity to reflect on their struggles to please others while attempting to stay true to themselves. The dialogue allows children to recognize the difficulty Elle encounters as she determines who her true friends are, a challenge many face during adolescence (CEL).
Jackson, Linda Williams. 2018. A sky full of stars. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 320pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-544-80065-6.
Thirteen-year-old Rosa Lee Carter feels helpless as she encounters an increase in racial tension in her community following the murder of Emmett Till in 1950s Mississippi. Although Rosa dreams of moving to the North, she is determined to stay in the South and fight for her rights. Rosa must decide if she wants to follow her cousin Shorty’s lead, who believes violence is the only way to put an end to horrific racism, or her best friend Hallelujah’s point of view, who insists peaceful protests will stop the injustice. Jackson accurately depicts the racist values and perspectives of white southerners African Americans encountered as they fought for their lives and freedom. Through Rosa’s point of view, young readers will learn more about the violence and hatred African American faced on a daily basis in the South.(CEL)
Harrison, David L. 2018. A place to start a family: Poems about creatures that build.
Charlesbridge. 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-58089-748-8. Illustrated by Giles Laroche.
Children ages 6-10 will enjoy this collection of narrative poems on the ways in which creatures such as fish, insects, reptiles, mammals, and birds construct homes for their families. The poems are divided into four sections based on each animal’s particular habitat, including areas that are underground, on land, on water, or in the air. The use of rhythm and rhyme engages readers as the poems present information regarding each creature’s living environment. In addition, colorful, vivid, and realistic 3-D cut-paper collage illustrations add depth and dimension to each animal’s home, enhancing the reader’s ability to understand how each creature constructs their own habitat. (CEL)
Tuttle, Sarah Grace. 2018. Hidden city: Poems of urban wildlife. Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Co. (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). 48pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8028-5459-9. Illustrated by Amy Schimler-Safford.
Narrative poems inform readers how plants, animals, and insects survive anywhere, including highly populated areas like urban and suburban cities. In poems like “Defending Home,” “Courtship Dance,” and “House Sparrows” various shapes and repetition emphasize the importance of appreciating and respecting wildlife during the four seasons. Vivid digital illustrations enhance the detailed scenes described in each poem. Additional scientific information about plants and animals is provided at the end of the book, as well as suggestions for further investigation to learn more about the wildlife. (CEL)
Ford, Gilbert. 2017. How the cookie crumbled: The true (and not-so-true) stories of the invention of the chocolate chip cookie. Simon & Schuster (Atheneum Book for Young Readers). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-5067-6.
This biography explores three myths of how Ruth Wakefield discovered the chocolate chip cookie. With a balance between myth and factual accuracy, readers learn how Wakefield’s passion for cooking and baking led to the creation of the recipe. Colorful illustrations primarily composed of blue, purple, and green depict life before the Great Depression. A bibliography provides additional information about Wakefield’s life in the final pages of the book. Wakefield’s original chocolate chip cookie recipe is included for readers so they can try to bake a delicious batch of cookies on their own. (CEL)
Fishman, Jon M. 2018. Meet a baby wombat. Lerner Publishing Group (Lerner Publications). 24pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-1-5124-3387-6.
Readers ages 4-8 are introduced to small, cuddly, and furless animals known as wombats. Text, captions, and realistic photos are included on every page to provide factual information about their lives. Four short chapters detail the physical characteristics of wombats, and offer information about how they grow and what they eat. A table of contents, glossary, and index are included, as well as section of bonus facts about wombats. A variety of websites are provided so readers can conduct further research about wombats. (CEL)
Hirsch, Rebecca E. 2018. The monarchs are missing: A butterfly mystery. Lerner Publishing Group (Millbrook Press). 56pp. $31.99. ISBN 978-1-5124-5250-1.
This informational text explores causes of the decline of the monarch population.
Climate change has played a significant role in the missing monarch butterflies, as well as deforestation, the disappearance of milkweed, loss of wildflowers, cars, and pesticides are other causes. Readers will learn how to help increase the number of butterflies, including the creation of a monarch habitat, and protecting gardens from pesticides. Real photographs of monarch butterflies give readers an accurate portrayal of the environment in which they live and grow. Captions clarify the text and teach readers facts about the monarch butterflies. The book is organized by chapters and includes a table of contents, glossary, index, and bibliography. A list of additional reading sources is also provided to guide students in further exploration. (CEL)
Bentley, Tadgh. 2017. Little penguin and the lollipop. HarperCollins (Balzer + Bray). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-256078-0. Illustrated by Tadgh Bentley.
Little Penguin obliviously eats his friend Kenneth’s lollipop and must figure out how to fix their relationship. He asks readers if they can help him make Kenneth feel better by making funny faces. Readers will remain engaged as they make various funny faces and poses. The book is lighthearted and designed to hook the reader with humor. The main character speaks to the reader, making the reading experience more personal and interactive. Young readers develop emotional intelligence by analyzing the different faces Little Penguin makes in the illustrations. He makes sad faces, happy faces, and sometimes he simply makes funny faces. Readers can compare and contrast these faces in order to understand what emotion Little Penguin wants to convey. All readers, especially students who may not enjoy reading, will remain engaged in the storyline as they mimic these facial expressions. (LDM)
Fishman, Seth. 2017. A hundred billion trillion stars. HarperCollins (Greenwillow Books). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-245578-9. Illustrated by Isabel Greenberg.
This book is a perfect choice for students ages 4-8 fascinated by numbers, science, and outer space. It gives facts about quantities in space, on our own planet, and even in our own lives we never think about. Math concepts, like large quantities of different materials, and science concepts, like space and gravity, are discussed about in a manner middle to upper elementary students will find easy to understand. Readers will develop cognitively as well as socially as they learn about the universe and their unique place in it. (LDM)
Won, Brian. 2017. Hooray for books! Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 40pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-544-74802-6. Illustrated by Brian Won.
Young students learning how to read will enjoy this tribute to books and sharing. Turtle looks everywhere for his favorite book, but is unable to find it. Turtle’s friends try to offer him their books, but Turtle can not decide if he wants to read a different book. Simple vocabulary words and repetition will encourage young children to keep reading. The phrase “hooray for books!” will motivate students to read. Since characters share their favorite books with each other, young readers will be inspired to do the same with their favorite titles. (LDM)
Cole, Henry. 2017. Brambleheart #2: Bayberry island: An adventure about friendship and the journey home. HarperCollins (Katherine Tegen Books).156pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-224551-9. Illustrated by Henry Cole.
In this sequel to Brambleheart, Twig goes on an adventure to find his friend Char’s dragon family. Throughout the adventure, Twig shows compassion to his companions Basil and Lily during times of danger and uncertainty. In the end, his kindness outlives the antagonist’s malevolence and he finds his way home safely with his friends after saving a couple of them from being captured. Students will respond to the theme of compassion by showing empathy in their own lives, as the book shows them the value of kindness and generosity. (LDM)
Lehman, Barbara. 2017. Red again. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-54481859-0. Illustrated by Barbara Lehman.
The color red holds great importance in this sequel to The Red Book. Because there are no words, the reader must analyze the illustrations and pick out important information based on their colors. Colors other than red are muted to help readers deduce which objects on the page are important. The sequel begins where the first book ends, with a boy on the bike picking up a red book in the street. However, this book has the same ending as the first, which may confuse some readers. (LDM)
Riordan, Rick. 2017. The serpent’s shadow (Kane chronicles, book 3): the graphic novel. Disney (Disney-Hyperion). 160pp. $21.99. ISBN 978-148478132-6. Illustrated by Orpheus Collar.
Siblings Carter and Sadie Kane can never seem to stop the chaos snake Apophis from wreaking havoc. As Apophis tries to plunge the world into darkness, the Canes must stop him once and for all. However, the gods and magicians of the House of Life are fighting, which makes their task virtually impossible. The illustrations ues lines to convey motion throughout the graphic novel. For example, when wind is blowing in a twister formation, curved lines are used to convey the wind’s power and direction. Lines also signify the importance of the illustrations. Colors is used to differentiate between regular people, gods, and goddesses. For example, the god Osiris’s skin has a blue hue signify his divine nature. Young readers will enjoy this adaptation of the original novel. (LDM)
Tamura, Marikka. 2018. Penguins don’t wear sweaters! Penguin Random House LLC (Nancy Paulsen Books). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-101-99696-6. Illustrated by Daniel Rieley.
Penguins’ homes are destroyed by oil spills and are covered with thick, gooey oil. Human beings thought it was a good idea to make sweaters to keep the penguins warm. Ultimately, the sweaters did not help and volunteers had to physically wash the oil off the penguins. Young readers will become more aware of the real life predicament of oil spills.The illustrations allow readers to see the penguins’ environment and help students compare penguins covered in oil to healthy penguins. The colors used, like blue, black, and white depict a natural arctic environment. Their facial expressions in the illustrations convey the sadness of caused by environmental disasters. (LDM)
Disney Book Group. 2017. Disney princess storybook collection: Tales to finish: Color your own storybook collection! Disney (Disney Press). 128pp. $10.99. ISBN 978-148478957-5. Illustrated by the Disney Storybook Art Team.
This collection of folk tales will easily pique young children’s interest in these short stories about Disney princesses. Readers will learn a valuable lesson from each story. For example, in the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs story, the dwarfs must help Snow White find a hidden gift from the Prince based on clues left around the castle. In the end, the last clue reveals the true gift is the gift of friendship they all have. Children will learn to value their friendships based on the lesson of this story. The illustrations in every short story are black and white, which allows readers to apply their own creative vision and color each picture as they see fit. (LDM)
Judge, Lita. 2017. A song for snow (Hoot and Peep). Penguin Random House LLC (Dial Books for Young Readers). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-101-99451-1. Illustrated by Lita Judge.
The theme to this picture storybook is patience. A young owl named Peep is excited for her first winter. Her older brother Hoot remembers his first winter and knows it is worth waiting for. However, Peep is not patient and wants to hear snow’s “song.” When the snow finally arrives, she realizes the snow’s song is silence and calms down. She learns how important patience is. The illustrations use colors like blue, white, and light brown establish the calm mood of the story, especially when the first snowflakes finally begin to float down. The images will likely put readers in a nostalgic mood for their first memory of snow as well. (LDM)
Riordan, Rick. 2017. Magnus Chase and the gods of asgard: The ship of the dead. Disney (Disney-Hyperion). 432pp. $19.99. ISBN 978-142316093. illustrated by John Rocco.
Rick Riordan is well-known for his engaging fantasy books tying mythologies from various cultures into the real world. In his Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series, he connects creatures and entities from Norse mythology with a group of teenagers, including once homeless-teenager Magnus Chase. The teenagers are typical adolescents who are sassy, sarcastic, and still trying to find their place in this world. However, these teens happen to be descendants of Norse gods and goddesses. The universality of the themes presented in the series is also relatable to most readers, as young adults tend struggle with their identities like these characters do, especially in terms of their gender identities and sexualites. Readers ages 5 to 9 can identify with characters easily for these reasons. (LDM)
Harlow, Joan Hiatt. 2017. Breaker boy. Simon & Schuster (Margaret K. McElderry Books). 280pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-6537-3.
In 1911, Corey has an accident while ice skating and almost drowns. Luckily, his mean, rich, elderly neighbor Mrs. Chudzik has a dog named Hovi who finds him and helps him out. Corey begins having nightmares about his experience and develops claustrophobia. Because he comes from a poor family, he must work in the coal mines to provide for his family. In order to do this, he must overcome his claustrophobia. The financial problems the family face are authentic to the time period, especially since they are part of a large family. Financial hardships were common in the early 20th century, so modern young readers age 8-12 who may come from a poor family will relate to Corey and sympathize with this struggles. (LDM)
Kadohata, Cynthia. 2018. Checked. Simon & Schuster (Atheneum Books for Young Readers). 416pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-4661-7.
11-year-old Connor MacRae and his father are both huge fans of hockey and exercise regularly so they can stay in shape to play it. Connor’s mother died when he was 2 years old, leaving he, his father, and their dog Sinbad alone. The family goes through difficult times after their house burns down in a wildfire, Sinbad gets sick, and they start to run low on money. Connor and his father grow emotionally as they both learn how to persevere in the face of tragedy and loss. Readers ages 10-14 who may have experienced similar situations will see their lives reflected in Connor’s. While their problems may not resolve in a perfectly, the family develops a new sense of contentment to one another as a result of these struggles. (LDM)
Silverstein, Shel. 2015. Runny babbit returns. HarperCollins. 96pp. $19.99. ISBN 978-0- 06-247939-6.
Shel Silverstein is known for outlandish humorous, poems for readers age 8-12. In this set of poems, the poet plays with the onset consonant sounds of random words and switches them around. For example, in “The Stig Bone,” or the “big stone,” the speaker says “underneath the bulberry mush in the niddle of the might…” and continues in this fashion throughout each piece. These narrative poems because they tell a story and would also be considered silly or nonsensical. Children, including those who may not like reading, will enjoy these whimsical poems. (LDM)
Khan, Henat. 2018. Crescent moons and pointed minarets: A Muslim book of shapes. Chronicle Books. 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4521-5541-0. Illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini.
Readers age 7-11 learn about Islam through shapes. For example, the “cone is the tip of the minaret so tall. I hear soft echoes of the prayer call.” The reader learns about a shape such as a cone, and how the shape connects to a physical item of the Islamic tradition, like minarets, before going on to connect to the culture, such as buildings for prayer calls. The rest of the concept book continues in this fashion. The illustrations allow readers to see the people and buildings of Islam. Colors like blue, green, purple and geometric shapes emphasize the differences between western culture and Muslim culture. Young readers will develop better cultural competency in the classroom and help them learn more about the Islamic faith and its traditions. (LDM)
Thomas, Isabel. 2018. Little guides to great lives: Nelson Mandela. Laurence King Publishing. 190pp. $11.99. ISBN 978-1-78627-195-2. Illustrated by Hannah Warren.
Young readers ages 10-12 will have an enjoyable experience reading this biography of Nelson Mandela’s life. The biography details Mandela’s childhood, his civil rights leadership, and his time in prison. The characterization of Mandela adds credibility to the information presented. Mixed in with well-known facts of his life, the text portrays Mandela imagines how he may have acted in day-to-day life as the plot develops. The illustrations are powerful and readers are able to visualize how dreary life was at times for Mandela, especially in prison. The illustrations play with the different lighting sources when depicting Mandela in prison. His cell has light but surrounding it is complete darkness, thus allowing the reader to empathize with Mandela’s imprisonment. There is a timeline of his life, a glossary, an index, and credits at the end of the text for readers to learn further information about this extraordinary person. (LDM)
Maclear, Kyo. 2018. Bloom: A story of fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli. HarperCollins. 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-244761-6. Illustrated by Julie Morstad.
The illustrations in this picture-book biography give readers ages 4-8 a visual context to the life of a fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli. Colors like pink, red, and green convey the mood. For example, when her friend Jean Clement mixed new bright colors for her to use in her clothing, these colors are visible on the page. Texture is also dominant to show how Schiaparelli’s designs utilized different styles and silhouettes. Elsa’s biography is exciting and factually accurate. Readers will be eager to learn more about her childhood and adulthood. Author’s notes, endnotes, and page of sources validate the credibility of the biography and provide information for readers to explore further information about Schiaparelli. (LDM)
Adkins, Jan. 2017. Bertha takes a drive: how the Benz automobile changed the world. Charlesbridge. 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-58089-696-2. Illustrated by Jan Adkins.
Though it is not necessarily a biography, this text shares information to readers ages 8-10 about the first engine-powered automobile ever made. The characters really existed, but the facts of the story are not precisely how they might have been. The conversations in the text may have happened, but there is no way to know if they are verbatim. The dominant theme is as long as one continues to think outside of the box, hard work pays off in the end. There is not a resource page at the end of the book, which would have added credibility to Bertha Benz’s life story. However, the author provides a timeline of the evolution of the automobile and the inner-workings of the Benz Motorwagen III. The illustrations use color to help the reader understand the time period. Clothes use softer, muted colors and the houses are plain. Line is used to show movement when the automobile drives down a steep hill, as readers can see dust being kicked up behind the wheels. (LDM)
Krull, Kathleen. 2018. One fun day with Lewis Carroll: a celebration of wordplay and a girl named Alice. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-544-34823-3. Illustrated by Júlia Sardá.
Lewis Carroll had a unique and quirky childhood, whose oddness continued well into his adulthood; including the important day he began writing his most famous work: Through the Looking Glass. The illustrations complement Carroll’s quirkiness and wit in addition to showcasing the famous characters he created, like the twins Twiddledee and Twiddledum and the White Rabbit. Color convey a psychedelic, dream-like mood to readers, which was one of Carroll’s goals. Readers ages 8-10 can even learn some of the words Carroll invented and uses throughout the story in a whimsical orange font. There is a glossary in the back of the book to help readers understand the invented words. The sources page and the additional pages on Carroll’s life at the end of the book will encourage interested readers to learn further information about this famous author’s life. (LDM)
Killion, Ann. 2018. Champions of women’s soccer. Penguin Random House LLC (Philomel Books). 272pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-399-54901-4.
The popularity of women’s soccer is covered in this collection of biographies on the most well known American athletes. Players like Mia Hamm, Abby Wambach, Hope Solo, and many others are profiled and readers will learn how these women became interested in soccer and what lead them to excel in the sport. Following their biographies, readers can learn more information about their positions, number of medals they have earned, and total number of goals they have scored. Readers ages 10 and older who enjoy soccer or sports in general will enjoy learning more about their favorite players. The end of the book dedicates pages to significant Olympic and World Cup soccer games these women played in. The final pages of the book showcase photos of each woman playing on the field. Having these pictures dispersed throughout the book likely would have made the book easier to read. While the author provides an index, there is no bibliography provided for readers to learn further information about these skilled athletes. (LDM)
Albee, Sarah. 2018. Martin Luther King Jr.: A peaceful leader. HarperCollins. 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-243276-6. Illustrated by Chin Ko.
Readers ages 8 to 10 will enjoy this biography of Martin Luther King Jr. This biography takes readers through the civil rights icon and activist’s life, beginning with his childhood and ending at his assassination and funeral. The author provides a timeline of the Civil Rights Movement as well as some color photographs of Martin Luther King Jr. from the 1960s. The illustrations in the book are important because they convey the subject of the book: racial segregation. For example, different skin colors shown in the illustrations are seperated in a stark manner. The two colors rarely mix in the images, to represent the realities of the era to modern readers. Color is also used to show that the last image in the book is from the modern day; the colors are all more vibrant and people of many skin colors are together learning in the same classroom. (LDM)
Messner, Kate. 2018. The brilliant deep: rebuilding the world’s coral reefs. Chronicle Books. 48pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4521-3350-8. Illustrated by Matthew Forsythe.
This informational text is written in the form of a picture storybook. Readers will learn the importance of taking care of the environment and the small changes they can make in their daily lives to make a big difference. Readers of ages 10-12 will learn more about the formation of coral reefs as they follow the story of a young boy who makes it his goal to rebuild coral reefs. As he grows older, he is able to make a career out of his passion for the reefs in adulthood. The stresses the impact one person’s actions can have on the world. More facts about coral reefs, resources, and a glossary of terms are provided at the end of the text.The illustrations allow readers to visualize the story, as the colors used create a vibrant and enticing underwater world. The color of the water is not only blue, but also green, orange, pink, and red. Wavy lines show the current of the water when the characters are collecting coral samples. (LDM)
Brown, Don and Perfit, Michael. 2017. Older than dirt: a wild but true history of Earth. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 112pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-544-80503-3.
This informational graphic novel features a gopher who narrates the story of the Earth’s formation. He gives facts about the Earth in a casual, engaging way. The gopher begins with the Big Bang and continues the story up until modern times. The text even discusses what will happen to the Earth in the future: the sun will burn so brightly in two billion years until everything on the planet will dry up and life will cease to exist. The color in the illustrations convey the different eras of the Earth that are being talked about at a specific moment. At the end of the text there is a pyramid of all the geological eras, a 24 hour Earth clock, a map of tectonic plates, sources, and a bibliography. There are also two extra pages of comics to inform readers about the effects of global climate change. While this subject can be a controversial, it is still an important one to have a conversation about with students. (LDM)
Booth, Tom. 2018. Day at the beach. Simon & Schuster (Aladdin). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-42-441105-0.
Gideon spends a day at the beach with his family. Gideon and his sister Audrey, have a tradition of building a sandcastle together, but this year Gideon wants to build a sand castle all by himself. When building his sand castle, Gideon faces many obstacles such as people, animals, objects, and weather destroying some of the castles he builds. Gideon persevered through these obstacles and found the perfect location to build his castle. He builds a castle so spectacular everyone on the beach walks over to admire it. He enjoys the admiration of the crowd, but then looks over and sees his family building a castle together. When he saw this, he feels lonely and decides he would join them even though their castle does not look as good as his. The style of the book is engaging and exciting. Booth uses alliteration, repetition, and a pleasing rhythm to accomplish this. Young readers vacationing at the beach can relate to Gideon and enjoy his story. The setting of the beach also provides a lot conflict for Gideon in achieving his goal of building the best sand castle. A theme of this book is perseverance because Gideon perseveres through many obstacles and succeeds at building the best sand castle. Gideon is a developed character because he changes his attitude about building a sandcastle and decides that building a sandcastle with his sister is more important than building the best-looking castle alone. (CRM)
Galante, Cecilia. 2018. Strays like us. Scholastic Inc. (Scholastic Press). 320pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-33-804300-6.
Fred (never Winnifred) navigates her way through being placed in foster care and all the complicated feelings associated with the system. Fred moves from Pittsburgh to the small town of Lancaster to live with Margery, a first-time foster parent. On her first night there, Fred hears the cries of Toby, a dog who is being mistreated by his owner. Fred takes a liking to Toby and does what she can for him. At school Fred meets Ardelia, who is bullied. Fred stands up for Ardelia and they become friends. One major theme is anger, more-specifically how to overcome anger. Another theme is being an outsider, and feeling of not belonging. Many students in middle school would be able to relate to this theme and may feel comforted to know that they are not alone in feeling anger or feeling like an outsider. This book deals with topics of addiction, and animal abuse, which are difficult topics, but the concepts are realistic and the author is careful in the way she describes situations so the book is appropriate for a middle schooler to read. The conflict is well developed: Fred has to figure out a way to deal with her emotions so she does not hurt the people she is around. Fred witnesses animal abuse and she has to figure out a way to help the dog even though the system failed to do so. Fred hurts people who are close to her and has to problem solve how to repair and mend those relationships.
Fred is a complex character and her goals change from wanting to be back with her mother as to wanting her to get help for her addiction. At one point Fred is willing to lie to a judge to make sure she can go back and live with her mother, but when the time comes she tells the truth. At first Fred views Ardelia as an annoyance, but they become good friends. Through the plot events, Fred learns how to recognize her anger and channel it into creating something positive instead of destroying something or hurting someone. (CRM)
Slyke, Rebecca Van. 2017. Lexie the word wrangler. Penguin Random House LLC (Nancy Paulsen Books). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-39-916957-1. Illustrated by Jessie Hartland.
Lexie is a word wrangler; she ties words together and breaks them apart using her lariat. Lexie cultivates short words so they grow longer and mixes letters together to create words. One day Russell, a word rustler, begins causing trouble on her ranch. Lexie goes on a mission to find the word rustler, and once she catches Russell, she shows him how to be a word wrangler and the pair work side-by-side on the ranch. Young readers learn how letters form words, how words work together to make sentences, and how sentences are used for communication. Repetition occurs throughout the text and assists readers’ cognitive development because the more times the brain hears a word the more likely it is a child will remember word. Alliteration is also present and develops phonemic awareness because sounds are repeated. The setting contributes to the mood, as Lexie’s ranch adds an an air of exploration and excitement to the text. The lines of the illustrations add to this mood; the curved lines and lines of the lariat convey movement. The intersecting lines of plants convey growth, which creates a realistic ranch setting. The texture of the trees and plants also convey a rustic ranch setting. The illustrations add to the style of the book by repeating the same organic shapes and using the same color palette of blues, greens, reds, and yellows throughout to convey whimsy, movement, and realism. (CRM)
Hooks, Gwendolyn. 2018. The garden. Lee & Low Books, Inc. 32pp. $5.95. ISBN 978-1-62014-577-1. Illustrated by Shirley Ng-Benitez.
When Lily begins to miss her old home garden, her mother brings her to a public garden in their new community. At the garden, they see their neighbor, Mr. Sam, who needs help tending to the garden. Although they are hesitant at first, Lily convinces her friends Henry, Mei, Pablo, and Padma to help with the garden. Together they help Mr. Sam plant strawberries, carrots, tomatoes, peas, and peppers. Once the seeds are planted and watered, Lily and her friends visit the garden regularly to care for the plants and watch them grow. After a few months they have a beautiful garden, and the group asks Mr. Sam if they can help out in the garden again next year. Reader will learn how plants grow and basic gardening skills, which may help them find hobbies they like. While Lily’s friends are hesitant to garden at first, they decide to help Mr. Sam anyway and ultimately enjoy themselves. This shows young readers it is worthwhile to try new things. Students will develop an understanding about the general structure and organization of a book, as the text is organized in chapters and includes a table of contents. The illustrations show details like the roots of plants, which would not be visible to young readers unless a one pulls a plant from the ground. The vertical and horizontal lines in the illustrations convey structure and stability, as well as movement and plant growth. The colors used emphasize realism because they are earth tones like brown, tan, and dark green. Warm colors like red and yellow convey the excitement the characters feel when their plants are fully grown. (CRM)
Young, Jessica. 2018. Play This Book. Bloomsbury Publishing (Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books). 32pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-68119-506-3. Illustrated by Daniel Wiseman.
Today is the day of a show and readers are invited to participate in the event. Young readers are introduced to instruments such as guitar, drums, symbols, saxophone, maracas, trombone, and piano. As young readers meet the instruments, they are invited to do the corresponding action and pretend to play them. Young readers get to pick an instrument to play for the show and get congratulated on a great show by the book. This is a concept book introducing musical instruments to young readers. There is a music like style to this book in the rhythm and rhyme of the text. The theme invites young readers to interact with the text through movement. The setting acts as mood. The mood is that of a musical performance and getting prepared to perform. The illustrations add to the mood. Vertical and horizontal lines are used to create a stage. These lines convey a sense of formality and order. Colors of bright orange, yellow, hot pink, and red are used to portray a sense of excitement about playing instruments and performing a show. Curved lines are used on the guitar strings and this conveys the sound that the guitar produces. Triangles, circles, and organic shapes are used to make realistic looking instruments. The triangles on the drum make it look uniform and structured which mirrors the role that drums play in a band. (CRM)
Omlor, Elizabeth. 2018. Walk Your Dog. Penguin Random House LLC (G.P Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-54652-5. Illustrated by Neesha Hudson.
You can greet, groom, feed, dress, walk, chase, catch, train, treat, clean, settle, and love your dog. This is a concept book about what you can do with your dog. The illustrations tell the story as the text simply states all that you can do with your dog. Light green, and blue are used to convey the calm feeling of being in nature. Curved lines show the messiness of hair and path the dog takes when running around the park. Dark brown is used to show mud and convey the messiness that comes with nature. Organic shapes are used to convey the reality of what nature looks like or what the inside of a house looks like. The colors used in general are not vibrant, but are more muted. Bright red is used for the leash which adds to the excitement of the chase seen. Bright vibrant colors are also used on plants to add to the excitement of being outside. There are no adults portrayed in the illustrations. This gives young readers the message that it is acceptable for them to be alone with dogs. Internationally recognized kennel clubs say that it is never okay to leave young children alone with dogs no matter how much the dog is trusted. This book encourages young children to do everything with their dog, even give the dog a hug which could be dangerous as dogs do not necessarily like hugs. Many dogs do not like to be put in costumes or wear human-like clothes either and this is another activity that is portrayed in this book. These, perhaps unintentional, messages could be dangerous for young readers and put them in a situation where a dog could harm them. (CRM)
Ling, N. 2018. The Ying-Yang Sisters and the Dragon Frightful. Penguin Random House LLC (G.P Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-399-17115-4. Illustrated by Andrea Offerman.
The dragon, Frightful, was shadowing a town. One day, he blocked the path from the town to the market. It made getting to the market extremely difficult. Wei and Mei are twins. When they were born, their aunt noticed how they were opposites like the Yin and Yang. On their fifth birthday, Wei bravely volunteered to scare the dragon away. Mei was worried about Wei and when she caught up to Wei, she saved her by pulling her out of range of the dragon’s fire. The villagers hoped for someone to scare the dragon away. Their aunt Yiyi predicted once again that the twins would be the ones to scare the Frightful away. After many attempts, the sisters learn that the dragon likes sweets; they feed Frightful a sticky bun and he moves out of the way. The villagers were ecstatic to have the bridge to the market back. The theme is that opposites often complement each other. Wei and Mei are opposites of each other, but when they work together they are successful at getting Frightful to open up the bridge to the market and let people pass. Wei and Mei represent the Yin and Yang symbol present in Chinese culture. This symbol represents balance and harmony of working together and valuing opposite qualities. There is person vs. person conflict in that Wei and Mei have to scare away the Dragon, Frightful. Each of these girls represent qualities that are valued in Chinese culture. Folk literature often shows the reader what the values of a culture are through the themes of the book and the qualities of the characters. The setting acts as mood and as antagonist. The mood is a rural village that is peaceful and tranquil until the dragon disrupts it. The setting acts as antagonist because of the mountains that must be climbed to get to the market when the Dragon Frightful is occupying the bridge.
Light green and light blue are used to convey the tranquil, calm mood of the setting through the illustrations. Curved lines are used to show the unknown and to show movement. Sharp lines are used to convey that the dragon is dangerous. Jagged line shows the setting as antagonist by creating dangerous cliffs in the mountains that the villagers have to climb to get to the market. The red color used to depict the dragon conveys the danger that the dragon poses. It also makes the dragon stand out in the image. Mei is also depicted wearing read symbolizing her bravery. Triangles are used a lot to convey sharpness of the dragon and to convey danger. In general, organic shapes are used which adds to the tranquil calm nature of the setting. (CRM)
Yolen, Jane (reteller). 2018. Not one Damsel in Distress: Heroic Girls from World Folklore. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). $15.99. ISBN 978-1-32-8900020-3. Illustrated by Susan Guevara.
Princess Kemang is not only strong and a great warrior, she is also smart. During a furlough day Princess Kemang went exploring in the woods. She saw a deer under a Kemang tree, the tree spoke to her and told her not to kill it for it was a tiger in disguise. She killed the deer, it became a tiger and the tree warned her that there are evil forces and she would have to use her wits instead of strength to get past them. The princess faced a cat that kept growing and a river full of crocodiles before escaping the forest. Once she had escaped the forest, the enchantment that had been placed on the forest was broken. The enchantment was what allowed the tree to talk to her, the tree served as guardian of the forest under the enchantment. Princess Kemang told her parents about her adventure and they praised the guardian of the forest for the advice he gave. The next day, a handsome man came to Princess Kemang, he was the guardian of the forest. The two were married and there was peace in the kingdom.
This is a folktale that comes from Indonesia. The themes in folktales often tell of the values of a culture. In this culture, knowledge and wit are valued as much as warrior strength. Princess Kemang displays these qualities and is celebrated for both of the qualities she displays. At times, strength is a more appropriate skill to use than wit, but in this case, it is wit that is appropriate. It is important to be both smart and strong in this culture. Peace is also a value of this culture because the resolution of the conflict was that peace was restored in the kingdom and peace remained in the kingdom for long after this story took place.
Line is used in the illustration to make a realistic looking tree. The thickness of the line makes the tree look strong. The organic shape of the tree makes it look realistic. The tree is detailed and has a face. The tree is a lighter color than the Princess and is emphasized in the illustration. (CRM)
Bloch, Serge, & Cali, Davide. George and His Shadow. HarperCollins. 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-256830-4.
George and His Shadow begins with George waking up to find that his shadow is following him everywhere. At first, George is irritated by the shadow’s persistence and is confused about where he came from. He does everything in his willpower to scare off his shadow and make him return to the ground. As the story goes on, George becomes friends with his shadow. They do everything together: play baseball, eat ice cream, and splash in mud puddles. After their day of activities, the shadow decides he will take a rest and he disappears. George feels lonely without his new friend. Until another day, George wakes up and his reflection has come to life, just like the shadow.
Cali and Bloch’s writing style promotes imagination through telling the story of a shadow, something every kid can relate to and recognize. The book recommends readers between the ages of four and eight. Through this story, readers will be able to compare their own friendships to the one between Shadow and George. The story follows a chronological pattern and is accessible for young readers. The illustrations that accompany the story are simple, yet artistic. However, the vocabulary in this story is straightforward and might be too elementary for eight-year old children. There would not be many unknown vocabulary words to teach upon for this age group. However, younger kids, around four through six, would be able to follow along with the simple word choice and plot. Despite the uncomplicated plot and vocabulary, many children, especially younger students, would enjoy this book for the pure thrill of imagination and humor. (ANN)
Davies, Benji, & John, Jory. Come Home Already. HarperCollins. 32pp. $17.99. ISBN978-0-06-237097-6. Typography by Jeanne L. Hogie.
This children’s story revolves around a bear and a duck, two neighbors and best friends. Duck walks to Bear’s house and cannot find him anywhere, only to see the sign that Bear has gone fishing. Duck is sad that his friend has gone and he doesn’t know what to do without Bear. The story flashes to Bear walking through the woods, fishing, and pitching a tent, without having much luck of any sort. Duck decides he needs to catch up with Bear and help him with his fishing. Bear is alone, wet, and afraid; he hears the noises of Duck walking toward him and is frightened. Bear is relieved to see Duck. The next day, the boys walk home together. Despite seeming overwhelmed by Duck’s non-stop chatter, Bear is grateful for their friendship.
This story helps students with emotional and social development Although many children have experienced friendship, this book shows, through the character of Duck, how to be an outstanding friend and what good friends do for one another. It also teaches the lesson that it is alright to miss your friend and want to be together. The illustrations in this story are colorful and the typography makes onomatopoeias visual for children. The conversation-like narrative helps students between the ages of four and eight learn concepts of quotation marks and formats for conversations in writing. Additionally, the conversational way of telling a story gives insight to readers the true feelings of Duck and Bear. Personifying these animals helps kids relate to their story and the conversational language helps them compare the story to their own lives. (ANN)
McLaren, Meg. 2017. Pigeon P.I. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). 40pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-328-71561-6.
P.I. Pigeon Murray is a private investigator. One day while P.I Murray is relaxing from his work, a Canary approaches him and informs P.I. of all the missing birds in the area. Canary had been adventuring in the city when he escaped the danger was lingering. Canary asks for Pigeon’s help and is eager to begin the case with him, but Pigeon is not convinced there is a problem. When the Canary stops pestering P.I. for weeks, he becomes suspicious and decides to investigate. He talks to the birds on the telephone and they inform him about the infamous Feather Thief. While investigating, P.I finds an excess number of feathers around town, which he follows until he discovers the birds in a cage. P.I. finds the Canary and the pair free all the birds and put the Feather Thief behind bars.This introductory mystery novel for children aged 4-7 introduces young readers to the structure of mystery stories because it helps them learn how to identify an introduction, climax, and how to solve a problem on their own with critical thinking skills. The book introduces speech bubbles, along with the main narrative, both important literary aspects. The whimsical illustrations are detailed and each page has a different art style, which makes the tale an eye-catching read for children. Children will learn how to work together and avoid judging a book by its cover. Although P.I. jumps to conclusions and assumes the Canary is too young to and inexperienced to help him, the Canary ultimately comes up with the solution to the crime in order to help P.I. solve the mystery. Young readers will develop and appreciation for others and the importance of partnership. (ANN)
Johnson, Terry Lynn. 2017. Falcon wild. Charlesbridge. 176pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-58089-788-4.
13-year-old Karma dreams of becoming a falconer. While she was growing up in her family’s rapture education center, she was been surrounded by animals and developed a special gift for interacting with them. Karma dreams of becoming a trained falconer at 14, but her dreams take a sharp turn when she is injured after showing a class her rescued falcon, Stark. Her parents insist on taking Stark back to the original owners in Canada. On the way to Canada, Karma’s father ends up trapped following a car crash. Left without food, water, or survival tools, she leaves to find help. Karma meets a mysterious, unfriendly boy named Cooper, who tries to help her despite the many obstacles they face. The two come of age and develop an unlikely friendship. Nature lovers ages 10 and older will remain engaged in the plot as Karma, Cooper, and Stark explore the forests of Montana, face grizzly bears, illness, thunderstorms, infection, and many other issues one may encounter in the wild. Cooper’s character development is important, as he change significantly and owns up to his past mistakes. Readers will learn how to accept the consequences of their actions, although running away may seen easier. Despite his dark past. Karma and Cooper’s relationships also showcases the importance of trust and mutual respect young readers may want to model in their own relationships. Although Karma has trouble developing lasting friendships, she learns how to trust and depend on others by giving Cooper second chances in order to keep them both alive. (ANN)
Hurley, Joey. 2018. Every Color Soup. Simon & Schuster (Paula Wiseman Books). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-6999-9.
This book introduces the art of cooking, food, and kitchen utensils to young kids with bright and vibrant colors. Hurley teaches color-word recognition, a major cognitive goal for children age three through seven, within the context of food. With each food included in the soup, the accompanying color of the food is written next to it. None of the foods in the soup are labeled, testing children’s knowledge of food recognition. After reading this short story, children will be able to identify both the foods, the colors, and their associated spelling. By utilizing the familiarity of food, the recipe included in the back of the book, and the eye-catching colors, this book inspires budding chefs and emphasizes the beauty of cooking at home.
This story’s illustrations are the main producer of the cognitive advancements. One of the most important aspects is color. Hurley uses a variety of shades of green on the first page to emphasize the different plants. On each page, there is only one dominant color, making it obvious which part of the “color soup” the author is talking about. For example, on the “purple” page, an eggplant of exaggerated size with a deep purple color fills the two-page spread. Harley uses the light element of design in the white background on every page. This light factor draws the eyes further into the emphasized color. Texture also plays an important role in Hurley’s illustrations. On the cutting boards, mushroom, and pepper pages, the texture creates a realistic image. The elements of design as well as the elements of cognition make this a perfect read for young children learning their colors. (ANN)
Sayre, April Pulley. Full of Fall. Simon & Schuster (Beach Lane Books). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-7984-4.
This book is bursting at the seams with beautiful photographs of fall leaves and the bright colors they become. The story tells the cycle of leaves falling and winter coming. Students learn how to identify patterns and apply them to their daily life. Full of Fall introduces vocabulary words related to seasons, the Earth, and leaves. Words like “margins,” “midribs,” and “decompose” help create lessons that teachers and parents can expand upon when reading to children ages three through eight years old. Additionally, Pulley writes short lessons at the end to provide more information about the science of leaves and the process plants go through in preparation for winter, a helpful tool for children particularly interested in learning more.
Along with the information Pulley documents, her design elements are just as dense. The photographs are fully absorbed on each spread, emphasizing the vivid colors. Her detailed photographs shed light on the texture of trees and leaves and provide realistic portrayals of various natural elements. Her photographs depict shots of bark, close ups of leaves hanging by their stem, leaves turning brown, and the decomposition process. The colors are so vivid and crystal clear that it’s impossible to not fall in love with their beauty. Not only is this a perfect read for children particularly interested in science but it is also a great teaching tool for all children. (ANN)
Brooke Vitale, adapter. 2018. The sorcerer’s apprentice: a classic Mickey Mouse tale. Disney Press. 40pp. $10.99. ISBN 978-136802331-3. Illustrated by the Disney Storybook Art Team.
This story tells the well-known tale of Mickey Mouse, the sorcerer, originating from the 1940s at the very beginning of the Disney franchise. This story begins by introducing the powerful sorcerer. His sorcerer hat can control anything, but only the sorcerer knows how to make things stop. While the sorcerer is away and Mickey is cleaning, he notices the hat. Reasonably, because he has always dreamed of power and magic; he puts the hat on his head and begins playing with a broom, which he turns to a person. The broom begins cleaning with buckets of water and Mickey grows tired and falls asleep. Suddenly, Mickey is awoken by the Sorcerer’s workshop flooding. Mickey attempts to cut the broom, but all the slivers turn into their own brooms. Mickey can’t seem to find any magic word to stop the army of brooms. The room turns into a whirlpool, both of water and magic. Just when Mickey loses hope, the Sorcerer enters getting rid of the water, and the buckets. The lesson at the end of the story is to not start something you do not know how to finish. This well-known story combines the classic and beloved Mickey Mouse character with beautiful and colorful illustrations on every page. The illustrations include bold primary colors. The pictures correspond to the words on the page, helping students easily follow along. The pictures are large and cover the entire page, making this an accessible read for a large group. The imagination of magic and Mickey's’ expressions are clearly depicted through the vivid images. The vocabulary introduces many new words to help children’s cognition. Words like “vat” and “temptation” are new teaching moments for children. One downside of this tale is the dated lesson. The message that children should not try something without knowing how to finish it isn’t very motivating. Sometimes, you must learn things as you go and make mistakes in order to reach the end. However, the tale still does teach a valuable lesson of working, planning, and goal-setting. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a good read for Disney-lovers and children alike. (ANN)
Schwart, Corey Rosen. 2017. Twinderella: A Fractioned Fairy Tale. Penguin Random House LLC (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-399-17633-3.
This story begins by telling readers that the version of Cinderella as they know it is not true. Apparently, these versions are missing one pivotal character: Cinderella’s twin, Tinderella. The twins used to split all their chores so everything was fair. They spent most of their lives doing tasks for their stepmother until Prince Charming threw a ball to find a wife. Their fairy godmother made them dresses and trinkets. Of course, they split the trinkets in half and the coach in half. Once they got to the ball, the Prince was amazed with Cinderella and Tinderella. He danced by their side all night long. Both the twins split their dancing with the prince in half. At midnight, the twins had to return home and they left their shoe behind. The shoe fit both twins but the Prince could not marry two women. That’s when the fairy godmother stepped in; she knew she couldn’t split the Prince in half, but she could make double. So that’s what she did; their godmother made the Prince a twin. The prince’s brother was a math whiz. The first thing he did was split up all of the royal wealth, the crowns, and the staff. Tinderella was amazed at his smarts and she couldn’t help but fall in love. Cinderella and Prince Charming married as soon as possible; and the Prince’s brother and Tinderella had their wedding ceremony shortly thereafter. Together, they went on to win all the kingdom math awards, dividing, doubling, and they lived “happily ever half-ter.” This story, a spinoff of the classic tale, gives a plethora of inspiring lessons for young girls. The most important being: smart brains are more important than how you look. The story of Tinderella shows that women are smart and can be good at math, which is especially important in society today. Additionally, this book teaches the importance of finding someone you love who is smart. The cleverness of mathematics throughout this book make it a perfect math-literature integration in a classroom. Tinderella gives girls a positive, strong, and smart princess to look up to. Another major theme is the ideal of equity and fairness. Throughout it all, Tinderella and Cinderella are always working to make everything fair between the two of them. They divide everything. The book teaches the importance of sharing tasks even when it may not be fun, like splitting up the trinkets the fairy godmother gives or their dances with the Prince. Overall, Twinderella provides an inspiring story and refreshing lessons for everyone. (ANN)
McClurkan, Rob. 2017. Play Dates Rule. Bloomsbury Publishing (Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-68119-369-4.
Play Dates Rule tells the humorous story of Ezra and Finley, two unlikely friends. Ezra is ecstatic for his first ever play date. His parents are equally as excited until Finley arrives and they discover he is a gigantic elephant. The two begin to plan the best playdate ever; their first task is piggyback rides around the house. That ended once they shook mirrors and frames off the walls because of Finley’s size. Ezra’s mom explained playdate rule #1: do not to run in the house. Soon follows playdate rule #2: use inside voices. After playing in the middle of the street, mom introduces playdate rule #3: only play in the yard. None of the various rules seemed to dull Ezra and Finley’s playtime. The real trouble came while the boys were playing on the trampoline and Finley ended up stuck on the roof. After he was rescued and went home, the house was a disaster. Ezra’s parents were shocked at their destroyed house and Ezra was thrilled with his first ever playdate.
This book is a humorous read for young children. Through Finley and Ezra’s story, readers are reminded to always have fun. Despite all the rules, they always find new things to do and have fun with each activity. Socially, this book works to show that two people can be friends despite their differences. Even though Finley is an elephant and very different from Ezra, the boys get along and can play together, a good lesson for young children. The colorful and cartoon-like expressions of the two boys show just how much fun they are having. The speech-bubbles from his parents are repetitive and have a clear pattern; they explain common household rules. Overall, this story is an enjoyable and a fun book for any child reader. (ANN)
Emerson, Kevin. 2018. The Oceans Between Stars. HarperCollins (Walden Pond Press). 416pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-230674-6.
This sequel to Kevin Emerson’s The Chronicles of The Dark Stars brings suspense, action, and complex scientific concepts into readers’ laps and imaginations. Taking place after the last tale in this series, 13-year-olds, Liam and Phoebe, are traveling through space after Earth and the solar system have been destroyed. They are searching to find the remains of humankind on planet Delphi. Through their journey, the duo experience time travel, life on different planets, evil enemies, unfamiliar aliens, and the vastness of space all while working to save humankind and their injured parents. As Phoebe and Liam grow close together, Phoebe is forced to reveal many of her secrets, including the most important one: she is a disguised alien. Readers can truly experience the complexity of relationships as Liam begins to question Phoebe and works in the universe to make things right.
Expanding on current realities and creating realistic situations within an alternate universe suspends disbelief. Readers travel into 2223 and delve into a post-apocalyptic world. Descriptive word choices allow readers to imagine this world. The characters have complex and alluring relationships. The inclusion of scientific theories and ideas attracts science-fiction lovers. The inclusion and exactness of technological tools arises real questions about today’s technology and what the future might look like. Although, some readers might struggle with these complex scientific philosophies and technologies. This story and series is highly recommended for science-fiction lovers. (ANN)
Behrens, Rebecca. 2018. The last grand adventure. Simon & Schuster (Aladdin). 336pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-48-149692-6.
Grandmother, Pidge, and granddaughter, Bea, begin an unplanned and somewhat crazy journey across the country in this historical plotline set in 1967. Bea, a straight A student with an unwavering personality, is thrown into a new home situation with her mom moving to a new job in San Francisco and her father recently remarrying, giving Bea a new stepmom and stepsister. Bea’s chaotic home life leads to her agreement to help her free-spirited grandmother Pidge. Following her arrival at her grandmother’s, Bea is exposed to her unique grandmother’s personality firsthand. Pidge has proposed that instead of settling in, the two go on a trip from their home in California to Kansas. Pidge lets Bea in on the secret that her sister is the iconic American figure Amelia Earhart. The two must travel to Kansas and they must celebrate her 70th birthday with her. Although the plan was crazy, Pidge showed Bea the 30 years’ worth of handwritten letters from ‘Meelie’ and the journey was inevitable. Pidge’s ambition and hopefulness pushes Bea out of her comfort zone, despite the inevitable ending.
The plot fully delves into the time, including direct quotations of Amelia Earhart and family, adding to the accuracy and recreation of history. Pidge was really the name of Meelie’s sister and details about her childhood accurately depict Amelia Earhart. Nonetheless, the emphasis remains on the fictional side: the story of Pidge and Bea did not happen; however, the author creates a realistic story to deceive readers into thinking it did. Through Bea’s narrative voice, readers feel along with Bea: her frustrations, embarrassments, fears, and excitements. Additionally, the relationship development of Pidge and Bea can truly hit-home with all readers. The way Bea learns about herself on this adventure, including gaining appreciation for her stepmother and sister, is inspirational. Bea learns to truly appreciate her family, illustrating the relevance of inevitable change. Bea’s telling of the story, growth through the journey, alongside with accurate details and historic figures, puts readers in the backseat of this road trip to discover the truth and go on an adventure of hope, something everyone can enjoy. (ANN)
Griffin, Paul. 2017. Saving Marty. Penguin Random House LLC. (Dial Books for Young Readers). 208pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-39-953907-7.
Renzo lives on a struggling peach farm with his mother and his grandfather. When a piglet is left behind from an auction, Renzo takes him under his wing and names him Marty, after his veteran and musician father who had passed away before Renzo was born. Marty spends much time with the family lab and learns the ways of a dog and sooner or later, he begins acting like one. When asked in school what it means to be a hero, Renzo begins to wonder about his father and his place in the world. Splattered through the narrative are letters, sheet music, and lyrics left behind by his dad. After noticing a female consistently mentioned in these letters and discovering conflicting details about his dad’s death, Renzo questions the truth and struggles internally. Because his mother and grandfather only working on the farm and his best friend, Paloma Lee leaving for camp, Marty is the only one there for Renzo in this time of internal unsteadiness. Ultimately, Renzo’s story is an ultimate appreciation of heroes in our everyday life, including late army veterans, loyal and forever friends, or a pig who acts as a dog and a best friend in one.
The raw and emotional telling of Lorenzo draws upon authentic questions middle school students might have, especially regarding their place in this crazy world. The way Renzo deals with losing his house, life on the farm, uncovering truths and disappointment, and learning who his heroes are, provide an extremely fresh plotline readers with not be able to put down. Readers truly can recognize the difficulty in Renzo’s situations and the not-so-easy solutions associated with them. The mini-mysteries in Renzo’s life intrigues readers to the point they will not be able to set this narrative down. Griffin convincingly portrays hardships in a young man’s life and the solutions that come with them. Each character in Renzo’s life is deep and mirror characteristics of real people. From his single mother struggling to provide for the family, to his best friend who goes the distance, to his biggest side-kick (literally), each character exemplifies the heroism in everyone. The author draws upon themes that directly relate to his audience’s passions, including love, friendship, heroism, sacrifice, and struggle. Any music lover will appreciate the multiple references to music pieces and sheets of music. Readers will gain an appreciation for Renzo and the very honest way he is able to overcome his battles and love him nevertheless. (ANN)
Latham, Irene & Waters, Charles. 2018. Can I touch your hair?. Lerner Publishing Group (Carolrhoda Books). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-51-240442-5. Illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko.
How can two students who seem different in every way work together on a poetry project for school? Well that is exactly what Irene Latham and Charles Waters address in a collection of thirty plus poems telling narratives regarding race, friendship, mistakes, hair, and upbringing. Irene and Charles don’t know each other at the beginning of their poetry assignment for class, but as readers learn, they address many topics that they discover they have in common and can talk about with one another, including church, beach days, their passions, forgiveness, parental punishment, police violence, racial and gender discrimination and many more. As these two converse through poetry, topics become more complex and address wider social issues. Charles, an African American student writes on one side of the page and Irene, writing from the perspective of a Caucasian female expresses herself on the opposite page, giving these poems a unique, yet important comparing and contrasting aspect. These poems demonstrate the difficulty in making new friends and the multiple characteristics affecting how two youngsters work together, especially in an interracial relationship. This collection conveys the complexity of
social issues and the identities of two students. The poems address rhythm, form, and point of view, all poetic aspects that are often grazed over when discussing poems. In this compilation, form plays an importance in the point of view. Irene writes in stanzas with short phrases to address the topic. For example, with the poem titled Shoes, she includes seven stanzas, all aligned on the left-hand side, with three lines each. On the contrary, in Charles’ correspondent poem titled Shopping With Dad, he writes in one long, centered stanza, with a total of fourteen lines. Charles oftentimes writes in much longer phrases and sentences. His thoughts are more complete and explicitly written out. Point of view is explicitly and obviously important. Along with form, point of view addresses the themes throughout these poems, and the illustrations that go along with it. For example, in the poem Playground, written by Irene, she deals with a girl bully named Shonda, leaving Irene without any friends to play with at recess. Similarly, in Charles’ poem Fresh Start, he deals with bullies who will not play with him because his “mouth is like a race car that never stops to refuel.” Although the two originally had nothing in common and experience different things, they can relate to each other through poems and narratives like this one. Illustrations on every page, including these two, include a collage-like image from Irene and Charles’ point of view according to the poem. These illustrations are drawn in acrylic paint with newspaper and colored pencil with newspaper clippings throughout the illustrations, drawing upon and mirroring the important social issues dispersed in the poems. The illustrations of the pages balance combining the two stories but also expressing their differences and individuality in a beautiful and unique way. Perfect for a read-aloud and a fresh-look at various social issues, this assortment of poems is important for all upper-elementary readers. (ANN)
Rex, Adam. 2017. Nothing rhymes with orange. Chronicle Books. 48pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-45-215443-5.
An extremely laughable and playful story with poetic elements perfectly follows along with the orange as he continuously gets excluded from other fruits and their rhyming counterparts. The apple and pears get to travel together, and the plums are handed chums. A peach and banana get to hit the cabana and the grapes wear capes. Rex continues to write about nearly every other fruit imaginable, including quince, kiwi, cherries, and even a pear werewolf. On every page readers see the orange and his passive dialogue about being left out of the poem. Readers will love the negative, yet humorous commentary by the orange. He even proceeds to go on a full-page rant about his frustrations because nothing rhymes with orange. At the end, the poem finally includes orange by rhyming it with smorange, an invented word which means totally awesome in every way. This book explores many different literary aspects to advance cognitive knowledge of young readers. The poetic aspects of this story include consistent rhyming, a major element that propels the plot revolving around the Orange. Words like apple and grapple, and rotten and forgotten are just a few examples of the creative rhyming pairs found in this poem. Additionally, alliteration is a common feature that expands cognition of readers. The phrase “tasty treat” and “healthy happy” is repeated throughout the narrative. Other phrases like “pucker punch” and “but the fruit are feeling rotten ‘cause there’s someone they’ve forgotten” are common alliteration examples that help readers understand poetic elements. Additionally, the illustrations follow along with the story. The illustrations are particularly creative, including real photographs of fruits with cartoon-like facial expressions, legs, and arms. The illustrations are bursting with color, attracting the eyes and drawing in on the fruits in the story. The cartoon faces truly emphasize how the fruits are feelings and the emotions they are going through, especially through the orange. The typography works alongside the photographs to create an interesting visual image on every page. Overall, the humor and consistent energy throughout the storyline makes this an enjoyable read for children of all ages. (ANN)
Jenkins, Steve, & Robin Page. 2017. Who Am I?: An Animal Guessing Game. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 40pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-544-93539-6.
A factual story with creative clues, this nonfiction animal guessing game will entertain and educate children about new types of animals. Young readers will be fascinated by all the different animals that the story introduces. From African bullfrogs, to ghost crabs, to great horned owls, children are sure to enjoy the variety. These animals can be found anywhere from their own backyard all the way to the rainforest. As the plot goes on, readers are given various clues to guess the animal; this motivates readers to interact with this read-aloud text. Each guessing page includes disassembled body parts and the food the animal eats as clues to help readers predict which animal might appear next.
The guessing game brings a new and exciting element to this otherwise average animal story. Young readers of this book become animal detectives. Readers develop their analytical skills as they read, a particularly important aspect of informational texts. Students are activating their background knowledge while making sense of new information to correctly guess which animal they authors are referencing. For especially enthusiastic children wanting to learn more about these animals, there is an encyclopedic reference concluding the story. In this reference, children can learn the scientific names of these animals, interesting facts, and a description of the animal’s size in reference to something young readers are familiar with (like their own hands or bodies). The diversity of animals included in this story may help young children learn more about all the unique animals in the world, rather than the ones typically portrayed in animal informational books. Additionally, these reference pages suggest various other informational texts written for children where they can learn more specific details regarding these animals. The photographs to go along with the clues are highly detailed. Readers will marvel at the textures of the images; each feather and tusk of fur looks extremely realistic. The puzzle-like cut and pasted layout of the clues laying on a clean white background naturally draws the eyes into the accurate details put into the illustrations. The inquisitive nature of the plot, characterization and illustrations provides an excellent read-aloud opportunity for children to learn more about a diverse range of animals, with fresh interactive aspects of a guessing game. (ANN)
Strasser, Susanne. 2018. So Far Up. Charlesbridge. 22pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-1-58089-848-5.
A concept book emphasizing the importance of teamwork and sharing for preschool ages and below, So Far Up is a humorous and playful read-aloud for first readers. The plot begins with a mysterious piece of cake in an open window. Bear comes along and cannot seem to reach the cake. Then comes along pig, dog, rabbit, chicken, and frog. As the animal tower increases in height, the animals still cannot reach the cake. At this point, a child comes along and takes the cake and shuts the window. Just as the animals become sad and hungry, the young girl comes down through the door and shares the cake with everyone.
This storyline is repetitive in both the illustrations and the narrative. Each passage is repeated on the following pages; just like the tower, the text grows in size with each additional character who comes along. Eventually, readers will be able to memorize the repetition, a very motivating and encouraging aspect of the style. Additionally, the images on each page are the same, simply adding the next animal who appears; this pattern is effective in mirroring the simplicity and repetition of the narrative. Due to the repetitive setting in the illustrations, readers’ eyes are automatically drawn to the difference from page to page: the new animal and the way it affects the positioning of all the entire tower. On one page, for example, the dog goes from being upside down in the tower to being totally vertical, defying gravity. Readers will find humor in the ridiculous positions of the animals and the structure as a whole. This light-hearted storyline is likely to make readers smile. This story’s lesson will certainly stick with young readers; the importance of teamwork in achieving a goal and the importance of sharing is something all preschoolers and toddlers can certainly learn about. So Far Up is a perfect story to emphasize and teach upon these themes. (ANN)
Briere-Haquet, Alice. 2017. Nina: Jazz Legend and Civil-Rights Activist Nina Simone. Charlesbridge. 40pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-58089-827-0.
A mother tells her daughter the story of her life as Nina Simone. Born an African American baby, her first childhood memory is observing the black and white keys of a piano. She learned that the black keys were half notes and the white keys were whole notes; the young narrator wondering why black was always half. To her it seemed that the notes had to all work together to create music. Music had no color. As Nina grew up, she became very talented and mastered classical piano music. At 12 years old, the book tells the story of Nina’s first piano recital. The young pianist refused to play after her mother was told she could not sit in the front row because she was black. As the mother tells her story, she talks of Martin Luther King Jr. and describes his dream as her symphony. She was inspired and driven by the movement. The mother tells her daughter “the dream is fragile. You have to take care of it.”
Nina: Jazz Legend and Civil-Rights Activist creatively intertwines prose, intriguing artwork, racial issues, and musical elements to teach that music has no color. The lyrical prose Briere-Haquet utilizes in this story sets the mood of a bedtime lullaby that remains relaxing despite the complicated and difficult issues brought up in the story. Illustrator Bruno Liance draws exclusively black and white images with a soft haze to mirror the plotline. The haziness Liance uses creates mimics the setting or the time period and adds to the soft and hazy mood created within the narrative. The issues of race and discrimination discussed in this plot are important to discuss with children and would be perfectly combined with a social studies lesson in the classroom. Additionally, the musical elements will attract any young musician interested in learning more. Although she attempts to provide a form of biography, Briere-Haquet provides no sources on Nina Simone’s life or concrete details to leave children with. There is no additional information given to students in order to expand their knowledge about civil rights issues or the activist role Nina Simone played. Thus, this book must be paired with additional resources and supplementary materials for the book to have the desired and maximum impact. (ANN)
McMorrow, T.E. 2017. The Nutcracker in Harlem. HarperCollins. 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-117598-5.
A clever twist on the classic Christmas tale, The Nutcracker, The Nutcracker in Harlem begins at a Christmas party. Miss Addie, based on Adelaide Hall, a vocalist in Duke Ellington’s Band, and Uncle Cab, a tribute to Cab Calloway, are playing the piano and singing at their annual Christmas gathering. When they invite Marie, an African American girl, to sing, she refuses for fear that she isn’t any good. After the song ends, they give each other gifts and Marie is given a wooden doll from Uncle Cab. Marie feels discouraged, despite her gifts. Everyone except Marie enjoys the holiday by singing and dancing. After Aunt Addie’s attempt to have Marie sing with her, Marie lays by the Christmas tree and falls asleep. Marie awakes to a quiet house. The birds on the Christmas tree have come alive, singing and fluttering! The tree grows and Marie feels small, especially as her brother’s soldiers come alive. The soldiers march, the nutcracker drums, and Marie joins in drumming. After the army has fled, Marie joins the nutcracker in a dance and song. The narrative flashes back to Marie’s bedroom with her parents and brother towering over her and awakening her from the dream. Marie didn’t miss Christmas. In fact, when she receives her present from Uncle Cab, she plays the drum and sings a Christmas song for her parents and Uncle and Aunt.
McMorrow, a first-time author, was inspired to retell this favorite Christmas story because of his experience working as a stagehand for the Dance Theatre of Harlem. He desired “his version of the story to be set in a place where [he] had seen the power of music and dance transform people, performers, and audiences alike.” McMorrow’s inspiration and extensive research combine to create a sweet and romantic feeling throughout the story. The plot, based on the Harlem Renaissance, represents a rebirth of music and culture in the 1920s, through the lens of the Nutcracker. The images and rich colors used to tell the story convey a brightness and energy in this narrative. Readers are able to see the clothing and style of the renaissance accurately represented in the watercolor illustrations by James Ransome. The sparkling city lights and dramatic events of Marie’s dream transport readers to a new world: the year 1920 in New York City. The clever addition of Jazz legends such as Sugar Hill add to the alternative reality McMorrow creates in his plot. Readers will enjoy learning more about jazz and its impact on American society at the time. Many young readers will love the playful storyline, imagination in the plot, and bright jewel-toned colors. The revised telling of this beloved iconic holiday tale will keep readers on their toes, anxiously awaiting the turning of each page. (ANN)
Simon, Seymour. 2017. Big Cats. HarperCollins. 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-247036-2.
The crystal clear photography and realistic depictions of big cats and their habitats provides readers with an inside look at the lives of these feline predators. The nonfiction book begins by introducing the big cats and some of the basic vocabulary researchers use to discuss and understand their lives. Simon focuses exclusively on seven large cats, including the lion, tiger, leopard, jaguar, puma, cheetah, and snow leopard. Readers discover that these cats are carnivores and learn in greater detail exactly what animals they prey on and how they hunt. These cats have keen senses; nearly all of their senses are perfectly constructed for their survival. Readers are introduced to the term “mammal” and what that means for the process of producing cubs. Tigers are the largest and most attractive of all these cats, however they are endangered; there are only six different kinds of tigers left in the world. Lions, or the “king of beasts,” can weigh more than four hundred pounds. The lion’s roar can be heard up to five miles away. They live in groups called prides, including lionesses, cubs, and one or two males. These prides roam, hunt, and eat together. Lionesses are the hunters and typically stay in the same tribe their entire lives. The leopard is the most graceful hunter of the big cats. The leopard will take its prey up into the trees to keep it from other cats, hyenas, or wild dogs. The leopard lives in a variety of environments, including forests, plains, swamps, and deserts. The jaguar is the largest cat in the Americas, residing throughout Central and South America. The jaguar may prey on animals two times its size. The largest cat of North America is the puma. The puma lives in Alaska, Canada, and South America. The cheetah is the fastest animal in the world and can run upwards of seventy miles per hour. They are the most endangered big cats because they cannot defend their cubs against larger predators. The rarest big cat in the world is the snow leopard, which can be found in the Himalayas and Central Asia. Their thick fur has caused it to be in high demand for clothing. After the detailed narrative exploring these cats, Simon includes the importance of keeping these cats alive and the danger many of them face as a result of trapping and hunting. Their fur and skin have led to widespread killing of these big cats. Though most of them are protected by law, illegal killing continues.
Though some of these animals are common topics in school curriculum, the book provides many new and surprising details, making it an interesting page-turner. These new facts are supported by a glossary, index, and further resources that readers can take advantage of. The glossary includes all the vocabulary words within the narrative and their corresponding definitions, making this a easy book to integrate into classrooms. The index includes topics and page numbers to find information on, making the text especially user-friendly. The close-up and clear photography emphasizes each cat’s facial expression. (ANN)
Hopkinson, Deborah. Ordinary, extraordinary Jane Austen. HarperCollins. 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-237330-4. Illustrated by Qin Leng.
This story of one of the greatest female writers of all time, Jane Austen, is told in this biography. Jane Austen was a simple, shy, and sometimes awkward young girl. She was never very famous during her lifetime, nor did she have a lot of money or education. She grew up in a house with her sister, Cassandra, and six brothers. Austen’s family was fun and entertaining, and she would create her own dramas, decorate the sets, design the costumes, and tell stories. Throughout her childhood, she was an avid reader and read all types of books from poetry to biographies to novels in her father’s library. She began to love writing and critiqued the books she read in letters to her brothers while they were at college. Jane’s father believed in her dream and provided her with special notebooks and writing tools. As soon as Jane became a teenager, she began writing her own novels about the real life, so all readers could relate and enjoy them. By the time Jane was 21 years old, she had completed three novels. Her father sent one of them to a publisher, but it was turned down. Nonetheless, she didn’t give up. Through more hard work and creativity, a publisher finally said yes, and Jane published her first novel under the phrase “by a lady,” as was custom for many female writers during this time period. Many admired Jane’s books and were curious who the author was. However, it was finally uncovered, and Jane was pleased. At the young age of 41, Jane passed away but still accomplished her goal of becoming a writer. Today, Jane’s books are loved and admired around the world.
Overall, this biography accurately and creatively summarizes Jane Austen’s life in a friendly, intriguing way. Short yet descriptive phrases are used to discussed Austen’s growth as a author. The author uses precise sentences and A lighthearted tone to emphasize the true beauty in Austen’s work and journey along the way. The full-page illustrations and use of watercolor pastels to depict detailed scenes of Austen’s life add to the delicate mood of the text. The biography provides references, a timeline of Jane’s life, short summaries of her published novels, and sources for further information. Not only are Jane Austen’s novels important to read, but this biography is just as important for those wanting to learn even more. Perfectly composed and gracefully executed, this biography is a great read for all the Jane Austen lovers. (ANN)
Pearson, P. O’Connell. Fly girls: the daring American women pilots who helped win WWII. Simon & Schuster (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). 208pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-5344-0410-6.
This nonfiction book tells the untold story of the female pilots who rose to the occasion to defend their country during World War II. Their story is often forgotten, yet, over a thousand female pilots proved their abilities by flying planes during this chaotic time. The book begins by introducing two of the main characters, Ida and Jolene, who are 18 years old African American women. Ida has a passion for flying and a drive to obtain her flyer’s license. Then, the plot goes on to introduce Mama, Abel, Grandy, and Thomas. The bombing of Pearl Harbor has just happened, and the United States officially decided to enter the war. Thomas is drafted as a field medic and is forced to drop out of medical school. At this point, Abel finds an add in the paper about the Women American Service Pilots. Ida begins to consider entering the WASP program and uses her father’s flyers license to join. After an interview, she is accepted into the program. Ida’s family struggles with this news as they are scared for her future. The only way Ida can convince her family is by telling them she is doing this in honor of Thomas Grandy. Thus, Ida journeys to Avenger Field and meets Patsy and Lilly, who have beds next to her. The women live on the military base, begin training as pilots, wearing uniforms, marching, and begin to face many scary situations on the line of duty. Ida Mae begins practicing with Walt Jenkins, her teacher. Walt loves Ida and passes her with flying colors. Everything seems fine until Mama comes tells Ida Thomas is missing. Ida tells Walt about the news and he makes an effort to find Thomas. The storyline goes on to tell all the successes of Ida and the patriotic women.
This truly inspiring read is modeled after Hidden Figures, and revists America’s history to tell the ignored stories of the past in a similar manner. Readers will be amazed by the passion, patriotism, and fearlessness of these women pilots. However, this tale of loyalty and bravery does not come easy. The themes of harassment, sexism, discrimination, and racism are an important discussion topic while reading this novel. Readers learn about this hidden history through these accurate depictions of the struggles of war and gender roles so prevalent during this time period. In the epilogue, the author provides astonishing statistics and dates of WASP history. One of the most astonishing: “the WASPs had flown sixty million miles in seventy-eight different types of aircraft and then waited seventy-four years for full recognition.” The author then goes on to provide first hand accounts from WASPs about their experiences in war. A full timeline and lengthy bibliography make the passion and hard work the author has for this subject more apparent. Throughout the story, black and white photographs add to the credibility of the content. This inspiring read is guaranteed to move readers of all ages. (ANN)
Falatko, Julie. 2017. Snappsy the alligator and his best friend forever (probably). Penguin Random House LLC (Viking Books for Young Readers). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-42-528865-8. Illustrated by Tim Miller.
Snappsy the alligator is the most interesting alligator in the world. He enjoys spending time at home reading alone, but nothing prepares for him the adventures he encounters when his “best friend” Bert the chicken comes along. Snappsy has a party one evening and all of the attendees leave the party early except Bert, who seems to believe he and Snappsy are inseparable best friends. Bert’s constant enthusiasm for their relationship eventually makes Snappsy lose it and he tells him to leave. After Snappsy sends Bert on his way, he realizes he is lonely. Snappsy tells Bert he enjoys his company and invites him to a sleepover. They have an exceptional time together. Readers will learn about the numerous adventures which accompany any friendship. Bert shows perseverance in his friendship with Snappsy, and Snappsy experiences character development when he realizes he does not actually like being alone. Readers ages 4-8 will be completely engaged because of the playful style of the illustrations, the humor in writing, and the friendship developed between the two characters. (MNR)
Connor, Leslie. 2018. The truth as told by Mason Buttle. HarperCollins (Katherine Tegen Books). 336pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-249143-5.
Mason Buttle is the largest boy his seventh grade class and suffers severe dyslexia, is abnormally sweaty, and is taunted by a couple of bullies regularly. While Mason may not understand new concepts quickly, he knows how to be an incredible friend. Benny Kilmartin was Mason’s best friend, until Benny fell off a broken ladder in Mason’s family orchard, and was found dead. As an investigation drags on, Lieutenant Baird begins to suspect Mason may know more about Benny Kilmartin’s death than he initially said. In the midst of this investigation, Mason makes a new friend, Calvin Chumsky, who brings out the best in him. Mason narrates the story from his point of view as his finds peace in the comfort of his unstable run-down home, a dog who does not belong to him, and the social work office at school. The Lieutenant uses the computer writing system in the school’s social work office and holds several conversations with Mason, which allows him to fill in the gaps the story of Benny’s death. The climactic ending results in Mason’s broken family realizing they need to make changes around their orchard to make their family business safer and successful again. Young readers ages 9-14 will remain engaged in the story and resonate with Mason’s struggles. (MNR)
Alonso, Cynthia. 2018. Aquarium. Chronicle Books. 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4521-6875-3.
A young girl lies on a dock and watches fish jump and swim in the water as pictures herself swimming with them. She notices a small red fish on the dock, scoops it up in a water bottle, and runs home with it. The girl spends her day filling bowls and cups with water in an attempt to make an indoor aquarium for the small red fish. It isn’t until the fish jumps out into the puddle of water she is reminded where the fish came from, the pond. She quickly runs the fish back to the dock, kisses him farewell, and sets him free. Alonso uses characterization, setting, theme, and visual elements of light/color and line to engage readers into this lighthearted story. Alonso uses cool colors such as light pink, brown, blue, and purple to create a light-hearted mood, as these colors are often associated with air, water, and plant life and represent tranquility, peace, and safety. The illustrations are composed of horizontal lines, which creates a sense of a firm ground children walk on. These horizontal lines and curved edges each provide a sense of comfort and calmness. Characterization is at work as well, as the young girl believes the fish should be hers for keeping. Eventually, she realizes the fish should be swimming in the water instead of in her contraption at home, she goes back to the pond and sets him free. The setting influences the text because when the young girl ventures to the dock, she instantly pictures herself swimming with the fish. The young girl then felt compelled to create a fascinating environment for the fish and wishes she had a friend of her own. Theme is present in this story through the underlying idea fish should remain free, but they can still be your friend. Readers ages 2-5 will become inspired to be adventurous and befriend wildlife. (MNR)
Slater, Dashka. 2017. The antlered ship. Simon & Schuster (Beach Lane Books). 48pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-5160-4. Illustrated by Terry & Eric Fan.
Readers are introduced to a fox named Marco, who is very curious and constantly begging for answers to his questions, which no other fox wants to give. When Marco embarks on an adventure with the passengers of an antlered ship, he is surprised to find people understand him. During their difficult voyage, Marco and the animals aboard are put to test. Throughout their journey, the animals struggle to find food and shelter as their ship starts begins to down. As they follow a their route to a new island, they come upon a pirate ship, but the passengers of the antlered ship refuse to turn around. Instead, they lower the front antlers on the ship and collide with the other ship, which makes the pirates flee in terror. When the antlered ship arrives at the island, Marco searches for on the look-out for other foxes to answer his questions. One of the deer on board, Victor, joins Marco as the sun sets. Victor asks Marco about his questions and Victor explains they do not always need answers; instead, you continue asking questions, which makes friendships and minds grow stronger. The use of texture in the illustrations is mesmerizing. The fur on all the animals bodies shows depth and create a sense of softness to each individual woodland creature. They also use texture when illustrating the trees in order to show depth and distance in the environment, creating a much more life-like structure to the story. The illustrations of the antlers on the boat and the deer use sharper edges, whereas the deer themselves are soft and have rounded edges. Characterization is also present through Marco’s character development. Marco wants answers to his questions, but the other foxes around his neighborhood have no time to answer. Marco does not realize the value of remaining curious until he meets Victor. Marco challenges the other foxes and journeys across the sea to find answers, but instead finds great friends. Readers ages 4-8 years will develop their imaginations and feel inspired to ask deep questions of those around them, even if there may not be an immediate answer. (MNR)
Gehl, Laura. 2018. I got a chicken for my birthday. Lerner Publishing Group (Carolrhoda Books). 32pp. $17.99. Illustrated by Sarah Horne.
When Ana asked for amusement park tickets for her birthday, her Abuela gave her a chicken instead. Little did she know that this chicken would be the greatest present she had ever received. Gehl writes a captivating book based on characterization that encourages all readers to want a chicken just like Ana’s for their birthdays. Ana discovers the chicken is difficult to take care of, and the chicken also starts stealing all of the other people she enjoys spending time with. As readers follow the illustrations, they see the chicken is actually building the amusement park for Ana. By the end of the book, the chicken, Ana, abuela, and all of Ana’s other animal friends get to enjoy the amusement park, and Ana receives the birthday present she had been asking for all along. When first receiving the chicken, Ana was feeling bothered and annoyed by the chores that came with receiving this chicken. By the dénoument, Ana is thrilled the chicken was able to make her birthday wish come true. (MNR)
Cauley, Lorinda Bryan. 2018. Hello, baby animals. Penguin Random House LLC (Dial
Books for Young Readers). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-73-522922-8. Illustrated by Lorinda Bryan Cauley.
Who has the cutest little snout and a swirly curled tail? A charming baby pig! This book will delight readers with a new guessing games and details about infant animals on each page. Every page has an illustration of a baby animal and clues about what the animal on the following page will be. The animals wear dapper clothing with soft pastel colors and detailed textures which use shading and fine lines. Pastel colors and soft lines keep pages simple, bright, and easy to understand for young readers. The texture of the animal illustrations are created by lines and shadows, which make the dashing animals look exceptionally life-like. Young children must predict the identity of the animals on the next page. Readers are encouraged to use their best prediction strategies to figure out the animals throughout the book. (MNR)
Meshon, Aaron. 2018. Now that I’m here. Penguin Random House LLC (Dial Books for
Young Readers). 40pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-73-522936-5. Illustrated by Aaron Meshon.
Mom and Dad dream of having a beautiful baby. They live a simple life, which consists of simple breakfasts, going to work, small lunches, and quiet nights at home. Their boring life completely changes following the birth their baby, and Mom and Dad’s dream turns into their biggest adventure. These adventures are conveyed with bright vivid colors, a painted texture, and various geometrical shapes. Regular use of bright light provides the feeling of excitement, but cool blues convey life before baby, which suggests it was calmer and more relaxed prior to the baby’s birth. The painted illustrations create texture and makes the characters appear as if they are three dimensional. The various lines throughout the book give a sense of momentum through the life of the child. Readers will enjoy this family’s hectic, but wonderful adventures. (MNR)
Louise, Zanni. 2018. Archie and the Bear. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-32-897341-2. Illustrated by David Mackintosh.
A small boy in a bear suit and an enormous bear in a boy suit stumble upon each other in the deep dark woods. The small boy, Archie, is tired of people telling him they like his bear suit, and insists he is truly a bear. The bear struggles with a similar issue of others telling him he is something he is not. Basic colors and sharp lines highlight Archie and the bear. Using several bright oranges and reds keeps readers captivated and excited, and the bear with flat black portrays presence, and catches readers’ attention. The bright reds also create a focal point on each page. The sharp lines give direction to the readers and accent the bears sharp features, such as his nails and teeth. The theme of the narrative shows readers how no one is alone in their experiences and journeys. (MNR)
Cuevas, Michelle. 2018. The town of Turtle. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-54-474982-5. Illustrated by Cátia Chien.
Turtle lives a solitary life, and only has his own shadow as a friend. One night, he has a dream about his shell being a place filled with friends. Turtle then decides to make some renovations to his shell. He adds a number of features to his shell such as homes, shops, ponds, and an ice rink. These features are represented by abstract and organic shapes, which add to the setting as a fictitious land on the back of Turtle’s shell. By the end of the renovations, Turtle can no longer recognize his shadow. He falls asleep and once again dreams of his shell as a home for all kinds of creatures. Turtle’s dream is so strong the dream comes to life while he is sleeping. Every kind of animal moves into Turtle’s shell, and once he wakes up, he sees his dream come to life. Turtle proves how important it is to come out of one’s shell, or comfort zone, to young readers. Themes of friendship, hard work, and community are prevalent in this story. The author also uses personal development to transform Turtle into a more confident individual. The illustrations accompanying the words also help to convey the story and mood. For example, the illustrator uses dark colors in the beginning to show the isolation and loneliness of Turtle. By the end of the story, bright and warm colors, such as reds and yellows, fill the pages. This loveable story will engage a wide variety of readers and compel them to leave their comfort zones. (MLS)
Gomi, Taro. 2018. I really want to see you, Grandma. Chronicle Books. 40pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-45-216158-7.
A young girl, Yumi, and her grandma live far away from each other, so when they both decide to visit the other, they must make a longer journey. Enroute, they cross paths and arrive at the houses only to find the other is not home. Originally published in Tokyo 1979, this humorous story focuses on the love between family members. The setting is established at the beginning of the story as a hilly village. Curvy lines create the horizon and roads, which suggests the story takes place in a mountainous, yet developed area. Additionally, dull colors such as brown and grey are create the mountainous landscape. The lines of the illustrations show Yumi on a bus traveling towards the right side of the page, while Grandma travels towards the left in a train. This sequence of events repeats itself on multiple occasions, giving the young reader an opportunity to recognize and predict the next event. Themes of love and family bonds are portrayed through the plot, as Yumi and Grandma persistently try to visit the other. While the women race to their destinations, the reader can see their distraught faces, which show their determination and desire to spend time with their loved ones. With simple vocabulary and an easy-to-follow plot, young readers ages 3-6 will enjoy this relateable and fun-loving story. (MLS)
Oliveros, Jessie. 2018. The remember balloons. Simon & Schuster (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). 48pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-48-148915-7. Illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte.
Young readers ages 5-9 will learn about the concepts of memory and memory loss. A young boy named James acknowledges all of the memories he possesses, as well as those of his parents and his Grandpa. Memories are represented by colorful balloons, which are attached to characters with straight, sturdy string lines. The colorful balloons draw the reader’s attention towards the memories, and are a stark contrast to the other illustrations, which use neutral colors such as black, grey, brown, and white. Throughout the plot, Grandpa tells James about some of his favorite balloons. The color of the balloon depicts the mood for each memory. For example, the blue balloon shows sadness because the grandpa lost his dog. The yellow balloon is a happy memory because Grandpa’s “eyes light up.” The purple balloon illustrates the deep love and admiration Grandpa has for his wife and the memory is their wedding day. Finally, the silver balloon is a memory both Grandpa and the boy share of a calm and soothing night spent together. As the plot progresses, Grandpa begins to lose his balloons. Small colorful circles and curvy lines convey how the balloons float away from Grandpa. Themes of remembering, family, and love are prevalent throughout the plot, especially when the boy deals with the main conflict of dementia and memory loss. Readers will learn about the effects of dementia and how to continue building a relationship with their affected loved ones. The last page ends on a positive note, as it shows the young boy and his grandpa in a red balloon, which represents their love for one another. (MLS)
De La Peña, Matt. 2018. Amor (spanish edition). Penguin House LLC (G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-52-551880-8. Illustrated by Loren Long. Translated by Teresa Mlawer.
Translated into Spanish, readers will learn about the different ways in which people show love. The poetic style guides readers through the story as they experience the power and importance of love in a young child’s life. The target audience is young children, which makes this a perfect bedtime story for a guardian and child to share. While exploring the theme of love, readers will begin to question the line between independence and the need for a loving support system. Colorful illustrations reflect the mood of each page. For example, bright yellows and vibrant greens fill most pages about the positive and optimistic features of love. On the other hand, brown, black, and grey are prominent on pages dealing with tragedy and nightmares. By the end of the story, readers will feel empowered and grateful for all types of love in their lives. (MLS)
Yorinks, Arthur and Sendak, Maurice. 2018. Presto & Zesto in Limboland. HarperCollins (Michael di Capua Books). 28pp. $18.95. ISBN 978-0-06-264465-7. Illustrated by Maurice Sendak.
Presto and Zesto try to find a cake but soon become trapped in Limboland. They meet The
Boy Who Only Eats Cake and soon learn of a wedding between two sugar beets. Presto and Zesto need to find a present for the sugar beets’ wedding, but the only character who has a present is Bumbo, the monster. Then, Presto and Zesto go on a quest to find Bumbo and steal his present, otherwise they will be stuck in Limboland forever. Along the way to Bumbo, the pair meet unique and quirky characters such as an old goat, a bear, a wedding band, and the wedding caterer’s wife. The third person narrator’s playful and amusing comments directed towards the reader. For example, the narrator says “It was Thursday – no, no, it was Saturday when – no, wait a minute. I think it was Sunday – oh, I don’t remember what day it was…” (Yorinks and Sendak 1). In the afterward, the reader learns the two authors were good friends. Maurice Sendak, famous illustrator of multiple picture books including Where the Wild Things Are, created the illustrations for a London Symphony Orchestra performance. Three years later, the authors decided to write a story to accompany the illustrations. Because the illustrations are the foundation of the story, they become even more powerful. Pops of bright colors such as yellow, green, purple, and red, give life and energy to the characters in Limboland. With the background in mind, the reader can observe the connections between the authors and Presto and Zesto while they try to find their way out of an upside down world. (MLS)
Yolen, Jane (reteller). 2018. The Pirate Princess. In Not One Damsel in Distress: Heroic Girls from World Folklore. (pp. 64-77). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). $15.99. ISBN 978-1-32-890020-3. Illustrated by Susan Guevara.
In Jewish folklore, there is a story of a young woman who shapes her own fate. From the day of her birth, the princess is destined to marry a prince from a different land. The princess and the prince fall in love and wish to marry, but the king arranges a different marriage for his daughter. The young lovers run away, but a traveling merchant captures the princess and falls in love with her beauty. She manages to escape the merchant, but cannot return to the prince because another man grabs her. Constant person versus person conflicts propel the plot forward, while simultaneously revealing the wit and bravery of the princess. Each time someone captures her, the princess uses her intelligence and resourcefulness to trick her captors and escape. Along with examples of a strong, independent female lead, readers will recognize themes of heroism, determination, love, and fairness throughout the plot. There is one illustration to accompany the story, and it conveys the message and mood of the text. The princess is on a large ship, with curvy lines to depict the massive ocean waves. Her hair is flying backwards as she is rides into the wind. From the slight smile on her face, the viewer can see the princess’s happiness and sense of freedom. (MLS)
Oliver, Alison. 2018. Moon. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-32-878160-4.
Moon, a young and studious girl, begins to wonder what it means to be wild. At first she searches for answers in her books, but comes away empty handed. That night, Moon follows her curiosity and goes outside to watch for shooting stars. In the garden, she finds a hidden and unlikely friend, Wolf. Moon follows along as Wolf teachers how to be wild and free. Eventually Moon has to return home, but she remembers the lessons she learned from Wolf and uses them in her everyday life. Readers ages 4-7 will connect with Moon as the plot develops into a journey of self discovery. For example, Moon begins the story as a busy, young lady who always has work to do. However, at the end of the story Moon spends quality time in nature with friends. This transition can also be seen through the illustrations; in the beginning Moon’s hair is tied back, but by the end her hair flows freely in the wind. While the plot and illustrations are enough to capture the attention of any reader, the underlying message is dominant; not every lesson can be learned in a book because some things, like being wild, are only learned by personal experience. (MLS)
Howland, Leila. 2017. The silver moon of summer (a Silver sisters story). HarperCollins. 304pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-231875-6.
The Silver sisters are back in the small coastal town of Pruet to spend the summer with their Aunt Sunny and her husband Tony. In the past, Marigold, Zinnie, and Lily, have had trouble getting along. The girls make a pact to avoid fighting throughout their entire stay in Pruet. While this pact is an example of goal setting and positive sibling relationships, things start to unravel when Marigold and Zinnie fight over their new friend, Chloe. Each sister wants to be friends with Chloe, but they do not want to share her attention. The girls also busy themselves with many activities. Lily spends her days at a naturalist camp learning about insects, mammals, and plants. Marigold tries to gain the attention of her crush, Peter, while also taking part in a big television shoot for a Hollywood director. Finally, Zinnie is busy trying to find adventures to write for her school blog. The person versus person conflict of this story is evident through Marigold and Zinnie’s relationship as they argue with one another. However, the conflict is resolved after the girls have a talk with Aunt Sunny about the importance of expressing their emotions. In the end, the girls discover the best friendship they can possibly have is the one they have with each other. The importance of family, honesty, and authenticity are exemplified in this coming-of-age novel, and fans of the first two books in the series will not be disappointed. (MLS)
White, Dianne. 2018. Goodbye brings hello: a book of firsts. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-54-479875-5. Illustrated by Daniel Wiseman.
Readers ages 4-7 will feel ready to accomplish anything after reading this story. The conflict acknowledges the difficulties of saying goodbye and endings. However, saying goodbye and moving forward can lead to something new and exciting. The curving lines of the wind and the vibrant colors on each page support the whimsical, energetic, and uplifting mood of the story. The story is told through a rhythmic style and upbeat rhymes such as “Chunky crayons. Big designs. Hello, letters on the lines” (White 28-31). This example shows the change between using thick crayons to a thin pencil. Other changes, such as new haircuts, bikes, and shoes show the reader how transitions big and small are a natural part of life. In the end, all of the children previously seen in the book arrive together at school, which is a big transition for many young readers. This book highlights personal development as the children grow older and transition into a new stage of their lives. (MLS)
Flood, Ciara. 2017. There’s a walrus in my bed!. Lerner Publishing Group. (Andersen Press USA). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-51-248122-8.
Flynn has a new bed, but when he tries to sleep in it for the first time, he finds a large walrus has taken over the space. The dark colors in Flynn’s room reflect the eerie mood as Flynn opens his bedroom door for the first time. Conflicts begin when Flynn fails to move the walrus and his parents do not believe a walrus is in his bed. Flynn tries various methods of moving the walrus, and eventually decides to cuddle with the large animal. This is very comfortable for Flynn and the walrus, but there still is not enough room for the two of them. To solve this conflict, Flynn decides to let the walrus sleep in his parent’s bed. Conflicts exist to propel the story, and the silly style will appeal to readers looking for a humorous plot. (MLS)
Aronson, Billy. 2018. Melia and Jo. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 48pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-32-891626-6. Illustrated by Jennifer Oxley.
Readers are first introduced to a girl named Melia. Melia is a typical tomboy who loves to invent things and play in her backyard. However, Melia’s new neighbor, Josephine, is quite the opposite. Josephine loves to dance and sing all day long. When the two protagonists meet, there is major clash in personalities and interests. Josephine is messing up all of Melia’s hard work on her inventions and misinterpreting their purposes. But when Josephine ballet leaps into a tree and cannot get down, Melia’s spaghetti server turns into a rescue ladder. Melia realizes she and Josephine make a fantastic duo with both of their art and science skills. One of the themes present in this story is unlikely friendship. By overcoming their differences, Melia and Josephine become best friends even though they are opposites. Both friends have amazing qualities that when combined make incredible inventions. Licorice can act as glue, and a bowl can be a hat! None of these ideas would have happened if it was not for the STEAM team they made up. (EMS)
Anderson, John David. 2017. Posted. HarperCollins (Walden Pond Press). 384pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-233820-4.
This is a story about how friends groups, bullying, and technology work in a modern day school. The main character, Eric Voss, aka Frost, lives in Branton, Michigan with his mom. Frost has a solid friend group of four: Jeremiah Jones, aka J.J., aka Bench, Advik Patel, aka D&D, aka Deedee; and Morgan, aka Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, aka Wolf. Frost, Bench, Deedee, and Wolf are a set of unlikely friends. They found each other based on the fact they had nothing in common with anyone else. Such a tight group of friends could not possibly be broken up until a new girl arrived to Branton Middle School and nudged her way into the tribe. This figurative earthquake just so happened to hit the exact same day phones were banned on school property. And so the revolution started. It all began with a few sticky notes stuck to the squad’s lockers due to the newly acclaimed technology-free school. Just a few jokes written here and there, and some notes passed between class periods discussing the epic game of Dungeons and Dragons tonight. But somehow it gained steam and started a trend. The new girl in school, Rose Holland, was thrusted into the insane world of snarky and mean comments taped on locker doors around the school. Not the best first impression. Because she did not seem to fit into any other group in school, Rose started hanging out with the four boys. Throughout this rollercoaster of a story, some friends stayed loyal to the tribe while others did not, and there were some obstacle along the way. Despite the two week suspension of phones, this group of middle schoolers came out alive and more closely-knit than ever. Throughout this novel, readers learn more about Frost and his friend group through a series of flashbacks as well as a narration of each day during the week of the ‘post-it revolution.’ The depressing reality of going through a parents’ divorce was seen through Eric’s point of view and through Wolf’s parents. Eric’s house was filled with silence during his younger years until the split. It was miserable having to listen to forks scrape plates during dinners and live in a house with no life. For Wolf, he lives in a house full of yelling and screaming. His parents still live under the same roof and can never stop arguing. This book puts the impact of a divorce on a family into perspective. This story also addresses bullying in a very serious way. Towards the end of the post-it revolution, the comments written on the square papers were cruel and hostile. The final straw was the phrase ‘Total Roman’ graffitied on Wolf’s locker in big sharpie letters making a homophobic joke. As a whole school, the students fought back by posting uplifting comments all over the building; especially on Wolf’s locker. As one big team, the students fought against the ugly reality of bullying. Eric’s attitude noticeably changed from the start of the book to the end. Before Rose Holland walked through the school doors, he was very comfortable in his small group and never went outside of his comfort zone. He ate lunch at the same table with the same people, he counted on Dungeons and Dragons as a pastime activity, and shied away from the bullies at school. After the post-it trend, he realized change is a positive thing and can bring new people into someone’s life. He challenged the bullies at school, and even embraced his poetry writing skills he was afraid to show to the world. By completely owning his quirks, Eric was able to embrace the nerd he is and have the wonderful time in middle school. (EMS)
Covell, David. 2018. Run wild. Penguin Random House LLC (Viking Books for Young Readers). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-67-001411-8.
The illustrations begin by showing a boy inside of his house watching a girl running outside through the window. The inside of the house is very dark, while outside is bright and full of color. His window is the only example of geometric shapes in this book, showing how structured and certain his life is inside. This shows how boring and dull being indoors must be, and how playing outside is exciting and adventurous. Furthermore, there is a single, yellow dandelion in the door’s lock, which symbolizes how cheerful the adventure of exploring outside will be. As the boy runs outside to join the girl, the world explodes in vibrant colors of sunlight, green grass, and bright flowers. These intense colors show the energy of running outside; a stark contrast to the black and white house before. The boy and girl seek new adventures throughout the book -- they run after a rabbit, and they run through the mud. While they chase the rabbit, their hair flows behind them in a horizontal line and the rabbit’s body is tilted diagonally showing the fast movement of the race. As the children jump into the mud, their arms are open in diagonal lines following the motion of the splashes behind them displaying the enjoyable chaos of the activity. The boy and girl run through a forest with a windy path, whose curved nature is an example of the adventure and bravery of exploring new territory. Additionally, the ground they run on is never perfectly horizontal. They are always running on a curved surface, signifying the unexpected paths they might take. Covell uses color as a way of showing temperature. When the children are in the ocean, the water has cool tones of blue and purple because they are relaxed and calm while swimming. When they step on the hot sand, the page is full of warm oranges and yellows. Throughout the whole book, the shapes are organic. The text is organic too! The children are trying new experiences and the organic shapes of the nature surrounding them shows their uncertainty and unfamiliarity with the setting. Although they are not familiar with their surroundings, they chase the sun until the day is done, with their legs moving fast and the lines of the wind leaving a trail behind them. (EMS)
Ward, Jennifer. 2018. Mama dug a little den. Simon & Schuster (Bench Lane Books). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-48-148037-6. Illustrated by Steve Jenkins.
The collage-like illustrations provide readers the ability to imagine what the different types of animals feel and look like. On furry animals, the illustrator gives cottony and fuzzy textures to help tactile learners understand the feelings of the real animals. There are also some examples of thin lines made on animal’s bodies to imitate fine hair. On scaly animals, rough textures can be seen with the use of geometric shapes and the use of shading and highlighting the skin patterns. The purpose of the colors used was to contribute to the overall earthy and natural theme of the book. When showing the greenery and underground dens, there are many browns and greens representing the earth’s dependability and safety for the animals. The bright colors used for the animals show life. The intense colors for the animals and dark colors for the ground contrast to symbolize the energy that the animals have. Light is a subtle, yet important, contributor to the theme of environment. When the sun is present, the ecosystem of the animal is a hot climate; while if the sun is absent, the animal lives in a cooler environment. Lines in Ward’s story were mainly a symbol of the comfort and stability a home provides for families. The exits of the dens are tilted diagonally or curved, which show the movement needed to get out of their home and out into the unknown. When the animals are poised to attack, their bodies are at a diagonal tilt to show that they are predators ready to strike and cause danger. The use of texture, color, and line gives readers an above average experience to learn about animals and their environments given there is no plot, conflict, or character development present in the story. (EMS)
Shields, Gillian. 2018. When the world is full of friends. Bloomsbury Publishing (Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-68-119626-8. Illustrated by Anna Currey.
A sequence of events begins with a family of rabbits looking for new adventures and activities. Albert, Tom, Flossie, and Pipkin are always making up new games and inventing exciting things to play with. The bright colors used show the enthusiasm of trying new things and the excitement for adventure. Even though the rabbits love each other and keep each other company, they knew they wanted friends more than anything else. The next day, a new family of squirrels moves in across the stream! The rabbit siblings are overjoyed and the squirrel family is delighted too. However, there is one tiny problem. They cannot walk to the other side because there is no bridge close enough to them. All of the siblings are disappointed, but Flossie, the inventor of the group, knows she could solve the problem . After a couple of ideas, Flossie has a brilliant invention to help them cross the stream -- a boat! The boat, as well as many of the man-made objects, are made of geometric shapes to show the stability and safety of the boat and the rabbits’ home. Finally, the little rabbits dress up like pirates and sail across the stream, where they finally meet the young squirrels. Now they can all be friends and play with each other all day long.
The theme of friendship emphasizes the importance of social development in readers. As the family of rabbits develop, they realize the significance of friendship in their lives. They know they can always play with each other, but it is essential for them to gain new perspectives and interactions with different. The family also develops personally. They apply teamwork to build the boat together and they use their imagination. Teamwork is a valuable skill for children, socially and personally. Imagination is another critical skill because children need to explore different perspectives and ideas to become problem solvers. The rabbits’ determination to reach their friends across the stream displays their true affection for companionship. (EMS)
Ying, Jonathan. 2018. Take a ride by my side. HarperCollins Publishing (HarperCollins). 32pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-06-238070-8. Illustrated by Victoria Ying.
Dog and Cat start their day inside and realize the sun is shining and they should go outside and travel. Cat and Dog have a dialogue going on throughout the book communicating with each other about where and how they are going to travel places. Cat is an extremely curious person and is impressed with all of their adventures, while Dog is the problem solver who guides them to locations. In order to provide a sense of safety and security, all of the illustrations are geometric and smooth while these two characters tour new places. They bike to a town, cross a bridge, are pulled by a tugboat, drive a submarine, fly a plane, and go to the moon! During all of this, both of the characters work together and have an enjoyable time. The reader is able to grow socially by witnessing the bond of Cat and Dog as they travel across the globe. The dialogue between the characters is promotes the development of communication skills among peers and families. Because Cat and Dog work cohesively, readers experience the the skill of teamwork. (EMS)
Katz, Alan. 2018. If I didn’t have you. Simon & Schuster (Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-41-697879-4. Illustrated by Chris Robertson.
The plot begins to unfold when Mike, the little alligator, asks his dad why he does not have a super cool car like the sleek speedster. The cherry red car races through the streets, appearing to be powerful and desirable while the alligator family watches it roll by. The father alligator replies it is not possible to have a car like that because there are three people in their family, and the sports car only has two seats. Mike realizes his family could have a sports car if they did not have him… and a new world of possibilities opens up. He starts to name all of the things he could have if he did not have his dad. Mike could stay up all night, he would never have to clean his room, and he could eat candy for every meal! Royal purples and shades of blue signify the luxury of not having any rules and the freedom Mike has when he hypothetically does not have his dad watching him anymore. While picturing what life would be like without restrictions, there is complete chaos on the pages. Candy is everywhere, Mike’s room is in complete disarray, and the chandelier is used as a swing. Organic shapes in the candy and clothes are used to show the overall feeling of disorganization and anarchy. Switching the tables, Mike’s dad starts to explore the possibilities of what he could do if he did not have Mike. He could take skydiving lessons, have a personal butler, and travel the globe. The stark contrast between diagonal lines for Mike’s dreams, and the horizontal lines for his dad’s dreams show the difference in personalities. Mike wants to have fun and be crazy while his dad wants to relax and be stable. Throughout this whole conversation of crazy possibilities, Mike and his dad both keep saying although they would love to try new things, they would rather have each other. They repeatedly listen and dance to their favorite song and act crazy, realizing they could have a great time interacting with one another. Young readers will observe personal and emotional development from the themes of family and love. Mike and his dad both grow as people when they know they would give up just about anything in order to be with each other. (EMS)
Davis, Kathy E. 2018. Ta-da! Chronicle Books. 40pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-45-214513-6.
Illustrated by Kaylani Juanita.
Young readers learn how far their imagination can stretch in this tale of magic and fun. Immediately, the plot challenges readers’ creativity when they observe a girl in her living room surrounded by miscellaneous objects such as blankets, blocks, and crayons. The plot begins with “once upon a time…” which contrasts the image readers view on the page, possibly expecting to observe a scene of fantasy. A boy walks into the living room with his dog and the two children pretend it is a ferocious dragon wreaking havoc on their kingdom. Suddenly, the boring household furniture transforms into a treacherous landscape where the dragon lives. Curvy lines are representing the blowing wind and organically shaped bursts of fire are spewed by the dragon causing a very hectic scene. But have no fear! The little girl comes in with her magic wand and ‘ta-da’ the dragon is suddenly kind. Until terrible pirates attack the girl and her dragon. Throughout this adventure, the girl and boy go back and forth between solutions and conflicts in their imaginary world while enjoying the experience. Bright reds, yellows, and blues
convey the children's’ excitement in their adventures and new ideas. Although each scene is chaotic in its own way, there is always a horizontal line grounding the kids and making sure they are stable and safe in whatever scene they make up. In the end, readers discover no matter where they are, they can always think outside of the box to make their own happily ever after story. (EMS)
Say, Allen. 2017. Silent days, silent dreams. Scholastic Inc. (Arthur A. Levine Books). 64pp. $21.99. ISBN 978-0-54-592761-1.
Young readers learn to embrace their unique talents in this captivating account of artistic
talent and exclusion. James Castle’s nephew tells the rollercoaster adventure and tragedy of James’ life. James Castle was born deaf and mute and he is also dyslexic. His childhood was horrible. His parents neglected him and school peers bullied him. The majority of the illustrations are black and white to show how painful and confusing James’ life was without love and care. The faces of children at school are blank or blurred because he does not have any connections with them; they are all strangers. Furthermore, when the bullies are making fun of him, James puts his arms up in a vulnerable position to cover his ears from the loud shouts, making diagonal lines with his body symbolizing fear and pain. Because James cannot hear, he let out ear piercing screeches to protect himself from harm. His father frequently locked him in the attic so the rest of the family did not have to hear his constant noises. One day, James snuck out of the attic and found an icehouse outside, which sparked his interest in art and creativity. The illustrations turn to color while he collects scrap paper and burnt matchsticks to start drawing. He began to draw everything from bedroom designs to his own alphabet. He was finally finding something he loved to do.
When his sister Nell leaves home for the Idaho School for the Deaf and the Blind, James tags along. His previous schooling experience repeated itself when the teachers found he could not read or write. However, he did find something of interest while in Gooding, Idaho. Teachers would sew textbooks together in the library and James would watch them for hours. In the library, the textbooks were a rainbow of color, showing excitement and belonging. He started to draw people, his way of making friends. Unfortunately, the teachers took his drawing tools away because art classes were supposedly only for girls and the school sent him home. Throughout this school experience, the pages reflect a type of scrapbook, as if readers are looking back on the memories of James and his sister Nellie while they send updates to their family back home. Pictures of him in school are realistic with textures that imitate real life objects, while James’ drawings are abstract with both geometric and organic shapes showing both his creativity and grasp on harsh reality. When James is back home, his family moves and he has to start a new art studio from scratch. His younger sister, Emma, had a son named Bob who was fascinated with Uncle Jim’s and his artwork. Black and white flashbacks of Bob’s history and interest in his Uncle Jim are evident through curvy lines representing his long journey from the army. Eventually, Bob enrolled in art school and gave his professor some of James’ artwork to put into an exhibit. People started talking and newspapers started writing about an amazing self- taught artist! Pieces of James’ artwork were sold and after so long in a chicken coop, Uncle Jim finally moved to his dream house and drew happily for another fifteen years. (EMS)
Yolen, Jane (reteller). 2018. Bradamante. In Not One Damsel in Distress: Heroic Girls from World Folklore. (pp. 84-94). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). $15.99. ISBN 978-1-32-890020-3. Illustrated by Susan Guevara.
A sequence of events begins when readers meet Bradamante, a loyal and fierce knight,
who has multiple impressive tales of bravery and ferocity. Readers are thrown into a battle
between Bradamante and a Moorish enemy, a common characteristic of fast-paced French
folktales. The two enemies’ armies retreated, but they were caught up in an angry sword fight. Kindly, a Moorish prince interrupted the battle to let them know of their missing comrades, but then suddenly turned on his own ally by striking him with a sword. This Moorish prince, Ruggiero, and Bradamante became unlikely friends and spent the day together, talking. Readers discover both warriors have important French values such as intelligence, kindness, and gaiety in common. As they were discussing their family lineages, Bradamante reveals she is actually a woman! Astonished, a party of Moors ambush the two warriors and they are separated. She long searched for Ruggiero, but had no luck finding her true love for a lengthy period of time.
One day, she came upon Sir Pinabel, a knight from the house of Mayence. This knight told stories of how a demon captured his future wife. Pinabel said prince Ruggiero and the king of Sericane attempted to rescue her, but to no avail. Hearing about her beloved prince Ruggiero, Bradamante immediately went in search for this demon who had taken so many. While scouting for a place to rest, Pinabel betrayed Bradamante and threw her into a deep cavern. Against Pinebel’s wishes, Bradamante recovered from her fall and found a magical underground temple. The spirit of Merlin lived in this underground home, and she gave her the secret to defeat the demon. All Bradamante had to do was steal a magical ring from the Moor’s dwarf, and it would protect her from all of the demon’s enchantments. As seen by the demon, spirit of Merlin, and magical ring, French folklore includes magical beings, spirits, and beasts in their tales. After Bradamante attained the dwarf’s ring, she charged into battle to overthrow the demon. As soon as Bradamante reached the castle where Ruggiero was imprisoned, the demon came out to battle her with a magician’s book and a hippogriff. She tricked the magician into thinking she was falling under his enchantments and then blindsided him with her sword. The simple lady knight was smart enough to outwit the smart magician, which is an example of a common French folktale. The magician cried out when Bradamante’s sword was against his throat saying that all he wanted to do was protect his son Ruggiero from dying. Willingly, Bradamante let the poor magician go and went to find her beloved. Upon seeing each other, they happily pledged their love for one another. The value of forgiveness is demonstrated when Bradamante finds it possible to excuse Ruggiero’s father, even though he had done some horrible acts. (EMS)
Parker, Danny. 2016. Molly and Mae: a friendship journey. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-13-2871543-2. Illustrated by Freya Blackwood.
Molly and Mae meet at a train station and undergo an extraordinary journey of the highs and lows of friendship. Molly discovers Mae under a bench, and the pair embark on their own world of discoveries and joy. Together they dance, play, share secrets, and make promises to each other. After their friendship takes a wrong turn, the journey turns rainy and dull. However, Molly and Mae reconcile before the end of the train ride. Young readers will learn how to maintain relationships and resolve conflicts between themselves and their peers. (WMY)
Lennon, John. 2017. Imagine. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). 32pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-13-2880865-3. Illustrated by Jean Jullien.
Illustrations of pigeons with vibrant colors and gorgeous flowers bring this classic song about world peace to life. With the help of John Lennon’s original lyrics, the pigeons spread love and understanding throughout the world. Young readers will learn the value of unity, peace, and acceptance as these birds share the message of Lennon’s song one person at a time. (WMY)
Peoples-Riley, Daria. 2018. This is it. HarperCollins (Greenwillow Books). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-00-62-65776-3. Illustrated by Daria Peoples-Riley.
Children ages 4-8 will develop an appreciation for dance as they follow a young dancer’s struggle to develop self-confidence. The dancer is nervous about an upcoming audition until her shadow comes to life and leads her on an adventure through the city. Through her love of dancing, the main character develops into a stronger, more graceful and more confident version of herself. This celebration of dance and the young dancer’s decision to pursue her dreams will encourage readers to be the best version of themselves in order to reach their goals. (WMY)
Hunter, Erin. 2018. Bravelands: code of honor. HarperCollins. 384pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-00-6-64206-6.
A journey in the African savannah brings Thorn Middleleaf, a baboon from Brightforest Troop, Sky, an elephant, and Fearless, a lion, together following the murder of the elephant leader, Great Mother. The honor code of the wild is broken and these three characters must work together in order to bring peace to the Bravelands. Thorn, Sky, and Fearless narrate the story from three diverse points of view as they attempt to uncover the truth of Great Mother’s murder. Readers ages 8-12 will enjoy the second installment of the Bravelands series. (WMY)
Testa, Maggie. 2018. I’m having a sky blue day!: a colorful book about feelings (Crayola). Simon & Schuster (Simon Spotlight). 24pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-15-3-441528-7. Illustrated by Claire Rossiter.
Life is full of adventure and it comes in a variety of different shades and colors. There is an exciting day filled with blue colors, a bright, pleasant day filled with signing and vivid violets, a “lemonade day” filled with sour lemons, and a “rollercoaster day” filled with ups and downs. By exploring and embracing the many shades of life, every day is a sky blue day. Illustrations composed of colors like red, blue, yellow, and purple invite readers ages 2-5 to enjoy this vibrant adventure. The diversity of colors conveys the sheer number of phases life consists of if one lives life to the fullest. (WMY)
Ludvicek, Zebo. 2017. Mouse. Penguin Random House LLC (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers). 40pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-11-0-199636-2. Illustrated by Zebo Ludvicek.
A mouse with a delicious cherry crosses paths with the letter M, who wants a bite of the cherry. Although Mouse is reluctant to share, he agrees, and the M eats the entire cherry. As compensation, M offers to allow the mouse to nibble on one of its legs. After the mouse nibbles on the M, it becomes the letter N. The pair then embark on an adventure through the alphabet which leads to the development of a life-long friendship. The illustrations manipulate shapes, lines, and color in order to create the texture of the mouse’s soft fur and the letter M’s rough edges. Readers ages 3-5 will expand their knowledge of the alphabet and the values of friendship and sharing through this text. (WMY)
Aylesworth, Jim (reteller). 2017. The gingerbread man. Scholastic (Cartwheel Books). 32pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-16-8-052449-9. Illustrated by Barbara McClintock.
In this retelling of a classic fable, a little old man and a little old woman make a Gingerbread Man together. Once the oven door opens, the Gingerbread Man runs away. This leads the elderly couple, the butcher, the black-and-white cow, and the muddy old sow to chase after him with weapons. The Gingerbread Man meets the fox before anyone else arrives, who attacks and eats him in one go. The concept of personification is evident in the animals and the Gingerbread Man in this fable because they all speak and behave as if they are humans. Readers will remain engaged in this exhilarating tale and may enjoy baking the gingerbread man recipe provided at the end of the text. (WMY)
Elya, Susan Middleton. 2017. La Princesa and the Pea. Penguin Random House LLC (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-03-9-925156-6. Illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal.
El príncipe, or the prince, is lonely until he finds the right girl to marry. His mother is hesitant about the match and wants to test the girl in order to determine if she is a princess worthy of her son. This Latino recreation of the classical tale engages readers with realistic, colorful illustrations. Intricate patterns and colors like red, purple, and yellow make the characters’ clothing pop off of the page. This folktale follows the characteristics of traditional literature, such as the class difference between the prince and the girl, and the manner in which she must prove herself to the queen in order to wed her true love and have a better life. This imaginative recreation of the classic tale is a perfect bedtime story for readers of all ages. (WMY)
Crouse, Livingstone. 2017. Dinglehoppers and thingamabobs. Disney (Disney Press). 64pp. $10.99. ISBN 978-14-8-479950-5. Illustrated by Amy Mebberson.
Scuttle the seagull presents his treasures to readers in this humorous text. Scuttle is a talking bird who collects items from the human world and attempt to guess what they are for, though he is frequently wrong about their purpose. For example, he believes the the snarfblat is for making music on a quiet night, humans pile books to see over rocks, and forks make an aesthetically pleasing hair brush. The characterization and setting suspend disbelief. Although the main character is an animal, the environment and nonsense words used to discuss the human tools in these illustrations contribute to the reader’s ability to suspend disbelief. Scuttle speaks like a human, acts like a human and tries to make sense of all the human tools. Fans of The Little Mermaid ages 5-6 will enjoy this humorous tale and may wish to make up their own words for every-day objects as well. (WMY)
DasGupta, Sayantani. 2018. The serpent's secret (Kiranmala and the kingdom beyond #1). Scholastic (Scholastic Press). 368pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-13-3-818570-6.
Kiranmala’s twelfth birthday is not an ordinary one filled with cakes, presents, and laughter. Instead, her parents are swallowed by a rakkosh, or a demon, and are sent to a different dimension. Kiranmala must embark on a quest to find her parents and soon discovers she is a princess from another dimension. She also meets two princes who wish to help her and earn her affection in the process. Kiranmala’s normal life in New Jersey and the mystical dimension where winged horses, talking birds, and demons roam free collide in this imaginative tale. The author suspends disbelief by creating a realistic, relatable main character who is human and is fighting an evil demon. The setting is also relatable because it combines the human and demon dimensions. The good versus evil theme of the story shows the development of the suspense as Kiranmala tries to rescue her parents. Readers ages 8-12 are sure to enjoy the first installment of this magical series. (WMY)
Mitchell, Jane. 2017. Without refuge. Lerner Publishing Group (Carolrhoda Books). 282pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-15-4-150050-1.
Thirteen year old Ghalib and his family are forced to flee their home in Kobani, Syria due to fear of getting bombed at any time. Left with no other choice, the family decides to take refuge in Europe. Ghalib dreams of becoming a pharmacist, but has to abandon this goal to fight for survival once he is separated from his family. This work of contemporary realistic fiction shares information about Syrian civil war and refugee crisis through Ghalib’s journey. Real Syrian names, people, and places allow readers to gain a better understanding of this war and humanitarian crisis. Readers will develop an awareness of the refugee crisis and the plight of millions of displaced Syrians around the world. (WMY)
Kelkar, Supriya. 2017. Ahimsa. Lee & Low Books, Inc (Tu Books). 304pp. $18.95. ISBN 978-16-2-014356-8.
During the Indian freedom movements of the 1940s, ten year old Anjali is left to fend for herself when her mother, a freedom fighter, is arrested. Anjali picks up where her mother left off and works alongside Mahatma Gandhi to fight for India’s freedom from the British. The tale is inspired by the author’s great-grandmother’s personal experiences with Gandhi, which adds credibility to the story. However, due to the author’s feminist views, the historical context seems to be re-read. Anjali must overcome her own prejudiced views in order to fight for her country. Readers ages 8-12 will learn more about the history of this nonviolent movement and may feel inspired to confront social ills in their own countries as well. (WMY)
Grimes, Nikki. 2017. The watcher. Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Co. (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). 42pp. $17.00. ISBN 978-08-0-285445-2. Illustrated by Bryan Collier.
Jordon is scared of Tanya, his bully, but Tanya is afraid of something else. However, both have God watching over them so He can lead both individuals to the right path. Inspired by Psalm 121, the author creates a golden shovel poem, which uses words from an existing literary work to create a new work of poetry. Repetition is adds more power to phrases such as “the Lord will watch over you,” which allows readers ages 6-10 to connect emotionally with the text. (WMY)
Trapani, Iza. 2017. Old MacDonald had a zoo…?. Charlesbridge. 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-15-8-089729-7. Illustrated by Iza Trapani.
It is just another day for Old MacDonald with his cow and his classic nursery rhyme. However, once a kangaroo appears, everything begins to change. Once an elephant appears, the farm gets even stranger. As more animals begin to escape the local zoo and join Old MacDonald’s farm in this retelling of a classic folk song. Repetition and rhyme create a musical feel which will keep readers ages 2-5 engaged in the story. (WMY)
Halfmann, Janet. 2018. Midnight teacher: Lilly Ann Granderson and her secret school. Lee & Low Books, Inc. 40pp. $18.95. ISBN 978-16-2-014163-2. Illustrated by London Ladd.
In mid-1800s Mississippi, it was illegal for enslaved people to learn how to read and write. However, Lilly Ann Granderson believed education was the path to freedom and dedicated herself to teaching fellow enslaved people these invaluable skills. Granderson was discovered teaching one night and received a beating as punishment, but was not deterred and continue to conduct midnight lessons in a back alley cabin for other enslaved people. This biographical account of Granderson allows young readers to learn about this brave woman and the sacrifices she made for the benefit of other enslaved individuals. (WMY)
Winters, Kay. 2018. Voices from the Underground Railroad. Penguin Random House LLC (Dial Books for Young Readers). 48pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-08-0374092-1. Illustrated by Larry Day.
Jeb and Mattie, two enslaved siblings in Maryland, cannot wait any longer to escape. They must leave as soon as possible with the assistance of the Underground Railroads or they will be sold. The siblings encounter a number of people who wish to assist them and others who want to capture them. Although the story revolves around Jeb and Mattie, the perspectives of members of the Underground Railroad, and their master are shared in addition to their point of view. The watercolor illustrations clarify the events of the story. Most of the story takes place at night, so colors like blue, purple, green, and black contribute to the tale’s secretive and urgent tone. Young readers ages 7-9 will learn how the Underground Railroad functioned during this horrific period of America’s history. (WMY)
Wallace, Sandra Neil. Between the lines: how Ernie Barnes went from the football field to the art gallery. Simon & Schuster (Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers). 48pp. ISBN 978-14-8-144387-6. Illustrated by Bryan Collier.
While he was growing up in 1940s North Carolina, Ernie Barnes would wait for rain so he can draw in the wet soil. He took a sketchbook and drew straight lines and curved lines. As Ernie aged, he became tall and athletic, so his best option to make a good living as an African American man was to play on a football team; he earned a total of 26 scholarships to do so from colleges around the United States. While he became an NFL player, Ernie never let go of his desire to make art, even with the knowledge he would struggle to succeed as an artist because of his race. Ernie became one of the most important artists of his time and is perhaps most well-known for his painting “Sugar Shack,” which depicts a group of African Americans dancing joyously together. The illustration are three dimensional collages which depict imitate Ernie’s fluid artistic style and moments from his life. Readers ages 4-8 will be inspired by the artist’s devotion to his dreams after reading this engaging story. (WMY)
Simon, Seymour. 2017. Water. HarperCollins. 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0062470553. Photographs by Robert Simon and Marit Jentoft-Nilsen.
Water is everywhere. It is in the air, clouds, rivers, oceans, lakes, and ice. Water is the most important substance on the planet Earth. This informational book includes fact about water, its chemical makeup of hydrogen and oxygen, and its importance to every living life form. Captivating photographs of water in all of its forms accompany the information. An author’s note, glossary, index, and other resources are provided for readers interested in learning further information on this topic. (WMY)
Rusch Elizabeth. 2017. Impact! asteroids and the science of saving the world (scientists in the field series). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 80pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-05-4467159-1. Photographs by Karin Anderson.
There are approximately one hundred and fifty million asteroids in the Earth’s solar system. We do not know when an asteroid will strike the planet. Though asteroids are not always dangerous, they have the ability to destroy entire continents upon impact. This informational book includes facts about the asteroids in our solar system and explores the potential dangers they may cause more deeply. Photographs of the solar system allow readers to grasp the information more easily. (WMY)
Kallen, Stuart A. 2018. Navajo code talkers (heroes of World War II). Lerner Publishing Group (Lerner Publications). 32pp. $27.99. ISBN 978-15-1-248644-5.
In the midst of South Pacific battles between Japan and the United States in 1945, young
Navajo men took on a dangerous project to defeat the enemy. Using their unwritten native
language, they created secret codes for the U.S. Marine forces to communicate impossible to crack. This biographical book contains inaccurate information. The book claims that the Navajo people were forced to move to Arizona and New Mexico. However, they were forced to move in 1962. (WMY)
Kay, Katty and Shipman, Claire. 2018. The confidence code for girls: taking risks,
messing up, and becoming your amazingly imperfect, totally powerful self.
HarperCollins. 320pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-00-6-279698-1.
This exploration of modern research and behavioral change methods will help young women ages 8-12 develop confidence. In addition to providing a number of interesting lists, quizzes, and challenges for girls to gain more self-confidence, the book uses graphic novel strips to share true stories about a variety of young women. This strips reflect the characters’ feelings and thoughts, which will help readers reflect on their own. (WMY)
Byers, Grace. 2018. I am enough. HarperCollins (Balzer + Bray). 32pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-00-6-266712-0. Illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo.
Like the sun, she shines. Like the voice, she sings, like the rope, she pulls. Like the bird, she flies. Like a ladder, she climbs. She is enough. Bright colors such as yellow, pink, and red convey the character’s confidence, self love, and dreams she hopes to reach when she flies. The illustrations are charming and pair well with the positive message of the story. (WMY)