Kaufman, Suzzanne. 2017. Confiscated! HarperCollins (Balzer + Bray). 32 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-241086-3. Illustrated by Suzzanne Kaufman.
Confiscated is a fun word tale of two dinosaur brothers who have very difficult time-sharing and a mom who has had enough of their squabbles. Brooks and Mikey are continually fighting over all their stuff. Their mom is having to confiscate the items they are fighting over to the point where they don’t have anything left to fight over. When boredom sets in, they discover something special. This is a notable tale for readers, ages 4-8, who are having a hard time understanding how to share. (CWH)
McMullan, Kate. 2017. I’m Smart! HarperCollins (Balzer + Bray). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-244923-8. Illustrated by Jim McMullan.
A school bus goes on many adventures when children are taken to and from school. Readers, recommended ages 4 -8, follow the experiences the school bus has from steep hills to roads the children live on, as well as safety and rules needing to be followed daily. However, it somehow falls short. Busy words cover the pages and distract from the storyline. The story doesn’t seem to flow well, and there was an overall sense of confusion. (CWH)
Gorbachev, Valeri. 2016. Pizza-Pie Snowman. Penguin Random House LLC (Holiday House). 32 pp. $16.95. ISBN 978-0-82-343654-5.
Pinky has a job to do for mom - get a pizza. He recites a poem to remember the toppings needed for the pizza while he walks around town. Pinky does not get distracted by snowball fights, getting covered by snow, or a captivating mysterious walking snowman. Nothing will get in the way of Pinky and his goal of getting the pizza for his mother. The captivating illustrations bring readers, recommended ages ages 4 -8, on the journey of entertainment while Pinky walks around town to receive a pizza. Readers will be mesmerized by the irony as well as the humor inviting a sense of community. (CWH)
Freedman, Claire. 2017. Beep Beep Beep Time for Sleep. Simon & Schuster (Aladdin). 32 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-48-149011-5. Illustrated by Richard Smythe.
Readers go on a journey through the busy day of the big machines including, winding down at the end of the day. The nighttime routines will help instill the need for readers to have a bedtime routine of their own. It helps reinforce the need to clean up before they say “good night.” Readers, recommended ages of 4 - 7, will be captivated with its fold-out pages and colorful images. (CWH)
Johnson, Terry Lynn. 2018. Survivor Diaries: Overboard! Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 112pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-54-497010-6. Illustrated by Jani Orban.
This story weaves an exciting adventure tale while teaching about the U.S. Coast Guard-approved cold-water survival tips. Travis and his family go on an adventure to watch whales off the coast during a disaster occurring. It will take all of their knowledge and strength to survive the unknown dangers of the water. Written from someone who understands what she is talking about, it is a tale that will leave quite an impression upon the reader. It should be required reading for all. (CWH)
Albee, Sarah. 2017. George Washington the First President. HarperCollins. 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-243266-7. Illustrated by Chin Ko.
“George Washington, The First President” is a brief introduction to Washington’s life. It touches on why he didn’t want to be king, as well as other facts about his life and career. Different aspects of George Washington’s life are highlighted through the timeline and illustrations which encapsulate some of the many adventures taken. The book is a leveled reader, so the balance of information at a level that is appropriate to the skill level of the child is spot on. There are also historical facts at the end of the book that can be read aloud by the parent or with an adult’s help. Overall, it is a good level 2 historical reader. (CWH)
Truly, Beth. 2020. The Last Tree Town. Simon & Schuster (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). 270 pp. $17.99 ISBN 978-1-53-442064-9. Jacket Designed By Ira Sluyterman van Langeweyde.
Watching her friendship with her sister fade apart was not part of Cassi’s seventh-grade plans; neither was watching her grandfather lose his memories to dementia, becoming a member of the Math Olympics team, nor meeting Aaron, the new kid at school. Through all of this, Cassi adapts; she makes meeting with her grandfather and going to Math Olympic practice part of her weekly routine, and she invites Aaron to be part of her close friend group. Everything seems to be falling into place, that is, everything except her relationship with her sister.Cassi is watching her sister, Daniella, battle depression, and just wants to help her sister so the two can be close like they were before Daniella started high school. Readers, in grades four through eight, will be exposed to themes of teamwork through the Math Olympics, the importance of friendship and family, through Aaron and Cassi’s grandfather, and mental health through Daniella. Each of these themes is expressed with sensitivity allowing for a more relatable reading. (AHJ)
Fajardo, Anika. 2020. What If A Fish. Simon & Schuster (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). 240pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-53-444983-1. Book Design By Lizzy Bromley.
Eduardo Aguado (Little Eddie to his family) wants nothing more than to feel connected to his heritage. His father, who made him half Colombian, passed away when he was four, and his mother knows little about the Colombian way. While packing to move, Little Eddie finds a medal from a fishing competition that his father won years ago. Little Eddie believes if he, too, can win the same fishing tournament, he will be closer to understanding his Colombian heritage. Unexpectedly, Little Eddie has to board a plane to Colombia from Minneapolis, to see the dying grandmother of his half-brother. While in Colombia, Little Eddie begins to feel the most connected to his father he has ever been. Readers will be exposed to person v. self-conflict as Little Eddie learns more about Colombia, his family, and himself, and person v. society through racist bullies Little Eddie encounters throughout his time at Kamp Kids, a day camp he attends while his mother works. Little Eddie’s journey to finding out more about himself is great for readers who have identity struggles, as well as adults who care for children with racial identity struggles. (AHJ)
Sumner, Jamie. 2020. Tune it Out. Simon & Schuster (Atheneum Books for Young Readers). 288pp. $17.99. Jacket Illustration by Celia Krampien.
Louise (Lou) Montgomery, lives with her mother in their pickup truck at a campsite in Tahoe. Lou, though 12 years old, does not attend school and hasn’t since she attended one year of elementary school in Biloxi, MS. The teachers at her old school in Biloxi noticed Lou’s response to certain stimuli was far beyond the “normal” responses, which were reflective of a child with a Sensory Processing Disorder. When the school brought it up to Lou’s mother, she refused to get Lou's help and the two fled town. On a snowy evening, Lou had to take their truck and drive 2 miles down the road to pick up her mother from the restaurant where she worked. Lou crashed the truck, which prompted police and Child Protective Services to step in and remove Lou from her mother’s care and place her with her mother’s sister and her husband in Nashville, TN.Exploring person v. self-conflict, Lou learns more about her family while in the custody of her Aunt and Uncle, which makes her question her identity while additionally exploring person v. society conflict, through her classmate’s response to Lou’s panic attacks after being overstimulated. Young readers with Sensory Processing Disorders may relate to Lou as she reacts to situations with loud noises and physical contact as well as how she learns to cope with those situations. Readers who care about or for adolescents with Sensory Processing Disorders may also benefit from the exposure to the inner workings of an SPD in a child. (AHJ)
Alegre, Reina Luz. 2020. The Dream Weaver. Simon & Schuster (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). 271pp. $17.99. Jacket Illustration by Lucy Ruth Cummins.
Twelve-year-old Zoey, her Dad, and her brother José have moved many times since her mother died, and rarely did they stay in one place long enough for Zoey to make friends but, this summer Zoey and Jose stay with their Poppy at the Jersey shore. Poppy has owned a bowling alley since Zoey was young, but when she visits the bowling alley for the first time for the summer, she knows that her Poppy is struggling and looks for a way to save it. Zoey’s perseverance is inspiring to readers as she tries and fails multiple times to raise enough money to save the bowling alley, like when she hosts a bake sale outside of the bowling alley, but the baked goods melt in the hot sun.
Zoey befriends four kids the same age as her as they practice at her Poppy’s bowling alley for their summer competition. Through Zoey’s story, readers aged 8-12 are exposed to themes of friendship and perseverance as well as Spanish. Zoey’s Poppy is always trying to teach her Spanish, however, sometimes, the dialogue from Poppy can be confusing as it should be read or spoken by someone whose first language is Spanish, and can feel choppy for an L1 speaker of English. (AHJ)
MacLachlan, Patricia. 2020. Wondrous Rex. HarperCollins (Katherine Tegen Books). 96 pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-06-294098-8.
Rex is a marvelous, magical dog with the ability to organize, sort, and type helpful comments on the computer, but only for people he likes, such as Gracie, her Aunt Lily, Gracie’s mother and father, and Gracie’s friend Daniel. Lily and Gracie are writers, but with severe cases of writers’ block. However, with Rex’ help, they begin writing again. Themes of kindness, mystery, magic, friendship, and love dominate the various events and interactions among the characters. (DLN)
Behling, Steve. 2020. Disney Junior Doc McStuffins: Wash Your Hands! 24 pp. $4.99 (paper). Disney Publishing Worldwide (Disney Press). ISBN 978-1-36-807155-0.
Based on the series created by Chris Nee. “Wash Your Hands” song written by Michelle Lewis and Kay Hanley.The message is blatantly clear: “wash your hands.” Doc McStuffins explains the need to wash hands to Hallie, Glo-Bo, Stuffy, Squeakers, Chilly, and Surfer Girl, through song. While the lyrics to Wash Your Hands are pervasive throughout the handwashing lesson, readers will need to find the tune on Youtube. Regardless, preschool teachers may want to add this to their libraries because children may recognize the Disney characters and subsequently copy their handwashing behavior. (DLN)
Lasky, Kathryn. 2019. Tangled in Time: The Burning Queen. HarperCollins. 336pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-269328-0.
In this second book of the series, Rose continues to move between the 21st and 16th centuries. With Queen Mary’s ascension to the English throne, all Protestants are in danger of burning at the stake. In the 21st century, one of Rose’s newest and dearest friends, and undocumented minor, fears deportation. Rose encounters different conflicts in each century, yet always remains loyal to her friends and family. Readers, ages 8 – 12, who enjoy history, time-warps, immigration issues, and middle school life, will enjoy traveling with Rose between the two centuries (DLN).
Greenawalt, Kelly. 2018. Princess Truly in My Magical, Sparkling Curls. Scholastic, Inc. (Orchard Books). 40 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-33-816719-1. Illustrated by Amariah Rauscher.
Princess Truly is bright and brilliant in multiple ways. She is colorful, with blue, green, and red sparkling pony tails, with a bright purple skirt. Bright colors convey Truly’s imagination, confidence, intelligence, and curiosity as she plays, explores the pyramids, discovers unique ocean creatures, flies in a rocket, flies through the galaxy, and plays music with her friends. Rhyming verses, such as “We rock’n roll and draw a crowd. Our fans are cheering very loud” (n.p.). Children, ages 3 – 7, will enjoy Truly’s energy and her adventures. (DLN)
Olivera, Ramon. 2020. ABCs on Wings. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). 40 pp. $17.99 (Board Book). ISBN 978-1-53-446191-8. (Originally published as a hardcover in 2015).
Youngsters, ages 1 – 4, interested in flying machines, specifically airplanes, will be fascinated as they observe the ABCs through flight. The colors reinforce each letter of the alphabet and the elements of flying, bold reds and yellow for the biplane, gray for the plane’s engine and fuel, subdued yellow for the Kitty Hawk. The alphabet on wings will captivate children obsessed with airplanes, and interest those without access to an airport. (DLN)
Capucilli, Alyssa Satin. 2020. Mighty Tug. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). 36pp. $7.99 (Board Book). ISBN 978-1-53-446444-5. Illustrated by David Mottram. Originally published in 2018.
Rhyming verses, such as “Around the gleaming channel, where the water’s deep and wide, tall ships stretch their sails; Mighty Tug hugs their side,” and onomatopoeia, “Vroom Vroom” will appeal to young readers, ages 1 – 4. Colors, pastel and bold, reflect the experiences of Mighty Tug, muted when the tug boat is under a bridge, then bold when the sun shines and she moves boldly forward. This is an adventure for youngsters interested in boats. (DLN)
Burton, Jeffrey. 2020. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Shark. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). 16 pp. (board book). $5.99. ISBN 978-1-53-446010-2. Illustrated by Zoe Waring.
Readers familiar with Twinkle, twinkle little star, will easily recognize the rhyme and rhythm of this variation of the classic nursery jingle. Although the music is not included, caregivers can sing rather than read the verse. Colorful illustrations, including bright green, orange, blue, yellow, purple, indigo, pink, and red, will appeal to readers 6 months to age 3. Youngsters may also identify familiar sea creatures, such as the shark, octopus, crab, turtle, snail, and jellyfish. Counting is also an option for youngsters as they identify the number of objects on each page-spread. (DLN)
Woodson, Jacqueline. 2020. Before the Ever After. Penguin Random House LLC. (Nancy Paulsen Books). 176 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-39-954543-6.
With the help of his friends, Ollie, Daniel, and Darry, twelve-year-old ZJ (Zachariah Junior), is able to cope with the frightening changes in his father, a professional football player. However, ZJs father is side-lined with severe mood and behavior altering head injuries. Numerous conflicts, person v. self, person v. person, person v. society, person v. professional football propel the plot, as the characters, friends and family alike, negotiate the challenges of Zachariah’s failing mental and physical health. This novel in verse encourages readers to follow the failing health of Zachariah and celebrate the dominant themes of friends and family, before and after the ever after. (DLN)
Burton, Jeffrey. 2020. Twinkle, Twinkle Robot Beep. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). 16 pp. (board book). $5.99. ISBN 978-1-53-446009-6. Illustrated by Zoe Waring.
Readers familiar with, Twinkle, twinkle little star, will easily recognize the rhyme and rhythm of this variation of the classic nursery jingle. Although the music is not included, caregivers who know the tune, can sing rather than read the verse. Colorful illustrations, including bright green, orange, yellow, purple, turquoise, pink, and red, will appeal to readers 6 months to age 3. Youngsters may enjoy counting the objects on each page, such as the number of orange comets flying through the galaxy. (DLN)
Foley, Greg. 2020. Kat Needs A Nap. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). 20 pp. $7.99 (Board Book). ISBN 078-1-53-440684-1.
When Kat cannot fall asleep, she grabs her guitar, goes outside, and plays for friends. Her friends, bird, dog, turtle, and bunny, all rock with the music until they fall asleep. As the sun sets, Kat returns inside the house, curls up and falls asleep, taking a “nap that lasts all night (n. p.).” Bold lines outline each character, and soft pastel colors of gray, white, yellow, green, blue and brown, convey the happy mood of the characters rocking to the music, and then gently falling asleep. Musical notes suggest the value of music when gathering with friends and setting the mood for sleep. (DLN)
Gallion, Sue Lowell. 2020. All Except Axle. Simon & Schuster (Aladdin). 48 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-53-444022-7. Illustrated by Lisa Manuzak Wiley.
Axle is reluctant; hesitant to leave the assembly plant, fearful of loading onto the transport truck, unhappy and carsick of moving, and reluctant to settle into the auto dealership. Thankfully, Earlene, the transport vehicle, suggests Axle practice his driving skills. Axle eventually gains confidence in his driving ability as he courageously seeks help for Earlene who has a flat tire. Children ages 2 – 7, may relate to Axle as he musters the courage to find help for a friend. Youngsters can also practice counting, by numbering the cars on each page, and identifying the vibrant, distinguishable colors of the vehicles. (DLN)
Sauer, Tammi. 2020. The Farm That Mac Built. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). 32 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-54-411302-2. Pictures by Jackie Urbanovic.
Readers, ages 3 – 7, may not recognize this is a version of This is the House Jack Built, but they may connect with Old MacDonald Had a Farm. The onomatopoeia will resonate with children, such as “oink,” “moo,” and “baa.” However, children familiar with Old MacDonald will recognize something is amiss when monkeys, kangaroos, elephants, and penguins interrupt the play of Old MacDonald… The master of ceremonies is a perplexed scarecrow. The cartoon-like pictures emphasize the entire production is a stage performance. (DLN)
Dean, Kimberly and James. 2020. Pete the Cat: Five Little Bunnies. HarperCollins. 24 pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-06-286829-9.
Instead of five little monkeys, readers can follow five little bunnies as they jump on the bed and then fall off, bumping their heads. Pete calls the doctor, and young readers will recognize the advice, “NO MORE BUNNIES HOPPING ON THE BED! (n.p.).” The bunnies are male and female, and the colors are bright reds, blues, pinks, greens, and yellows. (DLN)
McCanna, Tim. 2020. Dinosong. Simon & Schuster (Paula Wiseman Book). 32 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-53-443002-0. Illustrated by Richard Smythe.
Three dinosaurs, a triceratops, sauropod, and ankylosaur, are racing to seek shelter from an erupting volcano. Watercolors complement the rhyming rhythmic text with onomatopoeia overtones, such as “chip chop trip top (n. p),” and “Moan creak groan squeak (n.p.).” Youngsters will enjoy following the dinosaurs as they run away from the volcano and they will enjoy identifying the recognizable colors of pink, purple, green, blue, gray, green, and brown. Readers may also recognize the landscape and weather of rock, palm trees, and rain. The exploding volcano may be new, but an opportunity for a conversation among caregivers and children, ages 2 – 8. The end notes are extremely valuable with information about dinosaurs and their environment. (DLN)
Murray, Diana. 2020. Goodnight, Veggies. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 32 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-32-886683-7. Illustrations by Zachariah OHora.
Readers can follow Worm as it squiggles through its tunnel, showing youngsters the bedtime behaviors of vegetables in the roof-top garden. Descriptive language will captivate readers developing their knowledge of the multiple meanings of words, such as “Potatoes closing eyes, (n.p), “Droopy pods of peas, (n. p.),” “And beets are simply beat (n. p).” The rhyming text is captivating, “Turnips tucked in tightly. Potatoes closing eyes. Tuckered-out tomatoes humming lullabies (n. p.)” Colorful, bold acrylics, such as gold (potatoes), yellow and red (tomatoes), white (cauliflower), purple (eggplant), help readers differentiate among the veggies. Youngsters who eat vegetables will enjoy following Worm through its tunnel, and perhaps, readers an aversion towards veggies, may reconsider their food choices. (DLN)
Newson, Karl. 2019. I Am A Tiger. Scholastic Inc. (Scholastic Press). 32 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-33-834989-4. Illustrated by Ross Collins. Originally published in the UK by Macmillan Children’s Books.
Mouse believes it is a tiger, and convinces its friends, a racoon, fox, and yellow snake, it is indeed a tiger. When a Tiger joins the group of animals, Mouse (who believes it is a tiger), convinces the authentic tiger it is a mouse. When Mouse looks at its reflection in a pool of water, it realizes the error in its assumption – it is not a tiger, but a crocodile. The humorous tale may delight young readers, ages 2 – 8, who know the differences among animals but recognize Mouse’s self-confidence. Individuality is a key theme, but one’s identity should not be defined by others. Illustrations mirror the confusion among the animals as they try to convince Mouse it is a mouse and not a tiger. When a real tiger confronts Mouse, its body covers three-fourths of a full-page spread, suggesting Tiger is not only large, but because of his size, credible. (DLN)
Lennon, John and McCartney, Paul. 2019. All You Need Is Love. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). 40 pp. $17.99 (Hardcover). ISBN 978-1-53-442981-9. Illustrated by Marc Rosenthal.
Bear gathers a large following of animals, including a young boy, as it spreads the famous lyrics, "Love, love, love. All you need is love." Youngsters from 6 months to age 5, can repeat the beloved phrase, identify animals, and recognize colors as they follow the bear's journey and the lyrics to the song. (DLN)
Donaldson, Julia. 2020. Counting Creatures. Penguin Random House LLC (Dial Books for Young Readers). 58 pp. $20.99. ISBN 978-0-59-332453-0. Illustrated by Sharon King-Chai.
Animal parents are matched with their infants in this flip-flap colorful book for children ages 2 - 6. One black bat flying through the dark blue night sky, has one baby. A clever characteristic after children identify the animal, the baby, and the number is the question "Who has more babies than that? Children will eventually identify the numbers and animals in the sequence,1 - 25. Youngsters may also recognize the colors, black, dark blue, green, yellow, pink, red, white, orange, light blue, brown, turquoise, mauve, gray, and royal blue. They will also enjoy manipulating the flip-flaps, developing their fine motor skills. (DLN)
Frazee, Marla. 2020. The Farmer and the Monkey. Simon & Schuster (Beach Lane Books). 32 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-53-444619-9.
The Farmer returns to his barn with the clown’s red hat feeling forlorn because he misses his friend. However, he does not realize a new friend followed him home from the departing circus train. Wearing a red hat and a yellow collar, Monkey welcomes himself into the Farmer’s house. Monkey’s mischief and activity is conveyed by swirling asymmetrical lines and eventually, Farmer sends Monkey into the cold and the snow. Overnight, Monkey is buried up to his neck in snow, but a remorseful Farmer brings his extremely cold friend into the house. However, there is no peace, in fact, readers may start reciting “no more monkeys jumping on the bed,” when they observe Monkey leaping wildly on Farmer’s bed. Eventually Monkey leaves when he sees, in the horizon, the circus train return. The last scene is one of contentment as Farmer lies against his cow, with banjo in hand, flanked by chickens with a jug of cider in front of his legs. Readers, ages 2 – 8, will once again recognize the theme of friendship, and may notice a handful of Monkey’s behaviors in themselves. (DLN)
Batsel, Hannah. 2020. A Is For Another Rabbit. Lerner Publishing Group (Carolrhoda Books). 32 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-54-152950-2.
Letterpress printing is the media format used to develop the illustrations and although this is a unique alphabet book, readers, ages 2 – 8, will be captivated by the colors, the numbers of rabbits, the action, and a frustrated owl who insists the text should reflect “a proper, respectable alphabet book” (n. p.). If caregivers want to add an element of comparison, they could locate the pictures resembling the rabbit portraits, such as American Gothic (1930, Grant Woods), and the Mona Lisa (Leonardo da Vinci). However, the author could have noted the original artists and paintings in end-notes. (DLN)
Higgins, Ryan T. 2021. Spring Stinks (Mother Bruce Series). Disney – Hyperion. 32 pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-1-36-806091-2.
All of the animals, except Bruce the bear, are thrilled with the season. Spring has arrived, and except for Bruce, the animals are smiling, laughing, and enjoying the smells of spring. Readers will notice a crabby, grouchy, grumbling Bruce in all aspects of the plot. Texture helps convey Bruce’s grumpy mood. Texture also helps readers believe the animals and objects, such as Bruce’s basket, are real. Readers, ages 2 – 7, familiar with the scent of a skunk, may appreciate the irony in “THE END” (n. p.) and the multiple meanings of “stink,” and/or recognize, Bruce, the bear, is grumpy because he woke up from a long winter’s nap. (DLN)
Duffield, Katy S. 2020. Crossings: Extraordinary Structures for Extraordinary Animals. Simon & Schuster (Beach Lane Books). 48 pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-1-53-446579-4. Illustrated by Mike Orodán.
Graphite pencils combined with Adobe Photoshop convey the texture, color, shape, and lines of the anxiety and relief of the animals. Additionally, the structures are constructed perfectly for the animals to move safely from one dangerous environment to a safer habitat. The examples reflect efforts of animal advocates to design solutions to resolve the invasive nature of building roads and bridges “over, under, across, and through” the animals’ habitats. Endnotes state various crossings around the world, thankfully not limited to the United States. (DLN)
Barroux. 2020. The Run. Simon & Schuster (Aladdin). 40 pp. $17.84. ISBN 978- 1-53-440886-9
Animals are running, but the question from a young boy is “Why are you running? (n.p)” Hints of the running animals precede each page, a foot and a black buttocks with a partial black wing are the clues of penguins running on the next page. From a yellow tail, youngsters, ages 2 – 7, may predict the next running animal is a lion. The text follows a distinct pattern, with the young boy constantly asking questions, such as “Did you hear me,” and “Is it a race?” The resolution is a mystery and youngsters may identify with the young child who wants peace and quiet while reading a book on the toilet. Readers may also predict and identify why the animals were running. Illustrations created on paper with acrylic paint and colored pencils contribute to the whimsical mysterious mood of the race. (DLN)
Goldstone, Lawrence. 2020. Stolen Justice: The Struggle for African American Voting Rights. Scholastic, Inc. (Scholastic Focus). 288 pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-1-33-832348-1. Foreword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Given the lack of information in high school textbooks about the horrific conditions of the majority of post-Reconstruction African Americans, teachers should add this text as a requirement in American History courses. Understanding the challenges of African American voters from the Reconstruction to 2021 is critical in order to move forward and value the lives and contributions of all US citizens. Teachers and students should also read, We are not yet equal: Understanding our racial divide by Carol Anderson & Tonya Bolden (2019). (DLN)
Braddock, Paige. 2020. Peanut, Butter, & Crackers: Puppy Problems. Penguin Random House LLC (Viking Books for Young Readers). 96 pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-59-311743-9.
Crackers, a dog, and Butter, a cat, are comfortable as the only pets in a house. However, neither animal is pleased when a new puppy, Peanut, is introduced into the household. The graphic format will appeal to young readers who enjoy comic books and who may need additional illustrations to comprehend the plot and conflicts. Eventually, but only after a frightening dark night when Crackers and Butter search for a lost Peanut, the young puppy is welcomed to the family. (DLN)
Smith, Brian “Smitty.” 2020. Pea, Bee, & Jay #1: Stuck Together. HarperCollins (Harper alley). 64 pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-06-298117-2.
Smith, Brian “Smitty.” 2020. Pea, Bee, & Jay #2: Wannabees. HarperCollins (Harper alley). 64 pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-06-298120-2.
The two early reader graphic novels by a former Marvel Comics and DC Comics editor will appeal to youngsters, ages 3 – 9, with a sense of humor and who crave for a unique picture book format. The graphics are colorful and convey movement, whether it is physical or emotional, e.g., acquiring new and different friends, Pea, Bee, and Jay. While the graphics and the text may be too busy for struggling readers, they may also engage children with reading challenges with the vocabulary. Settings are easily recognized, the farm, home to Pea, and the hive, home to Bee. The vocabulary includes multiple play on words, although early readers may need guidance understanding the puns, such as when the vegetable, the lettuce say to Pea, Bee, & Jay, “LETTUCE hop you can silence that racket (p. 14, Book #2)!” Book #2 refers to the eyes of the potatoes, and the ears of corn. The plots are compelling, meeting new friends in the first book, and solving problems in the second. (DLN)
Gaiman, Neil. 2020. Pirate Stew. HarperCollins (Quill Tree Books). 48 pp. $19.99. ISBN 978-0-06-293457-4. Illustrated by Chris Riddell.
The vibrant and bold colors along with the shapes, textures, and lines of the characters and items clearly separate the pirates from the children, and initially, the parents. Rhyming text, especially the repeated verse: “Pirate Stew! Pirate Stew! Eat it and you won’t be blue. You can be a pirate too!” The diversity among the pirates, parents, and children will not go unnoticed by discriminating readers, ages 4 – 8. Also, young readers will welcome the discerning nature of the children, and the recklessness of parents. (DLN)
Anderson, Sophie. 2020. The Girl Who Speaks Bear. Usborne Publishing. 304 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-33-858083-9. First published in the UK (2020).
Yanka, age 12, lives in a small village with her loving, albeit overprotective, foster mother, but feels the adjacent Snow Forest calling her. Readers, ages 8 – 12, will connect with Yanka and her bear-like qualities, as she searches for answers about her past, such as the identity of her birth father. The glossary is helpful in understanding the Russian vocabulary interspersed throughout the fairy-tale like narrative. (DLN)
Hopkinson, Deborah. 2020. We Had To Be Brave: Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransport. Scholastic Inc. (Scholastic Focus). 368 pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-1-33-825572-0.
Every public and middle/high school library should have this book on their shelves to augment the information in textbooks about events preceding WWII in Nazi Germany, in this case, Kristallnacht (November 9 -10, 1938), and the organization and implementation of the Kindertansport (December 1, 1938 – May 14, 1940). The Kindertransport children, transported to England, were not always reunited with their families. Young readers, ages 8 – 17, may find the family separations unbelievable; however, the narratives of children on different transports, such as Werner Angress, Leslie Brent, Ruth David, Frieda Korobkin, and others, are real and documented. Pictures, and end notes including information about 21 of the survivors, 5 of the rescuers, 4 historians, a timeline from 1918 – 1946, a glossary, and additional data about the era are compelling. (DLN)
Brett, Jan. 2020. Cozy. Penguin Random House LLC (G.P. Putnam’s Sons). 32 pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-59-310978-3.
Kindness is the dominant theme in this cumulative tale set in a frigid, Alaskan winter. Cozy, a musk ox, is separated from his herd, but soon acquires a different type of family. Because of his warm coat, animals seek shelter, and Cozy allows them into his “home” provided they follow the house rules “Quiet voices, gently thumping, claws to yourself, no biting, no pouncing, and be mindful of others (unnumbered)!” Readers, ages 2 + will be captivated by the textures of all of the animals, and the multiple illustrations conveying different arctic scenes and creatures. (DLN)
Dean, Kimberly & James. 2020. Pete the Cat Falling for Autumn. HarperCollins. 24 pp. $10.99. ISBN 978-0-06-286848-0.
Stickers, a poster, and Thanksgiving cards augment this cumulative tale about the special nature of fall. As Pete walks from one fall scene to another, he collects mementos: a pumpkin from his Grandmother’s kitchen, a corncob from the town’s maze, yarn from his Grandpa, hay from a wagon, a football belonging to a friend, and red and gold autumn leaves. Pete’s souvenirs are placed in a cornucopia and become the centerpiece for the Thanksgiving dinner. Though Pete initially complains about the loss of summer, he finally realizes his fondness for fall. He also realizes his year-round affection for friends and family. Hopefully, Pete will be able to share Thanksgiving with all of his friends and family in 2021. (DLN)
Tsuraumi, Andrea. (2019). Crab Cake: Turning the Tide Together. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-54-495900-2.
The illustrations complement the eco-friendly message of keeping the ocean free of trash. The sea animals, such as the Manta Ray, Clownfish, Sea Turtle, Scallop, and Tangs, are illustrated in an authentic sea environment, while the crab bakes cakes for every sea creature. The illustrations are colorful and bright until a vessel dumps mounds of trash in the middle of the habitat. The dark colors become brighter only when the sea creatures rally, join forces, and return the junk to a pier with the message "COME GET YOUR JUNK!" The theme is obvious, and quite didactic, but important! End notes include ocean resources such as Thank You Ocean KidZone. (DLN)
Paleo, Doug. 2020. Dino Mighty! Book 1. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Etch). 224 pp. $13.99 (graphic novel). ISBN 978-0-35-833156-8. Illustrated by Aaron Blecha. Interior design by Phil Caminiti.
When four mild - mannered dinosaurs from Donotwon join together, they become a formidable team. Teri-Dactyl, T-Lex, the triceratops, Dave, and the problem solver, Bach are the Dinomighties. When golden egglettes are captured the team seizes the challenge to rescue them. However, two competing forces, dinosaurs Diplodocus and Diplodoofus, also move quickly to rescue the egglettes. The plot, or race is entertaining with hilarious conflicts. Youngsters fond of Dav Pilkey's Dogman graphic novel series will also enjoy the first book in Doug Paleo's Dino Mighty series. (DLN)
Pilkey, Dav. 2018. Dog Man Lord of the Fleas (#5 of 9). Scholastic, Inc. (Scholastic Graphix). 256 pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-54-593517-3. Edited by Anamika Bhatnagar, Book Design by Dav Pilkey and Phil Falco, Color by Jose Garibaldi, Creative Director: David Saylor.
Pilkey, Dav. 2020. Dog Man Grime and Punishment (#9 of 9). Scholastic, Inc. (Scholastic Graphix). 240 pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-1-33-853562-4. Edited by Ken Geist, Book Design by Dav Pilkey and Phil Falco, Color by Jose Garibaldi, Color Flatting by Aaron Polk, Publisher: David Saylor.
Both graphic novels reflect the dominant themes in the Dog Man books, such as kindness, caring for and helping others, self – discovery, persistence, friendship, and penultimately, love. The colors in the graphics reflect the moods of the characters. In Lord of the Fleas black and dark orange convey somber, angry moods (pp. 112 – 115). The final frame on page 115, reflects happiness through a bright yellow sky and a light violet skyline. In Grime and Punishment, darker colors convey hate, forgiveness, forgetting, illness, and sadness while the brighter hues suggest forgiveness and moving forward. Perhaps one of the more memorable statements is “Hate has caused a lot of problems in this world…. But it hasn’t solved one yet (p. 130).” Readers ages 7 and up will learn valuable messages. (DLN)
Moreci, Michael, adapter. 2021. Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident: The Graphic Novel. Buena Vista Books, Inc. (Disney – Hyperion). 128 pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-1-36-806470-5. Illustrated by Stephen Gilpin. Text copyright 2021 by Eoin Colfer.
Based on The Arctic Incident, the second book in the Artemis Fowl series, this full color graphic novel will capture the attention of readers 7 – 12. The graphics illustrate the dark and treacherous journey from London to Russia to rescue Artemis Fowl’s father, and the complex alliances Artemis must make to complete the dangerous endeavor. The graphics are multicolored, but often dark, reflecting the moods of the characters and the intricate relationships and conflicts among the characters and the plot. (DLN)
Cronin, Doreen. 2020. Pool Party (Ready-to-Read: Level Two). Simon & Schuster (Simon Spotlight). 32 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-53-445418-7. Illustrated by Betsy Lewin.
Bold black lines outline the characters and objects, helping readers, ages 3 – 7 identify the animals, including humans. Farmer Brown and his animals are hot and although they have access to a pond, they do not have a swimming pool. However, Farmer Brown’s brother Bob has a pool and invites everyone for a swim. Numbers dominate the plot, one duck, two humans, three chickens, four pigs, and five cows. Readers will also understand concepts associated with swimming, such as splashing, a loud crowd, diving, and floating. The simple plot, characters, and conflicts are easily recognizable for Level Two readers. (DLN)
Levy, David W. 2020. Breaking Down Barriers: George McLaurin and the Struggle to End Segregated Education. University of Oklahoma Press – Norman. 246 pp. $24.95 (paperback). ISBN 978-0-80-616722-0
The journey to eliminate segregation and racism at the University of Oklahoma has been exceptionally long, challenging, difficult, laborious and extremely complex, involving multiple organizations, such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the university, courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), lawyers, journalists, professors, administrators, and students – those enrolled and those hoping for admission. The present tense is accurate given the statements in the Epilogue (p. 205). “… old ignorance and insensitivity are slow to die. As the writing of this book began, a group of fraternity boys on a party bus broke out into a repugnant racist song for the entertainment of their dates (one of whom filmed the outrage); and as the writing of this book was drawing to an end, two young women thought it would be fun to apply blackface and to broadcast their act on social media.” Thankfully, both cases were “met with disgust and overwhelming protest across the (OU) campus.” However, the focus of the book is George McLaurin’s battle to break down the hostile opposition for equality amongst the races, white and black, at the University of Oklahoma. At age 61, after a long career as a Professor at Langston University, Oklahoma’s historically black institution, McLaurin applied for admission as a doctoral student to the University of Oklahoma’s College of Education and he was admitted, but forced to sit in an alcove apart from the white students. Subsequent events, lead to a SCOTUS ruling in favor of George McLaurin’s contentions about “separate by equal” (Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896) because “his treatment (by the University of Oklahoma) violated the equal protection of the laws mandated by the Fourteenth Amendment (p.187).” Readers, including historians, social justice advocates, educators, legal scholars, will be appalled with numerous events, interactions, and interpretations of the law, yet captivated by the journey for equality among races. (DLN)
d’Aulaire, Ingri & Edgar Parin. 2020. Nils. University of Minnesota Press. 40 pp. $17.95. ISBN 978-1-51-791014-3. Artwork prepared for printing by Timothy Meegan. First published in 1948 by Doubleday & Company, Inc. Copyright renewed by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire in 1975.
The literary and artistic heritage of the authors is legendary, especially the colorful stone lithographs created using Bavarian limestone. Ingri, an immigrant from Norway, and Edgar of Italian and Parisian descent, created a plot with conflicts around a young boy, Nils, whose parents immigrated from Norway and settled on a farm surrounded by hills. Nils dreams of becoming a cowboy, but he also is proud of his Norwegian heritage. When he wears a pair of warm, colorful, and stylish Norwegian socks from his grandmother in Norway, he is “teased” by the boys on the playground and called a derogatory name. In 1948, their behavior may have been labeled as “teasing” but in 2021, “bullying” may be a more accurate term. Regardless, after a night of soul searching, Nils maintains his fondness for his Norwegian stockings and when the weather becomes cold, and the boys at school are quite chilly, Nils, is warm and proud of his heritage, “Who cares if I am different!” On the copyright page, the University of Minnesota Press acknowledges the language and behaviors evident in the text may not be appropriate in 2021, but readers, ages 3 – 9, adults with Norwegian heritage, artists, and historians, will value the narrative and the illustrations because they reflect attitudes and an unique artistic technique of the time. (DLN)
Haldar, Raj & Carpenter, Chris. 2020. No Reading Allowed*: The WORST Read-Aloud Book Ever** (A confusing collection of hilarious homonyms and sound-alike sentences). Sourcebooks Kids (Sourcebooks eXplore). 48 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-72-820659-2.
Pictures by Bryce Gladfelter.Homonyms, homophones, homographs, heterographs may be challenging to teach and to learn; however, cartoon-like frames with text clearly illuminate thirty (30) expressions that may be confusing to readers of all ages, especially individuals learning English as another language. For example, readers view a hair removed from a dish of spaghetti in the expression “The hair came forth.” Next is an illustration of a hare finishing fourth in a race. The characters in the illustrations fortunately reflect different colors among people, black, white, and brown; diverse genders, and a variety of generations, children, adolescents, adults, and senior citizens. (DLN)
Tortland, Christy. 2020. Leprechaun’s Rainbow. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 10 pp. $7.99 (Board book with handle). ISBN 978-0-35-827265-6. Illustrated by Carlo Beranek.
The Leprechaun, who is quite the fox, is searching for the colors of the rainbow; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Children, infant to age 3, will enjoy identifying the colors and the objects, e.g., a red tractor, orange leaves, yellow lemonade, green clover, a blue sailboat, and a purple house. They also may recognize the pot of ‘gold’ at the end of the rainbow. (DLN)
Gold, Hannah. 2021. The Last Bear. HarperCollins. 288 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-304107-3. Illustrations by Kate Slater.
Eleven-year-old April and her father move to Bear Island, located in the Arctic Circle, for six months. The Norwegian government hired April’s father to monitor the weather and conduct research because it “wants a more accurate representation of how global warming is affecting the Arctic region” (p. 6). Since April’s mother died when she was four, only she and her father will live on the island. April has hopes of spending time with her father, but he is just as absorbed with his research on Bear Island as he was at home and basically ignores his daughter. Since April is courageous and inquisitive, she explores the island and one day spots a polar bear, befriends it, and eventually discovers a way to move it back to its ‘home.’ The bonding between Bear and April is incredible, but readers, ages 8 – 12, will applaud her courage, wit, perseverance, and dedication to returning Bear to Svalbard, home to other polar bears. Themes, including global warming (and warnings), friendship, kindness, self-discovery, and true grit of an exceptional eleven-year old, will captivate readers. (DLN)
Smith, Cynthia Leitich (ed.). Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids. HarperCollins (Heartdrum). 320 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-286994-4.
Indigenous people from a variety of First Nations gather together at the Dance for Mother Earth Pow-wow in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Short stories from a variety of Native voices across North America present different experiences with the Pow-wow. However, all of the perspectives/voices are interconnected. Poetry introduces and summarizes the collection of experiences. A poem by Kim Rogers, What is a Pow Wow? introduces the stories and Carole Lindstrom, concludes the collection with Circles. In addition to Rogers and Lindstrom, other contributors include Rebecca Roanhorse, Traci Sorell, and Joseph Bruchac. The glossary is exceptionally helpful because Native terms, such as the Choctaw, ‘halito’ (‘hello’ in English), are defined with a pronunciation guide. Notes, acknowledgments and information about the contributors are valuable. Readers, ages 8 and older may not recognize all of the authors, but their voices speak to all readers, Native Americans and others of the power of the pow-wow to bring people together in celebration of the lives of Indigenous people reflecting hope, survival, strength, pride, and joy. (DLN)
Walliams, David. 2021. The Ice Monster. HarperCollins. 352 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-00-816469-0. Originally published in Great Britain (2018). Cover lettering of author’s name by Quentin Blake (2010), illustrations by Owen Richardson (2021).
Set in Victorian England (1837 – 1901), specifically London in 1899, and eventually the North Pole, readers, ages 8 – 12, fond of history, fantasy, and spirited, energetic female characters will be captivated by the adventures and misadventures of ten-year-old Elsie. Elsie is not only spirited, but she is also bright, witty, clever, curious and kind with a talent for storytelling. Her adventures begin after she escapes Wormly Hall: Home for Unwanted Children, a despicable orphanage run by an evil woman, Mrs. Curdle. Readers can follow Elsie as she overcomes multiple obstacles, meets friends and enemies, and eventually joins others to return a woolly mammoth to the North Pole. (DLN)
Brower, Kate Andersen. 2020. Exploring the White House: Inside America’s Most Famous Home. HarperCollins (Quill Tree Books). 240 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-290641-0.
Black and white photographs, interesting facts embedded in the chapters, and anecdotal notes, complement the fascinating information about the White House and its occupants. One lesser known fact stated in Chapter 7: Dinner is Served is “The first family is not only required to pay their own food and drink expenses, but also those of their personal guests,” (p. 108). The bills can add up quickly and for the less wealthy First Families, the food and drink expenses can be a burden. Readers, ages 10 and older, may enjoy reading about the lives of the First Families and their home, the White House. (DLN)
Dean, Kimberly & James. 2020. Pete the Cat: Crayons Rock! HarperCollins. 40 pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-06-286855-8.
Pete is fond of drawing and sketches his friends, Grumpy Toad, the duck named Gus, and Callie, the cat. The pictures are colorful and unique, but Pete’s friends find fault with each portrait. A despondent Pete is discouraged and for a short period of time, does not draw. However, with reassurance from his friends, and teacher, Pete begins to draw again. Pete is also fond of colors, bright, bold red, orange, green, blue, purple, and yellow. Frequent bold black lines outline the majority of the characters and objects, including his friends, the teacher, the crayons, and the bus. Children, ages 3 – 8, will enjoy Pete’s “cool art” (unnumbered). (DLN)
Verdick, Elizabeth. 2018. Small Walt and Mo the Tow. Simon & Schuster (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). 40 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-48-146660-8. Illustrated by Marc Rosenthal.
It is winter with snow and ice covering the roads. However, Small Walt, a snowplow, and Mo, a tow truck, are ready to move the snow and pull vehicles from ditches. Children who experience snow storms, will understand the critical need to move snow from roadways. They will also understand the need to pull cars out of ditches. Illustrations resemble those of Virginia Lee Burton, but are larger with attention to diversity among characters, including Sue, a woman of color who drives Mo. The rhyming text, such as “the ice is too slick! Mo’s tires can’t get a good grip” (unnumbered), will appeal to young readers, ages 3 – 7. Onomatopoeias contribute to the excitement of the conflicts, such as the sounds of Sue attaching a hook from the tow truck to the rear bumper of a car in a ditch, “Clang-a-clank! Clunk – a – chunk!” (unnumbered). (DLN)
Bell, Davina. 2021. All of the Factors of Why I Love TRACTORS. HarperCollins (Greenwillow Books). 40 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-301918-8. Illustrated by Jenny Løvlie.
The library is the destination for Frank and his mother. Although Frank’s mother tries to convince him to explore other books, he is determined to check out a book about tractors – because he loves tractors. The rhyming verse is a style youngsters, ages 3- 8 will enjoy; and they will applaud Frank’s determination to select a book about tractors. Frank loves the library, especially the books about tractors. The conflict between mother and son about different books than tractors may resonate with young readers and their caregivers. Bright colors of yellow, orange, green, blue, red and the organic shapes of the houses, library and neighborhood emphasize the relationship between a child’s passion for books and tractors. (DLN)
Goldman, Duff. 2020. Super Good: Baking for Kids. HarperCollins. 208 pp. $21.99. ISBN 978-0-06-234981-1. Cover and Interior Photography by Evi Abeler. Interior design by Laura Palese.
The table of contents invites readers, children and their kitchen supervisors, into a world of sweet treats: the introduction (mise en place), cookies, Pâte à Choux, donuts, bear claws and other sweet breads, cupcakes, cakes, pies, brownies & bars, tarts, and endnotes of a glossary, measurement conversions, and index. The recipes, pictures, descriptions, and caveats are informative; essential for children and adults interested in baking sweet edible delicacies. (DLN)
Meadows, William C. 2021. The First Code Talkers: Native American Communicators in World War I. University of Oklahoma Press. 378 pp. $36.95. ISBN 978-0-8061-6841-8.
Black and white illustrations, tables, and maps. The seven (7) chapters, appendices, notes, sources cited, index, tables, maps and illustrations contribute to an informative documentation about the first Code Talkers. Historians, teachers, and readers interested in the contributions of Native Americans during WWI, will appreciate the detail and accuracy of Meadows’ text. The chapters: The origins of Native American Code Talking, The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, The Oklahoma Choctaw, The Oklahoma Choctaw after the War, The Oklahoma Cherokee, Comanche, Osage, Sioux, and Ho-Chunk, Recognition (of the contributions of the Native Americans to the War), The legacy of Native American Code Talkers in World War I inform readers of an important, critical, contributions of People often neglected in the history books. (DLN)
Bachman, Stefan. 2020. Cinders & Sparrows. HarperCollins (Greenwillow Books). 368 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-228995-7. Book design by Paul Zakris.
Zita is an orphan and a housemaid. However, when a letter arrives stating she is the only living heir to the Brydgeborn fortune, she embarks on a mysterious journey to sort friend from foe, good from evil. When she arrives at the Brydgeborn castle, she begins ‘witchcraft’ lessons from Mrs. Cantanker, but wonders if her teacher is a friend or foe. She also questions the motives and behaviors of others, such as Mr. Grenouille, Gartlut, Bram and Minnifer. Multiple conflicts, person v. self, person v. person, and person v. society, including a battle between the living and the dead, propel the plot. Eventually, Zita discovers her strengths and separates the nefarious from the good. (DLN)
Bruchac, Joseph. (2021). Pdoskoks: A Jacob Neptune Murder Mystery. University of Oklahoma Press. 206 pp. $21.95 (paper). ISBN 978-0-80-616842-5. Volume 72 in the American Indian Literature and Critical Studies Series.
Even if readers missed the first Jacob Neptune mystery, they will still be able to sort the protagonists from the antagonists, including a former nemesis, Malcom Gaming. Malcom offers a job Jacob and his detective partner, Dennis, cannot refuse, and the two sleuths leave the Northeast for the Northwest Coast. The action clips along at a rapid pace, with humor, stories of Native American folklore and customs, and a myriad of conflicts. Readers will uncover the meaning of the title and the significance of mythological and real creatures on land and in the water. If they missed the first book in the series, Chenoo, they may want to request it from their nearest public library. (DLN)
Gomez-Hira, Monica. 2021. Once Upon a Quinceanera. HarperCollins (HarperTeen). 432 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-62-99683-1.
Carmen Aguilar needs one credit to graduate from high school. To earn the credit, she must submit a final project from her summer internship at Dreams Come True, a princess party company. Multiple conflicts between Carmen and herself, Carmen and her ex-boyfriend, Carmen and her family, and Carmen and her friends propel the plot. Readers, ages 14 – 18, will not be disappointed with the spirited dispositions of the characters, especially Carmen’s. Multiple themes, including the value of family, friends, and relationships will captivate young adults, as Dreams Come True and two families prepare for a Quinceañera, a coming-of-age and celebratory event, for Carmen’s cousin, Ariana. (DLN)
Willis, Jeanne. 2021. Old MacDonald had a Phone. Andersen Press Ltd. (Andersen Press, USA). 32 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-72-842412-5. Illustrated by Tony Ross. First published in Great Britain (2021).
Rhyming verses in this cautionary tale, to the tune of the “Old MacDonald had a farm,” will appeal to children as young Macdonald shares a critical message with his dad. “Like all technology, If we use it sensibly And live life to the full Then phones (cell/smart phones) are cool” (unnumbered). The conflicts leading to the lecture began when Old Macdonald dropped his smart phone in a lake and accidentally purchased a hundred phones to replace it. Of course, one might ask why he did not return 99 of the 100, but he did not because the farm animals grabbed the extra phones. However, the animals misused their phones, or rather used them too often and forgot their responsibilities, for example, the “Cows messaging at milking time Would not produce a drop” (unnumbered). Disgusted at the amount of bills accumulating because of the lack of production, Old Macdonald confiscated the phones and locked them in an outbuilding. Understandably, the animals were not happy! However, the resolution is satisfying and readers, ages 3 – 8, will understand the new rules: “A chat-chat here, and a selfie there, But not all day!” (unnumbered). (DLN)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2021. Reuse This Book. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH for Young Readers). 32 pp. $12.99 (paper-over-board book). ISBN 978-0-35-844774-0. Illustrated by Emma Morris.
Collage from reused mixed media convey the themes associated with protecting planet Earth. Readers, ages 2 – 5, will enjoy following directions, such as “Point to each budding flower to show the bee where to land” (unnumbered). Unfortunately, readers may be disappointed when pressing on seeds does not help them sprout. Regardless, the themes of “Reducing, reusing, and recycling” are clearly conveyed. (DLN)
Ellsworth, Melanie. 2020. Clarinet & Trumpet (Book with Shaker). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 32 pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-35-810747-7. Illustrated by John Herzog.
The text relies heavily on puns, such as “Clarinet and Trumpet were friends from the first note” (unnumbered). Onomatopoeia, such as buzzed and beeped, enhance the contrast of the two instruments, a woodwind and a brass. When additional instruments enter the music arena, conflicts erupt. Clarinet likes Oboe and both leave Trumpet alone on the stage. However, soon another brass instrument, Trombone, joins Trumpet and the quarreling continues. Thankfully, Saxophone, a woodwind with a brass body, enters the music room and a unique, jazzy sound unites the two types of instruments. The emotive – type illustrations personify each instrument and readers, ages 3 – 8, will recognize various themes, including friendship and the importance of celebrating differences. Youngsters will also appreciate the jazzy sound of the book when they shake it. (DLN)
Bradford, Wade. 2021. Mr. Complain Takes the Train. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). 32 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-54-482981-7. Illustrated by Stephan Britt.
Mr. Complain takes a train to his vacation destination, Dullesville. Nothing pleases him on the train and he complains about the loud volume of the sounds, the happy travelers, the sad friends left behind, a small luggage rack, uncomfortable seats, the tilting train, the high bridge, the speed, the darkness, the brightness, the heat, and the water. However, he thoroughly enjoys the loop-de-loop train tracks. When he reaches his vacation destination, he sees dull-looking gray and brown sheep wearing blue ties and carrying dark attaché cases and decides the train is preferable to Dullesville. According to the publishers, the illustrations were created “in ink on board and colorized using mixed media'' (unnumbered). Except for Mr. Complain, the passengers are animals, including brown owls, pink pigs, an orange and gray ostrich (the ticket collector), and a green turtle. The passengers, except for Mr. Complain, are happy to be on the train and appreciate the journey through mountains, volcanoes, caves, and oceans. Readers, ages 3 – 8, will recognize the positive attitudes of the animals and the transformation of Mr. Complain. (DLN)
Willems, Mo. 2020. I Want to Sleep Under the Stars! (An Unlimited Squirrels Book). Disney Publishing Worldwide (Hyperion). 96 pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-1-368-0-53350-8.
Early readers, ages 3 – 8, will appreciate the exceptionally large fonts, as they follow Zoom Squirrel in a quest to sleep under the stars for the first time. A table of contents introduces the sequence of events; The BIG Story, Acorn-y Joke, Fur Real, Another Acorn-y Joke, Squirrel to the Stars, Bous Acorn-y Joke, and finally, The Tale End! When “acorn-y joke” is shared with readers, acorns ask and answer the questions, for example “Hey-Corn! How is the word “asleep” like the alphabet? Hi-Corn! I’m stumped. How is the word “asleep” like the alphabet? They both start with an “A” and end with “Zs” (pp. 59, 60)! Squirrel friends sincerely try to help Zoom Squirrel sleep under the stars, but it is not the support needed. Endnotes, such as Stars and On the Move, thankfully present information to reinforce the facts rather than the humorous jokes. (DLN)
Barrington, Gregory. 2020. Cow Boy is Not a Cowboy. HarperCollins. 40 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-289136-5.
Goat Girl is vivacious, exciting, extraordinary, and curious. Merle is a bull, also known as a male cow. Goat Girl believes he is then a cowboy, much to Merle’s chagrin, he knows he is only a cow who is a boy. Although as a young bull, he dreamt of being a cowboy. Multiple conflicts propel the plot, such as mediocrity v. excellence; and boring v. adventuresome. Eventually Merle acts like a brave cowboy and saves the roaming chickens from crossing a dangerous road. Themes of friendship and individuality will resonate with unique, adventuresome, and inquisitive readers, ages 3 – 8. Painted pencil sketches augment the dark and gloomy setting of “Humdrum Farm.” However, when Goat Girl and moves through the farm, colors, such as the red-hot air balloon, convey energy. When Merle assumes the role of a cowboy, his larger than life mentality dominates the setting as he saves the smaller chickens from danger. (DLN)
Call, Kirsti. 2021. Cow Says Meow (A pop-and-see book). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Younger Readers). 32 pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-35-842334-8. Illustrated by Brandon James Scott.
Homophonic puns and onomatopoeia contribute to the humor readers, ages 2 – 7 will appreciate, especially as they are understanding the multiple meanings of words sounding the same but with different spellings and/or denotations/connotations. When the cat sounds “hoarse,” the “horse says GRROOWWLL and the child “can’t bear it” (unnumbered). Children will recognize the animals; a cow, a cat, a horse, a bear, sheep, an owl, a dog, a hen, a lion, a pig, and a “kid” (unnumbered). The puns and clichés, such as “I can’t bear it” (unnumbered) are delightful. (DLN)