Tuesday, June 27, 2017

REAL FRIENDS

For every child that has experienced the aching uncertainty of loneliness and belonging, here is a story drawn from celebrated children’s book author Shannon Hale’s memory of finding, losing, and reimagining friendships.

Growing up as a middle child of five, young Shannon constantly finds herself the odd one out as her older and younger siblings pair off to play. Desperately lonely, Shannon is ecstatic to make one good friend on her first day of kindergarten. She and her new friend, Adrienne, are inseparable as they embark on imaginative adventures at school and home, and Shannon is confident that she has found all she needs in Adrienne.

But when Adrienne joins the popular girls’ group in third grade, things get complicated for Shannon. Where does she stand? Is she in the Group? Are these girls her friends? Why does one girl in the Group keep telling lies about her to the others? Does she still have a best friend?

Spanning the author’s elementary school years, Real Friends by Shannon Hale presents a story that is authentic, compelling, and relatable, with artwork by LeUyen Pham that is appealing and complementary. It’s a perfect fit for Raina Telgemeier fans.

For other great middle grade graphic novels about friendship check out Victoria Jamieson’s Roller Girl (reviewed by Meghan here), Svetlana Chmakova’s Awkward (previously reviewed here), and Cece Bell’s El Deafo (reviewed by Anush here).

Grades 3-7

Thursday, June 22, 2017

THE TOUGHEST JOB OF ALL


As Bulldozer watches all his fellow construction vehicles working away--stirring, lifting, scooping--he wonders how he can help too. Bulldozer is eager to find his calling and help the others accordingly, but the other trucks tell him building skyscrapers is only a job for rough, tough trucks. So when they do find a suitable job for Bulldozer, they are perplexed to find him sitting still, not flattening the pile they asked him to clear. Why won't Bulldozer just help out and do his job? 

Bulldozer Helps Out by Candace Flemming, illustrated by Caldecott-winning artist Eric Rohmann, is definitely not your average construction vehicle book (though it will certainly please that crowd too!). It also offers a heartwarming and adorable twist that shows how toughness takes many forms, not just might and muscle, and that everyone has their own purpose to serve--they just have to find it.

With delightfully bright and bold art and a message that's both inspiring and cleverly told, this captivating picture book will appeal to toddlers through kindergartners, and anyone who's looking for their place to belong.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

FOLLOW THAT CAT


The cat arrives in to town walking slightly askew.  The townspeople begin to notice the tilted cat and that things are no longer their usual selves like the hair cuts are different and yet everyone loves them.  Catawampus' tilt begin to change people's attitudes, how they look at things and even they build, too.  

Was this Catawampus' intent?  Did he mean to change everything? Check out the endpages with a drawn map showing Catawampus' route through town.  The Catawampus Cat by Jason Carter Eaton and illustrated by Gus Gordon is a silly and enjoyable read for readers 4 years old and up.  

Thursday, June 15, 2017

"HE LOVED THINGS THAT GO"

Old MacDonald had a farm and on his farm he had a collection of vehicles.  From a plane to a fire truck, he had it all. This retelling of the traditional song "Old MacDonald" introduces a variety of vehicles and the noises they make. 

Old MacDonald’s Things That Go by Jane Clarke, with illustrations by Migy Blanco, is a great read on the subject of transportation.   With colorful and large illustrations, this is definitely a great read a-loud for children ages 2 and up. 


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

SEE OTTO

Attention adventure and robot lovers, this book is for you. Otto the robot loves to seek adventures despite the dangers. Otto sets off to explore space in his spaceship but things don’t go as planned and he lands on Earth.  What will he find there? 

See Otto, part of The Adventures of Otto series written by David Milgrim, tells an exciting story of a robot through easy and repetitive vocabulary and illustrations.  It's perfect for readers who enjoy space, rockets and adventures, and those practicing to read on their own. 

Thursday, June 08, 2017

BEFORE PARADISE

It’s 1934, in the midst of the Great Depression, and ten-year-old Beans Curry has had enough of working for close-fisted hoodwinkers. With an eye towards enterprise, he and his eight-year-old brother, Kermit, have been taking on odd jobs around town to help their unemployed parents make ends meet in a time when everyone is struggling.

Like everyone else in the close-knit community of Key West, Florida, Beans isn’t ready to trust the stranger in a shiny automobile from Washington D.C. with New Deal aspirations to turn the island into a tourist destination. Why would people want to travel across the country just to vacation in a town full of dilapidated homes, overflowing garbage, pot-holed dirt roads, and swarms of scraggly children? And besides, how can you trust a guy who walks around town in his underwear? Bermuda shorts, he says? — Beans doesn’t think so.

When a local bootlegger offers Beans a tidy sum to create a distraction, Beans seizes the opportunity to help his family. But after tragedy strikes as a consequence of his actions and the community mistakenly lauds him as a hero, Beans decides he will do anything to repay their trust. Saving Key West will be his biggest enterprise yet.

Jennifer Holm’s middle grade novel Full of Beans is a heartfelt and humorous prequel to her 2011 Newbery Honor Book Turtle in Paradise. The author’s note includes additional information on the background of Key West and President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, which ultimately saved the bankrupt town and shaped its history as a present-day tourism hotspot.

Grades 4+

Monday, June 05, 2017

IN SEARCH OF A NEW HOME


The refugee crisis around the world has been featured in the news a great deal recently and Rosemary McCarney's nonfiction picture book Where Will I Live? is a moving and important introduction for readers who still might be a bit too young to understand all the nuances of this complex and timely topic.

McCarney boils this intricate issue down to the basics with simple text beginning "...When Soldiers fight or danger comes families must pack their things and search for a new place to live." It features stirring and poignant photographs of refugee children and families all over the world--from Hungary to Rwanda, Lebanon to Greece, and beyond--who have been displaced from their homes and cities and countries and are looking for a new place to belong. In portraying the moments of sadness and dire need as well as moments of forming bonds of fellowship even in such harrowing circumstances, McCarney shows just how much human beings have in common and how the need--not just for shelter, but for community--is universal no matter where in the world someone is born.

This precursory resource on refugees is both poignant and topical, and should prove useful as an introduction to this current worldwide issue for children in kindergarten through second grade. In order to further supplement this simple nonfiction picture book with more concrete information, look for more detailed and complex resources in our children's nonfiction section.


Thursday, June 01, 2017

P.U.!


What's black and white and (soon to be) read all over? The hilarious book The Skunk by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell. Why would a skunk be following you? That's what the tuxedoed man at the center of this whimsical picture book mystery wants to know. Everywhere he goes--down sidestreets, on the ferris wheel, to the opera--the skunk is only a few steps behind. What does he want and why won't he just leave our main character alone? 

With funny yet understated text and droll illustrations, young readers will delight as the narrator goes to greater and greater lengths to lose the skunk hot on his trail. But he spends so much time trying to get away from his notoriously smelly pursuer, he hasn't thought about how he might feel if he actually gets what he thinks he wants. 

This stinking cute picture book makes a winning read-aloud for preschoolers to second-graders alike. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

YOO-HOO! WHY, HELLO THERE!

Oh, excuse me. Yes, I am talking to you, dear reader, so blithely scrolling through these reviews! (please wave toward the screen if you can read this) Are you by chance seeking another interactive picture book to share with your little one? Maybe your hands are eager to clap, fingers are keen to tap, arms are primed to flap, but your eyes are tired of staring at some old app? Maybe you’ve already read and gushed over Herve Tullet’s Press Here and all the other books mentioned in these earlier reviews (<- click to read). Or maybe you’d really like a cat or dog, but are severely allergic?

If so, good news! (clap here) You might be interested in two new offerings published by minibombo: The Cat Book by Silvia Borando and The Dog Book by Lorenzo Clerici. Get ready to stroke, tickle, and squeeze your very own two-dimensional furry pet. From messy bath times to flea control, readers can experience it all! Well, almost all.

Now wiggle your fingers and click the book cover images to find these titles at your nearest Glendale/Pasadena library! (it’s basically magic)

Ages 2+

Thursday, May 25, 2017

ALL WE KNOW

All We Know by Linda Ashman is a beautiful book about a mother who shares information about the world with her child. It's a lovely poem in rhyme, exploring feelings, nature and discovery. The text is accompanied by simple, soft and realistic watercolor illustrations by Jane Dyer.

This is a great read-aloud for preschoolers.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

THE ONE YEAR OLD

A baby experiences new things after turning one and the experience is either filled with joy or sometimes sadness. Progressing into other stages of development such as, exploration, teething, and developing early language skills are fun and can be challenging at times, but the adult's love for the baby remains constant and will never change.

You Are One by Sara O'Leary is a gentle story.  With a combination of photos and other mediums by illustrator Karen Klassen, one can reflect on the tender moments of the past or share it with young children, offering a glimpse of the one year milestone.  Embrace each moment. 

For adults to enjoy alone or to share with children, ages 2-5 years.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

REAPERS, TROLLS, AND GOBLINS, OH MY!

Jack lives in a land of mystical creatures. When one of the creatures takes his best friend away forever, he is determined to find out why. In the midst of his investigation, he encounters a slew of fairies and like creatures who are being targeted, sorted, and taken away; another mystery for him to solve!  

Jack is a ten year old who learns that his father is Death, and he's not to interfere with whatever is going on. It's troubling to him to see innocent lives being drastically affected, so with the help of a few friends he's able to learn more about what it will take to stand up to injustice and his father.

M.L. Windsor writes a story for those interested in mystical creatures or would like to enjoy a Lemony Snicket read-alike.  Jack Death is a fast paced novel that's sprinkled with humor and unforgettable characters, but note that there are also grisly scenes (Spoiler Alert: bad guys can eat their victims in three bites) that will leave readers bug-eyed and maybe wanting a sequel. 

For grades 6-8, not for the faint of heart.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A TOO TIDY TALE


In Tidy a fanatical badger likes everything neat and tidy but he may be just a tad too neat for his own good.  When Pete the Badger's excitement over a supremely neat and clean forest makes it impossible for him to get into his home because he has laid concrete over the entire forest floor was just too much, even for him.  The only thing left for him and the forest friends to do is to break up the extremely clean habitat with a bit of a mess and enjoy a picnic together. 

Emily Gravett has given us another wonderfully illustrated story about all things in moderation, even ecological conservation.  

For ages 4 and up.  

Thursday, May 11, 2017

JUST BE YOURSELF


Like all of Todd Parr’s books, this book also sends a great message to children about always loving yourself and embracing uniqueness.  The colorful and child-like illustrations with simple text make the simple message of the book clear to its audience.


Be Who You Are by Todd Parr, is a great addition to any collection.  Children as young as newborn to first grade will enjoy this title.