Tuesday, February 14, 2017

LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP


Plum, the dog does not love the new surprise in this new picture book, Plenty of Love to go Around by Emma Chichester Clark. The new pet is a cat, Binky, which is as white as Plum is black.  Binky follows Plum everywhere and gets the attention Plum feels should be his alone.  All his humans love him but Plum's dog friends teases him relentlessly about Binky so he's going to have to something to put an end to all of this unwanted attention. 

Will Plum reject Binky or open his heart to Binky? A touching book about caring and loving of all kind to read to book lovers of all ages.  

Friday, February 10, 2017

A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE


"The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws..." So begins author-illustrator Brendan Wenzel's newly-awarded Caldecott Honor Book, They All Saw a Cat. While most readers can conjure up a pretty standard image of a black cat, this thought-provoking and innovative picture book makes clear that even something as uniform as that image is still in the eye of its beholder. 

Though the book features simple, streamlined language, it is in the clever and inventive art (which even uses different materials and techniques depending on the page) where the true heart of the story lies. As the cat strolls from page to page, a child, a dog, a mouse, a snake, a bat, and many other animals along the way, each see him very differently, and the fluctuating representation of the black cat--on one page a fierce predator and on another as plump and docile prey, for example--allows the reader a glimpse of the subject from another animal's perspective. 

Even with the concise text, the ideas examined are complex, making this title a good pick for sharing on different levels with preschoolers through second graders. Furthermore, this book would make an engaging introduction to point-of-view and seeing the world through one another's eyes. 

Monday, February 06, 2017

A TREAT FOR ANY SEASON


When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons, by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Julie Morstad, is nothing but a pure delight. The poems, grouped by season from spring to winter, focus on small moments of the day in perfectly childlike yet lyrically evocative language. Be it getting rain boots soggy, eating peanut butter sandwiches at the beach, watching the last leaf fall from a tree, or sitting by the fire on a cozy snow day, Fogliano finds innovative new ways to relate these universal experiences through the lens of childhood wonder with a striking economy of language. 

Meanwhile, Morstad's lovely goache-and-pencil-crayon illustrations perfectly compliment the simple yet charming words, showcasing a diverse cast of children experiencing all the earthly pleasures each season has to offer. 

This makes a perfect book to share with preschoolers through second graders, no matter the date on the calendar. 

Thursday, February 02, 2017

JACK AND THE SCARY BEANSTALK : A GRAPHIC NOVEL

In Mighty Jack:  Book One, Ben Hatke twists the classic story of Jack and the Beanstalk into a more diabolical tale where the plants are not helpful tools leading Jack to fame and fortune, but evil forces to be reckoned with.  The author gives Jack an autistic younger sister, responding only to the seeds and plants that come alive in their yard.  Jack also has a another female spitfire in a new home-schooled neighbor, who loves fighting with cool weapons and dragging Jack headlong into anything that looks like an adventure.  

This is for readers in 4th - 6th grades, especially lovers of graphic novels and Ben Hatke. Keep an eye out for the sequel.  

Monday, January 30, 2017

MEET THE FLETCHER FAMILY

Watch out for the Fletchers!  The eldest, Sam, is athletic and an all-around great big brother.  Jackson is hard working in school and enjoys being at the same school as Sam.  Elliot, on the other hand, decides to venture off in a different direction from his brothers and attend a school for exceptional students. Frog, the youngest Fletcher, is absolutely the sweetest youngster in his class. 

The Fletcher boys are incredibly close, even as they encounter challenges that fall out of their normal school routine.  Thankfully, they have their loving parents to help each of them get through it all.  Adventures sometimes pull families together.  But for the Fletchers, it’s the misadventures that draw them closer together.

Dana Alison Levy weaves a family tale that highlights the importance of respect and individuality.  The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher is a surprisingly fun read!
For 4th - 8th grade

Thursday, January 26, 2017

ASTRONAUT!

What does an astronaut do while on the job?  Follow Jenny, Chen and Kim as they demonstrate their daily tasks. A Robo-bot is also on board with them at the space station when they realize that that he is broken.

Astronaut by Lucy M. George and Ando Twin wonderfully illustrates the life of astronauts through fictional characters.  The text is short, yet uses advanced vocabulary.  This book includes detailed, clear and bright drawings with accompanying text.

Great for early elementary school readers!

Monday, January 23, 2017

SUMMERLOST

It’s been one year since 12-year old Cedar Lee’s father and autistic younger brother Ben both died in a car accident. Now Cedar, her mother, and youngest brother are spending the summer in the small high desert town of Iron Creek where her mother grew up. It’s a summer where everything is the same, and nothing is the same.

Cedar soon befriends a boy associated with the Summerlost Festival, Iron Creek’s distinguished Shakespearean festival, and becomes preoccupied with the decades old, unexplained death of one of its star actresses. Meanwhile, random trinkets, things that would have caught Ben’s attention, mysteriously appear on Cedar’s windowsill at night. Cedar doesn’t believe in ghosts, but what if Ben is sending her a message?

Summerlost is a middle-grade story of friendship, mystery, grief and healing. Ally Condie beautifully and heartbreakingly captures the complexity of love and guilt experienced by a sibling to a special needs child.

Share with theater lovers and fans of Gary Schmidt, Richard Peck, Cynthia Lord, and Ingrid Law.

Grades 5-8

Thursday, January 19, 2017

DEATH EXPLAINED SIMPLY


Two amazing picture books to explain death euphemistically and ritualistically to a child should you need to.    

Cry, Heart, But Never Break by Glenn Ringtved and illustrated by Charlotte Pardi (translated from Danish)

AND

Dead Bird by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Christian Robinson. 
For ages 4 and up.

Monday, January 16, 2017

LOCKER HERO


Max Crumbly is in 8th grade and for the first time he is attending public school.  For all of his life he has been homeschooled so he had never experienced social issues such as bullying until now.  After an unfortunate encounter with the school bully, Doug “Thug” Thurston, Max gets trapped in a school locker and no one knows he is there. Worse, it's a three day weekend.  As he tries to get himself out, he soon finds out that his school is being robbed.  Does Max figure a way out and go home or should he stay and try to be the school hero?


Locker Hero, the first title in this new series is brought to us by Rachel Renee Russell, author of the popular Dork Diaries, and is a great read for students grades 4 and up. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

THIS MARY HAS LOTS OF GLAM


Mary Had a Little Glam by Tammi Sauer and illustrations by Vanessa Vrantley-Newton is a delightful adaptation of the classic nursery rhyme, Mary Had a Little Lamb.  In this retelling, this little Mary loves to accessorize.  With her very stylish fashion, she helps her classmates add a little “glam” to their fashion. 


Children who enjoy series such as Pinkalicious and Fancy Nancy will enjoy this book.  This is a wonderful story to share with children ages three and up with its beautiful illustrations and a message for little girls to be creative.

Monday, January 09, 2017

A CAT BY ANY OTHER NAME


The neighborhood cat featured in this captivating picture book leads a very busy life. He saunters from house to house on Blossom Street, answering to many different names and helping the people he meets carry out a number of miscellaneous activities: eating fresh fish at number three, bird watching at number one, still-life modeling at number eighteen, gardening at number fourteen, and swing dancing at number six, to name but a few. There's only one house that doesn't normally get a visit from the street's resident feline celebrity: number eleven, where life is much quieter. One day, when the cat strays from his much-anticipated regular rounds, the cast of diverse neighborhood characters come out in full force looking for their beloved (and, unbeknownst to them, communal) pet. Where has he gone and who does he actually belong to? 

Archie Snufflekins Oliver Valentine Cupcake Tiberius Cat, written and illustrated by Katie Harnett, is simply a delight. Preschoolers through second graders, as well as assorted cat ladies and gentlemen of all ages (and maybe even some dog people too!), will take pleasure in this charming offering, whether shared in a group setting or one on one. Perhaps, as this reviewer suspects, this sweet tale of friendship and community could even win over Grumpy Cat herself.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

AMUSEMENT PARK ADVENTURES


Little Elliot and Mouse venture off to Coney Island and Mouse is very excited to show Little Elliot all the attractions at the amusement park.  Upon arrival, Little Elliot is overwhelmed by the rides and attractions.  Mouse tries to help his friend find rides that are more suitable for his pace.  

Will Elliot overcome his fears and try some of the rides?  Will the two friends enjoy their experience at the amusement park? 


Little Elliot Big Fun by Mike Curato is the third book in the Little Elliot series.  This book teaches us about friendship and how we can be different from one another but still enjoy each other’s company. This is also a great story to help children deal with anxiety when approaching new things.  A lovely story with beautiful illustrations makes it a great read aloud for children ages 2 and up. 

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

GRUMPY PANTS

It happens to everyone. You wake up on the wrong side of bed. There’s no milk for your cereal. You’re hungry. It’s raining. You’re cold. Your favorite teddy is missing. And your mother gives you cherry juice with your lunch. Cherry! The official flavor of cough syrup-- yech!

The point is, it’s a Grumpy Pants kind of day, and sometimes the only thing to do is strip off those grumpy layers, count to three, and wash it all away.

Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer is a toddler-friendly story designed to send the grumps on their way. Pair it with other grumpy picture books, including Brian Won’s Hooray for Hat!, Jeremy Tankard’s Grumpy Bird, Kristine A. Lombardi's The Grumpy Pets, and Samantha Berger’s Crankenstein.

Ages 2+

Disclaimer: Grumpy Cat read this book, and she thought it was awful. (Don't listen to Grumpy Cat)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

BEAUTIFUL SCRATCH BOARD ART


Before Morning is a beautifully illustrated story about a hard working mother’s commitment to duty and her family.  After tucking her child into bed, she heads off to the airport to fly passengers to their destinations.  As the night wears on, a wintry storm strengthens, the child longs for her mother's warmth within their cozy home.  What will happen before morning?

Joyce Sidman’s Before Morning is an endearing story about a child's wish.  Although the text is spare, Caldecott award winner Beth Krommes extraordinary art on scratch board and water colors captures the heart of a family's love. 

For readers in K-2nd grades.