Thursday, August 4, 2022

Interrupting Chicken: Cookies for Breakfast by David Ezra Stein - OPTIONAL


Interrupting Chicken: Cookies for Breakfast
by David Ezra Stein
. PICTURE BOOK. Candlewick Press, 2021. $18. 9781536207781

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - OPTIONAL 


AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE


Little Red Chicken wakes his dad up insistent that they have cookies for breakfast. After being refused the cookies, the little chicken settles for a book of nursery rhymes read to him but can not stop interrupting the book to inquire about the matter of eating cookies. 


This book was far too chaotic for me to enjoy. The illustrations were busy and the speech bubbles were distracting and the story was jumpy. I realize this is probably the point of the book, but I thought the humor of the interrupting youngster would have stood out better against a more streamlined and smooth story.  


Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher


Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Only One by Deborah Hopkinson - OPTIONAL


Only One
by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Chuck Groenink
. PICTURE BOOK. Anne Schwartz Books (Penguin Random House), 2022. $18. 9780399557033.

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - OPTIONAL 


AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW


The countless elements of our earthly experience - plants, animals, stars - all started with one bang. After recounting all the creations that came from that one moment, the book ends by concluding all those elements are part of our one and only earth and it takes just one person, one tree, and one act of service to make a difference.  


I liked the illustrations in this book, but it was hard to follow where the book was going once it start cataloging the creations - some by numbers and some without. One page would describe the ozone layer and another would give numbers for how many species live on earth. I thought it should have stuck with the theme of numbers to create a sense of cohesion in the book.  


Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher


Tuesday, August 2, 2022

In the Spirit of a Dream by Aida Salazar and various artists - ADVISABLE


In the Spirit of a Dream by Aida Salazar, illustrated by various artists
.  PICTURE BOOK.  Scholastic Press (Scholastic Inc), 2021.  $19.  9781338552874

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – ADVISABLE 


AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW


This triumphant tribute features biographies of 13 immigrants of color in freeform poetic verse. The stories range from athletes, to musicians, to activists, to artists. The focus isn’t so much on how they achieved the American Dream, but rather the power and possibility of hope.


I liked the range of stories and artistic styles used in this collection, however, the poetic format didn’t add much to the biographies. The impact of their contributions could have been just as easily explained in a nonfiction format. The content isn't something that kids will consume regularly, regardless, I still think it’s a great book for a BIPOC collection as both the content and the writers and illustrators feature first- and second-generation immigrants of color.


BookswithBeddes


Born Hungry: Julia Child Becomes “the French Chef” by Alex Prud’homme - ESSENTIAL


Born Hungry: Julia Child Becomes “the French Chef”
by Alex Prud’homme, illustrated by Sarah Green
. PICTURE BOOK. Calkins Creek (Astra Books), 2022. $19. 9781635923230. 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL - ESSENTIAL 


AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE


Growing up with a family chef, Julia had little reason to learn how to cook, but her tall stature and high energy level meant that she was always hungry. Julia was hungry for food and for adventure. On one of her career adventures, she met her husband and together they explored a wide range of foods around the world and moved to France, where, at 37 years old, Julia started taking cooking lessons and then went on to build her own culinary career teaching.


I am so impressed when a picture book can cover a person’s life without feeling too simplistic on one end or overly detailed and slow on the other. This book stricks that balance beautifully and is paired with bright and engaging illustrations that help keep the plot moving fast.    


Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher


Monday, August 1, 2022

People are Wild by Margaux Meganch - ADVISABLE


People are Wild
by Margaux Meganch
. PICTURE BOOK. Alfred A. Knopf (Penguin Random House), 2022. $18. 9780593301944

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE


AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE


Animals in the wild ask their moms about the human creatures they are looking at. Animal moms warn their children to keep their distance because of all the wild and strange habits of humans. 


This would be fun to read aloud for a short storytime as it is quick and the humor is cutely understated. I would however be prepared for questions as the final line suggests that we shouldn’t own anything wild and felt like a mild critique of zoos, etc.   


Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher


Sunday, July 31, 2022

The Boy Who Failed Dodgeball by Jordan Sonnenblick - HIGH

The Boy Who Failed Dodgeball by Jordan Sonnenblick
, 250 pages. Scholastic, 2022, $18. 

Content G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

6th grader Jordan is navigating a mine field as he encounters his first crush, multiple trips to the principal’s office, and a variety of creative and harmful injuries, that mixed with asthma and anxiety make you wonder how Jordan survives his new school.

Told with plenty of humor, this is a follow-up to Jordan’s fourth grade experience, The Boy Who Failed Show and Tell, though you don’t have to read them in order. Jordan’s story is relatable if you’ve ever had to deal with bullies, mishaps or a teacher who seems to hate you. I liked Jordan’s character and his pluck that sees him through every misadventure. You’ll find yourself cheering for him even when he makes dumb decisions. 

Michelle in the Middle 

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Scout is Not a Band Kid by Jade Armstrong - HIGH

Scout is Not a Band Kid by Jade Armstrong
, 266 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. RH Graphic (Penguin Random House). 2022. $21

Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content G; Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

8th grade Scout is totally into comics and wants to meet her favorite author at the end of the year. The only way she can scheme to get to the festival is to join the Holy Moly Catholic school band. Scout knows nothing about band but that doesn’t stop her from pretending to know how to play the trombone. The only other trombonist, Merrin, is at first excited, but then horrified when she discovers Scout doesn’t even care about learning trombone. Merrin’s life revolves around her trombone and getting a music scholarship.

Fun story about finding yourself and following your dreams, no matter what they are. Merrin and Scout clash, but the journey is delightful and both discover things about each other and themselves. The art is strong and colorful and you will soon be cheering for both Merrin and Scout. 

 Michelle in the Middle 

Invisible by Christina Diaz Gonzalez and Gabriela Epstein - ESSENTIAL

Invisible by Christina Diaz Gonzalez, illustrated by Gabriela Epstein
, 202 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Scholastic. 2022. $13

Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content G; Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Five middle school students who have nothing in common besides the fact that they all speak Spanish, are stuck together to complete their school’s community service hours. When they encounter someone truly in need, they have to decide if they will step up, even if it means they might not remain invisible, their way of coping in middle school.

Told partly in both English and Spanish, this book is a must. It will help readers of either language understand both better. This would be a great transition book for English Language Learners or English readers who want insight into other cultures. Being invisible is a too often employed strategy for students getting through a school system that feels uncomfortable. Love the premise and how different kids can come together to help someone in need and change themselves in the process. 

 Michelle in the Middle 

Friday, July 29, 2022

Miguel's Community Garden by JaNay Brown-Wood and Samara Hardy - ADVISABLE

Miguel's Community Garden by JaNay Brown-Wood, illustrated by Samara Hardy
. PICTURE BOOK. Peachtree, 2022. $17. 9781682631669

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Miguel, an elementary age kid, is looking for sunflowers for his garden party. He knows the physical characteristics of sunflowers such as their height, color and texture, but now he has to find some. He goes walking around the community garden looking for them. At first all Miguel can find are asparagus, peaches, mushrooms etc. But luckily in the end Miguel is able to find some sunflowers just in time and even gets to munch on some of his discoveries along the way. Even though the plot was very simple, I liked the way the story was told. The illustrations really added to the story. It was neat to see how all of the different vegetables grew in the garden. For example, it showed how asparagus grows in the ground, and how mulberries grow in clusters. My 3 year old enjoyed it and found it fun to compare the what Miguel found to the physical characteristics of a sunflower.

A. Criswell, English Language Teacher 

One Turtle's Last Straw by Elisa Boxer and Marta Alvarez Miguens

One Turtle's Last Straw The Real-Life Rescue that Sparked a Sea Change by Elisa Boxer, illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens
. PICTURE BOOK. Crown Books for Young Readers (Random), 2022. 18. 9780593372463

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3), EL - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

This non-fiction book starts off by explaining, just by accident, how a plastic straw makes its way into the ocean. Turtles hunt using their sense of smell. As this straw falls into the ocean, a turtle happens to be swimming by and accidentally inhales the straw up its nostril. It can't smell and therefore has a hard time finding food. Luckily, some marine biologists were nearby and were able to pull the straw from the turtle's nose.

There is an Author's Note and short articles about how to stop polluting the ocean. I really enjoyed this book because it was about a real-life event that changed how we view and act about pollution getting into our waters. The story was fun and engaging even while teaching the reader an important story. My 3 yr. old loved it and felt very bad for the turtle.

A. Criswell, English Language Teacher 

Thursday, July 28, 2022

The Blur by Minh Lê and Dan Santat - ESSENTIAL

  The Blur by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat. PICTURE BOOK. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random), 2022. $19. 9780593377468

BUYING ADVISORY: Pre-K, EL (K-3), MS, HS – ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

The Blur is the superhero alter-ego of our child protagonist. The picture book chronicles the growing pains and delights of raising a small child into adulthood, with time passing in a blur.

Perfect for the new empty nesters in your life, The Blur is both sweetly reminiscent of early childhood and humorously realistic of the ups-and-downs of raising a young child. The illustrations were heartfelt and a perfect companion to the sweet story. Dan Santat is a name to watch. I would pair this picture book with any coming of age story like The Graveyard Book or to serve as a mentor text for a personal narrative writing assignment for seniors about to graduate high school.

BookswithBeddes 

Wildflower by Melanie Brown and Sara Gillingham - ADVISABLE

Wildflower by Melanie Brown, illustrated by Sara Gillingham
. PICTURE BOOK. Greystone Kids, 2022. $18. 9781771649063

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3), EL - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Daisy, a flower who had just recently bloomed, learns that she is a considered a weed. Some of her fellow flowers, Rose, Sage, and Sweet Pea, explain to Daisy that she wasn't planted intentionally in the garden, so therefore she is a weed. Daisy begins to feel bad about herself and realizes she is different than every other flower in the garden. Then a new "weed" blooms in the garden and Daisy realizes that it is OK to be different and that every flower is special. Even dandelions and daisies have a place in the garden.

The illustrations were very cute, but the plot didn't draw me in. It was very predictable. The dialogue didn't catch my 3 year old's attention. It had a good overall message about embracing your differences.

A. Criswell, English Language Teacher 

Welcome to Kiss the Book Jr.!

Welcome! Kiss the Book Jr. is for board books, picture books, early readers, and chapter books.  Also, any novels and non-fiction that we ag...