Thursday, October 31, 2019

Bats by Gail Gibbons - ESSENTIAL

Bats by Gail Gibbons. NONFICTION PICTURE BOOK. Holiday House, 2019. $19. 9780823443543.

BUYING ADVISORY: EL(K-3) - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Bats are one of the more misunderstood creatures on earth. In this straightforward and wonderful nonfiction picture book, Gail Gibbons gives readers a clear overview of these animals--from their physical make-up, to their diets, and even to the ways in which humans can help protect them. By the end of this book, you will be a fan of these flying mammals!

We are big fans of Gail Gibbons at our house, and this book did nothing but strengthen our support of this wonderful nonfiction author. The text and illustrations work well together to help young readers learn about bats in a way that is easy to understand and also entertaining.  This is the kind of nonfiction picture book that will keep young readers looking for more informational texts and learning more about the natural world.

Reviewer: TC

The Un-Friendship Bracelet by Martha Maker -- ADVISABLE

 The Un-Friendship Bracelet (Craftily Ever After #1) by Martha Maker, illustrated by Xindi Yan. CHAPTER BOOK. Little Simon (Simon & Schuster), 2018. $17. 9781534409088.

Content: G

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Maddie and Emily have been best friends forever, and they have the matching friendship bracelets to prove it. But then a new girl comes to school and befriends Maddie. Jealous and hurt, Emily goes off on her own -- and promptly loses her friendship bracelet. Is this a sign that her friendship with Maddie is no longer meant-to-be?

The Un-Friendship Bracelet is a promising start to a new series. I love that the girls provide both strong and realistic role models, and the diverse characters are welcoming to a variety of students. The ample illustrations and large font make this story accessible for younger students who are new to chapter books. The inclusion of S.T.E.A.M. topics is a wonderful addition, as is the afterword, which teaches students how to make friendship bracelets of their own.

Sydney G., Library Media Specialist, M.Ed.


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Baby Loves Hearing! By Ruth Spiro – NOT RECOMMENDED


Baby Loves Hearing! By Ruth Spiro.  BOARD BOOK. Charlesbridge, 2019. $9. 9781623541033

BUYING ADVISORY:  PRE-K - NOT RECOMMENDED
 AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Baby learns about her sense of hearing. Her guitar string vibrates to make sounds that she can hear but not see. She learns about amplitude, frequency, sound waves, the parts of the ear and more. Features bright colorful illustrations.

Not a great read for a pre-k child. Its far too technical and wordy without being engaging. I have reviewed board books on nature topics that managed to be a great choice for a young reader, but this series, and this book are not easy reads. I think the content would be better for a picture book for lower elementary. The illustrations are bright and very nice.  

Reviewer: Stephanie MLS & Author.

Baby Loves Sight! By Ruth Spiro –NOT RECOMMENDED


Baby Loves Sight! By Ruth Spiro.  BOARD BOOK. Charlesbridge, 2019. $9. 9781623541033

BUYING ADVISORY:  PRE-K - NOT RECOMMENDED
AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Baby learns about his sense of sight through scientific explanations and diagrams. Questions like how does he see the shovel? Why does it look blue? Additionally eyesight problems and how rainbows form are addressed.  Bright and appealing illustrations.

This is one of those board books that appeals to adult purchasers. Who doesn’t want their child to be smart? But this is a difficult to understand topic for even older readers and this book delves in way more than the attention span of a pre-k child. The illustrations and cover are well done and would draw a reader to choose it, but I think they would be bored of this board book fairly quick. My one year old wanted nothing to do with it.

Reviewer: Stephanie MLS & Author.

Playing with Collage by Jeannie Baker - ADVISABLE

Playing with Collage : Learn the art of Collage from a Master by Jeannie Baker PICTURE BOOK Candlewick, 2019 $16 9781536205398 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Jeannie Baker is a collage artist. In this step by step look into assembling all sorts of different collages, she looks at textures, materials, shapes, and where to find cool stuff. From nature to the kitchen to the sea shore, items are identified, and tips are given for preserving what you find. There are even examples of completed collages.

 I can't wait to show my art teacher. Well organized with so many ideas. I love that she's showed what tools are needed, how to make it look nice, and includes when parent supervision is essential (like when using an oven or a scalpel). A great reference for the art classroom in either elementary or middle school.

Lisa Librarian

Super Sloth by Robert Starling - ESSENTIAL

Super Sloth by Robert Starling PICTURE BOOK Anderson Press Lerner Imprints, 2019. $18. 9781541555112 

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

One day, Sloth sees a strange leaf on the forest floor - it's actually a super hero comic book. After reading it, Sloth decides he can be a superhero, he already has a mask - all he needs is a cape. But when Sloth is too slow to stop Anteater from stealing everyone's mangoes, he has to use his stealth and invisibility to save the day. 

Oh my! I laughed out loud and had to share this book with the people around me as I read. So funny and educational - the end papers have some very interesting sloth facts. I'm reading it again right away - - very slowly this time.

Lisa Librarian

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Firefighters' Handbook by Meghan McCarthy - ESSENTIAL

Firefighters' Handbook by Meghan McCarthy PICTURE BOOK, NON FICTION Simon and Schuster, 2019, $18.00 9781534417335

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Have you ever wanted to be a firefighter? This handbook goes beyond what they wear and what they do at the fire station. You learn about the physical fitness test you must pass, some of the tools you will use, the parts of your protective equipment, and the difference between a Fire Truck and a Fire Engine. There are lots of different places a firefighter might work, like fighting forest fires, or at the airport or marina. You can't be afraid of heights, or small spaces, or the heat, and you might even be a paramedic - the first line of help for someone before they are sent to the hospital. 

Meghan McCarthy has presented this subject in such an interesting and accessible way that even the adults are hooked. I had no idea that being a firefighter took so much training and required such physical and mental abilities. Includes a great Q&A with a retired Battalion Chief, and source material for further study. I know several kids who will love The Firefighters' Handbook a lot!

Lisa Librarian

Tractor Mac : Autumn is Here by Billy Steers - ADVISABLE

Tractor Mac : Autumn is Here by Billy Steers PICTURE BOOK Farrar Straus Giroux (MacMillan), 2019 $18.00 9780374309206

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Fergus the calf is experiencing his first Autumn. He is worried and confused about many things. The corn field has been harvested, the leaves on his favorite tree have changed from green to gold and lots of things at the farm are changing. But his friends - including Tractor Mac, teach him that autumn is a wonderful time of year, a time when the farm is preparing for the winter. 

Fergus is so cute - of course I was a little alarmed to see cows playing hide and seek in the corn field and jumping in the autumn leaves, but the darling facial expressions on all the animals (and some of the farm machinery) make the story so sweet. The illustrations are rich and warm, the farm is so nostalgic and beautiful I want to visit it myself. I love the Tractor Mac stories.

Lisa Librarian

Max Attacks by Kathi Appelt - ADVISABLE


Max Attacks by Kathi Appelt, pictures by Penelope Dullaghan, PICTURE BOOK Atheneum Books Simon and Schuster, 2019. $18. 9781481451468

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Max is a very busy kitty. He really wants to pounce on the fishes but keeps getting distracted - the Gecko on the wall, the basket of socks, his catnip mouse, a shoelace, even his food bowl - the fishbowl is safe for one more day. 

Kathi Appelt's rhyming text keeps the pace quick and a bit frantic. Dullaghan's terrific illustrations are all over the pages (just like a cat), sometimes Max is in the center looking through the fishbowl, other times he's in the corner hiding under the couch or only his paws are on the page because he's about to pounce. A delightful and happy read, this is a joyful and fun book for every cat lover.

Lisa Librarian

Good Night, Wind by Linda Elovitz Marshall -- ADVISABLE

Good Night, Wind by Linda Elovitz Marshall, illustrated by Maƫlle Doliveux. PICTURE BOOK. Holiday House, 2019. $18. 9780823437887.

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Winter Wind has had a busy season of creating storms and blowing the leaves off trees, but spring is coming and Wind needs someplace to rest. Unfortunately, no one wants cold Wind swirling around now that it's time for spring to come. Angry, lonely, and tired, Winter Wind sets off to find a place to sleep until winter comes again.

The collaged illustrations in Good Night, Wind are intricate and interesting, if a little unappealingly dark in places. Many readers will empathize with Wind's frustration, and the suspense of whether or not Wind will find a place to rest will keep many readers making predictions and turning the pages.

Sydney G., K-6 Library Media Specialist

Monday, October 28, 2019

How to Walk an Ant by Cindy Derby - OPTIONAL

How to Walk an Ant by Cindy Derby, PICTURE BOOK Roaring Brook Press, 2019. $18. 9781250162625

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Amariyah is an expert ant walker, and she gives tours! There are 9 steps to walking an ant, including where to find them, how to gain their trust, the best way to use the leash, and what to do if you encounter a whole colony. But the most important step is not getting tangled if you meet another "walker". 

Derby's story is funny and clever, but I didn't love the illustrations. Messy and a little creepy, and also a bit bizarre, it's too weird for me.

Lisa Librarian

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao - by Kat Zhang - ESSENTIAL

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao by Kat Zhang, illustrated by Charlene Chua, PICTURE BOOK Aladdin Simon and Schuster, 2019. $18. 9781534411333

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Amy's favorite food is Bao. She could eat it all day every day, but she's finding it's hard to make. Her mom and dad and grandma have a lot of fun making the perfect Bao, but none of Amy's work out - too little, too full, the dough has a hole - she is so disappointed; until she has an idea, and grandma helps her solve the problem. Now Amy's Bao is perfect, too! 

Family traditions are not always easy for the youngest to participate in - especially when it includes helping with the cooking. I loved Kat Zhang's sweet Amy, she's so determined and keeps trying, and Charlene Chua's illustrations are bright and adorable. Includes Amy's family recipe so you can try it yourself!

Lisa Librarian

Max and Marla Are Flying Together by Alexandra Boiger - ADVISABLE

Max and Marla Are Flying Together by Alexandra Boiger. PICTURE BOOK. Philomel Books (Penguin), 2019. $18. 9780525515661.

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Max (a boy) and Marla (an owl) are best friends. One windy day, Max eagerly builds a kite for them to fly together but Marla is not keen on the idea. She's supportive to a point--as one must be for a friend!--but when it comes to actually flying the kite, Marla is scared. This time Max is the supportive one and agrees to save it for another day. But when a sudden wind picks up the kite AND Marla, she learns not only that she was born to fly, but how great it is to have a friend--or at least their kite--to fly alongside you.

This is a nice and gently quirky story about friendship. I admit I do not really understand how an owl could be scared of flying, but if I just swallow that oddity for what it is, there's a good message here. The color palette of the soft illustrations is perfect for autumn, and the book's text is ideal for reading aloud. This could be a good choice for teacher's hosting a fall activity day in the classroom.

Reviewer: TC

Megabugs and Other Prehistoric Creatures That Roamed the Planet by Helaine Becker - ESSENTIAL

Megabugs and Other Prehistoric Creatures That Roamed the Planet by Helaine Becker, illustrated by John Bindon. NONFICTION PICTURE BOOK. Kids Can Press, 2019. $18. 9781771388115

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Everyone knows that the past held some pretty massive dinosaurs, but other creatures were often extra large too. Becker and Bindon introduce readers to seven of those megabugs in this fascinating and well-designed nonfiction picture book. Whether a huge dragonfly to an 8 foot long millipede, readers will be glad these bugs no longer exist. There's a little section at the back that details a few bugs that are still considered giants today, as well as a useful glossary.

My science-minded kindergartner absolutely loved this book, and I was always excited to read it to him! This is a really great example of what nonfiction books should be like for younger readers--great illustrations, fantastic size comparisons to an average kid, and clear and concise information. There is nothing much to critique about this book. I loved it!

Reviewer: TC

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Into the Jungle : Stories for Mowgli by Katherine Rundell - ESSENTIAL

Into the Jungle : Stories for Mowgli By Katherine Rundell, illustrated by Kristjana S. Williams, 231 pages. Walker Books (Macmillan), 2018. $25. 

Language: G (0 swears 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG.

 BUYING ADVISORY: EL - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Over the course of a day, young Mowgli is told the stories of many of the primary characters of Jungle book. His mother Raksha, and how she was so brave, rescuing her brother from Shere Khan’s father; how Bagheera the panther came to live in the jungle; why Baloo the bear is so smart; and how Kaa discovered his special talent for hypnotism. Mowgli learns important lessons from each story.

Katherine Rundell has studied Kipling well, and the stories really feel like a continuation of the original stories. Kristjana Williams’ illustrations (Victorian engravings in a collaged format) give the book an old fashioned feeling. I highly recommend this delightful collection to both fans of the original stories and to those who haven’t yet discovered Mowgli and his jungle family.

Lisa Librarian

Maybe a Mermaid by Josephine Cameron - ESSENTIAL

Maybe a Mermaid by Josephine Cameron 273 pages. Farrar Straus Giroux (MacMillan), 2019 $17.

Content: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 


12-yo Anthoni is spending the summer at the Showboat Resort - a lakeside camp where her mother built some great memories as a child and made a True Blue Friend. Anthoni has a fool proof checklist - her mom is a super salesman and is climbing the ladder of success at her job - so Anthoni is planning to use some of the same techniques to make a forever friend. But, the resort isn't what they expected - it's run down, there are no other guests and it turns out, Anthoni's mom hasn't been entirely truthful with her. 

Living through your memories (or regrets) of the past isn't a very good way to improve your future. Cameron's characters are real, her story is poignant and nostalgic, and the writing is beautiful. I loved the bit of mystery, the show business history (the old woman who owns the resort grew up in a Vaudeville family), and the exploration of what it means to be and to have a friend. A delightful debut novel - can't wait to read what she writes next! 

Lisa Librarian

The Little Snowplow Wishes For Snow by Lora Koehler and Jake Parker - ESSENTIAL

The Little Snowplow Wishes For Snow by Lora Koehler, illustrated by Jake Parker.  PICTURE BOOK.  Candlewick, 2019.  $17. 9781536201178

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Little Snowplow is busy all spring, summer, and fall helping his friends with all of their projects, but he is hoping that snow will arrive in time, but as the season creeps towards March and his birthday, he is afraid this may be a snowless year.

Snowplow is still super adorable! His earnestness comes through in both the text and the illustrations. 

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Our World is Relative by Julia Sooy and Molly Walsh - ESSENTIAL

Our World is Relative by Julia Sooy, illustrated by Molly Walsh.  PICTURE BOOK.  Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan), 2019.  $18. 9781250293688

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

What is big? What is small? How fast are you going? While things can be measured, these things are all relative.

Sooy does a great job explaining relativity to young students and Walsh’s drawings  are just the right juxtapositions to illustrate the concept.  After a class read aloud at almost any age, be ready for an energetic lesson creating and proposing their own relative situations.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Saturday, October 26, 2019

What Miss Mitchell Saw by Hayley Barrett and Diana Sudyka - ESSENTIAL

What Miss Mitchell Saw by Hayley Barrett, illustrated by Diana Sudyka.  NON-FICTION PICTURE BOOK.  Beach Lane (Simon & Schuster), 2019.  $18.  9781481487597

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

When she was a child, Maria Mitchell was already helping her father - observing the stars each night and helping him calibrate sextants.  She became a teacher and then a librarian, and still she observed the skies, until in 1847 she saw a comet.  And because she was the first to see that comet and report it, the King of Denmark rewarded her with a medal and world still knows her name.

Barrett uses simple words to delineate Maria’s life and Sudyka compliments them with dreamy star-filled illustrations. A great read aloud to support a STEM class to talk about women’s early contributions, to spark imaginations to want to scan the star and even talk about the value of reducing light pollution.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Ruby’s Hope by Monica Kulling and Saraha Dvojack


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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

When the land becomes blowing sand, Ruby and her family pack all that they own and head to California to follow the crops that need picking. WHen they are eking out barely a life in a camp with a makeshift tent, they are approached by a woman who wants to take their picture.  Little do they know that the photograph will become an icon.

Kulling has imagined the lives and circumstances leading up to the photograph, making this fiction instead of non-fiction.  Nonetheless, it is a valuable look at the Dust Bowl, migrant farm workers, the Great Depression, Dorothea Lange, and the work of photography to capture important moments. Any class that covers any of these topics should have this on their shelves. I would also pair this with Migrant mother: : how a photograph defined the Great Depression by Don Nardo, which is an excellent non-fiction look at this same photograph.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Friday, October 25, 2019

This book just stole me cat!! by Richard Byrne - ESSENTIAL

This book just stole me cat!! by Richard Byrne.  PICTURE BOOK. Henry Holt (Macmillan), 2019.  $18. 9781250206671

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Ben is happily taking his cat for a walk when the book gutter swallows the cat.  As others arrive to help with the rescue, they all disappear into the gutter and it will take you, the reader, to rescue them all.

Another very clever use of interactive play and the physical construction of a book.  Byrne writes a great story with the perfect illustrations. 

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Counting the Stars Cline-Ransome and Colon - ADVISABLE

Counting the Stars: The Story of Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by Raul Colon.  NON-FICTION PICTURE BOOK.  Simon & Schuster, 2019.  $18. 9781534404755

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Katherina Johnson always loved numbers.  Though she starts her career as a teacher, she finds her stride when she because a computer at Langley Aeronautics. Through Katherine and other women at Langley, NASA was able to launch into space.

Cline-Rancome writes a perfect example of a middle elementary biography.  Excellent addition to a growing STEM collection and to add more women’s history.  Quite lengthy, though, so more for a student to read alone, rather than a read aloud. 

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Dead Voices by Katherine Arden - ADVISABLE


Dead Voices (Small Spaces, #2) by Katherine Arden, 236 pages.  Putnam and Sons (Penguin), 2019. $17.  

Content: Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: PG.  

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH  

Ollie, Coco and Brian are three best friends who have survived weird happenings in the past, so when they end up at a ski lodge with Ollie’s dad and Coco’s mom, they aren’t surprised it’s haunted.  As Ollie and her friends start to see and hear things in the lodge it becomes clear that the hotel used to be an orphanage for girls and the headmistress is very mean.  When a reporter, Mr. Voland, shows up he starts to ghost hunt with the kids and things spookier.  

What a fun creepy story.  I like Arden’s ability to write a clean, spooky story without going overboard.  This setting was as much fun as her first book, Small Spaces, and the characters are endearing.  The violence is children who are locked in closets for misbehaving.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson.        

Otherwood by Pete Hautman - ADVISABLE

Otherwood by Pete Hautman, 303 pages.  Candlewick Press, 2018.  $17. 

Content: Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: PG. 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Stuey and his best friend, Elly Rose, like to meet in the woods in their magical spot under a canopy of decaying trees.  One day while they are sitting on a rock, Elly starts to disappear, and Stuey doesn’t know how to make her stay because she has fallen into another dimension.  The fall out of Elly’s disappearance is devastating, but in Elly’s version of the world, Stuey is the one missing.  Stuey remembers his grandfather telling him about his great-grandfather disappearing in these same woods, and as Stuey starts to recover the story of the past, he hopes to align the two dimensions. 

What a creative story.  I loved the mystery of the past with Stuey’s grandfather and the idea of the two dimensions.  This story telling is great and the story felt believable.  Fun read with a satisfying ending. 

Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Two Men and a Car by Michael Garland - ADVISABLE

Two Men and a Car: Franklin Roosevelt, Al Capone, and a Cadillac V-8 by Michael Garland, 64 pages. NON-FICTION PICTURE BOOK. Tilbury House Publishers, 2019, $18.

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

There is a legend that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt needed a vehicle to get him to a joint session of Congress to ask for war against Japan.  The car that was pressed into service is said to have belonged to the infamous gangster, Al Capone, who had a specially made bulletproof Cadillac V-8. Since Capone was imprisoned, the car had been taken into federal custody. Whether this legend is true or not doesn’t matter, because it provides an opportunity to juxtapose two famous men during pivotal years in America’s history and how their lives took such divergent paths.  

Scarface Al Capone is still fascinating, and I loved seeing how his life and Roosevelt’s were so different.  The pictures captured the era well and I loved the timeline in the back of the book.   A fast read, this book has a lot of interesting facts, that make you want to know more about both these men.  

Michelle in the Middle

Cooking Class Global Feast! by Deanna F. Cook - OPTIONAL

Cooking Class Global Feast! by Deanna F. Cook, 144 pages. COOKBOOK. Storey Publishing, 2019. $30.

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Your tastebuds can travel the world from your own kitchen with these international recipes. Whether a cooking novice or expert, these new foods are worth a try.

I love how well Cook appeals to her audience of kids. The pictures throughout the book are of children making these recipes from their families’ countries, and Cook gives lots of simple directions with extra mentions of how to follow those directions safely. Readers learn about cooking and baking, different cultures, and non-native fruits and vegetables. This book has the potential to expand the horizons of its readers -- and expand their palates.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Firefly Home by Jane Clarke –ADVISABLE

Firefly Home by Jane Clarke and Illustrated by Britta Teckentrup.  PICTURE BOOK. Nosy Crow (Candlewick), 2019. $15. 9781536205879

BUYING ADVISORY:  EL (K-3)  -ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

A firefly is lost and the reader is asked to help out with finding her way home. There are many false leads from the moon to a train. The reader shows the firefly how to fly really fast by flapping their hands and later is asked to make a wish. The illustrations are large and simple.

A lovely story which asks not only for the readers help but helps them to think about what lights up at night. Children who have never seen a firefly would have trouble relating but it could be made part of a lesson about fireflies with a video clip. The illustrations are all at night but show a wide variety of hues and are very beautiful.

Reviewer: Stephanie MLS & Author.

Vroom by Barbara McClintock –OPTIONAL

Vroom by Barbara McClintock.  PICTURE BOOK. Farrar Straus Giroux (Macmillan), 2019. $18. 9781626722170

BUYING ADVISORY:  EL (K-3) OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Annie has a little race car. One evening she takes off and drives on all kinds of roads, straight and flat, mountain roads, desert roads, and city traffic –before finally racing home. Filled with large harmonious illustrations.

I am all for a book about a girl race car driver, having done autocross myself. The illustrations are lovely, especially the forest and desert scenes. But there isn’t really much of a story, just Annie driving around. I wish there was a tiny bit of plot.

Reviewer: Stephanie MLS & Author.

Some Days By Karen Kaufman Orloff - ADVISABLE

Some Days By Karen Kaufman Orloff, illustrated by Ziyue Chen PICTURE BOOK Sterling Children’s Books, 2019. $17. 978145492620 

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

What kind of day it? Two children experience a range of emotions through their actions. Happy days are “pie days, kites up in the sky days and jumping super high days” a stressful day includes mommy making a fuss and running for the bus; feeling sick, feeling mad, excited, bored - so many emotions! 

The actual emotions are not stated, reading this book with a child lets them decide - the facial expressions, the activities, the poetry all combine. The reader gets to choose. I love that you can talk about it as you go and that the child sees that it’s ok to have good days and bad days. The parents are also represented as loving and caring.

Lisa Librarian

Count to 10 with a Mouse by Margaret Wise Brown - ESSENTIAL

Count to 10 with a Mouse by Margaret Wise Brown illustrated by Kirsten Richards, PICTURE BOOK Silver Dolphin Books, 2018. $13. 9781684127412 

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

A little mouse has found a hole in a book, as he goes through it, he finds things to count - 3 fish, 4 monkeys, and so on. 

 It is so exciting to see these new titles by Margaret Wise Brown! Although she passed in 1952, some unpublished manuscripts were found and are being illustrated and published. Kirsten Richards’ cute mouse has the best facial expressions as he interacts with the things he is counting. The narrative has repeats so as a read along it's perfect “then the mouse ran through the book...” I’m looking forward to sharing and counting with my grandchildren.

Lisa Librarian

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Home in the Woods by Eliza Wheeler - ESSENTIAL

Home in the Woods by Eliza Wheeler PICTURE BOOK Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin), 2019 $18 9780399162909 

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

When Marvel’s father dies, her family moves into a small shack in the woods. Because of the Great Depression they have very little money and need to be self sufficient, so the 8 children all do their part to help out. They work together, make up games and although times are tough, they build happy memories. 

Oh the illustrations! Eliza Wheeler has captured these children and their surroundings beautifully. I can tell it’s written with love. The illustrations show how much they struggled, but the narrative is about family, and hard work and being together and happiness. My mother would have been Marvel’s age, and reflecting on this time through another child’s eyes - I can’t stop crying, but they are happy tears! Brava Eliza, for saving your family story, and for sharing it so beautifully. 

Lisa Librarian

Ants Don't Wear Pants by Kevin McCloskey - ADVISABLE

Ants Don't Wear Pants by Kevin McCloskey PICTURE BOOK, NON FICTION Toon Book 2019 $13 9781943145454 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

When a couple of kids are looking at ants on the sidewalk, they imagine what it would be like to shrink small enough to learn all about them. We learn about an ant's body parts, where they live, what they eat, and some of their jobs. 

 I love the "Giggle and Learn" series! Easy readers about scientific concepts are sure to make learning entertaining. McCloskey's comic format is so accessible, and the size of the book is easily held in little hands and fits in a purse. There's tips for parents and teachers at the back to make it extra fun. A cool book for a budding scientist or use it as a springboard to introduce a topic in class.

Lisa Librarian

Monday, October 21, 2019

My Singing Nana by Pat Mora - ADVISABLE

My Singing Nana by Pat Mora illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez PICTURE BOOK Magination Press 2019 $17 9781433830211 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Billy's Nana lives with his family. She cooks empanadas with the grandkids and directs their summer play for the family, but lately Nana is forgetting things, and Billy is worried. When his mother explains that Nana needs more help now, Billy thinks of all the things they can still do together - like looking at his rock collection, eating ice cream, and of course the big show. 

We lost my mother to Alzheimers a few years ago. It was so hard to explain to my children what was happening because mom seemed fine sometimes and not herself most of the time. I wish I'd had Mora's beautiful picture book to share with them. Bermudez' illustrations are sweet - I love the faces, you can see how these children really love their nana.

Lisa Librarian

The Real Poop on Pigeons by Kevin McCloskey - ADVISABLE

The Real Poop on Pigeons by Kevin McCloskey PICTURE BOOK, GRAPHIC NOVEL Toon-Books, 2016. $7. 9781943145430

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

When a couple of people on a park bench mention that they don't like pigeons, some children in costumes show up to give them the facts about how great pigeons really are! 

Kevin McCloskey's level one reader uses word bubbles to teach about pigeons. Adorable illustrations, which remind me of Maurice Sendak's - show lots of different kinds of pigeons, pigeons in culture, and other tidbits of information. A half-sized book, perfect to carry around in a purse or bag, and lots of fun to read.

Lisa Librarian

Blastaway by Melissa Landers –ADVISABLE

Blastaway by Melissa Landers, 293 pages. Disney, 2018, $17 Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.

BUYING ADVISORY: EL - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

Kyler accidentally steal his family’s spaceship. Then pirates try to steal the ship from him! Eventually he meets Fig. Her family left Earth hundreds of years earlier and have evolved for space life, mutated. She's on her own and has taken a job to destroy a star. The two meet up in an unexpected way and are thrown into a much larger adventure than they expected.

Probably one of my favorite sci-fi for elementary that I have ever read. The world is completely fleshed out with lots of side plots personalities and inside jokes. It also has an over arching plot about politics and discrimination. It's funny, interesting, fun and fast paced. I would rate it as essential, hands down, except the cover is very unappealing especially to young readers, who often pick books based on the cover. It would be worth adding your collection if you thought you could sell it to your readers but I'm not sure they pick it up on their own.

Reviewer: Stephanie MLS & Author.

Island Book by Evan Dahm –NOT RECOMMENDED


Island Book by Evan Dahm, 278 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. First Second (Macmillan), 2019 $23  Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.

BUYING ADVISORY: EL – NO

AUDIENCE APPEAL:  AVERAGE

Sola is a little girl who is much disliked on her island. When a monster arrived years ago it destroyed almost everything and it seemed to take an interest in her. Now everyone thinks she's cursed. She decides to go and look for the monster and find out more. She steals a boat and takes off, along the way she lands on a variety of islands and has many adventures.

I found the island book depressing. Although Solo makes friends along the way, the story is really linear and doesn't feel like a fully fleshed out world. The ending is a bit down as well. The artwork is fairly humdrum as well. One of the least favorite I have reviewed from this publisher, I wouldn't add this to my school library.

Reviewer: Stephanie MLS & Author.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Mother Goose of Pudding Lane by Chris Raschka - OPTIONAL

Mother Goose of Pudding Lane by Chris Raschka, illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky. PICTURE BOOK. Candlewick Press, 2019. $18. 9780763675233.

BUYING ADVISORY: EL(K-3) - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

Mother Goose rhymes are re-packaged here in a strangely illustrated book that also suggests there could have been a real Mother Goose who lived in America in the 17th century. Random bits about Elizabeth Goose are interspersed with longer Mother Goose rhymes--some obscure, some well known.

I did not like this book. I was confused from the get-go about what I was reading. Are they telling the story of Elizabeth Goose? If so, poorly done--not even a historical note at the back. Are they creating a modern book of Mother Goose rhymes? If so, poorly done--rhymes aren't even labeled clearly so you know what you're getting. Are they generally hoping to confuse their poor readers? If so, well played! I'm labeling this optional because I do think the world still needs Mother Goose rhymes, but if you can find another book of Mother Goose awesomeness, I'd go with that.

Reviewer: TC

Lula and the Sea Monster by Alex Latimer - ESSENTIAL

Lula and the Sea Monster by Alex Latimer. PICTURE BOOK. Peachtree Publishing, 2019. $17. 9781682631225.

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Lula and her family have always lived right at the beach, but now a new highway is coming through and despite their best efforts their home will be bulldozed and they'll have to move. On one of her final days there, Lula walks the beach and rescues a very tiny cephalopod from being eaten. She names him Bean, feeds him bits of her sandwich, and is glad to have made a friend. The next day she returns and Bean has grown--a lot. Eventually Bean is huge and shows up right at Lula's house in the nick of time to stop the bulldozers from forcing the family out.

Sometimes you just want a picture book with no deep message, no lesson to learn, but just a fun story. Alex Latimer has absolutely delivered with this delightful beach tale about a girl and her sea monster friend, Bean. The illustrations and story are delightful, and this makes for a very fun read aloud. My kids loved seeing how big Bean would get every time we met him again. This will be a favorite around our house for a good while!

Reviewer: TC

Friday, October 18, 2019

The Moon King (Castle in the Stars #2) by Alex Alice –OPTIONAL


The Moon King (Castle in the Stars #2) by Alex Alice, 61 pages. First Second (Macmillan), 2018 $20  Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.

BUYING ADVISORY: EL - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL:  HIGH

In this second book of the series, politics have led the king of Bavaria to flee. He is on the aethership ship along with Archibald Dulac, his son Seraphin, a friend named Sophie, and a friend named Hans. As they head into outer space, they discover a key part to the ship is missing, and they are forced to crash on the moon. The King thinks the moon is an almost magical place, and the rest of them don’t believe him. But as they must explore if they are to be able to take flight again, they quickly discover things aren’t what they seem on the moon.

The illustrations are gorgeous but many are super tiny. As a grown up I did not enjoy the plethora of tiny panels with tiny text, but a young reader might not mind. I thought the story was so intriguing but somehow it just didn’t grab me. I think there just wasn’t enough character building to make me feel invested in the outcome. That being said, I didn’t get to review book one, which is where that may have occurred primarily. It was a surprisingly dry read, not something I would add to my school library.



Reviewer: Stephanie MLS & Author.

The Tooth Fairy vs. Santa by Jamie L.B. Deenihan - OPTIONAL

The Tooth Fairy vs. Santa by Jamie L.B. Deenihan, illustrated by Erin Hunting. PICTURE BOOK. Penguin Randomhouse, 2019. $13. 9781524790806.

BUYING ADVISORY: Pre-K, EL (K-3) - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Blue is a Tooth Fairy in training, and his last big test happens to land on Christmas Eve when he needs to collect young Veda's tooth, leave her prize, and be back at headquarter in good time. But he happens to arrive at the same time as Santa--and the old elf is insistent that only he gets to leave gifts on Christmas Eve! Blue and Santa battle it out in various competitions until they discover that Veda was hoping both of them would arrive that night--and both magical characters will need to work together to make it all right for the little girl its really all about.

This is the kind of book that has a fantastic premise, but somehow falls flat in the actual telling. Something in the way it is written makes it a whole lot more boring than it should be. That being said, the illustrations are fun and young kids who are enamored with the tooth fairy will get a small kick out of it.

Reviewer: TC

Mr. Tempkin Climbs a Tree by Cary Fagan - OPTIONAL

Mr. Tempkin Climbs a Tree by Cary Fagan, illustrated by Carles Arbat. PICTURE BOOK. Kar-Ben Publishing (Lerner), 2019. $8. 9781541521742


BUYING ADVISORY: EL(K-3) - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Elderly Mr. Tempkin and young Marky are neighbors, and the boy loves to help out around Mr. Tempkin's yard. One morning Mr. Tempkin decides to climb his tree in order to fix his bird feeder, and ends up tumbling to the ground and hurting his ankle. His sprained ankle means Mr. Tempkin must stay off his feet for two weeks, and making his way to the synagogue daily is a real challenge. Marky jumps in to help here too and learns through all of this the great value in helping our neighbors.

This is a simple little book with a straightforward message about the value of helping others. I liked the relationship between Marky and Mr. Tempkin, but overall the book felt a little flat. The characters are obviously Jewish--with words like mensch and mitzvah thrown in casually--so this probably somewhat fits the "own voices" category of story. My favorite part of this whole book are the fun, standout illustrations. In general this book is nice, but nothing to really write home about.

Reviewer: TC

Pencils, Pens & Brushes: A Great Girls’ Guide to Disney Animation by Mindy Johnson - ESSENTIAL

Pencils, Pens & Brushes: A Great Girls’ Guide to Disney Animation by Mindy Johnson, illustrated by Loreiay Bove. PICTURE BOOK. Disney Press, 2019. $19. 9781368028684

BUYING ADVISORY: EL - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

The biographies of a dozen or so female artists from Disney are included in this book. Each woman has between a one to three page spread, including an illustration of themselves with ornamentations referencing their accomplishments. 

These are great lengths for biographies - easy to read, but long enough to get detailed information. I don’t love the pink saturating the cover, as this would be a good book for boys and girls, but the inside of the book is not overly gendered. A young reader might have a difficult time figuring out how to read the book as it would be difficult to read in one sitting, and most palatable as one biography at a time. 

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Thursday, October 17, 2019

A Dream of Flight: Alberto Santos-Dumont’s Race Around the Eiffel Tower by Rob Polivka and Jef Polivka - OPTIONAL

A Dream of Flight: Alberto Santos-Dumont’s Race Around the Eiffel Tower by Rob Polivka and Jef Polivka, illustrated by Rob Polivka. PICTURE BOOK/NON-FICTION. Farrar Straus Giroux (Macmillan), 2019. $19. 9780374306618

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Alberto grew up in Brazil, but moved to Paris where he continued to explore his desire from younger years to fly, before human flight was even possible. He designed an airship and, after many failed attempts and hard work back at the drawing board, Alberto completed a successful trip. 

I found the illustrations and the writing lack-luster, pared down to the basic colors and the basic skeleton of the story. It is an interesting story, but I felt like I needed more context about flight developments of the time. 

Jen Wecker, HS English 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...