Sunday, January 31, 2021

Me & Mama by Cozbi A Cabrera - ESSENTIAL

Me & Mama
by Cozbi A Cabrera
PICTURE BOOK A Denene Millner Book (Simon and Schuster), 2020. $18 9781534454217 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

A little girl spends the day with her mother doing ordinary things, getting ready, going for a walk, eating breakfast, eventually going to bed and thinking about her day. However, because she is doing them with Mama, everything is wonderful! 

The opening Lines: "Good Morning to you" - - my mama sang that to me too! How sweet to remember that special relationship a daughter has with her mother. I loved Cabrera's illustrations as well as the text. She described what things look like, what they sound like (onomatopoeia) how they are different, what is the same. A delightful read to share with a child, especially your own.

Lisa Librarian

Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford and Michele Wood - ADVISABLE

Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom
by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Michele Wood
PICTURE BOOK, BIOGRAPHY Candlewick, 2020. $18. 9780763691561 

Violence: PG (Descriptions of brutality toward slaves) 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - OPTIONAL;  EL , MS - ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Born into slavery in 1815, Henry Brown worked for his master's son in a tobacco factory. But his wife and children are also enslaved, but to different masters, and Henry struggles. Occasionally paying a price to keep them close, Henry eventually sees them sold away further south. Henry puts together a plan to escape, which involves shipping himself in a box to an abolitionist in Philadelphia. 

Poetic vignettes recall not only Henry Brown's story, but the 19th century slave experience. Expressive illustrations on every page help tell the story as well. Because some of the text addresses abuse and violence, I would consider this more appropriate for older elementary and middle school.

Lisa Librarian

On Sleepy Hill by Patricia Hegarty and Xuan Le - ESSENTIAL

On Sleepy Hill by Patricia Hegarty, illustrated by Xuan Le
. PICTURE BOOK. Doubleday (Random), 2019. $18. 9780593181768 

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Page by page, the animals of Sleepy Hill bed down for the night. 

Le’s palette moves from day time brights to the dreamy purples and blues of twilight. But even better – each page is Cutout and shaped – including the cover – so that you can see all the way through to the back! I wouldn’t let the littlest readers handle this on their own, but 4 and up are certainly able. But, really, this needs to be read together at bedtime, cuddling on the covers! 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

The Efficient, Inventive (Often Annoying) Melvil Dewey by Alexis O’Neill and Edwin Fotheringham - ADVISABLE

The Efficient, Inventive (Often Annoying) Melvil Dewey by Alexis O’Neill, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham
. PICTURE BOOK. Calkins Creek (Boyds Mill), 2020. 9781684371983 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL – ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Meville Dewey loved efficiency and organization – so much that he even took the excess letters out of his name. Dewey used his passion for organization to make libraries more accessible to everyone and started the school to train librarians. 

 Say what you want about Dewey – he did something very important for the accessibility to information. O’Neill breezy voice and Fotheringham’s dynamic illustrations bring the controversial figure to life in a way that anyone can relate to. Librarians who use units on the Dewey Decimal System will welcome this to add to their teaching. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Everywhere Blue by Joanne Rossmassler Fritz - ADVISABLE

 Everywhere Blue by Joanne Rossmassler Fritz, 256 pages. Holiday House, JUNE 2021. $18. 

Content: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

12yo Madrigal (Maddie) may think finding emotion and heart in her oboe playing is her biggest worry, but then she learns that her older brother, Strum, has walked away from his college Through December, January, February, as her family is falling apart, Maddie finds comfort in music, in her best friend Emma, and in learning about climate change like her brother wanted her to. Maddie tries to find her voice and that elusive heart – to make beautiful music, to hold her family together, and to find her brother. He’s left a few clues in three emails, and those few words may be just enough for a girl who loves deeply and listens carefully. 

Told in free verse; reads mostly like sentences, though Fritz does use imagery at times. A sweet book. I love that though Maddie shows us her worries and some coping skills, she is not neurotic, just a girl dealing with tension and heartache at home and learning how to navigate school and friendships. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Simon at the Art Museum by Christina Soontornvat and Christine Davenier - ADVISABLE

Simon at the Art Museum by Christina Soontornvat, illustrated by Christine Davenier
. PICTURE BOOK. Atheneum (Simon), 2020. $18. 9781534437524

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Simon's parents take him to the big art museum. They are so excited to look at all the art. Simon soon gets bored of looking at it and he starts looking at the people looking at the art. He wants to slide on the slippery floors. He wants to chase the pigeons around the reflecting pool. But, that is a no-no. Now he just wants a piece of yummy looking cheesecake from the cafe. Will he ever get some?

I liked this book. It made me think of all the times I took my young children to art museums here in the states, in Norway, in Sweden, in Germany, and in Amsterdam. All they probably wanted was a treat! Some of the museums were awesome, and my kids like a lot of it. Museums full of paintings, not so much. But museums of Viking ships, bombed out buildings and old airplanes, and old technology they loved. We always got a treat after the visits. 

Reviewer: Ellen-Anita, LMS 

Saturday, January 30, 2021

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade - ESSENTIAL

We Are Water Protectors
by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade
PICTURE BOOK Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan), 2020. $18. 9781250203557 

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Water is the first medicine, it's in everything. The people talk of a black snake that will destroy the land and spoil the water. The indigenous people must stand together against the black snake and fight for the creatures who can't fight for themselves because we are all related. We are stewards of the Earth. 

The Black Snake is an oil pipeline. While not specifically named in the book, it is certainly evident from the illustrations. Beautiful artwork by Michaela Goade accompany this wonderful story about banding together to make positive changes. Includes author and illustrator notes as well as a pledge to be an Earth steward and water protector.

Lisa Librarian

Itzhak A Boy Who Loved the Violin by Tracy Newman, pictures by Abigail Halpin - ESSENTIAL

Itzhak A Boy Who Loved the Violin
by Tracy Newman, pictures by Abigail Halpin
. PICTURE BOOK, BIOGRAPHY Abrams, 2020. $19. 9781419741104 

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Itzhak Perlman discovered his love for music and the violin as a small boy. After battling polio, his focused his energy into learning to play, and by his early teens we a very accomplished violinist. Grit, determination and talent made Itzhak Perlman the best violinist in the world. 

Abigail Halpin's illustrations are beautiful! Young Itzhak is so cute and there is so much music on every page, I love it!!! The story is well told, and there is also an extensive author's note which includes a timeline, notes a bibliography and internet links to videos of Perlman.

Lisa Librarian

Jingle Jangle: the invention of Jeronicus Jangle by David E. Talbot and Lyn Sisson-Talbert - ADVISABLE

Jingle Jangle: the invention of Jeronicus Jangle by David E. Talbot and Lyn Sisson-Talbert
. Narrated by Phylicia Rashad and Lyn Sisson-Talbert. 176 pages. Razorbill (Penguin), 2020. $8 

Content: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Years ago Jeronicus Jangle, the famous toymaker, was betrayed by his apprentice, retreated into himself and rejected his loving daughter. Then his bright, talented granddaughter, Journey, has come to visit. Her curiosity and eagerness to understand her grandfather will stir things up – things someone wants to keep hidden. 

I haven’t seen the movie, but I need to. This movie novelization is fun by itself – a magical hero’s journey with twists and turns and love.The audiobook was provided by The King’s English Bookshop through libro.fm  

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Lion of Mars by Jennifer Holm - ADVISABLE

 Lion of Mars by Jennifer Holm, narrated by Maxwell Glick. 272 pages. Random House, 2021. $17. 

Content: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

11yo Bell has lived his entire life on Mars in the American colony. He knows there are other countries up here, too, but has been warned to stay away because they are dangerous. When something goes very wrong with the adults, however, the kids take matters into their own hands and find out that the others are very kind and also a lot of fun. What big secret from the past still haunts America that the adults still refuse to cooperate? 

The emotional payout at the end is well worth the journey. If kids are approaching this from after having read Stuart Gibbs’ Moon Base Alpha series, however, they will struggle connecting. The audiobook was provided by The King’s English Bookshop through libro.fm 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

The Last Loose Tooth by Tyler Clark Burke - ADVISABLE

The Last Loose Tooth by Tyler Clark Burke
. PICTURE BOOK. Random House, 2020. $18. 9780593121443

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

 The baby teeth notice that some of them are loose and might fall out soon, and one is rotten. What will happen when there are no little teeth left. They tease the rotten tooth for not brushing. One after the other the teeth fall out. soon there is only one left.

 How cool is this! This will be so fun to read with a young child that is starting to lose their teeth. That is quite the adventure for kids. They illustrations are fun, and each tooth is given a name and a personality. How cool is that! Read it to your child when they lose their teeth. Also would be fun in a class room setting with young children.

 Reviewer: Ellen-Anita LMS 

Where The Dragons Live by Serena Geddes - ESSENTIAL

Where The Dragons Live (Rosie and Rasmus) by Serena Geddes
. PICTURE BOOK. Aladdin (Simon), 2020. $18. 9781481498760 

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

 Rasmus, the little Dragon, leaves his best friend Rosie behind to to go find more dragons. He finds them and they are big, scare and fire breathing. Rasmus is intimidated and scared. They dragons are rude, and try to scare Rasmus. They make fun of him for wanting to fly his kite. Rosie comes to the rescue, and Rasmus finds a new friend. When Rasmus faces real dragons he becomes really frightened. 

I liked how Rasmus faces up to his fears and stands up for himself with the help of Rosie and his new friend. The story is delightful and teaches children that is is OK not be like everybody else. It is OK to be kind, and do good things. The illustrations in this books are just amazing! Beautiful and expressive. I am sure everyone that picks up this darling book will love it. Enjoy!

 Reviewer: Ellen-Anita, LMS h

Friday, January 29, 2021

The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother) by David Levithan - ESSENTIAL

The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother)
by David Levithan
224 pages. Alfred A. Knopf (Penguin Random House), 2021. $17 

Content: G.

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

For 6 days 12yo Aidan was missing. It seemed like the whole town was looking but he was nowhere to be found. The police were involved, interviewing family members, including Lucas, his 11yo brother who was the last person to see Aidan. But, just as suddenly as he vanished, he returned. Lucas found him on the floor in the attic a room that had been checked many times. But Aiden's not saying much about where he was, and what little he has isn't believed, especially by his parents. When the news gets around to the middle school that Aidan might have been in another world, maybe one with unicorns, Aidan begins to wish he hadn't told anyone. 

Wow. I could not put it down, when I wasn't reading I was thinking about it. The premise is brilliant, Levithan's writing compelling, exciting and unpredictable. A heartbreaking story about lost experiences and family dynamics - also the value of siblings. I was thoroughly engaged, I know my middle school readers will be too. Loved it. 

Lisa Librarian

Bizzy Bear: Airplane Pilot by Benji Davies - HIGH

Bizzy Bear: Airplane Pilot by Benji Davies
. BOARD BOOK. Nosy Crow (Candlewick), 2020. $8. 9781536214482 

BUYING ADVISORY: Pre-K - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Bizzy Bear is back – this time he is ready to take us on an airplane trip! Since we are all kind of stuck where we are right now, use this to imagine a trip to an airport and into the skies. 

There are enough Bizzy Bear books now that you can choose the ones that appeal to you personally. I love them for their sturdy tabs that are easy to grasp.  I have given many copies of various titles for baby gifts.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

All Except Axle by Sue Lowell Gallion and Lisa Mauzak Wiley - ESSENTIAL

All Except Axle by Sue Lowell Gallion, illustrated by Lisa Mauzak Wiley
. PICTURE BOOK. Aladdin (Simon), 2020. $18. 9781534440227 

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

 All the new cars in the new car factory must line up by make and model to be transported to dealerships across the country. They all line up, except Axle. At first nobody notices, but when it is time to load the transport trucks, Axle is missed by the truck he is supposed to get on to, Earlene. Axle is too shy and too scared so he stays back until he is made and carefully coaxed up on to Earlene. Axle is so hesitant that Earlene decides to teach him a lesson. He has to learn to think and act for himself. Earlene suffers a mishap. Axle is the only one that can save her. Does he have the courage, the strength and the get-up-and-go to do it? Does he have the courage it will take?

I loved this book about the little, red car Axle. The illustrations are full of expressions and very well done. My little 3 year old grandson loved me reading this to him. My 92 year old mother-in law loved me reading it to her. We had fun reading and discussing the pictures. This is a cute book that is fun for all ages from 3 to 92!

Reviewer: Ellen-Anita, LMS 

Click, Clack, Good Night by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin - ESSENTIAL


Click, Clack, Good Night
by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin.
PICTURE BOOK. Atheneum (Simon), 2020. $18. 9781534451087

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Farmer Brown is ready to go to bed. He wants to make sure all his animals are tucked in and safe before he goes to bed himself. Finally satisfied he goes to bed and falls fast asleep. However, duck is having a sleepless night. Will duck be able to go to sleep like the rest of the animals?

I love the books about Farmer Brown, his animals and the the duck. They are all delightful, as is this one. The illustrations are colorful and easily show the care Farmer Brown gives his animals and how much Duck really can't get to sleep. I loved this book and highly recommend it.

 Reviewer: Ellen-Anita, LMS 

Love is Powerful by Heather Dean Brewer and LeUyen Pham - ESSENTIAL

Love is Powerful by Heather Dean Brewer, Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. PICTURE BOOK. Candlewick Press.  2020. $17. 9781536201994.

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

AUDIENCE: HIGH

Mari's mom is making a sign that says "Love is Powerful" to participate in a women’s march following some negative things the president had said regarding women. Mari thinks that no one will see their sign, but mom insists that love is powerful, and if they do this, the world will know hear this message. When Mari sees the massive crowd of people, she doubts even more that anyone will hear or see their message, but she sits on her mom's shoulders and she holds up the sign. When Mari begins yelling “love is powerful", people close by begin chanting with her. The chanting spread until the entire march of women all chant together.

Love is Powerful has a wonderful message. It not only emphasizes that positive messages can spread and uplift, and that love is powerful, but it also teaches children about speaking up and letting their voices be heard. To me, this book is more about standing up for your beliefs and that positive messages of love are needed. Even the smallest voice can ring loud if it is filled with truth. Based on a true story.

Reviewer: AR/SL

Don't Cave In by Jonny Duddle and Cyber Group Studios - OPTIONAL

  

Don't Cave In (Gigantosaurus Series) by Jonny Duddle and Cyber Group Studios PICTURE BOOK. Templar Publishing (U.K.).  2019. $13. 9781536212075.

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

AUDIENCE: HIGH

The little dinosaurs are told a story about a scary shriekasaurus by an older brother. The older brother had heard shrieks from the nearby cave, and warned the younger dinosaurs to not go in. Another dinosaur named Ignatius came up and saw all the dinosaurs discussing the cave, and he too warned them to not go in it. Then, the Gigantosaurus (a T-Rex) came, and the little dinos needed somewhere to hide. They hid inside the cave. They began exploring, even though they were terrified. One of the dinosaurs accidentally got stuck, and had to move through a different path to get herself out. She ended up discovering that the shriekasaurus was just Ignatius, and that he had lied about the cave in order to defend his secret hideout. 

Gigantosaurus Don’t Cave In is an excellent way to help kids to explore things even if they seem like it might be scary. However, it would have probably been better if they had found a way to get help from an adult before going in somewhere potentially dangerous. While it wasn’t the best in that it teaches kids that it might be alright to put themselves in dangerous situations without an adult, it does have a lot of rich text that one might find helpful in advancing a young reader. It also is full of very impressive graphics, and the fact that it is straight from a television show also might be an added plus in motivating children to read who otherwise have few interests in reading. I also liked that while most of the book is normal text, there are some word bubbles similar to what one might find in a comic book. Adding this variation makes it more interesting for some reluctant readers.

Reviewer: AR/SL

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Peek-A-Mood by Giuliano Ferri - ESSENTIAL

Peek-A-Mood by Giuliano Ferri
. BOARD BOOK. Minedition, 2020. $12. 9781662650383 

BUYING ADVISORY: GIFT, Pre-K - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

As you turn each page, not only do you meet a new type of primate, but each is feeling a different emotion. As they open their hands, can you guess the mood? 

Be ready for repeat command performances when you shoe this delightful book to any listener. I have shown it via Zoom to many of my friends, and they want it for their own homes – even the adults without children. And I’m a middle school librarian and when our speech pathologist saw this, he wants me to buy a copy for the library to use with his students! 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Along the Riverbank by Petra Bartikova and Marcel Kralik - ADVISABLE

Along the Riverbank (Discovering the World of Nature) by Petra Bartikova, illustrated by Marcel Kralik
. NON-FICTION BOARD BOOK. Happy Fox Books (Fox Chapel), 2021. $10. 9781641241199 

BUYING ADVISORY: Pre-K - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

The fun cutouts and holes in these pages will definitely engage young readers. The sturdy board will stand up to tugging and chewing, and the cute illustrated animals can be admired over and over. Young ones will need a reader for help with the information – the words, especially the names, are well beyond the reach of kids up to 3rd grade. But don’t le that deter you from sharing. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul by Carole Boston Weatherford and Frank Morrison - OPTIONAL

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Frank Morrison
. PICTURE BOOK. Atheneum (Simon), 2020. $19. 9781534452282 

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Morrison’s illustrations are a visual delight – a beautiful look at different parts of Franklin’s life. However, there is not enough material here to actual call this a biography. 

Normally I love Weatherford’s work, but this time it fell very short for me. Even the back matter is not enough to make up for the lack of text on the pages. Maybe it was supposed to feel like a song, but it's a 30 second jingle, not a full-fleshed pop tune. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Fearless by Mandy Gonzalez - OPTIONAL

Fearless
by Mandy Gonzalez
240 pages. Simon and Schuster. 2021. $18 

Content: G. 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

12yo Monica is a star in her local community theater in California, but she auditions for and wins the chance of a lifetime to understudy one of the children in a Broadway production (still in rehearsals). Arriving at the "cursed" Ethel Merman Theater, she finds herself assuming the role as her predecessor has been injured. So, Mandy and her new friends - the other child cast members - set out to see if they can break the curse before opening night. 

As an adult and former theatre teacher, I was alarmed at the lack of supervision allowing the dangerous situations the children got themselves into. I'm surprised the theater hadn't been shut down. Full of backstage antics and theater history - especially regarding superstitions, young thespians will enjoy this light read, but I will pass on the purchase.

Lisa Librarian

All Because You Matter by Tami Charles and Bryan Collier - ESSENTIAL

All Because You Matter by Tami Charles, illustrated by Caldecott Honor Winner and Bryan Collier. PICTURE BOOK. Orchard Books. 2020. $18. 9781338574852.

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

AUDIENCE: HIGH

All Because You Matter is about why you matter. It gives many reasons why every child on earth matters, regardless the color of their skin, the length and difficulty to pronounce their name, where they are from, and so on. It talks about how we are all connected to amazing people in the past, and will be connected to amazing people in the future, and that we too can be an amazing person.

All Because You Matter is beautifully written. It is a book that is long overdue in today’s chaotic and difficult world. Every child on this earth matters, and every child needs to hear, know, and feel that they matter. This book is incredibly uplifting. This book is written in a way that can be applicable to every single child. It was most likely written to specifically uplift black children, but it is written in a way that truly can be applied to every single child. 

I can read this book to my white, privileged children, and they will feel empowered themselves. More importantly, it can teach my children that those without the same color of skin we have, or privileges we enjoy, also greatly matter, and they deserve every bit of our love and respect. It reminds children that there might be other children around them that do not feel as though they matter, and that it is their job to also uplift them and remind them that they matter. This book is essential for every home, library, and school.

While some might find that the support of the Black Lives Matter mention on the author/illustrators notes pages to be controversial, this book in the main context that would be read to children was not at all controversial. The mention is not necessarily tied to the organization, but merely the movement black lives matter. Whether you support the Black Lives Matter organization or not, this book was very clearly written to make sure every child understands that they, as an individual, matter. Making the point clear that a child matters cannot and should not ever be considered a controversial subject. 

Reviewer: AR/SL

A Feel Better Book for Little Poopers by Holly Brochmann and Leah Bowen and Shirley Ng-Benitez- OPTIONAL

  

A Feel Better Book for Little Poopers by Holly Brochmann and Leah Bowen, Illustrated by Shirley Ng-Benitez. PICTURE BOOK. Magination Press.  2020. $17. 9781433832406.

BUYING ADVISORY: Pre-K - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE: AVERAGE

A Feel Better Book for Little Poopers is about encouraging kids to go poop. It mentions and validates some of the reasons a kid might not want to poop. Then it talks about why they are better off going poop than keeping it in all the time. 

A Feel Better Book for Little Poopers is a cute rhyming book to help encourage kids to not hold their poop inside and to let it go in the toilet. This book is helpful for parents if they have a child who might be struggling with this. It is more specifically geared towards parents with kids who hold it in and are nervous or scared. I am currently potty training a toddler, however I do not feel this book would help my specific situation or issues at all. My “little "pooper” is not scared of going in the toilet, nor does he hold it in. His issue is that he doesn’t want to be troubled with the interruption it has on his day and would rather do whatever he wants wherever he wants. So while this book is an excellent aid for certain situations, it is not the most helpful for mine specifically. Overall though, it was quite cute.

Reviewer: AR/SL

Felix and the Monsters by Josh and Monica Holtsclaw- OPTIONAL

 Felix and the Monsters by Josh and Monica Holtsclaw. PICTURE BOOK. Nancy Paulsen Books.  2020. $18. 9780593110522.

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

AUDIENCE: AVERAGE

Felix's only job is to guard a wall that keeps out the “little monsters” because they are bad. He does not want to be a guard, because he would rather play his keytar and form a band. The other guards disapprove, and he plays anyways while guarding the wall. Then, Dot, a “little monster” hears his music and pops over talking about her love of music as well. She invites him over, and he goes to the other side. He learns that the “little monsters” are good and just love art, music, etc. and are actually quite nice. He forms a band with the “little monsters”. His fellow guards come over the wall to try and rescue him, but hear the beautiful music, and see how kind they all actually are. They apologize for misjudging the the “little monsters”, break down the wall, and enjoy music and art and dancing together.

Felix and the Monsters was quite enjoyable. I loved the message it has about not judging others, as well as the more subtle message to love everyone, because you most likely are just misunderstanding them.The art is very well done, and if you read the credentials of the authors/artists, you will quickly understand how the artwork is so eye-catching and cute.

Reviewer: AR/SL

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Underground (Discovering the Secret World) by Petra Bartikova and Marcel Kralik - ADVISABLE

Underground (Discovering the Secret World) by Petra Bartikova, illustrated by Marcel Kralik
. NON-FICTION BOARD BOOK. Happy Fox Books (Fox Chapel), 2021. $10. 9781641241182 

BUYING ADVISORY: Pre-K - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Explore the world underground with these sturdy cutout pages, simple sentences, and cute illustrations. Sturdy enough for the littlest readers – these pages will not tear! They will need an adult to read the information to them, but will love spotting the wide variety of animals on each page and then poking a finger through a hole to see what’s next. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Chicken Talk Around the World by Carole Lexa Schaefer and Pierr Morgan - ESSENTIAL

Chicken Talk Around the World by Carole Lexa Schaefer, illustrated by Pierr Morgan
. PICTURE BOOK. Little Bigfoot (Sasquatch), 2021. 9781632172914 

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

You may think that all around the world chickens and roosters sound the same, but they don’t! 

I love that Schaefer doesn’t just give us the chicken and rooster sound, but also gives us the word for grandmother, eggs, hen, and rooster. A fun way to travel around the world – especially with a young class. Who doesn’t love making animal sounds! 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

The Sharing Party by Brigitte Weninger and Eve Tharlet - ADVISABLE

The Sharing Party by Brigitte Weninger, illustrated by Eve Tharlet. PICTURE BOOK. Michael Neugebauer Publishing  2020. $18. 9781662650079.

BUYING ADVISORY: Pre-K - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE: AVERAGE

Mouse is planning an apple party for all his friends. When he gets to the party, all the apples are gone. His friend Rico picked all the apples and didn’t want to share. The friends are all very upset, so they decided to all pitch in and make a pancake party instead. Each one of them brings something to put together to be made into the pancakes. Rico comes back and apologizes. He realizes that eating all the apples himself was not going to be as fun as eating them with his friends. They chop up the apples and ad them into the pancakes, and haea a wonderful time.

The Sharing Party is a cute lesson for teaching children about sharing. I loved the message it has. The text was too much for an early reader, but is great for a parent read-aloud. The illustrations are colorful and cute.

Reviewer: AR/SL

Jujube and Willow by Youjun Sun and Shifang Zhu - ADVISABLE

Jujube and Willow by Youjun Sun, Illustrated by Shifang Zhu. PICTURE BOOK. Reycraft Books.  2020. $9. 9781478868750.

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

AUDIENCE: AVERAGE

Jujube and Willow is about 2 trees planted by an old man. He planted the Jujube tree first, then planted the willow to be Jujube’s friend. Willow grew faster, and had green leaves earlier. Willow teased Jujube for growing slower and looking uglier. Then eventually, Jujube grew beautiful blossoms that turned into fruit that children loved. Willow felt bad for having teased Jujube, and worried about Jujube teasing him now that he did not bear any fruit. Jujube explained that he will not tease Willow, because although they are different, he is beautiful in his own way. He shows humans when Spring has come, and he also will grow to be very large and shady. Willow decided they could be friends after all.

Jujube and Willow was a wonderful, yet subtle way to teach children about how we are all individually special, even though we all are quite different from one another. We should not tease someone else for their flaws, because we are full of our own. And we should not despair when we think someone has something we do not, because what we do have is likely just as wonderful. This book is quite simple and a very easy read. 

Reviewer: AR/SL

Porcupine Cupid by Jason June and Lori Richmond - ADVISABLE

Porcupine Cupid by Jason June, illustrated by Lori Richmond
PICTURE BOOK McElderry Books (Simon and Schuster), 2020. $18. 9781481481014 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

It's Valentine's Day and the porcupine is all ready. Like cupid's arrow, she uses her quills to poke everyone in the forest, thoroughly irritating them. The angry animals decide to attend a town halls meeting (secretly planned by porcupine) to discuss the poking problem. So, having a common topic to discuss, the animals pair off and find their true loves. Porcupine's plan worked! 

Oh so cute! I loved the poking, and everyone's mad faces. Then, when the couples found each other, they also had matching interests or hobbies. Like the boy leopard had a telescope and the girl leopard a science magazine, the raccoons had a crossword and a dictionary. So clever.

Lisa Librarian

Probably a Narwhal by Shelley Moore Thomas and Jenn Harney - OPTIONAL

Probably a Narwhal by Shelley Moore Thomas, illustrated by Jenn Harney PICTURE BOOK Boyds Mills Press, 2020 $18 9781629795812 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW 

When a girl blames her messes on a narwhal, an actual one shows up to defend itself and teach her about narwhals. She says they make pies, and paint rainbows on walls, and messed up her room. Then, when the narwhal questions her, she learns that they aren't what she thinks. They aren't purple polka-dotted, and they don't have wings. In fact, narwhals have a horn that's really a tooth, they swim and if the girl will google them, she will see that Narwhals didn't make the big mess either.

I was underwhelmed. The illustrations felt messy - her cluttery room was really unclear as the narwhal pointed out what needed to be tidied. The dialogue was odd, the girl was rude and the ending was silly.

Lisa Librarian  

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Sheepish (Wolf Under Cover) by Helen Yoon -ESSENTIAL

Sheepish (Wolf Under Cover) by Helen Yoon
. PICTURE BOOK. Candlewick, 2021. $18. 9781536207323 

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

 The Wolf thinks he’s being very clever by disguising himself as a sheep and sneaking into their compound. But, the longer he stays, the more he gets to liking the sheep and he just can’t carry out his plan. Imagine his surprise when the sheep follow him home and ask him to come back, because they also like him! 

So much fun! Yoon’s illustrations are a great complement to her story. The right amount of comic relief, with a great ending. Sure to be a hit a story time. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

You Know How to Love by Rachel Tawil Kenyon and Mary Lundquist - ESSENTIAL

You Know How to Love by Rachel Tawil Kenyon, illustrated by Mary Lundquist
. PICTURE BOOK. Philomel (Penguin), 2020. $18. 9780593114575 

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Kenyon and Lundquist have written an ode to love – the love for everyone and everything that we meet in the world around us. They lovingly reinforce that we are born to love – only implying that racism, hatred, greed, are learned behaviors. LOVE IT! The diverse cast of characters allow every reader to see themselves here. 

 Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

The Tortoise's Gift: A Tale from Zambia retold by Lari Don and Melanie Williamson - ADVISABLE

The Tortoise's Gift: A Tale from Zambia
retold by Lari Don, illustrated by Melanie Williamson 48 pages. PICTURE BOOK, CHAPTER BOOK Barefoot Books, 2019. 9781782858416 

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

It's the dry season in Zambia, and old rabbit has heard about a special tree that will grow every kind of fruit. So the animals search and find a unique tree, but no fruit. They try lots of things (like shouting what they want and saying please) and finally decide they need to call the tree by its name. But the tree is so old, they need to find the oldest thing who might know. The mountain is the oldest, so they send the lion all the way to the mountain, who tells the name, but the lion is so proud of himself he forgets the name before he gets back. The elephant also forgets the name as do the monkeys. All the animals are distracted before they arrive. Except the tortoise.

Reminiscent of the Tortoise and the Hare, I enjoyed this fun story about persistence. Great illustrations, and funny, predictable situations make this a great story for a read aloud with a discussion afterwards. Illustrated in color throughout.

Lisa Librarian

Mira, Royal Detective Undercover Princess - ADVISABLE

Mira, Royal Detective Undercover Princess by Disney Books and the Disney Storybook Art Team. PICTURE  BOOK. Disney Press, 2020. $5. 9781368045650

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

AUDIENCE: AVERAGE

Someone is going to seal the Gem of Jalpur during a royal party at Queen Shanti’s palace.  Queen Shanti asks Mira to go undercover and help stop the thieves.  Mira guards the gem in its glass case until there is some commotion at the party.  Realizing the gem went missing during the commotion, Mira sets out to find the thief.  She follows the clues and eventually finds the gem hiding in plain sight in the drummer’s turban.  Mira has saved the day!

Mira, Royal Detective Undercover Princess will thrill all Disney Junior fans who love this beloved character.  The story is simple and entertaining.  The front and back page contain sticker of scenes throughout the story.  All princesses will enjoy reading this fun Disney book!

Reviewer: SL

Mr. Brown's Bad Day by Lou Peacock and Alison Friend - ESSENTIAL

Mr. Brown's Bad Day by Lou PeacockAlison Friend (Illustrator). PICTURE  BOOK. Candlewick Press, 2020. $17. 9781536214369

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

AUDIENCE: HIGH

Mr. Brown has a very important job that requires him to carry a very important briefcase.  Mr. Brown is a very busy man but he always goes out for lunch and he always takes his very important briefcase with him.  “It has very important things in it, after all.” Mr. Brown’s briefcase is accidentally taken one afternoon while he is enjoying his lunch.  He searches all over town looking for it.  Will Mr. Brown find his missing briefcase? What could be inside his briefcase that is so very important to Mr. Brown?

Mr. Brown's Bad Day has become one of our favorite stories! The illustrations are beautifully detailed and inviting.  The story is exciting and thrilling.  The ending is brilliant!  Parents, teachers and children alike will enjoy this special picture book!

Reviewer: SL

Band Together by Chloe Douglass- OPTIONAL

Band Together by Chloe Douglass. PICTURE BOOK. Magination Press.  2020. $15. 9781433832413.

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

AUDIENCE: AVERAGE

The duck is an introvert. He calls himself a “solo act” as he hangs out on the beach playing his ukulele by himself. One day, a band’s van breaks down, and they enlist Duck to help them fix it. He helps them, and makes friends with them along the way. They invite him to attend their concert and leave. After, he goes back to his solitary life, and talks himself out of going to their concert. Seagull gets sick, and so Bear comes and asks Duck to play in the band in Seagull’s absence. Full of self-doubt, Duck says no. Eventually, Duck is able to talk himself into going, and he goes and has a wonderful time.

Band Together is a cute look into the feelings of an introvert. It shows the emotional roller coaster one might go through in trying to open one’s self up to friendship. This book would be excellent for an introverted child needing extra encouragement into finding and maintaining friends.

Reviewer: AR/SL 

Monday, January 25, 2021

Music Is… by Stephen T. Johnson - HIGH

Music Is… by Stephen T. Johnson
. NON-FICTION PICTURE BOOK. Simon and Schuster, 2020. $25. 9781416999508 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Throughs a melding or words and picture, Johnson introduces us to a wide variety of musical styles. Then on the backs on the pages he gives backmatter of each style – an explanation, examples of songs, and such. 

 The formatting is the only reason I describe this as optional – the pages are attached to the cover at only one point total. I just don’t know how well that will hold up with circulation or even classroom checkout. Send a link to your music appreciation teachers – it would be a great resource for their personal library. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Chicken Little and the Big Bad Wolf by Sam Weldich - ADVISABLE

Chicken Little and the Big Bad Wolf by Sam Weldich
. PICTURE BOOK. Scholastic, 2021. $18. 9781338359008 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3), EL – ADVISABLE; MS, HS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Chicken Little doesn’t believe in the Big Bad Wolf – until he literally runs into one. When he tells the other chickens, he sends the flock into a panic. It is only upon further investigation that cooler heads prevail and they actually get to know the Wolf, who turns out to be a vegetarian. Weldich has given readers a lot to unpack in his second Chicken Little. 

 While similar to the first, this one becomes much more personal. Because the Wolf can be easily equated to any person that we do not yet understand. You can read this alone on the funny level, or use it to take a deep dive into relationships, fact-finding, and politics if you want to go that far. Clever middle school or high school teachers could reintroduce this to older students and apply the concepts to the new world situation. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Cara and the Wizard retold by Liz Flanagan and Valeria Docampo - OPTIONAL

Cara and the Wizard: A Tale from Ireland retold by Liz Flanagan, illustrated by Valeria Docampo
48 pages. PICTURE BOOK, CHAPTER BOOK Barefoot Books, 2019. 9781782858423 

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

When Cara's sister Molly disappears, Cara sets out on a quest to find her. After days of walking she hears that a certain wizard in a castle might be responsible. She is given advise from a tinker and an old man, and uses the simple things her mother gave her to rescue her sister and defeat the wizard. 

"Cara and the Wizard" comes in a set of 4 books called "Stories From Around the World". This was darker and more sinister than the others. The wizard comes to a violent end. Perhaps this is more the style of Irish folklore, but as a story it was a bit scary for the intended audience. I loved Valeria DoCampo's illustrations, full color on every page.

Lisa Librarian

Red Shoes by Karen English and Ebony Glenn - ADVISABLE

Red Shoes by Karen English, illustrated by Ebony Glenn. PICTURE BOOK. Scholastic Press.  2020. $18. 9781338114607.

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

AUDIENCE: HIGH

The little girl's Nana buys her beautigul red shoes and she loves wearing them. When she outgrows them, she and her Nana donate them to a second-hand shop. A woman sees them in the shop and buys them for a young girl she knows back at home. She travels home across the ocean, and gives them to the little girl she had in mind as a reward for fasting for half of Ramadan. The little girl loves the shoes, and loves wearing them to all of her special events. She feels special wearing them. Her younger sister wishes for the shoes, even though they are much too big for her. She promises them to her younger sister, knowing that someday she will outgrow them, and they will fit her younger sister perfectly. The story ends with the original little girl who first owned the shoes wondering what became of her favorite shoes.

Red Shoes is a beautiful story showing how something as simple as shoes can hold meaning to someone, as well as connect strangers across the world. I love the example that the original shoe owner showed in giving the shoes more life by donating them. This book had an overall very positive message. The author included excellent voice in the words, and the illustrations are absolutely beautiful. I also love the various cultures demonstrated in this book.

Reviewer: AR/SL

When Father Comes Home by Sarah Jung - OPTIONAL

When Father Comes Home by Sarah Jung. PICTURE BOOK. Orchard Books (Scholastic).  2020. $19. 9781338355703.

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

AUDIENCE: AVERAGE

The little boy's father works far away. The little boy loves when his father comes home. It isn’t often, so it becomes a very special occasion. The father planted a tangerine tree with his children and tells them to nurture it while he is away, and when he returns, the children and the tree will both have grown. The little boy loves and cares for the tree in his father’s absence. Then one day, he falls on the tree and it pulls out of the ground. He cries because he believes that now his father will not come home. His mother helps him replant the tree and promises that his father will always return no matter what.

When Father Comes Home is a book that would be excellent for families of migrant workers, or military parents who have to leave their families behind for extended periods of time. It is positive and uplifting, and would definitely serve as a comfort to those children who are missing their parents. This book could also be sad for children who have unstable parents that leave and do not return often due to reasons having nothing to do with jobs and providing for the children. It is one that a parent or caregiver would want to pre-read to make sure it is suitable for that child. It would most likely not be appropriate for any child in foster care.

Reviewer: AR/SL

OH BROTHER! by Alberto Pellai & Barbara Tamborini and Elisa Paganelli-OPTIONAL

OH BROTHER! by Alberto Pellai & Barbara Tamborini, illustrated by Elisa Paganelli. PICTURE BOOK. Magination Press.  2020. $15. 9781433832437.

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

AUDIENCE: LOW

A little boy just gained a new baby brother. He is not sure how to feel about this new addition. He is frustrated because the baby cries a lot, and takes all of the parents’ attention. The parents explain that everything they now do for the new baby, they once did for the little boy. 

Short and to the point. When the young boy is speaking, the text is orange. When the parents are answering him, the text is in black. I did not realize this pattern until halfway through the book, and was therefore quite confused through the beginning. I do not appreciate the rude attitude the young boy demonstrates. I understand that the purpose of this book is meant to relate to children who are feeling out-of-sorts with the addition of a new sibling, however, if I were looking for a book to help transition my child, I would hope for one with less negativity. I feel that if they wanted to validate a child’s feelings, and then guide them to more positive thoughts, it likely would have been better to have a little more character development. I do, however, appreciate the Reader’s Note at the end of the book that is written for the parents and is full of great counsel and advice for the parents.

Reviewer: AR/SL

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Alone by Megan E. Freeman - ESSENTIAL

 Alone by Megan E. Freeman, 416 pages. Aladdin (Simon). 2021. $18. 

Content: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

12yo Maddie wanted a secret sleepover with her best friends, but they both bailed on her. When she wakes up the next morning, her whole town is deserted. What happened?! She is able to piece together that there was an emergency evacuation, but everyone left their phones behind, so there is no way for her to actually contact anyone. Very slowly Maddie learns how to survive this new reality. She makes mistakes, endangers her life, finds companionship in a neighbor’s left behind dog – but as a one year, two years, pass, she also has to deal with the loneliness. 

I sat down and read this in one sitting. Written in verse, it is a very quick read and very engrossing. I do have SOOO MANY QUESTIONS, because once you’re finished, there are glaring logic holes, but as I ponder them, I also realize I don’t care. I loved reading the book and that experience is what matters most. I will be using this as a book club book because I want to hear what the kids have to say. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

The Ruler of the Springs: A Tale from Brazil retold by Mary Finch and Martina Peluso - ADVISABLE

The Ruler of the Springs: A Tale from Brazil
retold by Mary Finch, illustrated by Martina Peluso
48 pages. PICTURE BOOK, CHAPTER BOOK Barefoot Books, 2019. 9781782858430 

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

When Ibura, the Ruler of Springs, married the Sun God, he agreed to let her visit her mother, The Giantess of the Great River, but she can't take her son. When she arrives at her mother's palace, she can't find her - she's been imprisoned by a rival who wants her lands. By the time the problem is worked out, it's been more than the allowed 3 months, and she returns to find the Sun God has remarried and sent their son away. In her sadness, she returned to her mother and cried and cried, missing and hoping to find her son. 

An origin story for why we have the rainy season in Brazil. I had not heard this story before and enjoyed it very much. Martina Peluso's illustrations are full color and help convey the story to the reader. A great length to be read in one sitting.

Lisa Librarian

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...