Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Peep and Egg: I'm Not Hatching by Laura Gehl- ESSENTIAL

Gehl, Laura Peep and Egg: I’m Not Hatching. Illustrated by Joyce Wan. BOARD BOOK. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016. $7.99.  

Peep simply can’t wait for her sibling to hatch. “We’re going to have so much fun once you hatch!” “Too Scary,” said Egg. “I’m not hatching.” Peep tempts her sibling with visions of watching the sunrise from the roof of the hen house, splashing in puddles, strolling the pond and say hi to the ducks and much more! But Eggs response is always the same: “I’m not hatching!” Things outside the protective eggshell are too wet, too high, and too loud.  But what happens when Peep gives up and walks away from Egg?  

Read this adorable book and explore sibling friendship as well as farm life.  The illustrations are adorable and inviting.  We really enjoyed this simple and touching book. 

Pre-K- ESSENTIAL.  Reviewer: SL.


El Autobus/ Bus by Chris Demarest- OPTIONAL

Demarest. Chris El Autobus/ Bus. BOARD BOOK. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017. $4.99. 978-0544991149

Take a ride on public city bus and enjoy all the sights and sounds of the city. “Trucks honk, taxis swerve. City park, road curves.” 

This colorful rhyming book will introduce little ones to the sights and sounds on a typical city bus ride. The bilingual story will also help older children learn both English and Spanish translations. The illustrations are unique and fun. 

Pre-K. OPTIONAL. Reviewer: SL.

Stanley's Opposites by Willambee- ESSENTIAL

Williambee, Stanley’s Opposites. BOARD BOOK. Peachtree Publishers, Ltd., 2017. $6.95. 978-1561459773

Stanley and Little Woo introduce children to opposites: in/out, long/short, high/low and much more. This cute board book is unique in the fact that most pages are read horizontally but one page contain shows Stanley and Little Woo jumping on a trampoline and the reader turns the book vertically to see the illustrations. The book begins with Stanley sleeping and then awake.  The story ends with Stanley back in bed with his room light, and then ends with his room dark. Stanley is back to sleep at the end of his day. 

The illustrations are colorful and inviting. We loved this cute book! 

Pre-K.  ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: SL.   

Stanleys Numbers by Williambee- ESSENTIAL

Williambee, Stanley’s Numbers. BOARD BOOK. Peachtree Publishers, Ltd., 2017. $6.95.  978-1561459766

Stanley and Little Woo are planning a picnic.  They bring one Jell-O salad and two yummy cakes.  After all the picnic items are gathered Stanley and Little Woo provide the perfect picnic for their friends.  This cute board book is unique in the fact that most pages are read horizontally but two pages contain a pile of cheeses and a bundle of balloons that make the reader turn the book vertically to see the illustrations. The final page is a colorful picnic that will allow children to continue to count friends and items at the picnic.  

The illustrations are colorful and inviting.  We loved this cute book! 

Pre-K.  ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: SL.   

Bedtime 1,2,3 by Eric Walters- ADVISABLE

Walters, Eric Bedtime 1,2,3. Illustrated by Josee Bisaillon. BOARD BOOK. Orca Book Publishers, 2017. $9.95.  978-1459810730

When the sun goes down on this little farm house animals babies go to sleep as soon as ONE moon rises. “Three owlets rest high in the treetops.” “Six puppies pile up high on their bed.” It’s time for all babies to fall asleep, especially little ones snuggling up to a good bedtime story.  

This is a fun board book that explores numbers as well as baby animals living on a farm.  The pictures are soft and comforting.  The story is simple and sweet.  

Pre-K.  ADVISABLE. Reviewer: SL.

The Wood by Chelsea Bobulski - OPTIONAL

Bobulski, Chelsea The Wood, 310 pgs. Feiwel and Friends, 2017. $18. Language: PG-13 (24 swears; no ‘F’); Mature Content: PG (mention of underage drinking); Violence: PG-13

The wood has existed longer than anyone can remember. The Old Ones understand its magic and power and the Guardians protect those who walk its paths. Winter Parrish is one of the guardians who now has the burden of guarding the wood and its travelers, those who have entered through thresholds from other times and need help getting back home. After centuries of peaceful existence, Winter’s father has vanished and the trees are dying. What sinister force has taken hold and can Winter, with the help of Henry an 18th century traveler from England, find out the truth before it is too late?

The premise of the book is unusual and intriguing. Unfortunately, the idea for the plot does not match the ability of the author. The beginning feels rushed as the reader is given a too brief introduction to what the Wood is and the roles of the Old Ones and Guardians. As a result, the reader will fail to make a significant connection to any of the characters throughout the story. The romance that develops to the surprise of no one, involving characters falling into once in a lifetime true love in a matter of moments, and with overly sentimental drivel that they indulge in, is cringe inducing. Add to this that the author has an odd fixation with including food and beverage in a majority of scenes explained in specific detail while the characters are given little to no description leaves the reader dissatisfied.


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Silent Days, Silent Dreams by Allen Say - ESSENTIAL

Say, Allen Silent Days, Silent Dreams PICTURE BOOK Arthur A. Levine (Scholastic), 2017. $22. 9780545927611

James Castle was born in 1899 in Idaho. Deaf from birth, he was also mute and probably dyslexic as well as autistic.  He didn’t communicate, despite 5 years at a school for the deaf, he never learned to speak or read, but he taught himself to draw and produce other forms of art.  Working in isolation for most of his life he produced thousands of pieces, mostly from found objects, scrap paper, soot and spit, string, cardboard etc.

Allen Say has created this fictional story based on real people, events and artwork.  He practiced with many of the same techniques Castle used to gain a better understanding of his subject.  A thoroughly inspiring book - I’m buying a copy for my art teacher!

EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE, MS - ESSENTIAL  Lisa Librarian

Grand Canyon by Jason Chin - ESSENTIAL

Chin, Jason Grand Canyon PICTURE BOOK/NON-FICTION. Roaring Brook Press, 2017. $20 9781596439504 

A young girl and her father hike up from the bottom of the Grand Canyon through the 5 different ecological communities. The text explains how old (in millions or even billions of years) each area is, and what made the rocks. Then, on some pages there’s a small engineered “window” and the girl is transported into what used to be - and we see that part of the grand canyon millions of years ago.  

This is such an interesting book - the illustrations are great, many of the page borders show labeled drawings of the wildlife who live in that area -and some of the plant life. Oh, I want to go visit the Grand Canyon! I great picture book for the nature lover, but especially useful in a middle school science classroom as an introduction or a review of ecological geography or time periods. Includes an appendix with more explanations, and author’s and illustrator’s notes, sources and a glossary. This is a great text! 

EL (K-3), EL - ADVISABLE, MS - ESSENTIAL Lisa Librarian.

All Around Us by Xelena Gonzalez - OPTIONAL

González, Xelena All Around Us, illustrated by Adriana M. Garcia. PICTURE BOOK. Cinco Puntos Press, 2017. $18. 9781941026762

A young girl and her grandfather talk about the circle of life - how a rainbow is only half a circle, the other half is underground - everywhere you look there are circles, they are as natural as being born and dying - which is also a circle.

I loved the message of this book, it’s a great story to read to a child who has lost someone, or who has just added a baby to their family.  The author is native american/spanish and has reflected her family culture into this story.  I understand the art style - with all the circles and the bright colors, but some of the illustrations were just too much for me.  Still, it’s a good diverse picture book, but maybe for a little older audience?

 EL (K-3) - OPTIONAL  Lisa Librarian

Frida Kahlo and her Animalitos by Monica Brown - OPTIONAL

Brown, Monica Frida Kahlo and her Animalitos illustrated by John Parra. NON-FICTION/PICTURE BOOK. NorthSouth Books, Inc. 2017. $18. 9780735842694  

A biography of Frida Kahlo focusing on her love of animals, particularly her pets - a deer, dogs, a cat, 2 monkeys, a parrot, even turkeys. They inspired some of her art and were her friends. 

There seems to be a new picture book about Frida Kahlo every year or so.  It’s hard to tell her story in a way children would enjoy and this is a good hook.  The author was vague about Frida’s  illnesses and her accident (which is good).  I also like the inclusion of a photograph at the end of Frida and one of her monkeys. Includes an author’s note with a list of paintings that include her animal friends, but no other source material. All in all, I think there are better picture book biographies about Frida Kahlo (Viva Frida) 

EL (K-3) OPTIONAL  Lisa Librarian 

Monday, February 26, 2018

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins - ESSENTIAL

Higgins, Ryan T. We Don’t Eat Our Classmates.  PICTURE BOOK.  Disney, JUNE 2018.  $18.  9781368003551.

Penelope Rex is nervous for her first day of school and things don’t get better when she discovers all of her new classmates are humans – and humans are delicious! She doesn’t want to eat them, but sometimes it is hard to control her T-rex impulses.  Then one day Penelope finds out what it feels like to have someone find out you’re a tasty morsel. 

Higgin’s wry humor is full blown.  You can choose to be offended by Penelope eating her classmates and then spitting them out, or you can revel in the delightful absurdness and embrace the message of not eating your classmates.  It would be easy to turn this into a quick lessons about other ways we “eat” our classmates with meanness and sniping. Pair this with Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller to start the school year out right.  Coming out in June – buy both books for your newly minted school teachers.
EL (K-3), EL – ESSENTIAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Mela and the Elephant by Dow Phumiruk - ADVISABLE

Phumiruk, Dow Mela and the Elephant, illustrated by ZiyueChen.  PICTURE BOOK.  Sleeping Bear, 2018.  $17.  9781585369980.

When Mela leaves on an adventure, she leaves behind her little brother because he has nothing to offer her.  While her adventure starts out great, she eventually gets lost and needs help.  The jungle animals take advantage of her, though and she has nothing to offer when kindness finally arrives.  Mela learns a valuable lesson about being kind because kindness brings its own reward.

Phumiruk’s story cuts to the heart of kindness in a way that children of all ages will be able to recognize.  With a little discussion the lesson will hit home.  I can’t mark this as essential, though because while the illustrations are sweet, they are also flat.

Pre- K, EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Surprise! by Mike Henson - OPTIONAL

Henson, Mike Surprise! Words & Pictures, 2017. $18 PICTURE BOOK Content: G

Badger invites Rabbit to see something surprising. Each time the lights turn on and off a new surprise is revealed. What do Rabbit’s friends have in store next?

Fantastic illustrations are not quite enough to elevate a bland story. Young readers may be charmed by the pictures, but the story will prove to be forgettable.


Rodent Rascals by Roxie Munro - ADVISABLE

Munro, Roxie Rodent Rascals Holiday House, 2018. $18 PICTURE BOOK/NON-FICTION Content: G

Get acquainted with members of the rodent family! So many different furry friends are waiting to meet you as you learn all about their life cycles, habitats, and unique qualities.

Life-sized illustrations accompany a book overflowing with facts about the rodent world. Young readers who are interested in animals and want to learn more about rats, guinea pigs, capybaras, and more will be endlessly entertained.


Who Will Bell the Cat? by Patricia McKissack - ADVISABLE

McKissack, Patricia C. Who Will Bell the Cat?  Illustrated by Christopher Cyr.  PICTURE BOOK.  Holiday House, 2018.  $18.  9780823437009.

The barn mice are terrified of the cat that they themselves saved and invited into the barn.  While they come up with a plan to bell the cat, every plan they come to execute the plan fails.  When someone new arrives on the scene, though, the mice see a way to reach their end game.

McKissack takes a familiar story and adds whimsy and depth.  Rather than the plump, lazy housecat of other iterations, Cyr’s cat is lean and hungry, making the mice more desperate and the solution even sweeter. Of course, they are mice.  In a older classroom, it would be fun to show how the trope of belling the cat has been used in TV and movies.

EL (K-3) – ADVISABLE.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Warbler Wave by April Sayre - OPTIONAL

Sayre, April Pulley Warbler Wave, with Jeff Sayre.  PICTURE BOOK.  Beach Lane (Simon), 2018.  $18.  9781481448291.

Sayre celebrates the tiny warbler with vivid photographs and rhyming text.  The warbler is easily overlooked among flashier, more popular bird species.  Sayre tackles a more complicated topic than her earlier books.  Most of the poetry is simple and fun to read.  Sometimes, though it stumbles – making certain patterns in some places and then entirely different patterns in others.  The highlight is the photos of the warblers.

EL (K-3) – OPTIONAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Cast no Shadow by Nick Tapalansky -NO

Tapalansky, Nick Cast no Shadow, 212 pages.  GRAPHIC NOVEL.  First Second, 2017.  $17. Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: G.

Greg is an unusual boy –he doesn’t have a shadow and he only has one friend. When they go explore an abandoned old house, he discovers he can see a ghost. And he has a big crush on her. Eleanor shows him her memories and he can’t wait to spend more time with her. But his shadow is having none of it and has gone rogue, destroying the town. Will the Greg be able to come out of his shell and save the town?

This book was dark, the imagery was difficult to discern, confusing, and at times almost nonsensical. This is one of the very first First Second graphic novels that I have really disliked. It’s not darkly odd and quirky –it’s just plain strange. I wouldn’t add this to my school library –though there is nothing inappropriate, so it can’t hurt to have it on your shelf.

MS –NOT RECOMMENDED.  Stephanie, Elementary School Librarian & Author

Sunday, February 25, 2018

You Can't Be Too Careful! by Roger Mello - OPTIONAL

Mello, Roger You Can’t Be Too Careful! PICTURE BOOK Penguin Random House, 2017. $18 9780914671640 (Originally published in Brazil in 1999)

A gardener carefully watches a rose, but he has a cold because he doesn’t have his shoes - - this starts a cause/effect story that tells why things happened (someone didn’t die, someone was annoying or didn’t do their job right) until it reaches back and spins the other way when reactions improve and kindness replaces greed.

This was an odd story with strange illustrations - I found myself looking closely to try to figure them out.  Maybe it’s my taste in this kind of art.  I can’t see reading this to a child, but I can see it as an example of a great Language Arts lesson on cause/effect or as a group writing assignment.

EL - OPTIONAL  Lisa Librarian