Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The Melody tells a beautiful, layered story

The Melody, by Oded Burla/Illustrated by Assaf Benharroch/Translated by Ilana Kurshan, (March 2022, Kalaniot Books), $19.99, ISBN: 9781735087559

Ages 4-8

First published in Hebrew in 1996, this lovely layered tale spins dual stories: a melody seeking an audience, and the story of the Torah. A melody comes into existence and seeks someone to listen to them. Offering to share its song with the mountains and trees, stones, the river, and animals to listen, Melody is turned down time and again: the trees have their own song they share among themselves; the rocks cannot sing; the animals, all set in their own ways. But Melody discovers a mother and child in a garden together and enters the mother’s heart. The mother begins singing a lullaby to the child, and the song is Melody. An inspirational story about love, the story is also an ancient Jewish fable about God offering the Torah to the peoples of the ancient world. When the Jewish people were the only ones to accept the Torah, the song became theirs; like the mother and child, the song is passed to each generation. Digital artwork comes alive with rich color and texture, and a fluid narrative assures that readers will return to this book often. A lovely addition to collections, particularly where Jewish culture and themes are of interest.

Posted in Uncategorized

Blog Tour: My GrandMom by Gee-eun Lee

A child spends days with her grandmother while her parents work in this warm and affectionate story by award-winning Korean author Gee-eun Lee, translated by Sophie Bowman.

My GrandMom, by Gee-eun Lee / Translated by Sophie Bowman,
(Nov. 2022, Amazon Crossing Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9781662508257

Ages 4-7

Inspired by the author’s memories of spending time with her own Halmoni – the name she called her grandmother – My GrandMother begins with a child begging her mother not to go to work; Grandma quickly comes to the rescue by deflecting little Gee-eun. Together, the two spend a day making noodles, telling stories, and running in a Family Sports Day race before heading home to make dinner for the family to enjoy together. The warmth of the narrative wraps around readers like a hug from a beloved grandparent, with Halmoni’s loving memories running through the story; from the “teeny tiny house that’s warm and cozy” in her belly, where Gee-eun’s mom used to live, to her memories of dancing and racing as a child. There are wonderful observations from a child’s point of view, too, like the moment when Gee-eun and Halmoni enjoy a snack together before dinner: “No matter how you may be feeling, curry buns are always delicious, especially when shared with Grandma”. Lee has shared a piece of her life with us and enriches us for it; the loving relationship between grandmother and grandchild shines through in all its wonder and devotion. A wonderful story with colored pencil and paint illustration that has the look and feel of a child’s recollections of a day well spent. An excellent first purchase.

 

“A touching tale that exudes love and warmth.” ―Kirkus Reviews

A touching celebration of grandparent-and-grandchild connection that will warm many hearts.” ―Booklist

Gee-eun Lee is an award-winning Korean author/illustrator. She recently won the prestigious BolognaRagazzi Award in the comics category for her book, The Story of How the Korean Shaved Ice Dessert Was Born, and is also a top winner of the Korean Young Illustrator Award. She studied design and illustration in Korea and the UK. Her first picture book, Paper Dad, was made into a children’s musical in Korea. My GrandMom is the second book she both wrote and illustrated and is based on her own grandmother.

Instagram: @studio_geeeun

Sophie Bowman is a PhD student at the University of Toronto, studying Korean literature. She was awarded the ICF Literature Translation Fellowship at Ewha Womans University. In 2015, she won the Korea Times Modern Korean Literature Translation Award grand prize for poetry with her translations of Jin Eun-young and co-translated Kim Bo-Young’s I’m Waiting for You and Other Stories. She recently translated the picture book Magic Candies by Heena Baek, which received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Follow her on Twitter @SophieOrbital.

 

Posted in Adventure, Fiction, Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Tween Reads

BOOK BLITZ! NatGeo Explorer Academy Forbidden Island

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A heart-pounding final showdown changes the life of Cruz Coronado forever in the seventh and final book in this thrilling fact-based fiction series.

Amid assignments that take the Explorer Academy recruits from the iceberg-filled waters of Antarctica to the bone-dry deserts of Argentina, Cruz Coronado is scrambling to complete the last piece of the cipher. With Nebula agents and the elusive explorer spy still out there, his opportunity to recover his mother’s world-changing formula is slipping away. But as Cruz has learned from his time aboard Orion, true explorers must never give up.

Even after completing dozens of high-risk missions and traveling to all seven continents, Cruz could never prepare himself for one ultimate surprise.

Explorer Academy features: Gripping fact-based fiction plot that inspires curiosity with new technology and innovations; amazing inventions and gadgets; a cast of diverse, relatable characters; secret clues, codes, and ciphers to track down within the text; vibrant illustrations; elements of STEAM; National Geographic explorer profiles in the "Truth Behind" section.

Check out the Explorer Academy website featuring videos, comic shorts, games, profiles of real-life National Geographic Explorers, chapter excerpts and more. 
 


Praise:

"Sure to appeal to kids who love code cracking and mysteries with cutting-edge technology."  
Booklist

"A perfect blend of adventure with real science and technology!"
New York Times #1 best-selling author Rick Riordan

"A fun, exciting, and action-packed ride that kids will love."
—J.J. Abrams, director and screenwriter of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Lost, Alias

"Inspires the next generation of curious kids to go out into our world and discover something unexpected.”
—James Cameron, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and acclaimed film-maker

 

About the Author

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

TRUDI TRUEIT has written more than 100 books for young readers, both fiction and nonfiction. Her love of writing began in fourth grade, when she wrote, directed, and starred in her first play. She went on to be a TV news reporter and weather forecaster, but she knew her calling was in writing. Trueit is a gifted storyteller for middle-grade audiences, and her fiction novels include The Sister Solution, Stealing Popular, and the Secrets of a Lab Rat series. Her expertise in kids nonfiction encompasses books on history, weather, wildlife, and earth science. She is the author of all the narratives in the Explorer Academy series, beginning with Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret. Trueit was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, and lives in Everett, Washington.

 


GIVEAWAY

  • Three (3) winners will receive the COMPLETE 7-book Explorer Academy series and an Explorer Academy map, showing all the places around the world that Cruz and his classmates visit over the course of the series!
  • US/Canada only
  • Ends 11/27 at 11:59pm ET
  • Enter via the Rafflecopter below

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Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Who are Maziks and what do they do before bedtime?

Bedtime for Maziks, by Yael Levy/Illustrated by Nabila Adani, (Apr. 2022, Kar-Ben Publishing), $17.99, ISBN: 9781728424279

Ages 4-8

This adorably rhyming story is part How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?, part Where the Wild Things Are. Mazik is a Yiddish word for a mischief-maker – I know a few of those! – and sometimes, a parent may lovingly refer to their little tornadoes as maziks. Bedtime for Maziks is the story of two little maziks and how they spend their day, right up to bedtime. The two are adorably monstrous, with green and purple skin, tiny fangs and claws, and unruly hair. During the day, they play along with other children, making messes in the playroom and kitchen and causing shenanigans at the local pool. Frazzled grownups nearby complete the chaos in a way that will have little readers giggling along with the maziks as they storm through their day. When it’s bedtime, though, the maziks turn into perfectly sweet little monsters, saying “good night” and getting their nighttime kisses. The playful rhyme and artwork is a celebration of childhood in all its chaos. Hallmarks of Jewish culture run throughout the story, including an copy of Jewish Folktales laying next to one mazik as she reads on the floor, a star of David hanging over one mazik’s bed, and a family sharing a Shabbat dinner (with maziks feeding pets and spilling drinks). An adorable readaloud and a lovely purchase for collections.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Books About Kindness

We’re heading toward the holidays, which means my library system is gearing up for their annual “It’s Time for Kind” campaign, where we encourage our communities to show kindness to one another. This year, it means a LOT. I won’t get on too much of a soapbox here, but I will say that I live in a state where people are arriving scared and alone, and need kindness more than ever. These books have been out for a few months, so consider these when you’re putting together readers advisory lists or book displays, or planning storytimes this season.

All You Need, by Howard Schwartz/Illustrated by Jasu Hu, (Apr. 2022, Neal Porter Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9780823443291

Ages 3-7

Written as a poem, All You Need is a meditation on what one needs for a fulfilling life, from the basics – sun and rain, food and water – to the higher needs, like “a place where you are welcome” and “words to share your thoughts”. Illustrator Jasu Hu tells the story of a young woman who grows to be an artist, nurtured by the land and the people around her. Inspired by Schwartz’s story, illustrator Jasu Hu’s watercolor illustrations bring a tenderness to the work that fits beautifully with the gentle lyrics and leaves touches of Chinese culture throughout the story, including a swallow, ever-present in the tale, to deliver words of happiness and homecoming. Back matter from Schwartz and Hu each explains their motivation. The main character presents as Asian, with touches of Asian culture and landscape throughout. All You Need is a reminder of how simple and fragile our needs are and is a beautiful opening story for storytimes.

All You Need has a starred review from School Library Journal.

 

 

Luli and the Language of Tea, by Andrea Wang/Illustrated by Hyewon Yum, (May 2022, Neal Porter), $18.99, ISBN: 9780823446148

Ages 3-7

A group of parents file into an ESOL (English as a Second Language) class, while their children head into the free childcare area while their parents are in class. The children play alone, not understanding English, until Luli decides to bring everyone together with one word that they all understand: tea. She sets up a tea party around a table and calls out “Chá!”, the Chinese word for “tea”; the children recognize the word, which sounds similar to the word for tea in their languages: Russian, Hindi, Turkish, Persian, Arabic, Spanish, German, Swahili, and Portuguese. The children sit together and share tea while the caregiver watches, delighted. Showing that language brings us together more than it divides us, Luli and the Language of Tea features a group of children from all over the world coming together in friendship. Each time the word “tea” is spoken it is illustrated in a colorful font with a phonetic spelling in parentheses. Endpapers feature colorful cups of tea from different countries. Colored pencil illustrations add a childlike innocence to this joyful story. Back matter includes an author’s note, a note on the languages spoken in the story, and notes on immigrants living in the U.S. and how they enjoy their tea. Author Andrea Wang’s website includes a bibliography of sources and audio of various children’s literature creators speaking the word for “tea” in their own languages; there’s also a downloadable educator’s guide. An excellent storytime choice.

Luli and the Language of Tea has starred reviews from Booklist and Shelf Awareness.

 

 

La Casita de Esperanza, by Terry Catasús Jennings/Illustrated by Raúl Colón, (June 2022, Neal Porter Books/Holiday House), $18.99, ISBN: 9780823452033

Ages 4-8

This is the Spanish translation of a book I fell in love with when I reviewed it in July. Terry Catasús Jennings writes about a little home that welcomes a family new to the U.S., and how that family turns that little house into a sanctuary where they, and their extended family, can come, be safe, and begin a new life. The Spanish text is lyrical and makes for a beautiful readaloud; Pura Belpré medalist Raúl Colón’s pencil and watercolor artwork frames pivotal moments in the characters’ lives to create powerful moments, from arriving home to a bustling household to people coming together to forge a new life when they’ve been forced to leave the old one behind. I have copies of both the English and Spanish translations on my shelves. One of the best books you’ll read this year.

Visit Terry Catasús Jennings’s webpage to see more of her books and read her own story; the inspiration for La Casita de Esperanza.

 

Posted in Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Teen, Tween Reads, Young Adult/New Adult

The LEGO Engineer will take your builds to new heights

The LEGO Engineer, by Jeff Friesen, (Nov. 2022, No Starch Press), $24.99, ISBN: 9781718502505

Ages 10+

I am always looking for good LEGO books for my library. We have a weekly LEGO build that the kids love, and I like to make sure I have books around that will inspire them. Jeff Friesen is always a good purchase for me: I’ve got The LEGO Castle Book and LEGO Space Projects and they are chock full of block-spiration. Friesen’s newest, The LEGO Engineer, is another win; this time, taking on some of the most incredible engineering feats ever created, including cable-stayed bridges and a LEGO South Beach, in all its colorful glory. There are over 30 models, all beautifully photographed by Friesen, and include step-by-step illustrated instructions and a wealth of engineering know-how to make your builds as realistic as can be. It’s a beautiful coffee table book for LEGO enthusiasts and it’s a challenging book of ideas for LEGO fans and future engineers. An excellent choice for collections where LEGO books are popular.

Want to see more of Jeff Friesen’s work? Follow his Instagram page. Want more LEGO learning? Visit LEGO’s education page for free lesson plans.

Posted in Non-Fiction, picture books, Women's History

Dressing Up the Stars: A picture book biography with style

Dressing Up the Stars: The Story of Movie Costume Designer Edith Head, by Jeanne Walker Harvey/Illustrated by Diana Toledano , (Sept. 2022, Beach Lane Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9781534451056

Ages 4-8

Famed costume designer Edith Head may be a new name to many younger readers, but Harvey and Toledano’s story about the little girl who grew up dressing up her pets for tea parties and creating dollhouse furniture from scraps will appeal to readers with a creative bent. The story follows Head from her childhood in a Nevada mining town to her move to Los Angeles, where she lost herself in the magic of movies; from her beginnings as a sketch artist who didn’t know how to draw, to her rise as the definitive Hollywood costume designer, Dressing Up the Stars focuses on Head’s resolute determination to create her own movie magic. Back matter includes an author’s note on Edith Head’s life and career. Mixed media artwork creates a variety of textures, and colorful illustration stands out against the pale backgrounds, much like Edith Head, who famously dressed in grays, whites, and blacks so that “the movie stars could imagine themselves in their roles”. A very good addition to picture book biography collections. If you have maker programming at your library or in your classroom, Dressing Up the Stars is an especially essential purchase for your collection.

Download a free Dressing Up the Stars activity kit from Jeanne Walker Harvey’s website. Encyclopedia Britannica has an entry on Edith Head, and online magazine supplement The Cut has an article featuring 30 of Edith Head’s designs that you may be interested in sharing with readers.

Jeanne Walker Harvey has had many jobs, ranging from working as a roller coaster ride operator to an attorney for high-tech companies to a writer of magazine articles to a teacher of Language Arts and writing workshops at a public middle school. She has also been a longtime docent at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She is the author of several books for young readers, including the picture book biographies Dressing up the Stars: The Story of Movie Costume Designer Edith Head, Ablaze with Color: A Story of Painter Alma Thomas, Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines and My Hands Sing the BluesRomare Bearden’s Childhood Journey. Jeanne studied literature and psychology at Stanford University. She lives in Northern California. Visit her online at www.jeanneharvey.com.

Twitter: @JeanneWHarvey

Pinterest: @JeanneWalkerHarvey

Check out the many resources here at Jeanne Walker Harvey’s website!

 

Diana Toledano is the illustrator of picture books including One Snowy Day by Diana Murray and the Polly Diamond series by Alice Kuipers. She grew up in Spain and now lives in Sacramento with her husband and their young daughter. Learn more at Diana-Toledano.com.

Instagram: @dianatoledano

Facebook: Diana Toledano

Pinterest: Diana Toledano

Posted in Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Dark Room Etiquette: A taut YA thriller

Dark Room Etiquette, by Robin Roe, (Oct. 2022, HarperTeen), $18.99, ISBN: 9780063051737

Ages 13+

Sayers Wayte is a 16-year-old with an easy life, and he knows it. Everything he knows is upended when he’s kidnapped by a man who tells Sayers that he isn’t who he believes he is. As Sayers endures imprisonment and his captor, he begins questioning his reality. A tense thriller that examines PTSD, Dark Room Etiquette becomes an intense character study as readers accompany Sayers on his journey through trauma. The story goes very dark, but is ultimately a hopeful story that readers will white-knuckle through.

Dark Room Etiquette has a starred review from Publishers Weekly.

Posted in Uncategorized

Back from blog-cation

Hi, all! I haven’t left the blogosphere; I ended up taking a sort of blog-cation because work has been BANANAS. Good bananas, but  busy, because MY KIDS ARE ALL COMING BACK! The library is full and bustling again, and I’m thrilled. I’ve got lots of exciting things to chat about, so expect to hear from me about library life in addition to my book posts.

Speaking of library life, I’m thrilled to mention that I’ve been reviewing for School Library Journal! I’ve got six reviews actually posted at the moment, including a starred review from Oliver Jeffers’s Meanwhile Back on Earth: Finding Our Place Through Time and Space, which you can read for free. If you have a subscription to SLJ, you can access my other reviews here.

More to come, I just wanted to get a quick note up to say hello there. I’m off tomorrow for Veteran’s Day, so – dare I say it out loud? – I’ll work on getting some posts live in between finishing my CYBILS first round graphic novel reads.

Talk to you soon!