Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Let’s get some #LibraryLove!

I am SO excited. I’m returning to my community library on Monday for the first time since I locked the doors on March 16, 2020, when New York went on “pause”. We’ve got two weeks of work to get our little home away from home back in shape (so many bins await unpacking), and then we reopen to our families on July 12th. It’s the day I’ve been waiting for and I am just so happy. So let’s celebrate some library love with two great books!

Stanley’s Library, by William Bee, (Aug. 2021, Peachtree Publishers), $14.99, ISBN: 9781682633137

Ages 3-7

It’s the Stanley book I’ve been waiting for! The hardest-working gerbil in town is back with Stanley’s Library. It’s going to be a busy day for Stanley, who arrives at work, loads up his bookmobile (they call it a “library van”) and head to the park for a day of truly public librarianship. He spots some friends and makes sure they get books he knows they would love, and then gets back to the library in order to set up for their big author event! The day is done, and it’s time for Stanley to go home, have supper, take his bath, and get to bed – with a good book. ‘Nite, Stanley!

The Stanley books are the best career books I can offer to my little kids (you have to love a multi-tasker!), and Stanley’s Library is so much fun. The endpapers show all the tools of the trade, including a date stamp, stamped library card, author event ticket, and bookmark. There are great details throughout the story, too, like the labeled shelves and the books on them: the Horror section includes books on Owls, Cats, and Snakes, all predators to gerbils; History stocks books like Famous Gerbils and More Famous Gerbils; Cheese gets its own very popular section, as we learn later on. Stanley exhibits fantastic readers advisory and collection development skills as he makes sure to give books to his friends that are in just in line with their interests, too; he gives Hattie, who’s working on her motorbike, a book on traveling twisty roads, and Little Woo gets a book on pirates, as he works with Shamus on his boat. The Stanley books are such fun and such easy reading; they’re a hit for your shelves.

 

Nia and the New Free Library, by Ian Lendler/Illustrated by Mark Pett, (June 2021, Chronicle Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9781452166865

Ages 5-8

Inspired by Stone Soup, this story hits on so many things: the idea that the library is always there, but no one uses it; that ideas people have about libraries aren’t always the reality, and my favorite, that libraries are built by communities, for communities. The Littletown Library has always been there. Until it’s not when a tornaldo carries it away. A young girl named Nia wants to rebuild the library, but – in a series of panels every librarian will identify with – hears a lot of talk as to why it’s not a priority: “What’s the point? No one uses libraries anymore”; “That costs money, and I can’t spare a dime”; and of course, “My son and I get everything we want online”. Taking matters into her own hands, Nia comes up with a very creative idea to get her community to come together and create a library – first, as a community, then, within a building. There are wonderful moments as Nia brings townspeople together to create their own stories or remember stories and parts of writing that inspired them; one gentleman recalls Maya Angelou’s And Still I Rise; detectives and boat captains recall the works that they loved from childhood. The library reopening is a stirring statement on what we do: “everyone crowded into the library to admire what they had accomplished”. Children paint, read books, and write their own, new ones; grandparents learn to use computers; there’s a knitting class taking place.  In an author’s note, Ian Lendler remembers how his grandfather helped rally his own community to build the library he dreamed of a kid, saying, “That’s when I realized – a library is an expression of a town and all the poeple who live in it”.

An excellent book for storytime and class visits, and for just reminding people that we all have a stake in our libraries.

Posted in Uncategorized

Meanderings…

Just wanted to drop a quick post, because I know sometimes I post several times a day, and then sometimes I don’t for a few days. You know the time of year: it’s the end of the school year; there are graduations, and celebrations being planned. And honestly, I have a dark secret that I’m going to share…

I got a little burned out. On kids’ books.

I know. But it happened! I just couldn’t do it for a few days. The joy was gone. I took the time to read some grown-up stuff, for the sheer enjoyment of reading, and it was wonderful. And it worked: I have a towering TBR that can be overwhelming, but I just ask for patience from all the wonderful people sending me books. I’m only human, and am reading as fast as I can. Hang in there with me.

Tom Hiddleston Sigh GIF

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour for The Grumpy, Frumpy Croissant

Sometimes, what you need is a sip of milk and 10 deep breaths: that’s the calming message for kids reading The Grumpy, Frumpy Croissant, a lesson in anger management for readers. Croissant and his friends Toast, Scone, and Milk live happily on a kitchen table until the morning that Croissant sees Toast and Scone have reached the breakfast plate first! Croissant is in a terrible mood and takes it out on his friends until Milk steps in and tells everyone to have a sip and calm down. Taking that time to count and get back to thinking clearly, the friends are happy again! Author Mona K. offers some insight into her creative process… read on!

 

The Grumpy Frumpy Croissant, by Mona K/Illustrated by Korey Scott,
(Jan. 2021, Canoe Tree Press), $7.99, ISBN: 9781735930824

Ages 3-7

 

“It was a Sunday afternoon in December 2019. My son and I had a ritual to stop by our favorite coffee shop before his tennis class to grab drinks and our most beloved croissant. My son got chocolate milk and I made my regular order. We both devour our croissants. I love to bake them from time to time, however the recipe does call for a lot of love and patience. As we were getting ready to sit down, I accidentally spilled some coffee over my son’s croissant. A big volcano of anger erupted, and he squeezed the croissant really hard. Poor croissant lost a few pounds instantly. I enjoy meditating and try to share some techniques here and there with my son. I realized he was extremely upset, so I suggested that he leave the croissant alone and take some long deep breaths. He did that a few times and then took a big sip of the milk. He suddenly felt calm. In the meantime, Mr. Croissant seemed to have gained some of his plumpness back. That spur of the moment was Grumpy Frumpy Croissants’ birthday. My son also loves toast and scones with a lot of red jelly. I thought Croissant needed friends and so Toast and Scone were invited to the party along with Milk. I wrote the story that same day and narrated it to my son the next morning. He absolutely fell in love with the characters. In February 2020, I started looking for illustrators for the book. I interviewed and did test runs with at least eight illustrators before selecting Korey Scott. He was able to bring my story to life just as I would if I were an artist. In March, covid-19 knocked us all on our heels. The illustrations took four long months and finally I published the book in November.  I presented the book to my son on his seventh birthday in December 2020. His reaction was priceless, and he was an instant celebrity in school  the next day.”

Filled with colorful, bold illustrations and with extra coloring pages available for download, readers will get a kick out of breakfast time, anytime, with The Grumpy Frumpy Croissant. There’s a croissant recipe at the end: make sure you have an adult to help!

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Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Keep the Dad Love going!

Hi all! I know I was quiet for a few days, and I apologize. I’ve been getting ready for two big graduations, and ended up letting myself get dehydrated, so last night was spent recovering on the couch and drinking a bunch of water. Note to self: Do NOT clean the garage without a few chilled bottles of water on hand; one lukewarm bottle over a few hours doesn’t do a whole lot.

But Father’s Day was yesterday! Did the Dads of all sorts have a great day? I hope you did! I have two adorable books to crow about, and a few more suggestions for dads and grandpas. Enjoy.

Cave Dada: Picky Eater, by Brandon Reese, (April 2021, Chronicle Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9781452179957

Ages 3-5

The follow-up to Brandon Reese’s Cave Dada (2020) is every bit as adorable and hilarious as the first. Dada and Baba are back, and Baba is hungry for an egg… but Dada isn’t sure he has an egg, which doesn’t sit too well with Baba. Poor Dada wasn’t in the mood to hunt and gather, but Baba is pretty focused on an egg.. and Dada may just discover a new way to make breakfast! From the bouncing baby wakeup to the refusal to eat anything in the pantry and fridge, parents and caregivers will laugh as they see themselves in this story. My favorite part? Right here:

This, friends, was my life story, three times in a row. When Baba doesn’t want spinach because it touched the onion? I felt that in my soul, especially because I have a 9-year-old who STILL gives me a hard time about what I lovingly refer to as “food cooties”. I love the adorable details in this book, like the cave painting door art, and Dada’s creaks and groans when he gets up. The artwork is just so much fun, with facial expressions that are perfectly spot on. Endpapers look like a warm cave interior. The story’s ending gives me hope that there will be a third installment in the Cave Dada series; I think we all need to see Cave Dada: Bathtime, don’t you?

 

 

You Be Daddy, by Karla Clark, (April 2021, Feiwel & Friends), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250225399

Ages 2-6

A tired daddy asks his son to take over daddy duties for a little while in this companion to last year’s You Be Mommy. Rhyming verse takes readers through all the things Daddy has done today, from breaking up a food fight, to household duties, to teaching the cat a trick. There’s sweet repetition interspersed with Dad’s day and with Daddy duties he’s handing off to his little one, like building a bedtime fort and lending him a night light and stuffed dinosaur. But when the day is done and it’s time for bed, Daddy is happy to take back Daddy duties and put his little guy to bed. Gentle storytelling and the repetitive phrase, “Daddy’s too tired to be Daddy tonight”, empowers children to take on the fun part of Daddying, while reassuring them that, at bedtime, Daddy’s going to be the one to tuck them in and snuggle them to sleep. The family is Asian, and subtle details like a door decoration, a koi painting, and family portraits infuse the setting with a personal and cultural feel.  The household is warm, welcoming, and will make readers feel right at home. Endpapers show he family cat snuggling and stretching around the house. An adorable celebration of dads.

 

Don’t forget to print out some fun activities from the mother of all Dada books, Jimmy Fallon’s Your Baby’s First Word Will Be Dada: you can match the baby animal to the sound it makes here and you can count baby ducks and “Dadas” here.

 

 

Papasaurus, by Stephan Lomp is about a fun game of hide and seek between Babysaurus and his father. As Babysaurus searches for his Papa, he asks other young dinos for their help, learning about their dads in the meantime. Available in both picture book and board book!

Channing Tatum’s The One and Only Sparkella (and Her Dad!) is the adorable story of a sparkly little girl and her father, who’s always ready to dress up and sparkle with her! Dad can don a feather boa and break out into dance moves whenever Sparkella needs a little extra glitter in her life. Written by actor/director/producer Channing Tatum for his daughter Everly, The One and Only Sparkella is an adorably fun and sweet book about being true to yourself, embracing what makes you unique, and the wisdom of Girl Dads.

Karen Hesse’s Night Shift shows a warm relationship between a father who works nights and his son, who accompanies him. The pair ride to school on the boy’s father’s motorcycle, and, as Dad works, the two share time together listening to the radio, sharing their meal, and reading together. Dad and son take care of each other in this story: Dad rouses his son and helps him get dressed to leave for work at 4 a.m., and the boy cleans out his father’s lunch box at the day’s end. A lovely story about making the most of any time you have together.

In The Bureau of Misplaced Dads, a boy has to recover his misplaced father at a municipal building where Dads of all shapes, sizes, and quirks, await their kids. Played for laughs, there are strongman dads, dads named Michael, clueless dads, and dancing dads all wait to be claimed, striking silly poses and wearing crazy costumes, all hoping to get their child’s attention.

A boy and his father work together to build a tree fort in Jessica Scott Kerrin’s The Better Tree Fort. After moving into a new home, a boy named Russell and his father decide that the giant maple tree in their yard is the perfect project to work on together. A story about quality versus quantity, Russell and his father share time together as they build the fort and plan their sleepover; a contrast to the luxury treehouse being built down the block.

Elizabeth Zunon’s Grandpa Cacao: A Tale of Chocolate, from Farm to Family touches on how our parents’ parents can sometimes be a larger-than-life, almost mythical figure. A girl and her father bake a cake and reminisce about “Grandpa Cacao” – her father’s father – and his life working on a cacao farm on the African Ivory Coast. Grandpa Cacao appears as a pale image, illustrating his existence as part of the girl’s imagination as she fits him into the landscape. Inspired by the author’s own “Grandpa Cacao”, the story links generations and celebrates the joy of creating together and uniting families.

Around the Table That Grandad Built by Melanie Hauser HIll is an adorable, multicultural cumulative story along the lines of The House That Jack Built. A family assembles for a celebration at a table built by Granddad, but everyone has a part in this meal: cousins gather sunflowers; Mom’s sewn napkins go with the dishes and the glasses come from Mom and Dad’s wedding; flatware comes from Dad’s grandma, and the family cooks a huge meal together, with squash, tamales, samosas, and other tasty fare.

In Leonid Gore’s When I Grow Up, a little boy asks his father what he will be when he grows up, and looks at the world around him for ideas. A raindrop tells him he could be “like me” and become the fastest river; a green sprout, the tallest tree; a caterpillar, the most colorful butterfly in the meadow. As the boy paints the images he sees around him, he ultimately makes his own decision: he will be like his dad. Die-cut images transition spreads from one to the next, making this a great touch-and-feel book to explore.

A young crow learns that his own song is beautiful in Marit Menzin’s A Song for Papa Crow. Little Crow loves to sing, but the other birds complain about his caw. Papa Crow reassures him, telling him that always knows where to find him when he follows his song, but it’s The Amazing Mockingbird that convinces Little Crow that singing your own song is the best song of all.

Kathleen T. Pelly’s Happy Papas gives love to dads in both the animal and human world, taking readers through a Happy Papas kind of day: as the sun pops up; as the sun sails high; as the clouds and sun play peek-a-boo; as the shadows gather, and finally, as the moon blooms. Otter dads, meerkat dads, tiger dads, and all sorts of human dads celebrate the day-to-day joys of fatherhood as they play, protect, cook for, and cuddle their little ones.

Grandparents and grandkids enjoy some quality time in JoowonOh’s Our Favorite Day. Grandpa has a routine he keeps to, but Thursday is the best day of the week: it’s Grandpa’s day with his granddaughter! Grandpa chooses some crafting materials at a craft shop on his trip to town, gets two orders of dumplings to go, picks some flowers, and is ready to greet his granddaughter with a hug when she bounds out of the car! Together, the two enjoy their lunch, make a kite, and head out to fly it. Our Favorite Day is all about the mutual benefits of a multigenerational relationship.

Beth Raisner Glass’s Blue Ribbon Dad gives dad an actual prize: a Number 1 Dad ribbon! A young squirrel counts down the hours until dad gets home from work, crafting a project to have ready for him when he gets there. He thinks of everything he does with his father, and all the things his Dad does for him, and presents his father with a blue ribbon when he gets home.

 

 

Posted in Fiction, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Middle School, Realistic Fiction, Tween Reads

She’s Grace, not “Kyle’s Little Sister”!

Kyle’s Little Sister, by BonHyung Jeong, (June 2021, Yen Press), $13.00, ISBN: 9781975316549

Ages 8-12

Grace is excited to start middle school with her best friends, Amy and Jay, but there’s one thing she’s not thrilled about… her older brother, Kyle, is an 8th grader in the same school. Her extroverted, handsome, older brother who loves to tease her whenever he gets the chance. She’s in Kyle’s shadow whether she’s at school or at home, forever being referred to as “Kyle’s little sister”, but she’s so much more than that! Grace and her best friends have a falling out, but she falls in with a school mean girl, Cam, who decides to “help” Grace out by bullying Amy. Grace looks the other way, not realizing that Cam has her own reasons for wanting to be friendly with Grace – and Amy and Jay can see that a mile away, but have to figure out how to help Grace from a distance. Maybe Kyle isn’t the awful big brother that Grace thinks he is after all? Kyle’s Little Sister is, at its heart, a story of friendship and those inevitable middle school conflicts, and it’s a relatable story about defining oneself. Manga illustrations make for expressive characters and playful storytelling. A good realistic fiction story to add to your graphic novel shelves, and a good way to introduce younger readers to manga outside of Pokemon.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Grow Love, Share Love: Oscar’s Tower of Flowers

Oscar’s Tower of Flowers, by Lauren Tobia, (May 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536217773

Ages 2-6

In this wordless book, a little boy named Oscar stays with his Nana when his mother goes away. He finds joy in planting with his grandmother, who takes him to the store to buy some seeds. Oscar’s green thumb proves to be pretty impressive, and Nana’s home quickly becomes covered in green! Oscar has an idea: share his love with others in Nana’s building! He loads up a red wagon with plants, and shares them with his grandmother’s neighbors throughout the building, spreading the joy he experienced while growing them all. When Mom returns, he happily sits on her lap, sharing some together time with Mom and Nana. Mixed media artwork beautifully tells this story, beginning with the endpapers: an apartment building bustles with people as Nana seems to wave to someone off in the distance; the back endpapers show a happier bunch of neighbors, with all of Oscar’s greenery decorating homes and the building’s roof, which appears to have added an apiary, too! The artwork is gentle, soft, loving.

As a mom of a certain age, I was relieved to see Nana looking so young! But don’t relegate yourself to the woman being Nana. There’s nowhere in the book that says so, and to be honest, until I read other reviews and the blurb text online, I thought the other woman was Mom’s partner. Flap copy says, “When someone Oscar loves has to go away on a trip, he tries to find ways to stay busy. With some grown-up help, a red wagon, and his favorite toy, Oscar plants all kinds of flowers and waits for them to grow”. You want Oscar to have two mommies? Oscar can have two mommies. The heart of the story is Oscar’s kind heart and his joy in cultivating plants to share. Keep a copy of this in your daycare/after school collections for littles who miss their parents when they go to work.

Oscar’s Tower of Flowers has a starred review from Kirkus. Visit Lauren Tobia’s website to see more of her work on Oscar’s Tower of Flowers and her work on one of my favorite chapter book series, Anna Hibiscus.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Oddbird: Vive la difference!

Oddbird, by Derek Desierto, (May 2021, Feiwel and Friends), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250765314

Ages 3-6

It’s a really hot day in the jungle, but all the birds at the pool wouldn’t dream of going into the water and messing up their feathers! It’s a place to see and be seen, until a little gray bird shows up and dips their toes in the water, attracting everyone’s attention. Those rude birds tease Oddbird for being different and bullying him until they flies away, crying… but they’ve got a plan! Oddbird is a smart story for young readers about fitting in… and standing out. It’s a great readaloud and provides a lot of food for thought, whether you’re approaching from a social-emotional learning perspective or a diversity, equity, and inclusion frame of mind. Oddbird celebrates individuality and acceptance, and it’s a hat tip to perseverance. Oddbird is gendered as male in the flap text and in the story, but if you prefer, can easily be nonbinary during a readaloud; I’d read the story using they/them pronouns, myself; it flows nicely either way. The bright illustrations are cheery and pop right off the white background; readers will love seeing these colorful birds. Have feathers in your craft storage? Make Oddbird grab and go kits by putting some feathers, some gray construction paper (cut into a vaguely Oddbird shape if you’d like), and some googly eyes and link it to a virtual (or in-person) storytime!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

“Everyone makes mistakes”: How to Apologize

How to Apologize, by David LaRochelle/Illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka, (May 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536209440

Ages 3-7

A gentle and straightforward book about accountability and responsibility, How to Apologize starts off with a reassuring statement: “Everyone makes mistakes”. It’s a strong statement that’s meant to relax readers: it’s okay, no one’s perfect! But the important thing is, once we make a mistake that hurts someone or makes them feel bad, the kind thing to do is apologize. With woodland animals as our guides, David LaRochelle and Mike Wohnoutka lay out the differences between sincere apologies an insincere apologies; whether we like the person or not; apologizing is the right thing to do. And you can do it all sorts of ways! You can write a note, or you can say it in person. You can fix the mistake if it’s possible, but even if you can’t, apologizing will make you – and the person you hurt – feel better. And that’s the most important thing. Gouache artwork is subdued, letting readers readers take in the words and allowing the illustrations to show them how it’s done. Absolutely perfect for preschoolers who are still navigating social-emotional situations (and, let’s be honest, some adults, too).

Candlewick has a Teacher Tips card with some ideas for incorporating this book into the classroom, and coloring sheets that help emphasize some moments when an apology is helpful.

How to Apologize has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in Graphic Novels, Uncategorized

Tor Nightfire announces graphic novel

It’s a news day! Just read that Nightfire, the horror imprint for Tor Books, is releasing their first graphic novel – eldritch horror! – in August 2022.

Eldritch horror set in modern-day Brooklyn? Reimagined Robert W. Chambers? GIVE IT ALL TO ME (and my library teens).

 

Posted in awards, Graphic Novels

Eisner Nominees Announced!

The 2021 Eisner Nominees were announced! Diamond Book Distributors has a great graphic showing them off, with links to the Eisner catalog on Edelweiss.

 

Get a breakdown of the titles at Diamond’s website. Get a full list of Eisner nominees at the Comic Con website.

What am I excited about? Glad you asked!

Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 8)
  • Bear, by Ben Queen and Joe Todd-Stanton (Archaia/BOOM!)
  • Cat Kid Comic Club, by Dav Pilkey (Scholastic Graphix)
  • Donut Feed the Squirrels, by Mika Song (RH Graphic/RH Children’s Books)
  • Kodi, by Jared Cullum (Top Shelf)
  • Lift, by Minh Lê and Dan Santat (Little, Brown Young Readers)
  • Our Little Kitchen, by Jillian Tamaki (Abrams Books for Young Readers)

I’ve read all but Lift and Our Little Kitchen, which I’m requesting from my library as we speak. Cat Kid is adorable and hilarious, but I live in a Dog Man household, so I may be biased. I loved every one of these, but for early calls, I have to lean toward either Bear or Kodi for now: but talk to me after I read the last two I need to get.

Best Publication for Kids (ages 9-12)
  • Doodleville, by Chad Sell (Knopf/BFYR/RH Children’s Books)
  • Go with the Flow, by Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann (First Second/Macmillan)
  • Mister Invincible: Local Hero, by Pascal Jousselin (Magnetic Press)
  • Snapdragon, by Kat Leyh (First Second/Macmillan)
  • Superman Smashes the Klan, by Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru (DC)
  • Twins, by Varian Johnson and Shannon Wright (Scholastic Graphix)

Okay, have to read Mister Invincible to finish this category. What do I think has a lock on the win? Snapdragon. What am I leaning toward voting for? It’s a hard toss-up between Go With the Flow, Superman Smashes the Klan, and Twins.

Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17)
  • Check, Please! Book 2: Sticks & Scones, by Ngozi Ukazu (First Second/Macmillan)
  • Displacement, by Kiku Hughes (First Second/Macmillan)
  • Dragon Hoops, by Gene Luen Yang (First Second/Macmillan)
  • Fights: One Boy’s Triumph Over Violence, by Joel Christian Gill (Oni Press)
  • A Map to the Sun, by Sloane Leong (First Second/Macmillan)
  • When Stars are Scattered, by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed (Dial Books)

I’ve read all of these! I’m really pushing for When Stars Are Scattered, but Fights, Displacement, and Dragon Hoops are all in the running for my vote.

 

Talk to me! What are you loving? What are you voting for?