Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Arbordale Publishing’s Compare and Contrast books get readers thinking

I haven’t written about Arbordale books in about a minute, but I am remedying that right now. The folks at Arbordale were kind enough to send me some of their new books to look over, and I love the colorful artwork and photos, interesting factual writing, and the thought-provoking activities at the end of each book. They also publish in English and Spanish, which is aces for my library kids. I’m starting off with their Compare and Contrast series, which takes a topic and encourages learners to think about similarities and differences.

Natural or Man-made? A Compare and Contrast Book, by Arbordale Publishing, (Sept. 2021, Arbordale Publishing), $10.95, ISBN: 9781643518244

Ages 4-8

Opening with an explanation of natural resources, Natural or Man-made? uses straightforward writing to explain natural resources and how we use those resources to create other resources. A tree, for instance, grows food, like nuts and fruits; we also use trees to make lumber, and build homes with them. We use plants and animals for clothing and food; we use sunlight and air by converting it to energy. Thought-provoking questions and color photos encourage readers to think about the different ways we use our natural resources. The Creative Minds section has four activities to expand on reading, you can find a PDF for Natural or Man-made‘s For Creative Minds section here, with permission for non-commercial use. (Psst… great for grab-and-go programs!)

You can find a PDF preview of Natural or Man-made on the book detail page at the Arbordale website.

 

Renewable or Non-Renewable Resources: A Compare and Contrast Book, by Arbordale Publishing, (Sept. 2021, Arbordale Publishing), $10.95, ISBN: 9781643519807

Ages 5-9

Continuing on the resources theme, we have Renewable or Non-Renewable Resources. Beginning with an age-appropriate explanation about natural resources and how they replace themselves: “within a period of time usually shorter than a person’s lifetime”, versus nonrenewable resources, which “cannot be easily replaced as it takes much longer than a human lifetime to make new”, the book elaborates on how natural resources replenish themselves and how nonrenewable resources, like oil, rocks, and minerals, lead humans to create synthetic materials to replace them when they run out – and how that impacts our planet. There’s a discussion on recycling nonrenewable resources and a cautionary word on not taking our resources for granted. A smart, respectful discussion on conservation, recycling, and being environmentally aware. Color photos throughout show a variety of renewable and nonrenewable resources; this is a great book to introduce in younger STEM classes. Create scavenger hunts and games by asking readers to find renewable versus nonrenewable resources! Find a PDF preview on the book detail page on the Arbordale website.

Donald Baiter on TeachersPayTeachers has a fun card sorting game on renewable and nonrenewable resources; Karen Jordan has a very cute song that helps with sorting the two concepts, and The Magical Gallery has natural resources clip art!

 

Penguins: A Compare and Contrast Book, by Cher Vatalaro, (Nov. 2021, Arbordale Publishing), $10.95, ISBN: 9781643519876

Ages 4-8

Penguins! Kids love penguins, I love penguins, Cher Vatalaro loves penguins! Penguins: Compare and Contrast is all about the 18 different species of penguins and where they live: and most of them live in warm climates, not cold ones! Colorful photos of each type of penguin, paired with informative text, let learners learn what makes each type of penguin alike and different, from colorful feathers to differently shaped beaks. Readers will be able to tell right away that these are all penguins, and standout features like orange and yellow patches make King and Emperor penguins very similar, yet wildly different from Macaroni and Rockhopper penguins, who sport colorful feathers around their eyes. A fun activity invites readers to match different penguins with their area of the world.

There is so much fiction and nonfiction available for penguin fans: make a great display! TeachersPayTeachers has loads of free penguin clip art available, including this Penguin Life Cycle Clip Art from Sylph Creatives. Education.com has a wealth of free penguin resources: worksheets, coloring sheets, crafts, even lesson plans. Preview Penguins: A Compare and Contrast at Arbordale’s book detail page.

 

Otters: River or Sea? A Compare and Contrast Book, by Cathleen McConnell, (Nov. 2021, Arbordale Publishing), $10.95, ISBN: 9781643519784

Ages 4-8

Otters are like puppies of the water. Look at those boopable noses! Otters: River or Sea? A Compare and Contrast Book, like Penguins, is about the similarities and differences between river and sea otters: their habitats, their physiology; appearance; eating habits, and social habits. Readers will love the colorful photos of otters at play, with their babies, in groups, and in action, and fun facts and easy-to-read writing make this a fun way to learn. There are fun otter books – fiction, like Laurie Keller’s Do Unto Otters and Lisa Connor’s Oliver’s Otter Phase; nonfiction, like NatGeo Kids’s Sea Otters and Susannah Buhrman-Deever’s If You Take Away the Otter – that will form a display that features something for everyone. Education.com has free otter worksheets and coloring sheets; National Geographic has a webpage with facts and information. You can see a preview of Otters: River or Sea? A Compare and Contrast Book at Arbordale’s book detail page.

Extra shout-out: Arbordale features a free multilingual ebook every month. Check out their website and bookmark it. Find all sorts of free resources, including downloads for each Arbordale book’s For Creative Minds section, at the Arbordale website.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Lila Lou’s Little Library gets love from Twinkl!

I’m so excited! My post for Lila Lou’s Little Library got some love from educational resource site, Twinkl (I posted about Twinkl around Christmas, to share their free resources for Robin, Robin)!

I love a good library story, and Lila Lou’s love of sharing books is all about passion, advocacy, and activism. I’ll repost the review here, and make sure to find me on Twinkl’s list of best children’s books of 2021!

Reposted from August 2021:

 

Lila Lou’s Little Library : A Gift From the Heart, by Nikki Bergstresser/Illustrated by Sejung Kim,
(Oct. 2021, Cardinal Rule Press), $16.95, ISBN: 9781735345116
Ages 5-7
A little girl who loves to read has too many books for her home, so she creates a Little Free Library for her community! A story of book love, library love, and literacy activism, Lila Lou’s Little Library is perfect for class visits and book-about-books storytime. It’ll inspire kids and grownups alike to share their love of books with their neighbors. Back matter includes tips on creating and curating your own little library, and that’s one of the things I love most about this story: it’s not just about loving books, although that’s certainly at the heart of the story; it’s about the love of sharing – the community starts to get involved, contributing to the library with their own books – and the love of librarianship. Lila Lou is a little Reader’s Advisor, selecting just right books for everyone who asks her for a suggestion; she shows readers what librarians’ real talent is. We listen, and we share information that readers want and need. Adults, children, Lila Lou is ready to help them all. It’s a very sweet story about gentle, but firm, literacy advocacy. Colorful kid-friendly artwork is eye-catching, and the storytelling will inspire readers to look over their own piles of books and share them with their friends, their classrooms, and possibly, their communities. Lila Lou’s tree stump reminds me of the librarian in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, who created a gorgeous Little Free Library from a hollowed-out tree in her yard, but there easier ways to share books with others. Talk about some of those ways, using the information at the end of the book, and the free, downloadable reader’s guide. Print out coloring pages to share, too!
I would love to see where Lila Lou goes next – maybe she’s got more book-related adventures to come?
Thanks again to Twinkl for the shout-out! Find me on Twinkl’s list of best children’s books of 2021!
Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade, Middle School, Realistic Fiction, Tween Reads

New school, new country, new beginnings: The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei

The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei, by Christina Matula, (April 2022, Inkyard Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781335424884

Ages 8-12

Holly-Mei Jones is a middle schooler who jumps at the chance for a new beginning when her mom announces that an exciting promotion comes with a major move: from their home in Canada to Hong Kong! But, as her ah-ma (grandmother) says, the bitter comes first, and then the sweet. Holly discovers that her new life in Hong Kong is not without its pressures: her mother’s new position comes with expectations and rules, and the most popular girl in her class is bossy and can be nice one minute, horribly mean the next. Determined to to get to the sweet part of her new life, Holly-Mei discovers that she has a lot to learn.

Holly-Mei has a big heart and a strong sense of justice which gets her into trouble and makes her such a lovable character. Kids will read all about her new life in Hong Kong with excitement and wonder – it’s like Crazy Rich Asians for kids! – and realize that in life, you have to weather the storms, no matter where you are, as they see Holly-Mei buckle under her mother’s shift into a more appearance and behavior-driven mindset. Supporting characters are there to move Holly’s story along, but have their own definitive personalities. Gemma, popular girl and Holly-Mei’s frenemy, has an interesting backstory that gives texture to her actions.

A compulsively readable book about middle school, rich with Chinese culture and likable characters, humor, and genuine feeling. Put this on your Newbery watch lists.

Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction, picture books

The Faith of Elijah Cummings pays tribute to a giant

The Faith of Eljah Cummings: The North Star of Equal Justice, by Carole Boston Weatherford/Illustrated by Laura Freeman, (Jan. 2022, Random House Studio), $17.99, ISBN: 9780593306505

Ages 6-10

Congressman and civil rights advocate Elijah Cummings left an extraordinary legacy when he passed in 2019. Carole Boston Weatherford, whose numerous awards include a Newbery Medal and two NAACP Image Awards, along with NAACP Image Award winning illustrator Laura Freeman, to create a picture book biography that makes this giant of a man accessible to all ages. Beginning with the Congressman’s impoverished childhood and moving through his civil rights journey, focus on inner-city youth, and government work, we also see how Elijah Cummings’s faith and family was his anchor. Photorealistic illustrations are bold and eye-catching, and quotes from Elijah Cummings inspire readers as Carole Boston Weatherford’s narration concentrates on his humanity, choosing moments in his life like being tutored by librarians when his teachers said he would never be able to read or write well; his mother’s preaching, which inspired him to care for others in need, and the civil rights lawyer from his youth that inspired him to defend kids who needed defending. As a “Washington power broker”, he continued living in his Baltimore inner-city neighborhood and hung a campaign sign in his window so others could find him. Back matter includes an excerpt from the statement from the Congressional Black Caucus made upon the Congressman’s passing; a timeline of Elijah Cummings’s life; a bibliography, and the quote sources. Endpapers show Elijah Cummings, in profile, set against the American flag.

An incredible book for an incredible figure, and a must-add to your picture book biographies. The Faith of Elijah Cummings: The North Star of Equal Justice has starred reviews from Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly.

Carole Boston Weatherford’s author webpage is a treasure trove of information, with resources and links to media related to her books. See more of Laura Freeman’s illustration work at her website. Find a biography, bibliography, and committee assignments for Elijah Cummings at the House of Representative’s website; visit Congress’s website to learn more about the legislation sponsored or co-sponsored by him, along with his remarks in the Congressional Record.

Posted in Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction

Welcome to MY World: Weird But True! New York City

Weird But True! New York City, by National Geographic Kids, (Sept. 2021, National Geographic Kids), $8.99, ISBN: 9781426372322

Ages 8-10

Finally! NatGeo Kids has put together a Weird But True! collection of facts and photos of my backyard. Welcome to New York City, all! You know the Weird But True/Weird Facts drill, so let’s get to it. I love all the New York history the editors at NatGeo Kids have put in there, including hilarious poop facts for all (when there were horse and buggies were the main mode of transportation, street cleaners cleaned about 500 tons of manure off the streets every day. Enjoy that). I LOVE all the love for my home borough, Queens! Our Queens Museum is home of the New York Panorama and we’ve got the Unisphere in Corona Flushing Meadow Park! There are a wealth of library facts in here, which makes me happy (but hey… there are more library systems than just NYPL, which, admittedly, does have the original Winnie the Pooh toys and a giant reading room). And you know what else New York has? DINOSAURS. Our American Museum of Natural History is where the first installment of the Night at the Museum movies takes place (which figures into one of the facts in Weird But True NY).

Full of fun facts and gorgeous photos, fully indexed, and just a fun read, Weird But True! New York City is the next book you want to have in your NatGeo Kids collection (and New York librarians: this BEGS for a New York Bingo kind of program, which you can totally do virtually).

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to pull some cool Queens Public Library facts together to send to the good folks at Nat Geo Kids for their updated edition…

Posted in picture books

Snow Angel, Sand Angel welcomes you to Hawai’i

Snow Angel, Sand Angel, by Lois-Ann Yamanaka/Illustrated by Ashley Kukashevsky, (Jan. 2022, Make Me a World), $17.99, ISBN: 9780593127377

Ages 4-8

Explore Hawai’i, where you can find sand and snow, depending on where you are! Claire is a girl living in Hawai’i, surrounded by Hapuna Beach and the mountains of the Big Island. When she has to do a school project on winter, she’s stumped: she’s never seen snow! Dad decides to take the family to Mauna Kea, where they can enjoy snow, but it’s not the trip Claire’s dreamed of: what she pictures in her head doesn’t quite match the movies, and having to drive through black lava fields to play in “old snow” that isn’t freshly fallen is a disappointment; so is using beach towels for scarves and old socks for mittens. When she and her family go to the beach right before the New Year, though, she discovers she can make her own winter wonderland in the middle of the sand: there are sand balls, sandmen who look great sporting beach towel scarves and straw hats, and sand angels to make! As she watches the sun set, Claire realizes that she lives in a beautiful land that has many, many faces: “… lava fields, sandy beaches, rain forests, fiery volcanoes, sacred mountains, and, yes, even snow”. Digital illustrations bring the magic of Hawai’i’s sunsets, oceans, and snowy mountains to life. An author’s note mentions the diversity found in Hawai’i, where you can find ten of the world’s fourteen climate zones and countless endangered plants and animals. There’s a glossary and a note from Christopher Myers, creative director for the Make Me a World imprint, on how Snow Angel, Sand Angel takes us to a different world.

Lois-Ann Yamanaka is an award-winning author from Hawai’i. Ashley Lukashevsky is the illustrator of Antiracist Baby by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi. Visit Ashley Lukashevsky’s website for more of her artwork. Visit Twinkl.com for a free Hawai’i coloring sheet; there are also many activity and coloring sheets to discover on Education.com.

Snow Angel, Sand Angel has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Two Books to Read This Shabbat

Kalaniot Books has been putting out some great books representing Jewish culture. I’ve been reading them, enjoying them, and sharing them with my library kids. Here are two to take home to read this Shabbat.

The Candy Man Mystery, by Rabbi Kerry Olitzky/Illustrated by Christina Mattison Ebert, (Sept. 2021, Kalaniot Books), $19.99, ISBN: 978-1-7350875-2-8

Ages 4-8

Josh and Becky enjoy going to synagogue, and Mr. Sharansky – The Candy Man – makes it even more special, handing out candy after services every week! When Mr. Sharansky isn’t at Temple Shalom this week, Josh and Becky are worried and determined to get to the bottom of this mystery. When they find Mr. Sharansky, it’s a sweet reunion in every way. A touching story of faith and multigenerational friendship, The Candy Man Mystery is a great readaloud on empathy and sharing. Josh and Becky connect with members of their synagogue community, and we learn something about everyone they come into contact with, including a child learning a prayer in American Sign Language (ASL), so he can say them with his mother, who is deaf. The congregation is invested in one another, and the Rabbi is a warm figure who respects children and adults alike. Back matter includes a word on the Shema, a glossary, and how to use ASL to sign the Shema. A lovely addition to Jewish culture and empathy-focused collections.

Visit Kalaniot’s webpage to download a free educator’s guide for The Candy Man Mystery.

 

The Rabbi and the Painter, by Shoshana Weiss/Illustrated by Jennifer Kirkham, (Sept. 2021, Kalaniot Books), $19.99, ISBN: 978-0-9988527-8-2

Ages 5-8

Based on the true story of the relationship between 16th-Century Venetian painter Tintoretto (also known as “Il Furioso”) and Rabbi Leon Modena (also known as Yahuda Araya), formed when the Rabbi was a boy who found a clay doll the painter used as a model. The Rabbi became fluent in both Italian and Hebrew, helping the Venetian government draft contracts in Hebrew as needed and eventually helping Tintoretto with one of his famous pieces, The Last Supper. The story explores the friendship between the two men while focusing on their individual talents, resulting in a story about how blending cultures can lead to great things. Back matter includes historical notes and further resources. Illustrations are engaging and focus on collaboration and creativity. A smart addition to historical picture books.

Download a free educator guide at Kalaniot’s website.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Uncategorized

Discover Israel with this rhyming tour

My Israel and Me, by Alice Blumenthal McGinty/Illustrated by Rotem Teplow, (Sept. 2021, Kalaniot Books), $19.99, ISBN: 978-1-7350875-3-5

Ages 3-8

Told in verse through the eyes of the diverse groups of people living in and visiting Israel, My Israel is a celebration of both the ancient and modern-day country.  Verse shares space with factual information about areas like The Dead Sea, the modern city and Israel’s status as a “Start-Up Nation”, kibbutzes, Biblical history, and more. Alice Blumenthal McGinty celebrates Jewish and Muslim culture and family life, and Rotem Teplow’s colorful artwork takes readers on a journey across the small country with a big history. Endpapers show a plethora of objects to take readers on a visual journey, like camels, kites, olive leaves, and cats, all of whom are waiting to be discovered in the pages.

To extend a lesson on Israel, visit TeachersPayTeachers, where you can find a map of ancient Israel from Taylor Beck; an Israel Activities Pack from Marshal Jewish Learning Center, and more! Download a free educator kit from Kalaniot’s website.

Author Alice Blumenthal McGinty is an award-winning author. You can find educator guides on her website, along with more information on her books, and information about school visits. Visit illustrator Rotem Teplow’s website for more of her artwork.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

A Snake, a Flood, a Hidden Baby: Bible Stories for Children

A Snake, a Flood, a Hidden Baby: Bible Stories for Children, by Meir Shalev/Illustrated by Emanuele Luzzati, Translation by Ilana Kurshan, (Sept. 2021, Kalaniot Books), $21.99, ISBN: 978-0-9988527-9-9

Ages 3-8

Originally published in Hebrew in 1994, this English translation of six Bible stories from the Hebrew Bible are delightfully translated into English for younger listeners and readers. Featuring the stories of The Tree of Knowledge, Noah’s Ark, The Tower of Babel, Abraham and Sarah, Joseph and His Brothers, and Moses in the River, the stories are told with a sense of humor and personality. Colorful illustrations bring the stories to life with vibrant spreads, one-page illustrations, and pop-ups throughout the text. Key phrases an quotes throughout each story are emphasized in size and colorful font, making this an accessible, wonderful book of stories to share.

Visit Kalaniot’s book detail page for A Snake, a Flood, a Hidden Baby to download a free educator’s guide.

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, picture books

Don’t Miss: Little John Crow

Little John Crow, by Ziggy and Orly Marley/Illustrated by Gordon Rowe, (Nov. 2021, Akashic Books), $18.95, ISBN: 9781617759802

Ages 5-8

Young vulture Little John Crow happily lives with his parents in Bull Bay, on the edge of Blue Mountains in Jamaica. Initially, he has no idea what his parents do for a living, but discovers – along with his friends – that his parents are vultures. Scavengers. This makes him an outcast among his friends, and a tragedy sends John off on his own, where he meets other vultures who welcome him into their kettle (a group of vultures!). With John and his parents no longer part of the Bay, the ecosystem is disrupted and the remaining animals realize that they were too quick and too harsh to judge their friend. They set out to find him and hope that he’ll be able to restore things to normal.

Vibrant artwork and emotional storytelling come together to create a readable, unputdownable story about prejudice, acceptance, and family – the families we’re born into and found families, with a subplot about disrupting ecosystems. A good addition to collections where animal stories are popular.

Ziggy Marley is a musician, philanthropist, and children’s book author, and the eldest of reggae artist Bob Marley’s children. Visit his website for more about his career. Orly Marley is Ziggy Marley’s wife, is also an entrepreneur and music industry manager. Gordon Rowe is a hip-hop influenced illustrator and designer. You can find his Instagram here.