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.

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads

See the Dog follows See the Cat for wordplay hilarity

See the Dog: Three Stories About a Cat, by David LaRochelle/Illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka, (Sept. 2021, Candlewick Press), $8.99, ISBN: 9781536216295

Ages 4-7

The hilarious follow-up to last year’s Geisel Award-winning See the Cat has Cat taking center stage while Dog is out sick. Cat’s not thrilled with the bossy book, though, and the results are laugh-out-loud funny. In the first story, “See the Dog”, we get the scoop on Cat, who’s filling in for Dog, but isn’t really up for that whole “Dogs dig holes” sort of business. “See the Lake”, story number two, has the book trying to get Cat to jump in a cold lake and swim, and “See the Sheep” is all about how brave Cat will save a sheep… until Cat discovers that there’s a wolf on the way. A surprise cameo caps off this side-splitting story. Gouache artwork makes for warm, cartoony expressions and the back-and-forth dialogue between “Book” and “Cat” makes for a hilarious readaloud. Download the activity kit from Candlewick!

See the Dog has starred reviews from School Library Journal and Kirkus.

 

Posted in Non-Fiction, picture books

Niki Nakayama’s blends cultures in her chef story

Niki Nakayama: A Chef’s Tale in 13 Bites, by Jamie Michalak & Debbi Michiko Florence/Illustrated by Yuko Jones, (Sept. 2021, Farrar, Straus & Giroux), $18.99, ISBN: 9780374313876

Ages 4-8

Niki Nakayama, the master chef behind the California restaurant n/Naka, shares her story in this lovely picture book biography from children’s book authors Jamie Michalak, Debbi Michiko Florence, and illustrator Yuko Jones. Beginning with Ms. Nakayama’s childhood in California, the story gives us 13 “bites”: 13 defining moments in the chef’s life, to parallel her 13 course menus at n/naka. The Japanese-American chef developed a love of global cuisine as a child; her mother blended Japanese and American foods and flavors together to make meals like meatloaf with soy sauce, or teriyaki turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. Ms. Nakayama began creating her own recipes as a child, eventually traveling the world to sample cuisines from different cultures. When she returned to the United States, she apprenticed as a sushi chef, ultimately opening her own restaurant, n/naka, where she now creates 13-course tasting “storytelling” menus. Back matter includes a timeline of Niki Nakayama’s life, an explanation of terms used in the story, and the chef’s own childhood wonton pizza recipe. The story flows from moment to moment in the chef’s life, touching on frustrations like having her family dote on her brother, and having her family agree to finance her first restaurant, but agree to give up her dream if it was not successful. Spreads show Nakayama and her family gathering at their own table, and families gathering to eat at n/naka, illustrating the power of community that eating together brings. Spreads show colorful foods from all over the world sprawl across pages, and diners speaking different languages as they enjoy a creative master chef’s food.

You can visit n/naka’s website and see Chef Nakayama’s profile; you can see a promo for her Chef’s Table episode on Netflix below.

 

 

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate

Bridge Easy Readers and Intermediate chapter books with Barkus and Charlie & Mouse

Transitioning from Easy Readers to chapter books is even more fun with these colorful chapter book series!

Barkus: The Most Fun, by Patricia MacLachlan/Illustrated by Marc Boutavant, (Sept. 2021, Chronicle Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9781452173344

Ages 6-9

Newbery Medalist Patricia Machlachlan’s Barkus series is adorable and perfect for easy readers who are ready to take on some more complex reading. The third book, Barkus: The Most Fun, has Barkus, the family dog, and his family going on a series of outdoor adventures. Composed of four stories, Barkus, Baby the Kitten, and his human family go camping, visit grandmother and grandfather’s farm, visit a parade, and head to their winter cabin. Narrated by the young girl who happens to be Barkus’s favorite human, the stories are brief enough to read one at a time or all at once; sentences are simple and informative, and the colorful illustrations show a happy family doing things together. There are warm and funny moments in each story: Barkus and Baby end up making news in “The Most Fun!” and witness the birth of a calf in “The Crazy Cows of Spring”. The images are warm, comforting, and familiar: a family traveling in their car, a dog and cat curled up together in the back; a grandparent hugging his granddaughter and patting Barkus’s head as he leans into the loving touch; even a mildly put-upon dad, frowning as his daughter, her dog, and cat peek out from a pile of leaves that he was raking. Patricia MacLachlan and Marc Boutavant make magic and memories here.

Visit Scribd and download Barkus activity sheets!

 

Charlie & Mouse: Lost and Found, by Laurel Snyder/Illustrated by Emily Hughes, (Aug. 2021, Chronicle Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9781452183404

Ages 6-9

Siblings Charlie and Mouse have new adventures in their fifth outing. Lost & Found has four short stories, taking the sibs on slightly smaller – but no less exciting – adventures, all taking place in the course of one day. In “Somewhere”, the two search high and low for Mouse’s blanket; in “Errands”, they join Mom on the dreaded series of errands – the bank, the post office – but make a BIG discovery! In “Silly”, Charlie and Mouse have a sad goodbye, but in “Boop”, another discovery warms their hearts. Chapters are short, with simple sentences; stories are kid-friendly and oh-so relatable (the very mention of the words “bank”, “grocery store”, or “post office” strikes fear into my 9-year-old’s heart), Illustrations are softly illustrated, with friendly, expressive characters. The body language between the siblings is comforting and playful. The siblings slump on each other in the car during the dreaded errands; Charlie comforts a distraught Mouse, who cannot locate Blanket. Parents show up for a few moments in the stories, but the focal point is the relationship between Charlie and Mouse, as it should be. The first book in the series, Charlie and Mouse, is a 2018 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner.

Get a free Teacher’s Guide to the series, and two activity sheets here.

Posted in Early Reader, Intermediate, Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction

Jurassic Pets! Dr. Dean Lomax and Mike Love gives us Preshistoric Pets

Prehistoric Pets, by Dr. Dean Lomax/Illustrated by Mike Love, (Sept. 2021, Templar), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536217148

Ages 5-9

Cat people all know that our little furballs think of themselves as savage, saber-toothed tigers on the hunt, whether they’re stalking a daydreaming dinosaur or a dust bunny. But did you ever imagine what your guinea pig’s ancestors may have looked like? Paleontologist Dr. Dean Lomax has you covered. Prehistoric Pets looks at the evolution of seven favorite kinds of pets: guinea pigs, parakeets, corn snakes, cats, goldfish, dogs, and horses. Using the fossil record to trace each pet’s lineage, Dr. Lomax goes back through the family trees of each of these popular pets to give us an idea of their prehistoric parentage. That chatty parrot likely descended from the Velociraptor; your corn snake can trace its heritage back to the giant Titanoboa. Each spread folds out into a pop-up gatefold, with the prehistoric beast rising up from the pages. Loaded with facts about both the modern animal and its primeval counterpart, and filled with colorful artwork, this is a home run for your prehistory collections. Display and talk up with one of my favorite read-alouds, Steve Jenkins’s Prehistoric Actual Size. The pop-ups are going to seal the deal for readers on this book – get a couple if your budget permits.

 

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate

Indie author/publisher spotlight!

It’s time for another independent author/publisher spotlight!

Ms. Flygirl and Sky Daisy, by Miho Madarame, (Sept. 2020, Independently Published), $7.99, ISBN: 979-8684124501

Ages 6-8

The first in a series, Ms. Flygirl and Sky Daisy is a collection of six short stories about a widow named Ms. Flygirl who takes to the skies in her yellow helicopter, Sky Daisy, where she has all sorts of adventures. She saves a tree, eats a lot of sweets, does a fox’s laundry, and more. Each story begins with a colorful illustration, and the stories are told in short sentences. Kids will get a kick out of the situations Ms. Flygirl finds herself in. A cute first outing.

 

Adventures with Divot & Swish in Costa Rica: The Superpower of Courage, by Beth Brown, PhD/Illustrations by Charlotte Strickland, (Jan. 2021, Divot & Swish Publishing), $17.95, ISBN: 9781735170008

Ages 5-7

This adorable outing is also the first in a proposed new series, starring Divot – a golf ball with a little tuft of grass around their middle – and Swish, a net with a basketball for a head. In this first book, the friends head to Costa Rica for surfing lessons with Sammy the Surfer, who teaches them the mechanics of surfing, and the courage to face their fears of not being perfect on their first outing. The rhyming story teaches readers about overcoming fears and embracing new challenges: “It’s important to know / That you can do it afraid / If you never had tried / On shore, you’d then stayed”. The Costa Rican countryside is host to this story, but really only serves as a backdrop. I’d love to see future Divot and Swish adventures have some fun facts about their locations pop up at the end of the story, giving kids a little more information about their literary friends’ globe-trotting.

Nat Geo Kids has some fun facts about Costa Rica, as does Kids World Travel Guide. Lonely Planet has some fun suggestions for traveling with kids in Costa Rica, which you can use as a jumping-off point for some armchair travel programs. Visit Divot & Swish’s website to sign up for updates!

Posted in Early Reader, Non-Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

¡Más libros en español: peces y insectos! / More books in Spanish: Fish and Insects!

When I got back to my library just under two months ago, I discovered some bookmail waiting for me: two books in Spanish, courtesy of Peachtree Publishing! They’ve been wonderful about keeping me updated on their bilingual and Spanish nonfiction books, and I’ve loved the “About…” series they’ve sent me so far, so I wanted to make sure I gave these two books the love they deserve (and a place on my Spanish collection shelves).

Sobre los peces, by Cathryn Sill/Illustrated by John Sill, (Feb. 2020, Peachtree Publishers), $8.99, ISBN: 978-1-68263-154-6

Ages 3-7

Great early reader nonfiction. Sobre los peces is entirely in Spanish, and offers readers a look at the basics of fish: where they live, how they adapt to their environment, what they eat, how they reproduce. The text is written in easy-to-read, easy-to-understand, simple sentences, and each spread includes colorful, realistic paintings of different fish throughout. The text is presented in bold, black font against a white background, not competing for the reader’s attention; each painting includes the name of the fish, to increase understanding and forward the fact that there are a LOT of fish out there! Back matter includes more information about each spread: did you know that tropical fish are usually more vibrantly colored than fish from cold waters? It helps them camouflage better in their surroundings! A glossary and bibliography offer more resources for curious readers.

Peachtree includes a link to a free, downloadable Teacher’s Guide for the whole series. The guide is in English, but pair with some Spanish-language information like this page on National Geographic España, this story on sharks from TeachersPayTeachers creator, The Storyteller’s Corner, and this graphic organizer from TeachersPayTeachers creator Dual Language, Dual Fun.

 

Sobre los insectos, by Cathryn Sill/Illustrated by John Sill, (Feb. 2020, Peachtree Publishers), $8.99, ISBN: 978-1-68263-155-3

Ages 3-7

More great books in translation from Peachtree! About Insects is translated entirely into Spanish, with easy-to-read, easy-to-understand sentences introducing readers to the basics about insects: how many legs they have (it’s 6, not 8!), their hard exoskeletons, how they change forms as they get older, what they eat and how they eat, and how they are helpful to us humans (and how some are just plain pests). Colorful paintings by John Sill are realistic and detailed, making a naturalist out of every reader; the environments are textured, often lush, and there’s always something to draw your eye, from the movement of water as a trout jumps to catch a fleeing mayfly to the shadowy leaves in the background as a katydid leaps. Details on each painting, a glossary, and bibliography make up the back matter.

While the Teacher’s Guide is currently available in English, you can find more information about insects at National Geographic España, and there are copious free resources on TeachersPayTeachers, including a reader about The Hungry Insects from The Spanglish Senorita, bilingual bug bingo from onlinefreespanish, and a  counting sheet from The Spanish Amigo.

Thanks again, Peachtree!

Posted in Early Reader, Preschool Reads

What’s YOUR favorite color?

What’s your favorite color? Chances are, Macmillan has an activity book for you!

Loaded with activities about your favorite color, these activity books are great for summer days when kids “have nothing to doooooo” (says my Kiddo, as the dog tries to play with him and I’m stepping on his LEGOs, scattered around the room). I’ll be posting activities to my Instagram (@roesolo) starting this week, so tune in and see what my favorite color is! I’ll also be posting activity sheets Macmillan and Odd Dot have provided for free, for you to print and play with – check ’em out here, too!

Posted in Early Reader, Intermediate, Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction

Go Wild! With Nat Geo Kids!

Hope everyone had a restful Fourth, and if you’re off today, enjoy. I’m working on getting caught up, on getting my library together for a July 12th opening, and basically just working on keeping my head together in the middle of a year and a half that is just bananas. Anyway, join me as I escape into a great new nonfiction series by National Geographic Kids.

Go Wild! Pandas, by Margie Markarian & National Geographic Kids, (June 2021, National Geographic Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9781426371608

Ages 4-8

This is such a cute new nonfiction series for younger readers! The Go Wild! series introduces readers to different animals, in this case, the panda. The book has a conversational, informative tone, inviting readers to “visit the world of pandas”. Readers learn about their habitat, where in the world they are found, their size, anatomy, related animals (like the Sun Bear, Spectacled Bear, and Sloth Bear), food, socialization, and more. The author addresses the need for conservation and addresses a major threat to the panda – deforestation – and offers tips for ways kids can get involved to protect pandas. A fun Name That Animal activity and parent tips on building enthusiasm close out this fun book, which also includes a glossary. Loaded with fast, fun facts and beautiful color photos, this is such a great new series that I know my kiddos will snap up. They already devour my NatGeo Kids Easy Readers (like this Panda book), and this hardcover 8×8 series will fit nicely on my shelves and look great in my displays.

Go Wild! Sea Turtles, by Jill Esbaum & National Geographic, (May 2021, National Geographic Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9781426371585
Ages 4-8
How adorable is this Go Wild! volume on sea turtles? SO ADORABLE. Color photos and informative, friendly text have lots to say about sea turtles. Did you know that the smallest sea turtle is only about two feet long, but can weigh about as much as four car tires (between 70 and 100 lbs)? Or that a leatherback turtle can hold its breath for nearly an hour and a half? There are great facts to be discovered here, along with photos of the “run for life” to the ocean by hatchlings. A section on threats focuses on the problem of our polluted waters, and offers ways kids can help be part of the solution. Fun activities and parent tips, plus a glossary, make this another win from NatGeo Kids. Their Parent Tips can easily transition into virtual or in-person library programming for anyone interested – my library system is having a sea turtle STEM session at the end of July, and I’d like to put together a little sea turtle bundle with some of these ideas. Stay tuned!
Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate, picture books

Everyone wants to read The Book No One Wants to Read!

The Book No One Wants to Read, by Beth Bacon, (June 2021, Harper Collins Children’s Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9780062962546

Ages 6-10

A colorful book like this is a perfect attention-grabber to kids who think reading is boring: the book even addresses it! In the vein of books like BJ Novak’s The Book With No Pictures (2014), this book is an hilarious discourse between book and reader. The book doesn’t want to be facing the wall, all alone, and the reader obviously has to look busy, so the book makes an offer it’s impossible to refuse: “You keep turning my pages, and I’ll make it fun!” It’s interactive, inviting readers to squint, sniff, and play rock, paper, scissors. At 180 pages, it may be a bit long for a storytime (but I’m still going to try it), but it’s a perfect book for early chapter book readers that want to enjoy a fun read. Display with its companion book, I Hate Reading, for more laughs. Think of it as more of an interactive game than a reading chore, reluctant readers! It’s bright, colorful, and so much fun.  Instabuy!