Posted in Intermediate, picture books

A piece of Candy gets her big shot in Digestion: The Musical

Digestion: The Musical, by Adam Rex//Illustrated by Laura Park, (Oct. 2022, Chronicle Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9781452183862

Ages 5-8

Publisher Chronicle Books calls it “The Magic School Bus: Inside the Human Body meets Hamilton”, and how can you top that description? Digestion: The Musical is a look at digestion, set as a musical: a small-town piece of candy desires to be something important and a chorus of mini-carrots guide readers through all the action. Cameos from body parts, including an explosive appendix, kidneys, and intestines, and an old piece of swallowed gum add to the hilarity. Kids are going to laugh out loud reading this one (there’s an entire disco number dedicated to Number Two) and guaranteed, they’ll remember all about the digestive process after reading this one. An illustrated glossary defines terms. Endpapers highlight a cast of food characters sitting in the audience and working backstage. Digital illustrations are vibrant, colorful, and cartoony and will win readers over.

If you have felt foods left over from a storytime, get them out and invest in some more felt to create your own digestive system and take your storytime to another level.

Digestion! The Musical has starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus.

 

Need to know what this book would sound like set to music? Ponder no longer:

Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction, picture books

Reading for Indigenous People’s Day? Add these to your list.

October 10th is designated as Indigenous People’s Day, when we honor Native American history and culture. It is a holiday that has been a long time coming; consider spending the day learning from the best resources.

Dr. Debbie Reese’s American Indians in Children’s Literature website is an excellent resource, with analyses on books and resources on indigenous people in literature: Dr. Reese provides insight on the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.

If you are interested in research the indigenous land you occupy, and you are in the United States, you can text your zip code or your city and state to a number that will respond with the names of the Native lands that correspond to your region. I live and work on land taken from the Canarsie, Munsee Lenape, and Matinecock nations. Thanks to Code for Anchorage and Native Land for this service.

Support Indigenous presses. Highwater Press was kind enough to send me two beautiful picture books from their Sk’ad’a Stories Series, which I’ll be talking about below. Highwater is an imprint of Portage & Main Press and they publish stories by Indigenous writers and illustrators.
Returning to the Yakoun River, by Sara Florence Davidson & Robert Davidson/Illustrated by Janine Gibbons, (Sept. 2022, Highwater Press), $21.95, ISBN: 9781774920213

Ages 6-8

Returning to the Yakoun River is based on author Sara Florence Davidson’s childhood memories of a Haida fish camp. Seen through the eyes of a young girl, a family travels to the Yakoun River to fish for salmon and spend time with their Tsinii (grandfather). The artwork unfolds like a dream; the art appears to be oil painting; Haida artist Janine Gibbons draws from nature for her palette, with early morning blues and grays moving into cool weather steel blues and and greens; food and cheerful faces warm up the spreads. Endpapers show a calm river scene in the early morning. Sara Florence Davidson, a Haida/Settler Assistant Professor in Indigenous Education, draws heavily on themes of family and connection to the ancestors in her work. Her father, co-author Robert Davidson, is of Haida descent and is one of the most respected and important contemporary artists in Canada. The story is a peaceful meditation on intergenerational relationships and family and on recognizing the importance of ritual and connection. A gorgeous book for collections and an excellent purchase.

 

 

Dancing With Our Ancestors, by Sara Florence Davidson & Robert Davidson/Illustrated by Janine Gibbons, (Sept. 2022, Highwater Press), $21.95, ISBN: 9781774920244

Ages 6-8

A potlatch is an important ceremony to First Nations in the Northwest and parts of Canada. In Dancing With Our Ancestors, Sara Florence Davidson remembers the last time she danced with her late brother, all the while bringing the importance, excitement, and joy of a potlatch to younger readers. What most stands out in the narrative is the determination to continue tradition in the face of adversity: “Unlike our father, we were born after the laws that outlawed our culture practices were changed. The potlatch ban did not exist during our time, so we grew up dancing and singing side by side”; “They wanted us to stop being Haida”; “Today we dance with our children so our culture cannot be stolen again”. Joy and pain live side by side in the storytelling. Davidson beautifully describes the excitement and anticipation, with attendees arriving by boat, plane, and cars and RVs; the community makes “mountains of food” and set up the gym where the event is being held. Janine Gibbons’s illustrations show a crowd that spans generations, with bold, vibrant regalia and a sense of wonder that comes through. Endpapers show bold, colorful crests and masks, proudly displayed during the potlatch. An author’s note provides context to the story and a note on Ben Davidson, the author’s brother, is a lovely tribute. An absolutely essential purchase.

 

For the complete Sk’ad’a Stories Series list, visit Highwater’s page. Highwater also sells a Teacher’s Guide available for working with the Sk’ad’a Stories on their website.

Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Humor, Intermediate, Middle Grade

The BIG Adventures of Babymouse is here! (And there’s a Giveaway!)

Fan favorite Babymouse is back with a new series, and it’s BIG! The full-color series is an bigger volume – 9.8″ x 7.9″ – than the original Babymouse books and the middle grade adventures, so it’ll stand out on shelves for sure.

The BIG Adventures of Babymouse: Once Upon a Messy Whisker (Book 1), by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm,
(Sept. 2022, Random House Books for Young Readers), $20.99, ISBN: 9780593430903

Ages 7-10

Babymouse’s imagination runs wild in this hilarious new story. When Babymouse is tired of her messy whiskers, she dreams up what life would be like if she didn’t have them at all – and her whiskers have their own idea of how to stay in the picture! Dreaming up fairy tale scenarios and waking up each day to a new whisker-related adventure, there are genuine laugh-out-loud moments: the interplay between Babymouse and the omniscient narrator; Babymouse and her nemesis, the locker; Babymouse as Rapunzel. The message for Babymouse and readers: be careful what you wish for, and be proud of who you are, messy whiskers and all. Artwork is the boldly outlined work that Babymouse readers know and love. Color really makes this a book that attracts readers, moving away from the pink, black and white artwork of the original series. If your newer readers don’t know Babymouse, this is a perfect time to introduce them to this loveable tween and her group of friends. Create a display for all ages that includes the original graphic novels, the middle grade series, and put BIG Adventures front and center.

Visit Jennifer Holm’s webpage for more resources, information about her books, and a video on Babymouse’s origin.

 

JENNIFER L. HOLM and MATTHEW HOLM are the sister-and-brother team behind the Eisner Award–winning Babymouse graphic novel series and the New York Times bestseller Sunny Side Up. Jennifer is the author of many acclaimed novels, including three Newbery Honor winners, Our Only May Amelia, Penny from Heaven, and Turtle in Paradise. Matthew Holm is a graphic designer and freelance writer. They are also the creators of the Squish series. To find out more, visit Babymouse.com and facebook.com/babymousebooks.

Want a chance at winning your own copy of The BIG Adventures of Babymouse: The Messy Whisker? Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

U.S. addresses only, please, and no PO Boxes. Please give someone a chance: if you have win a giveaway in the last six months, please don’t enter. Thank you!

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

Raising Don: Meet your newest favorite animal

Raising Don: The True Story of a Spunky Baby Tapir, by Georgeanne Irvine with The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Press, (Oct. 2022, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Press), $14.99, ISBN: 9781943198146

Ages 6-10

The San Diego Zoo was thrilled when Don the tapir was born in 2018: he was the first baby tapir born at the Zoo in more than 30 years! But Luna, Don’s mother, wanted no part of her calf, so it was up to the Zoo staff to raise little Don. Don was bottle-fed and belly-rubbed by wildlife care specialists, bullied by some animals, and befriended by others, including a capybara named Bristle, who became Don’s best friend while at the San Diego Zoo. A true story, captured in full-color photographs and lively, upbeat, informative storytelling. Back matter includes a section on fun facts about tapirs, where tapirs live in the world, and threats to wild tapirs. Endpapers feature Don’s footprints! An adorable add to animal collections.

Raising Don is the newest nonfiction title from San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Press; books published spotlight different animals from the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Posted in Fiction, Intermediate, Realistic Fiction

Tales from the TBR: Nina Soni: Master of the Garden

Nina Soni, Master of the Garden, by Kashmina Sheth/Illustrated by Jenn Kocsmiersky, (Apr. 2021, Peachtree Publishing), $7.99, ISBN: 9781682632260

Ages 7-11

Join me in my never-ending quest to read down the TBR while I also keep up with up-and-coming kidlit! Today’s pick is the third book in the Nina Soni series: Master of the Garden. I love reading about Nina, her younger sister Kavita, and her best friend Jay. This time out, Nina, Kavita, and Jay learn how to plan out a garden, courtesy of Nina’s landscape architect Mom, for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. They all love the idea of growing their own food, but Nina thinks bigger than that: she wants to grow so much that she can sell the extra vegetables and make money! The only thing she doesn’t plan for? The work it takes to make a garden successful: weeding, pest control, and harvesting, for starters. Kavita thinks that her singing will help the plants grow even bigger, but Nina’s not too sure about that – it’s driving her crazy! Sheth makes Nina very relatable and very likable, with a determination that underlies everything she does and an imagination that keeps moving her forward. Black and white illustrations and Nina’s famous checklists add context and interest. Nina and her family are Indian-American; each story is filled with cultural touches that provide texture to these rich, fun stories. A fun intermediate series that belongs on shelves.

Visit Kashmira Sheth’s webpage for a downloadable discussion guide to the series, and more information about the Nina Soni books.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Humor, Intermediate, Middle Grade

New intermediate series: Leo’s Map of Monsters

Leo’s Map of Monsters: The Armored Goretusk, by Kris Humphrey/Illustrated by Pete Williamson, (Aug. 2022, Kane Miller), $5.99, ISBN: 9781684644858

Ages 7-11

Set in a fantasy world where kids receive apprentice Assignments at the age of 9, Leo wakes up on the morning of his ninth birthday and discovers that he’s been given a Top Secret Assignment! The Village Chief appears and whisks Leo off to the curmudgeonly Guardian, who keeps everyone safe from the monsters that lurk in the forest outside the village walls. He hands Leo a map, some magical stones, and a slingshot, and sends him off on his first mission: to draw the Armored Goretusk away from the village. Black and white fantasy artwork with an Edward Gorey-bent features on almost every page; antiquing elements give the appearance of reading an ancient tome. The adventure is light and fun, with a buddy-cop partnership between Leo and Starla, one of the forest residents; the promise of more fantastic beasts to come will keep readers coming back. A map lets readers follow Leo’s adventures; back matter includes stats and descriptions of the creatures he encounters in this first book and a look at the different stones he uses. This one is a fun fantasy series to add to your chapter book/intermediate shelves.

Originally published in the U.K. in 2020, The Armored Goretusk is the first in the Leo’s Map of Monsters series. All four books are available in the States and fantasy fans will want them all, posthaste!

Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction

Marisol Rainey is back!

Surely Surely Marisol Rainey, by Erin Entrada Kelly, (Aug. 2022, Greenwillow Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9780062970459

Ages 7-10

Marisol Rainey is a middle grader with a little bit of an anxiety issue, introduced in Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey earlier this year. Her dad works on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, and she lives at home in Louisiana with her mom, older brother, and cat. This time out, Marisol is nervous when she her gym teacher introduces a unit on kickball: Marisol does NOT like kickball! She works on being brave, but it’s so hard, especially when classmate Evie, who is “an expert at throwing invisible darts at Marisol’s feelings”, is excellent at kickball. Newbery Medalist Kelly creates approachable, likable characters in her stories; Marisol and her best friend, Jada, are characters with depth that readers will see themselves in. Illustrations on almost every page make this a great book to move up from early chapter books and easy readers. Marisol is biracial; her mother is Filipino. Jada is brown-skinned with curly hair.

Surely Surely Marisol Rainey has a starred review from Horn Book. Visit author Erin Entrada Kelly’s webpage for resources on her books.

Posted in Fiction, Intermediate, Media, TV Shows

Ivy + Bean comes to Netflix!

I am catching up on my emails, and just saw this press release from Chronicle Books, publisher of the Ivy + Bean chapter book series by Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall. The duo are coming to Netflix on September 2nd as a series of feature films, all available to stream on the first day!

From Chronicle:

Starring Jane Lynch, Nia Vardalos, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and newcomers Keslee Blalock and Madison Skye Validumas as Ivy and Bean, this announcement is made extra special because the release will span across three separate movies- all available to stream the same day.

The three movies, Ivy + Bean, Ivy + Bean: The Ghost That Had to Go, and Ivy + Bean: Doomed to Dance, bring to life the beloved series read by over 8 million readers. Taking material from six different books, readers will recognize familiar scenes from the series and be charmed by the adventuresome best-friend duo.

Watch trailers and see all the books on the Ivy + Bean website!

Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction, picture books

Hope is an Arrow introduces children to Khalil Gibran

Hope Is an Arrow : The Story of Lebanese-American Poet Khalil Gibran, by Cory McCarthy/Illustrated by Ekua Holmes, (July 2022, Candlewick Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781536200324

Ages 6-9

Many adult readers discovered Khalil Gibran through his work, The Prophet (1923). Hope is an Arrow seeks to expand Gibran’s reach and introduce young readers to the poet through this evocative picture book biography, with his poetry sprinkled throughout his story. Gibran began life in Lebanon, a country experiencing religious conflict; his family left Lebanon and settled in Boston, where they experienced prejudice, leading the young poet to begin expressing himself through art. As he travels between Boston and Lebanon, his desire to unite people, born out of the conflict he experienced in both his home country and his adopted one, led him to find his voice in poetry. Hope is an Arrow reads like poetry, with phrases like “…they sailed the deeper, darker Atlantic Ocean, which murmured like a giant in its sleep” describing the Gibran family’s journey to the United States, and “…his words still fly across the world, in more than forty different languages and through many crashing winds, to bring all who read them straight to the heart of hope”. Ekua Holmes’s collage and acrylic artwork create dynamic spreads. Comprehensive back matter includes source notes, additional information on Khalil Gibran’s life, and a bibliography. A gorgeous biography for collections and an excellent starting point to discuss social and religious conflict.

Hope is an Arrow has starred reviews from School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and The Horn Book.

Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction

NatGeo Kids adds some Bling to our collections

Bling! 100 Fun Facts About Rocks and Gems, by Emma Carlson Berne, (Jan. 2022, National Geographic Kids), $4.99, ISBN: 9781426338908

Ages 7-9

Bling!, Nat Geo’s Level 3 Reader on rocks and gems is chock-full of fun facts and incredible photos. The 100 Fun Facts series is another one of those NatGeo Kids home runs for my library shelves; the Easy Reader format is familiar to kids, and the layout that pairs photos with quick, easy-to-digest information attracts my library kids to these books. These are great for booktalking trivia, too: Did you know that silver is used in medical bandages to prevent infection? Or that you could buy a jelly bean-sized bar of gold for about $50? Little facts like that while I’m booktalking grab kids’ attention, and NatGeo Kids makes it easy for me to grab those fast facts. Bling! makes the STEM connection with facts about the Egyptian pyramids, erosion and rock formations, and a section on plate tectonics. Phonetic spelling throughout helps readers with new vocabulary words. All 100 facts get a roundup at the end of the book, and there is an index. Display this with NatGeo’s The Book of Bling (2019) and some callout facts for an eye-catching display.