Posted in Fiction, Intermediate, picture books

Big Wishes for Little Feat – a horse and human story

Big Wishes for Little Feat, by Cheryl Olsten/Illustrated by Paolo d’Altan, (Oct. 2020, Fleecydale Press), $17.95, ISBN: 978-1-7339551-0-2

Ages 7-10

Little Feat is a horse who’s small, and worries he’ll never find a rider to love him. Ella is an American girl who moves in with her aunt, in Belgium, while her parents try to get back on their financial feet. Each feels sad and alone, until Ella’s Aunt Anastasia brings the two together. The story is based on a true story, with a spark of fantasy for inspiration as the horse and the girl look to the stars for courage and hope: Ella, hoping to feel a connection by looking at the same sky her family at home in the States looks at, and sharing a love of constellations with her father; Lafitte (Little Feat is the name Ella gives him), who imagines himself leaping into the sky, a constellation made real. The artwork is just lovely, with deep colors and beautiful renderings of horses, nighttime skies, and the bond between horse and rider. A good choice for animal fans and horse lovers.

Enjoy a preview of the book, and learn about the EQUUS Foundation, a charity supporting America’s horse, at the author’s website.

Posted in Fiction, Intermediate

It’s a BAD KITTY READ-ALONG! #FurEverBad

Fellow Bad Kitties! I come with great news! Bad Kitty publisher, Macmillan, launched a Fur-Ever Bad Kitty Read-Along Campaign, and they are challenging YOU to read all the Bad Kitty chapter books this Fall!

The read-along is happening in three parts:

Don’t let the start date scare you! YOU’VE GOT THIS.

I’m applauding you and cheering you on! Go! Go! Go!

Finish STRONG!

Grab your books, get ready, and READ! Fill your school reading logs with Bad Kitty this Fall! (Psst… your library has SHELVES of Bad Kitty just waiting for you.) Good luck!

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

Jim Benton is back with a twofer: new Franny K Stein and Attack of the Stuff!

I have a special place in my heart for Jim Benton, and not just because Happy Bunny made me chuckle back in the day. The Franny K. Stein books were my eldest’s first favorite book series, and my Kiddo is discovering his graphic novels now (he LOVED Clyde). My about-to-be-a-high-school-senior (sounds nicer than “the middle child”) always got a kick out of My Dumb Diary, a series my library kids also devour. Mr. Benton’s rep got in touch with me and offered me a copy of his newest graphic novel, Attack of the Stuff, which I’ve read with the Kiddo and am eternally grateful.

Attack of the Stuff, by Jim Benton, (May 2020, Papercutz), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1-5458-0499-5

Ages 7-11

Bill Waddler is a simple duck trying to live his life. He works in a hay store that doesn’t seem to get a lot of customers, and he’s harassed day and night by the stuff that surrounds him in his home: his toilet has aspirations to show biz; his blanket isn’t ready to go to bed when Bill is, and his alarm clock is annoyed at having to get up so early. One day, Bill decides he’s had enough, and heads out to the woods to live a quiet life, just as the rest of the world falls into chaos. The Internet has decided to stop working, and the world needs someone who can communicate with it, and who better than the duck who can talk to stuff? This is Bill’s moment to shine, if only everyone else will take him – and the Internet’s demands – seriously.

This is the kind of surreal comic book storytelling that the kids in my library would love. Jim Benton goes way out there for Attack of the Stuff, but it’s funny in its lunacy! His artwork is immediately recognizable, and so is the humor. It’s bright, fun, and with an enduring sense of snark that keeps kids coming back for more. My kiddo loved it.

 

Franny K. Stein: Recipe for Disaster, by Jim Benton, (July 2020, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers), $15.99, ISBN: 9781534413405

Ages 7-10

Can you believe this is Franny’s ninth adventure? I, for one, am so happy that she’s back with new books: my library kids check the first 8 out all the time, and have asked me when more are coming. Now, I have something to tell them! Franny rescues an old furnace from the trash bin and creates a robot that just wants to make kids happy. To help out the art and music bake sale, she puts the robot to work baking, but the eager to please robot creates THE MOST DELICIOUS MUFFINS ON EARTH. Suddenly, all the kids want to do is eat muffins. Schoolwork, interests, everything is tossed aside. Nothing exists except for the muffins. It’s up to Franny to save the day… but those kids at school can be very persuasive.

There’s so much great humor in this series, and this story is rife with Invasion of the Body Snatchers vibes while poking fun at bake sale culture. Franny and Igor, her canine (ish) assistant, are a hilarious twosome. Black and white illustrations throughout the book give readers a birds-eye view into an innocent fundraiser spinning out of control. A welcome addition to the Franny K. Stein series, I’m happy to recommend Recipe for Disaster to my kiddos.

There are some Franny printables and lesson plans on Teachers Pay Teachers, all at varying prices. I also did a “mad science” search on TpT which yielded some fun freebies, like free mad science clip art and mad scientist crazy hair headbands. Print some, share them, and encourage your kiddos to unleash their inner mad scientist!

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

#SummersCool: Art and Architecture, Music, and Science

The latest edition of #SummersCool is here! Get ready for a full day of fun!

 

Build a Castle, by Paul Farrell, (April 2020, Pavilion Children’s Books), $19.99, IBN: 9781843654469

Ages 7+

Way too much fun, this box of 64 slotted cards let kids build castles with all the details: heraldry, arches, arrow-slit windows, flags, and more. Brightly colored in reds, blues, and yellows, with bold black outlines, kids can read up on different architectural features and get an idea of the basics from the included foldout sheet, and let their creative energy take them wherever they want to go. I worked on these with the Kiddo, and he ended up incorporating his Lego bricks and minifigs to come up with a fantastic spread that covered our dining room table. The box is just the beginning – print out some paper knights, draw some dragons, and have a great time!

Turn it Up! A Pitch-Perfect History of Music That Rocked the World, by Joel Levy, (Dec. 2019, National Geographic Kids), $19.99, ISBN: 978-1426335419

Ages 8-12

From the earliest music to K-Pop, Turn It Up! is a comprehensive guide to the history of music and its influence on the world. Six sections organize music into time periods, beginning with the earliest instruments, including wind instruments played on crops, and string instruments handed down from the gods. Isn’t It Romantic? introduces readers to orchestras, operas, and Classical and Romantic music’s origins in the 18th ad 19th centuries. Thoroughly Modern Music explores the 20th century, and the changes to music brought by the emerging film and radio industries; All-American Sound is all about the American sound of Jazz and Blues, influenced by African culture. Play it Loud covers protest music, the British invasion that brought the Beatles to American shores, and the distinctive style of 1970s rock. Pop Goes the Music is about pop, punk, rap, and hip-hop. Spotlights on instruments, musical terms, superstars of the music world, and notes about essential pieces of music give readers a well-rounded backgrounder in music history. There’s a timeline, glossary, further resources list, and index to complete this volume. Let your kids create a Spotify playlist with music they like; create one for them.

 

Extreme Ocean: Amazing Animals, High-Tech Gear, Record-Breaking Depths, and Much More!, by Sylvia A. Earle and Glen Phelan, (March 2020, National Geographic Kids), $12.99, ISBN: 9781426336850

Ages 8-12

I love NatGeo’s animal compendiums, and Kiddo does too – he usually runs off with mine as soon as they arrive! After retrieving Extreme Ocean from his bookcase, I was able to sit down and see what deep sea explorer Sylvia A. Earle had to say about some of her ocean explorations. Filled with colorful, vibrant photos, Extreme Ocean is all about the oceans that cover over 71% of our world: and the dangers they face. The information is organized into five chapters: Blue Heart of the Planet is about the ocean itself; Life Beneath the Waves is about ocean life; Going Deeper, Staying Longer covers exploration, and An Ocean in Trouble and How to Save an Ocean is a call to action for readers to educate themselves about dangers like pollution and overfishing, and what scientists and conservationists are doing – and what readers can do – to turn the tide in our favor. Extreme sections in each section look at major happenings, from tsunamis to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a polluted area of the Pacific Ocean that may measure as large as the state of Alaska. There are experiments for kids to try at home, and Who’s Who callout boxes bring readers’ attention to different ocean dwellers to discover. There’s a glossary, list of resources, and an index. A great companion to NatGeo’s Ultimate Oceanpedia and Captain Aquatica’s Awesome Ocean, and a book kids will love.

 

Acadia Files: Book Four, Spring Science, by Katie Coppens/Illustrated by Holly Hatam, (March 2020, Tilbury House Publishers), $13.95, ISBN: 978-0-88448-604-6

Ages 7-11

The fourth book in Acadia’s Science Notebook series is all about Spring! This season, Acadia investigates dinosaurs, meteors, and mass extinctions. She also looks at parasites, ticks, and the diseases they can spread, including Lyme disease and malaria. She also looks through her previous seasons’ notebooks and puts together her inquiries from all four of them, to give herself – and readers – a rounded, holistic understanding of the natural world. This is such a great intermediate STEM/STEAM series for kids; it’s part science, part chapter book, with a handwritten, journal feel throughout that should inspire some of your kiddos to start their own journaling. I fall back on this one quite often because it’s so easy. Kiddo and I used this as a guideline to make our own journal and had a great time wandering our neighborhood to fill it up. Enjoy a chapter read and activity in the video below.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

#Books from Quarantine: Graphic Novels Rundown

I’m reading through my graphic novels stash this week, and have lots to talk about. Jumping right in.

The Black Mage, by Daniel Barnes/Illustrated by D.J. Kirkland, (Aug. 2019, Oni Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9781620106525

Ages 10+

This book was published last year, and I just found it as I was going through my hard drive during the quarantine. WOW, am I glad I did, because this is timely. It starts off with a young man named Tom Token being invited to St. Ivory Academy, a historically white wizarding school, as their first Black student, part of their “Magical Minority Initiative”. The headmaster, Atticus Lynch, wears a white robe with a pointed hood, but… it’s okay, right? Tom and his pet crow, Jim, arrive and face predictable racist treatment, from ridiculous questions (“Do you drink grape soda rather than potions to enhance your magical powers?”) to straight up hostility. When Tom discovers a mysterious student ID card, he’s determined to get to the bottom of what’s really going on at St. Ivory Academy. Joined by his new friend, Lindsay – a white girl who’s quickly learning that St. Ivory is up to no good – Tom meets two ghosts from history that will show him a dangerous conspiracy that goes all the way back to the Civil War. If Tom can’t expose St. Ivory, he may lose his soul!

This was SUCH a good story, with manga-influenced artwork, fast-paced action and dialogue, and a socially relevant storyline. I love having Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and John Henry featured as superhero freedom fighters, even in the Great Beyond. Great art, great story, great book for middle schoolers. Make sure you’ve got this handy when you rejuvenate your collections. Oni Press has an educator/discussion guide for The Black Mage available here.

 

Fun Fun Fun World, by Yehudi Mercado, (Apr. 2020, Oni Press), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1620107324

Ages 8-12

Written and illustrated by Sci-Fu’s Yehudi Mercado, Fun Fun Fun World starts off with the crew of the Devastorm 5, led by the inept Captain Minky, running from another failed mission. Minky’s in serious trouble if he doesn’t have tribute for his Queen, so he makes her an offer she can’t refuse: he’ll give her the Earth. The rest of the Devastorm has no idea how they’re going to pull this off, but Minky is convinced they can do it. So when they land at Fun Fun Fun World, a down-on-its luck amusement run by a single dad raising his son, Javi, they think they’ve got Earth laid out in front of them. Javi figures things out pretty quickly and decides not to tell them that they’ve landed in Des Moines: after all, he needs their technology to get the park up and running, saving his dad’s career and keeping a roof over their heads. The story is hilarious, bananas, and too much fun to read. It’s bright, it’s neon, with confused aliens and a kid who keeps outstmarting them to further his father’s dream. There’s a super secret mystery hidden at the heart of Fun Fun Fun World to spice things up a bit, and there’s always the threat of interplanetary war to keep things running. Kids who love watching Cartoon Network’s high-energy cartoons like Steven Universe and The Regular Show will love this.

Yehudi Mercado includes rough pages from the work in progress and a photo of the kids who helped come up with some of the featured rides at the park. There’s also an FFFW Character Quiz from publisher Oni Press that will make comic book discussion groups a hit. Checkout Yehudi Mercado’s webpage for a look at more of his books, a free preview of Fun Fun Fun World, and links to social media.

 

Wallace the Brave, by Will Henry, (Oct. 2017, Andrews McMeel Publishing/AMP Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9781449489984

Ages 7-11

Reminiscent of Calvin and Hobbes, Wallace The Brave is a collection of comics strips about Wallace, an imaginative, inquisitive boy named Wallace, his best friend, Spud, and the new girl, Amelia. We also meet Wallace’s parents and unibrowed, feral little brother, Sterling, all of whom live in the small town, Snug Harbor. Kids who love Big Nate will get a kick out of Wallace, who’s always up to something; whether he’s spinning epic tales about the school bus, testing the strength of a stale muffin, or trying to figure out what seagulls are really saying.

The book includes a map of Snug Harbor, with major locations from the comic strip numbered; ways to organize a beach cleanup, help monarch butterflies, and make a nature crown. There’s a sequel, Snug Harbor Stories, for readers who want more. Wallace’s page on the AMP website has free, downloadable sheets with activities that you can do at home with the kids, and a book trailer for Snug Harbor Stories.

Cat and Cat: Cat Out of Water (Cat & Cat #2), by Christophe Cazenove, Hervez Richez & Yrgane Ramon (July 2020, Papercutz), $14.99, ISBN: 9781545804780

Ages 7-10

The second collection of Cat and Cat stories is just as much fun as the first. Catherine and her cat, Sushi, live with Cat’s dad; the strips are a series of funny slice-of-life moments. This time, the big story is that Dad takes Cat and Sushi on a camping trip, where Sushi proceeds to wreak havoc on the campgrounds. Other moments have Sushi visiting the neighbors to get his daily snacks in; constant struggles surrounding the cat door and Sushi’s habit of inviting all the cats in the neighborhood to Dad’s house, and Sushi trying to figure out what that big ditch filled with water (the new pool) is supposed to be for.

Brightly illustrated with expressive cartoony characters, this is a great addition to titles like Sisters, Ernest & Rebecca, Dance Class, and Chloe. Papercutz has the inside track on great graphic novels for Intermediate level readers who are looking to move up from Easy Readers and may need a break from chapter books.

 

Dance Class: Letting It Go (Dance Class #10), by Crip and BéKa, (March 2020, Papercutz), $14.99, ISBN: 9781545804322

Ages 7-10

Dance Class is one of the most circulated graphic novels series in my library. The kids love the stories about the dancers at Dance School, so I decided to finally sit down with a book that I got from Papercutz’s Virtual ALA email and see what the hubbub is about. I get it: it’s just a fun series! The adventures of the younger dancers and the teen dancers is good-natured and fun, with this latest storyline centering on the school’s upcoming production of The Snow Queen, and the beautiful new dress to be worn by the show’s star…. if they can get the dress to stop disappearing! It’s an amusing series of miscommunications and misunderstandings as the dancers get ready to put on their show.

Brightly illustrated with cartoon characters, fun dialogue and silly sight gags, like the dancer who’s menaced by a classmate – in her dreams! – this is a book that appeals to Loud House, Sisters, and Chloe readers. The cover is begging for Frozen fans to devour this book in a single sitting, and they will.

Posted in Fiction, Intermediate

Books from Quarantine: Stella Endicott and the Anything-Is-Possible Poem by Kate DiCamillo

Stella Endicott and the Anything-Is-Possible Poem, by Kate DiCamillo/Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen (Tales from Deckawoo Drive), (June 2020, Candlewick Press), $14.99, ISBN: 9781536201802

Ages 7-10

When my bigger little ones (my first and second graders, usually) come into the library, many of them automatically ask me for Mercy Watson books. They love Kate DiCamillo, they love Mercy Watson and all her friends on Deckawoo Drive, and they love Kate DiCamillo at an early age; when they’re a couple of years older, and come in looking for Tales of Desperaux, I remind them that this is the same author they’ve been reading since they picked up Mercy Watson, and that smile, that book hug, it makes every day I’m there fantastic. Yeah, I’m rhapsodizing again; forgive me. It’s been going on three months since I’ve been around my Corona Kids and I’m missing them, big time. Every book I read, I know just the kid I want to tell about it. This is hard, folks. Don’t think for a second it isn’t.

Okay. So, let’s talk the newest book in the Tales from Deckawoo Drive series. Stella Endicott loves school and loves her teacher, Miss Liliana. She’s so excited to work on her assignment, to write a poem, because she knows just who she’s going to write about: Mercy Watson, the pig who lives next door and relaxes on a couch! She creates a lovely poem, but class know-it-all Horace Broom insists that she’s lying: wizards don’t play accordions, and pigs don’t live in houses! Annoyed not only by Horace’s lack of imagination, but the fact that he called her a liar, Stella shouts back at him, and the two are sent to the principal’s office, which leads to an adventure where the two will learn to see things from the other’s point of view.

The Deckawoo Drive books just make me happy. They’re funny, upbeat, and always have a good message to share. Here, we learn that it’s good to be literal and metaphorical. It’s balance! Stella is smart and spirited, and Horace may have learned his lesson about offering uninvited criticism. Gouache artwork from Chris Van Dusen is automatically recognizable: kids will spot this book on a bookshelf (literal or virtual) a mile away. Mercy’s cameo is adorable – if you have the space in your reading area, stick some cushions or pillows on the floor with a stuffed pig and let your kids curl up with their Mercy to read, imagine, and create with.

Stella Endicott and the Anything-Is-Possible Poem has a starred review from Kirkus. Want to visit Deckawoo Drive and spend some time with Mercy? Visit the Mercy Watson website for information about the books, resources for parents and educators, join the fan club, and play some games.

Kate DiCamillo is the Newbery-Award winning author of Flora & Ulysses and The Tale of Desperaux, and a former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Chris Van Dusen is the illustrator of the Mercy Watson and Deckawoo Drive series, and an author-illustrator of books including The Circus Ship and Hattie & Hudson.

 

Posted in Fiction, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Science Fiction

Books from Quarantine: Secret Explorers and the Comet Collision

The Secret Explorers and the Comet Collision, by SJ King, (July 2020, DK), $5.99, ISBN: 978-0744021066

Ages 7-10

This is the second book in an upcoming new series from DK; the first, The Secret Explorers and the Lost Whales, also publishes on July 7, 2020. Perfect reading for kids who loved Little Einsteins, Octonauts, or Wild Kratts when they were younger, these chapter books introduce a group of Secret Explorers – kids who specialize in different areas of the sciences – who go on secret missions to gather knowledge and solve a big problem. In Comet Collision, two explorers, Roshni and Ollie, have to work together when they’re sent into space to fix a broken space probe by the planet Jupiter. A comet is set to collide with the planet and will wipe out all the probe’s important data if they don’t fix it in time, so they have to work together and work fast!

Loaded with adventure, facts, and fast-paced reading, this is a fun new STEM-based series for readers. You don’t need to read the first book to enjoy this one (I picked this up at ALA Midwinter, and thought it was the first in the series until I finished it and saw the “2” on the spine). The kids play with cool technology, are specialists in different areas of science, and take readers to space and beyond. This will be a good series to fit with the Imagine Your Story Summer Reading theme this year, too – ask your readers to think of their favorite type of science (or give them one to explore) and ask them to imagine their story as a scientist in space, in a rain forest, in a lab, anywhere. Black and white cartoony artwork throughout helps place readers on a spacewalk and at the controls of a spaceship. The cast of characters is multicultural, from all over the world.

Invite kids to learn more about space probes from NASA, and about Jupiter and the other planets here.

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

Books from Quarantine: Nina Soni, middle grader at large

My reading mojo is back, thank goodness, so let’s keep fingers crossed that my blogging mojo is back, too.

I just finished two books that I think are great for that intermediate/middle grade reader who isn’t quite ready to take on the 300-400 page books just yet, but the 80-10 pagers are leaving them wanting a little more. Let’s meet Nina Soni and her family, shall we?

Nina Soni, Former Best Friend, by Kashmira Sheth/Illustrated by Jenn Kocsmiersky, (Oct. 2019, Peachtree Publishers), $15.99, ISBN: 978-1-68263-057-0

Ages 7-12

Nina is an Indian-American elementary school student with a loving family, a little sister who can bug her sometimes, and a knack for making lists, which she keeps in her journal, named Shakhi, which means “friend” in Hindi. She’s got big ideas, but they don’t always turn out the way she expects. In Former Best Friend, Nina finds herself on the outs with her best friend, Jay. She also has her little sister’s birthday party to help plan, and a school project where she has to come up with and write about a great discovery!

Nina Soni is such a likable character. She thinks a lot: she works out math to describe her family while her father’s away for work during the week; she writes down words she’s thinking and learning about, defining them in easy-to-understand words and breaking them down by syllable. She’s organized, making lists – to follow, lists about things she likes, things that drive her crazy. Kavita, Nina’s younger sister, is younger, freer, sillier, and it drives Nina crazy as much as she loves her. Cooking and family are main activities in the book, and there’s some interesting bits about Indian culture throughout.  It’s a fun story with likable characters and black and white line drawings and notebook pages throughout. Give this one an add to your middle grade collections, and booktalk it with books like Planet Omar by Zanib Mian, Alvin Ho and Ruby Lu books by Lenore Look  and Debbi Michiko Florence’s Jasmine Toguchi books.

 

Nina Soni, Sister Fixer, by Kashmira Sheth/Illustrated by Jenn Kocsmiersky, (Apr. 2020, Peachtree Publishers), $15.99, ISBN: 978-1-68263-054-9

Ages 7-12

Nina’s back and this time, she’s GOT to do something about Kavita. Her younger sister is driving her CRAZY, making up songs all the time; songs that don’t make sense, that don’t rhyme, that are just plain annoying! Spring Break is coming, and they’re going away to Jay’s grandfather’s cabin for a couple of days; Nina decides she’s got three days to “fix” her sister so she won’t embarrass her on their trip. Nina also decides to build a dam using some of the dirt by her next door neighbor’s house; a project that may keep Kavita entertained enough to forget about singing. But her impromptu science project may be more than she bargained for!

Even more fun than Former Best Friend, Sister Fixer has some great moments, including an emergency phone call to India that will leave readers laughing out loud. Kavita is a gleeful first grader who loves to dance, make up songs, and make artwork; that it gets on her bigger sister’s nerves is of no consequence: something older siblings will recognize and empathize with. Writing in Shakhi helps Nina come to her own conclusions, making this a good book to suggest to fledgling writers and journalers to record their thoughts and revisit them.

Don’t miss either of these books! Enjoy a Q&A with author Kashmira Sheth here and get a free discussion guide for both books here.

Posted in Fiction, Historical Fiction, Intermediate, picture books

Blog Tour- Bear and Fred: A World War II Story

Inspired by the true story of a boy and his teddy bear, this story of survival during the Holocaust is achingly, lovingly translated into English for a new generation of readers.

Bear and Fred: A World War II Story, by Iri Argaman/Illustrated by Avi Ofer/Translated by Annette Appel,
(May 2020, Amazon Crossing Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-542018210
Ages 7-10

Told by Bear, a stuffed toy bear belonging to a young boy named Fred, Bear and Fred tells the story of a young Dutch Jewish boy and his family when they go into hiding as the Netherlands fall under the Nazi shadow. Bear is the only toy Fred takes with him and provides comfort as Fred is shuttled first, to his grandfather, and then to a “nice lady” to stay with when his parents leave and go into hiding elsewhere. When the War ends, Fred and his family reunite, and Bear stays by Fred’s side, until Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum, contacts Fred, having heard about his story, and asks to borrow Bear to teach children. In her author’s note, Iris Argaman describes how she discovered Fred Lessing’s story when she saw Bear at Yad Varshem and contacted him, asking to write his story. There’s a photo of the actual Bear.

Originally published in Hebrew in 2016, Bear and Fred tells the story of the Holocaust from a child forced into hiding, without his parents, with only his stuffed bear for company. Having Bear narrate Fred’s story adds a touching depth to the story; it’s the story of a best friend. Moments like having Bear’s paw dry Fred’s tears when he misses his family, or having Bear describe his own feelings of being scared in Fred’s backpack or, the fear of being left behind, provides relatable moments for kids to latch onto and create valuable moments for discussion. Annette Appel’s English translation reads beautifully, with all of the emotion intact. Avi Ofer’s digital illustrations rely on simple colors to tell the story: the characters are grey-blue, washed out figures, with bear’s yellow-brown coloring allowing him to stand out, designating him the narrator, and the family a memory.

A strong book to have in younger historical fiction collections.

 

Iris Argaman is the author of a number of books for children, including Bear and Fred, which was awarded the Yad Vashem Prize in Israel and the Giovanni Arpino Prize for Children’s Literature in Italy. She lives in Israel, where she is a lecturer on children’s literature, holds writing workshops, and writes activity books which promote museum education.

Avi Ofer is an illustrator and animation director born and raised in Israel and now based in Spain. His work has been exhibited in art shows and screened in festivals around the world.

Annette Appel is a translator of books for young readers and truly enjoys the challenge of making stories written in Hebrew accessible to English speakers.

“Translated from Hebrew, it reads seamlessly and beautifully presents a family caught up in war…Without in any manner diminishing the actual horrors of World War II or any current fighting, the author enables a child to grasp in some small manner the impact of conflict on a family. Moving and accessible.” —Kirkus Reviews

Amazon Crossing Kids aims to increase the diversity of children’s books in translation and encourage young reading from a range of cultural perspectives.

Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate, Middle Grade

Books from Quarantine: Kate the Chemist

So while I live in my Stephen King-esque Dome (as I like to think of my home at the moment), I’ve been doing a lot of reading, in addition to my virtual programming, helping my kids with their schoolwork, and assorted goofiness with the dog. First up, let’s talk about Kate the Chemist, a fun new STEM intermediate/middle grade series.

Kate the Chemist: Dragons vs. Unicorns, by Dr. Kate Biberdorf with Hillary Homzie, (Apr. 2020, Philomel Books), $12.99, ISBN: 978-0-593116555

Ages  7-12

Ten-year-old Kate the Chemist is a science problem solver: meaning, she can solve just about any problem that she faces with science! In her first STEM adventure, Dragons vs. Unicorns, Kate is the assistant director on her school play, and her best friend is the lead unicorn. But someone is sabotaging the production! Kate has to use her science skills to figure out who’s trying to hurt the show, and how to save the day when the unicorns face a last-minute costume malfunction. The narration is fast-paced and comprehensive in its look at science, and how chemistry is a big help in day-to-day situations (baking = science! special effects = science!). Scientist Kate Biberdorf includes a recipe for Unicorn Glue at the end of the book (looks easy enough – I haven’t tried it yet) and an explanation of how it works. Ellie May series author Hillary Homzie and Kate Biberdorf come together to give readers a fun intermediate/middle school mix of drama (literal and figurative), friendship, and science. This one is a good series to watch. There are some black and white illustrations throughout; usually journal pages and scientific items like flasks and volcanoes, to add to the fun.

Kate Biberdorf is a science entertainer with a series of videos and a Big Book of Experiments to introduce kids to fun, safe, science. Her website has videos, information about her books, and contact information. Hillary Homzie’s author webpage has great info for aspiring writers, links to her blog and social media, and more information about her books.