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 Fiction, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

Another Holiday Gift Guide!

Last minute shoppers, I feel you. I AM you. Last minute 2021 book budget shoppers, I got you, too. Spent your 2021 dollars? No problem; these books are set to keep your readers happy next year, too.

The Secret of the Magic Pearl, by Elisa Sabatinelli/Illustrated by Iacopo Bruno/Translated by Christopher Turner, (Oct. 2021, Red Comet Press), $21.99, ISBN: 9781636550060

Ages 7-11

New kid on the block Red Comet Press has been hitting home runs this year! The Secret of the Magic Pearl is a magical story for kids who love picture books, newly independent readers who are ready to take on denser material, and chapter book readers alike. Hector is a boy living with his family in an Italian coastal town. He wants to be a deep-sea diver like his father, and his family organizes underwater expeditions for tourists. But Amedeo Limonta, a man who “lost his sailor’s soul and betrayed the sea”, forces Hector’s family out of business so that he can continue on his obsession: to find a legendary Pearl and sell it. Hector, determined to save his family and his connection to the sea, has to figure out a way to throw a wrench into Amedeo’s plans.

Originally published in Italian in 2019, this book is gorgeous. The story is about love of family and a passion for the sea. First-person narrator Hector immediately warms readers with his voice, full of fun details and emotion. The artwork is simply beautiful, bringing a sense of movement and wonder. Together, the words and artwork make for a breathtaking fantasy that readers will return to time and again. Red Comet has been great about creating activity kits for their books, too; download one for The Secret of the Magic Pearl here.

The Secret of the Magic Pearl has starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and Publishers Weekly.

 

Guitars (Made by Hand series), by Patricia Lakin, (Nov. 2021, Aladdin), $17.99, ISBN: 9781481448352

Ages 8-12

The Made by Hand series by Patricia Lakin is a great nonfiction series to have available to your middle graders and middle schoolers. The newest, Guitars, is a great introduction to the art and science of guitar music, including a history of the instrument, the science behind how electric and acoustic guitars work, and a tour through luthier (a maker of string instruments!) Meredith Coloma’s custom guitar-making workshop. Color photos detail the step-by-step process of making both electric and acoustic guitars, and there’s a fun and easy STEM challenge for kids to learn how sound travels over string (we used to call it a tin can telephone). A timeline, list of guitar greats, a glossary and further resources make this a must-have for music collections and for kids with an interest in science or music.

Do I have a program in mind for this? Glad you asked! PBS Kids has a great DIY Guitar activity here, and all the materials are available in the home! The Michigan Children’s Hospital has a similar DIY here, using a tissue box instead of a cereal box. Get the band together and jam at Christmas!

 

My Christmas Wish for You, by Lisa Swerling & Ralph Lazar, (Oct. 2021, Chronicle Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9781452184364

Ages 3-7

A sweet poem about Christmas and good wishes to last the whole year long, My Christmas Wish for You is the latest book from Happiness Is… creators and spouses Lisa Swerling and Ralph Lazar. This poem works for children and adults alike, and is full of goodwill and cheer; reading it, you can’t help but feel warm inside, with couplets like “Friends joined together in goodwill and song, / a welcome to others… the sense you belong”, and “Mugs of hot chocolate for tummies’ delight, / breathing like dragons to warm up the night”. Whimsical illustrations show a variety of people and pets celebrating the Christmas season as hearts and stars abound. It’s a great little gift book, and a wonderful way to bring the chaos of Christmas Day to a close, as we all look hopefully toward a new year.

 

A Donkey Called Mistletoe (Jasmine Green Rescues), by Helen Peters/Illustrated by Ellie Snowdon, (Sept. 2021, Walker Books US), $6.99, ISBN: 9781536222463

Ages 7-10

This is one of my favorite more recent intermediate series. Jasmine Green is an aspiring vet who, with her best friend, Tom, rescue all sorts of animals they discover around Jasmine’s Oak Tree Farm. Luckily for the two friends, Jasmine’s mom is an actual veterinarian and her dad is a farmer, so they can learn from the pros! In this outing, Jasmine and Tom learn that their neighbor is moving to an assisted-care facility and is rehoming his animals, including his donkey, Mistletoe. Jasmine, stricken by the thought of Mistletoe moving far away, impulsively offers to adopt him and keep him at Oak Tree Farm, but her little brother, Manu, proves to be a challenge: Mom isn’t sure Manu will be safe around Mistletoe, and vice versa! But Jasmine is not giving up on Mistletoe, and when a Christmas play needs an extra donkey, she knows exactly what to do. These stories are such feel-good stories, balanced by realistic moments that remind kids that animals need special care by professionals. Previous books have touched on orphaned and abandoned animals and reckless pet ownership, and this story, centered on an elderly man going into assisted care and worrying about finding homes for his animals, reminds kids once again that pets of any kind are a commitment. Black and white illustrations throughout give deeper texture to the narrative, and a quiz on donkeys invites readers to test their knowledge. I will always love this series, and am happy to booktalk them to my animal-loving readers.

 

Posted in History, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

Honest History gives middle graders new perspectives

Publisher Gibbs Smith hit shelves in August with two history titles that are great gift ideas and lots of fun for your nonfiction collections: History is Delicious, and History is Inventive.

History Is Delicious, by Joshua Lurie/Illustrated by Laura Foy, (Aug. 2021, Gibbs Smith/Honest History), $19.99, ISBN: 9781736191903

Ages 8-12

History is Delicious is a colorful, tasty trip across world history through cuisine. Food plays a part in the cultural fabric; influenced by native cultures and colonialism, the book illustrates how food brings us all together. Organized into sections highlighting the Americas, Europe, Ethiopia (and their coffee breaks!), and Asia, sections include histories of each cuisine, etiquette tips for dining across cultures, popular and “must try” dishes, and a recipe for each region. Colorful illustrations make this attractive and accessible to kids everywhere.

 

History is Inventive, by Brooke Knight/Illustrated by Sophy Smith (Aug. 2021, Honest History/Gibbs Smith), $19.99, ISBN: 9781736191927

Ages 8-12

Next up, we’ve got History is Inventive, a look at inventions and their inventors that changed the world. Straightforward sections organize inventions into timeframes like “Inventions from Long Ago”, “Inventions from Not As Long Ago”, and “Inventions from Not Long Ago” to group inventions going from ancient ideas like gunpowder (9th century AD), to the piano (17th century), to wi-fi (1940s). There’s a section on famous inventors like Charles Drew, the first African American doctor to earn a Doctor of Science from Columbia University, and creator of blood banks. A “Fun Stuff” section gives readers the background and lists of materials needed to make a version of Galileo’s telescope. “Thinking it Over” sections after every profile offer thought-provoking questions. Colorful illustrations, great pacing and layout, and hands-on activities make this another great book to have in your history and STEM collections. I am looking forward to seeing what more Honest History books are coming down the pike!

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

Bake, Make, and Learn to Cook with David Atherton!

Bake, Make & Learn to Cook, by David Atherton/Illustrated by Rachel Stubbs, (Dec. 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536219364

Ages 5+

I am SO excited for this book. David Atherton, 2019 winner of the Great British Baking Show, has a baking book for kids (and I mean that term loosely, as I plan to bake 90% of this book, whether or not my Kiddo wants to help me)! This is the coziest cookbook, with warm illustrations throughout. Each recipe is fully illustrated, step by step, and artwork with people coming together to prep, bake, and enjoy one another’s company together (plus an adorable taco-loving dog) make this an actual family cookbook that kids will love reading. Each recipe includes a list of ingredients, both written out and illustrated and numbered steps guide readers through each bake, also written out and illustrated. The recipe names are squeal-worthy, with Snaky Breadsticks, Happy Curry, and Easy Peasy Pot Pies making me happy just reading their names. Atherton includes recipes for every palate and every time of day; recipes are organized into breakfast (Starting the Day); meals (Lunches and Simple Suppers); snacks (Delicious Treats), and the big one, Cakes and Bakes. There’s an illustrated list of equipment bakers and makers will need to get started, and a glossary of cooking terms and measurements. He includes important tips, like having an adult present to help, and the importance of kitchen safety, and his overall tone is just wonderful. He’s a baker who can talk to children, not just write a cookbook that kids will happen to read.  If you are a Great British Baking Show fan, you’ll clearly hear his voice as you read. There are vegetarian and vegan recipes as well as recipes with meat, and he gets creative and fun with many of them, including Banana Bear Pancakes and Hummus Lions, which kids may want to try and possibly contribute to holiday feasts. This book makes me so happy, and I know it will make you happy, too.

Follow David Atherton on Twitter and Instagram.

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

A gift for every learner!

It’s that time of year, expect the gift guides to be coming at you fast and furious. Let’s see what’s making my lists this year.

Mercury: 100 Piece Puzzle (Featuring Photography from the Archives at NASA), (Aug. 2021, Chronicle Books), $19.99, ISBN: 9781797210346

Ages 6+

Puzzle fans, astronomy fans, science fans, everyone will love the next planetary puzzle from Chronicle Books. Mercury is the newest 100-piece puzzle using photography from the Archives at NASA, a follow-up to April’s Earth puzzle (which my kid and I still haven’t solved). It’s a beautiful photo of Mercury, and it is huge: 2 1/2 feet in diameter, so clear off a table for Thanksgiving/holiday gatherings and let the family and friends have at it. Puzzle pieces are sturdy, and they’re a good size, inviting little hands to help out, too. It’s a round puzzle, so you can somewhat figure out the outside of Mercury, but don’t forget: it’s a photo, so have fun trying to figure out which crater is goes where (G, my kiddo, and I are still arguing over them).

 

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright! An Animal Poem for Each Day of the Year, selected by Fiona Waters/Illustrated by Britta Teckentrup, (Oct. 2021, Nosy Crow), $40.00, ISBN: 9781536217186

Ages 3-8

This is a beautiful collection of animal poems for readers, poetry fans, and animal lovers. There are 366 poems – one for every day, including Leap Year – organized by month. Each month begins with a table of contents that lays out each poem and author by day. The spreads are beautiful and the poems are related on each spread, giving a feeling of cohesion. January 1-3 have poems about polar bears; 4-5 about whales; the action moves through the days, with spreads turning to sheepdogs on guard, wolves, and more. Britta Teckentrup’s artwork is just beautiful, with cold, quiet winter spreads moving into warm, home interiors; crocodiles lurk on one spread, gazelles leap through grass in another. Colorful, not overwhelming, the artwork brings the ideas in each poem to life. Endpapers offer lush, green leaves, inviting us in, and closing their doors behind us. Read a few a time, or savor them day by day.

 

The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame/Illustrated by Grahame Baker-Smith, (Nov. 2021, Templar Books), $19.99, ISBN: 9781536219999

Ages 7-12

The classic children’s novel gets a gift hardcover release just in time for the holidays! If you’ve never read The Wind in the Willows, you’re missing out. The adventures of Mr. Toad, Mole, Ratty, and Badger have been delighting readers since its publication in 1908. This hardcover gift version has illustrations from Kate Greenway Medal winner Grahame Baker-Smith that give gorgeous life to the story; some are sepia-toned, some rendered in shades of blue, green, or brown, some in rich, warm, earth colors. The cloth cover looks like a copy of the book I found on my own public library’s shelves a lifetime ago; just running my hand over the cover brought back memories of sitting down with it and wandering into Mr. Toad’s magic world. Give this to a younger reader, give it to a grownup who needs to go back in time, even if just for a moment.

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

Break the monster codes with Sleuth & Solve: Spooky

Sleuth & Solve: Spooky: Decode Mind-Twisting Mysteries Inspired by Classic Creepy Characters, by Ana Gallo/Illustrated by Victor Escandell, (Aug. 2021, Chronicle Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9781797205908

Ages 8-12

I do love a good code-breaking book, and this one is right in step with the season. Part of Chronicle’s Sleuth & Solve series, Sleuth & Solve: Spooky puts readers up against the creepiest characters to solve mysteries. Unlock a mummy’s hieroglyphics; discover the Frankenstein monster’s hideout; help a deceased aunt keep her promise to her niece. There are nine mysteries to solve, with a cryptograph available to help readers break the codes. Readers can use their problem-solving skills to unravel the mysteries, and it makes for a great addition to escape room challenges or spy school programs. The stories are told in entertaining comic book style, with characters wandering around the page offering prompts and thinking points. Each spooky creature gets a little factual bio at the beginning of the section, giving readers some context to the game as it unfolds. Great for cooperative gaming, the mysteries work best when teams can work together to solve the puzzles.

Display and booktalk with escape room books like the Escape Room Adventure series from Schiffer Books. Check out Sleuth & Solve and Sleuth & Solve: History for more code-breakers in the series.

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

Ducks Overboard! The story behind the story that inspired Eric Carle

Ducks Overboard!: A True Story of Plastic in Our Oceans, by Markus Motum, (Sept. 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536217728

Ages 7-10

In 2005, Eric Carle wrote Ten Little Rubber Ducks, a story about a shipping carton that leaked dozens of plastic rubber ducks into the sea, and their adventures after landing in the water. The book is based on a true story that took place in 1992; Ducks Overboard! is about the environmental impact of that accident, and about the pollution crisis facing our oceans. Narrated by one rubber duck, the story is part narrative – the duck’s story – and part nonfiction text. As the duck tells its story, smaller font provides factual information about plastic, its uses, and its the environmental impact. As the ducks bobs in the water, it sees pollution all around it: a plastic bag here; discarded fishing nets there; all creating problems for the animals in the water. Getting caught in a trash whirlpool, the duck spends years tossed around the ocean, until arriving on a beach shore during an environmental cleanup. The mixed media artwork is bright and colorful, and creates strong statements with its imagery: hundreds of dots in the ocean look like the shape of a continent, until one realizes that it’s a depiction of the shipping containers that get lost in the sea every year; a sea turtle swims underwater, dragging a fishing net wrapped around its neck; a spread illustrates the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The message is clear: plastic is choking our oceans. Back matter includes more about the 1992 shipping container that spilled ducks and other plastic toys into the ocean; how trash moves along ocean currents; facts about plastic, and how kids can help protect the waters. Great for storytime, great for STEM and Earth Day stories, great to read before a beach or neighborhood cleanup project.

Science Friday has a Great Pacific Garbage Patch teacher’s guide; Better Lesson and Siemens STEM Day have free downloadable lesson plans and activities.

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

Good for you, good for the planet, Green Kids Cook!

Green Kids Cook: Simple, Delicious Recipes & Top Tips, by Jenny Chandler, (Aug. 2021, Pavilion), $23.95, ISBN: 9781911663584

Ages 8-14

You have to love a cookbook that teaches kids to cook and to be good global citizens al at once. Green Kids Cook has over 50 recipes, organized into 5 areas: Breakfast and Brunch, Snacks, Soups and Salads, Mains, and Sweet Things. There’s an intro for kids and adults, focused on food and cooking area safety and having a balance of food on your plate: vegetables and meat can share the same space! There are spreads throughout on reducing food waste and plastic use (smartly referred to as reducing our “foodprint”); crafts like making your own cook’s apron and beeswax wraps rather than relying on plastic wrap, and creating a welcoming table. Colorful photos accompany tasty-sounding recipes, and each recipe includes tips on adding variety and swapping in alternatives, like less spicy options, more vegetables, and additional tasty treats to excite palates. I’m ready to dive into the Halloween Hummus, made with pumpkin; Indian Chickpea Salad, and flatbreads. Originally published in the UK earlier this year, there’s also a glossary for us US folk that call tea towels “dish towels”, kitchen paper “paper towels”, and cornflour “corn starch”. Recipes include measurements for grams and ounces, too.

Grab this one for sure! My library system isn’t doing in-person programming and we tend not to do food programming with kids, but if your system differs, there are plenty of no-bake recipes here to try, including the Super-Cool Smoothie Bowl that only calls for some quick prep on your end.

Posted in Middle Grade, Non-fiction

Blog Tour and Giveaway: The Ultimate Book of African Animals!

Welcome to the Ultimate Book of African Animals Blog Tour!

Looking to get away? Spend the week on a virtual safari with Emmy Award-Winning Filmmakers Beverly and Dereck Joubert as your guides! Featuring exclusive excerpts from their latest title, Ultimate Book of African Animals (National Geographic Kids Books, ages 8-12), Beverly and Dereck share their intimate stories of life on safari and provide a unique, behind-the-lens perspective on their passion and mission — to save the wild places of Africa and protect the creatures that depend on them.

Journey with the Jouberts

 

Click to enlarge

 

And now, for your moment of “awww”…..

Credit: Beverly Joubert

 

*****

Amazon | Bookshop.org | Goodreads

Ready for an adventure of a lifetime? With National Geographic photographer-filmmaker duo Beverly and Dereck Joubert as their guides, readers are transported to the plains of the Serengeti, the sands of the Sahara and the shaded nooks of the rainforest. Dereck and Beverly are eight-time Emmy award-winning filmmakers, National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence and wildlife conservationists who have been filming, researching and exploring Africa for over 35 years.  By sharing their stories of life on safari and Beverly’s jaw-dropping photography, this dynamic duo gives the reader unique, behind-the-lens access to Africa’s wildlife, how they live, play and hunt and how they have adapted to their wild, one-of-a-kind environments.  A big, beautiful guide to animals that roar, race and “totally rule,” this gift-worthy book is overflowing with facts, stats and photos of animals of all behaviors, shapes and sizes — including the tiny bombardier beetle, the sneaky desert viper, mischievous monkeys, elusive Ethiopian wolves, as well as fan favorites like lions, elephants, cheetahs, zebras, giraffes, hippos, gorillas, rhinos, and so many more.

Follow the Jouberts: Website | National Geographic | Beverly’s Instagram | Dereck’s Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Youtube

About the Authors: Dereck and Beverly Joubert are globally recognized, award-winning filmmakers, conservationists, and National Geographic explorers-in-residence based in Botswana. Their mission for more than 35 years has been the conservation of key wildlife species, with a focus on large predators.  The Jouberts have published 12 books, produced 36 films for National Geographic, and written half a dozen scientific papers as well as many articles for National Geographic magazine. Beverly is also an acclaimed photographer for National Geographic.  Their efforts have one aim: to save the wild places of Africa and to protect the creatures that depend on them.

 

 

GIVEAWAY

  • One winner will receive a hardcover of The Ultimate Book of African Animals
  • US/Canada Only
  • Follow the rest of the tour for more chances to win
  • Ends 9/26 at 11:59pm ET

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tour Schedule:

September 13thMom Read It
September 14thYA Books Central
September 15thAlways in the Middle
September 16thChristy’s Cozy Corners
September 17thImagination Soup

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

Join The Bug Club!

The Bug Club, by Elise Gravel, (Aug. 2021, Drawn & Quarterly), $17.95, ISBN: 9781770464155

Ages 6-10

I adore Elise Gravel’s graphic novels. Her latest, The Bug Club, is part autobiography, part STEM study; just like her Mushroom Fan Club (2018). We learn that Elise Gravel has always been fascinated by bugs, and, using her friendly, cartoon style, presents a wide range of fascinating and adorable bugs for readers to enjoy with her. It’s a good introduction to etymology; she gives an overview of invertebrates and what makes them members of that club; she illustrates wing shapes, antenna shapes, provides an overview of life cycles, and offers illustrations of baby vs. adult types of bugs, like wasps, ladybugs, and dragonflies. We even get profiles on some of her favorite bugs, with full-page illustrations and a brief discussion of tardigrades, dung beetles, and others. Loaded with fun facts, Ms. Gravel encourages kids to use their imaginations and think about bugs as cool aliens. Her writing is easy to read, easy to understand, and makes the science of bug-watching just plain fun. Great for young readers, you can go over colors, count numbers of bugs, wings, eyes, horns, or legs. Get creative! Encourage your own kiddos to start their own nature journals (you know I love my nature journals) and sketch pictures of the bugs they may discover in books or in the park (remember; take only pictures, leave only footprints).

Visit Elise Gravel’s page on Drawn and Quarterly for more about her graphic novels; visit Elise Gravel’s webpage for fun activities and downloadables for your kiddos and your libraries and classrooms.