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

Spotlight on Women’s History: Kip Tiernan and Rosie’s Place

Sanctuary: Kip Tiernan and Rosie’s Place, the Nation’s First Shelter for Women, by Christine McDonnell/Illustrated by Victoria Tentler-Krylov, (March 2022, Candlewick Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781536211290

Ages 7-10

Inspired by her grandmother, who fed hungry men from her door during the Great Depression, Kip Tiernan went on to work with and feed the homeless as an adult. She noticed women dressing as men to get on the food lines, and began noticing more and more homeless women on the street; when she worked to bring public notice and aid, however, she was initially told that homelessness was not a “women’s problem”. Determined to make a safe place for women, she pushed until the city of Boston rented her an empty supermarket for $1 a year: Rosen’s Market because Rosie’s Place, opening in 1974; they served hot meals and provided free clothes, beds, and a safe place for women to come together. Sanctuary is Kip Tiernan’s story, told in straighforward prose and accompanied by evocative watercolor and digital illustration set against a white page, giving readers the feel of peeking into moments from Kip Tiernan’s life. The focus is on community, with multicultural women coming together to talk and support one another; there are embraces, hand-holding, and active listening, all there to emphasize the importance of connection and compassion. Display and booktalk with Dangerous Jane, the picture book biography of Jane Addams, founder of Chicago’s Hull House.

Sanctuary: Kip Tiernan and Rosie’s Place, the Nation’s First Shelter for Women, has starred reviews from The Horn Book and Book PageVisit the Rosie’s Place webpage to learn more about the sanctuary. The Harvard Radcliffe Institute houses Kip Tiernan’s papers.

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

Welcome Spring with My Big Book of Outdoors

My Big Book of Outdoors, by Tim Hopgood, (March 2022, Candlewick Studio), $19.99, ISBN: 9781536215335

Ages 7-10

One part poetry book, one part nonfiction resource, one part craft and activity primer, My Big Book of Outdoors is an illustrated guide to the seasons with activities and mixed media illustrations. Each season is organized like a scrapbook of art, poetry, nature facts, and nature-based projects to create, like chocolate nests (made with shredded wheat and chocolate); leaf mobiles, and bird feeders. Thoughtful observations and questions invite readers to consider nature as seasons move from one to the next; to think about different birds they see in each season, or look for types of plants and trees. The artwork is vibrant. Think of it as a scrapbook that celebrates and encourages active participation in each season. It’s beautiful to look at, enjoyable to read, fun to play with. There are tons of ideas for seasonal programs and grab-and-go programs in here, too – an all-around great resource for kids and educators.

My Big Book of Outdoors was originally published in the UK in 2021.

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

Some poetry books for National Poetry Month

April 1 starts off National Poetry Month, and Candlewick Press is ready with three new books to share with your readers! Take a look at these picture book poetry collections.

Behold Our Magical Garden : Poems Fresh from a School Garden, by Allan Wolf/Illustrated by Daniel Duncan, (March 2022, Candlewick Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781536204551

Ages 8-12

Perfect for springtime reading, this collection of poems celebrates gardening at school; from scientific observations and flavorful herbs to bugs on strike and compost bins, all facets of gardening get a moment in the sun (so to speak) here. Colorful illustrations featuring diverse students and an enthusiastic teacher have cartoony moments and photorealistic artwork that comes together to give readers a fun expedition into gardening. Great for quick readalouds, Behold Our Magical Garden gives silly moments like an underwear-sporting thundercloud: “We saw up in the sky by chance / a rain cloud who had lost his pants. / But luckily he wore a pair / of silver lining thunder-wear”, and thoughtful moments, as with The Green Bean Bower: “so much depends / upon / a green bean / bower / covered with vine / leaves / climbing the bamboo / poles”. Back matter includes notes on each poem, and endpapers showcase a variety of gardening tools and inhabitants. What a way to welcome springtime planting activities!

For extension activity ideas, visit KidsGardening.org, and find learning activities, lesson plans, and information on designing a school garden of your own.

 

Marshmallow Clouds: Two Poets at Play among Figures of Speech, by Ted Kooser and Connie Wanek/Illustrated by Richard Jones, (March 2022, Candlewick Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9781536203035

Ages 9+

Framed by the four elements – fire, water, air, earth – and infused with dreamlike imagery, Marshmallow Clouds is a collection of poems that takes readers into the heart of a hot July day: “I was the crimson crayon / melting in a sunny car, / the color of firecrackers and flags / and Mars, where once water / cooled the red stones” and confides in the readers as to why pets don’t write: “Parrots could, actually, / but they don’t believe that’s / any of your business”. The authors let their imaginations run wild, envisioning remote controls “designed for the human hand / the way a pacifier fits exactly / where a baby cries” and old barns “pull[ing] on / its patched-up underwear of rotten boards / beneath its coveralls of corrugated metal”. Richard Jones’s dreamlike illustrations manage to bring Ted Kooser’s and Connie Wanek’s imagery to life while maintaining a surreal, hazy feel. Readers will devour these, come to the end, and turn back to start all over again.

Marshmallow Clouds has starred reviews from The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Booklist, and The Horn Book. Ted Kooser is a Pulitzer Prize-winning former US Poet Laureate; find more of his poetry at his webpage. Find more of Connie Wanek’s poetry at her website.

 

Take Off Your Brave, by Nadim (age 4)/Illustrated by Yasmeen Ismail, (March 2022, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536223163

Ages 4-8

Enjoy this collection of poems that shows the world through a preschooler’s eyes. Nadim, the author, wrote these poems when he was a 4-year-old preschooler (his sister and his preschool class have piece in here as well) after discovering poetry at school. The poems are adorably created, by children for children, with observations on love: “Everyone has love / even baddies”, beloved teachers: “Miss Angela is nice. / Miss Angela smells like flowers. / Miss Angela is warm. / Miss Angela sounds like a bell, ringing gently”, and best friends: “He’s as fast as anyone – / Faster than everyone – / And everyone you’ve ever seen. / And he knows pretty much everything / About aliens”. The poems are a true, wonderful look into a preschooler’s mind; a sweet, comforting hug kids and adults alike could really use to get through a rough day. Essential reading for Poetry Month and beyond, teachers can use Nadim’s Take Off Your Brave as a class project jumping off point and create their own poetry collections to share. A note from Nadim’s mother explains how Nadim discovered poetry. Yasmeen Ismail’s watercolor illustrations are a joyful celebration of being a child, with a diverse group of children and animals playing together. Take Off Your Brave was originally published in the UK in 2021.

Poets.org has a wealth of National Poetry Month resources, including printable Poem in Your Pocket PDFs and programming ideas, both in-person and virtual.

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

The Great TBR Read-Down continues: Rhinos in Nebrasks, by Alison Pearce Stevens

Rhinos in Nebraska, by Alison Pearce Stevens/Illustrated by Matt Huynh, (July 2021, Henry Holt & Company), $19.99, ISBN: 9781250266576

Ages 8-12

Twelve million years ago, a supervolcano exploded in what we now call the state of Nebraska; animals who used a nearby watering hole were buried under a blanket of ash, and lay quietly undiscovered for milennia, until 1953, when a 17-year-old farm worker and his father discovered a complete jawbone sticking up out of cliff at a spot called Bone Hill. Rhinos in Nebraska is the story of these animals, the supervolcano that killed them, and the discovery and construction of Ashfall Fossil Beds, where more than 200 perfectly preserved fossils have been uncovered. Author Alison Pearce Stevens worked with Ashfall researchers at the University of Nebraska State Museum as she wrote this story, which reads like adventure fiction, moving back and forth through different time periods to tell the story of this incredible archaeological discovery. Black and white illustrations and photos bring the story to life; the black artwork bringing to mind woodcut artwork that beautifully lends an ancient feel to these prehistoric animals. Alison Pearce Stevens generates emotion as she describes the agonizing deaths caused by the volcanic ash as deftly as she explains how a horse’s hoof evolved from three toes to one for easier movements like pivoting to evade predators. Back matter includes a glossary of terms – bolded in the book’s text – that come up throughout the narrative. There is also an author’s note and additional resources. Essential for ancient history readers.

Author Alison Pearce Steven’s website includes links to fun science videos and to activities related to Rhinos in Nebraska via TeachersPayTeachers.com. You can find more of Matt Huynh’s illustration work at his website. The American Museum of Natural History has a great, printable sedimentary layers puzzle available for free download.

Posted in History, Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Tween Reads, Women's History

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Speak Up, Speak Out! The Extraordinary Life of “Fighting” Shirley Chisholm

Welcome to the Speak Up, Speak Out! by Tonya Bolden Blog Tour!

To celebrate Black History Month and the release of Speak Up, Speak Out!: The Extraordinary Life of Fighting Shirley Chisholm by Tonya Bolden (January 4th), 5 blogs across the web are featuring posts from the book and author, as well as 5 chances to win!


Two Truths and a Lie about Shirley Chisholm
by Tonya Bolden

When I started on my journey with the life of Shirley Chisholm, I had a pretty good grasp of the outline of her life and the highlights. When I delved into the research I was truly surprised by a lot of what I learned about her.

I knew, for example, that while in Congress Shirley was responsible for legislation that got domestic workers included in the minimum wage law. I knew she fought for the construction of more affordable housing and funds for better public schools, but I had no idea that she fought for funds for research on autism and pushed for the federal government to use recycled paper when printing the Congressional Record. (In 1969, for example, the Congressional Record was more than 40,000 pages long!)

I also did not know that when Shirley ran for president in 1972 she spoke up and out about the need to take good care of the environment. And while I knew that Shirley was a staunch advocate for civil rights and women’s rights I did not know that she supported the gay rights movement.

When I started on my journey with Fighting Shirley Chisholm I would have struck out when it came to spotting the following two truths and the one lie about her.

1. Shirley prided herself on her dance skills. The merengue, the tango, and the rhumba were among her favorite dances. She also did a lot of dancing with her fingers—on the piano, that is.

2. When Shirley was young she toyed with the idea of becoming an actress and she later often wore some rather dramatic outfits.

3. Shirley Chisholm was a founder of the National Organization for Women formed in 1966 with the purpose of taking “action to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society now, exercising all the privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men.”

So. . .
.

.

.

.

.

1. Shirley did love to dance. The merengue, the tango, and the rhumba were among her favorite dances at one point. “I come alive on a dance floor,” she told a reporter in the late 1960s. “I’m very creative. I use my hands and my body. Even now I amaze people when I dance.”And she loved playing the piano. When she was young, although here parents didn’t have a lot of money they scraped together enough for her to have piano lessons and to buy a piano on an installment plan.

2. Shirley, who had the gift of mimicry, did toy with the idea of becoming an actress. “My mother always thanked God that I had brains and got to college on scholarship,” she recalled. “Had I not been able to go to college I would have gone to the devil in the theater, [my mother] thought.” And, yes, Shirley was a stylish and at times flamboyant dresser.

3.  Though she later joined NOW, she was not a founder.


Buy | Add on Goodreads

“The strength of Bolden’s skill as a researcher is evident; chapter by chapter, she provides succinct but critical context around the motivations and movements of Chisholm’s political career. An insightful and focused profile of a political trailblazer.”
– Kirkus Reviews

“This lively, detailed look at Chisholm’s personal and political life shines in its portrayal of a strong woman who never backed down…”
– Booklist

“Tonya Bolden brings Shirley Chisholm’s vibrant spirit to life…an engaging and readable style.”
– School Library Connection

From award-winning author Tonya Bolden comes a biography of the first Black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and the first Black woman to run for president with a major political party: Shirley Chisholm.

Before there was Barack Obama, before there was Kamala Harris, there was Fighting Shirley Chisholm. A daughter of Barbadian immigrants, Chisholm developed her political chops in Brooklyn in the 1950s and went on to become the first Black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. This “pepper pot,” as she was known, was not afraid to speak up for what she thought was right. While fighting for a better life for her constituents in New York’s 12th Congressional District, Chisholm routinely fought against sexism and racism in her own life and defied the norms of the time. As the first Black woman in the House and the first Black woman to seek the presidential nomination from a major political party, Shirley Chisholm laid the groundwork for those who would come after her.

Extensively researched and reviewed by experts, this inspiring biography traces Chisholm’s journey from her childhood in a small flat in Brooklyn where she read books with her sisters to Brooklyn College where she got her first taste of politics. Readers will cheer Chisholm on to victory from the campaign trail to the hallowed halls of the U.S. Capitol, where she fought for fair wages, equal rights, and an end to the Vietnam War. And while the presidential campaign trail in 1972 did not end in victory, Shirley Chisholm shows us how you can change a country when you speak up and speak out.

 

Website

Tonya Bolden has authored, edited and co-authored more than 40 books. Her work has garnered numerous awards, including the Coretta Scott King Honor, the James Madison Book Award, the NCSS Carter G. Woodson Honor, the Children’s Book Guild of Washington, D.C.’s Nonfiction Award, the NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children, the Virginia Library Association Jefferson Cup Award and the Cleveland Public Library Sugarman Award.  Lauded for her skilled storytelling, impeccable research and lively text, Tonya lives New York City.


GIVEAWAY

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • One (1) winner will receive a hardcover of Speak Up, Speak Out! by Tonya Bolden
  • US/Can only
  • Ends 3/6 at 11:59pm ET
  • Check out the other stops on the tour for more chances to win!

Blog Tour Schedule:
February 21st – Pragmatic Mom
February 22nd – The Nonfiction Detectives
February 23rd – Ms. Yingling Reads
February 24th – Daddy Mojo
February 25th – Mom Read It

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.