Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Books about things that go

It’s time for a vehicle book roundup! I’ve got the new Sherri Duskey Rinker, a Pop-Up Guide, and a Do You Know? for the wee ones. Let’s roll out!

 

The Pop-Up Guide: Vehicles, by Maud Poulain/Illustrated by Charline Picard, (Sept. 2021, Twirl Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9791027609994
Ages 2-5
These Pop-Up Guides from Twirl Books are too much fun. The newest one is all about vehicles: what vehicles roll around in different locations and what they do. Visit a bustling city with street cleaners, buses, trains and more going about their workday, then visit a more rural area, where farm vehicles like tractors and harvesters get to work. Emergency vehicles help save people, and roads and rails get you where you need to go. You can travel through the sea and sky with vehicles, you can race them, and you can use them to transport all sorts of things! Ten spreads fold out to 3-D landscapes with colorful, labeled vehicles and local color, and a few descriptive sentences place the reader in each of the settings. There are elastic bands to hold pages and allow for hands-free reading and play; get some minifigs and small action figures and let the littles really explore! Keep a reference copy on hand for storytimes; the pages are sturdy but will heavily circulate.

 

 

Do You Know? Vehicles and Transportation, by Camille Babeau, Illustrated by Benjamin Bécue, Julie Mercier, & Cristian Turdera, (Oct. 2021, Twirl Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9782408029159

Ages 5-8

Another fun entry in Twirl’s Do You Know series hits shelves in just a couple of weeks! Vehicles and Transportation is full of facts and detailed illustrations of vehicles, from people (transportation had to start somewhere!) and animals, cruise ships, military vehicles, hot air balloons, and more. Chapters are organized into land, water, and air vehicles, with a final “More to Know” chapter that lays out the big points of all the content, including a travel timeline, a review of different machines, and future vehicles. Cross-section illustrations provide detailed information, and helpful Q&A sections run on each page. Learn answers how to recognize an emergency vehicle; how a steam engine works, and when you can try hang gliding! There is a wealth of information, laid out in a way that is easy and engaging to read. The book is fully indexed for easy reference, too. Make a display of Do You Know? books, or match this up with Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go, Mike Lowery’s The Way Downtown and Nadja Spiegelman and Sergio Garcia Sánchez’s Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure. Have coloring sheets on hand!
Construction Site: Road Crew, Coming Through!, by Sherri Duskey Rinker/Illustrated by AG Ford, (Oct. 2021, Chronicle Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9781797204727
Ages 2-5
Sherri Duskey Rinker, ruling headmistress of the transportation story, is back with a new Construction Site story! In this latest rhyming tale, the construction team heads off to their biggest job yet as they build a superhighway. Kids meet a group of new machines with exciting, big jobs: Water Truck squirts water on the ground to keep dirt and grit from flying around; Paver lays down asphalt and Roller smashes the asphalt down to make the surface even and flat; Striper Truck rolls down the road, spray painting yellow and white lines to keep the traffic moving. With teamwork like this, happy cars will be driving down the new mega-road in no time! Kids love these books, and it’s so easy to see why: Sherri Duskey Rinker’s text is cheerful, with happy rhymes about friendship, teamwork, and enjoying one’s work. AG Ford’s wax and oil crayon illustrations depict happy vehicles working and driving together, helping one another out, and getting the job done. An author’s note at the end calls the reader’s attention to a coyote at the beginning of the book, who shows up later, and mentions that road builders are increasingly taking local wildlife “travelers” into account and making special allowances to accommodate them. Visit Sherri Rinker’s website for more of her Construction Crew books (including some upcoming books!), and visit artist AG Ford’s website to see more of his gorgeous artwork, including his Children’s Book Gallery. Download activity kits, teachers’ guides, and watch videos at the Good Night Construction Site.
Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Two animal adventures for you: The Walloos’ Big Adventure and Obi’s Mud Bath

I’ve got two adorable animal adventures with ecological messages for you today. Have a look!

Obi’s Mud Bath, by Annette Schottenfeld/Illustrated by Folasade Adeshida, (June 2021, Spork, $17.99, ISBN: 978-1950169535

Ages 4-8

Obi is an adorable little rhino who wants to enjoy  mud bath, but his home in Zimbabwe is experiencing a drought. As he searches for an ooey, gooey, mud bath, he meets other an ostrich, a giraffe, and an elephant, all of whom help out when he gets his snout stuck in one situation after the next. Will poor Obi ever find a way to cool off? As the animals join together in their search to cool off and find water, they may just be able to make some magic happen. Inspired by a true story, Obi’s Mud Bath introduces concepts like climate change and its effects on the animal population – the current drought in Zimbabwe is at crisis levels – and examines ideas of determination and teamwork. Adorable animal illustrations will delight animal fans.

Back matter includes the story of Mark, the rhino who inspired Obi’s Mud Bath, and a glossary of words in Shona, one of the most widely spoken of 16 languages in Zimbabwe, and English. A portion of the proceeds from sales of Obi’s Mud Bath will be donated to Water.org, an organization which providing families around the world with access to safe water and sanitation. Illustrator Folasade Adeshida hails from Laos, Nigeria; you can see more of her illustration work at her website. Author Annette Shottenfeld also used the services of a sensitivity reader, Fubright Scholar and lecturer in African Studies, Esau Jabulani Mavindidze, as she wrote Obi’s Mud Bath.

The Walloos’ Big Adventure, by Anuska Allepuz, (July 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536215311

Ages 3-7

The Walloos are kangaroo-like animals that live on a small, rocky island where Little Walloo dreams of having an adventure. The family travels to a tropical island, where they begin using the island’s plants for food and building, but something doesn’t feel right. The island is making funny sounds and… moving! When the Walloos realize that their island is actually a big hippo, they’re delighted, until they realize that they’ve made life rough on the hippo, by stripping away all the plants that used to keep Hippo cool and shaded. If Hippo can’t get relief from the hot sun, he’s going to have to go underwater, and that will be disastrous for the Walloos! The family quickly gets to work on making positive changes to help undo some of the damage they’ve done. A sweet story about adventure, with a great message about being sensitive to the environment, The Walloos’ Big Adventure is adorable storytelling. Mixed media illustrations are colorful; kids will love the cute Walloo family and the lush settings. Hippo has a kind face and is huge in scale to the Walloos, giving kids a nice side lesson in scale.

Adorable, and gives real meaning to the phrase, “Take only photos, leave only footprints”.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Uncategorized

The Book of Hugs: Tim Harris tells you everything you need to know about hugging

The Book of Hugs, by Tim Harris/Illustrated by Charlie Astrella, (Sept. 2021, Flowerpot Press), $12.99, ISBN: 9781486721047

Ages 4-7

Hug-master Tim Harris – seriously, he is a world record holder for giving hugs – has written the book that’s just what we need right about now. It’s all about different types of hugs: happy hugs, sad hugs, fast hugs, bear hugs, they’re all in here, and Tim tells you how to give them. He even gives you the important steps to follow to give the best hugs: make sure the recipient wants to receive a hug; open those arms up really wide, and hug them nice and tight, but cozy and comfortable. You can make people feel better with a hug, and you can give someone a quick hug or a nice, 10-second hug. Are you friends with a monkey? There’s monkey hugging tips in here, too! Adorable illustrations of Teddy Bear Tim – our guide to hugging – and his monkey friends are like hugs themselves: warm colors, softly illustrated, and with all the wonderful emotions that a good hug evokes: closed eyes, tucked in heads, and joyful smiles. The word on consent makes this a particularly great read-aloud for preschool through the lower grades. Cheerful endpapers show cascades of yellow bananas – you have to have them for the monkeys, you see!

Tim Harris is a disability advocate, Special Olympics athlete, and restaurateur who had hugs on the menu of his New Mexico restaurant, Tim’s Place. He closed his restaurant, but is now a motivational speaker and heads up Tim’s Big Heart Enterprises. Visit his Instagram page here.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Luna Loves Dance… You should, too!

Luna Loves Dance, by Joseph Coelho/Illustrated by Fiona Lumbers, (Sept. 2021, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-68464-273-1

Ages 4-7

Luna is a little girl who loves to dance, but loses faith in herself when she stumbles at a dance tryout. Convinced she’s not “really” a dancer, Luna’s family works to show her that it’s the love of dancing that makes you a dancer at heart, not perfection. Facing fears, embracing joy, and knowing that you are good enough are beautifully conveyed. Luna is an adorable little girl of color with a white mom and a dad of color; we meet her grandparents, also people of color, who love to dance the Charleston, Crazy Legs, and Heels and play old jazz records when they dance with Lulu. There is colorful, joyful artwork throughout, including a vibrant Carnival street scene that opens into a gatefold spread. Endpapers show Lulu and a variety of diverse children putting on their dancing shoes and dancing in different styles: a girl in hijab spots roller skates; a white boy in ’70s bell bottoms and a patterned shirt strikes a Travolta-esque disco pose; a boy of color goes on pointe in ballet shoes. Embrace joy and read this one to your little ones.

Originally published in Great Britain earlier this year, this is the third Lulu adventure, all available in the U.S. from Kane Miller. They are also available in Spanish, which means I’ll be loading up another cart for my library kids!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Essential school year knowledge: How to Be Cooler Than Cool

How to Be Cooler Than Cool, by Sean Taylor/Illustrated by Jean Jullien, (July 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536215298

Ages 3-7

A cat finds a pair of sunglasses, dons them, and immediately pronounces herself “cooler than cool”. She really is… until she decides that she’s so cool, she can go down the slide backwards, to look “cooler than cool… WITH EXTRA COOL ON TOP”! When she falls and her glasses get knocked off, Cockatoo and Pig each find the glasses, adapting the same “cooler than cool” stance, until they, too, try stunts that end much like Cat’s. The glasses were supposed to make them cooler than cool; what happened? Chick stops by to teach them the best lesson: having fun and not being worried about looking cooler than cool? That’s the coolest thing of all. A smart, laugh-out-loud funny story about being concerned with appearances, kids will love and see themselves in How to Be Cooler Than Cool. I say this as a mom who’s seen my own kids hold punching contests, sliding sandwich contests (using the slide to slam into the kid before you, piling on and on until someone eventually goes flying), and, for some reason, deciding against wearing a sweatshirt or jacket when it’s chilly out, all in the quest of looking eternally cool. Jean Jullien’s bold ink illustrations capture the spirit of the story, with hilarious posing and the aftermath of “being cool”.

An excellent readaloud choice, make sure to don your own supercool glasses (or not, it may be too dark to read, and that will certainly NOT be cool).

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

I think, therefore I am: a chick ponders her world in Ergo

Ergo, by Alexis Deacon/Illustrated by Viviane Schwarz, (July 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536217803

Ages 3-6

There’s something for everyone in this philosophical primer for little ones. Ergo is a chick who wakes up, deciding to explore her world. She wiggles her toes, flaps her wings, gives a tentative peck with her beak, and decides that “I am the world and the world is me”… until she realizes that the world, her world, is far more complex than that.

I had to mention this to my 18-year-old, whose mind was blown by the fact that the author created a kid-friendly story of Plato’s Cave. And that’s exactly what Ergo is! Kids will love the story of a chick discovering its egg, and the existential freakout when she realizes that she isn’t as in control as she previously thought. Viviane Schwarz’s simple ink and watercolor illustrations translate the message, giving life and meaning to Alexis Deacon’s story, with an adorable wide-eyed chick who wants desperately to figure it all out.

Me? I’d give this one as a baby shower gift, too. Adorable, hilarious, perfect. Engage your littles with a post-storytime craft by letting them create thumbprint Ergos of their own.

Posted in picture books

Louder, for the people in the back: When We Say Black Lives Matter

When We Say Black Lives Matter, by Maxine Beneba Clarke, (Sept. 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536222388

Ages 5-9

There’s been a lot of histrionics over the Black Lives Matter movement and meaning. Some folx will counter with the dreaded “all lives matter” response, and some will panic and try to accuse BLM of being terrorists. Certain school districts have gone so far as to attempting banning books that show positive portrayals of people of color. Award-winning writer and slam poet champion Maxine Beneba Clarke takes up the charge with her picture book in verse, When We Say Black Lives Matter; it’s a quiet, inspirational, powerful talk between caregiver and child, explaining the need for understanding and recognition. Loving words, like “little one”, “little love”, and “darling” lead into the many ways we can share the message: calling out Black Lives Matter; singing, screaming, sobbing, even laughing the words, and what they communicate: “When we whisper / Black Lives Matter, / we’re remembering the past. / All the terrible things / that were said and done, / we’re saying they trouble our hearts”. Each verse examines the Black Lives Matter message and what it means, throughout history, to this moment. Watercolor pencil and collage artwork inspires introspection and joy; colorful endpapers show demonstrators holding signs calling for “Love” and “Black Lives Matter”. The book celebrates Black Lives and encourages you to celebrate them, too. An essential book for all library shelves, whether they’re in your library, your classroom, or your home.

When We Say Black Lives Matter has starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Armchair Traveling? Take Australian Baby Animals with you!

Australian Baby Animals, by Frané Lessac, (Aug. 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536215274

Ages 2-5

Animal lovers are going to flip for this adorable book full of Australian baby animals and their parents. Fun facts run throughout the book, grouping animals together by their baby names (kangaroo, wombat, possum, koala, and Tasmanian devil babies are all called “joeys”‘) and how they interact with their parents. A sea dragon dad carries fry eggs (baby sea dragons!) on their tails until they hatch and drift away; echidna puggles (one of the cutest baby animal names ever) don’t have any spines, and flying fox pups get all the cuddles when  mom wraps her wings around them like a blanket. Bold fonts, fluid text that moves around the artwork, and colorful gouache artwork will delight readers. Spare text is informational and fits in well for an animal storytime.

Pair this with Frané Lessac’s 2018 abcedary, A is for Australian Mammals, for a unit on Australia, and check out this virtual field trip to the Australia Zoo, courtesy of Teach or Travel on TeachersPayTeachers.com.

Posted in Intermediate, picture books

The weight of a moment: Once Upon a Time There Was and Will Be So Much More

Once Upon a Time There Was and Will Be So Much More, by Johanna Schaible, (Sept. 2021, Candlewick Studio), $18.99, ISBN: 9781536222135

Ages 5-9

Collage artist Johanna Schaible’s debut picture book weighs time in terms of the universe and our place in it. Beginning with the formation of our world, the first half of the book catalogs time, inviting readers to consider all that has happened; the second half invites readers to consider their place in time, asking them thought-provoking questions about their future. As readers move through time, the pages decrease in size, then increase as they move through the present into the future. The collage artwork is breathtaking, spanning eons of time: volcanoes erupting in the earth’s formation; Pteranodons soaring across a prehistoric sky; a steamship traversing an ocean.  It’s a wonderful book that plays with perspective and thought on large and small moments, with the big stuff: the formation of the planet, the construction of the pyramids, hopes for the future, laid out on larger pages; progressively smaller moments fit into smaller pages. It’s a wonderful visual explanation for small moment writing, and encouraging introspection.

Once Upon a Time There Was and Will Be So Much More has a starred review from School Library Journal.

Posted in picture books

The fascinating is often right in front of you: The Collectors

The Collectors, by Alice Feegan, (May 2021, Kids Can Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781525302046

Ages 4-8

Two friends go on a nature expedition to find the perfect piece to complete their collection, only to discover a most outstanding wonder right outside their window in this STEM-inspired story. Alice and Winslow are two exploring friends who have their treasures on display in a magnificent treehouse, but they need one final piece to complete it. They go on an expedition where they discover amazing things, from a giant crystal to a buried T-Rex skull, but each new discovery is out of reach for one reason or other. When their last discovery – a very cranky bear! – sends them running back to their treehouse, they look over the accomplishments of the day and celebrate what they were able to achieve; an exciting noise outside draws their attention and reveals the most exciting discovery of all, right outside their window. The book has a great message about tenacity, discovery, and friendship. Budding naturalists and researchers will appreciate the collaboration and teamwork the girls exhibit, and the fact that they plan, journal, and catalog their findings. Alice Feagan’s cut paper collage illustrations add depth, encouraging the reader’s attention and capturing the varyious textures of different landscapes, like gritty stalagmites and stalactites to rough trees. The endpapers show off Alice and Winslow’s cabinet of curiosities.

The Collectors is great readaloud for STEM and science classes. Encourage kids to make their own nature journals and observe their own surroundings. Ask kids what they like to collect – my son has a rock collection with interesting-shaped rocks and pebbles that he’s kept for years – and if they have a special place to show them off.