Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

When Molly Ate the Stars… A Tale of Kindness

When Molly Ate the Stars, by Joyce Hesselberth, (Sept. 2022, Chronicle Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9781797209401

Ages 3-5

On a starlit night, a girl named Molly decides to taste a star; its taste is so delicious, she gobbles them all up, leaving a dark, starless night. As Molly walks through the night, friends invite her to spend time with them, but she declines until she realizes that the world is a darker, gloomier place. Freeing the stars, she rejoins her friends to fill her with warmth and light. Molly’s dress looks like a cage, complete with lock and key, that she uses to hold and eventually free the stars; a cool purple and blue palette is a lovely contrast to the warm, redheaded Molly and her starlit body, illustrating her leeching the light and warmth of the night sky from her surroundings. A gentle reminder that we draw our strength and our inner light from the connections we make in our lives, When Molly Ate the Stars is a good choice for storytimes and collections where fables and fairy tales are popular.

Visit Joyce Hesselberth’s webpage for free printable activities!

 

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour: Lily and May Learn Why Mom and Dad Work

“Dadvisor” Anthony Delauney has a new book in his series of children’s books on financial literacy: Lilly and May Learn Why Mom and Dad Work is a rhyming story about why parents go to work.

Lilly and May Learn Why Mom and Dad Work, by Anthony C. Delauney,
(Oct. 2022, Mascot Books), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1-63755-292-6

Ages 4-7

Sisters Lilly and May cry after seeing their father head off to work, and Mom is there to explain: we have to work so that we have money to give our kids everything they need, from a home and food, to clothes and utilities. Money really does make the world go ’round, too: our money pays for other people’s jobs, from teachers and scientists to people who perform day-to-day services that keep our lives moving, like construction workers and firefighters. Mom explains all the reasons we earn and save money, and playful rhyme makes for a fun readaloud. Digital illustrations make for cheerful characters. The family appears biracial; Dad is lights-skinned, Mom is brown-skinned, and Lilly and May are light brown-skinned. Endpapers show a variety of people in different jobs. Back matter includes a fun matching game for children.

Visit Anthony C. Delauney’s website, Owning the Dash, for free financial literacy resources for children and parents.

Posted in picture books

Sloth’s Treehouse Inn is getting a little crowded!

Sloth’s Treehouse Inn, by Carrie Hasler/Illustrated by Christina Wald, (Oct. 2022, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781943198139

Ages 4-8

Deep in the Amazon rainforest, Santiago the Sloth is the innkeeper at The Treehouse Inn; it’s a place where residents of the forest can go to relax, hang around, and take long naps. As humans encroach on the rainforest, more and more animals find themselves seeking shelter at The Treehouse Inn, and Santiago worries that he’ll run out of room. Luckily, out of the destruction, a spark of hope shines through: Santiago sees humans working together to plant new plants and trees, to grow new trees and plants and give back some of the land taken away. Inspired by the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and conservation partners working together to study and rejuvenate the Amazon rainforest, Sloth’s Treehouse Inn is a gentle story about a very real danger facing our planet: the decimation of our natural resources. Back matter includes a note on the work being done to save the rainforest, and information on how kids can help. Front endpapers list Amazon animal fun facts printed on giant leaves; back endpapers show animals of the rainforest on a picture taken from inside the story. Realistic artwork has a touch of cartoon softness to endear Amazon residents to children; deep natural colors dominate the scenery. Storytelling personifies the animals and creates investment in the plight of the rainforest and the animals who live there; by showing people working together to reinvest in the natural resources, readers understand that humans have the ability to help – it’s not a lost cause! A good selection for animal collections and an excellent choice for rainforest and biome collections for younger learners.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

My Dog, Hen embraces the chaos and joy of a new puppy

My Dog, Hen, by David Mackintosh, (Oct. 2022, Prestel Junior), $16.95, ISBN: 9783791375359

Ages 4-8

A boy and his family adopt a new pet and discover the fun – and the pandemonium – that a new puppy can bring. The family brings the Hen, a mixed breed dog, home and sets about making him as comfortable as possible, but all Hen wants to do is chew on everything: furniture, his bed and toys, even the “indestructible” toys that the boy buys from the pet store. Grandma arrives and sews a toy that even Hen can’t destroy, leading to a conversation about what’s considered disposable, from Dad’s mended socks to Hen himself: “Why should we get a brand new dog when Hen is as good as new to us?” “Why get new socks if Gran can make old ones as good as new?” High-contrast artwork incorporates negative space to make a visually interesting story, and Mackintosh’s simple and to-the-point storytelling, narrated by a child, delivers a thought-provoking message about the throwaway society we are turning around. A good purchase for storytime collections. Pair with Cary Fagan’s Little Blue Chair for a storytime with a message; encourage kids to craft with materials from other projects, whether they be scraps of fabric, old socks, and scraps of paper from previous projects.

 

Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction, picture books

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

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

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

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

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

Ages 6-8

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

 

 

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

Ages 6-8

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

 

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

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Mama in Congress! A working mom’s tale

Mama in Congress: Rashida Tlaib’s Journey to Washington, by Rashida and Adam Tlaib & Miranda Paul/Illustrated by Olivia Aserr, (Sept. 2022, Clarion Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9780358683438

Ages 4-8

Growing up in southwest Detroit, Michigan, Rashida Tlaib was the oldest of 14 children and the first in her immigrant family to graduate from high school. Having experienced prejudice and inequality growing up, she decided to “start opening doors for other people who had grown up poor or been treated unfairly”: she worked for an elected official at the Michigan House of Representatives, eventually being elected to the state House of Representatives – and then the U.S. House of Representatives – herself! Narrated by her son Adam, Congresswoman Tlaib’s story is motivational: She and her family encounter racism and threats, but she perseveres in her goal to make life better for her constituents. She remembers growing up with pollution and how leaders ignored their neighborhood; she remembers the racism and poverty around her, and uses these memories to fight for better. Adam writes from the point of view of a child who sees his mom as inspiration and yet, she’s still Mom, and humanizes her, endearing her to readers. Colorful illustrations are cartoon-realistic and include details like Tlaib’s sons walking through Congress with her and standing outside her office. The story and artwork both honor Tlaib’s Muslim culture and faith. Back matter includes a glossary of terms and an explanation on the three branches of the U.S. government. An excellent introduction to government and civics for younger readers, and a great choice for collections. Download a free guide to the First Amendment for kids on author Miranda Paul’s webpage.

Visit Congresswoman Tlaib’s Congressional webpage here.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Magnolia Flower introduces children to Zora Neale Hurston

Magnolia Flower, by Zora Neale Hurston, Adapted by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi/Illustrated by Loveis Wise, (Sept. 2022, Amistad Books), $19.99, ISBN: 9780063098312

Ages 4-8

National Book Award Winner Dr. Ibram X. Kendi adapts Zora Neale Hurston’s short story, “Magnolia Flower”, for children in this gorgeous tale of an Afro-Indigenous girl and the man she loves. Magnolia Flower is the daughter of an escaped slave named Bentley and an Indigenous woman named Swift Deer, who “had fled her own trail of tears”. Their daughter, Magnolia Flower, falls in love with a man of letters, but Bentley wants more for his daughter and tries separating the two; Magnolia Flower makes a decision to follow her heart. Dr. Kendi beautifully retells Hurston’s tale for young audiences, assuring that her legacy will continue. Loveis Wise’s digital illustrations have a gorgeous folk art quality to them, with vibrant color and a strong connection to nature. Colorful magnolias embellish the endpapers. Back matter includes a historical note on the setting of “Magnolia Flower” and an author’s note on Hurston’s work. This is the first of six classic works by Hurston that Kendi will adapt for younger audiences. A breathtaking book that deserves a place in any collection.

For more information about Zora Neale Hurston, including reading group guides, excerpts, and syllabi, visit the official website of Zora Neale Hurston’s estate.

Magnolia Flower received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Opportunity, the Mars rover who charmed a planet

Hello, Opportunity: The Story of Our Friend on Mars, by Shaelyn McDaniel/Illustrated by Cornelia Li, (Sept. 2022, Page Street Kids), $18.99, ISBN: 9781645674696

Ages 4-8

The true story of Opportunity, the Mars rover who captivated watchers on Earth, is the star of this picture book biography. Author Shaelyn McDaniel begins with a story of how humans set and achieved exploration goals: humans wanted to go to the sky, so we did. We wanted to go to the moon, so we did. But when we wanted to go to Mars, it was a little too far away, “so we sent a friend instead”. Opportunity , built by scientists, went into space and spent 15 years on what was originally 3 month mission, but a storm hit the planet, draining the rover’s batteries and shutting her down. McDaniel humanizes Opportunity with phrases like “Oppy called home often” and “she sent selfies so we would know she was okay”; as Opportunity shuts down, scientists sent a lullaby – “a kiss from her friends on Earth”. It’s an emotional moment, made more poignant by Cornelia Li’s digital illustration of a satellite broadcasting colorful musical notes into space. Much of the illustration is orange-red tinged, with and there are genuinely breathtaking moments as Opportunity roves the Red planet, groves digging into the ground and layered dunes. Endpapers show Mars from the Earth’s point of view and Earth from Mars’s point of view, and back matter includes more information about Opportunity. A bibliography is available via QR code. Hello, Opportunity will endear the rover to a new generation of sky-watchers who may be inspired to find her on Mars one day. A sweet storytime addition to your space collections. A downloadable activity kit includes games and the opportunity to send a postcard to Opportunity.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Author Michelle Dumont’s doggone great reading list for National Dog Week

National Dog Week is this week, and author Michelle Dumont – whose book, Phoebe Cakes and Friends: An Alphabet Tail, publishes next week – has been lovely enough to provide a list of some of her favorite doggo books! This is a great list, fun to share with your kiddos and your pups alike. Watch this space for a post about Phoebe Cakes in the near future, too!

 

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Don’t Worry, Murray, by David Ezra Stein

We all have worries but dear adorable Murray has many worries. For children, like Murray, life’s little stressors can seem overwhelming. Learning with Murray makes everything less of a worry.

Recommended age: 4 to 8 years

 

Pig the Pug: Blabey, Aaron, Blabey, Aaron: 9781338112450: Amazon.com: Books

Pig The Pug, by Aaron Blabey

Pig the Pug does not like to share. I think we’ve all been there….

Stubborn Pig learns the lesson of sharing with his dear friend Trevor.  I’m especially fond of the illustrations. It’s difficult not to love a rotund stubborn bug-eyed pug.

Recommended age: 3 to 5 years

 

The Rainbow Bridge : A Visit to Pet Paradise (Paperback) - Walmart.com

The Rainbow Bridge: A Visit To Pet Paradise, by Adrian Raeside

Cross the Rainbow Bridge and enter a magical pet paradise where the sun always shines, and playtime never ends. This is a wonderful story for anyone who has experienced the loss of a beloved pet.

 

Amazon.com: MUTTS: A Celebration of Mystery Mixed Breeds: 9781733634175:  Pritchard, Olivia Grey: Books

Recommended age: 4 to 9 MUTTS: A Celebration of Mystery Mixed Breeds, by Olivia Grey Pritchard

“Excuse me, what breed is your dog?”

This book is for anyone who loves dogs. With each camera click, photographer Olivia Pritchard, captures the spirit of the “MUTT”.

MUTT in my opinion, should stand for Mysterious, Unique, Talented, Tail wager.

A portion of the proceeds from this book will be donated to animal rescues.

Recommended age: All ages

 

Phoebe Cakes and Friends, An Alphabet Tail, by Michelle Dumont

A is for Affenpinscher. Follow Phoebe on an A-to-Z tail wagging adventure.

Learning the alphabet with a tiny bulldog named Phoebe and all her furry friends has never been more entertaining.

This is the second book in the Phoebe Tails series. The first book, “Phoebe Cakes, A Mardi Gras Tail” follows Phoebe through the streets of New Orleans as she searches for a parade just for dogs. A portion of the proceeds from this book will be donated to the New Orleans Bulldog Rescue.

Recommended age: Baby to 6 years

More about Michelle Dumont:
Michelle Dumont lives in New Orleans with her family and four furry friends. A licensed Respiratory Therapist and Asthma Educator, she began writing following the advice of a friend. Like Phoebe, she loves long car rides, peanut butter and everything New Orleans.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Over and Under the Waves explores the ocean

Over and Under the Waves, by Kate Messner/Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal, (Sept. 2022, Chronicle Kids), $18.99, ISBN: 9781797203478

Ages 4-7

Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal’s latest Over and Under story explores the ocean ecosystem. Narrated in the first person by a child while out rowing with their family, we encounter sea lions sunning on the rocks, birds soaring overhead, and a mother and baby otter cuddling among the kelp. A glimpse below the water reveals an entirely different, bustling world: shimmering fish and bristly urchins; lurking eels and drifting jellies, and a giant surprise! There’s a sense of wonder in Messner’s storytelling, beautifully translated by Neal, who creates spread after spread of mixed media realistic ocean life. The family is present only to help place the reader in the story; nature takes center stage, with the human characters occasionally appearing from the side of the spread, or from far above to provide perspective. Endpapers show sea stars, fish, and shells in white silhouette across a field of deep blue. An author’s note describes Messner’s inspiration for the tale, and an “About the Animals” section provides a brief informational paragraph on each animal in the story. Recommended books and websites direct readers to further reading. A thoughtful meditation on the ocean, and an excellent addition to both this series and STEM/STEAM and nature collections.