Posted in Uncategorized

Missing Mommy: Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle

Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle, by Nina LaCour/Illustrated by Kaylani Juanita (March 2022, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536211511

Ages 3-7

A little girl loves her cuddly life with her Mama and her Mommy, but when Mommy has to go away for a week for work, she misses her more than anything. This book just bursts with joy and love, and is spot-on for any child who misses a beloved presence in their lives; something Nina LaCour touches on when the little girl shares her feelings with her class, and her friends weigh in, missing older siblings away at school, parents in another country, and pets that have run away. Nina LaCour embraces the childhood ache of missing a parent and the residual feelings when Mommy returns, and the little girl experiences the mixed emotions upon her return. She’s thrilled to have Mommy back home where she belongs, but confronts resentment at being left in the first place. Kaylani Juanita’s colorful mixed media illustrations show a loving family who lavish affection on one another. Mommy and the little girl are brown-skinned with hair and skin patches that allude to vitiligo. Mama is light-skinned, with lilac hair and tattoos. Inclusive and honest, Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle touches on all the right emotions kids experience when missing someone.

Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle has starred reviews from Booklist, Bookpage, and Publishers Weekly.

Posted in Uncategorized

Hiatus

Hi everyone. Just a quick note to apologize, but I’m taking a brief hiatus to deal with a family emergency. I’m not blog fading, and will be back; I can’t promise that it will be soon, but I will. Love to you all.

Posted in Intermediate, picture books, Preschool Reads, Uncategorized

Books About Nature to Brighten Your Spring

It’s time for a roundup! This time, we’ve got nature books to enjoy now that the Spring weather finally looks like it’s going to stick around. Get comfortable by your favorite tree, or sit in the warmth of the sun, and enjoy some of these Spring-y books.

Be Thankful for Trees : A tribute to the many & surprising ways trees relate to our lives, by Harriet Ziefert/Illustrated by Brian Fitzgerald, (March 2022, Red Comet Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9781636550206

Ages 4-8

This is a fantastic way to introduce younger readers to all the great ways people and animals depend on trees! A rhyming tale expounds on the seven big things trees provide: food; comfort; music; art; recreation; home, and life. Colorful illustrations shows trees in nature, and how they’re used in day-to-day life, from providing a forest full of animals with food, to a kitchen table seating a family for dinner; from a child playing a piano, to a bird feeding her babies high up on a branch. Each area opens with a repetitive question and answer: “Would life be satisfying/good/possible without trees? It would not!” During a read-aloud, it’s the perfect opportunity for interaction; invite your littles to tell you what they think. The verse reminds also readers that trees are essential to life on earth, and the man-made disasters that threaten them, like deforestation and forest fire; Ziefert encourages readers to “explore a cool forest with its pine-scented breeze” and to “remember forever, BE THANKFUL FOR TREES!”. Playful, cheery color illustrations add to the fun verse, and golden leaves pop from the blue endpapers, really making this a wonderful book for early childhood natural science readalouds.

Author Harriet Ziefert has written hundreds of children’s books. You can see more of illustrator Brian Fitzgerald’s work at his website.

Visit Red Comet’s book detail page for a free, downloadable Teachers Guide. TeachersPayTeachers has a wealth of free learning activities about trees. I really like the idea of adopting a “class tree” and journaling observations over the course of a school year, as Robynn Drerup’s class has. Amanda Whitaker also has a fun tree journal for kids. Our Time to Learn’s Tree Animals Coloring sheet is great to hand out after a readaloud.

Firsts and Lasts: The Changing Seasons, by Leda Schubert/Illustrated by Clover Robin, (March 2022, Candlewick Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781536211023

Ages 4-8

Every season comes with its own unique firsts and lasts. Leda Schubert and illustrator Clover Robin beautifully capture these moments in Firsts and Lasts: The Changing Season. Organized by season, the book offers gentle observation designed to provoke memories and warm feelings as we follow family through the year: Spring is the last time they (and we) wear snowsuits and build snow forts, but it’s the first time they see new grass, and wash the car; in the Fall, it’s the last time for things like going to the ice cream stand, but it’s the first time for seeing wooly caterpillars and jumping in leaves. Cut paper illustrations add a playful whimsy and the colors capture the feelings for each season; crisp winter skies and warm autumn leaves; bright spring flowers and lush summer landscapes. It’s a wonderful illustration of the transition nature – and people! – go through from season to season, and offers opportunities for kids to share their observations on seasonal change.

First and Lasts has a starred review from The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books.

KB3Teach has a fun Seasons Cut and Paste activity on TeachersPayTeachers that nicely extends this book. Teresa Tretbar’s Amazing Literacy has seasonal coloring pages and posters for you to hand out, too.

Olaf Hajek’s Fantastic Fruits, by Olaf Hajek (Illustrations) and Annette Roeder (Text), (Apr. 2022, Prestel Junior), $19.95, ISBN: 9783791375069

Ages 6-9

Olaf Hajek has made beautiful art from vegetables and flowers; now, fruit gets the Hajek treatment in Olaf Hajek’s Fantastic Fruits. Annette Roeder returns to provide fun and interesting profiles on 25 fruits, like the pomegranate, also known as the “apple of discord” that was created, according to Greek myth, by an angry goddess of strife and discord; the banana, whose curve is slowly being bred out of the fruit in order to make for easier stacking; and the fig, whose juice can help against insect bites. Factual information on each fruit’s countries of origin, and other names and varieties of each fruit run across the bottom of each profile, and – as we’ve come to expect from Hajek – colorful, stunning portraits are the star of the show in this oversized volume. A fox and a woman collect orange juice from giant fruits hanging from a tree in one painting; another woman serves cherry cake to a young boy and a bird as cherries hang from a tree and provide a headdress; a porcupine carries a gigantic blackberry and raspberry on its back through a field. Hajek’s playfully surreal artwork is sure to catch eyes and make new fans as they pore through the pages of this gorgeous book. Great for art sections and 634 sections (fruits, naturally!).

Visit Olaf Hajek’s illustrator webpage for more of his work.

 

What’s Cooking in Flowerville? Recipes from Balconies, Rooftops, and Gardens, by Felicita Sala, (Apr. 2022, Prestel Junior), $14.95, ISBN: 9783791375182

Ages 6-10

Flowerville is a bustling, multicultural neighborhood where everyone loves to grow and share food! Beginning in April, the book takes readers through the year, month by month, with Flowerville citizens tending to their plants: in April, Maria chops down her asparagus spears; in July, Ramon tests the floating ability of a cucumber as his parent waters the plants. Each month features a new recipe, made with ingredients shown in the artwork. In July, we get creamy tzatziki sauce; in November, roasted beet dip. Warm and colorful artwork shows families and friends sharing food and friendship, and gardening tips and recipes make this a handy gardening guide for families and classes. Pair with Francine Sala’s What’s Cooking at 10 Garden Street and Cynthia Cliff’s Pie for Breakfast for a worldwide trip for the palate.

Felicita Sala’s webpage has more of her illustration work, and a link to her food illustration is a must-see.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

I’m back!

Hi, all! I took a bit of a blog-cation to recharge my batteries and spend some time with my Kiddo, who was on his own Spring Break. Starting tomorrow, I’ll be back with more posts starting tomorrow!

Posted in Teen, Uncategorized, Young Adult/New Adult

Reputation is a Regency-era Mean Girls

Reputation, by Lex Croucher, (Apr. 2022, St. Martin’s Griffin), $16.99, ISBN: 9781250832832

Ages 16+

Georgiana Ellers is a 19-year-old young woman living with her aunt and uncle in Regency-era England. Her parents have rather unceremoniously left her in their care, selling their home and moving to the shore under the guise of her mother needing to look after her health. Resigning herself to the boredom and stress of society parties at the elbow of her ton-conscious aunt, Georgiana is delighted when she meets Frances Campbell – a somewhat scandalous member of society’s in-crowd, who immediately takes Georgiana under her wing. Frances and her crowd are given to wild partying, spending copious amounts of money, and spending an improper amount of time in the company of the opposite sex. Georgiana loses herself in the abandon of it all, but she feels like she’s falling just short of fitting in most of the time. She also falls hard for one of the young men on the fringes of the group, Thomas Hawksley, but he tends to pull back from the wilder group antics.

This book is riding high on the Bridgerton wave, and with good reason: it packs all the glamour of Regency-era Britain, with Shonda Rimes’s diverse additions making for a more exciting, interesting experience. Reputation certainly doesn’t overlook the issues rampant in Britain at the time; a biracial central character certainly experiences her share of side glances and comments. An LGBTQ+ subplot running through the main story, and there are themes of consent, agency, and social class.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Uncategorized

Self-publishing/Indie publishing spotlight!

I’ve got some more self-published and indie publishing books to crow about today!

 

Magic Wanda (Grandma’s Closet #3), by Lois Wickstrom/Illustrated by Francie Mion, (Nov. 2020, Look Under Rocks), $12.99, ISBN: 978-0916176792

Ages 4-7

Lois Wickstrom followed up her 2019 story, Carrie’s Flight, with another fun fantasy about a little girl named Carrie, her grandmother, and some magical flowers. Carrie discovers a box with “Wandas” written on it, so she opens it: there are flowers in the box, but what’s a Wanda? She videochats Grandma, who tells her that the flowers are Magic Wandas, and can help her get ready for her mother’s party. The flowers – named Rose, Lily, and Daisy – come to life and play with Carrie, turning into anything she wishes for. Will she be ready for her mom’s party in time if she keeps playing with the Wandas? A fun little fantasy for preschoolers and kindergartners. There’s a positive, playful relationship between Carrie and her grandmother, and I like the use of videochat to show the two staying in touch. Grandma always seems to have some magical fun up her sleeve, which adds to the enjoyment and might even prompt a child or two to see their grandparents a little differently: after all, who knows what magic they have to share? Soft pastel illustrations add to the gentle magic of the story, and fonts play with words to add interest.

 

 

Dinopotamus Solves a Mystery, by Lois Wickstrom, (Dec. 2020, Look Under Rocks), $12.99, ISBN: 978-0916176884

Ages 3-7

Dinopotamus is a friendly dinosaur-hippopotamus hybrid that likes to sleep in the classroom where he spends his day. He notices that he always gets the warm spot in the room, but when he decides to let the chilly students have his spot the next day, because they’re chilly, the spot isn’t warm anymore. Why is it always warm where Dinopotamus sleeps? This fun little STEM-based mystery looks at the science behind heat and energy. Dinopotamus Solves a Mystery is one of five Dinopotamus books by Lois Wickstrom.

Education.com has a heat transfer activity that’s a good place to start when explaining heat transfer; the activity is suggested for 2nd graders, but you can demonstrate it for younger ages.

 

 

 

Hannah’s Two Homes, by Melodie Tegay, (May 2018), $7.99, ISBN: 978-1641334747

Ages 3-5

Hannah is a 5-year-old girl whose parents are divorced and remarried. In simple, easy-to-understand sentences, Hannah describes her life with her parents and her “extra daddy” and “extra mommy”, her younger siblings, pets, and family holidays. Her Christian mother and Jewish father celebrate holidays like Passover and Easter, Christmas and Hanukkah, in their homes with Hannah; the whole family come together to celebrate Hannah’s birthday. Hannah knows that she’s always loved, no matter who’s house she’s living in. A good beginning for younger readers to understand what it means when parents divorce: that there’s always a place for them, that sometimes, parents will marry other people and have other children, but that they are always loved. Addressing fears and concerns with a comforting “I’ve been there” voice in Hannah, Hannah’s Two Homes is a good additional purchase for collections.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Books for Pet Lovers

It’s another roundup! This time, I’ve got books for pet lovers: large, small, stinky, all here!

 

Not That Pet!, by Smriti Prasadam-Halls/Illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw, (Feb. 2022, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536217766

Ages 2-5

Mabel is so excited: her family is letting her choose the family pet! Her first choice is a bit unorthodox – it’s an elephant – but hey, the elephant keeps the plants watered and pulls weeds, right? When the elephant seems to be a bit too big, the family asks her to make another choice. And another. And another. Mabel’s penchant for choosing unusual pets is upending her family in the most hilarious of ways: ants crawl into her dad’s pants, a snake gets a little too huggy, and skunk… well, you can guess what the skunk does. Can Mabel find a pet that’s going to fit in with her whole family? The hijinks are hilarious and Rosalind Beardshaw’s colorful, cartoony illustrations bring this family to big, colorful life as they try to acclimate to each new pet. The multi-generational, biracial family – Mabel’s mom is South Asian, her dad is white, and mom’s parents live with the family, as shown in a house cross-section. The story bounces humorously along, words in caps for emphasis; this will make a spectacular read-aloud. Mabel and her little brother have a sweet relationship, as he follows her through the book, engaging with each new pet she brings home. A good add to storytime collections.

 

 

Hat Cat, by Troy Wilson/Illustrated by Eve Coy, (Feb. 2022, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536213669

Ages 4-8

An elderly man visits the park to feed squirrels every day, and one day discovers that a kitten has taken up residence in his hat! He takes the kitten home, naming it Hat, and lavishes Hat with love and affection. He won’t let Hat outside to roam, though; he is afraid Hat won’t come back, and he’s afraid for the squirrels. But one day, the man doesn’t come home. A few days later, a woman and child arrive to take care of Hat, and an open door gives Hat the chance he’s waited for: he heads outside, but he doesn’t chase the squirrels and he doesn’t run away. He finds the Man’s hat, left on the bench, and he curls up to sleep in it. And when the Man finally comes back home, he, his caregivers, and Hat all sit together, outside, enjoying the day. Hat Cat is a moving story of friendship and companionship. Pencil and watercolor illustrations give a soft, gentle feel to the story, with the Man and Hat in their cozy book- and plant-filled home. When Hat realizes the Man is gone, the loneliness communicated is just heartbreaking: tiny Hat, standing against a door, the sun shining in, feels so big and empty, and the reunion between Hat and Man bring a warmth and coziness back to the story. The old man presents as white; the caregiver and her daughter are brown-skinned. Details like family photos on the wall give the old man a life beyond the confines of the book. A gorgeous book that evokes emotion.

 

Big Dog, Little Dog, by Sally Rippin/Illustrated by Lucinda Gifford, (March 2022, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684643837

Ages 3-6

A big dog learns about friendship in this adorable story, originally published in the UK in 2021. Big Dog has a good life with his male human, even if it feels a little lonely, from time to time. But things change when Big Dog’s human meets a lady, who has a Little Dog. The two humans move in together, and Big Dog is not thrilled about sharing his home with Little Dog, who interprets things like “Sit”, “Up”, and “Come” very differently. Big Dog has had the run of the house, and now Little Dog – who’s better behaved – seems to be stealing his thunder. Big Dog goes on a campaign of chaos to try framing Little Dog, but when he goes too far, he’s put out for the night; Little Dog refuses to go to sleep without Big Dog, and raises a ruckus indoors until the two are reunited, leading to a friendship between the former rivals. Little Dog calms some of Big Dog’s rebellious nature, and Big Dog teaches Little Dog that it’s okay to take a mud bath every now and then. Big Dog’s owner presents as white, Little Dog’s owner is brown-skinned. Endpapers show Big Dog running across a park in the opening spread, and being joined by Little Dog in the closing. The dogs are expressive from their faces to their active tails, and the illustrations show the amusing difference between Big Dog’s and Little Dog’s interpretations of commands like “UP!” (he lies on the couch; Little Dog jumps into his human’s arms) and “Walkies!” (he takes off, dragging his human being him; Little Dog walks alongside his human). Great for dog fans and kids with new siblings, Big Dog Little Dog shows kids that even the roughest of beginnings can lead to a sweet ending. Adorable for storytime reading.

 

 

We Love You, Magoo, by Briony Stewart, (March 2022, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 9781684643646

Ages 2-6

A lovable cartoon pup has his own ideas about what a dog should do in this giggle-worthy rhyming look at a dog’s life. Alternating spreads show Magoo contemplating what he thinks he should be doing – chowing down on bacon and eggs at the breakfast table, taking the car wheel, chewing a bunch of toys – and what he should be doing, like eating kibble from his bowl, sitting in his dog house, or playing with a tennis ball. Spreads fall into a question and answer format, making it easy for kids to chime in with the repetitive answer, “No, Magoo. This is for you”. Magoo’s facial expressions and body language are adorably played for laughs, and the sweet ending will melt hearts. The bold, bright artwork and big, black fonts make this an excellent readaloud choice that will get little ones gleefully taking part in your storytime. Originally published in Australia in 2020, We Love You, Magoo is new to U.S. shores and has a companion book, Where Are You, Magoo? that I hope makes its way here.

Author-illustrator Briony Stewart’s webpage has more information about her books, including the Magoo books.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Happy Multicultural Children’s Book Day: The Dreamcatcher Codes by Barbara Newman

It’s Multicultural Children’s Book Day, and the books just get better every year! This year, I received a copy of The Dreamcatcher Codes by Barbara Newman, and what a book this is! A YA story about our connection to the earth, with incredible female characters and a story that comes at a critical moment in time.

The Dreamcatcher Codes, by Barbara Newman,
(Aug. 2021, Green Writers Press), $15.95, ISBN: 9781733653473
Ages 10+

Earth is dying. Our bee colonies collapse; our oceans are choked with plastic; the animals we share our lands with are dying as we encroach on their land and their natural resources. The only hope is for the sacred Codes of Nature, but they’ve been stolen by a giant raven. Now, four girls must come together to seek out the missing piece of the Codes and restore order to the land. Powered by the four points of the compass and the four elements – Fire, Air, Water, and Earth – the girls must work together as they embark on an adventure that elevates climate change and the role of young women in our world. It’s fantasy grounded in reality; an empowering, unputdownable adventure that fantasy readers,  environmental advocates and activists, and adventure/survival readers will love.

Author Barbara Newman’s webpage invites readers to become “Allies for the Earth” and posts links to environmental organizations like Zero Hour and Tree Sisters. A portion of the proceeds for The Dreamcatcher Codes goes to organizations for climate justice and environmental activism, so while reading your world, make your purchase count.

The Dreamcatcher Codes is an International Impact Award Winner for Multicultural Fiction and a Best Book Awards finalist in two categories: Multicultural Fiction and Fantasy/Fiction.

 

 

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2022 (1/28/22) is in its 9th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those books into the hands of young readers and educators.

MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves. Read about our Mission & History HERE.

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MCBD 2022 is honored to be Supported by these Author Sponsors!

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Join us on Friday, Jan 29, 2021, at 9 pm EST for the 8th annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day Twitter Party! Be sure and follow MCBD and Make A Way Media on Twitter!

This epically fun and fast-paced hour includes multicultural book discussions, addressing timely issues, diverse book recommendations, & reading ideas.

We will be giving away an 8-Book Bundle every 5 minutes plus Bonus Prizes as well! *** US and Global participants welcome. **

Follow the hashtag #ReadYourWorld to join the conversation, connect with like-minded parts, authors, publishers, educators, organizations, and librarians. See you all very soon on Twitter!

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Posted in Uncategorized

Working Doggos!

You have to love doggos with jobs! Here are two books about hard-working pups.

Major Makes History: From the Shelter to the White House, by Jill Twiss/Illustrated by Maribel Lechuga, (Sept. 2021, HarperCollins), $18.99, ISBN: 9780063118768

Ages 4-8

Narrated by President Biden’s First Dog, Major Makes History is all about Major’s humble beginnings, how he “rescued” Joe Biden, and became a hard-working Presidential dog, giving a nod to his mentoring by (now-departed) Biden’s other dog, Champ. Major takes readers into the daily duties of a First Dog: defending their home against the evil vacuum cleaner; having afternoon tea (out of a toilet bowl, but still… refined), even playing fun games like “Guess Who Hid My Very Favorite Toy in Your Bed?” The story touches on well-known moments from the Bidens, Champ’s, and Major’s time together, even touching on Major’s biting incident, when he mentions that he “had a friend help me to learn to behave myself a little better”. Joe and Jill Biden feature throughout the book, and Joe Biden sports his trademark aviator glasses as he strolls the grounds with Major at his side. The book has a light, fun spirit that appeals immediately to dog lovers and pet people, and Jill Twiss gives Major a funny, lovable voice that illustrator Maribel Lechuga brings to life in her colorful, lively spreads. Back matter includes a word on past Presidents’ pets and resources for adopting a shelter pet. Red, white, and blue endpapers feature stars and silhouettes of Major. Pair this with Joy McCullough and Sheyda Abvabi Best’s Champ and Major: First Dogs; for more on working dogs, consider displaying with National Geographic Kids’s Doggy Defenders series.

 

Pooper Snooper, by Jennifer Keats Curtis & Julianne Ubigau/Illustrated by Phyllis Saroff, (Nov. 2021, Arbordale Publishing), $10.95, ISBN: 9781643518237

Ages 5-8

Detective doggos at your service! These poop-sniffing dog detectives are instrumental in helping researchers track and learn more about endangered animals. Sampson, the star of Pooper Snooper, is a shelter dog adopted and trained to catch the scent of wild animal poop, so researchers can track and research them without trapping them. Sampson can locate the scat for a pocket mouse – about a third the size of a human eyelash! – much more easily than a researcher can; when he finds what he’s looking for, he gets his reward: a shiny red ball! Trained to track different animals, Sampson works in all sorts of conditions, and stays focused on his task so he can enjoy his toy. Illustrations focus on action shots and close-ups of Sampson’s nose catching a scent. The For Creative Minds section offers information on the Pacific Packet Mouse, previously believed to be extinct; a word on dogs’ senses of smell, and a Q&A with a research scientist. An interesting look at a different career!

You can preview Pooper Snooper at Arbordale’s website, and get copies of the title’s For Creative Minds supplement.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Uncategorized

Discover Israel with this rhyming tour

My Israel and Me, by Alice Blumenthal McGinty/Illustrated by Rotem Teplow, (Sept. 2021, Kalaniot Books), $19.99, ISBN: 978-1-7350875-3-5

Ages 3-8

Told in verse through the eyes of the diverse groups of people living in and visiting Israel, My Israel is a celebration of both the ancient and modern-day country.  Verse shares space with factual information about areas like The Dead Sea, the modern city and Israel’s status as a “Start-Up Nation”, kibbutzes, Biblical history, and more. Alice Blumenthal McGinty celebrates Jewish and Muslim culture and family life, and Rotem Teplow’s colorful artwork takes readers on a journey across the small country with a big history. Endpapers show a plethora of objects to take readers on a visual journey, like camels, kites, olive leaves, and cats, all of whom are waiting to be discovered in the pages.

To extend a lesson on Israel, visit TeachersPayTeachers, where you can find a map of ancient Israel from Taylor Beck; an Israel Activities Pack from Marshal Jewish Learning Center, and more! Download a free educator kit from Kalaniot’s website.

Author Alice Blumenthal McGinty is an award-winning author. You can find educator guides on her website, along with more information on her books, and information about school visits. Visit illustrator Rotem Teplow’s website for more of her artwork.