Posted in Uncategorized

Who Are You? encourages discussion

Who Are You?, by Smriti Halls/Illustrated by Ali Pye, (Aug. 2022, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684644704

Ages 3-6

A rhyming, inclusive story about families and diversity, Who Are You? is a story framed with questions that invite families to create a family chronicle: “Who’s in your family? / Who’s in your pack? / Who takes good care of you? / Who has your back?”. Asking questions about likes and dislikes, physical characteristics, immediate and extended family, and more, with further thought-provoking questions in each spread, Who Are You? is great for preschool and kindergarten classes and for family project reading. Colorful digital artwork illustrates an inclusive, diverse group of people, assuring that kids will see themselves and their families in this fun story.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Payden’s Pronoun Party is celebratory!

Payden’s Pronoun Party, by Blue Jaryn/Illustrated by Xochitl Cornejo, (Oct. 2022, Page Street Kids), $18.99, ISBN: 9781645675587

Ages 4-8

Payden is a child on a quest to find the pronouns that best fit: “I’m not sure I’m a boy… so maybe he is not best for me”. With Mom and Dad’s love and support – and the promise of a party to celebrate Payden’s chosen pronouns. Off Payden goes, speaking to his friends about all the possibilities: he and she, they and ze, em and e… there’s a rainbow of possibilities to discover! Celebrating individuality and choice, Payden’s Pronoun Party is at once gentle and exciting, charged with potential. Endpapers extend the story, bookending Payden’s quest. Digital illustrations show cartoon art people, all delightfully content in their pronouns and in themselves. Colors of the rainbow permeate the artwork in both background and in character; each pronoun choice is bolded in a different color of the rainbow. A joy to read aloud, Payden’s Pronoun Party welcomes choice, empowers LGBTQIA+ youth, and encourages understanding.

Download a free activity kit from Page Street Kids, including a fun pronoun badge worksheet that is perfect for decorating library spaces, classrooms, and people. TeachersPayTeachers has some good gender pronoun posters to have up in your rooms, including these from Everyone Deserves to Learn and this set from The Tie Tuesday Teacher.

 

Posted in Intermediate, picture books

A piece of Candy gets her big shot in Digestion: The Musical

Digestion: The Musical, by Adam Rex//Illustrated by Laura Park, (Oct. 2022, Chronicle Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9781452183862

Ages 5-8

Publisher Chronicle Books calls it “The Magic School Bus: Inside the Human Body meets Hamilton”, and how can you top that description? Digestion: The Musical is a look at digestion, set as a musical: a small-town piece of candy desires to be something important and a chorus of mini-carrots guide readers through all the action. Cameos from body parts, including an explosive appendix, kidneys, and intestines, and an old piece of swallowed gum add to the hilarity. Kids are going to laugh out loud reading this one (there’s an entire disco number dedicated to Number Two) and guaranteed, they’ll remember all about the digestive process after reading this one. An illustrated glossary defines terms. Endpapers highlight a cast of food characters sitting in the audience and working backstage. Digital illustrations are vibrant, colorful, and cartoony and will win readers over.

If you have felt foods left over from a storytime, get them out and invest in some more felt to create your own digestive system and take your storytime to another level.

Digestion! The Musical has starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus.

 

Need to know what this book would sound like set to music? Ponder no longer:

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Sleepy Happy Capy Cuddles loves all the ways to cuddle!

Sleepy Happy Capy Cuddles, by Mike Allegra/Illustrated by Jaimie Whitbread, (Oct. 2022, Page Street Kids), $18.99, ISBN: 9781645675594

Ages 4-8

The rainforest is alive with squeaks and squawks, grunts, grows, and hisses, until the day a cheerful capybara shows up and introduces cuddles to all the animals. Some animals aren’t so sure about the full-on cuddle: turtle’s worried it will make their shell less tough, and hugs make green iguana uncomfortable, but capybara assures everyone that a cuddle can take whatever form makes you comfortable: it’s just about being together! One animal after another FLOOFS along with the capybara, making the rainforest a friendlier, cuddlier place than ever before. Cheerful storytelling illustrates the power of a hug while reassuring readers who may be uncomfortable with full-on contact that cuddles can take whatever form makes them feel happy, secure, and loved. An author’s note touches on the book’s inspiration (Capybaras really do FLOOF!), and endapapers reveal a lush rainforest setting. Pleasant cartoony animals are cute and will appeal to readers; shades of yellow, green, and brown give the artwork an earthy feel. This will make a good readaloud for preschool and kindergarten classrooms, when kids are still learning their boundaries, and the boundaries that others feel comfortable with.

Visit the Sleepy Happy Capy Cuddles book detail page on Page Street Kids’s website to download a free activity kit, complete with capy facts and an activity on consent.

Posted in picture books

Internet Personality Peet Montzingo’s picture book story

Little Imperfections: A Tale of Growing Up Different, by Peet Montzingo & Rockwell Sands, (July 2022, Ginger With a Soul LLC), $19.99, ISBN: 979-8986283616

Ages 4-7

TikTok personality Peet Montzingo tells his story of growing up different in his rhyming picture book autobiography. Peet grew up in a family where he was different: his father, mother, sister, and brother are all little people. Little Imperfections looks at Peet’s life: his family’s health concerns; his fractured relationship with his father, his troubled teen years when he acted out, and his ADHD diagnosis. Montzingo addresses dwarfism, physical and mental health, love, and acceptance. Back matter includes an author’s note and a link to a video adaptation of Little Imperfections. Colorful artwork is eye-catching and vibrant.

Peet Montzingo is a multi-faceted artist with a curious and kind heart, whose talents span creating original content, singing, comedy, and so much more. Through his fascination with the local mysteries of his neighborhood to his deep bond with his mother and family, Peet skyrocketed to internet fame, gaining more than 20 million followers across social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, who find themselves deeply engaged and supportive of his endeavors.

Peet struggled in a traditional school environment as he was diagnosed with ADHD when he was a young child, yet he has harnessed his creative abilities to expand into the world of music, acting, and creating videos on social media platforms. His large following on social media has opened the conversation on being more educated on dwarfism and shown people how to approach life and adversity in a humorous light.

He grew up as the only “normal” sibling in a little people family but has used his personal experiences and open personality to encourage and brighten other people’s lives. Peet often raises awareness for dwarfism with a lighthearted and charming presence, shining a loving light on his mother and siblings, all of whom are little people.

Find him at @peetmontzingo

Rockwell Sands is an author, musician, and entrepreneur. On top of composing the original score for the visual portion of ‘Little Imperfections’ alongside Peet, he has written songs that have received worldwide radio airplay and have been featured in several forms of media, from Netflix original series to car commercials. Rockwell lives in Brooklyn and has been close friends with Peet for over ten years.

Find him at @rockwellsands

Posted in History, Middle School, Non-Fiction, Teen, Tween Reads

Seen and Unseen captures the Japanese American Incarceration

Seen and Unseen: What Dorothea Lange, Toyo Miyatake, and Ansel Adams’s Photographs Reveal About the Japanese American Incarceration, by Elizabeth Partridge/Illustrated by Lauren Tamaki, (Oct. 2022, Chronicle Books), $21.99, ISBN: 9781452165103

Ages 10-14

The 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor guaranteed America’s involvement in World War II, but it also sparked a wave of anti-Asian sentiment that resulted in Japanese families – included American-born citizens – sent to internment camps across the country. Three photographers – Dorothea Lange, Toyo Miyatake, and Ansel Adams  – captured the lives of the incarcerated families, now revisited in Seen and Unseen. Partridge, award-winning author and Dorothea Lange’s goddaughter joins forces with illustrator Lauren Tamaki to create a unique nonfiction story of these interrupted lives, with Tamaki’s artwork woven in with black and white photographs and quotes from those who were there. Each photographer approached the project with their own goals: Lange was critical of the U.S. policy that imprisoned the Japanese; she intended to show the incarceration in all of its brutality. Miyatake was a Japanese-born photographer interned in one of the camps; he smuggled in photography equipment to show the public what really went on in the camps. Adams hoped to concentrate on the resilience of the imprisoned. All three accomplished their initiatives, leaving a body of work that shows future generations that fear and mistrust can divide a nation. Photographs, illustrations, and primary sources, plus generous back matter and notes make this an excellent, necessary purchase for elementary and middle school nonfiction collections.

Seen and Unseen has starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Kirkus.

Posted in Tween Reads

Blog Tour: TILTERSMITH by Amy Herrick

Welcome to The Tiltersmith Blog Tour!

Follow along as we celebrate the release of The Tiltersmith with behind-the-scenes looks from author Amy Herrick, plus 10 chances to win a copy!

Old Books that Bump into Magic
by Amy Herrick

In yesterday’s blog I talked about my early reading habits, how I particularly loved the kind of fantasies where magical encounters came to ordinary children much like myself as they moved through their ordinary worlds.

Several of these books I go back to again and again looking for the same sensation they gave me the first time I read them, of sitting in my bedroom on a dull and rainy afternoon and noticing a slightly open door in the wall of my bedroom. A door that had never been there before. A door with some light coming through it or maybe a little music or laughter or maybe a scent I’d never scented before. A World in Back of the World.

I’ll mention here a few of the books from my childhood that still do this for me. Books that are still in print, but possibly you have missed.

Five Children and It by Edith Nesbitt

This book was first published in 1902. Although it takes place in England and is over one hundred years old, you will find the children in it perfectly recognizable and ordinary. They have been brought on a summer vacation to a house in the country. One day they find a big sand pit and decide to try to dig a hole to Australia. They don’t manage to get that far, but along the way they accidentally dig up a Psammead, “which in plain English” is a Sand-fairy. It is round and fat and furry with eyes at the end of long horns, like a snail’s eyes.  It has been sleeping in the sand pit for the last few thousand years and, as it turns out, is able to grant wishes. This, it proceeds to do, giving them one wish each day. Although the children attempt to be careful, knowing from fairytales how easy it is for things to go wrong in such matters, each wish brings on more trouble than the one before. The book is funny, charming and cleverly suspenseful. It was pretty much a ground-breaker in its time.
Bedknob and Broomstick by Mary Norton

This one was originally published as two books, the first in 1943 (Bedknob), the second (Broomsticks) in 1945. They were later combined in an edited version in 1957.  In this story, three siblings are sent away from London to stay with a relative in a countryside town. There, early one morning, they accidently observe their very proper and upright next-door neighbor flying by their window on a wobbling broomstick. When they confront Miss Price with their discovery that she is a witch in training, she devises a clever means of keeping their mouths shut and her secret safe. She gifts them with an enchanted bedknob which will turn their bed into a magical vehicle. When they twist the knob, the bed will carry them anywhere they wish in time or place. The catch is that she will take the spell away if any of them divulge her secret.

In the beginning, it appears that the adventures will be of the tangled, light-hearted variety. For their first wish, longing to see their mother, they give the bed their home address. The bed plops them down in the middle of a foggy London street, dressed only in their pajamas. Unfortunately, their mother is not at home and they are soon carted off to a nearby police station by an annoyed policeman. By guile and quick wits, they manage to get out of this one, but as the book moves on and they are taken across the world* and then thrown into the distant English past, the stakes grow higher and it becomes the sort of book you are reading under the covers with a flashlight.

*It should be noted that in one of these later chapters there is a “cannibal island” scene in which the children meet up with a fictional primitive culture. Nowadays, Norton’s descriptions of the tribe the children encounter might be considered stereotypical and inaccurate.

Half Magic by Edward Eager

Half Magic was the first written of Edward Eager’s seven books about ordinary children who happen to bump into magic right in the middle of their ordinary United States of America childhoods. It takes place at the time of Eager’s own childhood in 1920’s United States and was first published in 1954. The story opens at the beginning of summer. The four protagonists, one brother and three sisters, are bored and hoping they might encounter some magic like the children do in the books of Edith Nesbit. Although, as Mark, the brother, says: “Magic never happens, not really.”

Then Jane finds what she believes to be a nickel stuck in a crack in a sidewalk and puts it in her pocket. She doesn’t really look at it and doesn’t begin to realize the peculiar power of the coin until she innocently wishes out loud that a house would catch on fire somewhere nearby, so they could have some excitement. In the next moment several fire trucks go racing down the street and the children go running after them. They soon stop in front of a yard where a very fancy play house is burning to the ground in a great conflagration of smoke and flames.

In the next instance, their mother, without asking for permission, borrows the coin (also mistaking it for a nickel) off Jane’s dresser. She goes out for a boring evening with relatives, wishes she could be at home without needing to take the long bus ride, and suddenly and inexplicably finds herself on a dark and lonely road, halfway to where she has wished to be.

It soon becomes apparent to the children (although not to their mother), that the coin can grant wishes, but only half a wish at a time.

As the book unfolds, the foursome must experiment as they try to figure out how to cajole the coin into giving them an entire wish.

You might say, that by the end, they are half successful.

The process, however, is a fully satisfying joy ride for the reader.

If you’ve missed any of the above, I envy you. What a first-time treat you have in store for yourself.


About the Book

Amazon | BookshopGoodreads

Myths and monsters collide with climate chaos in a thrilling fantasy adventure.

Spring has arrived in Brooklyn, New York, but winter refuses to let go. Sleet, snow, and even a tornado batter the city. Mr. Ross, the science teacher, believes climate change is the cause, but classmates Edward, Feenix, Danton, and Brigit suspect older, magical forces are at work. When a peculiar character calling himself Superintendent Tiltersmith appears with a keen interest in the foursome, their suspicions are confirmed, and they’re swept up in a battle of wits and courage.

The friends must protect a set of mysterious tools belonging to the Lady of Spring. If they can free her from her underground prison, winter will end. But if the Tiltersmith steals the tools, he will keep the Lady in his power and upset the balance of nature forever.

Perfect for readers of Madeleine L’Engle and Susan Cooper, The Tiltersmith returns to the world of Amy Herrick’s acclaimed Time Fetch in a timely, exciting stand-alone adventure.

Praise:

“Herrick combines vivid descriptions of climate events, school-set science lessons, and weather-related stories from various cultures around the globe . . . resonates with current events and fits tonally alongside children’s fantasy classics.”
Publishers Weekly

“Vacillating between scientific reasoning and lore from worldwide cultures, the descriptions of beautiful legends of seasons and the sobering study of climate change are so rich.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Despite the contemporary setting, a diversified cast, and topical themes, events take on ritualistic elements that readers up on their Greek mythology will recognize. American fans of Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising sequence will find themselves on familiar footing, albeit a bit closer to home.”
Booklist

“The author proves to have a keen eye for developing wonderfully dastardly villains. Tiltersmith is a fantastic bad guy who oozes disarming charm while also being deeply unsettling … cleverly handled … a compelling tale.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books  

“It’s a great combination of the mystical and the scientific! A bit of gentle romance shouldn’t deter younger readers . . . The writing style is craftily literary, with warm incisive forays into each character’s inner life.”
Youth Services Book Review   

About the Author

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Amy Herrick grew up in Queens, New York, and attended SUNY Binghamton and the University of Iowa. She lives in Brooklyn, where she has raised two sons, taught pre-K and grade school, written books, and kept company with her husband and numerous pets. A retired teacher, she loves traveling, learning Spanish, and above all reducing her carbon footprint.


GIVEAWAY

  • Ten (10) winners will receive a hardcover of The Tiltersmith
  • US/Canada only
  • Ends 11/6 at 11:59pm ET
  • Enter via the Rafflecopter below
  • Visit the other stops on the tour for more chances to win!

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Blog Tour Schedule:

October 17th Mama Likes This
October 18th A Dream Within a Dream
October 19th Always in the Middle
October 20th BookHounds
October 21st Mrs. Book Dragon

October 24th Good Choice Reading
October 25th Mom Read It
October 26th YA Books Central
October 27th Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
October 28th Randomly Reading

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour and Giveaway: IT’S NOT THE THREE LITTLE PIGS! by Josh Funk

I know, two blog tours in one day! Josh Funk’s latest It’s Not… fairy tale is here, and his poor, beleaguered narrator is back, this time trying to tell the classic tale of…

It’s Not the Three Little Pigs, by Josh Funk/Illustrated by Edwardian Taylor,
(Nov. 2022, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542032438

Ages 4-7

The narrator shares duties this time with a fourth pig: Alison, the storyteller of the family. As the three pigs go off into the world, Alison changes up the story, leading to hilarious interactions with the omniscient narrator. There are fun STEAM elements to the story this time out, with each pig’s home showing off blueprints and comments on architectural and engineering elements (and one lament over bathroom placement that will leave readers giggling). There’s a Wolf at the door this time, too – but whether he’s big or bad remains to be seen. Narration broken up with comic dialogue and played for laughs; change up your voice during readalouds or invite a reader or two to join in. A spot-the-character ending will give readers the opportunity to chime in on who they can discover. Bright, playful cartoon artwork grabs readers’ attention, and endpapers show a host of objects from the story set off against a bright blue background.

Readers will love this addition to a fun series that never disappoints. An excellent addition to your fairy tales/fractured fairy tales collections.

 

“Those who love to make up their own stories will be inspired, and readers who march to the beats of their own drums will be delighted. Will leave readers as happy as a pig in mud.” ―Kirkus Reviews

Like the characters in his books, Josh Funk doesn’t like being told how stories should go―so he writes his own. He is the author of a bunch of picture books, including My Pet Feet, illustrated by Billy Yong; the popular Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series, illustrated by Brendan Kearney; How to Code a Sandcastle, illustrated by Sara Palacios; and Lost in the Library: A Story of Patience & Fortitude, illustrated by Stevie Lewis. He lives in New England with his wife and children. Learn more about him at www.joshfunkbooks.com and follow him on social media:

Facebook:  Josh Funk Books

Instagram: @joshfunkbooks

Twitter: @joshfunkbooks

 

Edwardian Taylor is the illustrator of multiple children’s books, including Hey, You’re Not Santa!, written by Ethan T. Berlin; Goldibooks and the Wee Bear, written by Troy Wilson; the Toy Academy chapter books, written by Brian Lynch; and the It’s Not a Fairy Tale books, written by Josh Funk, among other titles. He lives in Texas with his partner and their three dogs. Learn more about him at www.edwardiantaylor.com and follow him on TumblrInstagram, and Twitter @edwardiantaylor.

 

Two Lions is offering a giveaway of TWO titles from Josh Funk’s It’s Not a Fairytale series:  It’s Not the Three Little Pigs and It’s Not Little Red Riding Hood  (U.S. and Canada addresses). Check out the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Posted in Middle School, Teen, Tween Reads

Blog Tour: PIECE BY PIECE by David Aguilar

David Aguilar was born with half a right arm; he calls it his “diff-ability”. With the love and support of his family – and a knack for creating – he built his first prothesis from LEGO bricks when he was nine, and continues creating and innovating in ways to make change happen and make others’ lives better.

Piece by Piece : How I Built My Life (No Instructions Required), by David Aguilar and Ferran Aguilar/Translated by Lawrence Schimel, (Oct. 2022, Amazon Crossing Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9781662504266

Ages 10-14

Written by David and his father, Ferran Aguilar, and translated from the original Spanish by author Lawrence Schimel, Piece by Piece is heartbreaking and funny. David’s voice clearly emerges from the page to take readers into his world; never evoking pity, David is pragmatic about his limb difference, explaining it by asking readers if they miss an eleventh finger they never had: “Whoa! You don’t know what that feels like, right? I count to five. You count to ten. I am not missing anything. Neither are you”. The Aguilars inspire their readers to expand their world view, to innovate, to try, to keep going. A color photo insert called “The Tale of Hand Solo” (inspired by the name of the award-winning documentary about him) introduces readers to Aguilar’s life. Piece by Piece is absolute perfection for middle school reading. This should be a part of every LEGO Robotics team’s reading. An essential first purchase for library collections.

“Humorous and uplifting…While readers needn’t be LEGO fans to admire David’s ingenuity, fellow builders may be inspired to dream up their own inventions.” ―Kirkus Reviews

David Aguilar and his father, Ferran Aguilar, are from Andorra, in Europe. David was born missing part of one arm. At the age of nine, he designed his first prosthesis with LEGO bricks, and in high school he built the next generation, which he named the MK-1. David’s father encouraged him to make a video about his prosthesis and the huge role that LEGOs played in his life, and posted it on social media, where it went viral and changed both of their lives. In addition to telling his story in this book, David is also the protagonist of the Spanish documentary Mr. Hand Solo, which won the award for best documentary at the Boston Science Fiction Film festival. David is currently developing his own brand, Hand Solo, which will aim to benefit various organizations for the disabled and fight against the stigma of “diff-ability,” as he calls it. Follow David and Ferran on Twitter @Handsolooficial and @AguilarFerran.

Instagram: @handsoloofficial

Lawrence Schimel is a bilingual author who writes in both Spanish and English, with more than one hundred books to his credit. He is also a prolific literary translator, into English and into Spanish. His translated books include Wanda Gág’s Millions of Cats; George Takei’s graphic novel They Called Us Enemy; and Some Days, written and illustrated by María Wernicke; among many others. He lives in Madrid, Spain. Follow him on Twitter @lawrenceschimel.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Big Bear, Little Fish, Great Friends

Big Bear and Little Fish, by Sandra Nickel/Illustrated by Il Sung Na, (Sept. 2022, Carolrhoda Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9781728417172

Ages 4-8

Bear goes to a carnival hoping to win a giant teddy bear, but wins a goldfish instead. Worried that she is too big to play with, feed, or love the tiny fish, she stays as far away from it as possible, lamenting the fact that she’s saddled with this little fish instead of a big teddy bear. Fish helps Bear discover that the two are not so different after all. With a sweet look at relative size and ability, Big Bear and Little Fish is a story of looking past the surface and snap judgements to get to the heart of a situation. It’s a wise story of friendship and kindness that reads beautifully for a young audience and gives slightly older readers food for thought. Cartoon illustrations endear the animals to readers; cool shades of blue against a bright white background provide depth and texture; warm browns and golds on the animals add a warmth to the narrative. Sentences are brief and to the point, letting newly independent readers enjoy the book on their own or as part of a storytime. A good selection for storytime collections.

A free educator kit on the Lerner Books website offers discussion questions and activities.