Posted in Early Reader, Intermediate, Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction

Go Wild! With Nat Geo Kids!

Hope everyone had a restful Fourth, and if you’re off today, enjoy. I’m working on getting caught up, on getting my library together for a July 12th opening, and basically just working on keeping my head together in the middle of a year and a half that is just bananas. Anyway, join me as I escape into a great new nonfiction series by National Geographic Kids.

Go Wild! Pandas, by Margie Markarian & National Geographic Kids, (June 2021, National Geographic Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9781426371608

Ages 4-8

This is such a cute new nonfiction series for younger readers! The Go Wild! series introduces readers to different animals, in this case, the panda. The book has a conversational, informative tone, inviting readers to “visit the world of pandas”. Readers learn about their habitat, where in the world they are found, their size, anatomy, related animals (like the Sun Bear, Spectacled Bear, and Sloth Bear), food, socialization, and more. The author addresses the need for conservation and addresses a major threat to the panda – deforestation – and offers tips for ways kids can get involved to protect pandas. A fun Name That Animal activity and parent tips on building enthusiasm close out this fun book, which also includes a glossary. Loaded with fast, fun facts and beautiful color photos, this is such a great new series that I know my kiddos will snap up. They already devour my NatGeo Kids Easy Readers (like this Panda book), and this hardcover 8×8 series will fit nicely on my shelves and look great in my displays.

Go Wild! Sea Turtles, by Jill Esbaum & National Geographic, (May 2021, National Geographic Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9781426371585
Ages 4-8
How adorable is this Go Wild! volume on sea turtles? SO ADORABLE. Color photos and informative, friendly text have lots to say about sea turtles. Did you know that the smallest sea turtle is only about two feet long, but can weigh about as much as four car tires (between 70 and 100 lbs)? Or that a leatherback turtle can hold its breath for nearly an hour and a half? There are great facts to be discovered here, along with photos of the “run for life” to the ocean by hatchlings. A section on threats focuses on the problem of our polluted waters, and offers ways kids can help be part of the solution. Fun activities and parent tips, plus a glossary, make this another win from NatGeo Kids. Their Parent Tips can easily transition into virtual or in-person library programming for anyone interested – my library system is having a sea turtle STEM session at the end of July, and I’d like to put together a little sea turtle bundle with some of these ideas. Stay tuned!
Posted in picture books

The Caiman blog tour and giveaway celebration!

We all know and love our pets: dogs, cats, birds, fish, reptiles of all sorts… but have you ever heard of having a pet alligator (Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile notwithstanding)? The Caiman is a loving story of a gentle man who opened his heart and his home to an orphaned baby caiman – a river caiman – and received a lifetime of love in return.

The Caiman, by María Eugenia Manrique/Illustrated by Ramón Paris,
Translated by Amy Brill, (July 2021, Amazon Crossing Kids),
$17.99, ISBN: 9781542031585Ages 5-8

 

Set in San Fernando de Apure, a tiny riverside city in Venezuela, the story begins with an orphaned alligator, discovered by a little girl during a game of hide and seek. A jeweler and watchmaker named Faoro offers to take the little alligator – no bigger than the palm of his hand  home, and tells the city’s children they can come visit and play with her whenever they’d like. The alligator, who he names Night for her dark skin, is a star attraction as adults and children alike visit to get a look at the pet alligator, who sleeps in her human’s bed and plays with the children. When Faoro falls in love, he introduces Angela, his intended, to Night, who approves. Years pass in a home filled with love and laughter, but when Faoro falls ill and passes away, Night goes into hiding, grief-stricken, until Angela coaxes her out with song. It’s a beautiful story of the connections we find with nature, often in unexpected moments. Back matter includes photos of the author, who was one of the city children who played with and even rode on Night’s back; bios on the illustrator and José Faoro round out the story.

The artwork is a wonderful mix of black and white and colorful illustration, all contained in the same spreads. Ramón Paris has a vintage feel to his artwork, and infuses the natural world with vibrant color and his human subjects, black and white with colorful clothing, stand out against their backgrounds, making the point that we fit into the world around us, never quite blending in, but living and moving within it.

Amazon Crossing Kids has a gift for finding gems in children’s literature across the globe. Don’t miss this one. The Caiman has a starred review from Booklist.

 

One lucky winner will receive a copy of The Caiman, courtesy of Amazon Crossing Kids (U.S. and Canada addresses). Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

New York Times Globetrotting Pick!

★“The striking illustrations…have a wild and whimsical feel about them, featuring lush foliage and expressive characters, including the eventually enormous caiman. It’s a memorable and unexpected demonstration of the universality of love, grief, and kindness.” —Booklist (starred review)

María Eugenia Manrique is one of the girls portrayed in this story. She rode the caiman when she visited her family in San Fernando de Apure. She was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and currently lives in Barcelona, Spain. She studied fine art in Mexico City, specializing in xylography and engraving; Eastern painting at Nankín University, China; and sumi-e and calligraphy at the Nihon Shuji Kyoiku Zaidan Foundation in Japan. Her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. The Caiman is her first children’s book. For more information, visit her website: https://mariaeugeniamanrique.wordpress.com/.

Instagram: @mem.manrique

Ramón París was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and as a child lived in Barinas, a plains state like Apure, where he also heard the story of the caiman. He currently lives in Barcelona, Spain. Hismost recent book for children, Duermevela, was selected for the Bologna Book Fair Illustrators Exhibition. His books have been recognized with honors including Los Mejores del Banco del Libro and  the IBBY Honor List, among others, and they have been translated into numerous languages. Visit him at: ramon.paris.

Instagram: @ramon_paris_ilustrador

Amy Brill’s fiction and nonfiction have appeared in numerous publications including the Washington PostMediumReal Simple, Oprah.com, and One Story. Her first novel, The Movement of Stars, was published by Riverhead Books. A native New Yorker, Amy lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Mr. Penguin and friends are all aboard for a catastrophic cruise!

Mr. Penguin and the Catastrophic Cruise, by Alex T. Smith, (Sept. 2021, Peachtree Publishing), $9.99, ISBN: 9781682633304

Ages 8-12

The third Mr. Penguin adventure is coming to paperback this Fall, and it’s a doozy! Mr. Penguin and his Adventurers – his friend, Edith her pet pigeon, Gordon, and his partner, the unibrowed, karate-kicking spider, Colin, are off on a posh cruise aboard the Saucy Sandra where Colin’s been invited to sing with the Seven Sisters Choir, and Mr. Penguin and Edith are excited to mix with movie stars and millionaire Herbert Chuckle, accompanied by his girlfriend, Honey Chrystelle. But just as Mr. Penguin is about to relax and enjoy a cruise filled with fish finger sandwiches, he discovers that there’s a pirate plot afoot! A young stowaway named Marina is on board to save her grandfather, who’s been kidnapped. There’s trouble brewing above and below the water and it’s up to Mr. Penguin to get to the bottom of things before they get too out of hand! The bumbling Mr. Penguin is charming and relies heavily on his friends to get himself out of trouble, and the adventure and plot twists are fun and will keep readers guessing. You don’t need to be familiar with the characters to enjoy this book, so make sure readers know they can join Mr. Penguin on any of his adventures. The orange, black and white artwork is visually interesting, with pages being splashed in orange or gray with drawings of underwater and seaboard spreads framing the story’s prose. There’s humor, adventure, fun dialogue, and a good story to keep readers entertained. Perfect for Tails and Tales AND Reading Takes You Everywhere Summer Reading themes.

The hardcover Mr. Penguin and the Catastrophic Cruise is already available, so make sure you’ve got it handy for your displays!

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Middle Grade Animal Fiction: Say hello to your new best friends!

Animal fiction is always popular – that’s why there’s so much of it! – and I’ve been getting a bunch of animal adventures to read over the last few months. Great for book bundles, Summer Reading, or just keeping in mind for your animal fiction fans, here are two I’ve just finished:

 

Hotel Flamingo, by Alex Milway, (March 2021, Kane Miller), $5.99, ISBN: 9781684641260

Ages 7-10

Originally published in the UK in 2019, this is the first in an intermediate/middle grade series that’s just hitting US shores and it is hilarious. Anna is a young girl who recently inherits Hotel Flamingo, a once glamorous hotel that’s seen better days. Mr. Bear and Mr. Lemmy, the previous administration’s employees, have stayed on, trying to keep the lights on and the water running, and are happy to see Anna, hoping she’ll bring back the hotel to its former glory. As she mulls over how to compete with The Glitz Hotel, run by – oh yes, my friends – Ronald Ruffian, the demanding, boorish hotelier/businessman determined to keep his hold on Animal Boulevard’s clientele, Anna realizes a strength that the Flamingo has: they’ll treat all animals, even bugs, with dignity, respect, and as welcomed guests. With a cast of memorable and fabulous animal characters and situations, this first outing makes me want to check into the Hotel Flamingo again and again. The writing is wonderfully paced, engaging, and pink-and-black two color illustrations throughout make this a great bridge between intermediate chapter books and middle grade novels. A lovely story of teamwork, respect, and hard work paying off, kids will also love Anna, a human girl, being surrounded by new, anthropomorphic, animal friends. There are four books in total (so far?) in the Hotel Flamingo series; keep an eye out for the next ones.

Visit author Alex Milway’s website for a newsletter, free ebooks and excerpts, and his blog.

The Hotel Flamingo series works with the Tails and Tales Summer Reading theme and the Reading Takes You Everywhere theme! Ask your readers what kind of animals would run their hotel, and with what jobs, and cast an animal/human talent show. You’re bound to get some great responses. Print out a passport template (there are a bunch of good ones, for free, on TeachersPayTeachers.com) and either have kids create their own stamps or find some fun ones online. We’ve been stuck inside for a year – it’s time to (armchair) travel!

 

Dog Squad, by Chris Grabenstein, (May 2021, Random House Books for Young Readers), $16.99, ISBN: 9780593301739

Ages 8-12

Mr. Lemoncello’s Library author Chris Grabenstein hits gold again with Dog Squad – the beginning to what I hope is a new series. Fred is a nice dog who’s had a rough time of it in his just about two years of life. He had a home with Susan, who loved him and treated him so well… until she chose her stuck-up boyfriend over Fred. Then, he was adopted from the shelter by a lout named Tony, who wanted to turn him into a guard dog by “toughening him up”, which really meant abusing him and neglecting him. Fred’s only refuge was the show, Dog Squad, where Duke, Scruffy, and Nala, three heroic dogs, had exciting adventures every week! When Tony kicks Fred out and he ends up in a shelter, it’s good fortune that he’s adopted again: this time, by Jenny, the producer of Dog Squad, and her niece, Abby, who claims to be a dog psychic! Fred’s thrilled to meet his idol, but he’s crushed when Duke turns out to be pretty awful in real life. The tables turn when Duke’s injured and Fred, who resembles Duke, is asked to stand in for Duke on Dog Squad until he heals up, but Fred isn’t brave like he thinks Duke is. It’ll take some real-life adventure, including standing up to bullies. to help Fred understand that bravery takes all sorts of forms, but it’s something that starts inside you. A touching story about friendship, self-worth, and finding a forever home, Dog Squad was inspired by Chris Grabenstein’s dog, Fred: have tissues when you read his words about Fred at the end of the story. Black and white cartoon illustrations throughout will make readers wonder when this will become a movie (at least, that’s what I was thinking). Have kids who loved Paw Patrol but have aged up from Easy Readers and 8×8 media tie-ins? This is your new go-to book. The story even has Paw Patrol-esque catchphrases like, “Pawsome!”

More Summer Reading tie-ins: Tails and Tales, sure, but the Dog Squad team travels around the New York/tri-state area to shoot their show. Maybe consider mapping the areas mentioned in the story? If you’re using reading passports, put a Dog Squad stamp in there (or, you know, New York and Connecticut stamps) for your readers!

Visit Chris Grabenstein’s author page for a Dog Squad excerpt and video piece on the real Fred’s story (and Mr. Lemoncello stuff galore).

 

 

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Animal Board Books!

Everyone doing the Tails and Tales summer reading program will love these board books – heck, anyone who loves board books will!

Pigs at a Party, by Hans Wilhelm/Illustrated by Erica Salcedo, (June 2021, Chronicle Books), $9.99, ISBN: 9781797203751

Ages 0-3

It’s a party, and you’re invited! A magnetic bow opens to let readers in to this rhyming story of manners and parties as three piggies are invited to their friend, Bunny’s, birthday party! They’re so polite, greeting each of their friends, saying “please” and “thank you”, and playing nicely with the other guests. The third book starring Hans Wilhelm’s Piggies, kids will enjoy seeing this group spend more fun time together, modeling the best behavior. Digital illustrations are bright and cheery, and the magnetic bow closure adds a little bit of fine motor play.

 

Sophie’s Seashell Scramble, by Educational Insights/Illustrated by Lucia Gaggiotti, (May 2021, Candlewick Entertainment), $11.99, ISBN: 9781536218480

Ages 0-3

Help Sophie the Otter find the matches to the seashells she’s collecting by lifting the flaps and identifying the patterns! Colorful, cartoon illustrations and bold fonts lead little explorers through the story, and descriptions of each shell help readers identify the lost treasure; Sophie holds the matching shell in each spread, helping new learners link the description to the appearance of an object. Kids can lift three flaps on each page that guide them to the right answer. Turn the wheel at the end, to help Otto the Octopus juggle all the shells together! Based on a board game, this would be a cute idea to pair with the board game for preschoolers as either a gift or, if your budget allows, a library purchase for game time and post-storytime activities. (Educational Insights has several lift-the-flap board books and companion games; something to keep your mind on when you get your annual budgets.)

123 Cats: A Counting Book, by Lesléa Newman/Illustrated by Isabella Kung, (April 2021, Candlewick Press), $7.99, ISBN: 9781536209952

Ages 0-3

Learn to count with this rhyming story about adorable kitties! Award-winning children’s author Lesléa Newman weaves an adorable story, counting cats from 1 to 12, where the cats interact with each other as the story progresses: “Cat Number One has nothing to do… / until she makes friends with Cat Number Two”; “Cat Number Two is a sweet as can be… / but not quite as sweet as Cat Number Three”. Colorful numbers are easy to read on each spread, and the cats multiply, letting readers count the felines as they increase. Absolutely adorable, this is a perfect counting story that begs for snuggly plush friends for readers to read along with.

 

ABC Cats: An Alpha-Cat Book, by Lesléa Newman/Illustrated by Isabella Kung, (April 2021, Candlewick Press), $7.99, ISBN: 9781536209952

Ages 0-3

Lesléa Newman and Isabella Kung bring the magic of cats to the alphabet with their Alpha-Cat story, ABC Cats. Precious cats sleep, play, and doze, curled around oversized letters of the alphabet as a gentle rhyme, with adjectives describing each cat, run across the bottom of the pages: “Adorable cat with eyes of gold / Baby cat just two weeks old”. Isabella Kung’s ink and digital illustrations are so playful and delightful that they’ll enchant readers of any age. These two cat books are a must add to your collections, especially where you have animal lovers.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, mythology, Uncategorized

Tails and Tales Bundle: Thundercluck and Zeus the Mighty

Since I’ve been talking about Summer Reading and book bundles, I thought I’d start making some fun suggestions. For anyone doing the Tails and Tales theme, Thundercluck: Chicken of Thor by Paul Tillery IV and Meg Wittwer and the Zeus the Mighty series from Crispin Boyer fit the bill and have the shared mythological theme, too!

Thundercluck! Chicken of Thor: Recipe for Revenge, by Paul Tillery IV/Illustrated by Meg Wittwer, (Sept. 2020, Square Fish), $7.99, ISBN: 9781250619785

Ages 8-11

The second Thundercluck adventure is just as much fun as the first. Thundercluck and Brunhilde, the Valkyrie, find themselves on the outs with Odin, and head to Midgard (that’s us, Earth!) to match wits against three foes. Gorman the angry skull is back with two new fiends: Medda, a shape-shifting enchantress, and War-Tog, a warthog warrior that is too easily led into poor decisions. Thundercluck is a story of friendship being tested, and family secrets learned, but at its heart, it’s a story of learning to admit one’s mistakes. Black and white illustrations and a quickly-moving story makes this an excellent Summer Reading choice; you don’t need to have read the first book to jump on board, but the kids will want to.

Summer Reading ideas: Book bundle with the first Thundercluck and printables from the Thundercluck website; book bundle with Zeus the Mighty for a Tails and Tales spin on mythology; display with other mythology chapter books, like Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams’s Thunder Girls seriesDon’t forget to have reference resources, like National Geographic’s Everything Mythology, available!

 

Zeus the Mighty: The Quest for the Golden Fleas (Book 1), by Crispin Boyer, (Oct. 2019, Under the Stars), $12.99, ISBN: 9781426335471

Ages 8-12

The first book in another fun series from National Geographic Kids and their fiction imprint, Under the Stars. Zeus the Mighty is a hamster who lives in Mount Olympus Pet Center with a variety of rescued animals, and heroines. Artie – short for Artemis, naturally – is the human the runs the Center and names her favorite rescues after Greek mythological heroes. The group all listen to a podcast, Greeking Out, that tells the stories of the Greek gods, but the animals take the stories to heart. Zeus believes he rules Mount Olympus, putting him at odds with Poseidon, the puffer fish who won’t give up control of his watery Atlantis and bristles at Zeus’s attempts to boss him around. Their first adventure is a quest for the Golden Fleas: a fun retelling of the tale of Jason, the Argonauts, and the Golden Fleece. The storytelling is light, there are cute black and white illustrations throughout, and a section on “The Truth Behind the Fiction” adds the perfect amount of nonfiction context to the story. Consider adding this to your shelves.

Summer Reading Ideas: Bundle with the second book in the series, The Maze of the Menacing Minotaur (the third book is out in August!) and add some printables from the Zeus the Mighty website. Display with other Greek mythology-flavored fiction, like Joan Holub and Suzanne William’s Goddess Girls and the Heroes in Training series, by Joan Holub, Suzanne Williams, and Tracey West. National Geographic has a great Weird But True book on Greek Mythology, too.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads, Uncategorized

Board Books everywhere!

It’s time for another board books rundown! I’ve got a pile that begs to be shared and enjoyed. Let’s see what’s cooking.

My Big Birthday Party, by Jeffrey Turner, (May 2021, Schiffer Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764361050

Ages 0-3

Schiffer’s board book program has just taken off. They’ve been putting out consistently great concept books, working with great authors and illustrators, for a few years now and I get excited whenever a box shows up for me. Author Jeffrey Turner has been putting out a series of board books to explain concepts, starring a fluffy white poodle. My Big Birthday Party explains opposites, framing the words in the context of Poodle’s birthday party. Lights are off, then turned on to reveal friends of all shapes and sizes, holding gifts; we see the group from the front and back; piles of gifts are closed, then opened; we see a page loaded with colorful balloons, illustrating “more”; when Poodle’s friend Porcupine enters the page, we see a burst balloon, and “less”. Colorful, bright digital artwork holds exciting reveals on each page, and a note about the science of magnets – a branch concerned with opposites! – closes out the book. It’s a great way to communicate the concept to newly budding STEM/STEAM learners. Schiffer Kids’s Resource Hub has free, downloadable coloring sheets, too!

 

Smile, Baby! (Beginning Baby), (June 2021, Chronicle Books), $8.99, ISBN: 9781452170923

Ages 0-3

Chronicle has a new board book series debuting, and it is adorable. Beginning Baby addresses developmental milestones, teaches motor control and self-identification, and is loaded with friendly characters and bright colors. A series of questions about finding baby’s smile, nose, ears, eyes, cheeks, and mouth take readers through each page, with a die-cut revealing a mirror for baby to see themselves in at all times. Each question comes with an activity for baby and caregiver: blow a kiss, pat baby’s cheeks, find baby’s ears and nose. Perfect for lapsit reading, this is a great way to bond with baby: let baby see you reading in the mirror with them, and let them learn the parts of their face with colorful words paired with loving gestures as you tickle baby’s cheeks, blow kisses, give a brushing kiss on their eyes. What a fun way to snuggle and read together!

 

10 Hugs and Kisses (Beginning Baby), (June 2021, Chronicle Books), $7.99, ISBN: 9781452170947

Ages 0-3

Another Beginning Baby book! This one is all about cuddles and counting from 1 to 10. Sweetly affectionate animals count their hugs and kisses through each rhyming spread, making for a perfect lapsit where caregiver and little one can join in for hugging, smiles, and butterfly kisses. A big number on the left-hand page stands out against the background; the book invites readers to trace the numbers as they go through the story. Pairs nicely with Karen Katz’s Counting Kisses.

 

Welcome to Shape School!, (Beginning Baby), (June 2021, Chronicle Books), $7.99, ISBN: 9781452170947

Ages 0-3

It’s a day at Shape School! Our animal friends (Gabriel Gabriel Giraffe, Elijah Elephant, Riley Narwhal, Mia Monkey, Layla Llama, Paisley Octopus, and Mateo Red Panda) want you to help them navigate all the space challenges they encounter in school: count squares, touch the three points on a triangle, outline the ovals in a book nook, and press hearts in the garden, for starters. There are 9 tabs that let kids explore each shape, and something new to discover on each spread. Helping develop story-following and fine motor skills and helping reinforce understanding shapes, this is just an adorable book for littles to enjoy.

 

Who is Hiding in the Sea?, by Marc Clamens & Laurence Jammes, (March 2021, Schiffer Kids), $12.99, ISBN: 9780764361029

Ages 0-6

A board book and puzzle all in one sends kids underwater to explore. Four underwater spreads to discover, and eight punch-out puzzle pieces of underwater friends to set into their homes. Each animal fits into a die-cut piece hidden under flaps: who lives in the sea anemones? Where does the seahorse call home? Facts under each flap provide a little more information on the animal that fits in the space, and colorful artwork gets readers’ attention with cute, friendly underwater buddies. Great for developing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination for littles, learning about underwater life and habitats for bigger kids, this is a collection you’ll need a few copies for if you’re circulating the book (or put out when you put your toys out).

 

Who Is Hiding in the Forest? by Marc Clamens & Laurence Jammes, (March 2021, Schiffer Kids), $12.99, ISBN: 9780764361012

Ages 0-6

Another Who is Hiding? book by Marc Clamens and Laurence Jammes, this board book includes 8 puzzle pieces of forest friends. Kids can look for homes for a badger, squirrel, fox, wild piglet, fawn, bat, beaver, and owl, across four wintry forest spreads. Who hides in the tree, and who makes a lodge out of mud and banches? Where do these little animals go to stay warm? These are such sturdy pages, flaps, and puzzles pieces, assuring that they’ll hold up to multiple reads. Make sure to have a few copies on hand, especially if you’re putting them into circulation. Pair with animal coloring sheets, like these cute ones from Simple Everyday Mom, or animal toys and go over names for each animal.

 

Mommy, You’re Amazing, by Roger Priddy, (March 2021, Priddy Books), $7.99, ISBN: 9781684491254

Ages 0-3

Part scrapbook, part board book, Mommy, You’re Amazing is a celebration of moments between mommy and child. Each spread has a rhyming passage about why Mommy is amazing: for discovering new things, dancing and singing together, or playing imagination games being just a few of the great things mommies do. Each spread has a space for a keepsake, whether it’s an envelope to hold little treasures, like those dandelions we all get, or slots to slide in photos, drawing spaces, or a spot to write a story. It’s a warm, loving keepsake that moms will adore (and a darned good baby shower gift).

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Tales from the TBR: Otto P. Nudd

Otto P. Nudd, by Emily Butler, (Dec. 2020, Crown Books for Young Readers), $16.99, ISBN: 9781524717759

Ages 8-12

My latest TBR pick is the animal adventure Otto P. Nudd by Emily Butler. Otto P. Nudd is a raven, a bird for the ages: just ask him; he’ll tell you. He’s simply brilliant, has a wife, Lucille, and an egg on the way, and he spends his mornings with Bartleby Doyle, an old inventor who’s been taking care of Otto since he found him on the forest floor, having fallen from his nest as a baby. He’s friends with Pippa, a girl who’s just lost her father, and Bartleby’s neighbor. It’s all lovely and cozy until one morning, when Bartleby injures himself while testing out one of his experiments before Otto arrived to assist him. Now, Otto is locked out of the workshop, Pippa’s in school, and Otto’s puffed-up ego has alienated him from all of the animals he knows! He’s going to have to reconsider the way he approaches others and ask for help if he’s going to be able to help poor Bartleby. A funny, quirky story about friendship, being kind, and making amends, I loved spending time with Otto and his friends. There’s a tough squirrel named Marla, and a group of dumpster-diving birds that kids will love, especially when they interact with Otto; a side plot explores a developing crush between Pippa and a school friend, and the heart of the story is Otto’s deep love for his human friend and the roots of that relationship. It’s a great choice for a middle grade book group, and there are passages that make for good readalouds. Black and white artwork throughout the book introduces readers to the adorable characters, and a few cut-away chapters provide readers with deeper dives into STEM and friendship, courtesy of Wilma the Mouse and her friend Raúl the Guinea Pig. Hand this to Kate DiCamillo and Katherine Applegate fans; display with classic animal adventures like E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and Trumpet of the Swan.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

You know you want to sing The Poop Song!

The Poop Song, by Eric Litwin/Illutarted by Claudia Boldt, (Apr. 2021, Chronicle Books), $15.99, ISBN: 9781452179506

Ages 2-6

The author who gave us Pete the Cat’s I Love My White Shoes has bestowed a new musical gift upon us: The Poop Song. Perfect for potty trainers and preschoolers who are still getting on a potty schedule, The Poop Song is all about…. well, pooping! The hilarious rhyming song applauds the pooping habits of animals: “Cats poop in their own little box. / Mountain goats poop as they climb over rocks. / Fishes poop as they swim in the sea. / Caterpillars poop at the top of a tree.” After a group of animals, Litwin reinforces that everybody’s pooping, and that big boys and big girls poop in the potty, hearing a “happy sound”: a flush! It’s a fun way to encourage kids to use the potty, with loads of laugh-out-loud moments. Colorful digital illustrations and bold fonts make this as much fun visually as it is to read aloud. Download an MP3 to sing along with the book or make up your own tune! The Poop Song has its own webpage where you can download the MP3 or watch the YouTube video, and download a potty chart to help your little poopers track their new potty habits. Absolute fun.

Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction, picture books

Earth Day: Loving the Animals!

Earth Day is tomorrow, but I’ve got books and books to talk about! Let’s love the animals we share the planet with, shall we?

Masters of Disguise: Camouflaging Creatures & Magnificent Mimics, by Marc Martin, (March 2021, Candlewick Studio), $18.99, ISBN: 9781536214055

Ages 4-8

Animals love to play hide and seek in the wild: it keeps them safe! Masters of Disguise profiles twelve different animals, from Gaboon Vipers in Africa to the Great Horned Owl in North and South America, to the Panther Chameleon in Madagascar. Gorgeous watercolor, pencil, and digital collage artwork invites readers to look for animals in their habitats, and profiles on each animal spotlights their uniqueness: polar bear paws and colorless coats; African leopard rosettes on their lush coats, the mimic octopus’s list of impersonations. Fun facts and inviting artwork make this a wonderful invitation to learn more about the animals in their habitats; endpapers spotlight a world map with the animals noted across their locations.

Masters of Disguise has a starred review from Kirkus.

 

Reptiles Everywhere, by Camilla de la Bedoyere/Illustrated by Britta Teckentrup, (April 2021, Big Picture Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536217070

Ages 6-9

Reptile fans, get ready! Britta Teckentrup – one of my favorite illustrators! – brings her talents to this great primer on reptiles. Zoologist Camilla de la Bedoyere writes a very readable, interactive book for animals fans, inviting readers to pick the dinosaurs out of a reptile lineup; view a reptile timeline; learn about reptiles in different habitats, and watch a group of baby leatherback turtles race for the ocean. Digital artwork is colorful, and fun facts make each page compulsively readable. Readers will be excited to look for more books on new favorite lizards, like the Komodo Dragon or the Gila Monster, when finishing this one.

Orangutan Hats and Other Tools Animals Use, by Richard Haynes/Illustrated by Stephanie Laberis, (April 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536200935
Ages 7-10
Animals: they’re just like us, right? Yes! This light-hearted book is all about the tools animals use: floss like a macaque, apply sunscreen like an elephant, wield a shield like a hermit crab. Organized into six sections, readers can learn what animals do to stay clean, healthy, and safe; how they create tools to hunt and eat, how they seek comfort, and tools to help them have fun! Cartoon illustrations will make readers giggle as they see a capuchin monkey stick a piece of grass up its nose to clean it out, or watch a crow drop a rock on a cat that’s getting too close for comfort. A smart look at animal ingenuity that kids will return to. Endpapers show a forest landscape on a sunny day and a rainy day; back matter includes a glossary, bibliography, and index. Publisher Candlewick offers a Teacher Tip Card to prompt discussion.
Orangutan Hats and Other Tools Animals Use has a starred review from Kirkus.
And, coming soon…
The Elephants Come Home: A True Story of Seven Elephants, Two People, and One Extraordinary Friendship, by Kim Tomsic/Illustrated by Hadley Hooper, (May 2021, Chronicle Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9781452127835
Ages 3-5
While it’s not out until May, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this moving story about a man who took a group of frightened, hunted elephants into his home. Conservationist Lawrence Anthony, his wife, Françoise, and their dog, Max, accepted a group of elephant to live at their Thula Thula game preserve in Africa. The elephants were bullied and hunted, and were raging at rangers at their last location. For this group of 7 elephants, Thula Thula was their last chance: if they didn’t go to Thula Thula, they would have been shot. Lawrence accepted the elephants; he and Françoise understood their fear and their anger, and gently, slowly gained their trust. When Lawrence died in 2012, the elephants came from where they’d been living, about 12 hours away, and mourned Lawrence along with Françoise. They return every year. Told simply and with genuine feeling, this beautiful story will pull at your heartstrings; Hadley Hooper’s mixed media artwork has touching moments set against a background of reds and oranges. I can’t say enough about this wonderful book: add this to your storytimes, and talk about empathy, kindness, and being a guardian to our planet and the animals we share it with. Back matter includes an author’s note and list of works cited.