Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Catkwondo takes aim!

Catkwondo, by Lisl H. Detlefsen/Illustrated by Erin Hunting, (Sept. 2020, Capstone), $17.95, ISBN: 9781684461004

Ages 4-7

Kitten wants to break a board in her taekwondo class, but she’s got a lot to learn! Her sensei, Master Ca,t teaches her to prepare her body and mind, and makes it look so easy! As Kitten struggles to learn and master her forms, Master Cat is there with encouragement and advice. Kitten practices her forms while reminding herself of the five tenets of taekwondo: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit. Her classmates all help her as she keeps her eye on the prize: breaking that board! Adorable digital illustrations and short sentences make this a sweet story about teamwork and working toward a goal. A list of Korean terms used in taekwondo adds new words to readers’ vocabulary.

Kitten’s moments of frustration and her joy at success will resonate with readers, and images of classmates with advanced belts working to help Kitten improve nicely promote the value of working together. Master Cat is wizened and cheerful, and his little charges all have cartoony, expressive faces that will attract younger readers. Read alongside SumoKitty, by David Biedrzycki, a different martial arts story with a zen outlook… and cats.

 

 

Posted in picture books

My Footprints addresses family, bullying, and imagination

My Footprints, by Bao Phi/Illustrated by Basia Tran, (Sept. 2019. Capstone), $19.99, ISBN: 9781684460007

Ages 5-8

Thuy is a biracial child with two moms who feels “double different”. Walking home one winter afternoon, she tries to ignore the bullies who go at her, but she’s frustrated – and then she sees a bird, which takes her away from the bullies and into the air, soaring like the bird; from there, she wonders about taking on characteristics of other animals: sprinting like a deer; roaring like a bear; anything that can help her channel her frustration. She arrives home to her moms, Momma Ngoc and Momma Arti, and talks with them as the three walk together, creating all sorts of footprints: a phoenix, a Sarabha from Hindu mythology, even a new creature that leaves heart-shaped footprints in the snow, as Thuy walks between her mothers.

This is a quietly captivating book about imagination and family; about taking power away from bullies by talking things out with family, and gaining strength from coming together. Using mythological animals like a phoenix, which rises from its ashes, and a Sarabha, a powerful beast with the ability to leap great distances, is a nod to both Thuy’s and her mothers’ Asian and Southeast Asian backgrounds. These animals also let readers follow Thuy further into an imaginary world where she – and we – can channel the strength of these creatures into ourselves when faced with adversity.

Beautifully told, beautifully illustrated, My Footprints is a solid addition to picture book collections.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

BookExpo: The Picture Books!

Okay, another BookExpo post at last. There was SO much to see, it couldn’t be contained in just one post. Here’s a little bit of a rundown on picture books I saw/picked up.

June

A Home for Leo, by Vin Vogel, (June 2018, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781503902602

Recommended for readers 4-8

Leo’s a baby who becomes separated from his family and ends up being raised by seals. He loves his seal family, but his differences – he doesn’t look like anyone else; he can’t hold his breath for as long as they can – weigh on him, making him feel like “an empty shell”. He’s found by a family who “rescues” him from the seals, and his parents, who recognize him on TV, come to take him home. Leo’s happy to be with his family, but there’s a lot to adjust to, living among people. He misses his other family, and he misses the sea… maybe there’s a way that everyone can be happy? The digital illustrations are bright and defined, with friendly and diverse families. The story is a nice pick for adoptees, or just about any kid who doesn’t feel like they fit in.

 

August

The Kiddie Table, by Colleen Madden, (Aug. 2018, Capstone), $15.95, ISBN: 978-1-68446-002-1

Recommended for 5-8

An 8-year-old girl has to sit at the kiddie table at the family Thanksgiving dinner, and she is NOT having it! This laugh-out-loud rhyming story will have readers laughing along with you as our protagonist endures the indignity of being given a sippy cup, and having her toddler cousins pelt her with food before she finally blows her stack. When Mom calms her down and gives her a talking to, readers will learn how to maturely handle a situation before the meltdown hits, and how to ask for what you want when things don’t go your way. I love the colors, the artwork, and the extra details, like the child art hanging from the walls, Thanksgiving dishware, and naturally, flying food. A fun add to your holiday bookshelves!

 

Grow Up, David!, by David Shannon, (Aug. 2018, Scholastic), $17.99, ISBN: 9781338250978

Recommended for readers 3-7

David’s back! The little boy who’s perpetually in trouble shows readers what it’s like to be the kid brother in his fifth picture book outing (not counting the Diaper David board books). From the cover of the book, where David jumps up and down on his older sibling to wake him, it’s a nonstop “David!” fest that echoes sentiments every little brother or sister has heard time and again: “You’re too little!”; “Stop following me!”; “That’s MINE!”; “Give it back!” As with other David stories, just when David has driven everyone berserk, big brother takes a step back, engages David, and the story ends with a hug. Or a noogie. You be the judge. Who doesn’t love a David story? My 6-year-old loves David’s antics – mostly because they map so well to his own – and with two much older brothers, this book is going to ring very true for him, just like it will for other readers who have older siblings, cousins, or students in school that like to throw their age differences around. David Shannon books are a win for all!

 

Boo-Boo! (Terrific Toddlers), by Carol Zeavin & Rhona Silverbush/Illustrated by Jon Davis, (Aug. 2018, Magination Press), $8.99, ISBN: 9781433828751

Recommended for readers 3-5

This sweet little book is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers. A little girl named JoJo likes to run! She falls down and bumps her chin, sending Daddy running to pick her up. The little toddler cries about her “boo-boo” while Daddy comforts her and takes her home to fix the boo-boo. There’s wonderful repetition here: the toddler repeats everything Daddy suggests, but with “NO!” in front of it: “No fix!” “No wash!” “No Band-Aid!”, all of which are age-appropriate responses. Daddy responds appropriately, too, keeping his cool and finding simple methods to deflect JoJo until the boo-boo is taken care of, and JoJo and Daddy are both happy again. The artwork is soft and realistic; JoJo and her dad are wonderfully expressive, and a note to parents and caregivers helps parents understand how to cope with their own boo-boo moments. JoJo and her dad are people of color. I really like this Terrific Toddlers series and think I’ll be putting a set in my library.

 

September

The Steves, by Morag Hood, (Sept. 2018, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $15.99, ISBN: 978-1-4926-6914-2

Recommended for readers 3-7

Next up, another hilarious book from Morag Hood, whose 2017 book, I Am Bat, made me laugh out loud trying to get through storytime. The Steves promises more of the same: two puffins, each named Steve, battle it out who’s the better Steve. The Stevest Steve, if you will. Like two preschoolers, the insults fly fast, furious, and absolutely hysterical. When the insults go too far, the Steves have a time-out, work out their differences, and… are joined by another Steve. This book begs to be read out loud, and the art will make readers laugh as hard as the text, with accusatory feather-pointing, mountains of fish, and colorful, bright artwork.

 

My Wish For You, by Kathryn Hahn/Illustrated by Brigette Barrager, (Sept. 2018, Scholastic), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-338-15040-7

Recommended for readers 4-8

Actress and author Kathryn Hahn’s inspiration for this book is her six-year-old daughter; these are her wishes – all parents’ wishes – for their daughters as they grow. Illustrated groups of diverse young girls play and grow together across the spreads as life advice counsels them to “Be afraid. Be fearless. Have BIG, BIG feelings”; and “Make sure you are HEARD. SAY what you mean unless you can’t find the words. Then SHOUT it out till the words come back”. Uni the Unicorn illustrator Brigette Barrager creates fun, light images of girls climbing trees, catching stars, listening to music, and playing dress-up together, creating a very sweet love letter from mothers to daughters, with an undercurrent of empowerment. I’d pair this with Stacy McAnulty’s Beautiful; check A Mighty Girl for more girl-empowering titles to display, booktalk, or buy.

 

Star in the Jar, by Sam Hay/Illustrated by Sarah Massini, (Sept. 2018, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-4926-6220-4

Recommended for readers 4-8

A young boy finds a fallen star, prompting him and his sister to find a way to send the star back home. When they succeed, he discovers not that he lost something by giving it away, but that he’s found a friend. Published in the UK earlier this year, Star in the Jar is an upbeat, quiet story about friendship, empathy, and a little magic.  The siblings have a close relationship, and work together on solutions to return the star to its home in the sky. A nice addition to picture book collections and could be a cute bedtime story/pajama storytime choice.

 

 

October

Pterodactyl Show and Tell, by Thad Krasnesky/Illustrated by Tanya Leonello, (Oct. 2018, Flashlight Press), $17.95, ISBN: 9781936261345

Recommended for readers 3-7

This rhyming tale about a boy who brings his pterodactyl to school for show and tell will have readers laughing as the dino wreaks havoc on the school day. He tries to eat some classmates, and has teachers hiding behind their desks, but he also finds time to have fun in the playground, enjoy a math lesson, and demonstrate how to brush his teeth! The kids aren’t as open to the new experience as the ptero’s human is, but he gets a quick promotion to fourth grade out of it. Too bad the fourth grade doesn’t seem to allow show and tell! The rhyming is fun, but the pictures sell it in this book; the expressive, goofy-faced pterodactyl is never a threatening figure, which makes the reactions from classmates and faculty even funnier. Watching a winged dinosaur upend the school from classroom to cafeteria is likely every kid’s dream, and will go over in a big way here. Absolutely fun reading – who doesn’t love a dinosaur?

 

Good Morning, Snowplow!, by Deborah Bruss/Illustrated by Lou Fancher & Steve Johnson, (Oct. 2018, Scholastic), $17.99, ISBN: 9781338089493

Recommended for readers 4-7

This gentle rhyming story about a snowplow driver and his dog getting ready for a night’s work is perfect for readers who love Sherri Duskey Rinker’s Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site and Mighty, Mighty Construction Site. Acrylics, colored pencil, pen, and collage artwork comes together to create weathered-looking trucks and snowflakes that dominate the pages while still appearing delicate. A good addition to your seasonal and transportation books.

 

 

Lorraine, the Girl Who Sang the Storm Away, by Ketch Secor/Illustrated by Higgins Bond, (Oct. 2018, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-4926-1692-4

Recommended for readers 4-8

Another rhyming story! I love it! This story of a young, African American girl named Lorraine, who lives with her grandfather, Paw Paw, in Tennessee is too much fun. The girl and her grandfather make music together: she’s got a penny whistle and he’s got a harmonica (called a French harp here). They start noticing things going missing around the farm, but that’s pushed aside by the arrival of a big storm that terrifies Lorraine. She and Paw Paw try to make some music to push away the noise, but discover their instruments are missing! Thankfully, Paw Paw encourages Lorraine to sing instead, and the two sing away that storm. The next morning, the storm has passed and they discover their missing treasures in the base of a tree, downed by the storm. The crow that’s been visiting them has been stealing stuff from them all along! This is a beautifully illustrated book, depicting a loving relationship between a girl and her grandfather; the fonts change size and color for emphasis and become part of the scenery. The acrylic paint creates a realistic slice of life in the Tennessee Hills. Absolutely add this to your shelves.

 

Miracle on 34th Street, by Valentine Davies/text adapted for picture book by Susanna Leonard Hill/Illustrated by James Newman Gray, (Oct. 2018, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-4926-6986-9

Recommended for readers 4+

Here’s one for the Christmas collections! For the first time, the popular Christmas movie is being adapted into a picture book. Oscar-winning screen writer Valentine Davies penned this story about a little girl named Susan, who doesn’t believe in Santa Claus until she meets Kris, a jolly, bearded gentleman who plays Santa at Macy’s. When he reveals that actually is Kris Kringle – Santa Claus – Susan isn’t sure, but he encourages her to be childlike and believe in things, even if you don’t always have proof. When he’s taken to court by a jealous supervisor at Macy’s, it’s up to Susan’s mother’s friend, Fred, to convince the judge of the same. This adaptation retains the heart of the movie classic, with warm-colored illustrations. Schedule a viewing of the classic film and get your displays up!

 

We’ve Got the Whole World in Our Hands, Illustrated by Rafael López, (Oct. 2018, Scholastic), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-338-17736-7

Recommended for readers 3+

Finishing strong here! The popular folk song, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”, gets a multicultural, nonsectarian adaptation with Rafael López’s beautifully illustrated update. The award-winning illustrator puts the world in “our” hands – the kids’ hands – and creates a feeling of empowerment and unity through diversity and understanding.  The words can be sung to the tune of the original folk song, or make up your own tune! Invite readers to clap along, hold hands, and dance along. It’s a feel-good book with a feel-great message! There’s sheet music for instruments at the end of the book, and a note about the original song. The mixed media illustration is incredible, with bright colors, blending, and texture. A must-add, and I’m keeping my eye on this for Caldecott.

 

That’s it! Whew! And this is just a smattering of what we’ve got coming our way this Fall. Get those book carts ready to order!

 

Posted in Animal Fiction, Early Reader, Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate

Ginger Green, Playdate Queen, meets The Crazy Friend!

The Crazy Friend (Ginger Green), by Kim Kane/Illustrated by Jon Davis, (Apr. 2018, Capstone), $5.95, ISBN: 9781515819479

Recommended for readers 6-8

Ginger Green is the 7 year-old playdate queen! But when she invites Maisy over to play, she may have taken on more than she (or her mother) have bargained for. Maisy is out of control, and she takes Ginger’s little sister, Penny, with her! Maisy needs to figure out how to turn this playdate around, super-fast!

Every caregiver has had at least one playdate like this. Maybe it’s even your little one that strips down to his or her underwear and takes off through a friend’s house. Parents – and kids! – will sympathize with Ginger and her mom, who are taken by surprise by a playdate that is anything but expected. For parents and caregivers, The Crazy Friend provides an interesting look at kids’ behavior without knowing what’s behind it: is Maisy just a badly behaving child, or is there something more to the situation that neither Ginger nor her mom are aware of? There are some cues in the text that could lead readers to believe Maisy has some impulse control/ADHD-type behaviors. Ginger and her mom are frustrated (and I’m a little mortified that Maisy’s mom was all too quick to leave her daughter for someone else to contend with), but each decides to embrace the situation and work toward a solution that will save the playdate for everyone.

The Crazy Friend provides teachable moments and the chance for discussion. There are three short chapters, illustrated in two-color purple and white, and can easily fit in either an Easy Reader or intermediate section. There are currently four Ginger Green books available through Capstone in the US; in the author’s native Australia, there are 11.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

The Legend of Jack Riddle begins!

The Legend of Jack Riddle, by H. Easson, (January 2018, Stone Arch Books), $26.65, ISBN: 9781496554086/(March. 2018, Capstone), $12.95, ISBN: 9781623709075

Recommended for ages 9-13

Twelve year-old Jack has to go visit his creepy great-great-great-whatever-aunt. She wears Doc Martens, a black ballgown, and wears a creepy top hat, calls him Jackie-poo, and sneaks out to play bingo. In the forest. Jack follows her, and discovers that Aunt Gee Gee may have some secrets. When the cookie jar she sends him back home brings forth a goblin that attacks the principal for a candy bar, Jack definitely gets the feeling that something’s up. The thing is, Jack’s in the middle of a very dangerous fairy tale: he’s the descendant of Gretel, and she’s nothing like the lost little girl in the fairy tale. She’s an awful witch that has Jack and his absent-minded teacher, Professor Ambrosius Footnote, racing to find a way to stop Gretel before there are very, very bad consequences for Jack and for future kids!

This is a fun take on fairy tale history, with cameos from some old favorites and a new point of view. Narrated from Jack’s point of view, there’s an interesting subplot about communication breakdown between parents and kids, and he tackles some fairy tale tropes (why can’t anyone just give a straight answer? What’s with all the riddles?) with laughs. The ending leaves the possibility of a sequel open. If you have fractured fairy tale readers, this is a good bet for their shelves and yours.

Posted in History, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Tween Reads, Women's History

For the Right to Learn tells Malala’s story for younger readers

malalaFor the Right to Learn: Malala Yousafzai’s Story, by Rebecca Langston-George/Illus. by Janna Bock (Sept. 2015, Capstone), $15.95, ISBN: 9781623704261

Recommended for ages 9-14

There are some great books available on Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager that defied the Taliban by demanding education for girls and young women, and was shot for her activism. I have most of them in my library – I buy every book I can on Malala, because I want boys and girls alike to know her story and understand that education is a right that not every child enjoys in this world, and the lengths that children will go to in order to have that right.

Rebecca Langston-George’s book For the Right to Learn: Malala Yousafzai’s Story, illustrated by Janna Bock, is nonfiction that reads like fiction. We’ve seen Malala’s photos at the UN, of Malala in the hospital, Malala with her family, but illustrating a book on Malala allows us to see the events in her life that led to the present. Digitally created images, like Malala writing science formulas on her hands when other girls drew flowers are powerful and beautiful. The fear in her eyes and her friends’ eyes when a Taliban soldier boards her school bus, looking for her, grips readers who know what will happen – the drops of blood on a fallen book, set against a stark white background with the words, “Three shots shattered the silence”, is incredibly effective.

For visual middle grade learners, this is a great companion to any social studies/current events discussions. There is a glossary and an index in the back of the book, and there’s a great blog with Web resources that can round out any lesson plan on Malala.

Posted in Fiction, Historical Fiction, Uncategorized

Take a trip through the decades with My Hometown

myhometownMy Hometown, by Russell Griesmer/Illus. by Priscilla Wong (Oct. 2015, Capstone), $15.95, ISBN: 9781623701741

Recommended for ages 4-8

“Every town has a story…”

A magical newspaper floats through a town ready to celebrate its 150th anniversary, transporting a young boy through the history of the town. We see the evolution of a small American town; from horses and carriages, to buggies, to big-finned cars, to SUVs and minivans. As we move through the decades, we see history unfold: the townsfolk prepare a scrap metal drive for the war effort and a welcome home party for the troops; get a glimpse at the women’s lib movement, a possible recession, and a comeback. It’s a slice of Main Street, USA Americana in a wordless text that lets the illustrations speak volumes.

The art is amazing. We go from a grainy sepia tone, with a grainy feel like an old photo or newspaper clipping, through to a cleaner black and white to highlight the town’s first few decades. During the World War II years, we get a little grittier, like an old photo that’s seen some use. The boy, an outside observer, is always in full color, reminding us that he, like us, is there to observe and learn. As we move from the 1960s into the 1970s, the color goes to a wonderful tinted color, like an old Kodakchrome photo that will make a lot of parents smile and look for their old photo albums. We see some futuristic cars as the town moves into the 1980s, but it also reminds us that there were some hard times, with empty storefronts and the Town Hall holding a benefit breakfast for a repair fund. The architecture evolves with the decades, as do the businesses along Main Street.

We come back to the present, and the newspaper moves on – what will the next child discover?

This is a great book to prompt discussion, whether it’s with grandparents, parents, or an educator, about history and change. It’s a great opportunity to talk to kids about our childhoods, and compare the differences in our formative years. The wordless text allows kids to tell the story and expand beyond the printed page. Who are some of those people? What are those businesses selling? What happened to the businesses that left, and who took their places? What would you do if you went back in time?

My Hometown will be in stores in October, and will definitely find a place on my library shelves.

Posted in Early Reader, Toddler Reads, Uncategorized

Time Together: Me and Grandpa evokes sweet memories for kids and grandparents

Time Together: Me and Grandpa, by Maria Catherine/illus. by Pascal Campion (Mar. 2015, Capstone) $8.95, ISBN: 9781479557967

Recommended for ages 3-7

Morning reading time. Whispery fish time. Ultimate nap time. Close your eyes and see the images these words evoke, and you have the essence of Me and Grandpa, a sweet litany of different “times” children spend with their grandfathers. The images are bright, yet subdued, feature boys and girls from multiethnic backgrounds, and there is one spread dedicated to each setting. There are active and passive activities, from playing a sport or gardening to relaxing, reading the morning paper or cuddling for an afternoon nap.

The digital images are vivid, with splashes of realistic touches that look like paint or sponge art, creating a multilayered appearance. Text is black or white, depending on the background, distinguishing itself but never taking over the spread, allowing for a gentle read and contemplation of each image and moment with a grandparent.

They’re great books for a grandpa/child storytime, and a perfect gift to either a grandparent from a child, or vice versa. Libraries, plan your Grandparent’s Day/Mother’s Day/Father’s Day events around this one.

A companion book, Time Together: Me and Grandma, also by Maria Catherine/Pascal Campion, will be released on March 1st.

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade

The Joker’s Dozen: A Batman Choose Your Own Adventure!

cover52077-mediumThe Joker’s Dozen, by Laurie S. Sutton/illus. by Ethen Beavers (2015, Capstone) $6.95, ISBN: 9781434297112

Recommended for ages 7-12

The Joker is back! This time, he’s turning the good people of Gotham City into giggling thieves! It’s up to you to help Batman this time- is he outnumbered, or are the odds pretty evenly matched? What weapon should he use? Will he save the city, or will Joker have the last laugh? You make the call, you choose the adventure!

This is a pretty quick and easy read for young readers who are comfortable with chapter books. Unlike traditional Choose Your Own Adventure Books, these are really just different scenarios, not really affected by the choices you make. Which, for a younger reader, is probably the best way to go. With 12 different endings, this will be a book that kids will get a different experience with time and again- there are a multitude of different choices and stories readers can create!

This is a fun book to have handy for the kid who’s always bored. (You know the kid.) There’s some great Batman artwork from DC comic artist Ethen Beavers, with fast-paced storytelling and a sense of control over the story. For only $6.95, expect this book to see some action, in your home, classroom, or library.

Posted in Non-Fiction, Teen

Peek into the mind of a teen with The Isobel Journal

isobelThe Isobel Journal, by Isobel Harrop (Capstone, August 2014). $16.95, ISBN: 9781630790035

Recommended for ages 12+

The Isobel Journal is a real-life journal from Isobel Harrop, “just a girl from where nothing really happened”. She lives in Britain, and shares her journal here with readers, who get a glimpse of her thoughts on herself, her friends, otters, and love. It’s filled with her artwork – she loves to sketch – and tidbits about her family and friends. I like her sketches, juxtaposed over photos, like the pages featuring her dog and cat. They’re fun pieces that bring art and life together.

Isobel is a teen girl – she likes to collect things, like photos and ticket stubs, and stick them in her journal. She likes to draw on herself. She daydreams, she explores. She’s got a fun, friendly sensibility that comes right through the page. Some reviewers have called this book random, but isn’t that the point of a journal? Isobel invites readers into her world, and in so doing, brings readers together – because what feels like not far too long ago (but in actuality, is), I was a teenage girl doing the same things, and reading this journal made me smile and think about that.

The Isobel Journal is a fun, quirky book that teen girls will get a kick out of looking through. Take a look at the book trailer!