Posted in awards, Cybils, Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Humor, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Graphic Novel Roundup, CYBILS edition

The games have begun! Round 1 CYBILS Judges are clearing the shelves in our libraries and homes, wherever we can find the books in our categories. This is my second year as a Round 1 Graphic Novels panelist, so I’m reading all the graphic novels I can find! The CYBILS nomination period is still going strong, so please consider nominating your favorite J and YA reads this year. If you need some inspiration, or the books you’ve liked are already nominated, check out this Padlet for suggestions.

That said, I’ve got some graphic novels to gush about here – maybe this will inspire you. I’ll note any CYBILS nominees on this list.

Glam Prix Racers, by Deanna Kent/Illustrated by Neil Hooson, (May 2021, imprint), $10.99, ISBN: 9781250265388

Ages 7-10

My gushing for this book is so long overdue, I’m embarrassed. Deanna Kent and Neil Hooson, co-creators of one of my favorite middle grade series – the Snazzy Cat Capers series! – have begun their foray into intermediate graphic novels with Glam Prix Racers. Described as “Mario Kart meets My Little Pony”, this book is like a video game in graphic novel form. There are vibrant colors, expressive, kid-friendly fantasy characters, and a fun storyline that relies on teamwork and friendly competition. It’s race season on Glittergear Island, and Mil the Mermaid and her monster truck, Mudwick, get sidelined on their way to take their Glam Prix team photo. They suspect the Vroombot Crew is up to no good, but what can they do? The Racers have to band together to cross the finish line first! This is the first in a planned trilogy; the second book is due out in January, and anything Deanna Kent and Neil Hooson collaborate on is gold in my book.

Visit Deanna and Neil’s website for Glam Prix (and Snazzy Cat!) freebies all in one place; find coloring sheets here, an activity kit here, and digital resources, including wallpapers, a STEM kit, and videos, here.

Glam Prix Racers is a first round CYBILS nominee.

 

 

Mayor Good Boy, by Dave Scheidt/Illustrated by Miranda Harmon, (Aug. 2021, RH Graphic), $9.99, ISBN: 9780593124871

Ages 7-10

The town of Greenwood has a new Mayor, and he’s a very Good Boy! He’s Mayor Good Boy – a talking dog who wants to do good things in his home town.  Not everyone is thrilled about the new mayor, though, so when some disgruntled citizens start trying to make trouble for the newly elected pup, siblings Aaron and Abby intervene and get hired on as junior aides. While Mayor Good Boy is all about kindness and finding ways to help make his town better, people are plotting to bring him down by releasing fleas all over the town so that he’ll get the blame! Aaron and Abby have to save the day AND find the culprit, and keep Mayor Good Boy’s good reputation intact. With likable characters, friendly art, and loads of fart and stinky feet jokes, this is warm-hearted comedy gold for intermediate and middle graders. The story touches on themes of diversity. advocacy,  and activism, as Abby gives a great speech about being able to create change, even as a kid; back matter includes how to draw instructions for Good Boy, Aaron, and Abby, plus the Mayor Good Boy Pledge and a side comic starring the two siblings on how to contact one’s representatives. Social consciousness, a great message about friends, working together, and a cameo by a comic favorite (I see you, Steenz!) make Mayor Good Boy a graphic novel series you won’t want to miss. There are adventures planned for 2022 and 2023, so keep your carts ready to load.
Mayor Good Boy hasn’t been nominated for a CYBILS yet, so maybe this is one you want to suggest.
Death and Sparkles, by Rob Justus, (Oct. 2021, Chronicle Books), $22.99, ISBN: 9781797206356
Ages 10-14
Big themes and hilarious writing make this a macabre, middle school winner. Death is… well, Death. He touches things, they die, he doesn’t discriminate. Sparkles is a self-obsessed social media celebrity who also happens to be the last unicorn. His manager loves making money off of Sparkles, which turns out pretty poorly for Sparkles, who discovers some hard and fast truths about friendship when he and Death meet. Sparkles, seemingly immune to Death’s touch, is stuck on Death in the most hilarious of ways, leading to the two becoming the unlikeliest of friends. On one hand, there are fart jokes aplenty. On the other hand, there are incredible discussions about the pervasiveness of social media, the cult of influencers, and the fake friends that follow celebrity. There’s an ecological subplot that I expect will come back in future books that shows how even the most genuine intentions can get lost in the murky social media waters, causing a vicious cycle where getting attention for a necessary issue feeds into the popularity machine, leading to the distortion of the message. Thought- and discussion-provoking, yet laugh-out-loud funny, Death and Sparkles is a good start to a new series. Download a free activity kit and enjoy a cupcake.
Death and Sparkles is a CYBILS first round nominee.
Bedhead Ted, by Scott SanGiacomo, (Aug. 2021, Quill Tree Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9780062941305
Ages 8-12
Fourth grader Ted has is a bully target because of his “overactive hair follicles”, which give him a head of wild red hair and the nickname, “Bedhead Ted”. Taunted on the bus and in school, he and his best friend, a boy named Stacy, are on the lookout for The Brookside Beast, a fabled giant raccoon in their neighborhood. As if Ted wasn’t feeling bad enough, two of the boys’ tormentors decide to join Stacy’s Brookside Beast Research Center, causing Ted to distance himself from his best – and only – friend. Just as Ted is feeling his lowest, frustrated with his bullies, his friendship, and his hair, he discovers something incredible: his hair has superpowers! When Stacy disappears during the school’s ice cream social, Ted just knows he’s gone to track down the beast, and follows him: Ted’s hair may just save the day. Themes of bullying, appearances, friendship, and the rumor mill are all addressed in this smartly written, funny story about a kid and his hair. A fun mystery leads to a sweet conclusion, and I loved the subplot involving Ted’s family tree. Mixed media illustrations give life to Ted and his super-powered hair; as bullies throw things at him, readers will see various utensils, writing tools, paper airplanes, and more sticking to his hair as he goes through his day. His family is supportive and doesn’t ignore his bullying, checking in with him throughout the story and leading to his grandmother’s reveal. Visit Scott SanGiacomo’s webpage for Ted-related printables, draw-along videos, and more artwork.
Bedhead Ted hasn’t been nominated for a CYBILS award yet… you know what to do!
Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate

Bridge Easy Readers and Intermediate chapter books with Barkus and Charlie & Mouse

Transitioning from Easy Readers to chapter books is even more fun with these colorful chapter book series!

Barkus: The Most Fun, by Patricia MacLachlan/Illustrated by Marc Boutavant, (Sept. 2021, Chronicle Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9781452173344

Ages 6-9

Newbery Medalist Patricia Machlachlan’s Barkus series is adorable and perfect for easy readers who are ready to take on some more complex reading. The third book, Barkus: The Most Fun, has Barkus, the family dog, and his family going on a series of outdoor adventures. Composed of four stories, Barkus, Baby the Kitten, and his human family go camping, visit grandmother and grandfather’s farm, visit a parade, and head to their winter cabin. Narrated by the young girl who happens to be Barkus’s favorite human, the stories are brief enough to read one at a time or all at once; sentences are simple and informative, and the colorful illustrations show a happy family doing things together. There are warm and funny moments in each story: Barkus and Baby end up making news in “The Most Fun!” and witness the birth of a calf in “The Crazy Cows of Spring”. The images are warm, comforting, and familiar: a family traveling in their car, a dog and cat curled up together in the back; a grandparent hugging his granddaughter and patting Barkus’s head as he leans into the loving touch; even a mildly put-upon dad, frowning as his daughter, her dog, and cat peek out from a pile of leaves that he was raking. Patricia MacLachlan and Marc Boutavant make magic and memories here.

Visit Scribd and download Barkus activity sheets!

 

Charlie & Mouse: Lost and Found, by Laurel Snyder/Illustrated by Emily Hughes, (Aug. 2021, Chronicle Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9781452183404

Ages 6-9

Siblings Charlie and Mouse have new adventures in their fifth outing. Lost & Found has four short stories, taking the sibs on slightly smaller – but no less exciting – adventures, all taking place in the course of one day. In “Somewhere”, the two search high and low for Mouse’s blanket; in “Errands”, they join Mom on the dreaded series of errands – the bank, the post office – but make a BIG discovery! In “Silly”, Charlie and Mouse have a sad goodbye, but in “Boop”, another discovery warms their hearts. Chapters are short, with simple sentences; stories are kid-friendly and oh-so relatable (the very mention of the words “bank”, “grocery store”, or “post office” strikes fear into my 9-year-old’s heart), Illustrations are softly illustrated, with friendly, expressive characters. The body language between the siblings is comforting and playful. The siblings slump on each other in the car during the dreaded errands; Charlie comforts a distraught Mouse, who cannot locate Blanket. Parents show up for a few moments in the stories, but the focal point is the relationship between Charlie and Mouse, as it should be. The first book in the series, Charlie and Mouse, is a 2018 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner.

Get a free Teacher’s Guide to the series, and two activity sheets here.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Flaps, folds, snaps, and pulls: Board Books to Explore!

Over the last couple of days, I’ve gotten a LOT of book mail (thank you!). The Fall is going to be AMAZING for kids’ books, and the board books? *Chef’s kiss* There are so many fun tabs, snaps, and flaps to be found in these new books – just perfect for toddlers and rising preschoolers to engage those little minds and hands. Let’s take a look at some, shall we?

Snap! Chomp Your Jaws!, by Bob Barner, (Aug. 2021, Chronicle Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9781452179421

Ages 0-3

This adorable board book is all about animals who snap their jaws: lions, gorillas, crocodiles, hippos and sharks all chomp with powerful jaws, and this sturdy board book lets kids pull on those jaws and watch them snap back! Each animal includes a fun fact or two (female lions do the hunting; crocodiles carry their babies in those powerful jaws), and the jaw pull reveals sharp teeth to marvel over. Cut paper illustrations add texture and depth to the illustrations, and bold black font makes for easy reading during a lapsit reading. A companion to Bob Barner’s Snap! Stick Out Your Tongue! (2020), this is a book to have on your low shelves so the littles can find it on their own.

Bob Barner is an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator. Visit his author website for coloring pages, songs and videos!

 

Where is Everyone?, by Tom Schamp, (Sept. 2021, Prestel Junior), $14.95, ISBN: 9783791374505

Ages 2-5

Originally published in Dutch in 2020, this board book is full of fun lift-the-flaps. Guided by two ducks, each page challenges readers to use their imaginations to see beyond the everyday, whether it’s discovering that a raccoon is behind a washer, or that a pelican is behind a sink. Questions prompt the imagination by asking the reader who they think will be revealed: perfect for lapsits and small readalouds! A final flap is the most fun reveal of all, bringing everyone together. The artwork is colorful and the flaps are sturdy, holding up to repeated use. The animals have friendly expressions, and the everyday housewares are easy to recognize. Ask your readers what else they see on each spread, whether it’s a color, shape, or additional details, from a tea bag to a couch pillow. Then ask them what could be behind items in your home, class, or library: maybe there’s a giraffe behind a floor lamp, or an – ouch! – porcupine by that footstool.

 

Hide and Seek Peekabook (Beginning Baby), by Nicola Slater, (Sept. 2021, Twirl Books), $10.99, ISBN: 9781797203690

Ages 0-3

Twirl Books has more Beginning Baby books this Fall! Hide-and-Seek Peekaboo is a fun lift-the-flap version of the game, where you and a group of animal friends play together as you look for them under tables, behind chairs and curtains, and under blankets. If you have other Beginning Baby books, you and your little ones may recognize the familiar faces; animal friends like Riley the Narwhal, Mia the Monkey, and Gabriel the Giraffe are the same group we saw in earlier books. Questions on each spread get readers wondering who’s hiding, and guide them to the flap location: “Who is behind the curtain?” Who is behind the pillow?” Pair with Shasha Lv’s board book, A Little Snail Book: Hide and Seek, for more concept fun.

 

This Book Can Do Anything, by Tristan Mory, (Sept. 2021, Twirl Books), $13.99, ISBN: 9782408028527

Ages 0-3

This book is perfect for readalouds! Shaped like a fun little rectangular being with round, blue glasses, it’s a book that can do anything – and just begs for you and your readers to join the fun. Every spread asks a question: Can the book wink? Can it blink? Put a finger in its nose? The book rises to the occasion, and now it’s up to you to see if your readers can do all the fun things Book can do. The book is expressive, friendly, and just goofy fun, with a fun pull-tab surprise at the end. High contrast black and white expressions join with colorful bright blue glasses and bright red-orange pants and freckles to grab readers’ attention. Add this to your interactive storytimes (anything by Herve Tullet will do) and add a Simon Says game to the fun!

Donuts!, by Lea Redmond/Illustrated by Flora Waycott, (Sept. 2021, Chronicle Books), $9.99, ISBN: 9781797210827

Ages 0-3

Die-cut into the shape of a yummy donut, this sweet book is all about the ingredients! Each spread is a guessing game about a tasty ingredient, revealed on the next spread, just in time for the next mouth-watering question. Flora Waycott’s delicious illustrations will likely have little ones reaching for this book: and I’ve got board books with teeth marks to begin with, so I’ll probably be buying a couple of copies of this one. What goes into every donut, though? A die-cut heart reveals the not-so secret ingredient at the end. Absolutely adorable.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Keep the Dad Love going!

Hi all! I know I was quiet for a few days, and I apologize. I’ve been getting ready for two big graduations, and ended up letting myself get dehydrated, so last night was spent recovering on the couch and drinking a bunch of water. Note to self: Do NOT clean the garage without a few chilled bottles of water on hand; one lukewarm bottle over a few hours doesn’t do a whole lot.

But Father’s Day was yesterday! Did the Dads of all sorts have a great day? I hope you did! I have two adorable books to crow about, and a few more suggestions for dads and grandpas. Enjoy.

Cave Dada: Picky Eater, by Brandon Reese, (April 2021, Chronicle Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9781452179957

Ages 3-5

The follow-up to Brandon Reese’s Cave Dada (2020) is every bit as adorable and hilarious as the first. Dada and Baba are back, and Baba is hungry for an egg… but Dada isn’t sure he has an egg, which doesn’t sit too well with Baba. Poor Dada wasn’t in the mood to hunt and gather, but Baba is pretty focused on an egg.. and Dada may just discover a new way to make breakfast! From the bouncing baby wakeup to the refusal to eat anything in the pantry and fridge, parents and caregivers will laugh as they see themselves in this story. My favorite part? Right here:

This, friends, was my life story, three times in a row. When Baba doesn’t want spinach because it touched the onion? I felt that in my soul, especially because I have a 9-year-old who STILL gives me a hard time about what I lovingly refer to as “food cooties”. I love the adorable details in this book, like the cave painting door art, and Dada’s creaks and groans when he gets up. The artwork is just so much fun, with facial expressions that are perfectly spot on. Endpapers look like a warm cave interior. The story’s ending gives me hope that there will be a third installment in the Cave Dada series; I think we all need to see Cave Dada: Bathtime, don’t you?

 

 

You Be Daddy, by Karla Clark, (April 2021, Feiwel & Friends), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250225399

Ages 2-6

A tired daddy asks his son to take over daddy duties for a little while in this companion to last year’s You Be Mommy. Rhyming verse takes readers through all the things Daddy has done today, from breaking up a food fight, to household duties, to teaching the cat a trick. There’s sweet repetition interspersed with Dad’s day and with Daddy duties he’s handing off to his little one, like building a bedtime fort and lending him a night light and stuffed dinosaur. But when the day is done and it’s time for bed, Daddy is happy to take back Daddy duties and put his little guy to bed. Gentle storytelling and the repetitive phrase, “Daddy’s too tired to be Daddy tonight”, empowers children to take on the fun part of Daddying, while reassuring them that, at bedtime, Daddy’s going to be the one to tuck them in and snuggle them to sleep. The family is Asian, and subtle details like a door decoration, a koi painting, and family portraits infuse the setting with a personal and cultural feel.  The household is warm, welcoming, and will make readers feel right at home. Endpapers show he family cat snuggling and stretching around the house. An adorable celebration of dads.

 

Don’t forget to print out some fun activities from the mother of all Dada books, Jimmy Fallon’s Your Baby’s First Word Will Be Dada: you can match the baby animal to the sound it makes here and you can count baby ducks and “Dadas” here.

 

 

Papasaurus, by Stephan Lomp is about a fun game of hide and seek between Babysaurus and his father. As Babysaurus searches for his Papa, he asks other young dinos for their help, learning about their dads in the meantime. Available in both picture book and board book!

Channing Tatum’s The One and Only Sparkella (and Her Dad!) is the adorable story of a sparkly little girl and her father, who’s always ready to dress up and sparkle with her! Dad can don a feather boa and break out into dance moves whenever Sparkella needs a little extra glitter in her life. Written by actor/director/producer Channing Tatum for his daughter Everly, The One and Only Sparkella is an adorably fun and sweet book about being true to yourself, embracing what makes you unique, and the wisdom of Girl Dads.

Karen Hesse’s Night Shift shows a warm relationship between a father who works nights and his son, who accompanies him. The pair ride to school on the boy’s father’s motorcycle, and, as Dad works, the two share time together listening to the radio, sharing their meal, and reading together. Dad and son take care of each other in this story: Dad rouses his son and helps him get dressed to leave for work at 4 a.m., and the boy cleans out his father’s lunch box at the day’s end. A lovely story about making the most of any time you have together.

In The Bureau of Misplaced Dads, a boy has to recover his misplaced father at a municipal building where Dads of all shapes, sizes, and quirks, await their kids. Played for laughs, there are strongman dads, dads named Michael, clueless dads, and dancing dads all wait to be claimed, striking silly poses and wearing crazy costumes, all hoping to get their child’s attention.

A boy and his father work together to build a tree fort in Jessica Scott Kerrin’s The Better Tree Fort. After moving into a new home, a boy named Russell and his father decide that the giant maple tree in their yard is the perfect project to work on together. A story about quality versus quantity, Russell and his father share time together as they build the fort and plan their sleepover; a contrast to the luxury treehouse being built down the block.

Elizabeth Zunon’s Grandpa Cacao: A Tale of Chocolate, from Farm to Family touches on how our parents’ parents can sometimes be a larger-than-life, almost mythical figure. A girl and her father bake a cake and reminisce about “Grandpa Cacao” – her father’s father – and his life working on a cacao farm on the African Ivory Coast. Grandpa Cacao appears as a pale image, illustrating his existence as part of the girl’s imagination as she fits him into the landscape. Inspired by the author’s own “Grandpa Cacao”, the story links generations and celebrates the joy of creating together and uniting families.

Around the Table That Grandad Built by Melanie Hauser HIll is an adorable, multicultural cumulative story along the lines of The House That Jack Built. A family assembles for a celebration at a table built by Granddad, but everyone has a part in this meal: cousins gather sunflowers; Mom’s sewn napkins go with the dishes and the glasses come from Mom and Dad’s wedding; flatware comes from Dad’s grandma, and the family cooks a huge meal together, with squash, tamales, samosas, and other tasty fare.

In Leonid Gore’s When I Grow Up, a little boy asks his father what he will be when he grows up, and looks at the world around him for ideas. A raindrop tells him he could be “like me” and become the fastest river; a green sprout, the tallest tree; a caterpillar, the most colorful butterfly in the meadow. As the boy paints the images he sees around him, he ultimately makes his own decision: he will be like his dad. Die-cut images transition spreads from one to the next, making this a great touch-and-feel book to explore.

A young crow learns that his own song is beautiful in Marit Menzin’s A Song for Papa Crow. Little Crow loves to sing, but the other birds complain about his caw. Papa Crow reassures him, telling him that always knows where to find him when he follows his song, but it’s The Amazing Mockingbird that convinces Little Crow that singing your own song is the best song of all.

Kathleen T. Pelly’s Happy Papas gives love to dads in both the animal and human world, taking readers through a Happy Papas kind of day: as the sun pops up; as the sun sails high; as the clouds and sun play peek-a-boo; as the shadows gather, and finally, as the moon blooms. Otter dads, meerkat dads, tiger dads, and all sorts of human dads celebrate the day-to-day joys of fatherhood as they play, protect, cook for, and cuddle their little ones.

Grandparents and grandkids enjoy some quality time in JoowonOh’s Our Favorite Day. Grandpa has a routine he keeps to, but Thursday is the best day of the week: it’s Grandpa’s day with his granddaughter! Grandpa chooses some crafting materials at a craft shop on his trip to town, gets two orders of dumplings to go, picks some flowers, and is ready to greet his granddaughter with a hug when she bounds out of the car! Together, the two enjoy their lunch, make a kite, and head out to fly it. Our Favorite Day is all about the mutual benefits of a multigenerational relationship.

Beth Raisner Glass’s Blue Ribbon Dad gives dad an actual prize: a Number 1 Dad ribbon! A young squirrel counts down the hours until dad gets home from work, crafting a project to have ready for him when he gets there. He thinks of everything he does with his father, and all the things his Dad does for him, and presents his father with a blue ribbon when he gets home.

 

 

Posted in Non-Fiction, Teen, Tween Reads, Young Adult/New Adult

Chem Class just got even better: Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Elements

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Elements : The Powers, Uses, and Histories of Every Atom in the Universe, by Lisa Congdon, (July 2021, Chronicle Books), $22.99, ISBN: 9781452161594
Ages 10-16
Artist/Illustrator and former science teacher Lisa Congdon brings her love of art and science together with this beautifully illustrated book on the elements, and punches it up with trivia, humor, and profiles on the elements and scientists. With sections like “Pee-ew! You Stink!” (sulfur, selenium, bromine, tellurium, and osmium, the stinkier elements) and “The Deadliest Elements” (plutonium, arsenic, lead, polonium, and flourine… kind of self-explanatory), this book brings readers in with interesting facts and fun observations. Did you know that Napoleon’s hair samples showed that he had one hundred times the normal arsenic level in his system when he died in 1821? Or that three different elements are named after a Swedish village where they were discovered? Colorful artwork and a breakdown of the periodic table will keep readers engaged and makes this an essential desk reference. A glossary and an index make up the back matter. Put a copy into circulation, but keep one in your reference section, too; this will be in demand when the new school year begins. A great book for burgeoning scientists!
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 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 Uncategorized

Mother’s Day is Coming!

Hi all! Mother’s Day is coming THIS SUNDAY. Wow, that got away from me; 2021 is serving a lot of the same stuff 2020 did. ANYway, let’s see what kind of books we’ve got for Moms, along with plenty of books to snuggle by.

How BIG Is Baby?, by Kirsten Hall/Illustrated by Aki, (April 2021, Chronicle Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9781452173825

Ages 3-5

This lift-the-flap is SO CUTE. A great book for siblings-to-be, each spread takes a child and their mom through the nine months of pregnancy. From the initial “We’re having a baby!” announcement, our new sibling is so excited! As mom and child share their journey together, lift-the-flaps reveal how big baby is at each stage; the storytelling gives readers an idea of size: a poppy seed, blueberry, grape, all the way up to a pineapple! Flaps reveal the growing baby in Mom’s belly, with fun facts about baby’s development. At the end of the story, Mom, big sibling, and baby all lay together in a big snuggle. Adorable artwork will endear this to parents and kids alike, and big siblings will be excited to see how their new baby is developing.

 

Overcoming the Mom-Life Crisis: Ditch the Guilt, Put Yourself on the To-Do List, and Create a Life You Love, by Nina Restieri, (April 2021, Post Hill Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781642937213

I normally cover kids and YA here, but it’s Mother’s Day, and parenting books fall under my Children’s Room purchases, so here we are. Many, many, MANY moms have guilt. We’re measuring ourselves against working moms if we stay at home; we measure ourselves against stay-at-home moms if we work. We’re not Pinterest Perfect; we’re not Instagram Fabulous enough – we beat the heck out of ourselves! Overcoming the Mom-Life Crisis sees us and wants us to put ourselves first (sometimes is okay, right?). It’s a handbook, it’s a guide to self-care, it’s a real-talk path from someone who’s been there. It’s a good choice for your parenting collections.

 

The ABCs of Being Mom: Advice and Support from the Mom Next Door, Birth Through Kindergarten, by Karen Bongiorno, (April 2021, She Writes Press), $16.95, ISBN: 9781647420109

Another solid parenting guide, this one for new moms through the start of school, The ABCs of Being Mom is a book that takes into consideration that, other than the What to Expect books, there’s no handbook for being a Mom. Written by another mom, the book breaks down ages and stages and provides tips, suggestions, organization tips, and helpful information with each page. Helping moms navigate the changes and mini-upheavals, this is a book version of coffee with your mom friends. Another good choice for your parenting collections.

 

What are some books you’re looking forward to for Mother’s Day? Post ’em here!

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate

There’s no break being The Middle Kid…

The Middle Kid, by Steven Weinberg, (March 2021, Chronicle Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9781452181806

Ages 6-9

It’s hard being the middle kid! The middle kid gets blamed when their little sister is crying, the one who gets picked on when the big brother is mad, and they’re just stuck in the middle; never the oldest, never the youngest. The middle kid telling the story takes readers through a day in the life of The Middle, starting with woken up by his siblings, through his brother’s “toughness training”, and getting a breather when his mom takes him to the library. During an exploring adventure with his siblings, he discovers that he can fit places his brother’s too big for and his sister’s too little for: he’s the perfect size. This realization helps him finish his day by inviting his siblings to create a blanket fort in the living room. Sometimes, being in the middle means you’re the perfect fit. A fun look at the life of a middle child that kids will recognize (my middle kid sure did) and laugh along with. I loved that Mom recognized the importance of taking a breather and giving Middle Kid his own space and time away from the chaos of siblings. Endpapers look like the scribbled insides of a marble notebook, as does the cover of the book when you slip off the jacket. Digital collage artwork is lively and expressive. Kids are going to love this one.

The Middle Kid has starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus.

Posted in Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction, picture books

Explore SIGHT!

Sight : Glimmer, Glow, SPARK, FLASH!, by Romana Romanyshyn & Andriy Lesiv, (July 2021, Chronicle Books), $19.99, ISBN: 9781452179773
Ages 8-12
Art and science make a visually exciting combination in this book about sight, with a thoughtful narration linking scientific facts and infographics throughout. Kids are going to love the high-contrast artwork, with neon oranges, stark whites, and deep blues drawing them to pages on facial expression, deciphering symbols, and optical illusions. A philosophical narrative runs across the bottom of most pages, with thoughts like, “I see myself in the mirror. / I study my face carefully and know its tiniest details. / However, the reflection does not always how who I really am” and “I look at the world with wide-open eyes. / I yearn to discover the unknown, to see beyond the horizon, and to understand things that are not self-evident” encouraging introspection. Great for STEM collections. Display and booktalk with Professor Astro Cat books by Dr. Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman, and Flying Eye Books, which tend to have similar artwork and use infographics, like Dieter Braun’s Wild Animals of the South, and Owen Davies’ Crazy About Cats and Get Smart About Sharks.