Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Holiday books are coming! Let’s kick off with The Ninth Night of Hanukkah!

I was supposed to have my first holiday post up early this morning, but … 2020, right? But here we are, so let’s get the show on the road. I’m really happy to see more Hanukkah books coming my way this year! This one is sweet, and calls to mind Stone Soup. It’s all about building community this season.

 

The Ninth Night of Hanukkah, by Erica Perl/Illustrated by Shahar Kober, (Sept. 2020, Sterling Publishing), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1-4549-4088-3

Ages 3-6

It’s Hanukkah, and Max and Rachel have just moved, with their parents, into a new apartment, so there’s a bit of chaos. The box with all the important Hanukkah stuff – the menorah, Dad’s lucky latke pan, the awesome jelly donut recipe – is missing! Each night, Max and Rachel make do by creating a little bit of Hanukkah, with some help from their new neighbors: Mrs. Mendez has some spare candles, Mr. Patel has chocolate chips, and everyone seems happy to help the new neighbors celebrate. The little fixes just are nice, but it just doesn’t feel like Hanukkah. What to do when the eighth night comes and goes? Well, just add a ninth night and invite everyone over to celebrate! There are nine candles on the menorah, right? A sweet story about community and the holiday, The Ninth Night of Hanukkah shows readers the power of community and infuses a little bit of holiday magic at the end. Back matter includes an author’s note and tips for creating your own “Shamash Night”.

Go to author Erica Perl’s author website for a free, downloadable Event Kit that includes reader’s theatre, decorations, invitations, and more!

Author Erica Perl will be at a Zoom event on December 13th, in celebration of the 2020 Jewish Federation Book Festival! Get your spot now!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Yum! Books about Food

It’s getting near to Thanksgiving here in the States, but that’s another post. Here, it’s late afternoon, so I’ve got the snacky urge – you know, that urge that hits after lunch, but while dinner is still too long away to wait? Let’s talk about food books and see if that takes the edge off (or I’ll just brew a cup of coffee, while I’m at it).

Little Green Donkey, by Anuska Allepuz, (July 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536209372

Ages 3-6

In this relatable story that will give preschoolers and grownups a giggle, Little Donkey LOVES to eat grass, even when his mom pleads for him to try something different. Little Donkey just responds, “No thanks!” and keeps munching on leafy, chewy grass until waking up one morning and discovering, upon seeing his reflection, that – AHHH! – he’s turned GREEN! After unsuccessfully trying to disguise the new color, Little Donkey has to try new foods: Blech! Pew! Pew! Yuck! But hey… carrots are pretty good… watch out, Little Donkey! What color will you turn next? Mixed media illustrations bring this hilarious story to life, and kids and parents alike will recognize the picky eater in all of us (I’ve got a chicken nugget Kiddo here, myself). Pair this with Greg Pizzoli’s The Watermelon Seed for extra laughs and dramatic reading.

 

Every Night is Pizza Night, by J. Kenji López-Alt/Illustrated by Gianna Ruggiero, (Sept. 2020, Norton Young Readers), $17.95, ISBN: 978-1-324-00525-4

Ages 4-7

Pipo is a little girl who loves pizza. Pizza is the best, and she wants it every night, no matter what her family says: after all, she says it’s a scientific fact; she’s done the research. But maybe…. just maybe she needs to collect more data, so off she goes to visit friends around the neighborhood and try their foods. For data collection, clearly. As she tries different foods like bibimbap, tagine, red beans and rice, and more, she discovers that other foods are really good, too! Pipo learns that pizza can be the best, along with other foods, too: it just depends on what you need at that moment. Beautifully written with humor and sensitivity, Every Night is Pizza Night looks at the connection we have to food within our cultures and our homes and hearts: Pipo learns that food can be “something that reminds you of home”; “the kind that says ‘I love you’ without making a sound’, or something to share”. Food brings us together. Front endpapers feature all the pizza makings splashed colorfully across the spread, and back endpapers incorporate other ingredients for the foods Pipo discovers in the story. The artwork is colorful, bright, a touch frenetic when Pipo declares her love for pizza, and adorably delivers the story’s message. A pizza recipe at the end of the book invites readers to cook with their families. Pair with William Stieg’s Pete’s a Pizza for a tasty, ticklish pizza storytime.

 

Hot Pot Night!, by Vincent Chen, (Sept. 2020, Charlesbridge), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-62354-120-0

Ages 4-7

This modern take on Stone Soup is diverse and adorable. It’s evening in a building, and everyone asks the eternal question: What’s for dinner? A young boy proposes hot pot, a traditional dish in Asian countries, and the whole building is in! Neighbors arrive with a hot pot and ingredients to share: one neighbor brings the broth; another, the meat; one grew the vegetables to add to the pot, and others help out by prepping the food. Once it’s ready, everyone partakes until the last scrap is gone… until next time! A story of coming together and sharing food, culture, and company, Hot Pot Night is perfect for storytime reading and would be great with flannel board figures you can easily make. Digital illustrations are colorful, bright, and fun. A hot pot recipe at the end encourages readers to start their own hot pot nights. Endpapers feature colorful hot pot ingredients.

While we can’t eat together as often as we’d like these days, there’s always Zoom and Google Meets. Try a virtual storytime and dinner one night! Publisher Charlesbridge has loads of free downloadables for a Hot Pot party!

 

Veg Patch Party, by Clare Foges/Illustrated by Al Murphy, (Oct. 2020, Faber & Faber), $15.95, ISBN: 978-0571352852

Ages 3-7

From the team that brought you Kitchen Disco and Bathroom Boogie, we get a Veggie Patch-a-Palooza as the farm beds down for the night and the vegetables take the stage to dance and sing in the mud for a Veg Patch Party! Kids will love seeing cartoon pumpkins put on disco boots, carrots forming a conga line, and red hot chillis rock out on stage. The rhyming story has great repetition with its call to action: “So conga like a carrot, / Party like a pea, / Rock out like a radish, / YEAH! / And boogie like a bean!” Bathroom Boogie went over huge for me at storytime, so I’ll be enjoying Veg Patch Party with my littles next. Perfect for flannel storytimes, and there are lots of cute vegetable coloring pages to have handy. I like doing a “cute vegetable coloring pages” search so you get animated, kid-friendly faces, like this selection. Endpapers have veggie sketches with smiling vegetables to greet readers. Pair with one of my oldies but goodies, Food Fight, for a storytime about feisty food.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Celebrating Hair with Hannah Lee and Allen Fatimaharan

My Hair, by Hannah Lee/Illustrated by Allen Fatimaharan, (Sept. 2019, Faber & Faber), $16.95, ISBN: 9780571346868

Ages 4-7

A little girl has a birthday coming up, and wants a new hairstyle to debut. What should she get? This rhyming story follows a girl of color as she explores different hairstyles, observing friends, family, and the ladies at the salon. She mulls over dreadlocks, fades, braids, close-cropped, and wraps and turbans before finally listening to her mother and going with her natural, beautiful afro.

This acclamation of black hair and culture is such a joy to read. The rhyming text is fun and works beautifully with the images: earth-toned, bold, expressive characters and settings abound, and the personality of the images pops off the page. There are pets throughout the story, many sporting dramatic hairstyles (fur styles?) that match their humans. The young girl uses positive, lively words to run through styles she knows: her mother’s dreadlocks are “dazzling”; her uncle’s waves “swirl all over his head”; her aunt’s close-shaved hair is “like the head of a lioness”, and her grandmother “found one [grey hair] years ago and invited them all to stay”.

A positive, upbeat book about hair and community, and a smart add to your picture book collections.

A side note – if you haven’t had a chance to read or see the animated short for Mathew A. Cherry and Vashti Harrison’s Hair Love yet, please get the book or see the short (it’s running before Angry Birds 2; I hope other kids’ movies pick it up).

 

Posted in Fiction, Intermediate, Realistic Fiction

Extravaganza at the Plaza and a word from author Lauren L. Wohl

Extravaganza at the Plaza, by Lauren L. Wohl/Illustrated by Mark Tuchman, (Aug. 2018, Persnickety Press), $14.95, ISBN: 9781943978311

Ages 7-11

Third graders Hannah, and her best friend, Nico, walk by an abandoned theater in their neighborhood and decide it’s time to take action. Their town needs a good theater, after all: there are graduations and school concerts to be held, and everyone’s tired of traveling to nearby towns to see movies. There is a lot of work to be done, but Hannah is determined to make things happen! This companion to 2017’s Blueberry Bonanza is an upbeat story of how a community comes together with a goal in mind: to rehabilitate a public space!

Extravaganza is a good choice for middle graders. Hannah and Nico, along with their local mayor, have a lot to teach kids about taking action. The first place Hannah goes when she starts on her mission: the library! Her local librarian helps her look up the building’s owner and construction details, plus local history regarding the building. Hannah uses this information to learn what can be done, who to speak to, and how to get more help on board for her idea. Hannah is also a sympathetic character; she wants to make this her own pet project and struggles with so many people being part of it – kids will appreciate the feeling of wanting to work on a passion project, and the potential frustration of having someone else take the credit for their work. There’s discussions of fundraising, donor fatigue (when Hannah suggests sending postcards or calling people about donating, her mother steps in to gently nix that), and the necessities of renovating a building – find the owner; get it inspected; hire the right professionals – and, most importantly, the planning process for each task! Black and white illustrations throughout add a human face to the story, and the big ending will have kids wondering what they could do to make positive change in their own neighborhoods.

Lauren L. Wohl writes good stories about kids making the difference in their neighborhoods. Her Raccoon River Kids have started their own businesses (Blueberry Bonanza); motivated an entire town to come together to renovate a public space (Extravaganza at the Plaza), and, later this year, they’ll be starting a pet showcase to find homes for homeless pets (Zooapalooza). The Raccoon River books are a great precursor to books like The Donut Fix by Jessie Janowitz.

 

And now, a note from author Lauren L. Wohl!

MY FAVORITE LIBRARY MOMENTS

I grew up in Brooklynand believe me when I tell you, it was not the cool place it is today.  It was just home to many working familiesmade up of neighborhoods which were small and close and often built on shared values and experiences.

There was a branch of the Brooklyn Public Library eight blocks from home. For as long as I can remember, my dad and I walked to the library every Saturday morning. At each visit, he would borrow one of the color fairy tale collections by Andrew Lang. I dont recall how many there were, but I can still picture The Blue Fairy Book,The Purple Fairy Book, and The Rainbow Fairy Book. During the week that followed, he or my mom would read one whole story every night. We had favorites in each color, and we knew that evenif tonights story wasnt one of those, tomorrows or the next days would be.  

My dad also borrowed a book for himself for subwayreading back and forth to his job in Manhattan. Itoo, would pick a book to read on my own. 

The next week, we would return our books to the librarian who was always interested in what I liked and what I didnt. We engaged in conversations about the books(I thought she had read EVERYTHING in the library.). She took my opinions seriously. That interest and that respect mattered the world to me.

By the time I was in fourth grade, the librarian started to put aside three books she picked out just for me. She knew what my preferences were from the many book discussions we had hadShe picked winners just about every timeI felt so specially treated.

When I went through a period of reading books that she didnt thinkworthy, she would make sure the second selection of that Saturday met her standard. Slowly I developed skills to find books that challenged me and pleased me; humor that made me giggle; dramas that wrapped me inside them; nonfiction that answered my questions; and family and friend stories that warmed my heart.

When the city decided it was time to develop the area where our library stood, they moved the branch closer to our house. It was easier, sure, but I missed the long walks with my dad. I was in junior high by then, old enough to walk to this new location on my own.  But I missed that old library; I still do. Its impact was long-lasting, and many years later I know those Saturday mornings were a part of my decision to go to graduate school in library science.

When I finally completed my degree, my husband, young son and I took a vacation to Washington DC to celebrate. I wanted to explore thLibrary of Congress.

My husband called ahead, so that when I showed up, the library was ready for me with a special brand-new librarian tour. I saw rooms the public didnt usually see. I touched history; it surrounded me. Every step was thrilling, every detail memorable. Right then was when I knew I had made the right decision.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Red Bunny & Yellow Bunny: The one that slipped by me!

Red Bunny & Yellow Bunny, by Claire Garralon, (March 2019, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $7.99, ISBN: 9781492680147

Ages 0-4

I sent off my Board Books post this morning, then realized I forgot one! Red Bunny & Yellow Bunny is the latest board book from Claire Garralon, who gave us the adorable Black Cat & White Cat in 2016. In Red Bunny & Yellow Bunny, two bunnies meet, fall in love, and have an orange baby bunny! What happens when that baby bunny grows up and falls in love? Keep reading!

I love how Claire Garralon communicates ideas about gender, social issues, and community for our youngest readers. The bunnies are genderless – no male or female pronouns needed; they are different colors, yet come together, fall in love, and have a baby that adorably blends their colors (red plus yellow makes orange, after all!). Bunnies fall in love with other bunnies, regardless of color, and create a rainbow of happy baby bunnies, all of whom play and live together. We saw a similar story emerge from Black Cat & White Cat, where two different color cats have to find a neutral place to play so they can see one another.

Naturally, we also have a sweet story that uses color concepts: explain that yellow and red make orange, and then ask what a yellow bunny and blue bunny’s baby would look like, or a red bunny and blue bunny’s baby. There’s a free, downloadable color mixing resource available on Teachers Pay Teachers, that you can hand out and let kids play with for a storytime activity. Let them fingerpaint and discover their own colors, or grab some Do a Dot! art markers.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

February Picture Books: little elephants, fabulous females, and being your own self!

The Smallest Elephant in the World, by Alvin Tresselt/Illustrated by Milton Glaser, (Feb. 2019, Enchanted Lion), $16.95, ISBN: 9781592702619

Ages 4-8

Originally published in 1959, The Smallest Elephant in the World is back in hardcover! A small elephant, no bigger than a housecat, leaves the jungle to get away from the bullies who make fun of him. He ends up in the care of a boy named Arnold, whose mother does NOT want an elephant for a house pet. Arnold tries some creative fudging to convince his mother otherwise, but Mom’s not fooled that easily. Where will the Smallest Elephant find a home?

This adorable story about friendship and finding one’s own place in the world is as relevant and sweet today as it was when it was released 60 years ago. Milton Glaser’s vintage illustration is bold, with bright oranges and greens standing out against the black and white page backgrounds. The elephant’s face is expressive; sweet and friendly, and he’s adorably tiny when shown in scale.

The Smallest Elephant in the World brings a nice touch of our childhoods back to our children’s collections. Gen X kids like me will fondly remember the art and silly-sweet storytelling, and pass that love onto a new generation. Let your kiddos draw their own tiny elephants, and give them things to measure against: a book, a shelf, a ruler, or your foot!

 

A is for Awesome! 23 Iconic Women Who Changed the World, by Eva Chen/Illustrated by Derek Desierto, (Feb. 2019, Feiwel & Friends), $9.99, ISBN: 9781250215994

Ages 2-5

An Instagram star and creator of Juno Valentine and the Magical Shoes spotlights outstanding women in this abcedary. Juno Valentine is our guide, introducing readers to some of her favorite “sheroes”. There are standard favorites here: Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman, and Malala are all here, side by side with feminist figures like megastar Beyonce, Nobel Prize-winning scientist Dorothy Hodgkin, fashion icon Iris Apfel, and author Ursula K. LeGuin. There’s a mirror here for “X, Y, Z: the Extraordinary You, and the Zillions of brilliant, brave adventures you will have”, which makes for big fun during storytime. Collage artwork is bright and textured, with differing fabrics and hairstyles. The addition of Roman goddess Venus feels a little off, but every other featured female is flesh and blood real, and the grouping has a nice diversity. Each woman has a one-line description; some have quotes attributed to them.

I love a good board book, and this one makes my cut. Add this in time for National Women’s in March, and plan your storytimes now.

Over the Rooftops, Under the Moon, by JonArno Lawson/Illustrated by Nahid Kazemi, (Feb. 2019, Enchanted Lion), $17.95, ISBN: 9781592702626

Ages 4-8

A long-legged white bird doesn’t feel like he fits in with his flock, but feels a connection when making eye contact with a little girl. The bird ponders his existence and explores the human world, not noticing until the snow falls that his flock has migrated without him. He catches up with his flock and they sit together on a rooftop, “alone and together, over the rooftops, and under the moon”.

I’ll be honest, I had to read this one a few times to really get it. It’s very open to interpretation, and while the gist of the story is about a bird who isn’t sure about his relationship to himself and within his community, I’ve seen other picture books handle this in a more linear fashion. and I’m not sure that little ones will get it. Some of the text gets lost in the mixed media collage artwork, which could impede a readaloud. The collage artwork tells the story in surreal, dreamlike fashion, which may be the best way to get the message of this story across: the bird feels alone, connects with humans, explores, and ultimately, finds peace within himself and within his community. It’s a beautiful message to communicate to younger children who are starting to socialize in groups and may feel out of place; it’s also a strong message to older children, who can break down the introspective message here. I’d love to see this as a school-wide readalong in elementary schools that still have them, so kids from K-5 can each take a turn at deciphering its meaning to them as individuals.

It’s an interesting book that may take a few reads to unpack, but worth it for the discussions that can follow.

 

What If? What Makes You Different Makes You Amazing!, by Sandra Magsamen, (Feb. 2019, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $10.99, ISBN: 9781492637103

Ages 0-4

“What if your hair was big and orange and really bright? What if one eye was green and the other eye was blue as night?” The rhyming text takes readers through all sorts of ways we can stand out from the crowd, with adorable illustrations – a purple lamb, a swaying monkey – and extols the virtues of individuality. The text assures readers that being different is special, and good for you: it can give your spirit a lift; it would be dull if everyone were the same. Sandra Magsamen embraces uniqueness, and makes sure her readers do, too, pointing out how being different can help in certain situations. After all, someone quiet can be a big help when putting a bandage on an injured crocodile. Pair this with Todd Parr’s books, especially It’s Okay to Be Different and Be Who You Are, for a feel-good readaloud. The artwork is colorful, never overpowering, with upbeat, yet calming colors and bold outlines.  What If? is a cute picture book for collections where Todd Parr does well.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Happy Pride! This Day in June

This Day in June, by Gayle E. Pitman/Illustrated by Kristyna Litten, (May 2014, Magination Press), $14.95, ISBN: 978-1-4338-1658-1

Recommended for readers 3-7

It’s a parade, and you’re invited! This rhyming story about a Pride Parade taking place in June is vibrant, fun, and loaded with visuals to delight readers of all ages. It’s a celebration of equality, community, and love. Everyone is represented here: the artwork reflects a truly multicultural crowd of all genders, and children play alongside the bikers, sailors, mermaids, and out and proud marchers. Kids hold onto their proud parents; moms lovingly hug their sons and sons-in-law; everyone is happy and full of joy on this beautiful day.

Image courtesy of School Library Journal

The artwork and accompanying text reflect the excitement and lively atmosphere of the Pride Parade, and couples and singles alike dance and demonstrate affection. Weaving families, children, and pets into the action really communicates a loving community feel. A reading guide at the end provides a couplet by couplet explanation of the images – there’s so much to discover! – and a note to parents and caregivers provides a way to discuss sexual orientation and gender identity with kids for age groups 3-5, 6-12, and 13-18.

Image courtesy of The Baby Book Worm Blog

Author Dr. Gayle E. Pitman is a professor of psychology and women’s studies; her teaching and writing focus on gender and sexual orientation, and she has worked extensively with the LGBTQIA community. She received the American Library Association’s Stonewall Children’s and Young Adult Book Award for This Day in June in 2015.

There is so much to love about This Day in June. Put this at the top of your Pride Storytime list!

Image courtesy of Electric Literature

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Tween Reads

Fiction plus food is a winning reader combo!

Who doesn’t love curling up in your favorite reading spot with a snack and a book? These middle grade reads feature yummy treats as part of their stories – perfect for reading groups and snack suggestions (minus the flying pig cookies: read on)!

Love Sugar Magic, by Anna Meriano/Illustrated by Mirelle Ortega, (Nov. 2017, Walden Pond Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9780062498465

Recommended for readers 8-12

Leonora Logroño’s is an almost 12-year-old whose family owns Love Sugar Magic, the local bakery that makes the most delicious cookies and cakes. She’s the youngest among her five sisters, and she just knows the family is keeping something secret from her. With a little snooping and gentle, sisterly nudging, Leo learns the truth: her family are brujas – witches – who infuse their baked goods with rich magic. Leo discovers she has some magic ability already – it usually manifests in early adolescence – and decides to put it to the test by helping Caroline, her best friend, with a crush on at school, but things go upside down pretty quickly… Leo may need to draw on her sisters to make things right!

I adore this story! It’s got humor, great characters with a rich Mexican heritage, and they’re strong, smart young women. Leo is headstrong, sure – what tween isn’t? – and reacts to feeling left in the dark about family business by taking matters in to her own hands. It’s one thing, after all, to enchant flying pig cookies, but it’s entirely something else to play with someone’s free will. But the magical mix-ups are largely hilarious and mostly harmless. Readers can relate to Leo’s frustrations about being considered “too young” for the secret stuff, and author Anna Meriano makes Love Sugar Magic into a nicely handled cautionary tale about rushing into things without taking the time to think. I’m thrilled that this is the first book of a new series – I want to spend more time with the Logroño family. Especially that feline snitch, Mr. Gato. There are some tasty-looking recipes at the end of the story – you’re on your own for the magic – and the book is sprinkled with Spanish and English phrases that really bring readers into its world.

Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble has starred reviews from School Library Journal, Kirkus, and Shelf Awareness.

 

The Doughnut Fix, by Jessie Janowitz, (Apr. 2018, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $16.99, ISBN: 9781492655411

Recommended 8-12

Eleven year-old Tristan is a New York City kid who’s pretty happy with life as it is until his parents announe that they’re moving upstate. Petersville, New York, to be exact. It ain’t Westchester, this is up in the mountains. There’s one road, no restaurants, and a general store that used to sell legendary doughnuts, as Tristan discovers one morning, as he rides around town trying to find something to do. But Millie, the general store proprieter, stopped making the donuts, and if Tristan – a baking enthusiast who’s sold on the legend of these doughnuts – wants the secret recipe, he has to provide Millie with proof that he’s going to use it wisely. He needs a business plan. Luckily for him, Petersville does have a public library (whoo hoo!), and with the help of his new friend, Josh, Tristan starts pulling it all together to bring the chocolate cream doughnuts back to Petersville.

The Doughnut Fix surprised me with its depth and its readability. It’s very readable, very engaging, and provides smart tips on starting one’s own business for kids – throughout the story, Tristan refers to his library copy of Starting Your Own Business for Dummies, and drills things down into kid-digestible bits. It’s empowering! Teachers can challenge kids to read this book and create their own summer job business plans, or librarians (and caregivers) can produce a similar challenge as a summer reading program. There are recipes and a recap of important information for starting a business at the end of the book. The story emphasizes themes of friendship, collaboration, planning, and budgeting, offering solid life lessons for middle graders.

Both books are great reading group selections that lend so much to deeper exploration, from Mexican culture and its celebration of ancestry, to life in a small town versus life in a city. Food is the easy in to discussing these books, but there are great ideas waiting to be touched on in each. These are great adds to your shelves or your gift list.

Posted in Preschool Reads

Peace be upon you: Salam Alaikum

Salam Alaikum: A Message of Peace, by Harris J/Illustrated by Ward Jenkins, (Sept. 2017, Simon & Schuster Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9781481489386

Recommended for readers 4-8

A young, British, Muslim artist’s YouTube hit reaches an even wider audience with this picture book that celebrates peace, love, and happiness. Called “the Muslim Justin Bieber” by NPR, Harris J’s words, combined by Ward Jenkins digital artwork, come together to create a story where peace is spread, hand to hand, via kind deeds: handing an umbrella to someone in the rain; a balloon; a cup of coffee – each recipient paying it forward and spreading kindness to another. The characters from the book come together to hold hands, forming a human chain of love and understanding that embraces the world.

“Salam alaikum” means “peace be upon you”; the formal and informal greeting, in both English and Arabic, greets readers at the beginning of the book. The response, “wa alaikuma salam” – “and upon you, peace” – leaves the reader in peace at the book’s close. The kindness spread from one hand to another is depicted as a golden glow that grows as it’s passed on. The story is optimistic, bright, and filled with hope more importantly, it’s a call to action for everyone who reads it, who witnesses this message, to be part of the change for good. That’s a message we really want to pass on, especially now. The cast of characters is diverse, and the text is bold, black, and stands out against the pages, making it an easy read-aloud. The refrain, “Assalamu Alaikum”, appears throughout in large, scripted font, the message standing out.

Salam Alaikum sends a positive message about peace and living together as a global community. It’s a strong and upbeat choice for storytimes and collections.

Posted in Preschool Reads

Attitudes of Gratitude: The Thank You Dish

The Thank You Dish, by Trace Balla, (March 2017, Kane Miller), $9.99, ISBN: 978-1-61067-644-1

Recommended for readers 3-8

Grace, a young girl, and her mother sit down to dinner. Mama thanks the rain, soil, and sunshine; Grace is thankful to the kangaroos. Why the kangaroos? For not eating the carrots! From there, Grace goes on to thank a multitude of people and animals that made Grace and her mother’s dinner possible, leading up to thanking Mom for making her such a yummy dinner. With a comfortable repetition – Grace is thankful, Mama asks why, Grace explains – The Thank You Dish is a sweet exploration of gratitude and of community. We don’t live in a vacuum; The Thank You Dish takes an amusing look at everyone and everything responsible for getting one family’s dinner on the table, from alpacas whose yarn went into the scarf that kept Uncle Fred warm while fishing, to a flower tree responsible for a fortuitous meeting. Grace and her mother eat dinner together at a dining table, emphasizing the family connection. Grace is a child of color; her mother is lighter-skinned.

I adore this book. This is a great storytime selection – see if kids can think of all the contributions made to their dinner tables! – and a great classroom circle time book. Remembering to say thank you when someone is directly interacting with you is one thing; being grateful for the unseen is just as important and essential to mindful living. A good book for classroom discussions!