Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Would you look good in the The Purple Puffy Coat?

The Purple Puffy Coat, by Maribeth Boelts/Illustrated by Daniel Duncan, (Nov. 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536204971

Ages 3-7

Beetle can’t wait to give his best friend, Stick Bug, his birthday present, so he gives it to him early: it’s a purple puffy coat! Beetle loves it – after all, purple is Beetle’s favorite color. Stick Bug isn’t really in love with it, but Beetle is his best friend, so he endures Beetle’s marching him all around town to show off the coat. But when Beetle takes the time to think about it, he realizes that maybe, just maybe, the purple puffy coat wasn’t what Stick Bug wanted. A sweetly humorous and poignant story about empathy and taking others into consideration, kids will see themselves and their friends in the story. Guide them into a discussion, using Candlewick’s downloadable Teacher Tips, about giving gifts and taking the other person into consideration before giving them a gift. Digital illustrations are colorful and cute, and the friendship between Beetle and Stick Bug will make readers think of Frog and Toad, or Bert and Ernie. A fun story to illustrate thoughtfulness that kids will like.

Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade

Blog Tour: Candy Mafia!

In a city where candy and sweets are outlawed, kids will do just about anything to keep that supply going. But a black market candy ring and a missing kid leads into a dirty – okay, maybe not dirty, just… smudgy – underworld that 12-year-old detective Nelle Faulkner is determined to delve into.

The Candy Mafia, by Lavie Tidhar/Illustrated by Daniel Duncan,
(Sept. 2020, Peachtree Publishing), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-68263-197-3
Ages 8-12

 A little bit noir, a lotta bit comedy, Peachtree hit the nail on the head when they called it “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets Bugsy Malone”. Black and white illustrations throughout will bring readers to the table, especially more visual readers that miss the more illustrated chapter books and chapter book readers who are looking for longer books. Way too much fun, The Candy Mafia is a good mystery to have on hand for your readers.

Peachtree always has your back, too: there’s an excerpt, an author Q&A, and a discussion guide, all free and downloadable on the publisher’s website.

(Photo by Kevin Nixon / SFX Magazine/TeamRock)

LAVIE TIDHAR is the author of many award-winning novels for adults, including Osama (2011), which won the 2012 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, besting novels by Stephen King and George R. R. Martin. His works cross many genres, combining detective and thriller modes with poetry, science fiction, historical and autobiographical material. He is also a books columnist for The Washington Post. He lives in England.


DANIEL DUNCAN is a freelance illustrator inspired by stories, films, old, photos, and sports. Highly commended by Macmillan UK for the Macmillan Prize for Illustration in 2013, he was also shortlisted for the 2014 AOI Awards for the Children’s Books New Talent Category. He lives in England.

 

 

Visit other stops on The Candy Mafia Blog Tour!

Monday (9/21): The Library Voice

Tuesday (9/22): Teachers Who Read

Wednesday (9/23): Mom Read It

Thursday (9/24): Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Friday (9/25): Librarian in Cute Shoes

Saturday (9/26): Beagles and Books

Posted in Fiction, Intermediate, picture books

A change in perspective: Mr. Posey’s New Glasses

Mr. Posey’s New Glasses, by Ted Kooser/Illustrated by Daniel Duncan, (Apr. 2019, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9780763696092

Ages 6-9

Mr. Posey is an older gent who’s feeling down. When he puts his glasses on, everything looks boring. Everything is just the same, same, same, and he wants to do something about it! He heads to the thrift store with his young friend, Andy, and starts trying on glasses from a big barrel, with… interesting results. The star-shaped glasses transport him to a field, where he can see all the constellations in the night sky, but it’s much too dark for him. The stripy brown frames bring him underwater, where some mean-looking fish swim around him, menacingly. The big, round lenses send the room spinning, and the cat=shaped frames put him in a field, pursued by dogs! Nothing clicks for him, no matter how many frames he tries on – and then, Andy notices that his glasses are dirty. Once Mr. Posey cleans his glasses, everything is clear and colorful again! Mr. Posey’s New Glasses is all about how we see things; what filters we have in place that color how we enjoy – or are brought down by – the world around us. There’s a lovely inter-generational friendship between Mr. Posey and his young friend, Andy; Andy also helps give Mr. Posey some perspective, noticing his dirty glasses and rejuvenating his attitude. The story is fun, and meatier than most picture books; this one is good for first to third graders. The digital artwork is tinged with a tan overlay and muted colors for most of the book, letting readers experience things as Mr. Posey does, but once he clears his glasses up, color becomes more lively, with pink store signs, blue skies, and colorful buildings. The thrift store is eclectic and has a great feel to it. This is a great book to start a discussion on how one’s outlook can affect mood, and how imagination can help spice things up. (Psst… glasses craft!)

Ted Kooser is a former US Poet Laureate and has a weekly column on American life in poetry available on his website.

 

Posted in picture books

Under the Sea books for your favorite fishy fans!

The weather’s warming up, so why not start thinking of ocean-y fun? I’ve got a couple of fun, new books that are perfect for fans of sea life!

Shark Nate-O, by Becky Cattie and Tara Luebbe/Illustrated by Daniel Duncan, (Apr. 2018, little bee books), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-4998-0496-6

Recommended for readers 4-7

Nate LOVES sharks. He’s got shark posters and books, spouts shark facts all day, and pretends to be a shark, chomping his way through the schoolyard and the dinner table. But Nate has a secret that’s keeping him from fully realizing his full shark potential: he can’t swim. And his school swim team is named The Sharks! Luckily, Nate has the tenacity of a great white, and takes lessons, determined to get on the team and show his brother – who’s also on the swim team – who the real shark is.

This is a fun story about overcoming fear. Nate loves sharks, but he’s got to learn how to swim; his first lesson doesn’t go so well – he feels like a “great white wimp” – but he doesn’t give up, and works harder, until he’s good enough to make it on the team and compete at the swim meet. The art is kid-friendly, with a great cover: Nate casts a shark-y shadow as he stands at the tiled floor of a pool area; the endpapers show wavy, bluish-green water with a single shark fin navigating the spreads. There’s a spread on different kinds of sharks, with fun facts (the blue shark eats until he throws up – and then goes back to eating). Kids, parents, and caregivers alike will enjoy reading this one.

 

Inky the Octopus: Bound for Glory, by Erin Guendelsberger/Illustrated by David Leonard, (Apr. 2018, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $17.99, ISBN:9781492654148

Recommended for readers 4-8

Based on a real-life story, Inky the Octopus is a rhyming tale about an octopus who escapes his New Zealand aquarium tank and heads out for the open sea. When we first meet Inky, he’s bored, maybe even a little sad, with his fish friend, Blotchy, for company. But he spies an open drain and that’s it: “Out of this tank, I must be free/I must explore the open sea!” Inky gets ready to make his escape, asking Blotchy to come with him – an invitation that his friend politely declines. The next morning, the discovery is made: Inky is gone, free to experience life in the ocean.

The real-life Inky escaped from his National Aquarium of New Zealand tank in 2016, when aquarium keepers came into work and noticed that the octopus wasn’t in his tank. It appears that he slipped through a small opening in his tank, maneuvered across the floor, and slid down a 164-foot-long drainpipe that led out to Hawke’s Bay. There’s even a real-life Blotchy, but he’s another octopus, not a fish. While there are other children’s books about Inky, including 2017’s Inky’s Great Escape by Casey Lyell and Sebastià Serra, Inky the Octopus is officially endorsed by the National Aquarium of New Zealand.

The artwork is adorable and the rhyming text gives a nice cadence to storytelling that allows for dramatic embellishment (at least, when I read it: he’s an octopus, he’s got eight arms, give him some grand gestures!) Inky has big, sweet eyes that will appeal to readers and have them falling in love with the sweet cephalopod, rooting for him to make a run for it. Information about the real-life Inky at the book’s conclusion adds a nice learning opportunity for readers.

 

Sea Creatures from the Sky, by Ricardo Cortés, (Apr. 2018, Black Sheep), $16.95, ISBN: Ricardo Cortés

Recommended for readers 4-8

A shark’s tale of being kidnapped by aliens! Kind of. A shark speaks directly to the reader in rhyme, confiding in us a true story that happened to him: he was kidnapped by aliens from the sky. Now, remember: when a shark looks up, that’s the sky. We know it as the surface. As the shark notes: “There is something else/and that’s no lie. It stole me from the ocean, and took me to the sky.” The poor shark sees a yummy fish, goes for a snack, and discovers – whoops! – the fish has a hook. And those aliens were terrifying: “In ships they steered? Faces with beards? Heads with two ears? It was all just too weird.” To add insult to injury, no one believes him. What’s a poor shark to do?

I loved everything about this story. The art is just beautiful, from the endpapers that could be a starry night sky or the surface of the water at night; the combination of realistic and almost dreamlike renderings of sea life, from the hazy, colorful jellyfish to the crisp spread of rays making their way through the story, to the black-eyed protagonist whose tale will make you chuckle and yet, feel for his plight (gender pronoun is mine; the character has no determined gender in the story). It’s a look at preservation and oceanography from a different point of view, and makes a realistic-looking shark less threatening, even likable. Kids will appreciate the misunderstood predator; how many times have kids been called out for exaggerating a recollection that is absolutely true from their point of view? Sea Creatures From the Sky provides a good jumping-off point to discuss point-of-view storytelling and what exactly the humans were doing with the shark when they “measured, probed, and spoke in strange code”. This one is a must-add to storytimes and books where sharks and undersea life are popular. Which, really, has to be, like every collection. Kids LOVE sharks.

Ricardo Cortés illustrated one of my baby shower gifts, Go The F**k to Sleep (no, I’ve never read it to the kiddo, but it did comfort me on many a sleepless night), and its child-friendly companion, Seriously, Just Go to Sleep.