I know, it’s been a month. Crazy, right? It’s one of those moments when you just don’t realize how fast time goes until you realize… well, how fast time goes. But let’s jump right back in, since I’ve got a stack of books to talk about and some cool library programs to share. Let’s start with the books. Here’s a round-up.
The Upside Down Detective Agency, by Ellie Hattie/Illustrated by Brendan Kearney, (Aug. 2022, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 9781684644148
Welcome to Super Sleuth HQ! Meet Stella and Stan, two crime-solving sloths who may look similar but who have different personalities that will help readers tell them apart. A famous race car driver gives them a big case, and they need help from the reader to solve it! With interactive prompts and visual clues throughout, this fun book combines an entertaining story with a seek-and-find activity to keep readers engaged and sharpening their observation and problem-solving skills. A variety of colorful landscapes take readers to a race car garage, a lavish mansion, and a race track; friendly anthropomorphic animals stand shoulder-to-shoulder with people, and the villain sports a monocle. Endpapers show Stella, Stan, and the key to the mystery. I’d love to see Stella and Stan solve mysteries in different locales!
The Nightmare Bug, by Hillary Daecher/Illustrated by Angie Hohenadel, (Sept. 2022, Schiffer Kids), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764364310
A child learns to confront their nightmare in this rhyming story. Every time the child is in the middle of a wonderful dream, the Nightmare Bug shows up and ruins it! Mom lets her little one in on a secret: she used to have a Nightmare Bug, too, but she learned how to conquer it: with a hug. As the child goes back to sleep, they take two stuffed friends in for company and wait for the Bug to show up. Black backgrounds set the nighttime tone for the story, allowing bold, colorful artwork to pop off and emphasize surrealist dreamscapes; Hohenadel plays with negative space, letting the inky Nightmare Bug form as a planet or a wrapped piece of candy. Sharp-eyed readers will enjoy keeping an eye out for the bug; invite them to let you know when he’s near! Daecher tells a soothing bedtime story and teaches a valuable “hurt people hurt people” lesson by showing readers that the best way to defeat a fear is not only to confront it, but embrace it. A good choice for collections dealing with bedtime fears.
Want a good extension activity? Have construction paper around and invite kids to create their Nightmare Bugs. Use black construction paper and scissors for bigger kids, or colorful construction paper and crayons for littler creators. Try giving the kids some chalk and let them create surrealist, dreamlike creations.
Fetch Cat, Fetch!, by Charles Ghigna/Illustrated by Michelle Hazelwood Hyde, (Sept. 2022, Schiffer Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 9780764364600
Father Goose is at it again with this hilarious story about a little girl trying to teach her cat some new tricks… and the cat, who just wants to nap. Told in 3-word repetitive phrases: “Here, Cat. Here!”; “Speak, Cat. Speak!”, and “Dance, Cat. Dance!”, an adorable little girl attempts to get her cat to jump rope, climb a treehouse, take part in a tea party, and a number of other laugh-out-loud scenarios. Hazelwood Hyde’s illustration captures the spirit of the story, showing an enthusiastic child and a poker-faced cat determined to ignore her. Families with pets will likely see themselves in this story, especially when the little girl, tired from a day of playing with her reluctant companion, gives Cat the one command she expects him to follow, with amusing results. The girl’s dramatic body language communicates the frustration of a playmate who won’t join the game, and the cat’s determination to remain at rest will appeal not only to families with pets, but for every parent who’s wondered when their Kiddo’s battery will run down. An adorable story that makes for an amusing readaloud and a great choice for emerging readers to try on their own.
Visit Charles Ghigna’s website for more information about his books.
If You Were a City, by Kyo Maclear/Illustrated by Francesca Sanna, (Oct. 2022, Chronicle Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9781452155197
A delightful celebration of cities and how they form – and are formed by – the people who live in them, this rhyming exploration invites readers to imagine what they would be like if they were a city. Colorful, vibrant illustrations show a variety of city settings with a diverse group of citizens at work and play, and each city has its own personality: “shiny, glassy, sleek and tall”; “wooden, squat, and nicely small”; a library shows a group of readers dreaming of cities that come from the mouth of a storyteller, and an explorer discovers Central American-looking pyramids in a “lost city”. The cities thrive with action, their societies interacting peacefully together. Verses prompt readers to consider the neighbors we share our space with, “leav[ing] them room for nest and lair”, a brown-skinned girl holding a fox safely in her outstretched hand as a monkey swings on her foot. As the story moves toward a close we see children creating their cities, using their own bodies to connect the pieces: arms connected to become a bridge; holding up a platform with buildings; covering a roof (maybe a library?) with a book. An uplifting, hopeful vision of who we can become. Endpapers feature a series of snowglobes with cities inside. An excellent storytime choice and a great STEAM storytime book: invite readers to create their own cities with blocks, construction paper, and soft toys.
Geraldine and the Rainbow Machine, by Sol Regwan/Illustrated by Denise Muzzio, (Nov. 2022, Schiffer Books), $16.99, ISBN; 9780764364396
One of my favorite tinkerers is back! In Geraldine’s fourth adventure, she works to create harmony among her classmates when a new friend arrives at school. Hamid arrives from Pakistan and Geraldine immediately befriends him, but not everyone is as kind or welcoming. Frustrated by insensitive playground antics, Geraldine tinkers up a rainbow machine to show her classmates that everyone has something interesting about them; and when you combine the colors of the rainbow, they all blend together. There are lovely moments of kindness here, from Geraldine gently relocating a spider family taking up residence in one of her bowls to her statement regarding the Rainbow Machine: “When you spin it really fast, the colors all blend together. I think it shows that our differences don’t matter”. The class, delighted at Geraldine’s hands-on device, enjoys their differences and their similarities, and celebrates their uniqueness. Endpapers display a rainbow coming from what looks like one of Geraldine’s journals, the Rainbow Machine sketch laid open for readers. Regwan manages to keep the STEM/STEAM theme of the Geraldine series while delivering heartfelt story about acceptance and friendship. A good book to consider for SEL collections.