Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Grace and Box: Friends Forever

Grace and Box, by Kim Howard/Illustrated by Megan Lötter, (Jan. 2021, Feiwel and Friends), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250262943

Ages 3-6

A little girl’s family gets a refrigerator box, and she gets a new best friend. Grace gets Box, and proceeds to have all sorts of wonderful adventures: Box is a home, a rocket, a tent, even ruins in Rome! There seems to be no end to the fun Grace and Box will have together, but one day… Box looks a little under the weather. He’s a little saggy; one of his walls has a rip. Grace decides that he needs a break, and takes care of him, bandaging him, letting him rest, even feeding him soup, but he’s still droopy. What’s a kid to do? Reinforce Box and play on! Grace and Box is a story about invention, inspiration, and the joy of creation. Bright digital artwork is appealing and expressive. Grace and her dog have loads of crafting material to share with Box, who has a sweet, drawn-on face that always has a smile for Grace. Rather than ditch Box when he gets a little worn down, Grace patches him up and keeps playing with him; a nice divergence from disposable culture. As a mom who’s had a cardboard fort in my living room since Christmas, I can appreciate Grace and Box’s relationship. Rhyming text is easy to read and colorful artwork pops off the bright white pages. Pair with Antoinette Portis’s Not a Box and Not a Stick. 

Visit author Kim Howard’s webpage for free resources, including a discussion guide and drawing activity.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Watch Me is a powerful immigration story

Watch Me: A Story of Immigration and Inspiration, by Doyin Richards/Illustrated by Joe Cepeda (Jan. 2021, Feiwel & Friends), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250266514

Ages 3-5

Author and advocacy powerhouse Doyin Richards brings his father’s story to children with Watch Me.  As a child in Sierra Leone, Joe dreamed of going to America. People told him America wouldn’t accept him with his accent and his dark skin. Joe smiled and said, “Watch me”. It was a phrase he repeated often as he arrived in America and experienced racism and people questioned his intelligence. And Joe succeeded. More of a conversation than a one-sided narrative, Doyin Richards asks readers to think about times they were told they were different, or came up against things they couldn’t control. He asks them to think about times they may have seen kids at school be treated differently, or walk by themselves in the hall at school. He encourages readers to put themselves in Joe’s position – in the position of that classmate, eating lunch in the library alone – and to maybe consider a kind word, a smile, a simple act of kindness. As Richards says, “This land is your land. This land is my land. There is enough for everyone”. There’s no place for racism here. There is enough of everything for everyone; all we need to do is share. Beautiful oil and acrylic artwork makes each spread look like a portrait-worthy painting. A perfect readaloud for children.

Watch Me has a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Doyin Richards is a TEDx speaker who has spoken on anti-racism, and his book and blog, Daddy Doin’ Work, became a book that encouraged women to help dads become more engaged, hands-on fathers.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Next Stop: Christmas!

5 More Sleeps ‘Til Christmas, by Jimmy Fallon/Illustrated by Rich Deas, (Oct. 2020, Feiwel & Friends), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250266477

Ages 3-7

Jimmy Fallon’s newest picture book outing is an ode to the anticipation that seems to increase exponentially, the closer Christmas morning gets! In this rhyming tale, a boy is counting his “sleeps” until the big day. He knows he’s been good and that Santa will take care of business, but going to sleep every night is SO HARD when Christmas is so close! “5 more sleeps ’til Christmas. / I’m not sure I can wait. / I get good grades, / I fed the dog. / I even cleaned my plate. Gary’s chew toy Peppy / is helping me count sheep. / But it’s not working! We’re still up! / We cannot fall asleep!” Colorful illustrations set against the deep blue night time sky and the dark warmth of the boy’s night time room, combined with the adorable, expressive main character and his faithful pup, Gary, are full of holiday anticipation that kids and adults alike will remember and enjoy revisiting time and again. Absolute holiday fun that will brighten up your shelves.

 

Claris: Holiday Heist (The Chicest Mouse in Paris), by Megan Hess, (Oct. 2020, Hardie Grant), $17.99, ISBN: 9781760504953

Ages 4-8

Fashion illustrator Megan Hess’s series about the Claris, “chicest mouse in Paris” sees her fabumouse main character visiting New York along with her friend, Monsieur the Cat, and the family they live with. The Brat – the family’s spoiled daughter – is throwing tantrums per usual, but the real story is in the title. Claris and Monsieur spy a thieving cat on a shopping trip, and follow the felonious feline to his home and demand his return his booty! Will the cat burglar give up his life of crime and embrace the giving spirit of the holidays?Eloise and Olivia fans will love this chic, smart, determined little heroine as she takes on the streets of New York’s chic shopping district. Author Megan Hess’s fashion illustration expertise makes for gorgeous fashion sketches throughout, with bright, colorful moments that pop against the black and white backgrounds. Rhyming text makes the story a fun readaloud.

 

Dinosaur Christmas!, by Penny Dale, (Sept 2020, Nosy Crow), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536214499

Ages 2-6

This is the seventh book in Penny Dale’s Dinosaur series! This time out, Santa’s stuck and it’s dinos to the rescue! Trucks, plows, even helicopters arrive on the scene to dig Santa out and get him back on his way. Short sentences, repetition and sight words, and sounds like “crunch, crunch”, “swish, swish”, and “scoop, scoop” make this a fantastic readaloud choice (have a sensory storytime with this book and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt). Flannels and/or toy dinos are always fun to add. Watercolor and ink dinosaurs look realistic and friendly, and colorful endpapers show dinosaurs that appear in the book, with their names clearly spelled out, along with the vehicles they use in the story. Who doesn’t love dinosaurs?

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Books to cuddle, snuggle, and hug by

This is a tough time of year we’re going into. We want to hug people that we can’t. We want to see people in person, not through a device screen. We’ll get there. Until then, we have books to share with those we love. Let these snuggly books do the talking when your arms can’t; if you are lucky enough to have snuggly folx within your quarantine circle, then enjoy these books together.

 

You Are a Beautiful Beginning, by Nina Laden/Illustrated by Kelsey Garrity-Riley,
(Aug. 2020, Roaring Brook Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250311832
Ages 3-6

If little ones ever needed inspiration and to hear about their incredible potential, this is the time. You Are a Beautiful Beginning is all about potential, with encouraging, rhyming phrases that are just what we all need to hear to keep us going: “It is not the number of pages. / It is the story in the book. / It is not how far you traveled. / It is the journey that you took.” Messages also include having self-confidence and not worrying about the outcome, but the progress; being a good person, and being part of a team, and ultimately, becoming who you are supposed to be. Mixed media artwork creates magical spreads with classic fantasy story elements bright colors. You Are a Beautiful Beginning is the encouraging talk so many of us need today, especially our little ones who are facing remote learning, lack of socialization, and feeling overwhelmed by big, often scary feelings. A much-needed pep talk and hug in book form.

 

Because You’re Mine, by Nancy Tillman, (Sept. 2020, Feiwel & Friends),
$18.99, ISBN: 9781250256133
Ages 2-7

Nancy Tillman, award-winning author of On the Night You Were Born, is back with a rhyming story about the love between a parent and child. Because You’re Mine is a parent’s declaration of love from the very beginning: “The moment that you came along / my heart grew mighty, fierce and strong / And everything just fell from view / All that I could see was you”. That fierce devotion never wanes, as Tillman also notes: “The clouds can blow, the wind can call / the snow can come, the rain can fall / but they’ll just have to wait in line”. It speaks to the protective love parents and caregivers have for their littles; children will feel secure and protected hearing their loving grownup read this to them and it’s perfect for bedtime and cuddle time reading. Ms. Tillman’s instantly recognizable artwork, images of children and grownups, frolicking across spreads of woods, fields, and enjoying flora and fauna, brings to mind carefree days and joy.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Books about Working Animals!

Stanley’s Fire Engine, by William Bee, (Aug. 2020, Peachtree Publishers), $14.99, ISBN: 9781682632147

Ages 3-7

The hardest-working hamster in children’s books is back, and now he’s a firefighter! The day starts off with Stanley and Peggy work on keeping the fire engine in tip-top condition, because Stanley needs to use that fire engine for a bunch of things; whether he’s getting things stuck in trees, like kites or Little Woo; putting out the annual fire at Charlie’s barbecue, or filing up a pool so the littles can cool off on a hot day, Stanley and his fire engine are there. The fun begins when he loads his friends up in the fire engine and take off to watch the firework display! After the fireworks, it’s time for Stanley to go home, where he has his evening routine of dinner, bath and bed. Thanks for a fun day, Stanley!

The latest Stanley book shows the lighter side of being a firefighter, but the main idea is there: firefighters help in all sorts of ways, and it’s a really good idea to have a fire engine at the ready if you’re shooting off fireworks. The endpapers showcase some of the equipment kids can expect to find at the firehouse, including the big ladder, a hose, the fire bell, and a fire extinguisher. Bright colors, boldly outlined, and short sentences perfect for sight word readers make this a hit. If you’re doing a virtual storytime, many firefighting companies offer free links to coloring books. Check out Liberty Mutual’s coloring book, this one from Indian Mills Fire Company in New Jersey, and New York’s Official FDNY Fire Safety Activity Coloring Book.

Snakes On the Job, by Kathryn Dennis, (Jan. 2020, Feiwel & Friends),  $17.99, ISBN: 9781250214003

Ages 2-5

The companion to 2019’s Snakes on a Train is the adorable story of a group of snakes, working in construction, to build a playground. The story plays with sound, offering occasional rhyme, and plenty of sssssslithery, hissssshhing sounds to make a readaloud fun! Brightly colored snakes don yellow construction helmets and get behind the wheels of different trucks – backhoes, dump trucks, diggers, and more – to clear the way and prepare the ground for building. They work together, even eat together – I loved the food truck offering Ant Tacos – and get back to work to stay on schedule. Once the park opens, they welcome visitors.

Bright colors, adorable digital illustrations, and short sentences that are loaded with action make this a fun choice for a construction storytime.

 

Madeline Finn and the Therapy Dog, by Lisa Papp, (Sept. 2020, Peachtree Publishers), $17.99, ISBN: 9781682631492

Ages 4-8

In this third Madeline Finn book, Madeline and her dog Star are training for Star to become a therapy dog. The two visit Walker Oaks, a retirement community, where Star will be evaluated three different times. Star seems to be a hit, and is so well-behaved, but Madeline is drawn to one gentleman, a wheelchair-bound man named Mr. Humphrey, who sits off by himself and doesn’t want to engage with Madeline or Star. While Madeline’s mother reminds her that people work at their own pace, Madeline thinks of ways she and Star can cheer up Mr. Humphrey.

This is such a great series, and this latest installment shows the value of therapy dogs and how they touch people’s lives. It’s a story with empathy and compassion, and inspires younger readers to make a difference in their communities. The pencil and watercolor artwork are realistic, with muted colors for this quietly moving story. A must-have. Publisher Peachtree has an activity kit covering all three Madeline Finn books available for free download.

Madeline Finn and the Therapy Dog has a starred review from School Library Journal.

Posted in Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction, Tween Reads

Resolve to Recycle! Two books on cutting down on plastic

There are lots of great books about taking care of our planet out for kids, and two timely ones focus on the ways tweens and middle graders can start on a big problem: the use of single-use plastics. Inspiring, empowering, and fun, these are two great books to add to your shelves (and Plastic Sucks! also has the dual duty of offering some environmentally conscious careers, too).

Plastic Sucks! How YOU Can Reduce Single-Use Plastic and Save Our Planet, by Dougie Poynter, (Oct. 2019, Feiwel & Friends), $19.99, ISBN: 978-1250256201

Ages 10-13

Musician and activist Dougie Poynter, of the group McFly, is here to give kids some straight talk about single-use plastics: they suck. They suck the life out of our oceans, most notably, by killing marine life and decimating our natural resources. Poynter has put together a history of plastic, how plastic still has good uses (medical equipment, safety belts) but is largely used as a temporary convenience, and how kids can take action – and get families involved – to lessen the use of single-use plastic in their everyday lives.

Illustrated in two-color green and black, with loads of infographics and eye-catching statistics, this is a smart look at conservation with a friendly, informative voice. Poynter breaks down recycling symbols and has an illustrated aquatic foodweb to show how everything is interconnected, and how pollution affects life on earth as well as the oceans. Easy swaps illustrate how to cut down on plastic waste. Profiles of environmental activists run throughout the book, offering a look at different careers that may appeal to burgeoning activists: marine biologists, wildlife charity heads, and bloggers/YouTubers are all in here. A glossary is available to help readers with some new terminology. A nice, concise book to have in your environmental collections.

 

Kids Fight Plastic: How to Be a #2minutesuperhero, by Martin Dorey/Illustrated by Tim Wesson, (Sept. 2020, Candlewick Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9781536212778

Ages 8-11

Absolute fun while providing absolute info, this digitally illustrated guide to fighting single-use plastic gives kids a book full of missions to fight plastic: from our homes to our schools, to the supermarket and beyond, kids get the skinny on plastics while racking up points, whether it’s through identifying five “good” and five “bad” pieces of plastic, bringing a reusable water bottle everywhere you go, and making homemade snacks to cut down on the use of plastic-wrapped stuff, there’s something for everyone here. Martin Dorey is the founder of the #2minutebeachclean movement, and shows kids that 2 minutes can make a huge difference. Missions are all worth different points, which they can tally up at the end and calculate their “Superhero Rating”. Profiles of different rescued sea life and activists appear throughout on “Everyday Superhero” graphics that look like collectible cards – they can even envision their own Everyday Superhero card! – and missions are all available at the end of the book, in one convenient spot, so folks don’t have to go throughout the book to locate each mission. More resources are available for readers who want to learn more, including more information about the #2minutebeachclean initiative.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Back to School stories!

Step right up, I’ve got a bunch of back to school stories for your readers!

Pearl Goes to Preschool, by Julie Fortenberry, (July 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536207439

Ages 3-5

Pearl is the youngest and smallest student at her mother’s ballet school, but when Mom suggests that Pearl try out preschool – a school full of kids her age! – she’s got some questions: Is there dancing? Do they have stories? What else is there to do? Mom answers all of Pearl’s questions, and Pearl mulls it over, finally deciding that yes, she, and her stuffed mouse, Violet, are ready to try out preschool. Narrated from little Pearl’s point of view, this is an adorable story for kids getting ready for preschool: questions get answers, there’s a routine to the day, and best of all, Pearl has a wonderful day – and dances! Digital illustrations are soft, with muted pastels and lovely illustrations of ballet dancing and the relationship between a mother and her child. An adorable addition to school stories.

A free, downloadable activity kit features a Pearl paper doll with two outfits! Try to print it out on a heavier card stock, so it’s durable. Brightly has a good list of ballerina books for preschoolers, Scholastic has a list of books for beginning preschoolers.

 

Play Day School Day, by Toni Yuly, (June 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536202830

Ages 3-7

It’s always a good day for a Toni Yuly book, and her latest, Play Day School Day, captures a sweet moment between a little boy and his older sister. Mona, a young girl, is excited for the first day of school; her younger brother, Milo, asks what she does at school. “Lots of things”, Mona replies, and tells him about a typical school day, from riding the bus, to practicing reading, writing, science, and math. She tells him that sometimes, one must sit quietly at school, but other times, one can run around and be loud with friends. Mona makes school sound pretty great! The two siblings share their day in a garden or backyard, playing together with their black cat. Toni Yuly’s spare prose is to-the-point and enticing, giving Milo a wonderful vision of school. The story text is bold and black, easily readable against the bright white background, and Toni Yuly’s mixed media artwork is bright, cheerful, and vibrant. Play Day School Day is a fun school story for school-aged children and their younger siblings.

Pair Play Day School Day with Anna McQuinn’s books, Lola Reads To Leo.

 

I Got the School Spirit!, by Connie Schofield-Morrison/Illustrated by Frank Morrison, (July 2020, Bloomsbury Kids US), 9781547602612

Ages 4-7

She’s back! The exuberant, spirit-filled little girl from Connie Schofield-Morrison and Frank Morrison’s previous books, I Got the Rhythm! and I Got the Christmas Spirit! is back and ready for school in her newest story! Brushing her teeth, and getting dressed, she’s filled with the spirit, which stays with her and powers her – and her friends – through the school day! The spirit helps her comfort a scared friend on the school bus and enjoy her school day; it helps her kick a ball at recess, and propels her right into her mother’s arms at the end of her school day, leaving her ready to do it all again the next day. Filled with small moments that make up a school day, and with gorgeous, evocative oil painting, I Got the School Spirit! is the picture of Black Joy, and a picture book that will get kids excited about their own upcoming school days. Sound effects throughout: the stomp, stomp of shiny new shoes, zip, zip! of a school bag, and crunch, munch, sip! of lunchtime makes this a perfectly interactive read-aloud. A definite must-add to your back-to-school/first day of school collections.

For more Black Joy book selections, refer to these articles and lists from School Library Journal, We Are Teachers, Brightly, and Helping Kids Rise.

All Welcome Here, by James Preller/Illustrated by Mary GrandPré, (June 2020, Feiwel and Friends), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-250-15588-7

Ages 4-7

James Preller, author of the Jigsaw Jones chapter book series, and Mary GrandPré, whose illustrations we all know and love from Harry Potter, come together to present a collection of haiku poems about the first day of school. Covering subjects like new school supplies, the fear of boarding the bus, and class pets, all students will find themselves in the words and mixed media illustrations in the book. Moments like “Growing Up”, as a parent sighs after waving goodbye to the school bus, and “Principal K”, the new principal who has a dab of shaving cream on his ear, show kids that we grownups have our own first-day jitters, too. It’s not easy saying goodbye to our littles and it’s a little scary when the first day of school is your first day of work, too! Other poems celebrate first-day stalwarts like name tags on desks, the Reading Rug (it was the Circle Time rug when my elder boys were was in grade school), and running errands – and choosing a friend to accompany – all find their voice here. “Library” is a touching nod to school libraries everywhere: “…the whoosh and thrum / of the school’s heart beat”. Colorful and buoyant, with a diverse group of students and teachers, All Welcome Here is a thank you letter to schools, teachers, and students everywhere.

A free, downloadable storytime kit encourages readers to write their own haikus and make their own name tags.

 

I’m Afraid Your Teddy Is in the Principal’s Office, by Jancee Dunn/Illustrated by Scott Nash, (June 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536201987

Ages 3-8

A delightfully hilarious companion to Jancee Dunn and Scott Nash’s 2017 book, I’m Afraid Your Teddy Is in Trouble Today, I’m Afraid Your Teddy Is in the Principal’s Office is all about you – the principal is speaking to you, isn’t she? – and your teddy, who stashed away in your backpack and went to school with you today; Teddy, along with your friends’ stuffed animals, who all did the same thing, waited until everyone was in assembly to burst out of their schoolbags and wreak havoc all over your school! They wrote their names with condiments and tied up the coach; they trapped the art teacher in glue and rolled around in finger paint. As the principal details everything that went on during the day, parents will have to suppress their giggles – just like poor Mr. Krimple, standing next to the principal – as they imagine the principal’s tone of voice. But are you really in the principal’s office? Is there even a principal? Or is it an imaginative little girl playing school? Way too much fun to read and act out, I’m Afraid Your Teddy Is in the Principal’s Office is fantastic reading… and will put a new spin on playing school, I’m sure. The colorful digital illustrations showcase a group of stuffed toys having the time of their lives throughout school, as teacher chase them through the chaos. The title page begs for a real-life storytime setup, featuring a bunch of guilty-looking toys sitting uncomfortably on chairs, some covered in paint, waiting to be claimed by their children. Just great fun to read.

 

When Pencil Met the Markers, by Karen Kilpatrick & Luis O. Ramos, Jr./Illustrated by Germán Blanco, (July 2020, imprint), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250309402

Ages 4-8

The companion to 2019’s When Pencil Met Eraser, also by Karen Kilpatrick, Luis O. Ramos, Jr., and Germán Blanco, is about teamwork, friendship, and coloring outside the lines. A group of markers loves to color, but Purple sees things differently. He colors outside the lines, which drives the other markers CRAZY. They confront Purple, telling him his creativity is a mistake and that he doesn’t fit in. Dejected, Purple sets out on his own and meets Pencil and Eraser, who inspire him to look at things differently: he doesn’t need lines! As Purple creates, Pencil and Eraser fill in the area around his work, making gloriously purple grapes, butterflies, birds, and cupcakes. The creative team’s work draws the attention of the other markers, who ultimately learn that coloring outside the lines can be fun, and Pencil says – in a tribute to Bob Ross – that “There are no mistakes, only happy accidents!” It’s a great story to read to kids, while reminding them that it’s good to approach life with a flexibility and attitude, and to color outside the lines every once in a while. Be creative, take chances, and don’t be afraid to be the Purple Marker. The digital artwork has bright, primary colors that pop off the bright white background; dialogue between the markers, Pencil, and Eraser are bold and rounded, while the narrative text is more of a Roman font, not bolded. Endpapers let Purple – and, later, the other markers – show off their scribbly best. Full of lessons that respect the reader, When Pencil Met the Markers is perfect for school stories like Eraser, by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant, The Day the Crayons Quit/The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers, and A Squiggly Story by Andrew Larsen and Mike Lowery. Visit the When the Pencil Met website to sign up for their newsletter and get a free, downloadable activity book.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Happy Mother’s Day! Books to Snuggle With

This is certainly a different kind of Mother’s Day, but one thing remains constant: we’re surrounded by the ones we love. So, in honor of Moms and Mom-like figures in our lives, snuggle up with your little ones and enjoy a storytime with these picture books.

You Be Mommy, by Karla Clark/Illustrated by Zoe Persico, (March 2020, Feiwel & Friends), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-250-22538-2

Ages 3-7

Moms everywhere will appreciate this one. The Mommy in this story is exhausted from a full day, and she’s just too tired to be Mommy at the moment… so she asks her daughter if she can be Mommy for the night. This rhyming story is chock full of Mom moments we know so well: working a full day, cleaning up messes, feeding the masses, helping with homework, even bathing the dog. Mommy is pooped, so she needs someone to check under her bed for monsters, give her some head and tummy rubs, and kisses good night. But the little girl seems to be pretty tired, too… so maybe Mommy will just take a little break, rather than the whole night off. An adorable story that salutes Moms everywhere, You Be Mommy has colorful, warm illustrations. Endpapers feature the family dog, enviably dozing with Mom’s ever-present cups of coffee nearby. Mom and family are people of color.

A sweet story to read while your little one(s) take on some Mommy duties for the day.

 

You Belong, by Rachel Platten/Illustrated by Marcin Piwowarski, (March 2020, Feiwel & Friends), $17.99, ISBN: 9781250240163

Ages 0-5

Singer-songwriter Rachel Platten’s ode to newborn babies and motherhood explores the feelings, hopes, and dreams an expectant mom has while waiting for her baby to arrive: “I’m waiting patiently for you to arrive. / I want to meet you so much I could cry”. The song weaves through images of multicultural families, both expectant and with young children, creating lump-in-the-throat moments for moms, calling up memories of talking to bellies and holding up outfits at baby showers; tending to skinned knees or providing a loving hug; soaring on rainbows and dancing on air. Digital artwork creates soft, colorful images that bring the words of Rachel Platten’s song to life. This is a sweet Mother’s Day gift, baby shower gift, and storytime read.

 

Welcome to Your World, by Smriti Prasadam-Halls/Illustrated by Jaime Kim, (March 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536206227

Ages 0-5

A sweet rhyming story with images of parent-child animals and an underlying message about caring for our planet, Welcome to Your World rejoices in parenting, nature and the bond we have with our world. Beginning and concluding with images of a human mother holding her child, verses explore the sky, land, ocean, the elements, and the beauty of our surroundings: “Can you feel the raindrops landing on your nose? Can you feel the waterfall tickling your toes?” Earthy watercolors create waterfalls, oceanscapes, and snowy mountains where wild animals roam free, bringing us back to a parent and child, cuddled together, imagining their place in the great scheme of things. Gentle and soft, this is a lovely way to get ready for bed or a nice addition to an animal-related storytime. This would pair nicely with Mother Earth’s Lullaby (2018).

Posted in Uncategorized

Books from Quarantine: Six Angry Girls

Six Angry Girls, by Adrienne Kisner, (Jul. 2020, Feiwel & Friends), $17.99, ISBN: 9781250253422

Ages 12+

This girl power teen novel is a fantastic story of friendship, knitting, and smashing the patriarchy. Raina Petree is on track to have a great senior year until her boyfriend dumps her, her drama club leaves her in the lurch, and her college dreams aren’t as secure as she initially thought they were. Meanwhile, Millie Goodwin is tired of being her father’s servant, and when her Mock Trial team votes her out in favor of lesser-qualified, newer guys – even after she’s been the backbone of the team for the last three years – she has HAD IT. Raina turns to an advice column for help on getting over Brandon, the ex-boyfriend, leading her to take up knitting as a hobby; a hobby that leads to a meeting of the minds with Millie, and the two come up with the ultimate idea: start their own Mock Trial team. There are no rules against it, and they manage to find a mentor in their school librarian. Now, they just have to fill the open spots on the team – with girls who are sick and tired of being discounted and looked down on by the boys and men who think they’re calling all the shots. It’s time to pick up the knitting needles, study those legal briefs, and take down the patriarchy.

With a fantastic cast of multicultural characters that smash the gender spectrum, Adrienne Kisner has given readers a group of characters that we’d all want to hang out with. They’re smart, driven, and fed up with B.S., whether it’s from a teacher, an ex-boyfriend or fellow student, or a parent. It’s such an upbeat book, filled with major crossroad moments and stand up and cheer scenes while taking on some very big issues. It’s an excellent discussion book that will spark deep conversations.

I loved this book and would gladly shout this out to my library teens. Give this to your Moxie fans and your Ashley Poston readers. And start a knitting club at your library to get them talking!

Check out Adrienne Kisner’s author webpage for more information about her books, links to her blog and social media, and to sign up for her newsletter.

Posted in Adventure, Fiction, Humor, Middle Grade

Spy Penguins are on the scene!

At the beginning of the school year, Macmillan sent me a box of new fiction to check out; I’ve been working my way through it, but had to take some time to post about the Spy Penguins books by Sam Hay, with illustrations by Marek Jagucki. These books are hilarious and loaded with wacky adventures! I read both books in the series so far (there’s a third one coming in September 2020), and have started reading the first book to my kiddo. He’s thoroughly enjoying them. So let’s take a look at the newest dynamic duo, The Spy Penguins.

Spy Penguins, by Sam Hay/Illustrated by Marek Jagucki, (Sept. 2018, Feiwel & Friends), $13.99, ISBN: 9781250188380

Ages 7-11

The first book in the new Spy Penguins series introduces us to Agent 00Zero and Q, better known as Jackson and his best friend, Quigley. They’re two young penguins who have big dreams of joining the FBI (Frosty Bureau of Investigation). Jackson wants to be a field agent, just like his Uncle Bryn, while Quigley wants to be the gadget guy, creating all sorts of cool inventions, just like his cousin, Sunny. The problem? They’re a little young, a little dorky, and have a gift for getting into trouble. But when rare fish start disappearing from the aquarium, jeopardizing their friend’s Lily’s dad’s job and reputation, the two agents-in-training get down to business! But can the two crack the case AND avoid being the next to disappear?

Spy Penguins is just fun to read. There’s some good world-building, with penguin-related vocabulary (flipper and ice-related terms, krill-sized problems), and creative backgrounds for the side characters, like Jackson’s Type-A mom, who is a “truth magnet” that can track you down and whose temper is measured in shark levels, or Jackson’s father, a more creative type who constantly creates new rooms to add on to the family home. Jackson and Quigley make a great and lovable team, and the action and fast-paced storytelling will ensure that kids will want to spend time with these two – and their extended group of family and friends – again. Black and white illustrations add to the fun and the story, providing a visuals and a solid framework around the story.

Spy Penguins: The Spy Who Loved Ice Cream, by Sam Hay/Illustrated by Marek Jagucki, (Sept. 2019, Feiwel & Friends), $13.99, ISBN: 9781250188588

Ages 7-11

Jackson and Quigley are back, and just in time! Jackson’s Uncle Bryn, actual member of the FBI (Frosty Bureau of Investigation), has been hypnotized and is on a crime spree! The two wannabe-agents-in-training have to figure out what happened to Uncle Bryn, prove his innocence, and dodge Jackson’s mom, who still has them on punishment from the last adventure!

Picking up immediately after the events of the first Spy Penguins novel, The Spy Who Loved Ice Cream begins with Jackson and Quigley scrubbing seagull poop as part of their punishment, meted out by Jackson’s mom. But things take a turn when they stop at the ice cream parlor and meet Uncle Bryn and two other FBI agents, who are eating a weirdly glowing ice cream and don’t acknowledge the two. Sure, it’s strange, since Uncle Bryn is Jackson’s favorite uncle; when they discover that Uncle Bryn is wanted for robbery, they know something is REALLY up. Loaded with more gadgets, delicious (and mind-altering) ice cream, and new ways of trying to avoid Jackson’s mom, The Spy Who Loved Ice Cream is every bit as much fun as Spy Penguins. More characters get fleshed-out backstories, including Quigley’s tech whiz cousin, Sunny and antagonist Hoff Rockhopper. The inventions are straight-up hilarious this time around, including a hat that’s supposed to deflect seagull poop and a suit made of sardine poop that should (emphasis on “should”) render the wearer invisible. The illustrations and fast-paced, fun writing will keep readers coming back for more.

If you have readers who love Snazzy Cat Capers, introduce them to Jackson and Quigley. If these characters all existed in the same universe, I’d be thrilled. (CROSSOVER!)