Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Be Careful What You Wish For: Mel the Chosen One

Mel the Chosen One, by Rachele Aragno/Translated by Carla Roncalli Di Montorio, (Aug 2021, RH Graphic), $12.99, ISBN: 9780593301234

Ages 8 to 12

Mel is a kid who just wants to grow up already. Adults don’t listen to kids, after all, and Mel is fed up with not having a say in where she lives, what she wears, what she eats, or where she goes to school. Things change, though, when Mel discovers a magical world where she can make her own choices – and meets Otto, an old man who was just recently a young boy with the same wish. He cautions her that growing up quick isn’t all it’s cracked up to be: there are consequences, after all. Mel and Otto go on an adventure to make things right again, and Mel discovers that taking the time to enjoy childhood may be the better choice after all (because adults feel just as ignored by kids).

Random House Graphic has been bringing some great graphic novels in translation to American shores. I loved The Runaway Princess (2020) and Aster and the Accidental Magic (2020), both originally published in French; Mel the Chosen One was originally published in Italy in 2019 as Melvina. The story is engaging and addresses that need to grow up and be independent that so many kids have. Rachele Aragno acknowledges and respects Mel’s point of view, and gently introduces, through her storytelling, the reality behind the fantasy: rushing through life does no one any favors. Adults feel just as ignored as kids do. Maybe it’s time we all took a deep breath and started enjoying the moment, while actually hearing one another? It’s a magical story that brings home that age-old saying, “Be careful what you wish for… you just might get it.” Middle graders will understand, and hopefully share with the adults around them. Rachele Aragno’s artwork is expressive, and creates fanciful settings like magical animals, including a monocle-sporting fox and an owl sporting a top hat; a headless princess; a cheery graveyard filled with children yet to be born, and enchanted forests. Fun for your fairy tale fans and fantasy readers.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Goodbye Brings Hello gets kids ready for life’s big moments!

Goodbye Brings Hello, by Dianne White/Illustrated by Daniel Wiseman, (June 2018, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), $17.99, ISBN: 9780544798755

Recommended for readers 3-5

Goodbye Brings Hello is all about those little goodbyes we experience as kids: the favorite shirt that fit just fine over the summer is just a little snug in the winter; moving from crayons to pencils; going from Velcro to shoelaces; and the big one: going from a small pre-k to elementary school. The book comforts to kids who may be a little nervous, or stressed, about these new milestones by illustrating a valuable point: for every goodbye, there’s a new hello. For every snug shirt, there’s a new jacket waiting to grow into. Leaving crayons to the realm of coloring books means that you’re learning to write with a pencil. Those Velcro-covered toes are now rocking in a new pair of cool sneakers! And as you move from preschool or kindergarten to elementary school, you’re getting ready to meet new friends, have new experiences, and share many, many hellos.

Simple, colorful art shows children going through their “goodbyes” and “hellos”, with rhyming text leading the reader through each scenario. There are diverse faces, smiling faces, and pensive expressions, all mirroring kids’ emotions at growing up and out of the familiar. The text is encouraging and upbeat, and the digital artwork is joyful, light, almost childlike in its presentation, opening the door to invite kids to draw their own hello/goodbye. This is a great end-of-year read for graduating pre-k and kinders, and a wonderful way to welcome new students in September: a nice, new Hello.

I’m adding this to my school year collection, and will make sure to booktalk this one to the teachers when they look for books to read to their new classes in September. This would be cute, paired with Adam Rex and and Christian Robinson’s School’s First Day of School.

 

When she was five, Dianne White said goodbye to her house and her teacher, Mrs. Dunlap, and hello to a new school, and her newest favorite teacher, Mr. Loop. She has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is the award-winning author of Blue on Blue. She lives in Arizona, where she writes full-time. For more information, and to download a free activity kit, visit diannewrites.com.
Twitter @diannewrites

 

Daniel Wiseman remembers saying goodbye to the training wheels on his bike, and saying a great big hello to skinned knees and elbows. But the freedom of rolling on two wheels was well worth the bumps and bruises. He still rides his (slightly larger) bike almost every day. Daniel loves to draw, and has illustrated several books for children. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri. Visit him at danieldraws.com.
Instagram @d_wiseman
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Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate

Waiting for Sophie is great older sibling reading!

sophieWaiting for Sophie, by Sarah Ellis/Illustrated by Carmen Mok, (April 2017, Pajama Press), $10.95, ISBN: 9781772780208

Recommended for ages 5-8

Liam can’t wait for his little sister, Sophie, to be born; once she arrives, though, he’s disappointed when she can’t do very much just yet. She can’t talk, she can’t play, and she makes quite a bit of noise. How long is it going to take before she grows up, already? Together, Liam and Nana-Downstairs, his grandmother who lives… well, downstairs, build a Get Older Faster Machine that Liam hopes will help move things along.

Waiting for Sophie is a great older sibling book for younger school-age kids. Sarah Ellis not only captures the excitement of waiting for a new baby brother or sister, but also gives voice to the little frustrations kids can experience when dealing with a new baby in the house, and the desire to have a playmate their age. Sarah Ellis shows readers the fun side of being an older brother, like being the one to make the baby giggle. The gently colored illustrations make this a cozy reading choice for parents and kids, or educators discussing caregiving, to gather together and enjoy. This is a good book for any expectant sibling – you can easily equate the excitement of waiting for an adopted sibling to arrive with Liam’s waiting for Mom to bring Sophie home.

Posted in Uncategorized

Spotlight On: Our Love Grows, by Anna Pignataro

Our Love Grows image excerpt

I adore Our Love Grows; it’s a perfect read-aloud for growing boys and girls (who will never be too big for a loving lap, right?). Enjoy this spotlight from the publisher, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, and please wander over to my review if you want more info.

Our Love Grows, Written and Illustrated by Anna Pignataro (April 5, 2016; Hardcover, ISBN 9781492634188)

Our Love Grows coverTitle: Our Love Grows

Author: Anna Pignataro

Release date: April 5, 2016

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Praise for Our Love Grows

“[Pignataro] creates delicately ethereal landscapes for the pandas to traverse—forests dense with pine and bamboo, snowy hillscapes—while showcasing a playful tenderness in their explorations and interactions… Pitch perfect in its spirit of cozy reassurance.” —Publishers Weekly, STARRED Review!

“A sweet story for parents to share with their young children. The theme is straightforward and told in rhyme. The book conveys a similar message to Sam McBratney’s Guess How Much I Love You, and the engaging artwork greatly enhances and complements the story. The pen and paint illustrations have a soft tone and will give readers a warm feeling.” —School Library Journal

 

 

About the Book

Like the sky, and the trees and the child she holds… A Mother’s Love Grows.

In the deep green forest, Pip asked,

“Mama, when will I be big?”

Pip is an adorable, roly-poly little panda who sees the world changing and growing. But Pip is feeling a bit left behind. Luckily Mama is there to show playful and curious Pip that, like the trees in the forest and the stars in the sky, he’s growing and changing too. And no matter how much Pip grows, the one thing that will never change is how much Mama loves him!

Our Love Grows on Goodreads

Buy the Book:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Books a Million

Indiebound

Anna Pignataro author photo

About the Author

Anna Pignataro is the creator of the bestselling books Mama, How Long Will You Love Me? and Mama, Will You Hold My Hand? Her works have been translated into eleven different languages, and she has won numerous awards including the Crichton Award for Illustration. She lives in Australia with her family.

Connect with Anna Pignataro:

Website: http://annapignataro.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annapignatarobooks/

 

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Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Our Love Grows: Perfect for Moms and Dads to read-aloud!

our loveOur Love Grows, by Anna Pignataro (April 2016, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $16.99, ISBN: 9781492634188

Recommended for ages 2-6

Pip is a sweet little panda who can’t wait to grow up. He asks his mother, “When will I be big?” and his mother reminds him that he’s already grown from when he was a baby. The story takes place as Pip’s mother remembers important moments: his tiny paw prints in the snow, his blanket covered all of him, playing hide and seek and the passing of seasons; how his tiny face fit in her hands. As she goes back over how Pip has grown, Mother Panda reminds Pip that as he’s grown, so has her love for him.

This is the sweetest book. Pip is actually not assigned a gender in the story; I think of Pip as being a little boy because I have three of my own, and reading this story reminded me of many similar moments in my own children’s lives. Snuggling with my toddler as I read this, I remembered when his blanket covered all of him – the same blanket that his feet now stick out from under; I remember he and his brothers fitting so snugly in my arms; I remember how little their snow angels looked in the winter; and yes, I may have gotten a little teary-eyed. My little guy didn’t notice it, but I did get an extra tight hug when I read the line about my love for him growing as he grows.

Our Love Grows is one of those books I recommend for parents, because it’s a parent’s eye-view of our babies growing up. It’s bittersweet, yes, but books like this remind us of the sweet moments, and when we’re lucky enough to still have the little ones that sit on our lap when we tell stories, books like this also let them know that they’ll get big, eventually – don’t rush it. And we’ll be right there with them.

The art is sedate and intimate, with Pip, Mom, and Pip’s stuffed bird the main focus of the book, surrounded by nature. The text is a plain black font that doesn’t call attention to itself, making the characters the central point of attention.

A good choice for new parents, toddler parents, and preschooler parents whose little ones are desperate to be big, when we want them to stay small for just a little longer.

Anna Pignataro is an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator. Visit her author webpage to find out more about her books and artwork.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Book Review: When I Grow Up, by Leonid Gore (Scholastic Press, 2009)

0-545-08597-7Recommended for ages 2-4

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. The artwork is a simple and soothing series of acrylics and mixed media, with a single die-cut image in each spread acting as a transition to the next spread. The die cuts may not hold up to repeated use and risk tearing, but the pages are thicker than usual and may last longer than expected with gentler use.  Books that illustrate relationships between fathers and sons are not as common as mothers and sons or mothers and daughters, making this a good book to offer the community.

This would be a great addition to a family read-aloud or a Father’s Day read-aloud, as it features a positive relationship between a father and son. There are great Father’s Day crafts that are easily made available, including Father’s Day picture frames using heavy paper, glue and scissors available on Enchanted Learning’s website. Children can bring pictures from home or can use pictures from old magazines. The author does not have a website, but his publisher has an author page with a biography and the ability to become a “fan”.