Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, mythology, Uncategorized

Tails and Tales Bundle: Thundercluck and Zeus the Mighty

Since I’ve been talking about Summer Reading and book bundles, I thought I’d start making some fun suggestions. For anyone doing the Tails and Tales theme, Thundercluck: Chicken of Thor by Paul Tillery IV and Meg Wittwer and the Zeus the Mighty series from Crispin Boyer fit the bill and have the shared mythological theme, too!

Thundercluck! Chicken of Thor: Recipe for Revenge, by Paul Tillery IV/Illustrated by Meg Wittwer, (Sept. 2020, Square Fish), $7.99, ISBN: 9781250619785

Ages 8-11

The second Thundercluck adventure is just as much fun as the first. Thundercluck and Brunhilde, the Valkyrie, find themselves on the outs with Odin, and head to Midgard (that’s us, Earth!) to match wits against three foes. Gorman the angry skull is back with two new fiends: Medda, a shape-shifting enchantress, and War-Tog, a warthog warrior that is too easily led into poor decisions. Thundercluck is a story of friendship being tested, and family secrets learned, but at its heart, it’s a story of learning to admit one’s mistakes. Black and white illustrations and a quickly-moving story makes this an excellent Summer Reading choice; you don’t need to have read the first book to jump on board, but the kids will want to.

Summer Reading ideas: Book bundle with the first Thundercluck and printables from the Thundercluck website; book bundle with Zeus the Mighty for a Tails and Tales spin on mythology; display with other mythology chapter books, like Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams’s Thunder Girls seriesDon’t forget to have reference resources, like National Geographic’s Everything Mythology, available!

 

Zeus the Mighty: The Quest for the Golden Fleas (Book 1), by Crispin Boyer, (Oct. 2019, Under the Stars), $12.99, ISBN: 9781426335471

Ages 8-12

The first book in another fun series from National Geographic Kids and their fiction imprint, Under the Stars. Zeus the Mighty is a hamster who lives in Mount Olympus Pet Center with a variety of rescued animals, and heroines. Artie – short for Artemis, naturally – is the human the runs the Center and names her favorite rescues after Greek mythological heroes. The group all listen to a podcast, Greeking Out, that tells the stories of the Greek gods, but the animals take the stories to heart. Zeus believes he rules Mount Olympus, putting him at odds with Poseidon, the puffer fish who won’t give up control of his watery Atlantis and bristles at Zeus’s attempts to boss him around. Their first adventure is a quest for the Golden Fleas: a fun retelling of the tale of Jason, the Argonauts, and the Golden Fleece. The storytelling is light, there are cute black and white illustrations throughout, and a section on “The Truth Behind the Fiction” adds the perfect amount of nonfiction context to the story. Consider adding this to your shelves.

Summer Reading Ideas: Bundle with the second book in the series, The Maze of the Menacing Minotaur (the third book is out in August!) and add some printables from the Zeus the Mighty website. Display with other Greek mythology-flavored fiction, like Joan Holub and Suzanne William’s Goddess Girls and the Heroes in Training series, by Joan Holub, Suzanne Williams, and Tracey West. National Geographic has a great Weird But True book on Greek Mythology, too.

 

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.