Posted in Early Reader, Intermediate, Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction

NatGeo Readers shine a spotlight on Women’s History

March is Women’s History Month – do you have your displays up? I feel like I’m a hundred years behind, but thankfully, my saving grace is that I merchandise as I go, so I’ll pull a few books out as I wander my room, make sure they’re face-out, and pique the kids’ interest as they wander the stacks. Teachers Pay Teachers has me covered again, thank goodness, as does Education.com. I’ve got printables galore thanks to these two sites; everything from trading cards to coloring sheets, for which I’m hugely grateful.

Biographies are always good to have on hand, especially when those research projects come up. NatGeo Kids’s leveled Easy Reader series is a big help for collections geared toward younger readers.

Susan B. Anthony, by Kitson Jazynka, (Dec. 2019, National Geographic Kids), $4.99, ISBN: 9781426335082

Ages 5-7

The Level 1 Co-Readers also provide a nice bonding opportunity, with a “You Read/I Read” format that lets a grownup read a page with denser text, but with fact boxes and color photos and illustrations that allow for discussion. The “I Read” page has bigger, bolder text, simpler vocabulary, and repeated new vocabulary words that let a new reader try out words they’ve just read with their grownup.

Susan B. Anthony’s biography introduces readers to the feminist pioneer, with information about her upbringing, her background as a teacher, her friendships with Frederick Douglass and work with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, with whom she traveled, speaking about women’s suffrage. Five “Your Turn!” sections present discussion questions and invite readers to come up with their own viewpoints on causes they believe in, differences between school in Susan B. Anthony’s time versus the present, and how to hold an election (voting on artwork, they start the kids off gently!). Loaded with photos from primary sources and helpful, quick call-out fact boxes, this is a nice introduction to women’s history for readers becoming more comfortable with informative text. There’s a Susan B. Anthony coloring page available for free on Education.com, which will make a nice addition to a reading.

 

Harriet Tubman, by Barbara Kramer, (Dec. 2019, National Geographic Kids), $4.99, ISBN: 9781426337215

Ages 6-8

Level 2 readers are the next Easy Reader step, good for kids ready to work on greater informational text, with more vocabulary. There are fact boxes, “Words to Know” boxes that define new vocabulary words, and a timeline of the subject’s life; in this case, abolitionist, spy, and activist Harriet Tubman.

Harriet Tubman’s biography begins with her childhood as a slave named Araminta; her escape via the Underground Railroad and continued work in leading slaves to freedom along the Railroad, her work as a Northern spy during the Civil War, and her postwar life and work with the African American elderly. Spaced between the denser text about Harriet Tubman’s life are spreads with chunked facts like, “In Her Time”, where readers can learn facts about life as a slave in 1820s America, “6 Cool Facts About Harriet Tubman”, and a quiz. Readers can discover Ms. Tubman’s own words with “In Her Own Words” quote boxes throughout the text. There are incredible photos of Harriet Tubman and primary sources (newspapers, Tubman’s hymnal), maps, and artwork.

Great for newly confident independent readers, perfect for a circle time or history readaloud, this Harriet Tubman biography is a brilliant, compact introduction for readers to an iconic figure in history. Education.com has a free, downloadable Harriet Tubman coloring sheet to have handy, too.

 

Breaking Through: How Female Athletes Shattered Stereotypes in the Roaring Twenties, by Sue Macy, (Feb. 2020, National Geographic Kids), $18.99, ISBN: 9781426336768

Ages 8-12

Welcome to the Roaring Twenties! A hundred years ago, things were very, very different: we didn’t have Title IX protecting girls’ and women’s rights to compete in school sports, for starters, but women found ways to get it done. Breaking Through travels through the original Roaring Twenties, a decade where women, having just secured the right to vote, are ready to take on more. But women in athletics? Perish the thought! Each chapter takes on a different year in the 1920s and profiles the women who fought their way into the athletic arena and the critics who opposed them. There are reprints from news stories, black and white photos and full-color artwork, and historical events that place readers fully in the context of each year. While Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman to earn a pilot’s license, was making headlines in 1922, for instance, the National Women’s Party began their campaign for an Equal Rights Amendment (and we’re still waiting, folks); archaeologist Howard Carter discovered King Tutankhamun’s tomb, and the Charleston was the dance rage. Each year profiles a Trailblazer whose dedication to the sport opened the door for generations to come. An epilogue looks at where women in sports are now, from Wilma Rudolph to Billie Jean King to Megan Rapinoe. A timeline, Defining Moments in Women’s Sports, looks at 15 major highs and lows of women’s athletics. Resources are available for further research. Breaking Through is a needed history of women’s athletics, perfect for middle graders.

Posted in Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Teen, Tween Reads

Lumberjanes Fans! Encyclopedia Lumberjanica is coming!

Lumberjanes and Lumberjills, BOOM! Studios has got a book for you!

From the publisher:

BOOM! Studios announced THE ENCYCLOPEDIA LUMBERJANICA: An Illustrated Guide to the Hardcore Lady-Types of Lumberjanes, from writer Susan Coiner-Collier, gathering a veritable who’s who of famous and incredible folks throughout history who have inspired the Lumberjanes, available in stores September 2020.

Step inside the world of the New York Times best-selling Lumberjanes like never before with an illustrated look into the lives of the lady-types that the Lumberjanes have taken as their role models – along with fun facts and humorous insights from the Lumberjanes themselves!

From The Arts, Sciences, Activism, Politics, and Social Work to Groundbreakers and the Generally Rad, you’ll learn all about incredible figures such as Juliette Gordon Low, bell hooks, Bessie Coleman, Sally Ride, and more! THE ENCYCLOPEDIA LUMBERJANICA is perfect for teachers and caregivers, and an unforgettable keepsake for Lumberjanes fans.

“What better way to celebrate the Lumberjanes than to put the spotlight on the role models who best embody the spirit of the camp and its residents,” said Jeanine Schaefer, Executive Editor, BOOM! Studios. “Lumberjanes of all ages can dive deep into the exciting lives and accomplishments of real life heroes who have inspired hardcore lady-types everywhere!”

THE ENCYCLOPEDIA LUMBERJANICA is the latest release from BOOM! Studios’ award-winning BOOM! Box imprint, home to groundbreaking original series such as Lumberjanes by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Brooklyn Allen, and Noelle Stevenson; Giant Days by John Allison, Lissa Treiman, and Max Sarin; The Avant-Guards by Carly Usdin and Noah Hayes; Smooth Criminals by Kirsten ‘Kiwi’ Smith, Kurt Lustgarten, and Leisha Riddel; Fence by C.S. Pacat and Johanna The Mad; and Goldie Vance by Hope Larson and Brittney Williams. 

Print copies of THE ENCYCLOPEDIA LUMBERJANICA will be available for sale in September 2020 at local comic book shops (use comicshoplocator.com to find the nearest one), bookstores or at the BOOM! Studios webstore. Digital copies can be purchased from content providers, including comiXology, iBooks, Google Play, and Madefire.

For more on LUMBERJANES and other projects from BOOM! Studios, stay tuned to www.boom-studios.com and follow @boomstudios on Twitter.

Posted in Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

Read-down 2019: The NonFiction

So I was just looking at my TBR (to be reviewed) pile and said, “WOW. I can’t go into the New Year like this.” So on these last two days of 2019, my friends, I give you some quick-picks to take us out of this year and into the next. Let’s start with Nonfiction, courtesy of National Geographic.

Nerd A to Z, by TJ Resler, (Aug. 2019, NatGeo Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3474-0

Ages 8-12

We did it! The nerds have inherited the earth. It’s cool to be one of us now, and NatGeo Kids’s Nerd A-Z is a desktop reference to the nerdier side of life. Organized alphabetically, information is highlighted with icons, letting readers know about the nerdiest, coolest bits of science, culture, history, technology, geography, and design/engineering. Flow charts help readers figure out what kind of Nerd, Science Scholar, History Hero, Geography Genius, Tech Titan, Design Devote, or Culture Connoisseur they are. It’s all in good fun, loaded with facts and full-color pictures. Want to know where the shipwreck capital of the world is? (Psst… it’s Greece’s Fourni archipelago)? How about finding out about 26 huge map mistakes (like the mythical mountains of Kong, Africa), or the origins of the Jedi? Are Zombies more your thing? There’s a whole spread about them in here, including an FAQ on why vegetarian zombies would eat your brains just as quickly as you could say, “Graiiiiiiins”. There’s a fantastic section with further resources and bibliography. Nerd out with all this info at your fingertips.

 

The Book of Queens, by Stephanie Warren Drimmer, (Nov. 2019, NatGeo Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3535-8

Ages 8-12

All hail the Queens! From the opening page featuring Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, get ready to enter a world where girls rule – and have, since the beginning. Organized into eight chapters loaded with profiles of women throughout history, culture, science, politics, and entertainment, The Book of Queens profiles over 100 outstanding women, including architect and designer Maya Lin; Empress Cixi, who led China into a period of modernization; media queen Oprah Winfrey; suffragette Jeanette Rankin, and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. There are gorgeous color photos, tons of facts and a diverse, richly multicultural group of women (with little fact boxes on impressive men, to share the space). The book challenges readers to think about wearing their own crowns down the line: “Modern-day queens found their own companies, invent new technologies, and take charge of changes they want to see become reality. Nowadays, you don’t have to have royal blood – or wait around for a handsome prince – to rule.”

 

The Book of Kings, by Caleb Magyar and Stephanie Warren Drimmer, (Nov. 2019, NatGeo Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1426335334

Ages 8-12

The boys get their day in this reference of kings, kicking off with a full-page picture of Henry VIII, no turkey leg in sight. Meet kings from history; revolutionary leaders and legendary heroes; stars of the silver screen and stage; science, media, and industry. You’ll see Lin-Manuel Miranda, who made Alexander Hamilton the most popular Founding Father; Kwame Alexander, and Langston Hughes, kings of the written word; and Babe Ruth, the “Sultan of Swat”. There’s some equal respect paid to the ladies, with “Commanding Queens” callout boxes. Learn about famous crowns and swords, discover different types of armor through the centuries, and read about how two kids from Cleveland created one of the greatest superheroes of all time: Superman. Fictional kings, like Aragorn (Lord of the Rings) and T’Challa (Black Panther) have their moment here, as do giants of science, like Isaac Newton and Carl Sagan. A final word to boys challenges them to think about wearing their own crowns: “Today, there are many different kinds of kings: kings who develop lifesaving technology, kings who write plays that make us laugh and cry, kings who find something they don’t like about the world and do everything they can to change it for the better.”

Both The Book of Kings and The Book of Queens are great desktop references for you to have handy, and just fun reading for kids.

 

Don’t Read This Book Before Dinner, by Anna Claybourne, (July 2019, NatGeo Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3451-1

Ages 8-12

Ah, the gross-out factor. The kids at my library (and my home) love the grossest humor, shrieking with delight and horror at facts and picture of boogers, poop, bugs, you name it. NatGeo, with their fingers on the pulse of all things kid, has answered the call with Don’t Read This Book Before Dinner: Revoltingly True Tales of Foul Food, Icky Animals, Horrible History, and More, a tome loaded with the grossest stories, quizzes, photos, and facts that you’ll ever want to know about. A “Yuck-o-Meter” lets readers know exactly how gross the territory is: Eww, Gross, Nasty, or Disgusting, and a content warning gives the heads-up to readers with gentler sensibilities and stomachs can make the choice on whether or not to continue. There are stories about the grossest toilets in history; facts about spit; a section dedicated to cockroaches that I just skipped right the heck by; a section on weasel butts, and a spotlight on a Taiwanese toilet cafe that serves poop-shaped ice cream. Good lord.

Need I say it? Kids love it.

Posted in Non-Fiction, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Playlist: The Rebels and Revolutionaries of Sound gives classical musicians rock star status

Playlist: The Rebels and Revolutionaries of Sound, by James Rhodes/Illustrated by Martin O’Neill, (Oct. 2019, Candlewick), $29.99, ISBN: 9781536212143

Ages 12+

Concert pianist James Rhodes gives an introduction to the original rock stars: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Schubert, Rachmaninoff, and Ravel. These forefathers of classical music are anything but fusty and boring. As Rhodes writes in his introduction, “…they were the original rock stars. They changed history, inspired millions, and are still listened to and worshipped all around the world today”. Rhodes starts off by providing his own Spotify playlist for readers to start exploring classical music, and creates profiles on each composer. The profiles are easily readable, laid out in magazine-type layout, and includes pop culture references to each composer’s music: Bach, for instance, has been referenced by or sampled in music by The Beatles, Zayn Malik, and Led Zeppelin, and used in The LEGO Batman Movie and Stranger Things. Each composer’s profile includes a profile on a word from the Spotify playlist, to give readers further context and understanding.

This crash course in Music Foundations is illustrated by artist Martin O’Neill, who creates vibrant collages using photos and mixed media, presenting a mind-blowing art installation to accompany Rhodes’ writing. Rhodes includes musical terminology in his “The Language of Music” section at the end, and there is an index.

This is a gorgeous coffee table book with a mission. It’s music history, and world history; it’s art history and a treatise on the evolution of pop culture. Don’t miss this one.

Playlist: The Rebels and Revolutionaries of Sound has starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist.
Posted in History, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Tween Reads, Uncategorized

Big nonfiction roundup!

I have been curating a pile of nonfiction over the last several weeks, ready to do a back to school post, but all these other great books started coming out, too… so, before this pile crushes me, let’s do this!

North America: A Fold-Out History, by Sarah Albee/Illlustrated by William Exley, (Oct. 2019, What on Earth Books), $19.99, ISBN: 978-1999967925

Ages 8-14

That What on Earth Books fold-out are so much fun! This time, we’ve got a fold-out graphic timeline of Canada, the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean islands, going from 11,000 BCE to 2017. It’s fully illustrated and offers a wealth of history on early indigenous peoples, including the Olmecs, Maya, Taino, and Aztec. European invasions are covered – first the Vikings; later, Columbus and the conquistadors – and American history covers much of the book’s second half. History is captured with dates and a brief blurb about standout moments, and callout boxes call attention to larger happenings, like the spreading out of humans across the land, and how European conflicts played out in North America. Back matter includes facts; glossary; source notes, and an index.

Not one for circulation – it’ll sustain damage quickly – but it’s a good reference tool and darn fun to have at home. My little guy loves these books.

Source: Bounce Marketing UK

 

Migration: Incredible Animal Journeys, by Mike Unwin/Illustrated by Jenni Desmond, (Aug. 2019, Bloomsbury USA), $18.99, ISBN: 9781547600977

Ages 9-13

Originally published in the UK, Migration profiles 20 different migrating animals, including the humpback whale; emperor penguin; ruby-throated hummingbird; blue wildebeest, and green turtle. Each spread contains acrylic, watercolor, ink, pencil and crayon illustrations of these animals, captured in the progress of their journeys. Some artwork gives an incredible breadth of scale, like the spread dedicated to the Christmas Island red crabs, which form a “river of crabs” as they march to the sea. Others, like the humpback whale, are a more personal journey shared between a mother and her calf. Each spread provides a migration story, which reads like an I Survived novel: crossing rivers; digging through snow for food; flying for miles to reach their destination; marching across an icy landscape. Each spread also offers a quick animal fact. Back matter includes a migration map and notes on making the world safer for migrating animals.

Animals of all shapes and sizes make epic journeys across our planet, through harsh weather, avoiding hungry predators, in their efforts to survive. Travel around the globe with some of the world’s most incredible animals and discover their unique migration stories. A nice addition to your nonfiction collections, especially if your books on migration are spare.

Mike Unwin is a UK Travel Writer of the Year, and Jenni Desmond is a winner of the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book, The Polar Bear. Migration: Incredible Animal Journeys has a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly.

 

National Geographic Kids Student World Atlas (Fifth Edition), (July 2019, National Geographic Kids), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1426334795

Ages 8-12

This latest edition of this handy-dandy student reference has a wealth of facts, figures, and maps at your fingertips. There are over 100 maps, 70 incredible color photos, 50 charts and graphs with the latest data on climate change, the human footprint on our world, and most populous urban areas. Back matter includes an updated flags of the world section; a list of important websites on world resources, religions, languages, and quality of life; a glossary, thematic and place-name indexes, and more. If your budget allows for you to order two of these, do it: I like to keep one on hand at reference and put one into circulation. Along with the NatGeo Kids Almanac, you can’t go wrong with having these available for homework help.

 

1000 Facts About Ancient Egypt, by Nancy Honovich (February 2019, National Geographic Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1426332739

Ages 8-12

The 1000 Facts series from NatGeo Kids is almost as popular as the digest-sized Weird/Gross/Silly Facts books in my library. These are the books that prove that kids LOVE nonfiction! There are fast, bite-sized facts all about Ancient Egypt in this book: facts about the Egyptian gods and goddesses; facts about the Nile River; about making mummies and about the most famous mummy of them all, Tutankhamun; facts about inventions and temples; facts about hieroglyphics. There’s so much here, presented in compulsively readable, memorable chunks and illustrated with photos of artifacts. Back matter includes a glossary, a look at a tomb excavation, a timeline of Ancient Egyptian civilization, an index, and further resources. Have history fans? Is Ancient Egypt on the schools’ report list this year? Get this book on your shelf.

 

Walk This Underground World, by Kate Baker/Illustrated by Sam Brewster, (Oct. 2019, Big Picture Press), $19.95, ISBN: 978-1536208566

Ages 5-8

Lift the Flap fun! Readers can wander through underground worlds, from Montreal’s famous underground city to the ancient, underground tombs of Ancient Egypt. Wander the hidden natural world and see prairie dog dens, ant cities, and naked mole rat burrows. See Australian fortune hunters and Poland’s salt-rock mines; the bustling London Underground and the sleek underground train stations in Tokyo. There are 12 spreads with over 80 flaps to discover, making this a great gift book for the kiddos in your life. Definitely not going to last in circulation, but you could score a few copies for a program on underground ecosystems or travel.

That’s all for now – I have to get this copy of Walk This World back into my son’s room before he notices it’s gone!

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

Blog Tour: The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner

I’m excited to be a stop on The Okay Witch blog tour! I picked up a copy of this graphic novel at BookExpo this year, and loved it. Now, without further ado…

Magic is harder than it looks.

Thirteen-year-old Moth Hush loves all things witchy. But she’s about to discover that witches aren’t just the stuff of movies, books, and spooky stories. When some eighth-grade bullies try to ruin her Halloween, something really strange happens. It turns out that Founder’s Bluff, Massachusetts, has a centuries-old history of witch drama. And, surprise: Moth’s family is at the center of it all!

When Moth’s new powers show up, things get totally out-of-control. She meets a talking cat, falls into an enchanted diary, and unlocks a hidden witch world. With that revelation, Moth’s adventure truly begins – an adventure that spans centuries, generations, and even worlds – as she unravels the legacy at the heart of her life. (from the publisher)

Where to start gushing about The Okay Witch?

The story stars a heroine of color, and the main storyline addresses it from the beginning: Founder’s Bluff’s leader wanted, as Moth’s mother, Calendula states, “a town of sober, obedient, lily-white Pilgrims”. Women – especially women of color – who had any kind of independent spirit? Women of color? That didn’t fit into Judge Kramer’s mold, and it didn’t fit into colonial America’s mold, so they were hunted until Moth’s grandmother and her coven tore the fabric between worlds to create a safe space of their own: Hecate. Moth is a child of color in a mostly white town, where she’s bullied by young white men, one of whom happen to be a descendant of one of the founding families, who even asks Moth where “she’s FROM from”. Moth is a teen coming into her own power and struggling with the decision to embrace it or suppress it to “be normal” as her mother, who eschews magic and witchcraft, begs her to. When Sarah, Moth’s grandmother, shows up to see her granddaughter, there’s a power struggle on either side of Moth that represents her internal struggle.

We also get a sassy talking cat, Moth and Calendula’s friend reincarnated; who also happens to have the sweetest backstory (and gives the story an LGBTQ nudge, further establishing Moth and her family as awesome socially aware folks). Using witchcraft and witch hunts to address prejudice and racism, The Okay Witch makes history and current events equally relevant – and sadly, we see that not much has changed.

The Okay Witch is a fantastic coming-of-age story with characters you’ll love and return to long after you’ve finished the book. Give this to your Roller Girl readers, your BabyMouse readers that are ready to take on more challenging material, and your Raina Telgemeier readers.

The Okay Witch, by Emma Steinkellner, (Sept. 2019, Aladdin)
$12.99, ISBN: 978-1-5344-3146-1
Ages 8-12

 

About the Author

Emma Steinkellner is an illustrator, writer, and cartoonist living in Los Angeles, California. She is a graduate of Stanford University and the illustrator of the Eisner-nominated comic Quince. The Okay Witch is her debut graphic novel as an author. You can visit her webpage to see more of her illustration work.

Posted in Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine is the YA you need to read this Fall

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine, by Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite, (Sept. 2019, Harlequin TEEN), $18.99, ISBN: 9781335777096

Ages 13+

Alaine is a smart, witty, outspoken 17-year-old Haitian-American teen living in Miami with her father. Her mother, a high-profile cable news journalist, has an on-air meltdown that puts Alaine in the crosshairs of the mean girls at school; she retaliates with a school project that goes sideways. Her psychiatrist father intervenes and comes up with an appropriate “punishment” for Alaine: she must spend two months volunteering with her Tati Estelle’s startup fundraising app in Haiti. Alaine’s mother is already there, spending time pulling herself together after events leading up to the on-air breakdown. As Alaine spends more time in Haiti, the burgeoning journalism student discovers her love for Haiti and its history, and stumbles onto family secrets and a situation with her aunt’s organization that’s sending up red flags.

Told through e-mails, postcards, journal entries, and in Alaine’s voice, Dear Haiti, Love Alaine is an unputdownable look at Haiti, its history, and its people, all wreathed in magical realism tied into the heart of the country. Alaine’s voice is strong and clear; she’s dealing with a seemingly nonstop onslaught of feelings and stressors and works through them all as they come. She desperately wants to improve the relationship between herself and her high-powered, emotionally distant mother, but sometimes, she isn’t even sure where to begin. She’s as confused by her aunt as she adores her. And does she dare explore a relationship with the fellow intern in her aunt’s Patron Pal startup? (Hint: Uh, YEAH.) There’s never a lull in the storytelling here, which will endear readers to Alaine and her family, and inspire an interest in learning more about Haiti’s rich, yet troubled, history.

If this is the debut for sisters Maika Moulike and Maritza Moulike, I can’t wait to see what’s next. Dear Haiti, Love Alaine has starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist. The book is out today – check out an excerpt on Bustle.com, and then hit your library or local bookstore to pick up a copy.

Posted in Fiction, Graphic Novels, Historical Fiction, Middle Grade, Teen, Tween Reads

Queen of the Sea: Re-imagined History

Queen of the Sea, by Dylan Meconis, (June 2019, Candlewick Press), $24.99, ISBN: 9781536204988

Ages 10-14

Inspired by Queen Elizabeth’s exile when her sister Mary I ascended the throne, Queen of the Sea begins with the banishment of Queen Eleanor, a young monarch of an embattled kingdom, to an island where nuns live, pray, garden, and sew. Margaret is a young girl who has spent her entire life on the island in the care of the nuns and finds herself drawn to Eleanor. Margaret learns about the island and the reasons behind her presence there, and quietly begins planning with Eleanor and a mysterious man who washes up on the island one stormy night.

Queen of the Sea is gorgeously created historical fiction with fully realized characters and a solidly constructed plot filled with intrigue; revelations; world-building, even light romance. Dylan Meconis’ pen, ink, and gouache artwork will appeal to Raina Telgemeier and Victoria Jamieson fans; the characters are softly realistic with period costuming and soothing earth and sea colors. I particularly love the back-and-forth between present moment storytelling and Margaret’s narration of history and myth, rendered to appear as stone or stained glass. The character growth is a joy to witness: Eleanor, from a taciturn exile to an embattled young woman embracing her feelings, and Margaret, a naïve child to a young woman coming into herself and her own intelligence make this a wonderful read. An author’s note discusses Elizabeth I’s inspiration of Eleanor. Graphic novel gold.

Queen of the Sea has starred reviews from Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and School Library Journal. You can read an excerpt at Candlewick’s website.

Posted in Non-Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

Three great books about space!

The Summer Reading theme for this year is all about Space, and I am psyched. I love outer space, and I’ve got a growing list of books to add to my own readers advisory lists (I’ll put that together in the next week or two for a post). Meanwhile, Sourcebooks and Barefoot Books have three great books about space that are staggered throughout the year, and perfect for your space-faring STEM fans. Let’s check them out, shall we?

 

Moon’s First Friends: One Giant Leap for Friendship, by Susanna Leonard Hill/Illustrated by Elisa Paganelli, (June 2019, Sourcebooks Wonderland), $17.99, ISBN: 9781492656807

Ages 4-8

The Moon was so lonely, up in the night sky by herself. When she sees life developing on Earth, she patiently waits for someone to notice and visit her. It takes a while: the dinosaurs don’t notice; early people build pyramids and structures that just aren’t high enough. Eventually, though, she gets some visitors, and she is thrilled! She gives them presents of rocks and dust to take back to Earth, and they give her a beautiful flag and a plaque. Now, Moon is in the sky, happy and waiting for more visitors. Will you be her next guest?

This is the sweetest story I’ve read yet on the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon. The Moon is illustrated as a softly shining, opalescent sphere with kind eyes, rosy cheeks, and a sweet smile; readers are treated to a quick history of Earth’s development as the Moon quietly observes, waiting for a friend to reach out – or up – and say hello. She even dances around the planet, showing off her phases! The actual Apollo mission takes up a brief part of the story, making this sweet book about a lonely satellite who just wants a friend an adorable storytime read for younger kids, and a fun book with solid facts for school-age kids. There’s a brief bibliography on the verso page, and back matter includes several pages dedicated to Mission Moon, the Apollo 11 voyage; moon facts, and moon phases, along with a running timeline of Earth’s formation and development. Endpapers are starry nights, where kids can imagine sailing through the stars to visit their favorite moon. Readers can also scan a QR code to hear Neil Armstrong’s historic first words from the 1969 moon landing. Gentle storytelling and adorable illustration make this a great Summer Reading addition! Display and booktalk with Stacey McAnulty’s Moon, Earth, and Sun trilogy.

 

There Was a Black Hole That Swallowed the Universe, by Chris Ferrie/Illustrated by Susan Batori, (Sept. 2019, Sourcebooks Explore), $17.99, ISBN: 9781492680772

Ages 3-8

You know if Chris Ferrie is writing a book, I’m reading it. This STEM-errific take on There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly is about a giant black hole that swallows… well, everything. He starts with a universe… it couldn’t get worse! But oh, it does: the black hole swallows planets, stars, galaxies, and atoms, molecules, and quarks along with it. Yikes!

I read this to my first grader this morning and he immediately smiled and said, “This is like The Old Lady story!”, so kids familiar with the classic tale (and all of its spin-offs) will immediately jump in and know what’s coming; how the story will progress. With each chomping, the black hole gets bigger, and the planets and heavenly bodies look hilariously terrified as they try to get away from its maw. The storytelling is fun and loaded with humor; it’s cumulative and rhyming storytelling at its scientific funniest. The illustrations are goofy, with exaggerated facial expressions that make the storytelling more dramatic and humorous as you go. Bone up on your keyword knowledge for kids who will ask during the story (neutrons, atoms, quarks, oh my!). Scientific terms are highlighted in bold yellow, and capitalized to stand out and give your readers a nice working STEM vocabulary. Shine a blacklight on the pages from back to front, and you’ll reveal a super-cool, hidden history of the universe’s creation!

Absolute fun and a must-get for your storytime collections. Be a rock star at Science Storytime! Pair this with The Universe Ate My Homework by David Zelster for more black hole-related fun.

 

Barefoot Books Solar System, by Anne Jankéliowitch/Illustrated by Annabelle Buxton, Translated by Lisa Rosinsky, $19.99, ISBN: 9781782858232

Ages 8-12

Riding high on the post-Summer Reading wave, middle grade kids can go back school and check out Barefoot Books Solar System, a glow-in-the-dark, interactive guide to our Milky Way, complete with lift the flap booklets, a pull-out map, and beautiful artwork. Originally published in French, the book has been reviewed, edited, and updated by Dr. Carie Cardamone, professor of STEM education and Boston Museum of Science teacher and educator. The text is written with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor while delivering solid nonfiction goods to middle graders. The book covers each planet, with nicknames like :Saturn: The Space Diva”, and “Uranus and Neptune: The Icy Sisters”; the asteroid belt; differences between solid and gas planets; measuring the universe, and famous outer space voyages. The artwork is bright and bold, seeming to explode off the black pages to grab the reader’s attention.

In keeping with Barefoot’s mission of diversity and inclusivity, there is information about space exploration from around the world, making this a truly global effort. Back matter includes a comprehensive glossary of scientific terms and a note on the units of measurement used in the book. Don’t pass this one up; your 520s will shine a little brighter with Barefoot Books Solar System on your shelf.

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

New York City gets a park: A Green Place to Be

A Green Place to Be: The Creation of Central Park, by Ashley Benham Yazdani, (March 2019, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9780763696955

Ages 7-10

This beautiful and lushly illustrated history of Central Park starts with the land’s beginnings, as a barren area where farm animals and industrial waste left much to be desired, and the design contest devised by architect Calvert Vaux – a contest that he also entered with every intention of winning. A Green Place to Be follows Vaux’s and park superintendent Frederick Law Olmsted’s vision, focusing on their planning, execution, and invitation to artists to join in the effort. The winter of 1858 saw the first park of the park, the Lake, open for visitors; in the summer of 1859, the woodsy Ramble joined the landscape, followed by the Children’s District.

Illustrated in watercolor and pencil, this is a loving tribute to an iconic green space and the men and women who created it. Back matter includes profiles of both Olmstead and Vaux, and a Q&A on spaces within the park. Sharp-eyed readers will love returning to the illustrations again and again to find squirrels, bridges, and other affectionately placed details. There is an author’s note and bibliography for further reading.

A Green Place to Be is a love letter to New York’s green spaces and creativity. Central Park’s website has extensive information about the park, including a calendar of events and links to social media. Planetizen has a good article on teaching urban planning to preschoolers; this could be a fun activity where kids can learn and create their own green spaces! National Geographic has a fun Design a Park activity for middle grade kids, and the STAR Library Network has a printable Design a Park activity that will work with large groups of kids. It’s a fun springtime program!