The Rock from the Sky, by Jon Klassen, (April 2021, Candlewick Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781536215625
Any time Jon Klassen releases a new book is cause for celebration. The Rock from the Sky, his newest, is an hilarious study in dialogue, sight jokes, and a little touch of science fiction. A behatted trio of animals – a turtle, an armadillo, and a snake – touch on that creeping feeling that something’s just not right; feeling like a third wheel, and imagining the future, all with the deadpan humor that makes books like his Hat Trilogy such storytime gold. Klassen’s digital and watercolor artwork sets a sepia-toned stage that works perfectly with the dry humor to create a darkly hilarious story atmosphere. Candlewick has an activity kit, teacher’s guide, and author notes available for free download. You can’t miss with Jon Klassen; The Rock From the Sky is an instabuy for me.
The Rock From the Sky has six starred reviews from School Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, The Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books, and The Horn Book.
Kitty Sweet Tooth, by Abby Denson/Illustrated by Utomaru, (Apr. 2021, First Second), $17.99, ISBN: 9781250196774
Kitty Sweet Tooth is a cat who loves candy and movies, so when her Pop-Pop gives her the chance to realize her dream of running a combination restaurant and movie house, she is thrilled! With the help of magical candy makers, she’s off and running. But playing with magic is never easy, so when the creations start taking on lives of their own, Kitty and her viewers all get a little more than they bargained for! Manic, adorable, and just plain fun, Kitty Sweet Tooth is perfect graphic novel reading for younger readers who love a good, silly story. The artwork is bright and jumps off the page, enchanting readers with magical food like crepes that grow into waving towers, rainbow chips that give the snacker their own case of the stripes, or blooming tea and scones that grow into a veritable garden inside the theatre! Luckily for Kitty, her customers love it all! This is the first in a new series of adventures for intermediate readers. Back matter lets readers create their own candy-making magic with an illustrated recipe for rock candy, including step-by-step instructions, ingredients, and a suggestion to seek grownup help.
Elvin Link, Please Report to the Principal’s Office!, by Drew Dernavich (July 2021, Square Fish), $7.99, ISBN: 9781250791702
Fifth grader Elvin Link is a doodler. He doodles on everything, everywhere, including his desk, which clearly looks cooler as a rocket ship… despite what the custodian and his teacher think. While he’s scrubbing down the desk, an incident involving a teacher’s glasses, an ill-fated ice cream cone, and a schoolyard collision lands him back in the principal’s office, this time, as a sketch artist. He’s so good at it that the principal brings him back in shortly after, to solve a school mystery! Meanwhile, the school bully, who specializes in wedgies, has his sights set on Elvin. Elvin has to navigate his twin sisters, one of whom has a crush on the bully, keep his best friend out of trouble, and cover his rear end: literally. For readers who loved Timmy Failure and, yes, that other illustrated diarist, Elvin Link: Please Report to the Principal’s Office is an insta-read. Award-winning New Yorker artist Drew Dernavich creates a likable, laugh-out loud funny character with Elvin and his best friends and family members are equally fun to spend time with. The book is laid out like a journal, with Elvin’s doodles and opinions throughout. He’s got the Wimpy Kid snark with a slightly more generous personality, and the black and white illustrations and added back matter will have your library kids asking when the next book is coming out. (Hey, Mr. Dernavich, when is that happening?)
Released in hardcover last July, Elvin Link is coming to paperback this July and is a good fit for your middle grade shelves.
Never Show a T-Rex a Book!, by Rashmi Sirdeshpande/Illustrated by Diane Ewen, (Jan. 2021, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-68464159-8
In this adorable nod to cumulative favorites like Laura Numeroff’s If You Give a… series, Never Show a T-Rex a Book! warns readers against letting their T-Rexes get hold of a book… because then they’ll want more, naturally! A little girl starts the story off, reading to her dinosaur toys, when her imagination takes her on a thrill ride: her T-Rex becomes real, and demands a trip to the library – and an all-night reading marathon that will result in a VERY clever dinosaur. Which could lead to the first dinosaur in government, the education of other dinosaurs, and a WORLD DINOSAUR TAKEOVER. Imagine? Giggle-worthy, with illustrations that show the power of books exploding all over the spreads, Never Show a T-Rex a Book! is all about imagination and embracing the fun of reading. We get frightened librarians and towering T-Rexes holding stacks of books (pshaw, I say; like we’ve never seen dinosaurs in the library before); dinos holding court in classrooms and in Parliament, and demanding luxuries like larger seats in the movie theatre! Get your dinosaur toys out and let them read along with you as you take your Kiddos on this cartoonish, wild, book-loving adventure.
Now That’s a Hat!, by Heath McKenzie, (Jan. 2021, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684642212
A customer strolls into a hat store and would like a new hat. But that one’s too big, and that one’s too small… the proprietor is showing off everything he’s got, will they be able to find the just right hat? Hilariously manic, with a rhyme scheme that gets progressively more frantic with each outrageous hat. The story is almost Seuss-like, with a dog and a goat going back and forth on presenting and refusing the wild headgear: stripes, Roman helmets, potties, tacos, nothing is too wild for this hat store! The twist ending will make readers gleefully giggle as they imagine events happening all over again. Artwork and endpapers are bright, bold, and feature hats of all shapes and sizes. A fun readaloud that should definitely lead to silly hat making. Get your construction paper out!
Wakey Birds: Will They Ever Sleep?, by Maddie Frost, (Jan. 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536215465
All the animals in the jungle are asleep… except for The Wakey Bird. Kids and grownups will recognize the Wakey Bird right away: “they can’t get comfortable, they’re easily spooked, they have lots of BIG thoughts”… they left out the part about wanting a glass of water and then having to go to the bathroom, but to each Wakey Bird their own. Soothing Shushers and Go-to-Sleep Leapers try to get the birds back to sleep, but the littlest Wakey Bird is still up and raring to go, and decides to wake the others up for company, including the Shrieking Monkey! What happens when Wakey wakes up… the Dreaded Jungle Beast? Adorably fun and so very relatable, this is a perfect bedtime story for your own Wakey Birds. Maddie Frost’s mixed media and digital collage artwork make for colorful animals set off against the midnight blues and blacks of the nighttime jungle. A new bedtime classic in the making. Fun grab-and-go idea: cut different shapes out of colorful construction paper, add some feathers and googly eyes, and let your Library Kiddos make their own Wakey Bird companion.
How adorable is this new cover for Elisha Cooper’s new book, Yes & No?
Yes & No, by Elisha Cooper, (April, 2021, Roaring Brook Press),
$18.99, ISBN: 9781250257338
Elisha Cooper is the critically acclaimed author/illustrator of many children’s books, including Caldecott Honor-winning BIG CAT, LITTLE CAT. This new story is a timeless tale of friendship, adjusting your perspective, and the joys (and trials) of siblinghood.
As a mother of three children, a dog, and a cat, I can tell you that sibling relationships cross species lines. Reading the sneak peek at Macmillan’s website, I realized it, and you will, too, with chuckles and grins. Visit the book’s page at Macmillan’s site for yourself – Elisha Cooper’s artwork is always a joy to see.
One Mean Ant with Fly and Flea, by Arthur Yorinks/Illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier, (Oct. 2020, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9780763683955
The rollicking, continuing adventures of the Mean Ant continues in this second book, which picks up shortly after the events of the first. The Ant and the Fly are prisoners in a spider’s web, so Ant’s day isn’t getting any better. But, wait! What’s that spot? It’s Flea! With Flea’s acrobatic prowess – he’s a flea circus escapee – the group manage to escape the web, but they’re not out of danger yet! This is the second book in a trilogy, and I rank this up there with Jon Klassen’s Hat Trilogy in terms of laugh-out-loud storytelling. The comedic timing here is spot on: this is a priceless readaloud. Ant is cantankerous, Fly just tries so hard, and Flea is frightened for his life! The wordplay is genius, and the expressive faces and body language enhances the dialogue. I can’t wait for the third installment. A great readaloud choice beyond the little ones, first and second graders will love this story – my third grader laughs out loud when we read it together.
See the Cat, by David LaRochelle/Illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka, (Sept. 2020, Candlewick Press), $8.99, ISBN: 9781536204278
The 2021 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award-winner, See the Cat, hilariously breaks the fourth wall, a la Elephant and Piggie, with three stories starring a dog who really just wants to take a nap. In the first story, an unseen narrator tells a story about a cat who rides a unicorn while wearing a green dress. It’s a study in concepts and colors and Max, a dog, insists on each spread that he is nothing of the sort, leading to a laugh-out-loud conclusion. The second and third stories see Max learn how to manipulate a story that’s not going his way; the first, when an angry snake shows up, and the final story, when the narrator keeps pushing Max to do something he just doesn’t want to do. Adorably funny back-and forth dialogue between the main character and the narrator, like Snappsy the Alligator or This is a Taco!, make this a great read-aloud between two readers; if you’re going it solo during storytime, let your dramatic flag fly and have fun with voices and facial expressions! Gouache illustrations are cheerful, and Max’s cartoony exasperation will have readers giggling wildly. A must-have.
See the Cat has starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Kirkus, and Booklist. Publisher Candlewick has free teacher tips (I love this offering) and a fun activity kit that I’ll be using as a grab-and-go book activity this week.
Robobaby, by David Wiesner, (Sept. 2020, Clarion Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9780544987319
Three-time Caldecott Medalist David Wiesner is back! Robobaby is the giggle-worthy story of the chaos a new baby brings to the family, set in a robot world. Baby Flange arrives at his family’s home; he’s got great packaging and he’s a big baby: 278 pounds! Big sister Cathode, nicknamed Cathy, is positively aglow at her brother, but no one is letting her help: until a series of hilarious catastrophes, that is! Remaining calm and relying on her tools and tech smarts, she manages to make sure updates are installed, instructions are followed, and brand new Robobaby is adorably – and correctly – assembled. Perfect for a STEM/STEAM storytime, this loving tribute to girls in science is also a great idea for Women’s History Month storytimes. The artwork is incandescent, with bright yellows and artistically placed shadows to provide depth and interest. Barely-controlled chaos reigns across the spreads, which you can play for laughs during a readaloud. Sparse text is relegated to word balloons from characters, further proving the David Wiesner doesn’t need words to tell a great story: he does all the talking with his artwork. Kids will recognize and enjoy the familiarity of new baby pandemonium: the relatives arriving en masse, everyone contributing opinions, and most importantly, kids being shuttled aside in the interest of letting the grownups talk. Having Cathode triumph over the adults to bond with her brother is such a lovely, respectful way to let kids know that we see them. Must-have for collections.
Robobaby has starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist.