Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Get the Ear Worm and shimmy!

Ear Worm!, by Jo Knowles/Illustrated by Galia Bernstein, (Jan. 2022, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536207835

Ages 2-6

A little worm has a song stuck in his head! Where did it come from? He asks an owl, a chipmunk, a rabbit, and a fox, but they’ve all got their own songs! As they dance and sing their way across the story, Little Worm hopes to find out who put that ear worm in his head!

Ear Worm is storytime GOLD. It’s got rhyme, fun animals, dancing, and an adorable conclusion. Digital illustrations are bold, expressive, and let the animals take center stage as they pop off a bright white page, with fun, oversized fonts inviting readers to jump up and dance to their own ear worms. Think of Sandra Boynton’s Barnyard Dance and Rebecca Emberley’s If You’re a Monster and You Know It when you’re putting your storytime together, and get up there and show the littles how it’s done! Publisher Candlewick has free teacher tips to get the maximum fun out of this story.

Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Humor, Middle Grade, Middle School, Puberty, Realistic Fiction, Tween Reads

Realistic Fiction that works: Still a Work in Progress

still-a-work-in-progressStill a Work in Progress, by Jo Knowles, (Aug. 2016, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9780763672171

Recommended for ages 9-13

Noah’s trying to make it through seventh grade: his friends are weirding out, girls are weird, and his home life… don’t ask. His older sister, Emma, has been acting strange again. Her increasingly difficult food demands are driving Noah crazy – he really doesn’t like seitan; he just wants a burger – and she’s doing things like wearing lots of bulky clothing layers, moving her food around the plate without actually taking a bite, and arguing with everyone. Just like she did when The Thing They Don’t Talk About began last time. Noah’s only solace these days seems to be in the art room, where he can express himself without stress.

Still a Work in Progress is one of those great middle grade books that tackles tough issues within the framework of every day life: meaning, there’s a lot of laughter, a lot of confusion, and some pain. Overall, the book, narrated by Noah, is hilarious. The dialogue between him and his friends sounds like things I’d overhear my kids talking and arguing about, and Jo Knowles really captures Noah’s inner dialogue beautifully: the mixture of anger and concern for his sister, in particular. Ms. Knowles gives readers a realistic novel that brings together school life, home life, friend life (any kid will tell you friends are a separate sphere), and the frustration of moving through these areas while in the pull of something much, much bigger than you. I also loved the real star of the book: a hairless cat named Curly, who lives at the school and hangs out with the kids (Curly’s on the cover of the book, so you know this is an important cat.)

Great middle grade novel for realistic fiction readers. There’s always a call for good, realistic fiction in my library, so this one will get a good booktalk. Check out Jo Knowles’ author website for a link to the book’s Pinterest page and downloadable discussion guide.

Want more? Here’s Jo Knowles talking about the inspiration behind Still a Work in Progress.