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Who Are You? encourages discussion

Who Are You?, by Smriti Halls/Illustrated by Ali Pye, (Aug. 2022, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684644704

Ages 3-6

A rhyming, inclusive story about families and diversity, Who Are You? is a story framed with questions that invite families to create a family chronicle: “Who’s in your family? / Who’s in your pack? / Who takes good care of you? / Who has your back?”. Asking questions about likes and dislikes, physical characteristics, immediate and extended family, and more, with further thought-provoking questions in each spread, Who Are You? is great for preschool and kindergarten classes and for family project reading. Colorful digital artwork illustrates an inclusive, diverse group of people, assuring that kids will see themselves and their families in this fun story.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

My Beautiful Voice celebrates self-expression

My Beautiful Voice, by Joseph Coelho/Illustrated by Allison Colpoys, (Aug. 2022, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684644698

Ages 4-7

A classroom assembles, ready to meet their new teacher, who “explodes into the class”. Miss Flotsam has traveled the world, wears colorful clothes, and loves poetry. She makes the classroom an exciting place to be, with her stories of bicycle rides and hurricanes and flights through storms, but when her class begins working on their own poetry, one child becomes anxious. Miss Flotsam comes to the rescue, calming her nerves and stopping bullies in their tracks with her “eyes that can turn summer into rain”. Encouraged and feeling supported, the child whispers her poem into the teacher’s ear and, eventually, finds her voice and is able to share it with her class. Coelho spins a story in verse that illustrates the exhilarating gift an educator can be in this story. Miss Flotsam is a force in the classroom, encouraging equity and sharing her spark. Miss Flotsam is brown-skinned and dark-haired; the shy child who serves as narrator is brown-skinned with brown hair, and the class is a diverse group of children. Miss Flotsam brings life to the story’s pages, with butterflies, birds, and magic around her. A good back-to-school choice.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Otters vs Badgers: Yummy food is the great equalizer

Otters vs. Badgers, by Anya Glazer, (Aug. 2022, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 9781684644117

Ages 4-7

Otters and badgers live on either side of a shared river, but they do NOT get along until Francie, a shy otter who loves to bake delicious treats, accidentally ends up in badger territory on a quest to find new ingredients. The resulting kerfuffle can only be resolved with Francie’s delicious baked goods! Glazer spins an amusing tale of sharing and finding common ground that readers will appreciate. Cartoon animals communicate outside of the omniscient narrator through speech bubbles, making for a fun readaloud. Anthropomorphic characters sport scarves and bowties, carry babies in slings, and wear hats. Francie has a wooden spoon tucked behind one ear and rocks a striped apron. Endpapers are striped to match Francie’s apron. The fun resolution shows readers that you don’t have to agree on every single thing to get along. A good book to read as kids head back to the classroom, or enter classrooms for the first time.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Humor, Intermediate, Middle Grade

New intermediate series: Leo’s Map of Monsters

Leo’s Map of Monsters: The Armored Goretusk, by Kris Humphrey/Illustrated by Pete Williamson, (Aug. 2022, Kane Miller), $5.99, ISBN: 9781684644858

Ages 7-11

Set in a fantasy world where kids receive apprentice Assignments at the age of 9, Leo wakes up on the morning of his ninth birthday and discovers that he’s been given a Top Secret Assignment! The Village Chief appears and whisks Leo off to the curmudgeonly Guardian, who keeps everyone safe from the monsters that lurk in the forest outside the village walls. He hands Leo a map, some magical stones, and a slingshot, and sends him off on his first mission: to draw the Armored Goretusk away from the village. Black and white fantasy artwork with an Edward Gorey-bent features on almost every page; antiquing elements give the appearance of reading an ancient tome. The adventure is light and fun, with a buddy-cop partnership between Leo and Starla, one of the forest residents; the promise of more fantastic beasts to come will keep readers coming back. A map lets readers follow Leo’s adventures; back matter includes stats and descriptions of the creatures he encounters in this first book and a look at the different stones he uses. This one is a fun fantasy series to add to your chapter book/intermediate shelves.

Originally published in the U.K. in 2020, The Armored Goretusk is the first in the Leo’s Map of Monsters series. All four books are available in the States and fantasy fans will want them all, posthaste!

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More Wrong Fairy Tales from Kane Miller!

Hi all, thanks for hanging in while I went on vacation! It was a much-needed break, and I’m back, better rested, and ready to go with more great books and missives from LibraryLand. Let’s start with the newest in The Wrong Fairy Tale series from Tracey Turner and Summer Macon.

Cinderella and the Seven Dwarfs, by Tracey Turner/Illustrated by Summer Macon, (Aug. 2022, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684643790

Ages 3-7

This fractured fairy mashup is a meetup between the Seven Dwarfs, heading home from a day’s work in the gold mine, and Cinderella, who’s in a bad mood because her sisters are off to a fancy ball at the palace and left her home to do all their chores. The Dwarfs hear a commotion on the way home, and discover Cinderella, who invites them in and tells them her tale of woe. Outraged at the unfairness of it all, the new friends set to work making Cinderella a dress of her own; she borrows a pair of comfy dwarf boots to dance the night away. A fun twist ending brings even more laughs. Cartoon artwork and speech balloons draw attention and allow for fun voice change-ups during a readaloud. A fun addition to your fairy tale collections.

Red Riding Hood and the Three Billy Goats Gruff, by Tracey Turner/Illustrated by Summer Macon, (Aug. 2022, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684643110

Ages 3-7

The Three Billy Goats Gruff are finally free of that grumpy old troll when they catch a scent of something delicious… it’s Red Riding Hood’s basket, loaded up with yummy treats! The only problem? She’s being pursued by the Big Bad Wolf. Wait, what’s going on? Three Billy Goats and a troll… and a little girl in a red cloak visiting her grandmother… THEY’RE IN THE WRONG FAIRY TALE! No matter, though, these new friends head to Grandma’s house to have lunch together, with no idea that someone has already beaten them there. Who’s going to save the day, and who’s going to get butted by a billy goat this time? It’s a hilarious mash-up of two favorite fairy tales with hallmarks of this fun series, like the moment of realization, the exclamation that the characters are in the “WRONG FAIRY TALE”!, and the cheerful resolution. Expressive cartoon artwork and speech balloons let readers envision – or act out – a multitude of voices and characters. Endpapers feature hoof prints. A fun addition to storytime collections.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Good advice for daily living: Don’t Forget

Don’t Forget, by Jane Godwin/Illustrated by Anna Walker, (Aug. 2022, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 9781684644360

Ages 3-7

A diverse group of children move through the day together as the overall narrative gently reminds readers of important things, both practical and esoteric, to remember in order to live a happy, fulfilling life: “Don’t forget to make your bed, / and wear socks that fit your feet”; “Don’t forget to try new things, / to smell the flowers, / watch the ocean, / and listen to the music / of the trees”. The story is a reminder of the important things in life: taking time to play; to be mindful; to reflect. Soft watercolors add to this gently profound meditation on living a meaningful life. Soothing endpapers show a nature scene. Don’t Forget will soothe readers with its upbeat look at the day-to-day. A nice additional purchase for storytime collections.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Need a way to Find Your Happy?

Find Your Happy, by Emily Coxhead, (June 2022, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 9781684644490

Ages 3-6

A sloth offers ways to “find your happy” whenever he’s feeling sad, angry, or scared. He takes deep breaths, he thinks of positive things, like friends and family who love and support him, or imagines himself as a brave superhero, and encourages readers to remember that, while “somedays are incredible, other are just OK, and some feel really bad”, there’s always a way to find your happy. Bright colors and expressive animals make this an eye-catching story about emotions, feelings, and positivity. Written by Emily Coxhead, creator of The Happy News – a newsletter that’s all about good newsFind Your Happy is a cheerfully positive readaloud that will work well with storytimes and with social-emotional collections that focus on working through tough emotions. Find more of Emily Coxhead’s uplifting illustrations at her website.

Want to have a sloth storytime? Add books from the Lento & Fox series by Ben Sanders, Eric Carle’s classic, Slowly, Slowly, Slowly, Said the Sloth, or Sloth at the Zoom by Helaine Becker and Orbie. There is a great list of books with sloth main characters at Bookroo. Don’t forget to print out some sloth coloring sheets for your storytime!

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The Smile: “Every smile starts a wonderful journey”

The Smile, by Marie Voigt, (Aug. 2022, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 9781684644131

Ages 3-6

Marie Voigt explores the power of a smile in this kind story. Easy-to-read, simple sentences build this “pay-it-forward” story, beginning with a baby’s smile. That smile, directed at another child,¬†brings with it a glittery shower that illuminates everything in its path. The child cheers a lonely woman, as the child hands her a chunk of bread to feed the ducks; she goes on to pick up a beloved toy, dropped by a girl in a wheelchair. A smile cheers and inspires each person to do something kind for another; near or far, a smile sends love. A good deed from a local school puts smiles on the faces of others, worldwide, inspiring even larger good deeds. The story asks readers where their smiles will go, inviting children to start their own kindness chains. Endpapers feature glittery smile paths across a purple background. Great for social-emotional collections, great for storytimes.

The Smile was originally published in the UK earlier this year.

 

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Middle School Twofer: Lightning Girl by Alesha Dixon

As I continue scaling Mount TBR, I’ve got a fun middle grade two-fer today: the first two books in the Lightning Girl series by British singer, dancer, and Britain’s Got Talent judge Alesha Dixon.

Lightning Girl, by Alesha Dixon & Katy Birchall/Illustrated by James Lancett (June 2020, Kane Miller), $6.99, ISBN: 9781684640782

Ages 8-12

Life isn’t always a breeze for 10-year-old Aurora Beam, a biracial British girl living in a UK suburb, but when she discovers that her hands light up, and that her mom is a secret superhero, things get even wilder! Aurora is descended from a long line of female superheroes, and her mom is delighted to start putting her through training exercises. But how can she keep this a secret from her best friend? And how can she navigate her parents’ separation, school life, and her morally ambiguous auntie while learning about her superpowers? Lightning Girl is absolute fun, using superpowers to communicate all the frustrations of being a tween: Aurora is coping with body changes, weird friendship dynamics, school drama, siblings, and parental ups and downs. The dialogue and action move quickly, and the characters are funny and relatable. Black and white illustrations throughout add to the fun. A great entry into a fun middle grade series.

 

Lightning Girl: Superhero Squad, by Alesha Dixon & Katy Birchall/Illustrated by James Lancett (Sept. 2020, Kane Miller), $6.99, ISBN: 9781684640799

Ages 8-12

Aurora, aka Lightning Girl, is back and so are her friends, The Bright Sparks! After the events of the first Lightning Girl adventure, Aurora is in high demand: she’s got appearances booked right and left, leaving her almost no time for herself – and the paparazzi is always there to capture her worst moments! Aurora and her family head off to a superhero convention, where she hopes to get away from it all for a little bit, but a crime is committed and all fingers seem to be pointing at her! Can Aurora and the Bright Sparks clear her name, and can she finally get away from the glare of the spotlight? Superhero Squad is Aurora’s second adventure, and takes on the havoc social media can wreak on a person’s reputation and psyche. You don’t need to be a superhero to be bullied on social media; Aurora trying to turn the tide of public opinion is a great discussion point for booktalking and book groups. Themes of friendship and family run strong in this story. Back matter includes stats on the newest members of the Bright Sparks. With a diverse cast and great storytelling, this is a great series to add to your shelves.

There are a total of five Lightning Girl books available.

Posted in Uncategorized

Books for Pet Lovers

It’s another roundup! This time, I’ve got books for pet lovers: large, small, stinky, all here!

 

Not That Pet!, by Smriti Prasadam-Halls/Illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw, (Feb. 2022, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536217766

Ages 2-5

Mabel is so excited: her family is letting her choose the family pet! Her first choice is a bit unorthodox – it’s an elephant – but hey, the elephant keeps the plants watered and pulls weeds, right? When the elephant seems to be a bit too big, the family asks her to make another choice. And another. And another. Mabel’s penchant for choosing unusual pets is upending her family in the most hilarious of ways: ants crawl into her dad’s pants, a snake gets a little too huggy, and skunk… well, you can guess what the skunk does. Can Mabel find a pet that’s going to fit in with her whole family? The hijinks are hilarious and Rosalind Beardshaw’s colorful, cartoony illustrations bring this family to big, colorful life as they try to acclimate to each new pet. The multi-generational, biracial family – Mabel’s mom is South Asian, her dad is white, and mom’s parents live with the family, as shown in a house cross-section. The story bounces humorously along, words in caps for emphasis; this will make a spectacular read-aloud. Mabel and her little brother have a sweet relationship, as he follows her through the book, engaging with each new pet she brings home. A good add to storytime collections.

 

 

Hat Cat, by Troy Wilson/Illustrated by Eve Coy, (Feb. 2022, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536213669

Ages 4-8

An elderly man visits the park to feed squirrels every day, and one day discovers that a kitten has taken up residence in his hat! He takes the kitten home, naming it Hat, and lavishes Hat with love and affection. He won’t let Hat outside to roam, though; he is afraid Hat won’t come back, and he’s afraid for the squirrels. But one day, the man doesn’t come home. A few days later, a woman and child arrive to take care of Hat, and an open door gives Hat the chance he’s waited for: he heads outside, but he doesn’t chase the squirrels and he doesn’t run away. He finds the Man’s hat, left on the bench, and he curls up to sleep in it. And when the Man finally comes back home, he, his caregivers, and Hat all sit together, outside, enjoying the day. Hat Cat is a moving story of friendship and companionship. Pencil and watercolor illustrations give a soft, gentle feel to the story, with the Man and Hat in their cozy book- and plant-filled home. When Hat realizes the Man is gone, the loneliness communicated is just heartbreaking: tiny Hat, standing against a door, the sun shining in, feels so big and empty, and the reunion between Hat and Man bring a warmth and coziness back to the story. The old man presents as white; the caregiver and her daughter are brown-skinned. Details like family photos on the wall give the old man a life beyond the confines of the book. A gorgeous book that evokes emotion.

 

Big Dog, Little Dog, by Sally Rippin/Illustrated by Lucinda Gifford, (March 2022, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684643837

Ages 3-6

A big dog learns about friendship in this adorable story, originally published in the UK in 2021. Big Dog has a good life with his male human, even if it feels a little lonely, from time to time. But things change when Big Dog’s human meets a lady, who has a Little Dog. The two humans move in together, and Big Dog is not thrilled about sharing his home with Little Dog, who interprets things like “Sit”, “Up”, and “Come” very differently. Big Dog has had the run of the house, and now Little Dog – who’s better behaved – seems to be stealing his thunder. Big Dog goes on a campaign of chaos to try framing Little Dog, but when he goes too far, he’s put out for the night; Little Dog refuses to go to sleep without Big Dog, and raises a ruckus indoors until the two are reunited, leading to a friendship between the former rivals. Little Dog calms some of Big Dog’s rebellious nature, and Big Dog teaches Little Dog that it’s okay to take a mud bath every now and then. Big Dog’s owner presents as white, Little Dog’s owner is brown-skinned. Endpapers show Big Dog running across a park in the opening spread, and being joined by Little Dog in the closing. The dogs are expressive from their faces to their active tails, and the illustrations show the amusing difference between Big Dog’s and Little Dog’s interpretations of commands like “UP!” (he lies on the couch; Little Dog jumps into his human’s arms) and “Walkies!” (he takes off, dragging his human being him; Little Dog walks alongside his human). Great for dog fans and kids with new siblings, Big Dog Little Dog shows kids that even the roughest of beginnings can lead to a sweet ending. Adorable for storytime reading.

 

 

We Love You, Magoo, by Briony Stewart, (March 2022, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 9781684643646

Ages 2-6

A lovable cartoon pup has his own ideas about what a dog should do in this giggle-worthy rhyming look at a dog’s life. Alternating spreads show Magoo contemplating what he thinks he should be doing – chowing down on bacon and eggs at the breakfast table, taking the car wheel, chewing a bunch of toys – and what he should be doing, like eating kibble from his bowl, sitting in his dog house, or playing with a tennis ball. Spreads fall into a question and answer format, making it easy for kids to chime in with the repetitive answer, “No, Magoo. This is for you”. Magoo’s facial expressions and body language are adorably played for laughs, and the sweet ending will melt hearts. The bold, bright artwork and big, black fonts make this an excellent readaloud choice that will get little ones gleefully taking part in your storytime. Originally published in Australia in 2020, We Love You, Magoo is new to U.S. shores and has a companion book, Where Are You, Magoo? that I hope makes its way here.

Author-illustrator Briony Stewart’s webpage has more information about her books, including the Magoo books.