Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Luna Loves Dance… You should, too!

Luna Loves Dance, by Joseph Coelho/Illustrated by Fiona Lumbers, (Sept. 2021, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-68464-273-1

Ages 4-7

Luna is a little girl who loves to dance, but loses faith in herself when she stumbles at a dance tryout. Convinced she’s not “really” a dancer, Luna’s family works to show her that it’s the love of dancing that makes you a dancer at heart, not perfection. Facing fears, embracing joy, and knowing that you are good enough are beautifully conveyed. Luna is an adorable little girl of color with a white mom and a dad of color; we meet her grandparents, also people of color, who love to dance the Charleston, Crazy Legs, and Heels and play old jazz records when they dance with Lulu. There is colorful, joyful artwork throughout, including a vibrant Carnival street scene that opens into a gatefold spread. Endpapers show Lulu and a variety of diverse children putting on their dancing shoes and dancing in different styles: a girl in hijab spots roller skates; a white boy in ’70s bell bottoms and a patterned shirt strikes a Travolta-esque disco pose; a boy of color goes on pointe in ballet shoes. Embrace joy and read this one to your little ones.

Originally published in Great Britain earlier this year, this is the third Lulu adventure, all available in the U.S. from Kane Miller. They are also available in Spanish, which means I’ll be loading up another cart for my library kids!

Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction

Intermediate Nonfiction to love!

I’ve got some great middle grade nonfiction here, if you’re shopping for your back-to-school carts. My library kids tend to be nonfiction readers, so I’m always looking for fun, interesting books for them, and I think these will fit the bill nicely. Take a look, see what appeals to you!

What a Wonderful Phrase: A collection of amazing idioms from around the world, by Nicola Edwards & Many Montoya, (Sept. 2021, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 9781684642991

Ages 7-10

This collection of phrases and idioms from all over the world is a great little resource. Kids will easily recognize some phrases, like “buttering a person up”, and “raining cats and dogs”, but will they know where “seeing a peacock dance in the jungle” comes from? How about “peeing in your shoes will only keep you warm for a little while”? The origins of these phrases are interesting and amusing, and this little collection contains explanations, a phrase in its native language and phonetic pronunciations, and colorful illustrations. There’s no cow on the ice here (Swedish for “no rush”), but consider this one for your quirky readers who enjoy playing with language. What a Wonderful Phrase is a companion to What a Wonderful Word (2018).

 

Is There Life on Your Nose? Meet the Microbes, by Christian Borstlap, (Sept. 2021, Prestel Junior), $17.95, ISBN: 9783791374970

Ages 6-10

This is going to be huge with my library kids. Microbes make up every part of our day-to-day life, and this book is all about those microbes and where they live: on your nose, in boiling water or the arid desert, even underground. Filled with fun facts and entertaining illustrations, Is There Life on Your Nose? is all about microbes: how they breed, how they contribute to our lives (we wouldn’t have pickles, cheese, or bread without them!), how they can generate clean energy, and even how they can make us sick, in the form of viruses. It’s a great introduction to a timely subject, explained with humor and smart facts that will help kids understand – especially now – those little, microscopic creatures we share our world with. Are you doing STEM activities again, either in-person or virtually? Pair a reading of this with some of these experiments from Go Science Girls – I’m thinking of the hand-washing one in particular for my kiddos!

 

The Weather Pop-Up Book, by Maike Biederstadt/Illustrated by Michael Prestel, (Sept. 2021, Prestel Junior), $25, ISBN: 9783791373935

Ages 7-10

Just because kids are getting older doesn’t mean they can’t appreciate a good pop-up book! This book on weather is a great way to communicate the power of weather and the devastating influence of climate change. Spreads on storms, rain, tornadoes, heat, and snow fold out into 3-D landscapes, with paragraphs on each weather phenomenon. The opening spread explains “why weather is the way it is”, and the final spread on climate change explains how it affects weather, and what we can expect as weather patterns are further affected. A good addition to your reference section – if you’re putting this into circulation, it may wear out pretty quickly, but it will be a popular choice.

 

Explore! America’s National Parks, by Krista Langlois/Illustrated by Hannah Bailey, (June 2021, Kane Miller), $18.99, ISBN: 9781684641932

Ages 7-12

Who’s up for a road trip? This voyage through America’s 61 National Parks will have readers ready to pack their backpacks and head out with this book as their guide. Beautifully illustrated, laid out by geographic region (West Coast, Alaska, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Central, East, and Tropics), and with a strong message of environmental respect and care, this is a treasure trove. United States maps highlight each region and its parks; a descriptive paragraph on states covered and activities to discover entices readers to turn the pages and dive in. Fact files give the statistics for each park, including size, state, founding date, and one fun fact; ranger tips help readers plan for a safe and exciting visit. Want to help scientists estimate how many bears live in Denali? Want to learn where the best place is to listen for the Mexican spotted owl? You’ll find all the answers in here. Armchair explorers and travelers, natural world fans, anyone who loves NatGeo books. Need a program idea? Take virtual tours through each of the parks using this book as your guide.

The Book of Labyrinths and Mazes, by Silke Vry/Illustrated by Finn Dean, (Sept. 2021, Prestel Junior), $19.95, ISBN: 9783791374741
Ages 7-10
Part activity book, part reference guide, this book on mazes and labyrinths will send puzzle fans over the moon. Organized into four sections: I Think I’m Going Crazy! explains the differences between a maze and a labyrinth, how detours can lead us to our goals, and mazes and labyrinths within our bodies and our lives; Winding Paths as Far as the Eye Can See spotlights famous labyrinths from history; To The Center, Please! looks at the journey to the center of a labyrinth – and how to get back out, and Strange Paths! leads readers to mazes all around the world. From Theseus and the Minotaur’s labyrinth of legend to the quiet contemplation of walking a labyrinth in n nature, beautifully illustrated spreads include mazes and activities for readers to complete and ideas to mull over. A guide to solving mazes will help readers before they wander into a maze (hey, Fall’s coming… corn mazes!). Back matter includes more information about famous labyrinths worldwide and a glossary. Great for reference collections. History fans and brain buster fans will devour this one.
Posted in Uncategorized

Burden or Friend in Need? Move That Mountain sees two sides to the story

Move That Mountain, by Kate & Jol Temple/Illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton, (Sept. 2021, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684642939

Ages 4-8

A companion “two sides to every story” adventure to 2019’s Room On Our Rock by Kate and Jol Temple and Terri Rose Baynton, Move That Mountain stars a group of puffins who react when a whale beaches on their island. Is the whale an immovable mountain menace that the puffins have to learn to live with? Or are the puffins motivated to mobilize and help a potential friend in need get back in the water? Read it one way to see how the story may appear on the surface, then read it back to front to see another story emerge. A story of teamwork, determination, and kindness, Move That Mountain encourages readers to look at situations from other points of view before arriving at conclusions. Excellent books to generate discussion, this book and Room On Our Rock are great additions to your storytime collections.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Play with Your Words! Stop That Poem!

Stop That Poem!, by Eric Ode/Illustrated Jieting Chen, (Sept. 2021, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 9781684642236

Ages 4-8

This colorful exploration of the moving nature of poetry is so much fun. A girl constructs a tower of words, creating a poem, which flies away, going on a series of adventures where the words will reassemble in the water, on a clothesline, and carried off by dogs, birds, and buses, with new experiences to read about each time. Three children chase the words, calling, “Stop that poem!”, but that’s the thing, about poems: words are free and flow like water, like air currents. It’s inspiring for younger readers, learning to put their thoughts together, and the colorful artwork and movement furthers the idea that words never stay in one place. The words of each poem appear on cards, allowing for fun programs where kids can assemble their own poems, either from words they write, or words you provide for them. I used to have large MegaBlocks with sight words glued to them that let kids create their own words during play, at my library; this could be a fun learning exercise for preschoolers! Stop That Poem! is a fun addition to your wordplay books.

Posted in picture books

“If only humans were as easy to understand!”: Leo and the Octopus

Leo and the Octopus, by Isabelle Marinov/Illustrated by Chris Nixon, (Sept. 2021, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684642779

Ages 4-8

“The world was too bright for Leo. And too loud.” Leo is a boy who feels like he’s on the wrong planet. Other kids don’t understand him; he doesn’t understand them. Stressed and lonely, everything changes the day he meets Maya, an octopus who looks like an alien! And Leo feels like an alien, so this should be great! Once he reads up on octopuses, he discovers how interesting they are, and decides that maybe Maya could be his first friend. The octopus and the boy form a friendly bond, which helps him understand a day when Maya is overwhelmed by all the attention she’s getting at her aquarium tank.

Author Isabelle Marinov was inspired to write Leo and the Octopus by her own son and turns in a sensitive and accurate portrayal of a child on the autism spectrum. The storytelling is gentle, respectful to both Leo and Maya and their growing friendship. The two characters develop a very sweet relationship that helps Leo grow: he recognizes when Maya is distressed and takes action to relieve her stress, and he learns to reach out and discover another friend in the course of the story. Soothing colors make this an easy read that all kids will love. Endpapers spotlight Maya and Leo interacting across the spread. A must-read, must-have to teach empathy and understanding to others as well as to provide kids on the spectrum with a child they recognize on the page.

Leo and the Octopus has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Middle Grade Animal Fiction: Say hello to your new best friends!

Animal fiction is always popular – that’s why there’s so much of it! – and I’ve been getting a bunch of animal adventures to read over the last few months. Great for book bundles, Summer Reading, or just keeping in mind for your animal fiction fans, here are two I’ve just finished:

 

Hotel Flamingo, by Alex Milway, (March 2021, Kane Miller), $5.99, ISBN: 9781684641260

Ages 7-10

Originally published in the UK in 2019, this is the first in an intermediate/middle grade series that’s just hitting US shores and it is hilarious. Anna is a young girl who recently inherits Hotel Flamingo, a once glamorous hotel that’s seen better days. Mr. Bear and Mr. Lemmy, the previous administration’s employees, have stayed on, trying to keep the lights on and the water running, and are happy to see Anna, hoping she’ll bring back the hotel to its former glory. As she mulls over how to compete with The Glitz Hotel, run by – oh yes, my friends – Ronald Ruffian, the demanding, boorish hotelier/businessman determined to keep his hold on Animal Boulevard’s clientele, Anna realizes a strength that the Flamingo has: they’ll treat all animals, even bugs, with dignity, respect, and as welcomed guests. With a cast of memorable and fabulous animal characters and situations, this first outing makes me want to check into the Hotel Flamingo again and again. The writing is wonderfully paced, engaging, and pink-and-black two color illustrations throughout make this a great bridge between intermediate chapter books and middle grade novels. A lovely story of teamwork, respect, and hard work paying off, kids will also love Anna, a human girl, being surrounded by new, anthropomorphic, animal friends. There are four books in total (so far?) in the Hotel Flamingo series; keep an eye out for the next ones.

Visit author Alex Milway’s website for a newsletter, free ebooks and excerpts, and his blog.

The Hotel Flamingo series works with the Tails and Tales Summer Reading theme and the Reading Takes You Everywhere theme! Ask your readers what kind of animals would run their hotel, and with what jobs, and cast an animal/human talent show. You’re bound to get some great responses. Print out a passport template (there are a bunch of good ones, for free, on TeachersPayTeachers.com) and either have kids create their own stamps or find some fun ones online. We’ve been stuck inside for a year – it’s time to (armchair) travel!

 

Dog Squad, by Chris Grabenstein, (May 2021, Random House Books for Young Readers), $16.99, ISBN: 9780593301739

Ages 8-12

Mr. Lemoncello’s Library author Chris Grabenstein hits gold again with Dog Squad – the beginning to what I hope is a new series. Fred is a nice dog who’s had a rough time of it in his just about two years of life. He had a home with Susan, who loved him and treated him so well… until she chose her stuck-up boyfriend over Fred. Then, he was adopted from the shelter by a lout named Tony, who wanted to turn him into a guard dog by “toughening him up”, which really meant abusing him and neglecting him. Fred’s only refuge was the show, Dog Squad, where Duke, Scruffy, and Nala, three heroic dogs, had exciting adventures every week! When Tony kicks Fred out and he ends up in a shelter, it’s good fortune that he’s adopted again: this time, by Jenny, the producer of Dog Squad, and her niece, Abby, who claims to be a dog psychic! Fred’s thrilled to meet his idol, but he’s crushed when Duke turns out to be pretty awful in real life. The tables turn when Duke’s injured and Fred, who resembles Duke, is asked to stand in for Duke on Dog Squad until he heals up, but Fred isn’t brave like he thinks Duke is. It’ll take some real-life adventure, including standing up to bullies. to help Fred understand that bravery takes all sorts of forms, but it’s something that starts inside you. A touching story about friendship, self-worth, and finding a forever home, Dog Squad was inspired by Chris Grabenstein’s dog, Fred: have tissues when you read his words about Fred at the end of the story. Black and white cartoon illustrations throughout will make readers wonder when this will become a movie (at least, that’s what I was thinking). Have kids who loved Paw Patrol but have aged up from Easy Readers and 8×8 media tie-ins? This is your new go-to book. The story even has Paw Patrol-esque catchphrases like, “Pawsome!”

More Summer Reading tie-ins: Tails and Tales, sure, but the Dog Squad team travels around the New York/tri-state area to shoot their show. Maybe consider mapping the areas mentioned in the story? If you’re using reading passports, put a Dog Squad stamp in there (or, you know, New York and Connecticut stamps) for your readers!

Visit Chris Grabenstein’s author page for a Dog Squad excerpt and video piece on the real Fred’s story (and Mr. Lemoncello stuff galore).

 

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Find the Extraordinary in all things

Extraordinary!, by Penny Harrison/Illustrated by Katie Wilson, (March 2021, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684641444

Ages 4-8

When you think of the extraordinary, you tend to think big. Extraordinary acknowledges this, with dreams of soaring eagles and space travel: “the extraordinary bellows, it trumpets and booms. / It towers above us it blazes and blooms”. But consider the everyday moments that bring a touch of the extraordinary into our lives: turn to nature for incredible moments that often go overlooked. Extraordinary celebrates these moments, encouraging families to seek out these moments, whether it’s discovering a bird’s nest or a bug on a leaf, enjoying a cool breeze, or watching birds soar. Extraordinary is about finding the magic in the everyday and embracing it. Taking place over generous spreads and separate panels, the rhyming verse leads readers through image after image of families and friends spending time outdoors, together. Illustrations appear like watercolor paintings, gently colorful. Endpapers show a colorful outdoor landscape and a more sepia-toned version of the same landscape. A gorgeous Spring story.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Barbara Throws a Wobbler… watch out!

Barbara Throws a Wobbler, by Nadia Shireen, (April 2021, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-68464-225-0

Ages 3-6

Barbara is not having a good day. First, there was a sock problem. Then, there was a strange pea at lunchtime. Things just keep going wrong for Barbara, and even her friends calling out to her isn’t helping. Barbara is nearing that last straw, which leads to a big… giant… WOBBLER! Wobbler is British slang for “tantrum”, something you’ll easily pick up in context, and it takes on a life of its own in this adorably fun and relatable story. The Wobbler is giant, gelatinous, and red, sitting atop Barbara’s head and eventually engulfing her until she can get a handle on it. Once she talks to her Wobbler and takes a deep breath, the Wobbler becomes more manageable, until it finally shrinks away – but not without letting her know it’ll be back one day! Kids and grownups alike will recognize toddler and preschooler triggers, from the “strange pea” at lunch, to the “hundred bad moods wrapped up in one” feeling that Barbara feels, right before the Wobbler takes over. A Very Useful Guide to Bad Moods at the end offers other moods to recognize, along with symptoms: The Sulk, The Tizzy, and The Seethe are just a few on the path to the Wobbler. Never making fun of Barbara or the frustration that leads to a tantrum, Barbara Throws a Wobbler takes an sensitive approach to identifying what sets a Wobbler off, and how to shrink it back down once it appears.

Originally published in the UK in 2020, Barbara Throws a Wobbler has just arrived on U.S. shores and has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Wrong Fairy Tale is a side-splitting new fractured fairy tales series!

Jack and the Three Bears (The Wrong Fairy Tale), by Tracey Turner/Illustrated by Summer Macon, (Jan. 2021, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-68464-161-1

Ages 4-7

Once upon a time, in the Land of Fairy Tales, three bears go out for a walk while they wait for their porridge to cool down. But there’s a giant beanstalk outside, and Baby Bear scampers up to explore! He discovers a castle, and a little boy named Jack, making off with a hen that lays golden eggs and is on the run from a mean giant… but WAIT! The Bears are in THE WRONG FAIRY TALE! Can Jack and the Bears elude the giant, keep the hen, and save themselves, or are they all destined to be Giant Food? Kids will love this new twisted take on two favorite fairy tales – invite them to point out what’s wrong when you start reading! The artwork is loaded with fun little details: the giant’s kitchen has a full shelf of cookbooks, and he’s got some cookies and muffins in the oven, which makes you wonder, when you consider what he normally uses for flour. It turns out, Mama Bear is pretty good with a chainsaw, too. A hoot to read with your fairy tale fans – if you have fans of Josh Funk’s “It’s Not…” series, they’ll love this new series.

 

Goldilocks and the Three Little Pigs (The Wrong Fairy Tale), by Tracey Turner/Illustrated by Summer Macon, (Jan. 2021, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-68464-160-4

Ages 4-7

So we just read about the three bears, but where was Goldilocks? Glad you asked! In this adventure, Goldilocks – a cute little blonde girl with wild ponytails and a bear sweater dress and leggings – spots a brick house with a sign out front that says, “Notice to Wolves: GO AWAY”. Well, not being a wolf, she decides to pop in and say hello, and that’s how she meets the Three Pigs, who are hiding in a cupboard from who they think is a wolf. As she digs into the porridge they have out on the table, the three pigs put their heads together and realize that Goldilocks is IN THE WRONG FAIRY TALE – just as the Big Bad Wolf shows up! Well, he can’t blow the brick house down, but he’s going to try and come down that chimney, so Goldilocks grabs some straw left over from one of the other pig’s homes, and uses it to start a fire in the fireplace. Day saved! Cartoony, colorful artwork and frenetically paced storytelling make this too much fun to read, and more fun to listen to. Fractured fairy tales fans will love this.

Goldilocks and the Three Little Pigs has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Never Show a T-Rex a Book! Or else…

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

Ages 3-7

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.