Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads, Uncategorized

Board Books everywhere!

It’s time for another board books rundown! I’ve got a pile that begs to be shared and enjoyed. Let’s see what’s cooking.

My Big Birthday Party, by Jeffrey Turner, (May 2021, Schiffer Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764361050

Ages 0-3

Schiffer’s board book program has just taken off. They’ve been putting out consistently great concept books, working with great authors and illustrators, for a few years now and I get excited whenever a box shows up for me. Author Jeffrey Turner has been putting out a series of board books to explain concepts, starring a fluffy white poodle. My Big Birthday Party explains opposites, framing the words in the context of Poodle’s birthday party. Lights are off, then turned on to reveal friends of all shapes and sizes, holding gifts; we see the group from the front and back; piles of gifts are closed, then opened; we see a page loaded with colorful balloons, illustrating “more”; when Poodle’s friend Porcupine enters the page, we see a burst balloon, and “less”. Colorful, bright digital artwork holds exciting reveals on each page, and a note about the science of magnets – a branch concerned with opposites! – closes out the book. It’s a great way to communicate the concept to newly budding STEM/STEAM learners. Schiffer Kids’s Resource Hub has free, downloadable coloring sheets, too!

 

Smile, Baby! (Beginning Baby), (June 2021, Chronicle Books), $8.99, ISBN: 9781452170923

Ages 0-3

Chronicle has a new board book series debuting, and it is adorable. Beginning Baby addresses developmental milestones, teaches motor control and self-identification, and is loaded with friendly characters and bright colors. A series of questions about finding baby’s smile, nose, ears, eyes, cheeks, and mouth take readers through each page, with a die-cut revealing a mirror for baby to see themselves in at all times. Each question comes with an activity for baby and caregiver: blow a kiss, pat baby’s cheeks, find baby’s ears and nose. Perfect for lapsit reading, this is a great way to bond with baby: let baby see you reading in the mirror with them, and let them learn the parts of their face with colorful words paired with loving gestures as you tickle baby’s cheeks, blow kisses, give a brushing kiss on their eyes. What a fun way to snuggle and read together!

 

10 Hugs and Kisses (Beginning Baby), (June 2021, Chronicle Books), $7.99, ISBN: 9781452170947

Ages 0-3

Another Beginning Baby book! This one is all about cuddles and counting from 1 to 10. Sweetly affectionate animals count their hugs and kisses through each rhyming spread, making for a perfect lapsit where caregiver and little one can join in for hugging, smiles, and butterfly kisses. A big number on the left-hand page stands out against the background; the book invites readers to trace the numbers as they go through the story. Pairs nicely with Karen Katz’s Counting Kisses.

 

Welcome to Shape School!, (Beginning Baby), (June 2021, Chronicle Books), $7.99, ISBN: 9781452170947

Ages 0-3

It’s a day at Shape School! Our animal friends (Gabriel Gabriel Giraffe, Elijah Elephant, Riley Narwhal, Mia Monkey, Layla Llama, Paisley Octopus, and Mateo Red Panda) want you to help them navigate all the space challenges they encounter in school: count squares, touch the three points on a triangle, outline the ovals in a book nook, and press hearts in the garden, for starters. There are 9 tabs that let kids explore each shape, and something new to discover on each spread. Helping develop story-following and fine motor skills and helping reinforce understanding shapes, this is just an adorable book for littles to enjoy.

 

Who is Hiding in the Sea?, by Marc Clamens & Laurence Jammes, (March 2021, Schiffer Kids), $12.99, ISBN: 9780764361029

Ages 0-6

A board book and puzzle all in one sends kids underwater to explore. Four underwater spreads to discover, and eight punch-out puzzle pieces of underwater friends to set into their homes. Each animal fits into a die-cut piece hidden under flaps: who lives in the sea anemones? Where does the seahorse call home? Facts under each flap provide a little more information on the animal that fits in the space, and colorful artwork gets readers’ attention with cute, friendly underwater buddies. Great for developing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination for littles, learning about underwater life and habitats for bigger kids, this is a collection you’ll need a few copies for if you’re circulating the book (or put out when you put your toys out).

 

Who Is Hiding in the Forest? by Marc Clamens & Laurence Jammes, (March 2021, Schiffer Kids), $12.99, ISBN: 9780764361012

Ages 0-6

Another Who is Hiding? book by Marc Clamens and Laurence Jammes, this board book includes 8 puzzle pieces of forest friends. Kids can look for homes for a badger, squirrel, fox, wild piglet, fawn, bat, beaver, and owl, across four wintry forest spreads. Who hides in the tree, and who makes a lodge out of mud and banches? Where do these little animals go to stay warm? These are such sturdy pages, flaps, and puzzles pieces, assuring that they’ll hold up to multiple reads. Make sure to have a few copies on hand, especially if you’re putting them into circulation. Pair with animal coloring sheets, like these cute ones from Simple Everyday Mom, or animal toys and go over names for each animal.

 

Mommy, You’re Amazing, by Roger Priddy, (March 2021, Priddy Books), $7.99, ISBN: 9781684491254

Ages 0-3

Part scrapbook, part board book, Mommy, You’re Amazing is a celebration of moments between mommy and child. Each spread has a rhyming passage about why Mommy is amazing: for discovering new things, dancing and singing together, or playing imagination games being just a few of the great things mommies do. Each spread has a space for a keepsake, whether it’s an envelope to hold little treasures, like those dandelions we all get, or slots to slide in photos, drawing spaces, or a spot to write a story. It’s a warm, loving keepsake that moms will adore (and a darned good baby shower gift).

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Happy Mother’s Day! Books to Snuggle With

This is certainly a different kind of Mother’s Day, but one thing remains constant: we’re surrounded by the ones we love. So, in honor of Moms and Mom-like figures in our lives, snuggle up with your little ones and enjoy a storytime with these picture books.

You Be Mommy, by Karla Clark/Illustrated by Zoe Persico, (March 2020, Feiwel & Friends), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-250-22538-2

Ages 3-7

Moms everywhere will appreciate this one. The Mommy in this story is exhausted from a full day, and she’s just too tired to be Mommy at the moment… so she asks her daughter if she can be Mommy for the night. This rhyming story is chock full of Mom moments we know so well: working a full day, cleaning up messes, feeding the masses, helping with homework, even bathing the dog. Mommy is pooped, so she needs someone to check under her bed for monsters, give her some head and tummy rubs, and kisses good night. But the little girl seems to be pretty tired, too… so maybe Mommy will just take a little break, rather than the whole night off. An adorable story that salutes Moms everywhere, You Be Mommy has colorful, warm illustrations. Endpapers feature the family dog, enviably dozing with Mom’s ever-present cups of coffee nearby. Mom and family are people of color.

A sweet story to read while your little one(s) take on some Mommy duties for the day.

 

You Belong, by Rachel Platten/Illustrated by Marcin Piwowarski, (March 2020, Feiwel & Friends), $17.99, ISBN: 9781250240163

Ages 0-5

Singer-songwriter Rachel Platten’s ode to newborn babies and motherhood explores the feelings, hopes, and dreams an expectant mom has while waiting for her baby to arrive: “I’m waiting patiently for you to arrive. / I want to meet you so much I could cry”. The song weaves through images of multicultural families, both expectant and with young children, creating lump-in-the-throat moments for moms, calling up memories of talking to bellies and holding up outfits at baby showers; tending to skinned knees or providing a loving hug; soaring on rainbows and dancing on air. Digital artwork creates soft, colorful images that bring the words of Rachel Platten’s song to life. This is a sweet Mother’s Day gift, baby shower gift, and storytime read.

 

Welcome to Your World, by Smriti Prasadam-Halls/Illustrated by Jaime Kim, (March 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536206227

Ages 0-5

A sweet rhyming story with images of parent-child animals and an underlying message about caring for our planet, Welcome to Your World rejoices in parenting, nature and the bond we have with our world. Beginning and concluding with images of a human mother holding her child, verses explore the sky, land, ocean, the elements, and the beauty of our surroundings: “Can you feel the raindrops landing on your nose? Can you feel the waterfall tickling your toes?” Earthy watercolors create waterfalls, oceanscapes, and snowy mountains where wild animals roam free, bringing us back to a parent and child, cuddled together, imagining their place in the great scheme of things. Gentle and soft, this is a lovely way to get ready for bed or a nice addition to an animal-related storytime. This would pair nicely with Mother Earth’s Lullaby (2018).

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Just Like You #readyourworld

A little girl has some big dreams, and decides to shoot for the stars… with the help of her Mom!

Just Like You, by Keosha Sath/Illustrated by Yasushi Matsuoka,
(Dec. 2018, Mascot Books), $14.95, ISBN: 9781643070537
Ages 4-7

 

A young girl asks her mom why she has to go to school. Mom tells her that she needs to go to school so she can be whatever she wants to be when she grows up! From there, the little girl and her mom explore all sorts of careers through question-and-answer: she asks where Mom works; when Mom tells her she works in the chief executive office of a medical office, she decides she wants to be a chief executive officer. Or a chief of police, like her dad. Or the commander of an astronaut crew, during a discussion about gravity and space; or President of the United States when she asks why we vote. At the end of the day, the girl decides that she wants to be a great mommy: “just like you!”

Just like You celebrates choices: with an education, there’s nothing a child can’t do. The star of the book decides to be a great mommy at the end of the day, but who’s to say that’s not in addition to being President, or a beekeeper, or a veterinarian? She’s got a bright future ahead, and a supportive family behind her. Kids, parents, and caregivers will recognize and relate to the upbeat, repetitive storytelling style, created to imitate the questions kids come up with, the answers we provide, and a decision on a precocious child’s part, to take the world by storm. Kids will fall easily into the “I think I want to be [chosen career here]… I think so” statement that the girl repeats after careful consideration on each spread; this should get them thinking and dreaming about all the great tasks they can look forward to as they grow!

The digital artwork is bold and colorful. The child and her parents are a family of color with expressive faces and affectionate body language. The girl’s imagination takes readers to lunar landscapes, banks, even the Oval Office. This one should be popular at storytime – and a good choice for Women’s History Month and Mother’s Day readalouds.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 (1/25/19) is in its 6th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board!

*View our 2019 Medallion Sponsors here: https://wp.me/P5tVud-
*View our 2019 MCBD Author Sponsors here: https://wp.me/P5tVud-2eN

Medallion Level Sponsors

Honorary: Children’s Book CouncilThe Junior Library GuildTheConsciousKid.org.

Super Platinum: Make A Way Media

GOLD: Bharat BabiesCandlewick PressChickasaw Press, Juan Guerra and The Little Doctor / El doctorcitoKidLitTV,  Lerner Publishing GroupPlum Street Press,

SILVER: Capstone PublishingCarole P. RomanAuthor Charlotte RiggleHuda EssaThe Pack-n-Go Girls,

BRONZE: Charlesbridge PublishingJudy Dodge CummingsAuthor Gwen JacksonKitaab WorldLanguage Lizard – Bilingual & Multicultural Resources in 50+ LanguagesLee & Low BooksMiranda Paul and Baptiste Paul, RedfinAuthor Gayle H. Swift,  T.A. Debonis-Monkey King’s DaughterTimTimTom BooksLin ThomasSleeping Bear Press/Dow PhumirukVivian Kirkfield,

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Author Sponsors on board

Honorary: Julie FlettMehrdokht Amini,

Author Janet BallettaAuthor Kathleen BurkinshawAuthor Josh FunkChitra SoundarOne Globe Kids – Friendship StoriesSociosights Press and Almost a MinyanKaren LeggettAuthor Eugenia ChuCultureGroove BooksPhelicia Lang and Me On The PageL.L. WaltersAuthor Sarah StevensonAuthor Kimberly Gordon BiddleHayley BarrettSonia PanigrahAuthor Carolyn Wilhelm, Alva Sachs and Dancing DreidelsAuthor Susan BernardoMilind Makwana and A Day in the Life of a Hindu KidTara WilliamsVeronica AppletonAuthor Crystal BoweDr. Claudia MayAuthor/Illustrator Aram KimAuthor Sandra L. RichardsErin DealeyAuthor Sanya Whittaker GraggAuthor Elsa TakaokaEvelyn Sanchez-ToledoAnita BadhwarAuthor Sylvia LiuFeyi Fay AdventuresAuthor Ann MorrisAuthor Jacqueline JulesCeCe & Roxy BooksSandra Neil Wallace and Rich WallaceLEUYEN PHAMPadma VenkatramanPatricia Newman and Lightswitch LearningShoumi SenValerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, Traci SorellShereen RahmingBlythe StanfelChristina MatulaJulie RubiniPaula ChaseErin TwamleyAfsaneh MoradianLori DeMonia, Claudia Schwam, Terri Birnbaum/ RealGirls RevolutionSoulful SydneyQueen Girls Publications, LLC

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty ArabAgatha Rodi BooksAll Done MonkeyBarefoot MommyBiracial Bookworms, Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms ShareColours of UsDiscovering the World Through My Son’s EyesDescendant of Poseidon ReadsEducators Spin on it Growing Book by BookHere Wee Read, Joy Sun Bear/ Shearin LeeJump Into a BookImagination Soup,Jenny Ward’s ClassKid World CitizenKristi’s Book NookThe LogonautsMama SmilesMiss Panda ChineseMulticultural Kid BlogsRaising Race Conscious ChildrenShoumi SenSpanish Playground

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Make A Way Media: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual @McChildsBookDay Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00pm.E.S.T. TONS of prizes and book bundles will be given away during the party ( a prize every 5 minutes!). GO HERE for more details.

FREE RESOURCES From MCBD

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 (1/25/19) is in its 6th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/about/co-hosts/

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Make A Way Media: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual @McChildsBookDay Twitter Party will be held 1/27/19 at 9:00pm. E.S.T.

Join the conversation and win one of 12 five book bundles and one Grand Prize Book Bundle (12 books) that will be given away at the party! We will be giving away a prize every 5 minutes!

FREE RESOURCES from MCBD

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers:  https://wp.me/P5tVud-1H

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

 

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Cuddle-worthy books for Mother’s Day

Sunday is Mother’s Day! Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms, grandmothers, godmothers, and caregivers! I’ve come up with a short list of cuddle-worthy books to snuggle and read with your little ones.

 

Counting Kisses, by Karen Katz Baby is cranky and tired! Mom knows the way to soothe baby: with kisses! Ten little kisses on teeny, tiny toes, nine laughing kisses on busy, wriggly feet… leading all the way to the last sleepy kiss on baby’s head. Kiss along with this one and watch your little ones giggle and squirm, especially when you throw a tickle or two in for good measure.

Mama Mama, by Jean Marzollo/Illustrated by Laura Regan “Mama, Mama/Play with  me/Carry me/So I can see”.  One of the sweetest, beautifully illustrated baby books I’ve ever read, Mama Mama pairs animal babies and their loving mothers. This has been one of my favorites since my eldest was a baby; I can still feel my chin on his cheek as I’d read it to him.

Mummy’s Always Right, by Joe Mulvey Never let it be said that we don’t have a sense of humor in my home. I backed this Kickstarter last year and my youngest and I still read it all the time. A little mummy named Gaws (get it? Gauze!) plays with his monster friends while his Mummy provides rhyming advice about hygiene, nutrition, and safety always reminding her little lovey that Mummy’s always right. There are lots of laughs to be had here, especially when meeting some of Gaws’ friends: the cranky Frankenmine, the tentacular Cthu-Lou, and the ghostly Ghoulia. There’s nothing scary about this book – Sesame Street has monsters that are cute; so does Joe Mulvey.

Someday, by Alison McGhee/Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds It’s every mother’s dream for her little ones to live their life to the fullest; to have everything good come to them, to grow, explore, and live. I’m not going to promise you that you’ll finish this book dry-eyed, but you will hug your sweetie a bit longer than usual. The child in the story is female, but you can easily talk to your sons about their milestones they will reach, with you cheering them on every step of the way.

Mamasaurus, by Stephen Lomp Babysaurus and Mamasaurus are eating tender leaves in the jungle one day, when whoops! He slips off her back and finds himself alone. Similar to PD Eastman’s classic Are You My Mother, Babysaurus meets other dinosaurs on his search for Mamasaurus: Does she run fast? Does she have a long horn, or have wings? No, but she knows how to find her Babysaurus, and she’s the best Mamasaurus in the whole jungle. This is my little guy’s and my favorite cuddle book; it’s perfect for reading and snuggle time.

Runaway Mummy: A Petrifying Parody, by Michael Rex Margaret Wise Brown’s Runaway Bunny is (deservedly) on so many lists, I thought I’d give a little love to the equally sweet and very funny Runaway Mummy. A little monster tries on different monster personas to get away from Mummy, but just like the Bunny’s mother in Runaway Bunny, Mummy is never too far behind, even when he transforms into the unthinkable: A BOY. This book gets as much love during a Mother’s Day storytime as it does during a Halloween storytime; give it a shot.

 

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads

A mother’s love letter to her daughter: When I Carried You In My Belly

When I Carried You In My Belly, by Thrity Umrigar/Illustrated by Ziyue Chen, (Apr. 2017, Running Press Kids), $16.99, ISBN: 978-0-7624-6058-8

Recommended for readers 3-7

A mother explains where all of her daughter’s wonderful qualities were born: as she grew in her mother’s belly. Her mother laughed so hard that baby laughed, too; that’s why she has a great laugh today. Her grandmother’s loving hands built her crib, and grandfather made sweets to eat; that’s why she dreams softly at night and is so sweet. Her mother sangs joyful songs in different languages, and that’s why the girl feels at home anywhere in the world. It’s a sweet love story between mother and daughter, but also illustrates the love and importance of family.

This is a first picture book for author Thrity Umrigar, who hopes that children will come away understanding the importance of family and the importance of being kind and generous. Her text – a mother lavishing praise on her daughter while reminiscing about her pregnancy – combined with Ziyue Chen’s joyful illustrations featuring multicultural characters, invites children to laugh and play together, part of a world community.

This is a great baby shower gift: the story embraces motherhood, empowers mothers to love their bodies (mom happily belly dances with a beautiful bare midriff), and encourages mother-child interaction from the womb. I remember the little tickles and wiggles I felt with each of my boys even now. I remember playing with them, pushing on my belly in one spot and the delight in seeing a little hand (or foot) push back in response. It’s also a good reading choice for a discussion group, to get moms talking with one another, and their children, about their own pregnancies and what they love about their children. When I Carried You in My Belly is a love letter from mother to child, and a love letter to mothers everywhere.

Display this with books on family and individuality. I like Mary Ann Hoberman’s All Kinds of Families, Everywhere Babies, by Susan Meyers, The Family Book, by Todd Parr, and What I Like About Me, by Allia Zobel-Nolan.

Thrity Umrigar is the bestselling author of a memoir and six novels, including The Space Between Us, If Today Be Sweet, and The Story Hour. Her books, articles, and more information is available via her website. Ziyue Chen’s work has been recognized in the 3×3 Picture Book Show (2014), SCBWI’s SI Scholarship (2013), the Society of Illustrators’ Student Scholarship Show (2013), and Creative Quarterly (2012). You can see more of her illustration at her website.

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Our Love Grows: Perfect for Moms and Dads to read-aloud!

our loveOur Love Grows, by Anna Pignataro (April 2016, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $16.99, ISBN: 9781492634188

Recommended for ages 2-6

Pip is a sweet little panda who can’t wait to grow up. He asks his mother, “When will I be big?” and his mother reminds him that he’s already grown from when he was a baby. The story takes place as Pip’s mother remembers important moments: his tiny paw prints in the snow, his blanket covered all of him, playing hide and seek and the passing of seasons; how his tiny face fit in her hands. As she goes back over how Pip has grown, Mother Panda reminds Pip that as he’s grown, so has her love for him.

This is the sweetest book. Pip is actually not assigned a gender in the story; I think of Pip as being a little boy because I have three of my own, and reading this story reminded me of many similar moments in my own children’s lives. Snuggling with my toddler as I read this, I remembered when his blanket covered all of him – the same blanket that his feet now stick out from under; I remember he and his brothers fitting so snugly in my arms; I remember how little their snow angels looked in the winter; and yes, I may have gotten a little teary-eyed. My little guy didn’t notice it, but I did get an extra tight hug when I read the line about my love for him growing as he grows.

Our Love Grows is one of those books I recommend for parents, because it’s a parent’s eye-view of our babies growing up. It’s bittersweet, yes, but books like this remind us of the sweet moments, and when we’re lucky enough to still have the little ones that sit on our lap when we tell stories, books like this also let them know that they’ll get big, eventually – don’t rush it. And we’ll be right there with them.

The art is sedate and intimate, with Pip, Mom, and Pip’s stuffed bird the main focus of the book, surrounded by nature. The text is a plain black font that doesn’t call attention to itself, making the characters the central point of attention.

A good choice for new parents, toddler parents, and preschooler parents whose little ones are desperate to be big, when we want them to stay small for just a little longer.

Anna Pignataro is an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator. Visit her author webpage to find out more about her books and artwork.

Posted in Animal Fiction, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Help Babysaurus find Mamasaurus!

mamasaurus_coverMamasaurus, by Stephan Lomp (March 2016, Chronicle Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9781452144245

Recommended for ages 3-6

Babysaurus is out and about with Mamasaurus one day, snacking on leaves and hanging out on Mamasaurus’ back, when WHOOPS! He slides off, and can’t find her! Reminiscent of P.D. Eastman’s Are You My Mother, Babysaurus asks everyone he can find if they’ve seen his Mamasaurus, and they compare her to their own moms: does she fly the highest, like Ptero’s mom? Is she the loudest, like Rexy’s mom? No, but she’s Mamasaurus, and she’s the best Mamasaurus in the jungle.

Mamasaurus has been there all along, by the way – you know, like when your little one “loses” you in the department store, when you’re two steps away. And that’s what makes this story such a great read-aloud. It’s relatable to both parents and little ones. They’ll know what it’s like to lose Mom in public, and they’ll know that each Mom is the best Mom there is, because she’s their Mom. I loved this story so much, and so did my 3 year old, who snuggled up in my lap while I read it with him. The artwork is adorable; the dinos have huge eyes and friendly faces, cartoony and lovable, appealing to little ones. The white font jumps off the page, making it an easy storytime read.

 

mamasaurus_1
Author and illustrator Stephan Lomp is a German illustrator and comic book artist. Check out some more of his artwork on his website.
Posted in Preschool Reads

Walking Home to Rosie Lee: A boy’s search for his mother, post-Civil War

rosie leeWalking Home to Rosie Lee, by A. LaFaye, illus. by Keith D. Shepherd (Sept. 2015, Cinco Puntos Press), $7.95, ISBN: 9781941026052

Recommended for ages 6-10

The Civil War is finally over. The slaves have been freed. Young Gabe is searching for his mother, Rosie, who was sold before the war’s end. Told in the first person through Gabe’s perspective, Walking Home to Rosie Lee chronicles Gabe’s search for his mother.

This is a 2-hankie book, everyone. I’ve got three sons, and reading Gabe’s earnest voice describing his mother’s appearance, his potential joy and disappointment, his fear, just struck me right in the heart. It’s a beautiful story about the love of a son for his mother, and a small story within the larger story of the struggle that freed slaves went through, post-Civil War, to find their families and start their lives. We learn about the Freedman’s Bureaus, where freed slaves could go to find pictures and news of their relatives, and the importance of word of mouth – and sheer luck.

Keith D. Shepherd’s artwork is beautiful, truly enhancing the story with striking images like young Gabe, sleeping next to a woman he discovered on the search for his mother. Gabe, the focus for the book, is striking, with his huge, loving eyes. You want this boy to find his mother, you want everyone on that trail, that search, to be reunited with their families. The artwork gives this story a deeper pathos than words alone can reach.

rosie lee_6

Walking Home to Rosie Lee is a beautiful story of love and reunion. Put this one on your shelves, parents and educators, and read it often. Talk about it often.

Walking Home to Rosie Lee was a Stepping Stones Honor book, a 2012 IRA Teachers Choice Selection, 2012 Bank Street School of Education Best Books of the Year Selection, and a Nominee for the 2012 Kentucky Bluegrass Award. It will be published through Cinco Puntos Press in September 2015. There is an educator’s guide on the author’s website.

 

Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade

Cybils Middle Grade Fiction – A Few Reviews

Hey there!

I’m working hard, getting through my Cybils Middle Grade nominees – there’s so much good fiction out there! – so I thought I’d give a quick update on a few I’ve read so far.

red pencilThe Red Pencil, by Andrea Davis Pinkney, (Sept. 2014, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), $17, ISBN: 978-0316247801

Recommended for ages 8-14

Amira is a 12 year-old girl living in Darfur. She dreams of going to school, something her mother will not hear. She will marry a husband who can read for her, her mother tells her. That all changes when the Janjaweed come.

When her village is attacked by the Sudanese militia, her life is changed forever. She, and the survivors of her village, make their way to a refugee camp, where she grieves and learns how to start life anew.

Written in verse, The Red Pencil is one of the most powerful books I have ever read. It’s about time we see fiction about this time and place in history hitting our bookshelves. Children need to read this book, and teachers need to discuss it with them. If you don’t have access to this book yet, PLEASE – find it, read it, and share it.

 

crossoverThe Crossover, by Kwame Alexander, (March 2014, HMH Books for Young Readers), $16.99, ISBN: 978-0544107717

Recommended for ages 8-14

Josh and his twin brother, Jordan, are lightning on the basketball court. The sons of a basketball player whose pro career was derailed by an injury and the assistant principal of their school, they have a strong family background that emphasizes teamwork and schoolwork.

Josh loves to rhyme, cranking out beats in his head as he plays. Jordan has other things in mind these days, though – namely, a girlfriend. Josh has a hard time with accepting this third party in his and Jordan’s relationship. Throw in their father’s health problems that he refuses to seek help for, and you’ve got a compelling read that will appeal to all readers, male and female, sports fans or not. There’s a flow and pacing to this novel, also written in verse, that just moves the pages on its own. Josh is a likable kid, and readers will see themselves in his shoes as he talks about his fears and frustrations.

The Crossover has been designated as a Kirkus Best Children’s Book of 2014, one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Children’s Books of 2014, and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year.

Posted in Fiction, Teen, Uncategorized, Young Adult/New Adult

Oblivion – a mystery about identity and secrets

oblivionOblivion, by Sasha Dawn, Egmont USA (2014). $19.99, ISBN: 9781606844762

Recommended for ages 16+

Calliope Knowles is a 16 year-old graphomaniac. For her, writing isn’t just a hobby – it’s something she’s compelled to do. When the mania hits, she needs her notebook and a red felt-tipped pen; she writes, in a trance, and the words, while almost poetic in structure, are unsettling. Possibly because they may be subconscious clues – Callie’s father is missing, along with a 12 year-old girl named Hannah. Callie was found in an abandoned apartment writing, “I KILLED HIM” all over the walls. Her mother is in a mental institution, after stabbing her abusive father only weeks before the disappearance.

Her father, a reverend at the Church of Holy Promise, was popular with his congregation, but was not a good man. Now, Callie, living with a foster family, is haunted by faulty memories that her subconscious is fighting to access. At the same time, she has a foster sister that she adores, but finds herself attracted to the same guy as she; she has a team of police and a therapist working with her to unravel the threads of her memory, and her mother seems to have a lot of secrets.

I thought this was a great book. I love a good mystery and I like an unreliable narrator/main character, because it keeps me guessing. Sasha Dawn has created an amazing series of layers for this story, with a main plot and several subplots running throughout, and always manages to keep all the balls in play. When revelations hit, time and time again, I was bowled over. This is a great summer read for teens who appreciate a good mystery and a story about identity. There are references to abuse, sex, and drug use, so I’m going to recommend an age of 16 for this one. If parents feel their child is mature enough to handle this subject matter at an earlier age, I’ll suggest age 14, but I really wouldn’t go younger. The book hits shelves on May 27, so put this one on your summer reading list.