Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction

Books from Quarantine: Tag Your Dreams!

Tag Your Dreams: Poems of Play and Persistence, by Jacqueline Jules/Illustrated by Iris Deppe, (Apr. 2020, Albert Whitman & Company), $17.99, ISBN: 9780807567265

Ages 7-10

I’m getting that TBR under control a little more every day! Tag Your Dreams is a book of poetry about sports and play for kids, but it’s more than that. These are poems about endurance, self-esteem, community, and reaching goals. It’s about a girl reaching out to a new friend by reciting a rhyme that her Guatemalan grandmother taught her (“Clapping  Hands”); it’s about a girl, swimming gracefully, mermaid-like, as she remembers being bullied for her weight earlier that day (“Mermaid Manatee”); a father and son cruising through a park on matching scooters (“Kick Scooters”), and a playground where “Spanish jumps just as high as English” as the kids skip rope and sing together. A multicultural group of adults and kids come together on these pages to play, to laugh, and to inspire readers. Jacqueline Jules, award-winning author of the Zapato Power and Sofia Martinez book series, created 31 poems about the power of play and the power of persistence to motivate readers: motivate them to play, motivate them to embrace themselves, and work as part of a team while striving to be their best. Iris Deppe’s colorful artwork shows children and grown-ups together in various stages of play: clapping hands underneath a tree, reaching for a ball in the outfield, or walking a trail with grandparents. A nice addition to poetry collections, with positive messages that we need more than ever these days.

Jacqueline Jules’s author webpage has information about her books and plenty of free, downloadable activities connected to her books.

Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction

Books from Quarantine: Nina Soni, middle grader at large

My reading mojo is back, thank goodness, so let’s keep fingers crossed that my blogging mojo is back, too.

I just finished two books that I think are great for that intermediate/middle grade reader who isn’t quite ready to take on the 300-400 page books just yet, but the 80-10 pagers are leaving them wanting a little more. Let’s meet Nina Soni and her family, shall we?

Nina Soni, Former Best Friend, by Kashmira Sheth/Illustrated by Jenn Kocsmiersky, (Oct. 2019, Peachtree Publishers), $15.99, ISBN: 978-1-68263-057-0

Ages 7-12

Nina is an Indian-American elementary school student with a loving family, a little sister who can bug her sometimes, and a knack for making lists, which she keeps in her journal, named Shakhi, which means “friend” in Hindi. She’s got big ideas, but they don’t always turn out the way she expects. In Former Best Friend, Nina finds herself on the outs with her best friend, Jay. She also has her little sister’s birthday party to help plan, and a school project where she has to come up with and write about a great discovery!

Nina Soni is such a likable character. She thinks a lot: she works out math to describe her family while her father’s away for work during the week; she writes down words she’s thinking and learning about, defining them in easy-to-understand words and breaking them down by syllable. She’s organized, making lists – to follow, lists about things she likes, things that drive her crazy. Kavita, Nina’s younger sister, is younger, freer, sillier, and it drives Nina crazy as much as she loves her. Cooking and family are main activities in the book, and there’s some interesting bits about Indian culture throughout.  It’s a fun story with likable characters and black and white line drawings and notebook pages throughout. Give this one an add to your middle grade collections, and booktalk it with books like Planet Omar by Zanib Mian, Alvin Ho and Ruby Lu books by Lenore Look  and Debbi Michiko Florence’s Jasmine Toguchi books.

 

Nina Soni, Sister Fixer, by Kashmira Sheth/Illustrated by Jenn Kocsmiersky, (Apr. 2020, Peachtree Publishers), $15.99, ISBN: 978-1-68263-054-9

Ages 7-12

Nina’s back and this time, she’s GOT to do something about Kavita. Her younger sister is driving her CRAZY, making up songs all the time; songs that don’t make sense, that don’t rhyme, that are just plain annoying! Spring Break is coming, and they’re going away to Jay’s grandfather’s cabin for a couple of days; Nina decides she’s got three days to “fix” her sister so she won’t embarrass her on their trip. Nina also decides to build a dam using some of the dirt by her next door neighbor’s house; a project that may keep Kavita entertained enough to forget about singing. But her impromptu science project may be more than she bargained for!

Even more fun than Former Best Friend, Sister Fixer has some great moments, including an emergency phone call to India that will leave readers laughing out loud. Kavita is a gleeful first grader who loves to dance, make up songs, and make artwork; that it gets on her bigger sister’s nerves is of no consequence: something older siblings will recognize and empathize with. Writing in Shakhi helps Nina come to her own conclusions, making this a good book to suggest to fledgling writers and journalers to record their thoughts and revisit them.

Don’t miss either of these books! Enjoy a Q&A with author Kashmira Sheth here and get a free discussion guide for both books here.

Posted in picture books

Blog Tour: Feast of Peas by Kashmira Sheth

I love a good folk tale, and Kashmira Sheth has certainly given me one with her newest book, Feast of Peas!

Feast of Peas, by Kashmira Sheth/Illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler,
(March 2020, Peachtree Publishing), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-68263-135-5
Ages 5-8

Set in India, Feast of Peas is about Jiva, a farmer who works in his garden “until the sun turned as red as a bride’s sari”, tending to his crops; he’s most excited, though, for his peas. He can’t wait for them to grow, so he can gobble them up. He loves peas! But so does Jiva’s friend, Ruvji, who stops by to see how Jiva’s crops are faring. As Jiva sings his Feast of Peas song, Ruvji stands close by, imagining his own yummy feast of peas… and when Jiva discovers that his peas are going missing, Ruvji is right there, suggesting culprits from rabbits to ghosts. Jiva’s precautions don’t protect his poor peas, so Jiva must take matters into his own hands… and wait until he discovers who the thief is!

 

Feast of Peas is so much fun! Kashmira Sheth’s storytelling style is perfect for a storytime setting. She includes easily recognizable folktale elements, like everyday situations, a puzzling problem, and a solution that neatly concludes the story. Her writing style draws readers into the story, and there’s fun repetition in the interplay between Jiva and Ruvji and their daily routines: Jiva’s work in the garden; Ruvji’s daily visits; Jiva’s song, “Plump peas, sweet peas, / Lined-up-in-the-shell peas. / Peas to munch, peas to crunch, / I want a feast of peas for lunch”, and Ruvji’s response, “Peas are delicious. I would enjoy a feast of peas”. A ghost story is played for laughs, and friendship and sharing win the day at the end of the story. Jeffrey Ebbeler’s artwork brings Kashmira Sheth’s story to life with acrylic illustrations giving readers earth tones, characters with expressive faces and body language, and delicious plates of Indian food! Peapods and peas decorate the endpapers, stoking readers’ appetites.

Absolute fun. Add Feast of Peas to your folk and fairytale sections, and ask your kids what they think the morale of the story is. Publisher Peachtree has a free, downloadable teacher’s guide that includes talking points about art, social studies, math, music, movement, and more.

 

Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction

Welcome to Planet Omar!

Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet, by Zanib Mian/Illustrated by Nasaya Mafaridik, (Feb. 2020, G.P. Putnam), $13.99, ISBN: 9780593109212

Ages 7-10

Meet Omar! He’s a young Muslim boy living in the UK, and has just moved to a new neighborhood and school so his mom could accept her dream job. He’s got an imaginary dragon for a friend and pet, he’s creative and imaginative, and… he finds himself the target of the school bully. Originally published in abroad in 2018 as The Muslims, Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet is hilarious, sweet, and brilliantly tackles Islamophobia, all from a kid’s point of view.

Written from Omar’s point of view and illustrated a la Wimpy Kid, Accidental Trouble Magnet introduces us to Omar’s family: his parents, his siblings, the bully who becomes enraged at the idea of Muslims, and the sweet little old lady next door who constantly talks to someone one the phone about what “The Muslims” are doing. Omar’s parents handle the next door neighbor with grace and aplomb, always extending the hand of friendship. Omar is informative about Muslim traditions – we learn about Eid and Ramadan; his excitement about attempting to take part in the fast (so he can be up in the middle of the night to eat), and about the hijab his mother wears (no, she doesn’t shower with it). Zanib Mian convincingly writes with Omar’s voice and introduces us to a friendly kid who wants to let you know about him – and wants to let you know that he can’t wait for his holiday gifts; he loves sweets, and he loves his culture and wants to share it with you, too. Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet is an upbeat, fun intermediate story that serves as a wonderful introduction to Muslim culture. It encourages empathy, compassion, and understanding. It promotes patience with others who make rash judgements, and encourages all of us to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be.

Have readers who love Saadia Faruqi’s Yasmin books and are ready to take on a longer chapter book? Introduce them to Omar! I’d love to see this on Summer Reading Lists this year, nudge nudge.

Accidental Trouble Magnet received the 2018 Little Rebels Award, was nominated for the 2019 Carnegie Medal, and longlisted for the 2019 UKLA Award. See more about the book on Muslim Children’s Books UK.

 

 

Posted in picture books

Freedom Soup celebrates an important New Year tradition

Freedom Soup, by Tami Charles/Illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara, (Dec. 2019, Candlewick), $16.99, ISBN: 9780763689773

Ages 5-10

Belle and her grandmother, Ti Gran, are making soup – but it’s not just any old soup, it’s Freedom Soup. As the girl and her grandmother dance and cook, Ti Gran tells Belle the history behind the Haitian soup: it’s the history of Haiti, the history of revolution and freedom, and the history of family, as the recipe is passed from generation to generation. As the two create the recipe, readers are witness to a celebration, watching grandmother and granddaughter dance and cook, the girl learning from her grandmother about food, history, and life.

The very story in Freedom Soup teems with rhythm and movement. Belle and Ti Gran listen to Haitian music as they prepare the soup; the two dance as they cook, and the ingredients come alive with their own movement: garlicky herbs click clack as Belle mashes them; ribbons of steam dance; the soup’s delicious scent swirls around the kitchen, all coming together to set the stage for Ti Gran’s story about Haitian slaves making soup for their masters and finally, triumphantly, making soup for themselves to celebrate their independence. Belle and Ti Gran celebrate Haiti’s freedom, too, as does the rest of their family, who arrive to eat soup, dance, and celebrate. The story reads like a poem, inviting the reader in by tempting their senses with sights and smells. Jacqueline Alcántara’s mixed media illustration creates a warm, homey setting, with prominent yellows and browns, calming blues and childhood kitchen whites. There’s movement on each spread, making this a book you’ll want to move with as you read it (and you should!). Back matter includes a recipe for Freedom Soup, and a note from the author about her husband’s Ti own Gran, who inspired the book.

Put Freedom Soup on your shelves and add it to your New Year’s storytimes. With relatively little about the Haitian revolution available for children, particularly younger children, this is an excellent start – or addition – to collections.

Freedom Soup has starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and Shelf Awareness.

 

Posted in Fiction, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Teen, Tween Reads, Women's History

February graphic novels bring magical realism and STEM nonfiction

First Second is a graphic novel powerhouse. Every season, I know I’m going to see good stuff from the authors and illustrators that First Second publishes. Here are two we’ve got coming in February.

Snapdragon, by Kat Leyh, (Feb. 2020, First Second), $12.99, ISBN: 9781250171115

Ages 10+

Magical realism infuses this story about a girl who befriends the town witch. Snapdragon’s heard the rumors about the “roadkill witch”, but when Jacks – a loner constructs skeletons from roadkill to sell to veterinary schools – rescues Snap’s dog, she finds herself cultivating a friendship with the loner, who takes her on as an apprentice. But Jacks also has rituals she goes through, to put those roadkill spirits to rest, and Snap is pretty sure that Jacks has a little bit of witchcraft after all.

Snapdragon is a story with depth. Lumberjanes writer Kat Leyh creates a magical, yet real cast of characters: Snapdragon, the daughter of a single working mother, is bullied at school and by her mother’s cruel ex-boyfriend. Her friend, Louis, who prefers to go by Lulu and wear skirts and nail polish, is tormented by his brothers. The two bond over their mutual love of a a horror movie series and Lulu finds comfort and safety in Snapdragon’s home. Jacks and Snap discover a connection between them in a subplot with Snap’s grandmother.

Snapdragon has a starred review from Kirkus.

 

Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier, by Jim Ottaviani & Maris Wicks, (Feb. 2020, First Second), $19.99, ISBN: 9781626728776

Ages 8-12

Meet the first women to travel into space in this nonfiction graphic novel that has big appeal for Science Comics fans. Astronaut Dr. Mary Cleave navigates readers through the history of women and space travel, starting with the Soviet space program that made Valentina Tereshkova the first woman in space, and illustrates the long road American women had to take to get Group 9, NASA’S first mixed-gender class, to the stars.

The most frustrating thing about Astronauts is reading how seemingly determined the U.S. government was to keep women out of space. The graphic novel tells multiple stories from different points of view; the Mercury 13 and Women in Space Program both ended up going nowhere, while the Soviet Union focused on sending just one woman – Tereshkova – into space. (And she didn’t even tell her mother before she went.) It’s disheartening to read that science journalists imagined conversations between women – female scientists – and Mission Control consisting of, “this little thingamabob has jiggled off the gizmo”. Even when NASA got it together and began recruiting women for the space program for real this time, their concerns about dress codes and complete ignorance of basic physiology left me frustrated and even more determined to get my STEM/STEAM programming firmly entrenched here at my library. The second half of the book, focusing more on Mary Cleave’s space shuttle missions and NASA training, are a welcome relief. There are some great and hilarious anecdotes throughout, and Mary Cleave’s love for space exploration and science comes through, making me hopeful that this book will inspire many, many kids. There are references, a bibliography, and working sketches.

Astronauts has starred reviews from Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly.

Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

DC Zoom is bringing it to young graphic novel readers!

I have been loving the two DC original graphic novel lines. DC Ink, for YA, has been one hit after the next with Mera, Harley Quinn, and Raven, for starters; DC Ink’s lineup so far – Superman of Smallville, Dear Justice League, and The Secret Spiral of Swamp Kid – have rivaled the until-now unchallenged Dog Man on his bookshelf. I received a handful of new and upcoming DC Ink titles recently, wrestled them back from my kid (he’s got them back now, it’s fine), and dove in.

Black Canary: Ignite, by Meg Cabot/Illustrated by Cara McGee, (Oct. 2019, DC Zoom), $9.99, ISBN: 978-1-4012-8620-0

Ages 8-12

In DC Comics, Black Canary is a formidable metahuman whose Canary Cry is a sonic screech that brings bad guys to her knees. She’s also a pretty awesome fighter, and a musician. In Ignite, she’s 13-year-old Dinah Lance, daughter of a detective with an interest in police work, and lead singer and guitarist in a band. All she wants to do is win the battle of the bands at school and get her dad’s permission to join the Gotham City Junior Police Academy, but a mysterious person shows up in her neighborhood and starts causing trouble for Dinah. Dinah’s voice is also getting in the way, causing havoc when she laughs, yells, or sings too loud, and it’s landing her in the principal’s office. A lot. When the mystery figure attacks her as she works in her mother’s florist store, yelling about a “Black Canary”, Dinah discovers there’s more to her – and her family – than meets the eye, and it’s time for her to take charge of her voice and channel her inner superhero.

One of the great things about the DC young readers and YA books is that they’re bringing on authors kids know, or I know and can talk up to my kids. The Princess Diaries is HUGE here, and her Notebooks of a Middle School Princess books make her a Very Big Deal in the kids’ room here at the library. Having her take on one of my favorite DC women was a treat.Meg Cabot gives Dinah a realistic teen voice, giving her real-world problems to balance out the fact that she’s a metahuman with power: she’s always in hot water with her principal; her dad wants to keep her safe and tries to squash her interest in police work; she has trouble with her friends; she wants to be a rock star! There’s a nice nod to the Black Canary legacy, and I love the illustrations: Cara McGee even manages to include the famous Black Canary fishnets, making them part of Dinah’s punk teen look. Together, Meg Cabot and Cara McGee capture the spirit of an enduring DC character and make her accessible to younger readers. (Now, go watch Arrow, kiddies!)

 

Diana, Princess of the Amazons, by Shannon & Dean Hale/Illustrated by Victoria Ying, (Jan. 2020, DC Zoom), $9.99, ISBN: 978-1401291112

Ages 8-12

Diana of Themyscira is growing up in an island paradise where she’s surrounded by loving “aunties” and her mother. But, at age 11, she’s also the only child on the island, and she’s lonely. She decides to take matters into her own hands and forms a child from clay – just like the story of Diana’s own birth – and prays that the gods will give her a friend. Imagine her surprise when she discovers that her wish has come true, and Mona, the friend she dreamed of, is in front of her and ready to take on the world! But Mona doesn’t have the same idea of fun that Diana does, and starts leading Diana toward more destructive, mean-spirited fun. Mona starts putting some ideas in Diana’s head that could have disastrous consequences for Themyscira – can she reign herself and Mona in before catastrophe?

Shannon Hale and Dean Hale are literary powerhouses. They’ve created graphic novels (Rapunzel’s Revenge and Calamity Jack; most recently, the Best Friends and Real Friends autobiographical graphic novels); they’ve had huge success with their Princess in Black series of intermediate books, and Shannon Hale is a Newbery Medalist for her 2006 book, Princess Academy. They’ve written books in the Ever After High and Marvel’s Squirrel Girl series; they’ve written picture books: in short, they are rock stars. Asking them to write a Wonder Woman story for kid, you know you’re going to get something good. They deliver. Diana, Princess of the Amazons isn’t about Wonder Woman; it’s about a lonely 11-year-old girl who is so excited to have a friend, that she’ll follow anything that friend says or does, even when it puts her at odds with her mother and the adults around her. She’s frustrated because she can’t get the adults to listen to her; she feels clumsy and like she can’t measure up; she’s a self-conscious young teen. It’s an entirely relatable story that kids will read, see themselves in, and read again. I loved this book, and I loved the cute little nods to Wonder Woman throughout, like her being concerned about the cheetah population (one of Wonder Woman’s main foes is Cheetah) and having familiar characters like Antiope appear. Victoria Ying’s illustration will instantly appeal to Raina Telgemeier, Victoria Jamieson, and Shannon and Dean Hale fans. It’s colorful, with beautiful landscapes and cartoony artwork. Add this one to your graphic novel stacks, without question. Introduce your realistic readers to Wonder Woman!

One last note: While this is – as most of the DC Zoom books are – suggested for readers ages 8-12, you can go a little lower on this one. My 7-year-old gobbled this one up quite happily.

Green Lantern: Legacy, by Minh Lê/Illustrated by Andie Tong, (Jan. 2010, DC Zoom), $9.99, 978-1-4012-8355-1

Ages 8-12

What a fantastic new Lantern story! Tai Pham is a 13-year-old child of Vietnamese immigrants, living in an apartment with his family, above his grandmother’s grocery store, The Jade Market. (Ahem.) The store is the target for vandals; the front plate window continues to be smashed as the neighborhood deteriorates, but his grandmother will not consider closing the store or selling, saying, “We will not let fear drive us from our home. Not again”. When Grandmother dies, Tai inherits her jade ring… and discovers that there was a lot more to her than she let on, when he learns about the power behind the ring, and meets John Stewart, from the Green Lantern Corps. As Tai tries to understand the weight his grandmother carried, keeping her neighborhood safe, and come to terms with his new status as a Green Lantern, he also discovers that there are those out there who would do him harm, and that not everyone who approaches him in the wake of his grandmother’s death is a friend.

This is a great new Green Lantern origin story, with a fantastic multicultural cast and mission. Author Minh Lê authored one of my favorite picture books from  last year, the award-winning Drawn Together; also a multi-generational tale of a grandparent and grandchild coming together through their different experiences of American and Vietnamese culture. He creates a solid, relatable story about growing up in an immigrant community under siege by crime and the threat of gentrification, and creates a superhero story where a hero, imbued with the power of the universe in his hand, makes the welfare of his cultural community a priority. Tying Tai Pham’s grandmother’s story as a Lantern into the family’s flight from Vietnam is incredible: Minh Lê’s story, powered by Andie Tong’s powerful images, are unforgettable. Even the Lantern costume both Tai and his grandmother wear are culturally influenced and I can’t wait to read more.

Zatanna and the House of Secrets: A Graphic Novel, by Matthew Cody/Illustrated by Yoshi Yoshitani, (Feb. 2020. DC Zoom), $9.99, ISBN: 978-1-4012-9070-2

Ages 8-12

I love that characters like Swamp Thing (well… Swamp Kid) and Zatanna are getting in front of younger audiences with DC Zoom. Zatanna and the House of Secrets is the origin story for Zatanna, a magician who can actually wield real magic. A young teen, she lives in a rambling house – “a certain house on a certain street that everyone talks about” – with her stage magician father and their rabbit, Pocus. Sick of the bullies at school, Zatanna – much like Black Canary in Ignite – loses her temper, with interesting consequences that change everything. When Zatanna comes home and finds her father mysteriously gone, she learns that her house is much, much more than a home, and she’s much, much more than a kid with a pet rabbit.

Matthew Cody can write superheroes; he’s written middle grade novels Powerless, Super, and Villainous, and he’s written graphic novels. He gives Zatanna so much more depth than “that magician chick who says things backwards”; something I’ve heard her referred to by people who don’t really know much about the character or the comic. As with the most successful superhero books, Matthew Cody makes Zatanna relatable: a kid who fends of bullies; who experiences upheaval with the Mean Girls over who to be seen with versus who’s social poison; a kid who’s grieving the loss of her mother and who loves her father, who’s doing the best he can. There’s an unlikely friendship that two characters have to learn to navigate, and a sidekick that kids will immediately love. Yoshi Yoshitani’s artwork is bold, cartoony fun. This one can skew a little younger than 8-12, too. Enjoy.

Posted in picture books

Love makes us rise: Love Love Bakery

Love Love Bakery: A Wild Home for All, by Sara Triana Mitchell/Illustrated by H2 Alaska, (May 2018, Lucid Books), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1632961976

Ages 5-8

Love Love Bakery is a book I received last year, and am kicking myself for not getting to it sooner. Based on a bakery in Texas, Love Love Bakery is a love letter to coffeehouse culture: inclusive, a little chaotic, and delicious, with a strong sense of community. Bakers John and Jane get the shop ready in the morning as Jane’s son has breakfast on the porch. He leaves for school with his friends, telling mom “not to let things go nuts today”. The barista joins John and Jane, and the shop comes to life as the neighborhood wakes up and drops by. Sure enough, the place gets a little nuts, but it’s a chaotic joy that brings people together over coffee and conversation.

H2 Alaska’s watercolor artwork brings a comfortable, warm feel to the story, and introduces neighborhood people that may be familiar to readers, whether we’ve spotted them at our local Starbucks or the indie coffee place in town: the paint-spattered artist, the chattering book group, the new person in town looking for somewhere to be. We have a diverse, multi-generational crowd coming together in a place that welcomes all. The storytelling is comforting, describing a routine day in a convivial community, and offers a look at the sheer numbers that go into making a day’s worth of coffee and baked goods. There’s coffee and baking-related (groan-worthy) punnage, a glossary at the end, and a recipe for pretzels.

Love Love Bakery is a sweet read that you can pick up online. Sara Triana Mitchell’s author website has more information about her books.

Posted in Uncategorized

Reach for the Stars with Astro-Girl

Astro Girl, by Ken Wilson-Max, (Sept. 2019, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536209464

Ages 4-8

Astrid is a little girl who loves the stars and space.  She and her father act out the challenges that astronauts face in outer space, as they wait to meet Astrid’s mom, who’s coming home from a business trip… of sorts. He swings her around and around like a spaceship orbiting Earth and tosses her up in the air, defying gravity like an astronaut; she eats a cereal bar in place of astronaut food in a tube and conducts her own “experiments” by making rocket ship cookies.

I love Ken Wilson-Max’s bold, bright acrylic artwork, and Astro Girl has plenty of it. Boldly outlined, with bright, bold colors, Astro Girl is as wonderful to look at as it is to read. The story of a family of color is a great STEAM story, too: Astrid’s mom is an astronaut, and Astrid means to follow in her footsteps. Back matter includes the origin of the word “astronaut”, and brief profiles on five women who have gone into space, just like Astrid’s mom. Endpapers show a midnight blue sky, sprinkled with stars, giving kids the same desire to reach for the stars that Astrid is imbued with. The warm colors and bold outlines make this a warm book that draws readers close and talks to them, like Astrid has a secret to share with each reader.

I can’t get enough of Astro Girl, and I guarantee your readers won’t, either. The cover features Astrid, in her bright orange jumpsuit and astronaut helmet – accompanied by her dog – is a striking sight that will grab everyone’s attention. My son asked me if this was a Mae Jemison book when he saw it! Use this as an opportunity to get Mae Jemison’s name, and the names of other astronauts. You can start with the most recent all-female spacewalk:

 

Astro Girl is a must-have for your storytimes, and your STEM/STEAM shelves.

Posted in picture books, Uncategorized

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Along the Tapajós

Along the Tapajós, by Fernando Vilela/Translated by Daniel Hahn, (Oct. 2019, Amazon Crossing Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1542008686

Ages 5-8

Amazon Crossing Kids’ latest picture book in translation, Along the Tapajós, is the story of Cauā and Inaê, a brother and sister who live in Pará, a Brazilian state along the Tapajós River. The home in Pará are built on stilts, and there are no school buses: kids travel to school by boat! When the winter season arrives, everyone returns home to pack up their homes and relocate to higher ground to wait out the rains. But when the family arrives at their new location, the siblings realize that Titi, their pet tortoise, has been left behind! Tortoises can’t swim, so Titi faces either drowning in the flooding or starving to death, but Ma stands firm: they’re not going back until the summer season. Determined to rescue their pet, Cauā and Inaê slip away that evening and head back to their home to rescue Titi.

Inspired by one of author Fernando Vilela’s trips to the Amazon Rainforest Along the Tapajós introduces readers to a different culture and a different way of life: going to school by boat? Living in a house on stilts, and moving with the seasons? There is so much going on in Along the Tapajós! While introducing a different way of life to kids, the story links readers through the love of a pet, the fear of forgetting and losing something beloved, and the excitement of an adventure to rescue it.

The digital and woodcut artwork is stunning, with vibrant, bright colors to celebrate the biodiversity of the Amazon: the endpapers show multicolored birds sitting on webs of crossed branches, and opaque waters with a glimpse at the life underneath; yellows, blues, and black stripes all show through the obscured water view. The artwork throughout is stunning, with bold colors and black line work, and images of communities working together to move to a safe space.

Most of my library kids are from countries in Central and South America. I can’t wait to read this to them and see what they think. Maybe I’ll hand out tortoise coloring sheets for an after-story craft! Ooh… and maybe have them contribute to an anaconda that will stretch across some of my display space… okay, I’m off to plan a rainforest storytime (I’ll be using Pragmatic Mom’s suggestions to start me off, along with one of my all-time favorite storytime books, The Perfect Siesta.)

Originally published in 2015 in Brazilian Portuguese, Along the Tapajós is available on October 1 and has a starred review from Kirkus. It also made School Library Journal‘s list, “The Marvelous Translated Picture Books of 2019 (So Far)“.

Fernando Vilela is an award-winning author and illustrator from Brazil. Published in Brazil under the title Tapajós, this book was inspired by one of his trips to the Amazon rainforest. He has received many awards for his books, and he has exhibited his artwork at home and abroad, including at the MoMA in New York and the Pinacoteca of the State of São Paulo. For his picture books, he has received five Jabuti awards (Brazil) and the New Horizons Honorable Mention of the Bologna Ragazzi International Award. He is also a plastics artist, and he teaches courses, lectures, and workshops on art and illustration. Learn more about him online at www.fernandovilela.com.br.

Daniel Hahn is an author, editor, and award-winning translator. His translation of The Book of Chameleons by José Eduardo Agualusa won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2007. His translation of A General Theory of Oblivion, also by José Eduardo Agualusa, won the 2017 International Dublin Literary Award. He recently served on the board of trustees of the Society of Authors. In 2017, Hahn helped establish the TA First Translation Prize, a new prize for debut literary translation. Learn more about him online at www.danielhahn.co.uk.

★“The vibrant colors in Vilela’s illustrations and the expressive faces of Cauã and Inaê bring lightheartedness to their dangerous journey and the cyclical living it prescribes. A riveting journey.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“This is one of those engaging titles that offers a glimpse of a location new to most American readers. More translations like this one, please!” —Fuse #8 Production

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Along the Tapajós, courtesy of Amazon Crossing (U.S. addresses). Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!