Posted in picture books

The Paper Boat chronicles a family’s journey

The Paper Boat, by Thao Lam, (Sept. 2020, OwlKids), $17.95, ISBN: 9781771473637

Ages 6-9

Inspired by her own family’s refugee journey from Vietnam to Canada, Thao Lam’s newest book, The Paper Boat is an intensely personal narrative, entwined with a story about an ant colony. The wordless story is told through gorgeous collage art in shades of gray with moments of bright color: a spotlight, the red of an army flag, green of military uniforms, or the pink of a paper boat struggling to stay afloat in tumultuous waters. At home in Vietnam, a young girl rescues ants from bowls of sugar water set out to trap them. Later, as the girl and her family flee from their war-ravaged home, the ants lead them through the moonlit jungle to the boat that will help them escape. As they board, the girl folds a paper boat and drops it into the water; the ants climb on, setting out on their own journey. The two parallel narratives tell the story of a daring escape and the hope of starting life in a new, safe, land. Thao Lam’s author’s note provides deeper context for the story. Endpapers depict newspaper headlines from the Vietnam War and subsequent flight of the refugees.

A moving, thoughtful story that brings home the pain of leaving home and the hope of starting over. The Paper Boat has starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, School Library Journal, and the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. (And it should be nominated for a Caldecott, just sayin’.) Publisher OwlKids has an excellent educator and parent’s guide available for free download.

Posted in picture books, Toddler Reads

Cuddle Time Reading: Upsy-Daisy, Baby!

Upsy-Daisy, Baby! How Families Around the World Carry Their Little Ones, by Susan Hughes/Illustrated by Ashley Barron, (Sept. 2019, OwlKids), $9.95, ISBN: 9781771473873

Ages 0-3

Originally released in 2017 as Up!, Upsy-Daisy, Baby! is the board book release for this adorable story of how cultures all over the world carry their babies. Cut-paper collages illustrate families from 10 locations around the world, from Afghanistan to Peru, from Canada to West Africa. Family members all care for the little ones in their lives: grandparents, cousins, siblings, moms, and dads alike. The illustrations are eye-catching, with bold, primary colors and bold fonts. Perfect for cuddle time storytime and lapsits. Pair this with Star Bright’s board book, Llévame, which uses photos of multicultural babies to communicate the same snuggly message.

 

Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

Nonfiction rundown: October and November

Picture book nonfiction just gets better and better. In October and November, we get two more biographies on people of color that have, until now, been largely overlooked by history. It’s disheartening on one hand, but I choose to be glad that books are coming forward now to liven up our nonfiction shelves and give readers even more role models across all walks of life to learn about and be inspired by. I’ve also got some fun alphabet books and some nature and science. Pull up a chair, brew a warm beverage of your choice, and enjoy!

 

Someday is Now: Clara Luper and the 1958 Oklahoma City Sit-Ins, by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich/Illustrated by Jade Johnson, (Aug. 2018, Seagrass Press), $17.95, ISBN: 9781633224988

Ages 6-9

I missed this one the first time around, but I’m glad I caught it when I went back through my Edelweiss account to check up on my TBR. This picture book biography of civil rights activist Clara Luper (nee Clara Mae Shepard) is a great addition to your picture book biographies. Growing up in segregated Oklahoma, Clara saw her World War I veteran father diminished by the very country he fought for: her brother turned away from a local hospital because it was a whites-only facility; she was educated in a run-down classroom with torn books and a teacher who also served as the principal and janitor; restaurants dictated where Blacks could eat. Everywhere she looked, Clara saw things were “separate and unequal”, a phrase repeated throughout the book in bold, large font to drive home the message. Ms. Luper became a teacher who pushed for change, working with the NAACP Youth Council and participating in lunch counter protests with her students after a trip to non-segregated New York. Back matter includes an encapsulated biography of Ms. Luper.

This is the first picture book biography on Clara Luper: everything else I found online is decades old. Let’s get more civil activist bios into the hands of our kids, so they can see for themselves how many voices led to change. Someday is Now has a starred review from Kirkus.

Author Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich is the co-author of the NAACP Image Award nominated Two Naomis and the forthcoming Naomis Too and is the editor of The Hero Next Door, an anthology from We Need Diverse Books. You can see more of Jade Johnson’s illustration work, including downloadable coloring pages, on her website.

 

Who Will Roar If I Go? (If We’re Gone, Book 1), by Paige Jaeger/Illustrated by Carol Hill Quirk, (June 2018, Boutique of Quality Books), $18.95, ISBN: 9781945448157

Ages 5-7

This rhyming story, the first in a planned series, is a plea to readers from endangered animals suffering from a multitude of human-based maladies, most commonly, the disappearance of their habitats and hunting, be it for trophies or luxury dining. Thirteen animals ask humans for help in their quest for survival; each rhyme provides readers with a little background on the animal and why it needs help. The elephant’s page reads: “I sure am an enormous creature; With ivory tusks my most attractive feature; For these long, tapered tusks that I hold dear; Thousands of friends were lost last year; No one needs my tusks but me; Go make some in a factory”.

Back matter includes a glossary of terms and an animal footprint guessing game. Each animal gets its own spread, including its geographic location and footprint, related to a game in the back matter. The watercolor artwork is realistic and showcases each animal in its natural environment. Who Will Roar If I Go? is a good introduction to endangered animals and the need for conservation and preservation; it’s a good additional add to your picture book nonfiction.

The Who Will Roar webpage offers free, downloadable educator resources.

 

 

P is for Paris, by Paul Thurlby, (Oct. 2018, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $19.99, ISBN: 9781492668152

Ages 5-8

The latest book in Paul Thurlby’s ABC Cities series brings readers on an alphabetical tour of the City of Lights: Paris. Beautiful, bright artwork brings to mind vintage travel posters, and little bites of Parisian history on each page make this a fun addition to your picture books and world sections. Adults will enjoy this one as much as the kids will; references are equally accessible to kids and grownups. From the Abbesses to the Zoo De Vincennes, this is a nice addition to Thurlby’s Cities set. Endpapers provide a map to Paris, with attractions throughout the book numbered for reference. The author provides a concise explanation of the city’s organization into arrondissments. This easily works for both concept sections and geography sections, but don’t mistake this for a beginner’s abecedary; it’s a little more complex and better for Kindergarteners and up.

Check out Paul Thurlby’s webpage for more artwork and information on his other books. Take your armchair travelers on a picture book trip around the world with Thurlby’s books and Miroslav Sasek’s books.

 

Flow, Spin, Grow: Looking for Patterns in Nature, by Patchen Barss/Illustrated by Todd Stewart, (Oct. 2018, OwlKids), $18.95, ISBN: 9781771472876

Ages 5-7

Readers are encouraged to explore patterns in nature in this mindful rhyming book. A diverse group of children play and relax in an open park area in the opening spread. The text playfully crawls around the scene, encouraging kids to “Look, climb, dig, flow. Breathe in deep, around you go. Twirl, whirl, swirl, grow. Explore, find more, join the show.” The text inspires readers to look for patterns everywhere: observe, dig, explore, climb; a tree trunk splits, branches split, and below the ground, roots split and grow; water branches off into smaller bodies of water, and our own lungs have little branches like mini-trees, reaching for air. Nature twirls and whirls, like the galaxies in space or two friends at play; pine cones, storm clouds, and snail shells all swirl. It’s an interesting way to introduce scientific inquiry to burgeoning scientists. An author’s note goes further into the “secret code” hidden in the shapes of things, and suggests additional resources for more reading.

The artwork is the star in this book. Multilayered screen prints and muted colors create a setting where patterns gently emerge, waiting for readers to spot them: triangles on a tree or bush; cracks in the dirt and roots underground reach out. Flow Spin Grow is a good purchase for primary science collections; I also love Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes’ award-winning Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature, and Jane Brocket’s Spotty, Stripy, Swirly: What Are Patterns?

The Vast Wonder of the World: Biologist Ernest Everett Just, by Mélina Mangal/Illustrated by Luisa Uribe, (Nov. 2018, Lerner Publishing Group), $19.99, ISBN: 9781512483758

Ages 7-9

This bio on biologist Ernest Everett Just is just what your picture book biography section needs. He came of age in the Jim Crow South, paying his way through Dartmouth College while supporting his siblings after his mother’s passing. He “unlocked the mysteries of how the different parts of the cell worked together as new life developed”, and found success as a Howard University professor, embryologist, and cytologist, working in both Europe and the States. The Vast Wonder of the World tells his story, introducing him to a new generation of budding scientists who will be inspired by his determination and success in the face of racism and adversity. The muted pencil and digital artwork, in shades of blue, creates a sense of wonder and beauty, giving readers a real appreciation for Just and his place in science history. An author’s note, a timeline, and source notes complete this solid addition to science biography sections. Display and booktalk – PLEASE – with Gwendolyn Hudson Hooks and Colin Bootman’s Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas, and – if you can find it (can we please get this book back in print?) – May Chinn: The Best Medicine, by Ellen Butts and Joyce R. Schwartz, illustrated by Janet Hamlin.

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) has a good feature story on Dr. Just, with references to further reading, by W. Malcolm Byrnes.

P is for Pterodactyl, by Raj Haldar & Chris Carpenter/Illustrated by Maria Beddia, (Nov. 2018, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $17.99, ISBN: 9781492674313

Ages 6-10

Calling itself “The Worst Alphabet Book Ever”, P is for Pterodactyl is a smirk, wink, and nudge at rebel words in the English language: words that don’t follow the rules. The book uses humor, alliteration, and amusing artwork to get its point across, as with E is for Ewe, which depicts sheep at a wake: “Eileen the ewe was so euphoric with wolves were eaten, she even gave the eulogy” (keep reading the book for more on Eileen); or L is not for Elle, which shows an elevated subway car transporting some elephants across the city of El Paso: “An elephant named Elle rode the el train halfway to El Paso and dined on hearts of palm with her folks”. It’s not a basic concept book for new learners, but it’s sure fun to read it out loud and watch kids laugh and play with language. My 6-year-old cracks up at this one, and it helps when he tries to figure out new words.

P is for Pterodactyl has a starred review from Foreword Reviews.

 

Posted in Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads, Tween Reads

Space… The Final Frontier…

…these are the voyages of the starship Bibliomaniac. My continuing mission: to bring you the coolest books about space, while butchering a beloved TV show’s intro. This post has a books that should appeal to fiction and non-fiction lovers alike. Because it’s SPACE! Planets! Stars! Rocket ships! So whaddaya say? Join me! After all… Stardust Explores the Solar System (Stardust Science), by Bailey and Douglas Harris, (Apr. 2018, StoryBook Genius Publishing), $10.95, ISBN: 9781941434918 Ages 5-9 Stardust Science is a kids’ nonfiction series from a small-press publisher that I’ve just been turned onto. Bailey and Douglas Harris are a daughter-father team who write some pretty fun books starring a girl who loves science and is named named Stardust. Stardust Explores the Solar System is the second Stardust book, and here, Stardust takes readers on a tour of our solar system and its formation, and a trip to each planet. Spreads have a brief, informative paragraph and artwork placing Stardust on each planet, whether she’s driving an exploration craft across Venus or freezing atop Uranus. Extra fun facts focus on the possibility of extraterrestrial life, the Kuiper belt and dwarf planets, and the asteroid belt. Stardust Explores the Solar System was a successful 2017 Kickstarter (which is where I found the internal artwork for this post), and there’s a current Kickstarter for the next book, Stardust Explores Earth’s Wonders. You can pick up copies of My Name is Stardust and Stardust Explores the Solar System from the Stardust Science webpage. It’s a fun book, co-written by a 12-year old Neil DeGrasse Tyson fan, so how can you go wrong? It’s a nice additional book to big collections, and a sweet way to empower your younger readers. My 6-year-old loves this one and says he’s ready to write his own book.   The Universe Ate My Homework, by David Zeltser/Illustrated by Ayesha L. Rubio, (Aug. 2018, Carolrhoda Books), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1512417982 Ages 6-8 Abby’s a little girl who has homework to do, but UGH. She’d rather be stargazing with her dog, Cosmo, or talking to her physicist dad. He’s been thinking about universes, and how to make a baby universe, which gets Abby thinking. She sneaks into her dad’s study and works on making her own black holeout of the dreaded homework! It takes a lot of squeezing and a lot of energy, but Abby and Cosmo have done it! But what happens when a black hole’s gravity kicks in? HELP! This is an absolute fun way to explain the science of black holes to kiddos. What better way to get rid of your homework than by turning it into an actual science experiment? Kids will be squeezing the daylights out of their looseleaf for weeks to come, waiting for their own wee Big Bang. The artwork is too much fun, with something to see in every spread: the John Coltrane album and record player in the family living room; Dad’s study is loaded with things to see, including a framed picture of Marie Curie, family photo, Abby’s family drawing, and a postcard depicting a scene from  Georges Méliès’s 1902 A Trip to the Moon. The mini galaxy Abby creates unfolds for readers, starting first with swirls and stars, then with planets. It’s a fun book that makes for a great storytime, and a teacher’s note to Abby (you didn’t forget about the homework, did you?) at the story’s end will leave kids and adults alike laughing out loud. An author’s note gives a little more information about black holes and baby universes. Add this one to your collections and get your little ones contemplating astrophysics! Apollo 8: The Mission That Changed Everything, by Martin W. Sandler, (Oct. 2018, Candlewick), $24.99, ISBN: 978-0-7636-9489-0 Ages 10+ It was 1968, and the U.S. was about to make a huge gamble. America was deep into the Cold War with the USSR, and the country was fraying at the seams after the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy; it was a country where the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War caused violent clashes. We needed something to unite us. Russia had already launched the first man-made satellite to orbit Earth, Sputnik I – in 1957, but now, they were getting ready to go to the moon. America was determined to get there first. But first, we had to get into space. Apollo 8: The Mission That Changed Everything is a brilliantly written chronicle of NASA’s mission to put a craft into orbit around the earth. Loaded with black and white and color archival photos and written by one of the most well-known names in children’s and young adult nonfiction, this is a must-have for your middle grade and middle school collections. With the 50th anniversary celebration of the Apollo 8 mission falling in December of this year, this is going to be an in-demand title in classrooms and libraries. Martin W. Sandler is an award-winning writer – a two-time Pulitzer nominee, five-time Emmy winner, and Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor winner – who makes nonfiction read as compulsively as solid fiction; There are extensive source notes and a bibliography for further reading and research.
Earthrise: Apollo 8 and the Photo That Changed the World, by James Gladstone/Illustrated by Christy Lundy, (Oct. 2018, OwlKids Books), $16.95, ISBN: 9781771473163
Ages 4-8
This is the year for Apollo 8 books! Earthrise is a gorgeous picture book that tells that story of Earthrise, the history-making photo of Earth, taken from lunar orbit, taken by astronaut Bill Anders. The story shows readers how this single photo took us from a planet full of conflict to a global community – if only for a moment. We see the story from shifting perspectives: the crowds gathered in anticipation, the men in Mission Control, and an African-American family, with a little girl who dreams of being an astronaut one day.
The text is just beautiful. James Gladstone creates a mood of wonder as he writes lines like, “Now the craft was coasting on a human dream, speeding the crew off to another world”, and “The astronauts saw the whole turning Earth – no countries, no borders – floating in the vastness of space”. Back matter includes a piece on how the Earthrise photo changed the world, and an invitation to readers to share what Earthrise means to them. It’s the perfect program in a book! Show the original Apollo 8 launch broadcast, this NASA Apollo 8 documentary, and/or the broadcast Apollo 8 Christmas Eve message and ask kids to talk about what seeing the Earthrise makes them feel, 50 years later. Paired with Christy Lundy’s vintage-inspired artwork, Earthrise is a necessity in your nonfiction collections. Earthrise has a starred review from Kirkus.
To the Moon and Back, by Buzz Aldrin with Marianne J. Dyson/Paper engineering by Bruce Foster, (Oct. 2018, National Geographic), $32, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3249-4
Ages 6+
How much fun is a pop-up book about SPACE? With ROCKETS?! Buzz Aldrin, Marianne J. Dyson, and Bruce Foster take readers on a trip through “humanity’s greatest adventure”. Learn Buzz Aldrin’s nickname on the mission; read about the launch and landing; souvenirs left on the lunar surface, and the astronauts’ return, all accompanied by amazing paper engineering: pop-up rockets, fold-out lunar landings, and side flaps that offer even greater information – and a few laughs. If you’re getting this for a library or classroom collection, put it in reference; it will get beaten up pretty quickly. The book also comes with a paper Apollo 11 lunar module kids can engineer on their own. (We haven’t built that one yet.) Want to make a space fan happy? Put this on your holiday and special occasion shopping lists. Read more about the 1969 Moon Landing on NatGeo’s webpage.
Whew! Okay, that’s all I’ve got for now, go forth and explore!
Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Empathy and fun make up the heart of The Sinking of Captain Otter

The Sinking of Captain Otter, by Troy Wilson/Illustrated by Maira Chiodi, (Oct. 2018, OwlKids Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781771473118

Ages 4-7

Kelpy is an otter who loves the sea and fancies himself a sea captain. He’s got the heart for it. The head for it. He’s even got the hat for it! Building a ramshackle ship from scraps, that’s everything he could ever dream of, he sails the high seas, despite the cruel jokes and jabs from pirates, sharks, other otters, even the waves themselves. Sure, he cries a little, but he loves his ship and that’s that. But one day, he meets Blistering Blastering Butterbeard, a teeny, tiny pirate on a teeny, tiny boat of his own, who challenges Kelpy. Well, Kelpy can’t help it: he laughs, too. And Butterbeard cries a little. And then he cries a lot. Kelpy knows he has to do the right thing, and proceeds to cut up his ship to make Butterbeard feel better, telling him that his cannonball sunk the ship. Face to face, the two adversaries know what they have to do: rebuild their ships and play on!

Captain Otter is a story about empathy and doing unto others (or otters, as the case may be): Kelpy knows what it’s like to be laughed at and poked fun at, so when he does it to someone else – and sees the repercussions of his actions – he makes amends, paving the way to a brand new friendship. It’s a sweet story whose repetition drives home the important points of the story, particularly persistence and devotion (“He loved his ship. He loved her from keel to cabin to crow’s nest. So he took a deep breath, straightened his hat, and sailed on”). Scuttling his own ship to make Butterbeard feel better is a completely selfless act that opens the door to a friendship between the two; something we see as the two laugh together, play together, and share tea together, along with a black bird that appears in the story. It’s a good story for storytimes and to start a discussion on doing what you love, and how our actions affect others.

Posted in Non-Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

Baby Animals Eating is the cutest book you will read today.

Baby Animals Eating, by Suzi Eszterhas, (Aug. 2018, OwlKids), $14.95, ISBN: 9781771473170

Ages 3-7

Wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas’ third Baby Animals book, Baby Animals Eating, spotlights more adorable baby animals, and their parents, enjoying foods from eucalyptus leaves to mother’s milk. The pictures are vibrant, and the text teaches readers about animal behavior and differing food needs. The previous books, Baby Animals Moving and Baby Animals Playing, come together to form a great introduction to natural science for early learners, and can lead to a good discussion on nutrition. Ask kids what they like to eat; ask for similarities and differences (Bears like to eat clams and fish; do you? Koalas eat eucalyptus leaves; what leaves do you like to eat?) Notice the relationships between parents, siblings, and babies: does your grownup carry you? Do you and your siblings like to eat the same things? Back matter includes more information about Suzi Eszterhas and some behind-the-scenes photos.

This is a great book for storytime, and the crisp pictures allow for early and pre-readers to explore independently. A nice series to add to early nonfiction collections, and a great book to give little ones who love animals. (Go around the room and point out different toys and stuffed animals, and see how many kids can point out from the book.)

Keep Suzi Eszterhas’ webpage on your list of reference links. She’s got a fantastic amount of information on the page, including her books, newsletter, tours and workshops, and a gallery with some of the most incredible wild animal photos you’ve ever seen (perfect for animal reports!). There’s also a link to Girls Who Click, an organization founded by Eszterhaus, empowering young women to enter the field of nature photography and further global conservation efforts.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Take it Slow! Sloth at the Zoom shows you how

Sloth at the Zoom, by Helaine Becker/Illustrated by Orbie, (Aug. 2018, OwlKids), $17.95, ISBN: 9781771472494

Ages 3-7

Poor Sloth! She thought she was being dropped off at the Zzzzzoo, but something must have gone wrong with the paperwork: she’s been brought to the Zoom! It’s a very big difference, you see. At the Zzzzzoo, life moves along at a gentle pace; there’s time for naps in the sun, it’s relaxing, it’s all good. But at the Zoom? Whoosh! Zebras run by so fast, they leave their stripes in puddles! Parrots fly so fast, their tails draw rainbows across the sky! It’s VERY stressful, especially for poor Sloth, who wants to make friends, but no one has the time to give her. Finally, she meets Snail. Snail has time! Snail becomes Sloth’s friend, and the next thing you know, the Zoom is becoming a much nicer place to be. Sometimes, you just have to slow down and enjoy life, right?

It’s so nice to read a story that encourages life in the slow lane, isn’t it? I feel like we’re overscheduled and stressed out, our kids are overscheduled and stressed out, everyone’s got extracurricular activities, work, school, and deadlines seem to pop up everywhere, like neon signs. Kids are racing around like zebras, leaving their stripes behind, and so are we. Seeing two friends meet in the middle of this chaotic atmosphere, and bond over their shared moment of slowing down, gives hope to the rest of us, doesn’t it? Sloth at the Zoom shows readers that it’s in our hands to just stop, just slow down, and to discover the wonderful things that we often miss when we’re running by them. Slow living is contagious, too – if you slow down, someone else may, too. And that’s a good thing.

Sloth at the Zoom celebrates the Slow Living Movement, a lifestyle that puts the importance on mindfulness and embracing the slower aspects of life. There are blogs and websites dedicated to the movement, and there are books for adults and kids alike. One of my current favorites is The Slowest Book Ever, by April Pulley Sayre, which celebrates the science of slow in our world. But to start, all you really need to do is just take a deep breath and slow down.

Cuddle up with your little ones and enjoy a nice, slow read.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Little Brothers and Little Sisters just want to play!

Little Brothers & Little Sisters, by Monica Arnaldo, (Apr. 2018, OwlKids Books), $16.95, ISBN: 9781771472951

Recommended for readers 3-7

Little brothers and sisters all want the same things: a turn at the wheel, the secret password, a place on the team… they also want a bodyguard, a partner in crime, and a best friend. Monica Arnaldo’s picture book looks at the ups and downs of being a younger sibling, through the eyes of a diverse group of children living in and around an apartment building.

The first half of the book illustrates a group of younger siblings waiting for their older siblings to make space for them as they hog the TV, monopolize play time, or keep them out of the fun; the second half looks at the upsides of having a loving sibling who will be a protector, a teacher, a friend. Four pairs of siblings from varying cultural backgrounds will appeal to kids with older (or younger) siblings, sure, but it’s also great to read to kids in a classroom setting, comparing what it’s like to be in lower grades versus upper grades. It’s a lesson in empathy for older children, and a gently encouraging story for younger kids who may feel like the older kids get to do everything. Invite kids to talk about the great parts about being older versus younger; invite them to talk about the ups and downs in their own lives. Many older siblings are responsible for watching over their younger siblings; this story gives kids a chance to talk about their experiences and may help frustrated readers see the benefits of being a positive role model.

Muted but colorful artwork and expressively illustrated characters, paired with simple text make this a nice choice for storytime and individual reading. Definitely a great big brother/big sister gift. Little Brothers & Little Sisters received a starred review from Kirkus.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Let Wallpaper take you on an adventure!

Wallpaper, by Thao Lam, (Apr. 2018, OwlKids Books), $16.95, ISBN: 9781771472838

Recommended for readers 3-7

A young girl moves into a new neighborhood, but is too shy to greet the neighborhood kids playing outside her window. She notices a little bird peeking at her from an upturned piece of wallpaper, and follows the bird on an exciting journey! She releases a flock of birds, wanders into a flower-filled garden, and escapes from a monster as she discovers world after world.

The collage illustration is breathtaking. This is a wordless book that could be used as easily in a storytime as it can in a creative writing class or an art class. The collage artwork is so colorful, so crisp, and so textured, that it appears to stand apart from the page – my own son tried to tap my tablet, seeing if it would cause a flap to lift, or a bird to fly. Thao Lam creates world after world for her protagonist, and us readers, to explore, marvel at, and thrill to. Her protagonist is a child of color and the children in her neighborhood are a wonderfully diverse group, making Wallpaper an exciting journey for all kids. As a librarian in an urban system, I can put this book out on my desk and have the kids in my children’s room identify with all of the children in this book – now, I’ll have to figure out how to explain a possible rash of torn wallpaper to parents…

Wallpaper is a must-have book for collections. I’m interested in exploring this as a book discussion choice, where my kids tell me what worlds they’d like to find if they were in the same situation. And come on: how much fun will it be to have kids create their own collage art? Have magazines and some weeded picture and easy reader books available to cut up.

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

 

 

Posted in Fiction, Graphic Novels, Intermediate

Books for Intermediate Readers – a new Stink!, Monsters, and friendship

Stink: Hamlet & Cheese, by Megan McDonald/Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds,
(March 2018, Candlewick), $14.99, ISBN: 9780763691639
Recommended for readers 7-10

Judy Moody’s brother is back with his 11th adventure – and he’s going to Shakespeare camp! Stink and his friend Sophie head to camp for spring break, where they’ll learn to sword fight and yell silly curses, like “fat guts” and “stewed prune”. The only problem? Riley Rottenberger is at Shakespeare camp, too, and she’s determined to land a kiss on Stink! Stink does his best to avoid Riley while getting ready to act in the camp’s production of the Scottish play… yes, the Play That Shall Not Be Named (psst… it’s MacBeth). This latest story is loaded with black and white illustrations, callout boxes of Shakespeare insults and fun facts, and a good story for Stink and Judy Moody fans.  For readers who want to learn a little more about Shakespeare, a copy of Where’s Will? Find Shakespeare Hidden in His Plays (Kane Miller, 2016) combines Shakespeare with Where’s Waldo; the Stratford Zoo graphic novel series depicts zoo animals putting on Shakespearean plays with loads of backstage hilarity.

 

Cody and the Heart of a Champion, by Tricia Springstubb/Illustrated by Eliza Wheeler,
(Apr. 2018, Candlewick), $14.99, ISBN: 9780763679217
Recommended for readers 7-10

Cody’s fourth adventure has her dealing with life’s changes. Her friendship with Pearl is changing, especially now that she’s playing soccer and “in” with the “in crowd”, and she’s not sure why her friend Spencer is acting so weird. His mom is having a baby, and he’s become more quiet and withdrawn. Cody joins the soccer team, to try and stay close with Pearl, but the resident mean girl doesn’t make things easy. She’s determined to stay upbeat and try to roll with the changes, but when so much is changing all at once, it’s really hard. Readers will understand and empathize with Cody and how hard it is when everything seems to hit at once: friendships shift, seasons change, and families expand. There are black and white illustrations throughout and the upbeat tone of the book should help kids as they deal with their own transitions.

 

Simone: Even More Monstrous! (Simone, Vol. 2), by Rémy Simard,
(Apr. 2018, OwlKids), $16.95, ISBN: 9781771473002
Recommended for readers 6-10

This graphic novel is loaded with brief, one-page comics about Simone, a little blond girl, who travels into a world of monsters. If anyone remembers The Munsters (totally dating myself here), the running joke was that cousin Marilyn, the pretty blonde, was the “poor girl” for being so unattractive in The Munsters’ society; that joke holds here. Cute, little Simone is the monster in the monsters’ world, but they seem to enjoy her company, nonetheless. The graphic novel is loaded with independent stories, all one page, with a punchline at the end. They’re downright silly, sometimes surreal, and will get laughs out of readers. The first volume, Simone: The Best Monster Ever!, released last year.