Posted in Uncategorized

For activists in training: Protest! How People Have Come Together to Change the World

Protest! : How People Have Come Together to Change the World, by Emily Haworth-Booth & Alice Haworth-Booth, (Nov. 2021, Pavilion), $22.50, ISBN: 9781843655121

Ages 9+

A primer for burgeoning middle-grade activists, Protest! offers a glimpse into the history of protest activism, from the ancient world, through the suffrage and Civil Rights movements, through to today’s global social change revolutions, like the Black Lives Matter and the Toys Protest movements. Twelve chapters detail 38 uprisings, but the focus is on how people come together to stand up against injustice. Each chapter includes Tactics sections that provide more insight into approaches protestors have used, including gardening (like Wangari Maathai’s Green Belt Movement in Kenya); sports (the Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics); and transportation (the Civil Rights Freedom Riders). Comic book illustrations have big kid appeal and put both a humorous and readable spin on the nonfiction text. Artwork is done in shades of gray and red-orange, popping off the page, demanding to be seen. A final section discusses young people fighting for environmental justice – some as young as nine years old – that will empower kids to take action on their own. Protest! offers ways for kids to recognize and grow into their own power as activists for causes they’re passionate about.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade, Middle School, Tween Reads

Hideaway is an excellent follow-up to Pam Smy’s Thornhill

The Hideaway, by Pam Smy, (Oct. 2021, Pavilion), $19.95, ISBN: 9781843654797

Ages 9-13

Pam Smy follows up her wonderfully chilling novel Thornhill (2017) with The Hideaway, which looks at themes of abuse, toxic masculinity, families, and forgiveness. Billy is a 13-year-old who cannot live in his home any longer. He feels guilty about leaving his mother to her abusive boyfriend, Jeff, but he is unable to bear hearing him hurt her and unable to live with this man any longer. He sneaks out one night and takes refuge in a small hideaway at a local cemetery, where he meets an old man who’s cleaning up the cemetery for an upcoming special event. The old man promises to keep Billy’s presence a secret for a couple of days while Billy works things out, in exchange for some help in cleaning up. Meanwhile, at Billy’s home, as his mother searches for Billy, she also finds the courage to reach out and ask for help – something she’d had drummed out of her until now.

Pam Smy breathes incredible life into her characters. Grace, Billy’s mother, is a strong, smart woman who learns to take back her power, discovering that asking for help is the first step in recovering that power. Billy is conflicted, a victim of trauma who escapes for his own sake, but struggles with the guilt of leaving his mother behind. Supporting characters steer the two toward good decisions, never forcing either into actions they aren’t ready to take. Billy addresses toxic masculinity by throwing off Jeff’s verbal barbs about “manning up”, and takes action when he sees a potential assault in the cemetery one night. Grace remembers that she had the strength to go it alone with Billy once before, and is fully prepared to do it again. Pam Smy creates moody, ethereal landscapes with her black and grey illustrations. The event that Billy and the old man prepared for unfolds over several pages of pure illustration, which will grab reader’s hearts and hold on, staying with them long after they’ve closed the book for good.

The Hideaway is just a wonderful story; a visceral family story with a touch of the magical. See more of Pam Smy’s illustration work at her website. Don’t miss her Instagram, either.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Spoooooky Books for your Halloween Displays!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Halloween is my FAVORITE holiday. It’s a celebration of fun, all things spooky and weird, and candy.

If you’re going to have a seasonal, Halloween, or spooky book display up, consider some of these fun new books!

Poultrygeist, by Eric Geron/Illustrated by Pete Oswald, (Aug. 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536210507

Ages 4-8

This cautionary tale is worth a giggle or three at storytime. When a chicken crosses the road without looking both ways, he reaches THE OTHER SIDE. No, not *that* other side, The Other Side: he’s a ghost chicken now… a POULTRYGEIST. The fun play on words brings us into a story where other ghostly animals try to pressure our poor chicken into scaring others, but Poultry doesn’t want to do that! The peer pressure continues until Poultry asserts himself, proving that even the friendliest ghost can show a little “pluck”. Smart wordplay, a fun story, and a strong messages about peer pressure and standing up for oneself let readers know that it’s okay to say “no” to bullies. The digital artwork is a Halloween delight, with sprawling midnight blue and black landscapes and shimmery, colorful ghostly animals. Spooky eyes dot the landscape, giving a tummy tickle to the littles. A free teacher tip card offers tips on introducing wordplay, homophones, and puns to students.

Poultrygeist has starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal.

 

 

This Book is NOT a Bedtime Story, by Eoin McLaughlin/Illustrated by Robert Starling, (Sept. 2021, Pavilion Children’s), $16.95, ISBN: 9781843655060

Ages 3-6

This rhyming tale turns into a hilarious dialogue between a monster who sees himself and his friends as terribly terrifying monsters, and the woodland animals who have questions. Lots of questions. A red, stripey, fairly adorable monster tells us straight from the start that he’s got teeth, claws, and big roars, but everything else points to the contrary. He claims¬† that his middle name is “Terror”, but his Scary Monster Society card reveals that his full name is “Fluffy Terry McFluff”. He calls in his “horrible bunch” of monster friends, but their monster stew is a tasty recipe they’re too happy to share, and their spooky hauntings are really quite sweet. As the story progresses, we see that the monsters have their own concerns and fears, and they’re getting just a little bit sleepy. Illustrations are colorful, kid-friendly, with kindly, cute monsters that readers will want to snuggle with, not run from. A monster story for kids who aren’t really crazy about monsters, this fits nicely with Rebecca and Ed Emberley’s Go Away, Big Green Monster and If You’re a Monster and You Know It. The rhyme scheme and fun spreads that break the fourth wall make this a great readaloud candidate. There’s no need to worry about these monsters – if they’re under your bed, they’re fast asleep!
Tiny T. Rex and the Tricks of Treating, by Jonathan Stutzman/Illustrated by Jay Fleck, (Sept. 2021, Chronicle Kids), $7.99, ISBN: 9781452184906
Ages 2-4
Tiny T. Rex is all about Halloween, and he’s ready to share with us what it takes to be a Treat-master! This delightful board book lays out the Six Tricks of Treating, according to Tiny T. Rex and his best friend, Pointy. Kids will love the step-by-step process, from costumes (try them all on!) to staying warm, to trick or treating with friends. Tiny makes sure to remind little Treaters to be kind and gracious, and that candy shared is much better than candy eaten alone. Tiny is cheerful and upbeat; the sentences are simple and to the point, injected with humor and kindness. Illustrations make this book a win – I can’t read Tiny books without squealing as I turn to each spread – with Tiny and friends dressed in adorable costumes. Cute details throughout, like Pointy’s and Tiny’s experimentation with bubble gum, and the costume montage, will have readers heading for this book again and again. A wonderful introduction to Halloween for little ones.
Owl Has a Halloween Party, Illustrated by Jannie Ho, (July 2021, Nosy Crow), $8.99, ISBN: 9781536217346
Ages 0-4
This cute little story about an Owl throwing a Halloween party for his friends is loaded with durable pull-tabs that babies and toddlers will play with for hours! Owl is having a Halloween party, and readers can help him look for his friends. Each page features a pull tab that reveals owl’s friends, hiding in costume. An astronaut monkey and princess frog peek out from behind pumpkins; a pirate lion and flowery bear hide behind treees. Tabs stick out from the book, showing a variety of friendly animals peeking out in all directions. Simple sentences are good for emerging readers and for a little lapsit storytime. Let your little ones play hide and seek with the animal friends, and identify who each could be; point out colors; count bats and pumpkins: there are so many great ways to extend the fun here.
My First Pop-Up Mythological Monsters, by Owen Davey, (Oct. 2021, Candlewick Studio), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536217643
Ages 3-7
Owen Davey introduces young readers to the world of mythological monsters in his follow-up to My First Pop-Up Dinosaurs (2019). Taking readers all around the world, My First Pop-Up Monsters encounters 15 faces familiar and new, as each spread reveals bold and colorful creatures rising off the pages, with a brief descriptive note and country of origin. Kids will likely recognize Greece’s Cyclops and the Minotaur, but have they met the Ushi-Oni from Japan, or Sarimanok from the Philippines? Absolute fun, with beautiful illustration and detail; this is a great book for kids and grownups alike.
Posted in Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Teen, Tween Reads

Good for you, good for the planet, Green Kids Cook!

Green Kids Cook: Simple, Delicious Recipes & Top Tips, by Jenny Chandler, (Aug. 2021, Pavilion), $23.95, ISBN: 9781911663584

Ages 8-14

You have to love a cookbook that teaches kids to cook and to be good global citizens al at once. Green Kids Cook has over 50 recipes, organized into 5 areas: Breakfast and Brunch, Snacks, Soups and Salads, Mains, and Sweet Things. There’s an intro for kids and adults, focused on food and cooking area safety and having a balance of food on your plate: vegetables and meat can share the same space! There are spreads throughout on reducing food waste and plastic use (smartly referred to as reducing our “foodprint”); crafts like making your own cook’s apron and beeswax wraps rather than relying on plastic wrap, and creating a welcoming table. Colorful photos accompany tasty-sounding recipes, and each recipe includes tips on adding variety and swapping in alternatives, like less spicy options, more vegetables, and additional tasty treats to excite palates. I’m ready to dive into the Halloween Hummus, made with pumpkin; Indian Chickpea Salad, and flatbreads. Originally published in the UK earlier this year, there’s also a glossary for us US folk that call tea towels “dish towels”, kitchen paper “paper towels”, and cornflour “corn starch”. Recipes include measurements for grams and ounces, too.

Grab this one for sure! My library system isn’t doing in-person programming and we tend not to do food programming with kids, but if your system differs, there are plenty of no-bake recipes here to try, including the Super-Cool Smoothie Bowl that only calls for some quick prep on your end.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Billy McGill is ALONE! Until…

ALONE!, by Barry Falls, (March 2021, Pavilion), $16.95, ISBN: 9781843654858

Ages 3-6

This rhyming, cumulative tale is hilarious fun with a seek-and-find. Billy McGill is a boy who lives all alone on the top of a hill, and he’s very happy that way: until a mouse finds his way into Billy’s home! Naturally, Billy has to get back to the status quo, so he goes and gets a cat, which leads to getting a dog, a bear, a tiger, and ultimately, a veterinarian to check on the tiger, who’s developed a cold. When the vet brings in a friend and his son, Billy has had far too much and heads out to find a place where he can be ALONE. But he discovers that maybe being all alone all the time isn’t so great after all. A humorous story with a good message about the need for both having one’s own space and making time for connection, ALONE! is a relatable book, especially these days when so many of us are living on top of one another. Readers are challenged to look for the tiny mouse in every spread – he’s not always that easy to find! – and the friendly, colorful art invites readers to join right in with the fun. A good rhyme scheme, a funny story, and definite flannel potential makes this a delightful storytime choice.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Folx and children of all ages, I present… The Greatest Show Penguin!

The Greatest Show Penguin, by Lucy Freegard, (Feb. 2021, Pavilion), $22.95, ISBN: 978-1-84365-483-4

Ages 3-7

Poppy is a show penguin descending from a long line of show penguins. She’s been in show business from early on, and the audience loved her, but she wasn’t enjoying herself. She didn’t like the crowds, bright lights, and noises, and, despite worrying about disappointing her family, stops performing, only to discover a talent for the backstage business of putting on a show! The Greatest Showpenguin is an engaging story about finding your talents and discovering your strengths. Poppy’s parents are supportive and encourage her to pursue what makes her happy; Poppy is happy when she feels in control of her life and her environment, which will resonate with readers. The illustrations are cheery, colorful but not overwhelming. Endpapers feature Poppy, rolling in a hoop, across the spreads. A fun storytime that would pair nicely with Hannah E. Harrison’s Extraordinary Jane (2014).

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Magical, snuggly bedtime stories

Who doesn’t love a good bedtime story? And now, with virtual programming here for good, we can hold virtual pajama storytimes at any time! Here are a few adorable new bedtime stories to read to your littles, whether they’re curled up in your lap at home, or gathered around their devices for your storytime.

It’s So Quiet: A Not-Quite-Going-to-Bed Book, by Sherri Duskey Rinker, (Feb. 2021, Chronicle Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781452145440

Ages 3-7

As the sun goes down and the night drifts in, a little mouse isn’t able to fall asleep quite yet: it’s too quiet! Mom tells the little mouse to let the sounds of nature help them drift off to sleep: a croaking bullfrog, a snoring grandfather and his dog’s tail thumping against the porch; a coyote howling at the moon, all around the little mouse, there is sound – and maybe he would like it a little more quiet after all. Sherri Duskey Rinker creates wonderful bedtime stories that play with sound, rhyme, and repetition – Steam Train, Dream Train and Good Night, Good Night Construction Site are stalwart storytime favorites with my library kids – and It’s Too Quiet continues this fun tradition. Sound effects repeat and get their own exaggerated fonts, calling attention to them and making for flannel and finger puppet storytelling. Digital illustrations are cartoony and expressive, with bold lines. A great bedtime and storytime book that’s sure to pack in the laughs.

It’s So Quiet has a starred review from Kirkus.

 

Ella’s Night Lights, by Lucy Fleming, (Nov. 2020, Candlewick), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536212693

Ages 3-7

Ella is a little girl with moth wings and antenna, who sleeps in the nook of a tree by day. By night, she flies around, collecting light and bringing it to anyone that needs it, repeating a gentle rhyme: “Here’s some bright light. / Here’s a night light, / a little ray to calm your fright”. Ella wants so much to see the sunrise, but her delicate wings make that impossible, until her animal friends come together with a plan to celebrate her kindness. Ella’s Night Lights is a warm story of kindness and friendship, with soft digital illustrations and quietly colorful spreads bringing life to cold, snowy landscapes. The endpapers are soft yellow, with moths flitting across the pages. Ella’s evening rhyme is a lovely way to send dreamers off to sleep, especially for those who may appreciate a little extra light in the room.

 

Bedtime for Albie, by Sophie Ambrose, (Jan. 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536211184

Ages 3-7

It’s time for bed in the savanna, but Albie, a young warthog, still wants to play! He runs off to ask his other animal buddies to play, but everyone’s going through their night time routines. That doesn’t stop Albie, who decides he’ll just play on his own… but it’s not really much fun playing all by himself, so Albie heads back to his mother, who has the best night time routine waiting for him. Kids will relate to this story about not being ready for bed just yet, and the different animals going through bedtime stories and baths is a good way to prompt conversation about our own bedtime routines: brushing teeth, washing up, stories, what else can you think of? The phrase, “skippety trot trit trot”, used when Albie dashes off, repeats often enough that you can invite readers to chime in. Watercolor and pencil illustrations are soft, with earthy colors and friendly animal faces. Endpapers show a grayed-out area of the savanna. A fun story on which to end the day.

 

While You’re Sleeping, by Mick Jackson/Illustrated by John Broadley, (Feb. 2021, Pavilion), $19.95, ISBN: 978-1843654650

Ages 4-8

While you’re tucking your little one into bed, there’s a whole world hustling and bustling outside. While You’re Sleeping is all about the folx who work while the rest of the world sleeps: people who clean public transportation and offices; delivery drivers; mail sorters, bakers, shopkeepers, and more, all work through the night to get the world ready for everyone else that next morning. Even the animal world doesn’t settle in for the night: foxes pass humans on the street as they forage for food, bats and owls hunt for prey. John Broadley’s illustrations remind me of Beth Krommes’s artwork; there’s so much detail to be discovered. Colors grow warmer as the night turns to dawn, with red-orange sunlight streaking through windows and down streets. Read with Karen Hesse’s Night Shift for a storytime about night time jobs.

While You’re Sleeping was originally published in the U.K. in 2020.

Posted in picture books

Delightfully Different Fairy Tales put a modern spin on the classics

Delightfully Different Fairy Tales, by David Roberts & Lynn Roberts-Maloney, (Oct. 2020 Pavilion Children’s Books), $19.95, ISBN: 978-1843654759

Ages 4-7

Illustrator siblings David Roberts and Lynn Roberts-Maloney have come together to put a modern, vintage spin on three classics fairy tales: Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Sleeping Beauty. Each is set in a different 20th century (give or take…): Cinderella takes place in the Roaring ’20s, Rapunzel, in the 1970s, and Sleeping Beauty, in the 1950s and beyond. The storytelling incorporates moments from each time frame, and the art – THE ART! – is filled with nods to each decade. Cinderella’s evil stepmother and stepsisters have cloches and Louise Brooks-like bobbed hair; the dressing gowns are fabulously glamourous and the headdresses are incredible. Rapunzel has that long, flower child straight hair that was so popular in the 1970s, spins David Bowie’s iconic Aladdin Sane album on her turntable and has Saturday Night Fever, Abba, and Elton John posters on her wall. Her Prince Charming is in a band called Roger and the Rascals, and he sports platform shoes of his own. Sleeping Beauty has a decidedly modern spin as Annabel, our Beauty, comes of age in the mid-20th century, pricks her finger on a turntable needle and falls into a deep sleep; her aunt turns Annabel into a rose and herself into a light, that she may shine on her through her slumber. When a young girl browses the story of Sleeping Beauty one thousand years later, she’s convinced it’s a true story, awakens Annabel, and introduces her to the sci-fi world Annabel dreamed of as a child. The artwork is gorgeous; it has a Tim Burton-meets-The Questioneers type of style that’s playful and fun to read. (Note: David Roberts is the illustrator of the Questioneers series!) Give your fairy tale fans a dose of nostalgia – or introduce them to the 20th Century – with this volume.

Posted in Middle School, Non-Fiction, Teen, Tween Reads, Young Adult/New Adult

Challenge Everything activates teens/young adult activism

Challenge Everything: An Extinction Rebellion Youth Guide to Saving the Planet, by Blue Sandford, (Sept. 2020, Pavilion Books),

Ages 12+

The coordinator of Extinction Rebellion Youth London, an activist group, is behind this straightforward, illustrated guide that encourages readers to challenge everything: government, big business, even ourselves. Blue lays out the crisis facing Gen Z in a no-nonsense, no drama statement: “We are a generation that has never known a stable climate and that will be defined by how the world responds to the climate and ecological crisis”. Blue calls for readers to research and know their facts before taking action (THANK YOU), and to boycott businesses that pollute the environment, treat their workers poorly, or are unethical. Blue calls for craft activism to do away with the disposable, “fast fashion” trends and encourages readers to repair, mend, and repurpose clothing; reconsider our diets and cut down or cut out animal products; make our leaders accountable and, most importantly, figure out our own moral grounds. Worksheets throughout invite readers to engage in some introspection and create action plans. The last few years have seen our young people take on greater roles in activism than ever before, and the literature out there is reaching younger kids, encouraging them to act and take charge. Whether it’s organizing beach cleanups or asking readers to make businesses and people accountable for their actions, there are ways for everyone to be involved. Challenge Everything is written for middle schoolers through college, and you can use this book in virtually any kind of programming: journaling, advocacy, STEM. Give it a look and consider it for your budding activists.

Posted in picture books

A new Christmas origin story: The Three Wishes

 

The Three Wishes: A Christmas Story, by Alan Snow, (Nov. 2020. Pavilion), $19.95, ISBN: 978-1843653868

Ages 5-8

Long ago, when people moved about the land, a boy watched over and herded his family’s reindeer. At the annual gathering, he noticed the reindeer heading into a mysterious cave and followed them, discovering a secret inner world where it is eternally summer. The boy wants to return home, but is told that it is not possible. He’s given three wishes and asks for freedom, happiness, and time. During the year, the boy works alongside the residents of the inner world to learn about the earth; he is allowed to visit his family as long as he doesn’t wake them. Time doesn’t move as he visits his sleeping family and leaves small gifts for them so they know he was there. Every year, he returns to his family for his nightly visit, and back to the cave world for the rest of the year, adding nearby families on his visits. The residents of the cave world reward him with special gifts, like a sled and a magic feather for his reindeer, to aid him on his way, and his family leaves a special gift for him on his visit. This is a new take on the Santa Claus story, and I loved the gentle, yet bittersweet, storytelling; take care for younger readers that may be disturbed by the boy being separated from his family, but they should get the idea as the story goes on and more information is revealed. The artwork is muted, darker, and rich. The Three Wishes is a good additional book for your holiday shelves.