Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade

An animal whodunit! Homer on the Case

Homer on the Case, by Henry Cole, (Apr. 2022, Peachtree Publishing), $8.99, ISBN: 9781682633571

Ages 8-12

Award-winning author and illustrator Henry Cole has a new adventure for middle grade animal fiction fans. Homer on the Case is a whodunit starring a homing pigeon named Homer who’s taught himself to read! He lives with his human friend, a boy named Otto, and Otto’s grandfather, who passed his love of raising and training homing pigeons onto Otto. Over the years, Homer’s taught himself to read using the newspapers that Otto lines his cage with, and he loves reading the newspaper to find out what’s been going on. When he and his parrot friend, Lulu, witness a series of robberies committed by animals running throughout the park, they decide to investigate: after all, their humans have been affected! Once they follow the crooks to their hideout, they discover that they need some human help: Lulu can say some human words, and Homer can read… can they put their skills together to get the people to pay attention? Fun storytelling with action and humor make this an easy handsell to readers. Henry Cole has a light, fun storytelling voice and imbues his animal characters with human qualities that endear them to the humans in their stories, and the humans who read them. Black and white illustrations start off each chapter and give readers a sneak peek at what they can expect to discover in the pages ahead.

Homer on the Case was originally published in hardcover in April 2021. Peachtree Publishers has a free, downloadable discussion guide available. Henry Cole’s author website has fun games related to his books, a library of information on each of his books, and information about school visits.

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

A 40-year old whodunnit! Soccer Trophy Mystery

Soccer Trophy Mystery, by Fred Bowen (Sports Story #24), (Sept. 2021, Peachtree Publishing), $6.99, ISBN: 9781682630792

Ages 7-12

Sports mystery author Fred Bowen’s latest Sports Story looks at a decades-old mystery and examines the impact of Title IX on generations of female athletes. Soccer playing twin siblings Aiden and Ava and their friend Daniel are working hard to get their teams into the championships and get their teams’ names inscribed on the league’s soccer trophy when they learn that this isn’t the first and only soccer trophy for their league: the original one went missing 40 years ago and the mystery has never been solved. While practicing for championships and keeping up with their schoolwork, Aiden and Ava are intrigued by the history of the trophy and start investigating what could have happened to it. Fast-paced action sequences and an intriguing mystery and how it ties into sports history will appeal to readers who love sports, especially soccer. Back matter tells “The Real Story” about the mystery of the original FIFA Word Cup trophy and women’s sports. Give this to your Baseball Mysteries readers, your Ron Roy mystery fans, and your Mike Lupica and Tim Green readers.

Fred Bowen is an award-winning author and Washington Post KidsPost sports columnist. Visit his author website for more information about his books.

 

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Two Stanley board books for back to school!

Who could start a school year without our friend Stanley, the hardest working hamster in kidlit? Stanley’s publisher, Peachtree Publishing, sent me these last year, but my library was closed, and I didn’t get them until June of this year – but the best thing about books is that they’re always ready to be read and enjoyed. So let’s visit Stanley together, shall we?

Stanley’s Toolbox, by William Bee, (March 2020, Peachtree Publishing), $6.99, ISBN: 9781682631874

Ages 2-5

Stanley’s going to help Little Woo build a treehouse! He shows up with his toolbox and the two friends get to work drilling holes, hammering roof tiles, sanding floors, and hanging signs. The board book captures the spirit of the Stanley picture books, taking readers through the process of building a tree house; a page in the board book shows all of the equipment in Stanley’s toolbox, so readers can follow which tool he uses as the book progresses. Get out your toy toolkits or hand out tool coloring pages for kids to make their own storytime toolboxes with Stanley!

 

Stanley’s Paint Box, by William Bee, (March 2020, Peachtree Publishers), $6.99, ISBN: 9781682631867

Ages 2-6

Stanley’s getting ready for a painting project with his friends! Sophie, Benjamin, and Little Woo are all ready, so Stanley gets his paints ready and the friends have a great time painting boxes and learning how to make even more colors by mixing the colors they have! As Stanley mixes up a new color, the bottom of the page changes color to showcase that color, teaching early color theory. It’s a fun way to spend the day, isn’t it? Great to read as part of an art storytime, encourage your readers to let their creative sides run wild. I love using the chunky sponge-tipped markers, like Do a Dot, for less mess and cleanup, but feel free to cover your tables in newspaper and let your fingerpainters go wild, too. If you’re like me and don’t have programming back in your library yet, consider a grab-and-go kit with some crayons or small painting sets and paper to go with a virtual storytime. Stanley is fun for everyone!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

New car and truck books for littles!

Red Truck, Yellow Truck, by Michelle Robinson/Illustrated by Jez Tuya (Aug. 2021, Peachtree Publishers), $16.99, ISBN: 9781682633021

Ages 2-6

A rhyming truck story always hits the storytime spot. Dogs drive their red and yellow trucks to a construction site, going through various locales – cities, forests, farms – on their way to a construction site, spotting other types trucks along the way. Jez Tuya’s always got bright, playful artwork, and brings out the fun in Michelle Robinson’s rhyming text. Endpapers feature all sorts of colorful trucks, making for a great lead-in and out to the story. There’s a fun chaos to the story as trees fall, mud splashes, trucks roll over cars, and trucks get stuck behind one another. Details throughout each spread will give readers more to see and giggle along with. A fun storytime read-aloud for toddlers and pre-kindergarteners.

Pair with Richard Scarry’s books, like Cars and Trucks and Things That Go and What Do People Do All Day?; Kate and Jim McMullan’s series of vehicle books, and loads of car and vehicle coloring pages.

 

 

Hop Aboard! Baby’s First Vehicles, by Elliot Kruszynski, (Sept. 2021, Candlewick Press), $8.99, ISBN: 9781536217780
Ages 0-3
More vehicles, more bold and bright colors! Baby can join a group of animal friends and ride a number of vehicles: the baby train, the baby plain, even a baby rocket! Bold colors, defined lines, and adorable cartoony animals invite babies to explore; you can provide the colors and shapes while making super-fun noises for each spread. Splish and splash with the boat, zoom with the rocket! Animals take measures to be safe, sporting safety helmets to ride their bikes and seat belts in the driver’s seat.  A mirror at the end provides a surprise that will let your little one “hop on” and join the next adventure. Adorable for babies and toddlers, with appealing artwork and repetitive phrases.
Pair with Toni Buzzeo’s board book, Caution! Road Signs Ahead! for toddlers and preschoolers to familiarize them with road signs they may encounter from the back seat. Pair with Byron Barton’s My Car, or Emma Garcia’s Toot Toot, Beep Beep, for more fun vehicle sounds.
Posted in Early Reader, Non-Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

¡Más libros en español: peces y insectos! / More books in Spanish: Fish and Insects!

When I got back to my library just under two months ago, I discovered some bookmail waiting for me: two books in Spanish, courtesy of Peachtree Publishing! They’ve been wonderful about keeping me updated on their bilingual and Spanish nonfiction books, and I’ve loved the “About…” series they’ve sent me so far, so I wanted to make sure I gave these two books the love they deserve (and a place on my Spanish collection shelves).

Sobre los peces, by Cathryn Sill/Illustrated by John Sill, (Feb. 2020, Peachtree Publishers), $8.99, ISBN: 978-1-68263-154-6

Ages 3-7

Great early reader nonfiction. Sobre los peces is entirely in Spanish, and offers readers a look at the basics of fish: where they live, how they adapt to their environment, what they eat, how they reproduce. The text is written in easy-to-read, easy-to-understand, simple sentences, and each spread includes colorful, realistic paintings of different fish throughout. The text is presented in bold, black font against a white background, not competing for the reader’s attention; each painting includes the name of the fish, to increase understanding and forward the fact that there are a LOT of fish out there! Back matter includes more information about each spread: did you know that tropical fish are usually more vibrantly colored than fish from cold waters? It helps them camouflage better in their surroundings! A glossary and bibliography offer more resources for curious readers.

Peachtree includes a link to a free, downloadable Teacher’s Guide for the whole series. The guide is in English, but pair with some Spanish-language information like this page on National Geographic España, this story on sharks from TeachersPayTeachers creator, The Storyteller’s Corner, and this graphic organizer from TeachersPayTeachers creator Dual Language, Dual Fun.

 

Sobre los insectos, by Cathryn Sill/Illustrated by John Sill, (Feb. 2020, Peachtree Publishers), $8.99, ISBN: 978-1-68263-155-3

Ages 3-7

More great books in translation from Peachtree! About Insects is translated entirely into Spanish, with easy-to-read, easy-to-understand sentences introducing readers to the basics about insects: how many legs they have (it’s 6, not 8!), their hard exoskeletons, how they change forms as they get older, what they eat and how they eat, and how they are helpful to us humans (and how some are just plain pests). Colorful paintings by John Sill are realistic and detailed, making a naturalist out of every reader; the environments are textured, often lush, and there’s always something to draw your eye, from the movement of water as a trout jumps to catch a fleeing mayfly to the shadowy leaves in the background as a katydid leaps. Details on each painting, a glossary, and bibliography make up the back matter.

While the Teacher’s Guide is currently available in English, you can find more information about insects at National Geographic España, and there are copious free resources on TeachersPayTeachers, including a reader about The Hungry Insects from The Spanglish Senorita, bilingual bug bingo from onlinefreespanish, and a  counting sheet from The Spanish Amigo.

Thanks again, Peachtree!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

See what’s growing at Amara’s Farm!

Amara’s Farm, by JaNay Brown-Wood/Illustrated by Samara Hardy, (Sept. 2021, Peachtree Publishing), $16.99, ISBN: 9781682631652

Ages 3-6

The first in a new series from Peachtree, Amara’s Farm introduces readers to a little girl and invites them to help her find pumpkins for her get-together. Amara is hosting a potluck for her friends, and needs pumpkins. First, we take a moment to consider what we know about pumpkins. Using that knowledge, we set off on a series of spreads, guiding readers through different crops that share some properties with pumpkins, but not all. Will Amara find her pumpkins in time? Using a question-and-answer format and descriptive explanations, this is an excellent introduction to properties, concepts, and farm food for kids that may recognize different foods they’ve seen on their own tables, at a farmer’s market, or in a grocery store, while introducing others to new foods like persimmons, figs, and eggplant, and showing kids how they grow: on trees, on vines, even underground. Cheery illustrations are colorful and have beautiful texture, giving readers a real feel for their food’s origins and appearance. Amara is an adorable young girl of color, with a friendly, expressive face and beautifully textured hair and clothing. Back matter includes a molasses pumpkin bread recipe to make with a grownup helper.

I really like this first entry into the new Where in the Garden? series! Being in an urban library system, this is a great way to communicate to my kids about food and how it grows, what they look like, where they can be found. You can explain concepts like shape, color, and textures as you go, and – since I’m fortunate enough to have several fruit markets and a weekend farmer’s market in my library’s community – invite the kids to visit these places with their grownups and describe what they see there. I can’t wait to see more from this series!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Let’s get some #LibraryLove!

I am SO excited. I’m returning to my community library on Monday for the first time since I locked the doors on March 16, 2020, when New York went on “pause”. We’ve got two weeks of work to get our little home away from home back in shape (so many bins await unpacking), and then we reopen to our families on July 12th. It’s the day I’ve been waiting for and I am just so happy. So let’s celebrate some library love with two great books!

Stanley’s Library, by William Bee, (Aug. 2021, Peachtree Publishers), $14.99, ISBN: 9781682633137

Ages 3-7

It’s the Stanley book I’ve been waiting for! The hardest-working gerbil in town is back with Stanley’s Library. It’s going to be a busy day for Stanley, who arrives at work, loads up his bookmobile (they call it a “library van”) and head to the park for a day of truly public librarianship. He spots some friends and makes sure they get books he knows they would love, and then gets back to the library in order to set up for their big author event! The day is done, and it’s time for Stanley to go home, have supper, take his bath, and get to bed – with a good book. ‘Nite, Stanley!

The Stanley books are the best career books I can offer to my little kids (you have to love a multi-tasker!), and Stanley’s Library is so much fun. The endpapers show all the tools of the trade, including a date stamp, stamped library card, author event ticket, and bookmark. There are great details throughout the story, too, like the labeled shelves and the books on them: the Horror section includes books on Owls, Cats, and Snakes, all predators to gerbils; History stocks books like Famous Gerbils and More Famous Gerbils; Cheese gets its own very popular section, as we learn later on. Stanley exhibits fantastic readers advisory and collection development skills as he makes sure to give books to his friends that are in just in line with their interests, too; he gives Hattie, who’s working on her motorbike, a book on traveling twisty roads, and Little Woo gets a book on pirates, as he works with Shamus on his boat. The Stanley books are such fun and such easy reading; they’re a hit for your shelves.

 

Nia and the New Free Library, by Ian Lendler/Illustrated by Mark Pett, (June 2021, Chronicle Books), $18.99, ISBN: 9781452166865

Ages 5-8

Inspired by Stone Soup, this story hits on so many things: the idea that the library is always there, but no one uses it; that ideas people have about libraries aren’t always the reality, and my favorite, that libraries are built by communities, for communities. The Littletown Library has always been there. Until it’s not when a tornaldo carries it away. A young girl named Nia wants to rebuild the library, but – in a series of panels every librarian will identify with – hears a lot of talk as to why it’s not a priority: “What’s the point? No one uses libraries anymore”; “That costs money, and I can’t spare a dime”; and of course, “My son and I get everything we want online”. Taking matters into her own hands, Nia comes up with a very creative idea to get her community to come together and create a library – first, as a community, then, within a building. There are wonderful moments as Nia brings townspeople together to create their own stories or remember stories and parts of writing that inspired them; one gentleman recalls Maya Angelou’s And Still I Rise; detectives and boat captains recall the works that they loved from childhood. The library reopening is a stirring statement on what we do: “everyone crowded into the library to admire what they had accomplished”. Children paint, read books, and write their own, new ones; grandparents learn to use computers; there’s a knitting class taking place.  In an author’s note, Ian Lendler remembers how his grandfather helped rally his own community to build the library he dreamed of a kid, saying, “That’s when I realized – a library is an expression of a town and all the poeple who live in it”.

An excellent book for storytime and class visits, and for just reminding people that we all have a stake in our libraries.

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

Mr. Penguin and friends are all aboard for a catastrophic cruise!

Mr. Penguin and the Catastrophic Cruise, by Alex T. Smith, (Sept. 2021, Peachtree Publishing), $9.99, ISBN: 9781682633304

Ages 8-12

The third Mr. Penguin adventure is coming to paperback this Fall, and it’s a doozy! Mr. Penguin and his Adventurers – his friend, Edith her pet pigeon, Gordon, and his partner, the unibrowed, karate-kicking spider, Colin, are off on a posh cruise aboard the Saucy Sandra where Colin’s been invited to sing with the Seven Sisters Choir, and Mr. Penguin and Edith are excited to mix with movie stars and millionaire Herbert Chuckle, accompanied by his girlfriend, Honey Chrystelle. But just as Mr. Penguin is about to relax and enjoy a cruise filled with fish finger sandwiches, he discovers that there’s a pirate plot afoot! A young stowaway named Marina is on board to save her grandfather, who’s been kidnapped. There’s trouble brewing above and below the water and it’s up to Mr. Penguin to get to the bottom of things before they get too out of hand! The bumbling Mr. Penguin is charming and relies heavily on his friends to get himself out of trouble, and the adventure and plot twists are fun and will keep readers guessing. You don’t need to be familiar with the characters to enjoy this book, so make sure readers know they can join Mr. Penguin on any of his adventures. The orange, black and white artwork is visually interesting, with pages being splashed in orange or gray with drawings of underwater and seaboard spreads framing the story’s prose. There’s humor, adventure, fun dialogue, and a good story to keep readers entertained. Perfect for Tails and Tales AND Reading Takes You Everywhere Summer Reading themes.

The hardcover Mr. Penguin and the Catastrophic Cruise is already available, so make sure you’ve got it handy for your displays!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Best Friend in the Whole World brings friends together

Best Friend in the Whole World, by Sandra Salsbury, (March 2021, Peachtree Publishing), $17.99, ISBN: 9781682632505

Ages 4-8

This gentle story is all about connection, friendship, and how your best friend may be waiting just around the corner to meet you. Roland is a rabbit who leads a quiet life of drawing, music, and drinking tea, but it’s a lonely life until he happens upon a pine cone in the woods one day! He names the pine cone Milton, and takes joy in doing all of the things he loves with his new friend: until signs in the forest show up, giving Roland the feeling that his best friend may be someone else’s lost best friend. Reuniting Milton – whose name is Popkin – with their best friend, Lucy, leaves Roland temporarily feeling the loss, but he discovers that there’s always room for new friends, as Lucy and Popkin invite him to join their group! Moving storytelling comes together with soft watercolor artwork to create a touching story.

Great for a storytime, you can also invite readers to make their own pine cone friends: get some craft pine cones, pipe cleaners, and googly eyes from craft bulk wholesalers and make them a grab-and-go craft that readers can come pick up, if you’re not doing in-person programming; hold a virtual storytime where you can walk them through the craft.

Posted in Humor, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Weird Science, reimagined: You Were Made for Me

You Were Made for Me, by Jenna Guillaume, (April 2021, Peachtree Publishers), $17.99, ISBN: 9781682632956

Ages 12-17

Part Weird Science, part Wonder Woman origin story, You Were Made for Me is a fun teen rom-com that touches on topics including asexuality, bullying, male body image, and friendship. Kate Camilleri is a 16-year-old who sculpts her vision of her dream guy out of clay. When she wakes up in the morning, she discovers she’s not alone: a six-foot  tall, floppy haired hunk is laying next to her! Her creation, whom she names Guy, exists to love Katie, but she discovers a whole slew of new problems, including some friction between she and her best friend, Libby, who’s going through some relationship issues of her own, and her male best friend, Theo. All Katie wanted was the perfect first kiss! A fun romp, written in the first person from Katie’s point of view, with additional commentary from Libby, make this a fun read for middle schoolers and high schoolers alike. Good beach read for the summer!