Posted in Fiction, Intermediate

A puppy searches for his “yip” in a new series

Finding My Yip (Boomers Tales, Book 1), by Christine Isley-Farmer/Illustrated by Taylor Bills, (March 2021, Wandering in the Words Press), $8.95, ISBN: 978-1733212663

Ages 7-10

Boomer is a young Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy, adopted by Nana Weathers and her nine-year-old orphaned granddaughter, Chloe. Chloe has a stutter and wants to sing like her Nana, a music teacher, and Nana is confident that Boomer – a puppy who can’t “yip!” just yet – and Chloe can help one another. Chloe and Boomer quickly bond and discover other friends at dog obedience classes. Nana’s magic ring helps her communicate with Boomer, and Chloe’s love encourages Boomer to keep trying and find his Yip; Boomer’s and Nana’s love and encouragement help Chloe find the confidence to be part of the school talent show. Narrated by Boomer, the story is a cute intermediate read for animal lovers with likable characters. Black and white illustrations are cartoony, cute, and will keep readers turning pages.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Cover Reveal: YES & NO by Elisha Cooper

How adorable is this new cover for Elisha Cooper’s new book, Yes & No?

Yes & No, by Elisha Cooper, (April, 2021, Roaring Brook Press),
$18.99, ISBN: 9781250257338
Ages 2-6

Elisha Cooper is the critically acclaimed author/illustrator of many children’s books, including Caldecott Honor-winning BIG CAT, LITTLE CAT. This new story is a timeless tale of friendship, adjusting your perspective, and the joys (and trials) of siblinghood.

As a mother of three children, a dog, and a cat, I can tell you that sibling relationships cross species lines. Reading the sneak peek at Macmillan’s website, I realized it, and you will, too, with chuckles and grins. Visit the book’s page at Macmillan’s site for yourself – Elisha Cooper’s artwork is always a joy to see.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

A warm welcome to Champ and Major, and an Inaugural ReadAloud

Let’s celebrate this big day by coming together to welcome Champ and Major to the White House! You can watch the highlights from Major’s official “Indoguration” here. Fans of the First Pups can also enjoy Champ and Major: First Dogs, by Joy McCullough and Sheyda Abvabi Best.

Champ and Major: First Dogs, by Joy McCullough/Illustrated by Sheyda Abvabi Best,
(Jan. 2021, Dial Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9780593407141
Ages 3-6

 

A Friends group in my library system held an Inauguration storytime yesterday; two of the selections were Dr. Jill Biden’s Joey and Kamala Harris’s Superheroes are Everywhere. If you’re planning a similar event, consider adding these to your lineup.

 

Joey: The Story of Joe Biden, by Dr. Jill Biden with Kathleen Krull/Illustrated by Amy June Bates,

(June 2020, Paula Wiseman Books), $19.99, ISBN: 9781534480537

Ages 5-8

 

Superheroes are Everywhere, by Kamala Harris/Illustrated by Mechel Renee Roe,

(Jan. 2019, Philomel Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781984837493

Ages 3-7

 

 

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

Books for Pet Lovers!

Ollie and Augustus, by Gabriel Evans, (May 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536209679

Ages 3-5

Ollie and Augustus are the best of friends: Ollie is a slight young boy, and Augustus is his large dog. The two friends did most things together; as most best friends do, they even got on each other’s nerves – but quickly got over it. When Ollie is about to start school, he worries: who will be there to keep Augustus company? OIlie tries to find a friend to occupy Augustus’s time until Ollie gets home, but the playdates he sets up with local dogs just don’t work out. They don’t share Augustus’s interests and he certainly doesn’t share theirs. Ollie needn’t worry, though: Augustus is perfectly capable of keeping himself busy until Ollie gets home.

An adorable story of friendship and that comfortable, “just right” feeling, Ollie and Augustus also eases back-to-school worries by assuring kids that comfort and love will be waiting at home for them. Assure your kiddos that pets will be fine; teddy bears, dolls, and other comfort objects that they may transfer worry to will be okay, and waiting for them when they get home after an exciting new day at school. Watercolor, gouache, and pencil artwork with soft colors gives a gentle feel to the story, and the brief prose moves about the pages, narrating each picture, keeping the reader’s interest moving throughout the story. Endpapers are set up like a photo album, capturing moments in Ollie’s and Augustus’s life together from the early moments forward, giving a sense of investment and time in the relationship. A sweet back to school or pet storytime choice.

 

My Pet (Not Yours) (Lento & Fox #2), by Ben Sanders, (Jan. 2020, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1684640850

Ages 3-6

The hilarious follow-up to My Book (Not Yours) is here! Lento the Sloth and Fox are back to delight readers with their latest romp. Lento has found a new pet! It’s a pink long-eared creature who really doesn’t look thrilled to be wearing the collar we assume Lento has adorned it with. But wait! Fox steps in and claims that Mr. Fluffington – Lento’s name for his new pet – should actually be HIS pet, because he is “an expert pet handler”. Fox dubs the new pet Frankensausage, which doesn’t seem to cheer it up any more than Lento did. The two go back and forth, hilariously trying to outdo the other and win Mr. Fluffington-Frankensausage’s affections. The pink friend’s disapproving face and posture remains constant throughout the shenanigans, making events even funnier. As the two frenemies take turns dressing their new pet up, tossing it about as they swear they’re playing with him, and bickering over who he’s better suited for, the pink guy can’t take it anymore. Sight gags, back and forth snarking, and bright, bold colors make this another home run for Lento and Fox, and another great addition to your storytimes. Put on different voices, grab a plush friend to stand in for Mr. Fluffington/Frankensausage, and have at it. Endpapers are there for more laughs as the stoic visage of Fluffington-sausage takes on different emotions, never-changing.

 

Pet That Dog! A Handbook for Making Four-Legged Friends, by Gideon Kidd & Rachel Braunigan, (Oct. 2020, Quirk Books), $14.99, ISBN:  978-1683692294

Ages 8-12

Eleven-year-old Gideon Kidd (now 12) loves dogs! He’s even got a website, IvePetThatDog, with pictures of Gideon and all the dogs he’s been petting since he was 8. Who better to write a book about befriending dogs, for kids? Pet That Dog! is part guide to caring for a pet dog, part guide to dogs, perfect for middle graders who love and may be getting a pupper of their own. Chapters include How to Pet That Dog, which shows kids the best way to approach a dog for pets (and how to walk away if the dog isn’t up for it); things to talk to dog people about in order to learn more about dogs, and fun personality quizzes and ideas for naming your dog. There’s even a Dog Tracker so kids can start journaling their own dog-petting adventures. Fun facts, colorful illustrations, and a conversational tone make this a great book for dog aficionados. Books, movies, and online sources provide more information for kids who want to learn more. My Kiddo has absconded with my copy of this book, and, while we haven’t been able to approach anyone to learn about their dogs lately, he’s definitely been putting it to use with our own pup.

Posted in Graphic Novels, Non-Fiction, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Graphic Novels, Life Stories

I’ve been really loving the graphic novels coming out this year. Lots of life stories have found their voices in the pages of graphic novels; it’s a trend I’m enjoying, because the artwork really helps bring a person’s story to full, visual life, with little nuances and nods to things not always easily described with just words. Shades of grey; pops of color; a flash of a poster in a teen’s room: these are all things that a graphic novel can illustrated and communicate much more easily and quickly, reaching visual readers who may otherwise not experience the full breadth of a story. Here are some great lives I’ve read about recently.

Frankie, by Rachel Dukes, (Oct. 2020, Oni Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781549306884

Ages 12+

This is the sweetest book! Cartoonist Rachel Dukes is the Lucy Knisley of pet parenthood, as she chronicles life with her cat, Frankie. Rachel and their spouse, Mike, find the cutest black and white kitten outside their door, and Rachel is in love. Inspired by Rachel’s webcomic, Frankie is a series of vignettes in pet parenting, with comics taken from their webcomic and with some new material. Cat-lovers and pet-lovers will all recognize moments like Frankie choosing Rachel’s backpack over a snuggly new bed; the conversations we have with our furry friends; the nicknames we give them, and many, many, bedtime moments (what is it about sneezing in our faces as they settle in on our chests?). Frankie is adorable and full of personality that comes shining through the page. Rachel’s artwork is fun and expressive, silly and upbeat: it’s just what so many of us need to read these days! Each vignette has a name that pet parents will relate to, including moments like “Language Barriers”, “The Box”, “Night Song”, and “Cuddles”. Rachel includes a section on Quick Tips for Aspiring Cat Parents. Talk up to your readers who love Chi’s Sweet Home and Pusheen, and visit Rachel’s Frankie website for adorable downloadables! See more of their artwork on Rachel’s Instagram, and read more of their comics and buy some swag by clicking here, at MixTape Comics.

Little Josephine: A Memory in Pieces, by Valérie Villieu/Illustrated by Raphaël Sarfati, (Apr. 2020, Humanoids Inc.), $17.99, ISBN: 9781643375342

Ages 12+

Visiting nurse Valérie Villieu tells the story of Josephine, a patient that touched her heart, in this aching and quietly lovely story that examines the bonds between patient and nurse while it gives readers a look at the unsettling treatment of the elderly by overwhelmed social workers and home health aides. Josephine, an Alzheimer’s patient, lives alone in a Paris apartment when Valérie is assigned to her. While Josephine is at first resistant to Valérie’s help, the two eventually find common ground in humor. As Valérie strives to learn more about her charge, she discovers that Josephine is a playful, charming woman who enjoys conversation. Valérie expresses her frustration at an overloaded health care system, which leaves an elderly woman in the care of a conservator who just isn’t able to keep up with their caseload – a relatable, upsetting issue. Josephine’s lapses are creatively envisioned in fractured panels, where she’s swept away on her bed, or thrust into the middle of a chaotic panel. The colors are muted shades, giving the story a quiet dignity, even as we ache, seeing Josephine increasingly lost in her own world. A beautiful story of connection and a painful memoir of Alzheimer’s from a caregiver’s point of view, Little Josephine is gorgeous storytelling. Back matter includes an author’s note on Alzheimer’s Disease.

Gender Queer, by Maia Kobabe, (May 2019, Oni Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781549304002

Ages 14+

Gender Queer is illustrator Maia Kobabe (pronouns: e/em/eir)’s autobiography. Assigned female at birth but never quite feeling that designation fit, Kobabe journals em’s journey through fandom, identity, and sexuality; finally coming to the discovery that nonbinary and asexual are the best descriptors. From a rustic childhood, through puberty, high school, college, and grad school, we walk with Maia through years of introspection and self-discovery. Written as a journal, readers will hopefully see themselves, or gain an understanding of others as Kobabe describes the trauma of body dysmorphia and gynecological exams; appreciate em’s supportive family, and come away with sensitivity and compassion. Have this available for readers who identify as nonbinary or asexual. There are some strong resources to keep available for asexual and nonbinary readers, including Queer Books for Teens, and booklists from YALSA, Book Riot, GoodReads, and Tor. Author Jeanne G’Fellers has an excellent author webpage, including The Enby Booklist, containing fiction, nonfiction, and poetry with a non-binary focus. There is a lesson plan available for Gender Queer through Diamond Bookshelf.

Gender Queer has a starred review from School Library Journal, is a 2020 ALA Alex Award Winner and a 2020 Stonewall — Israel Fishman Non-fiction Award Honor Book.

Invisible Differences: A Story of Asperger’s, Adulting, and Living a Life in Full Color, by Julie Dachez, (Oct. 2020, Oni Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9781620107669

Ages 12+

From her opening dedication: “This comic is dedicated to you. You, the deviants. People who are ‘too much like this’ or ‘not enough like that’, Julie Dachez creates a safe, welcoming space for readers delving into her graphic novel, revealing what life is like for a person living with Asperger’s Syndrome. Twenty-seven-year-old Marguerite loves staying home with her books, her little dog, her purring cats, and her soft pajamas. Within her silent apartment, they form her “cocoon”. She’s stressed by commuting to her job, but relies on routines to usher her through her day. Coworkers don’t seem to understand her. Her boyfriend is frustrated because she doesn’t want to go to parties and socialize as he does. As she searches for answers to her anxiety, she discovers that she is not alone: there is a community of people with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism, and their experiences are there, online for Marguerite to read. No longer in the dark and alone, she begins a search for the right therapist, and the resources she needs to advocate for herself.

Julie Dachez’s black and white artwork skillfully uses reds and yellows to communicate Marguerite’s stressors and anxiety: loud conversations and everyday noise; panels are bathed in red to denote stressful moments in Marguerite’s day, when her defenses are running low, gradually fading back to black and white as she separates herself from social situations to recharge. Her red sneakers are the sole point of red that provide a reassuring, routine constant. Back matter includes a history of autism, information on Asperger’s Syndrome, and a list of resources for further reading (incuding children’s books!). A good book to have in your collection; consider also purchasing Camouflage: The Hidden Lives of Autistic Women, a nonfiction graphic novel by Dr. Sarah Bargeila and illustrated by Sophie Standing.

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

#Books from Quarantine: Graphic Novels Rundown

I’m reading through my graphic novels stash this week, and have lots to talk about. Jumping right in.

The Black Mage, by Daniel Barnes/Illustrated by D.J. Kirkland, (Aug. 2019, Oni Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9781620106525

Ages 10+

This book was published last year, and I just found it as I was going through my hard drive during the quarantine. WOW, am I glad I did, because this is timely. It starts off with a young man named Tom Token being invited to St. Ivory Academy, a historically white wizarding school, as their first Black student, part of their “Magical Minority Initiative”. The headmaster, Atticus Lynch, wears a white robe with a pointed hood, but… it’s okay, right? Tom and his pet crow, Jim, arrive and face predictable racist treatment, from ridiculous questions (“Do you drink grape soda rather than potions to enhance your magical powers?”) to straight up hostility. When Tom discovers a mysterious student ID card, he’s determined to get to the bottom of what’s really going on at St. Ivory Academy. Joined by his new friend, Lindsay – a white girl who’s quickly learning that St. Ivory is up to no good – Tom meets two ghosts from history that will show him a dangerous conspiracy that goes all the way back to the Civil War. If Tom can’t expose St. Ivory, he may lose his soul!

This was SUCH a good story, with manga-influenced artwork, fast-paced action and dialogue, and a socially relevant storyline. I love having Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and John Henry featured as superhero freedom fighters, even in the Great Beyond. Great art, great story, great book for middle schoolers. Make sure you’ve got this handy when you rejuvenate your collections. Oni Press has an educator/discussion guide for The Black Mage available here.

 

Fun Fun Fun World, by Yehudi Mercado, (Apr. 2020, Oni Press), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1620107324

Ages 8-12

Written and illustrated by Sci-Fu’s Yehudi Mercado, Fun Fun Fun World starts off with the crew of the Devastorm 5, led by the inept Captain Minky, running from another failed mission. Minky’s in serious trouble if he doesn’t have tribute for his Queen, so he makes her an offer she can’t refuse: he’ll give her the Earth. The rest of the Devastorm has no idea how they’re going to pull this off, but Minky is convinced they can do it. So when they land at Fun Fun Fun World, a down-on-its luck amusement run by a single dad raising his son, Javi, they think they’ve got Earth laid out in front of them. Javi figures things out pretty quickly and decides not to tell them that they’ve landed in Des Moines: after all, he needs their technology to get the park up and running, saving his dad’s career and keeping a roof over their heads. The story is hilarious, bananas, and too much fun to read. It’s bright, it’s neon, with confused aliens and a kid who keeps outstmarting them to further his father’s dream. There’s a super secret mystery hidden at the heart of Fun Fun Fun World to spice things up a bit, and there’s always the threat of interplanetary war to keep things running. Kids who love watching Cartoon Network’s high-energy cartoons like Steven Universe and The Regular Show will love this.

Yehudi Mercado includes rough pages from the work in progress and a photo of the kids who helped come up with some of the featured rides at the park. There’s also an FFFW Character Quiz from publisher Oni Press that will make comic book discussion groups a hit. Checkout Yehudi Mercado’s webpage for a look at more of his books, a free preview of Fun Fun Fun World, and links to social media.

 

Wallace the Brave, by Will Henry, (Oct. 2017, Andrews McMeel Publishing/AMP Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 9781449489984

Ages 7-11

Reminiscent of Calvin and Hobbes, Wallace The Brave is a collection of comics strips about Wallace, an imaginative, inquisitive boy named Wallace, his best friend, Spud, and the new girl, Amelia. We also meet Wallace’s parents and unibrowed, feral little brother, Sterling, all of whom live in the small town, Snug Harbor. Kids who love Big Nate will get a kick out of Wallace, who’s always up to something; whether he’s spinning epic tales about the school bus, testing the strength of a stale muffin, or trying to figure out what seagulls are really saying.

The book includes a map of Snug Harbor, with major locations from the comic strip numbered; ways to organize a beach cleanup, help monarch butterflies, and make a nature crown. There’s a sequel, Snug Harbor Stories, for readers who want more. Wallace’s page on the AMP website has free, downloadable sheets with activities that you can do at home with the kids, and a book trailer for Snug Harbor Stories.

Cat and Cat: Cat Out of Water (Cat & Cat #2), by Christophe Cazenove, Hervez Richez & Yrgane Ramon (July 2020, Papercutz), $14.99, ISBN: 9781545804780

Ages 7-10

The second collection of Cat and Cat stories is just as much fun as the first. Catherine and her cat, Sushi, live with Cat’s dad; the strips are a series of funny slice-of-life moments. This time, the big story is that Dad takes Cat and Sushi on a camping trip, where Sushi proceeds to wreak havoc on the campgrounds. Other moments have Sushi visiting the neighbors to get his daily snacks in; constant struggles surrounding the cat door and Sushi’s habit of inviting all the cats in the neighborhood to Dad’s house, and Sushi trying to figure out what that big ditch filled with water (the new pool) is supposed to be for.

Brightly illustrated with expressive cartoony characters, this is a great addition to titles like Sisters, Ernest & Rebecca, Dance Class, and Chloe. Papercutz has the inside track on great graphic novels for Intermediate level readers who are looking to move up from Easy Readers and may need a break from chapter books.

 

Dance Class: Letting It Go (Dance Class #10), by Crip and BéKa, (March 2020, Papercutz), $14.99, ISBN: 9781545804322

Ages 7-10

Dance Class is one of the most circulated graphic novels series in my library. The kids love the stories about the dancers at Dance School, so I decided to finally sit down with a book that I got from Papercutz’s Virtual ALA email and see what the hubbub is about. I get it: it’s just a fun series! The adventures of the younger dancers and the teen dancers is good-natured and fun, with this latest storyline centering on the school’s upcoming production of The Snow Queen, and the beautiful new dress to be worn by the show’s star…. if they can get the dress to stop disappearing! It’s an amusing series of miscommunications and misunderstandings as the dancers get ready to put on their show.

Brightly illustrated with cartoon characters, fun dialogue and silly sight gags, like the dancer who’s menaced by a classmate – in her dreams! – this is a book that appeals to Loud House, Sisters, and Chloe readers. The cover is begging for Frozen fans to devour this book in a single sitting, and they will.

Posted in Non-Fiction, picture books, Uncategorized

A future President’s best friend: Honey, the Dog Who Saved Abe Lincoln

Honey, the Dog Who Saved Abe Lincoln, by Shari Swanson/Illustrated by Chuck Groenink, (Jan. 2020, Katherine Tegen Books), $17.99, ISBN: 978-0-06269900-8

Ages 5-8

Based on a story remembered by President Abraham Lincoln’s childhood friend, Honey, The Dog Who Saved Abe Lincoln is a nonfiction picture book story of the 16th President and the dog he rescued and named Honey; and how Honey repaid the favor by rescuing Abe Lincoln. One day, while picking his family’s corn up from the mill, Lincoln discovered and cared for an injured dog, who followed him home. He convinces his parents to let him keep the dog – who he names Honey – and she joins him everywhere he goes. While exploring a cavern one day, Abe gets jammed between two boulders and Honey sets out to find help, finding Abe’s mother and Mr. John from the corn mill, and leading them to the cavern, where they are able to rescue young Mr. Lincoln.

A sweet story about our animal companions and the special relationship we have with our dogs, Honey, the Dog Who Saved Abraham Lincoln is an uplifting nonfiction story about an early chapter in the life of one of our most popular Presidents. There’s a timeline of Abraham Lincoln, who famously loved animals, and his “Animal Encounters”, chronicling key points in the former President’s life, including his many pets and moments of caring for animals. An author’s note goes into more detail about the origin of the story behind Honey, The Dog Who Saved Abraham Lincoln, and the many pets Lincolns populating the Lincoln White House. The digital artwork is kid-friendly, with gentle-faced, softly realistic characters and muted greens and browns. The endpapers display a map of the area of Hodgen’s Mill, where Abe Lincoln grew up, circa 1816, when Lincoln found Honey.

A nice addition to picture book nonfiction collections. Think about reading this one on April 11, National Pet Day!

Posted in Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

Pets and Their Famous Humans… perfect for animal lovers

Pets and Their Famous Humans, by Ana Gallo/Illustrated by Katherine Quinn, (Apr. 2020, Prestel Publishing), $17.95, ISBN: 978-3-7913-7425-3

Ages 8-12

People love their pets. They’re our babies, our muses, our best friends. Pets and Their Famous Humans takes a look at 20 famous pet-human duos throughout history. There are dogs and cats, sure, but there’s also Dorothy Parker’s crocodiles, adopted by the writer when they were left in a New York taxi. There’s Grip, Charles Dickens’ talking raven (who you can also visit, albeit stuffed, in the Free Library of Philadelphia), Granizo, Frida Kahlo’s fawn, and Babou, Salvador Dali’s ocelot. There are pampered pooches and cats, like Archie, Andy Warhol’s dachshund, who had a gold Tiffany & Co. charm on his collar, and Karl Lagerfeld’s cat, Choupette, who sported a diamond-encrusted collar and had her own assistant. Many of the pets were their human companions’ muses, sitting with them and inspiring artwork, or support animals, providing unconditional love and a calming presence.

Each spread offers a biographical spread on the celebrity pet, with a small bio on their companion human. Color paintings of each famous human-pet pairing, which one can easily imagine hanging in one’s salon. This is a fun choice for animal lovers.

 

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

A new intermediate series arrives in the US: Jasmine Green Rescues

I’ve just finished two books in an intermediate series that’s debuting here this month. Jasmine Green Rescues, originally published in the UK, is a series of books about a young girl named Jasmine. Her dad is a farmer; her mom is a farm vet, and Jasmine and her best friend, Tom, both adore animals.

Jasmine Green Rescues: A Piglet Called Truffle, by Helen Peters/Illustated by Ellie Snowdon, (March 2020, Candlewick Press), $14.99, ISBN: 9781536210255

Ages 7-11

We meet Jasmine when her mom, Nadia, is called to help a farmer with one of his laboring cows. Jasmine tags along and visits a new litter of piglets, noticing that a runt has been overlooked and is in desperate need of special care. She quietly “adopts” the runt, when the farmer decides it’s best to let nature take its course, but Jasmine’s parents discover the piglet, which Jasmine has already named Truffle, and suggest Jasmine clear it with the farmer before allowing her to nurse Truffle back to health. Jasmine and her best friend, Tom, quickly discover that Truffle is pretty smart, which will come in very handy when Jasmine boards Tom’s guinea pigs!

This first book in the Jasmine Green series puts the overall theme of the series into motion. We meet Jasmine and her best friend, Tom, who are working toward creating a veterinary/pet boarding practice. Jasmine’s older sister and younger brother make appearances, as do her parents, to give us more depth and set up further adventures. Having a veterinarian mother and farmer father means readers get some good information about farm animals and pet care, too! There’s a lot packed into this slim volume, but animal lovers will embrace Jasmine and company, especially with Ellie Snowdon’s black and white illustrations adding adorable animals and farm scenes to enjoy. You can enjoy a preview chapter at Candlewick’s webpage.

 

Jasmine Green Rescues: A Duckling Called Button, by Helen Peters/Illustated by Ellie Snowdon, (March 2020, Candlewick Press), $14.99, ISBN: 9781536210255

Ages 7-11

In this second Jasmine Green outing, Jasmine and Tom rescue a group of orphaned duck eggs when an unleashed dog wreaks havoc on Jasmine’s father’s land. The work is hard and heartbreaking, but so rewarding when one duckling survives and bonds with Jasmine. Readers learn how much care goes into taking care of eggs and baby animals here, going through the emotional work with Jasmine throughout the story. Like Truffle the piglet, Button is a pretty extraordinary duckling and befriends other animals on the farm, becoming especially close to a lamb Jasmine’s dad cares for. Can Button help save the day – and the when an emergency happens at the farm?

Like A Piglet Called Truffle, A Duckling Called Button is sweet with emotional moments. Both books take a no-nonsense look at nature, which can be unkind; animals do die in these stories, and Jasmine grieves when they do, showing kids that it’s okay; it’s normal. The books illustrate the incredible amount of dedication, love, and work that go into caring for animals, and Jasmine’s plan to become a veterinarian/animal boarding service is sound and she and Tom show initiative in revisiting their plans and revising them as they go, also showing readers how to put their ideas and dreams into action. Once again, Ellie Snowdon’s artwork enhances the story with black and white illustrations. Sample a chapter at Candlewick’s webpage.

I’m enjoying what I’ve read of this series so far and look forward to seeing what other Jasmine Green adventures the future holds! Give these to your E.B. White fans, your Shelter Pet Squad readers, and fans of Hilary McKay’s Lulu series.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Mr. Scruff pairs perfect dogs with their perfect humans

Mr. Scruff, by Simon James, (Sept. 2019, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536209358

Ages 3-7

Every dog has a human companion that’s just perfect for them: Polly and Molly have matching hairdos; Minnie and Vinnie are laid-back, with floppy ‘dos to match. But Mr. Scruff, sitting alone in a shelter, waits for the day when his person walks in the door. When a young boy named Jim walks in and sees Mr. Scruff, the two bond quickly; despite his parents’ protestations that “he’s so big, and you’re so small!”, Jim takes Mr. Scruff home. Meanwhile, Mr. Gruff arrives at the shelter and finds a pup that he decides to bring home, too. He names the pup Tim, and as the story notes, “and though it doesn’t rhyme, it’s all worked out just fine”. A sweet, heart-warming story about the relationship between humans and their dogs, Mr. Scruff is a rhyming storytime hit.

Simon James’ watercolor illustrations give readers cuddly dogs and smiling, friendly human counterparts strolling through cities and parks. The warm colors are comforting and add to this “adopt-don’t-shop” story. Mr. Scruff is a big, scruffy mutt and steals the reader’s heart with his facial expressions; first, tentative, later, with a smile as he heads out toward his forever home. Mr. Gruff is a scruffy human whose heart is stolen by teeny tiny Tim, who he tucks into the crook of his arm and brings home. Adorable, cuddly, and easy to read aloud, Mr. Scruff is a good choice for your dog fans.