Posted in picture books

Two books about Trees for Earth Day

I’ve got two more books about trees for Earth Day today! Sit in the great outside with these books and take a nice, deep breath for Earth Day.

The Wisdom of Trees: How Trees Work Together to Form a Natural Kingdom, by Lita Judge, (March 2021, Roaring Brook Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9781250237071

Ages 7-12

Verse comes together with nonfiction writing to tell the story of trees, and how they work together to create ecosystems that provide food and shelter to everything around them. Beautiful watercolor and pencil artwork provides visuals that will enchant readers with visions of ancient trees, baby animals, and wooded sanctuaries. Additional back matter includes more information about different types of trees and the dangers posed to our world’s forests.

Teachers Pay Teachers has a great Adopt a Tree lesson and journal, courtesy of Common Core Kelly; it would be a good activity to introduce to grade schoolers as a STEM/STEAM project.

The Wisdom of Trees has starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal.

 

Zee Grows a Tree, by Elizabeth Rusch/Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand, (March 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9780763697549

Ages 5-8

A baby is born and her mother and father, who run a Christmas tree farm, set aside a Douglas fir seedling that emerges that same day, to be “Zee’s Tree”. Little Zee and her tree grow up together: they both grow bigger and stronger with love and care; when Zee starts preschool, the tree also starts life outside, being planted outside the nursery; Zee makes friends at school, and the tree enjoys company from the local birds. When the tree contracts a heat-related illness, Zee is there to nurse it back to health. Filled with interesting facts about Douglas fir trees, Zee Grows a Tree is a lovely combination of fact and fiction that will draw readers in and maybe encourage them to care for a plant of their own. Mixed media illustrations show peaceful landscapes and two friends growing together. The relationship between Zee and her tree is sweetly depicted. Back matter includes an index and a list for further reading.

Zee Grows a Tree has a starred review from School Library Journal.

Posted in Uncategorized

Women to Know: Dovey Johnson Roundtree

We Wait for the Sun by Dovey Johnson Roundtree & Katie McCabe/Illustrated by Raissa Figueroa, (Feb. 2021, Roaring Brook Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250229021

Ages 4-8

A young girl and her grandmother enjoy each other’s company in the time before dawn. Civil rights activist, attorney, veteran, and minister Dovey Johnson Roundtree collaborated with author Kate McCabe on this, a favorite childhood memory, before her death in 2018 at age 104. We Wait for the Sun is a moment in time between child and grandparent, engaging every sense through Ms. Roundtree’s, Ms. McCabe’s and enjoying each other’s company in the early hours before dawn. Every sense is engaged: readers will hear the swish of Dovey’s grandmother’s skirts; smell the damp earth and feel the dewy air; hear the perfect, pre-dawn silence with the sounds of nature as a backdrop, and taste the explosion of berries on their tongues and Dovey samples the berries she, her grandmother, and her grandmother’s friends pick them together. Raissa Figueroa’s artwork is lush, splendid, filled with joy in the present and anticipation of the dawn. Endpapers show juicy blackberries in the pre-dawn darkness, moving toward the sunlight, in four gorgeous panels. Comprehensive back matter includes a note from Katie McCabe on the importance of Dovey Johnson Roundtree’s relationship with her grandmother, biographies on both Dovey Johnson Roundtree and her grandmother, a timeline of her life, and a bibliography.

We Wait for the Sun has starred reviews from School Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus, and Publisher’s Weekly.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

#SockontheLoose!

We’ve all been there. We open the dryer, we start sorting the socks… and there’s one missing. Where could it have gone? You know you put all the socks in at the same time, right? Well, friends, Conor McGlauflin has the answer for you…

Sock on the Loose, by Conor McGlauflin, (Feb. 2021, Roaring Brook Press),
$18.99, ISBN: 9781250304575
Ages 3-6

Sock on the Loose is about all the adventures our socks are having while they take a break from being stuck in our drawers or on our feet. They’re learning to tie bow ties and hiding out in watermelon caves! Riding moose and dancing the  polka! Watercolor and gouache artwork show colorful socks in a variety of pastimes, and his rhyme is infectiously cheery. Get some socks of your own – you know you have a pile of mismatched ones at home – and wash ’em again, either handing some out for sock storytime or decorating for your own virtual storytime use. TwistyNoodle has printable sock coloring sheets for you to hand out – let your kiddos decorate them, cut them out, and send them on their own adventures! Publisher Roaring Brook Press also has a free, downloadable Sock On The Loose Activity Kit that includes a maze, matching game, and draw your favorite sock activities.

If you wander over to Twitter (@roesolo) or Instagram (@roesolo), you’ll find out what my own sock has been up to – Roaring Brook Press and Conor McGlauflin have been kind enough to send me a sock of my very own to chronicle adventures.

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

The special bond between grandparent and grandchild: I Dream of Popo

I Dream of Popo, by Livia Blackburne/Illustrated by Julia Kuo, (Jan. 2021, Roaring Brook Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250249319

Ages 3-7

Inspired by the author’s own story, I Dream of Popo is about the special connection between a young girl and her grandmother, that crosses the distance between Taiwan and America. The girl grows up spending time with her grandmother, rocking on her lap and enjoying food and holidays together, but when she moves to America with her family, Popo – grandma – stays in Taiwan. She sees her over videochat and even visits, and their love endures even as she sees Popo’s hair get gray and she gets sick. A book rich with emotion and connection, this is an incredible #OwnVoices story that will resonate with all families, especially when most of our visits are conducted via device screen. Livia Blackburne creates a yearning feel for Popo and her granddaughter throughout the story; her connection to her own Popo shines through in her prose. Julia Kuo’s artwork is vibrant, deep reds, greens, and golds weaving a warm atmosphere to comfort readers. Back matter includes an author note and an illustrator note, each remembering their relationships with their own grandparents, and a glossary.

I was lucky enough to be at a Macmillan live event with other librarians and the author and illustrator, and they each spoke at length about their inspiration for the prose and artwork for the book. They drew on their relationships with their grandparents, lived on two shores and over phone, in the days before videochat. The book is stunning; Livia Blackburne and Julia Kuo put their hearts into creating a testament to the enduring love between grandparent and grandchild. An instabuy for collections, I Dream of Popo has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The epic tale of Ronan the Librarian

Ronan the Librarian, by Tara Luebbe & Becky Cattie/Illustrated by Victoria Maderna, (Apr. 2020, Roaring Brook Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781250189219

Ages 3-7

To truly enjoy this writeup, please click here to enjoy The Anvil of Crom from the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack, courtesy of Spotify and CimmercianRecords.com.

The mighty Ronan was a barbarian invader, raider, and trader. He led his people and pillaged the best jewelry, precious metals, weapons, you name it. If you wanted to trade for it, Ronan had it. But when one of Ronan’s raids turned up a chest  of books, he was baffled. Barbarians don’t read, right? What was he supposed to do with these things? No one else wanted them either! Until… well, one night he figured reading a sentence won’t hurt. Maybe a paragraph. A page? Every reader worth their salt knows what happens next: a true disregard of bedtime; Ronan becomes a Reader and seeks out books on all of his pillages from then on. And again, like any true book fan… his collection threatens to overwhelm him. After all, no one else wants the books: Barbarians don’t read! So Ronan builds a library, and decides to entice his fellow barbarians into reading. Like any bookworm knows, one of the best parts about loving books is sharing them with friends! This hilarious, wonderful story about barbarians and books is perfect storytime reading (I’ve got one coming up myself): it’s got adventure, barbarians, and books! Tara Luebbe and Becky Cattie create a story that book lovers will relate to, and give a wink, nudge, come to the Book Side for those kids who don’t think they’re readers… yet.

Victoria Maderna’s artwork is cartoony fun, with so many little moments to love: the Viking ship toppling over with books (I feel seen); Ronan riding into battle, axe held high in one hand, book wide open in his other hand; Ronan curled up with a cup of tea amidst his towering pile of books (so precarious!), the swirling, dreamlike story of Odin coming to life as it leaps from a book Ronan reads out loud to his fellow barbarians, and – one of my favorite pieces in the whole story – the bulletin board Ronan puts up in his library, with notes like “Keep Out: This Goat” (sharp-eyed viewers will notice the goat snacking on some books, a few spreads earlier), “Closed During Raids”, and a cautionary “Swords Make Terrible Bookmarks”. Clearly, library signage hasn’t seen the need to evolve much.

I’m gushing with love for Ronan the Librarian because it’s just too much fun and it’s all about discovering the joy of books and reading. Insta-buy for your collections if you don’t already have it. Consider it an investment in your class visits for life. Make sure to visit the authors’ website, and find activities, guides, and more information about their books!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Books to cuddle, snuggle, and hug by

This is a tough time of year we’re going into. We want to hug people that we can’t. We want to see people in person, not through a device screen. We’ll get there. Until then, we have books to share with those we love. Let these snuggly books do the talking when your arms can’t; if you are lucky enough to have snuggly folx within your quarantine circle, then enjoy these books together.

 

You Are a Beautiful Beginning, by Nina Laden/Illustrated by Kelsey Garrity-Riley,
(Aug. 2020, Roaring Brook Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250311832
Ages 3-6

If little ones ever needed inspiration and to hear about their incredible potential, this is the time. You Are a Beautiful Beginning is all about potential, with encouraging, rhyming phrases that are just what we all need to hear to keep us going: “It is not the number of pages. / It is the story in the book. / It is not how far you traveled. / It is the journey that you took.” Messages also include having self-confidence and not worrying about the outcome, but the progress; being a good person, and being part of a team, and ultimately, becoming who you are supposed to be. Mixed media artwork creates magical spreads with classic fantasy story elements bright colors. You Are a Beautiful Beginning is the encouraging talk so many of us need today, especially our little ones who are facing remote learning, lack of socialization, and feeling overwhelmed by big, often scary feelings. A much-needed pep talk and hug in book form.

 

Because You’re Mine, by Nancy Tillman, (Sept. 2020, Feiwel & Friends),
$18.99, ISBN: 9781250256133
Ages 2-7

Nancy Tillman, award-winning author of On the Night You Were Born, is back with a rhyming story about the love between a parent and child. Because You’re Mine is a parent’s declaration of love from the very beginning: “The moment that you came along / my heart grew mighty, fierce and strong / And everything just fell from view / All that I could see was you”. That fierce devotion never wanes, as Tillman also notes: “The clouds can blow, the wind can call / the snow can come, the rain can fall / but they’ll just have to wait in line”. It speaks to the protective love parents and caregivers have for their littles; children will feel secure and protected hearing their loving grownup read this to them and it’s perfect for bedtime and cuddle time reading. Ms. Tillman’s instantly recognizable artwork, images of children and grownups, frolicking across spreads of woods, fields, and enjoying flora and fauna, brings to mind carefree days and joy.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

A Little Space for Me addresses kids’ need for their own space

A Little Space for Me, by Jennifer Gray Olson, (July 2020, Roaring Brook Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250206268

Ages 3-6

In a story that speaks to all of us, but especially young children, A Little Space for Me is a relatable story of a little girl who needs a little space of her own from time to time. The opening sentence says it all: “Sometimes my life feels very crowded”: the art depicts a young girl sitting on a window seat of a living room, along with five other family members and a pet cat. The child’s life is crowded; her space gets too loud, messy, scratchy, bright – you get the idea. After seven months of quarantine and living in the age of the Coronavirus, this an unbelievably relatable observation. The artwork speaks volumes, showing the girl, curled into herself against the white space of the page, with a riot of color swirling around her as becomes “too much for no reason at all”. She needs space, and claims it for herself: in the story, she physically grabs the page and pulls it down, revealing a black and midnight blue stretch of our space that she puts into a bottle around her neck and claims more and more, as her need for space grows. When she decides to share her space, we see members of her family all have a piece of the space in their heads; their hair revealing the calming cosmos of space as the main character sits in a cross-legged meditation pose with her fingers in a meditation mudra.

Artwork and simple text really reaches readers in this story, made even more relevant by current events. When I first read this, pre-pandemic, I thought of many of my library families, many of whom live with extended family, which can make for crowded spaces. Reading it now, it takes on even greater relevance, as many of us are still sheltering in place, remote learning, with several family members working and attending school together in the same space. The book brings home the importance of meditation and mindfulness and the need to give kids their own space, and, even more important, to help kids understand how to recognize their need for space and ways they can claim that space. This is an excellent book to read at storytime, and an excellent companion read to Charlotte and the Quiet Place (2016) by Deborah Sosin and Leyla by Galia Bernstein (2019).

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

It’s Earth Day! Resources and reading for you and your family

It’s Earth Day! I’ve got more books to gush about, and some resources, too.

We Are Water Protectors, by Carole Lindstrom/Illustrated by MIchaela Goade, (March 2020, Roaring Brook Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781250203557

Ages 3-10

The first book up is one of the most visually stunning books I’ve read this year – and the lyrical prose reads like a prayer, a poem, a witnessing. Inspired by the Standing Rock Water Protectors who protested the Dakota Pipeline, We Are Water Protectors is created by indigenous author, Carole Lindstrom, and illustrator, Michaela Goade. Phrased as a story passed down through generations, about the sustaining life we receive from water, it also stands as a witnessing and call for help as we face the continued debasing of our planet’s natural resources. The artwork has traditional details, like a traditional skirt worn by the main character; swirling patterns inspire thoughts of water and its place in our life cycle; deep blues, purples, and orange inspire the dreamlike, womblike, atmosphere created by water. It’s a book that should give you chills as you read it, and is quietly urgent in its plea for action and positive, forward movement. Notes about Water Protectors, a glossary, and list of further reading add valuable resources to this story; an Earth Steward and Water Protector Pledge inspires kids to take action.

If you don’t want to mess up your book, or have a library book (please don’t write in it or tear the page out!), you can print a copy of the pledge, and activities to help readers realize their place in the world as stewards of our future, in this free, downloadable activity kit.

We Are Water Protectors has starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and Bookpage.

 

Some Earth Day things to do with your family today:

Earth Day 2020: Earth Day’s official website let readers tune into Earth Day events via webcast, including protests in Spanish and English, through the Earth Day Live link. Find Earth Day events on the general website.

The American Museum of Natural History is going all out for Earth Day, holding Earth Fest 2020; a collection of virtual celebrations to take part in, including Field Trip Earth, a global field trip around the world using interactive data-visualization software. Join a botany watch party and make a mini garden, learn to make your own instruments out of household objects like rubber bands and cardboard boxes, and travel to Venus and Mars and hang out with Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

National Geographic Kids has great, easy ways for kids to get involved in taking care of the world.

Check out the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, filled with videos, activities, and information on Earth Day.

NASA has Earth Day projects, videos, and images of our big, blue marble!

Zoos are getting in on Earth Day with virtual field trips and activities. Check out:

The San Diego Zoo

The Virginia Zoo

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

Phoenix Zoo

 

Protect our planet: it’s the only one we have!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Books for Bedtime… or not.

Anyone else finding that bedtimes are taking on lives of their own? Here are a few books to let us know we’re not alone. Turn bedtime into funtime with these wacky families!

Friday Night Wrestlefest, by JF Fox/Illustrated by Micah Player, (Feb. 2020, Roaring Brook Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781250212405

Ages 4-8

It’s Friday night. Pizza’s been eaten, school’s out for the weekend… it’s time for FRIDAY NIGHT WRESTLEFEST! One family’s Battle To the Bedtime is an inspiration to the rest of us as they adopt their fantastic ring personas – Dangerous Daddooo (“He’s mad. He’s bad. He’s DAD.”), Tag Team Twins, Peanut Brother and Jellyfish, and “special guest star”, Big Bald Baby – and turn their living room into an all-star arena! Will Mom come in for the big save, or will Big Bald Baby clear the ring?

The artwork is a riot of color and movement, with kids and parents sailing through the air, talking smack, and dramatically posing. The family that plays together, stays together, for sure: endpapers feature a lovely wall of family photos in the usual well-mannered poses up front; back endpapers have the family striking victorious poses, hugging one another while celebrating various Wrestlefest wins.

This is a non-stop fun family read for bedtime or anytime. And if you were to construct your own wrestling ring in your living room to take on your family, you’d definitely want to download this activity kit from the publisher, so you could outfit yourself with a cool mask, pick out a great wrestler name, and get that championship belt all shined up.

Everyone’s Awake, by Colin Meloy/Illustrated by Shawn Harris, (March 2020, Chronicle Books), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-4521-7805-9

Ages 4-8

A foreboding house on a hill has a single light shining on a dark, dark, night… wait a minute, this is no scary story! Turn the page, and discover what’s going on in that house on that late, late night: everyone’s awake! This rhyming story stars a family that just can’t sleep, and the young narrator takes us through what everyone’s up to: Dad’s in the kitchen, Grandma’s crafting, Sister’s flossing and putting her hair in braids, but all of a sudden things take a turn for the anarchic when Mom starts tap-dancing to Prince and Dad rolls a motorcycle in the room. Even the ghost of Grandpa shows up for a late night visit!  The manic story lets readers cut loose and embrace the chaos of bedtime gone wild. The ink, charcoal, and pencil artwork has a soft, surreal feel to it, lending a dreamlike, half-awake half asleep feel to the story. There are amazing details to be found in each spread, like Prince’s album covers, and the spines on the family bookshelf. Blues, oranges, and yellows dominate the landscape, taking readers from a drowsy sleep to full-on, sleepless mania and back again.

Author Colin Meloy is the lead singer and songwriter of The Decemberists, and the author of several children’s books, including the New York Times bestselling Wildwood series. Illustrator Shawn Harris is an artist and musician and the illustrator of several award-winning children’s books including Her Right Foot and What Can a Citizen Do?

Will this family ever get to sleep? You don’t expect me to spoil the surprise, do you? Everyone’s Awake is an hilarious bedtime romp.