Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

It’s Fox vs Sloth in My Book (not yours)

My Book (not yours) (Lento & Fox), by Ben Sanders, (Sept. 2020, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1-68464-065-2

Ages 3-6

Lento the sloth has a heck of a story for us readers… after a little nap, that is. But while Lento snoozes, Fox decides to steal the show! The book is a comical back-and-forth between the two as Fox and Lento jostle one another out of the way to take center stage, breaking the fourth wall and making this a great read-aloud for two readers, or for one reader to get some voice practice on. Lento dons Valkyrie horns and braids to sing about being the book’s star, while Fox does a soft-shoe with hat and cane to say otherwise; Fox takes off in a hot air balloon as Lento pleads with the audience to stick with him. Can these two figure out a way to share the page? You have to read and find out!

A giggle-worthy book, My Book (not yours) will leave the littles in stitches as Lento and Fox become more outrageous in their attempts to take control of the book. Bright red Fox and teal Lento come alive off the spare white page, with minimal design to take the focus off the two. Their actions speak louder than their words: hilariously so.

Toddlers and preschoolers will recognize themselves as the two jockey for attention in progressively wilder ways, each proclaiming that “it’s MY book!”, and adults will get a laugh as they see their own littles in Fox and Lento. For readers of a certain age (ahem), the book evokes memories of the old Mad comic Spy vs. Spy – albeit a much kinder version. Enjoy.

Originally published in Australia in 2019, Lento and Fox have another book, My Pet (not yours), which looks like it’s another laugh-out-loud read. Let’s hope they visit the U.S. shores soon!

My Book (not yours) has a starred review from Kirkus.

 

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Intermediate, Middle Grade

Peter and Ernesto’s next adventure: Sloths In the Night

Peter and Ernesto: Sloths In the Night, by Graham Annable, (April 2020, First Second), $17.99, ISBN: 9781250211309

Ages 7-10

Peter and Ernesto are on their third adventure! This time, their friend Bernard goes missing, possibly in search of a rumored dragon that lives in a nearby temple; it’s getting dark, though, and the jungle is no place for a sloth to be at night, especially on his own. The friends head out on their own adventure to find Bernard, and possibly, the dragon, and meet a host of hilarious animals along the way.

The Peter and Ernesto books are adorable stories about friendship, embracing differences, and working together. They never disappoint, and are perfect for chapter book readers and middle graders who love a good animal or friendship story. Peter and Ernesto are like Bert and Ernie; Frog and Toad; George and Martha. They’re friends who love one another, differences and all; they push one another outside their comfort zones (with hilarious, sweet results); they embrace all of their friends, together, and they are always thrilled to make new friends. Graham Annable’s cheerful artwork is immediately recognizable: kids will know, as soon as this book shows up on shelves, that this is a new Peter and Ernesto story.

If you haven’t had the fun of experiencing a Peter and Ernesto story yet, treat yourself.

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Springtime reading: April Graphic Novels

Cannabis: The Illegalization of Weed in America, by Box Brown, (Apr. 2019, First Second), $24.99, ISBN: 9781250154088

Ages 14+

Award-winning graphic novelist Box Brown is back with the real story of how cannabis – weed, marijuana, reefer – went from being a plant used for spiritual purposes to being labeled a gateway drug that caused “reefer madness”. How did it happen, you say? Racism. Politics. Propaganda.  Scare tactics. The usual song and dance. Box Brown has done his research and, combined with his minimalist artwork, presents a tale that will have you seeing the politics of marijuana (the origin of that name is in here, too, and it’s a doozy) in an entirely new light.

The War on Drugs started long before Nancy Reagan went on Diff’rent Strokes and told kids to “just say no”, and the fallout has targeted minorities – primarily young black men – and left thousands imprisoned for minor infractions. Studies have purposely included falsified data and allowed Harry J. Anslinger, the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, to perpetuate his war against narcotics by weaponizing moral outrage and using propaganda to get the plant a schedule 1 classification, putting it on par with heroin.

Ignatz Award winner Box Brown has a gift for nonfiction. While he’s primarily done biographical graphic novels thus far, including Andre the Giant, Andy Kaufman, and the rise of the video game Tetris, Cannabis is a thoroughly researched, fully realized, history of marijuana, from its earliest recorded uses through the present day. It’s a good add for your young adult/new adult collections and could be a good selection for a book group, especially with its increasing legality and medicinal usage.

Peter and Ernesto: The Lost Sloths, by Graham Annable, (Apr. 2018, First Second), $17.99, ISBN: 9781626725720

Ages 6-10

It’s the return of my favorite sloth buddies! Peter and Ernesto are back, and they’ve got a new adventure when a hurricane blows their beloved tree away! Peter, Ernesto, and the rest of their sloth friends must set out to find a new tree. A great tree. A tree just like the one they had, preferably. As they journey through the jungle, there are new dangers to brave: angry ants, slithering snakes, running pigs, and a very hungry jaguar! Ernesto is up to the challenge, but poor Peter… well, Peter’s going to need his best friend next to him as they lead their friends to a new tree. And maybe, a new friend or two along the way.

I love this new series! The two friends are like the Bert and Ernie of sloth civilization, with idealistic, upbeat Ernesto and cautious, nervous Peter acting as counterbalances to each other. The new animals the group meets as they venture through the jungle are hilarious, and the twist near the end will have your readers cheering. It’s emotional to see the sloths survey the damage to their tree, and it adds a depth to Peter’s and Ernesto’s characters as they take on the responsibility of shepherding their group to a new home. It’s just as emotional to see them find a new tree and the final resolution will just make you feel good. Peter and Ernesto is feel-good reading, and who doesn’t need more of that?

I can’t wait to see where life takes them next. Add this to your graphic novels collections and talk them up! Make a Best Friends display and make sure to include Frog & Toad, Elephant and Piggie, Narwhal & Jelly, and Duck and Porcupine.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Take it Slow! Sloth at the Zoom shows you how

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

Ages 3-7

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

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

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

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

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Intermediate, Middle Grade

Frog and Toad fans, meet Peter & Ernesto!

Peter & Ernesto: A Tale of Two Sloths, by Graham Annable, (Apr. 2018, First Second), $17.99, ISBN: 9781626725614

Recommended for readers 7-10

Peter and Ernesto are best friends. They’re sloths, who live in a tree and spend their days munching hibiscus and watching the clouds, naming the shapes they see in them as they go by. But Ernesto isn’t satisfied. He loves the sky, but their tree only offers one piece of it. There’s so much more sky to see! Peter is content to stay in his tree, but Ernesto needs to take a trip and see the sky from all over. Ernesto revels in his adventure, making new friends and having exciting new experiences, while Peter stays at home, worried sick over Ernesto. Despite his fear, Peter sets off in search of Ernesto, making some new friends of his own. The two friends reunite, having both learned valuable lessons: Ernesto, the value of home; Peter, the importance of expanding one’s horizons.

The friendship between Peter and Ernesto is the sweetest part of this book. Graham Annable’s one-two punch of adorable, cartoony artwork with giant, expressive eyes, and fun dialogue will be a winner with intermediate and middle grade readers. The characters’ friendship is reminiscent of Frog and Toad; two characters, each a foil for the other, and their unabashed friendship. Their reunion will make you sigh and smile; it’s that sweet. The art is adorable, and at times – like a panel where Ernesto gazes at The Northern Lights, and we see how small he is in relation to the sky – is breathtaking.

Thank goodness, Peter and Ernesto will return. I can’t wait.