Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Let’s Play: To make a friend, be one!

Let’s Play! A Book About Making Friends, by Amanda McCardie/Illustrated by Colleen Larmour, (May 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536217650

Ages 3-7

A young girl named Sukie arrives at her new school, feeling “lonely, sad, and small”, but her new classmates welcome her and help her feel comfortable in her new surroundings. As a result, Sukie greets other new classmates, and before she knows it, she has a new group of friends that play together, look out for one another, and support each other. Amanda McCardie touches on recognizing and supporting others’ comfort zones, whether it’s understanding that some friends prefer to work alone, or reassuring friends when they feel scared or sad. Mixed media illustrations present a diverse group of kids playing together and spending time together at school. Endpapers show a variety of school-related objects, from playground equipment to paper airplanes and backpacks. Let’s Play! is all about understanding social situations, and is a good choice for preschool and kindergarten-ages children, who are just starting to navigate these waters.
Let’s Play! A Book About Making Friends has a starred review from Kirkus.
Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

DK First Emotions Help Kids Identify Feelings

DK has a new board book series, First Emotions, that really speaks to the whole experience of emotions and how to identify them. Spun off the recently released How Do I Feel? A Little Guide to Emotions, the books get into the physiological reasons behind emotions, how kids can recognize the emotions they’re experiencing, and different situations that can spark these emotions. Great to introduce to toddlers and preschoolers, these books gives kids more words to make themselves understood and to understand others. Cheery and upbeat, with bright and fun cartoony, emoji-like characters, this series is a great place to start your social-emotional learning collection for little ones. The first two, I Feel Happy: Why Do I Feel Happy Today? and I Feel Sad: Why Do I Feel Sad Today?, come out on August 11th; I Feel Proud: Why Do I Feel Proud Today? and I Feel Angry: Why Do I Feel Angry Today? are due out in October. Print out some emoji faces for coloring or display during a Feelings/Emotions storytime.

I Feel Happy: Why Do I Feel Happy Today?, by DK Children,
(Aug. 2020, DK Children), $6.99, ISBN: 9781465498052
Ages 0-3


I Feel Sad: Why Do I Feel Sad Today?, by DK Children,
(Aug. 2020, DK Children), $6.99, ISBN: 9781465498250
Ages 0-3

I Feel Proud: Why Do I Feel Proud Today?, by DK Children,
(Aug. 2020, DK Children), $6.99, ISBN: 9781465498076
Ages 0-3


I Feel Angry: Why Do I Feel Angry Today?, by DK Children,
(Aug. 2020, DK Children), $6.99, ISBN: 9781465498090
Ages 0-3

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The Funeral takes a sensitive look at a child’s perception of death

The Funeral, by Matt James, (Apr. 2018, Groundwood Books), $18.95, ISBN: 9781554989089

Recommended for readers 4-7

A young girl named Norma attends a funeral for her great-uncle Frank; she’s excited to see her favorite cousin, Ray, but she also has questions – Uncle Frank was old, right? Is Uncle Frank still a person? – and the whole funeral service is confusing, maybe even a little boring. At the end of the day, as Norma and Ray play together, they’re both pretty confident that Uncle Frank would have enjoyed his funeral.

This is a refreshing story about grief and loss, because it focuses on the kids’ perspective. It’s a social gathering – we adults see it that way, too, but kids still have the innocence to mix their confusion at the whole idea of death with the joy of seeing family and friends that they may not see as often. Norma knows what’s expected: she models a sad face in the mirror; she quietly sits through the service, patiently waiting to spend time with her cousin. Death brings conflicting feelings and questionss, sure, and we can’t always give them the best answers, but at the end of the day, love and understanding is the best way to go. And why wouldn’t Uncle Frank have enjoyed a big party in his honor? The Funeral celebrates the optimism and hope that comes from a child’s perspective. It’s wonderful, and the mixed media artwork gives color and texture to the story.


The Funeral has starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, School Library Journal, and Booklist.

Posted in Non-Fiction

Children in Our World addresses racism, intolerance, and global conflict

Barron’s Educational’s Children in Our World series continues with the release of two more books: Racism and Intolerance and Global Conflict.

Racism & Intolerance (Children of the World), by Louise Spilsbury/Hanane Kai,
(Feb. 2018, Barron’s Educational), $9.99, ISBN: 9781438050225
Recommended for readers 6-10

As with the previous titles, Refugees and Migrants (2017) and Poverty and Hunger (2017), these titles provide smart, open social commentary on issues that face our kids every day, in a manner that’s factual, sensitive, and empowering. Illustrations provide examples of everyday intolerance, from someone refusing to provide a bouncy ball to a Jewish child to a group of people who refuse to give up their seats on a bus – or their bags’ seats – for an elderly woman with a cane. Global Conflict explores the reasons for conflict, and the violent ways that conflict can manifest: terrorism and war.

Global Conflict (Children of the World), by Louise Spilsbury/Hanane Kai,
(Feb. 2018, Barron’s Educational), $9.99, ISBN: 9781438050218
Recommended for readers 6-10

Each book also describes the aid efforts of individuals and charities who step into help others, and soothes children who may be afraid of what they see going on around them by encouraging them to talk to a grownup about their fears. Author Louise Spilsbury offers ways that children can help elevate the dialogue: by understanding one another, and by offering ways to help, whether it’s taking part in a bake sale fundraiser for charity or by writing letters to elected officials. There are additional books and resources for readers, caregivers, parents, and educators who want to learn more, glossaries of terms used, and indexes.

Hanane Kai’s artwork creates soft, muted pictures showing individuals working together to create understanding and, in turn, a better world for all.

Originally published in the UK in 2016 and 2017, these books – paired with the first two in the series – contribute to a strong current events shelf for elementary-age students, and a nice addition to collections for burgeoning activists. Add books like Innosanto Nagara’s A is for Activist and Counting on Community, and Maribeth Boelt’s Those Shoes and A Bike Like Sergio’s for a strong social commentary collection.