Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Vroom, Vroom! Books about trucks for Christmas!

Construction Site: Merry and Bright (A Christmas Lift-the-Flap Book), by Sherri Duskey Rinker and AG Ford, (Nov. 2021, Chronicle Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9781797204291

Ages 0-3

The Construction Site gang are getting ready for Christmas in this rhyming lift-the-flap ode to Christmas. It’s Christmas Eve in the big construction yard, and with all the day’s work done, there’s only one more thing for the truck friends to do: decorate for Christmas! Each truck has a special job, and sturdy flaps let little learners help with some of the heavy lifting: help Excavator put a star on the tree, and give Dump Truck an assist with unloading presents. When all the work is done, there’s only one thing left to do: go to sleep and wait for Christmas morning. You know the artwork, you know the rhyme scheme; Sherri Duskey Rinker and AG Ford know what their readers love, and deliver once again. Construction Site: Merry and Bright captures the fun and expectation of getting ready for Christmas, and their message about teamwork shines through. It’s a great holiday read-aloud and a Christmas Eve storytime.

 

20 Big Trucks in the Middle of Christmas, by Mark Lee/Illustrated by Kurt Cyrus, (Sept. 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536212532

Ages 3-7

20 Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street (2013) team Mark Lee and Kurt Cyrus join forces for a rhyming story about the 20 big trucks preparing for Christmas. Starting with a donut truck arriving in a snowy town, the story builds as other trucks arrive for a Christmas celebration: snowplows clear the area so another truck can bring in a giant tree; a truck arrives with a band and a dancing snowman; a flatbed carries Santa’s sleigh. Trucks arrive, all bringing something new for the celebration, and a minor crisis calls for some quick thinking to save the day! A fun counting book, 20 Big Trucks in the Middle of Christmas also features great rhyming for a fun read-aloud and a story about teamwork and how to work with a backup situation. Kids will enjoy the photorealistic trucks and people, letting them put themselves into the story.

Have donut coloring sheets ready for a post-storytime activity along with Christmas tree coloring sheets and truck coloring sheets.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Books about things that go

It’s time for a vehicle book roundup! I’ve got the new Sherri Duskey Rinker, a Pop-Up Guide, and a Do You Know? for the wee ones. Let’s roll out!

 

The Pop-Up Guide: Vehicles, by Maud Poulain/Illustrated by Charline Picard, (Sept. 2021, Twirl Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9791027609994
Ages 2-5
These Pop-Up Guides from Twirl Books are too much fun. The newest one is all about vehicles: what vehicles roll around in different locations and what they do. Visit a bustling city with street cleaners, buses, trains and more going about their workday, then visit a more rural area, where farm vehicles like tractors and harvesters get to work. Emergency vehicles help save people, and roads and rails get you where you need to go. You can travel through the sea and sky with vehicles, you can race them, and you can use them to transport all sorts of things! Ten spreads fold out to 3-D landscapes with colorful, labeled vehicles and local color, and a few descriptive sentences place the reader in each of the settings. There are elastic bands to hold pages and allow for hands-free reading and play; get some minifigs and small action figures and let the littles really explore! Keep a reference copy on hand for storytimes; the pages are sturdy but will heavily circulate.

 

 

Do You Know? Vehicles and Transportation, by Camille Babeau, Illustrated by Benjamin Bécue, Julie Mercier, & Cristian Turdera, (Oct. 2021, Twirl Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9782408029159

Ages 5-8

Another fun entry in Twirl’s Do You Know series hits shelves in just a couple of weeks! Vehicles and Transportation is full of facts and detailed illustrations of vehicles, from people (transportation had to start somewhere!) and animals, cruise ships, military vehicles, hot air balloons, and more. Chapters are organized into land, water, and air vehicles, with a final “More to Know” chapter that lays out the big points of all the content, including a travel timeline, a review of different machines, and future vehicles. Cross-section illustrations provide detailed information, and helpful Q&A sections run on each page. Learn answers how to recognize an emergency vehicle; how a steam engine works, and when you can try hang gliding! There is a wealth of information, laid out in a way that is easy and engaging to read. The book is fully indexed for easy reference, too. Make a display of Do You Know? books, or match this up with Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go, Mike Lowery’s The Way Downtown and Nadja Spiegelman and Sergio Garcia Sánchez’s Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure. Have coloring sheets on hand!
Construction Site: Road Crew, Coming Through!, by Sherri Duskey Rinker/Illustrated by AG Ford, (Oct. 2021, Chronicle Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9781797204727
Ages 2-5
Sherri Duskey Rinker, ruling headmistress of the transportation story, is back with a new Construction Site story! In this latest rhyming tale, the construction team heads off to their biggest job yet as they build a superhighway. Kids meet a group of new machines with exciting, big jobs: Water Truck squirts water on the ground to keep dirt and grit from flying around; Paver lays down asphalt and Roller smashes the asphalt down to make the surface even and flat; Striper Truck rolls down the road, spray painting yellow and white lines to keep the traffic moving. With teamwork like this, happy cars will be driving down the new mega-road in no time! Kids love these books, and it’s so easy to see why: Sherri Duskey Rinker’s text is cheerful, with happy rhymes about friendship, teamwork, and enjoying one’s work. AG Ford’s wax and oil crayon illustrations depict happy vehicles working and driving together, helping one another out, and getting the job done. An author’s note at the end calls the reader’s attention to a coyote at the beginning of the book, who shows up later, and mentions that road builders are increasingly taking local wildlife “travelers” into account and making special allowances to accommodate them. Visit Sherri Rinker’s website for more of her Construction Crew books (including some upcoming books!), and visit artist AG Ford’s website to see more of his gorgeous artwork, including his Children’s Book Gallery. Download activity kits, teachers’ guides, and watch videos at the Good Night Construction Site.
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 Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Board Book Bonanza!

I haven’t done a board book bonanza in a while, so let’s get right to it! There are OODLES of great board books out and hitting shelves soon, so make sure you have your collections ready for your littlest learners!

Surprise! Slide and Play Shapes, by Elsa Fouquier, (Feb. 2021, Twirl Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9782408024697

Ages 0-3

Way too much fun! A cat goes on an adventure in this adorable book with chunky sliding panels and colorful spreads. Readers can twist, push, wiggle, and slide colorful shaped blocks to reveal hidden panels that pop up to delight and surprise: Make birds fly, shoot stars into the sky, grow a tree, and reveal a happy rainbow. Sturdy pages will hold up to multiple readings; if your budget allows, buy two: the kids will thank you.

 

Sleep, Cat, Sleep!, by Antje Damm, (March 2021, Prestel), $9.95, ISBN: 9783791374482

Ages 0-3

This board book about a cat who wants to go to sleep is perfect for naptime and bedtime. Cat want to have a nap, but the reader’s woken him up by opening the book! With every turn of the page, sleepy cat just gets grumpier… but, wait! Cat notices YOU look a bit sleepy, too… would you like to take a nap together? Sleep, Cat, Sleep! is a silly, funny way to nudge readers toward a nap: toddlers will see themselves in a grumpy cat who doesn’t want to be woke up once he falls asleep, and they’ll also appreciate cat’s expressive facial expressions. Ask your little ones if they want to peek in and see Cat, but that they mustn’t wake him… and watch the giggles begin. If you’ve ever read Grover and the Monster at the End of the Book, you know what to do here. Colorful spreads and playful fonts will make this a book your littles will come back to often.

 

Sharing, by Alice Le Hénand/Illustrated by Thierry Bedouet, (Feb. 2021, Twirl Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9782408019716

Ages 0-3

Twirl’s Pull and Play books teach toddlers and preschoolers valuable social and emotional skills. In Sharing, Little Bear, Little Cat, and their friends are learning how to share. It’s not always easy, but thank goodness their grownups are there to help support them! Little Crocodile isn’t so sure about sharing his car with Little Kangaroo, but when Mom suggests letting Little Kangaroo play with another toy while he’s got the car, the two friends even figure out a game to play together. Little Kangaroo doesn’t really want to give up space on Mama’s lap, even for her baby brother, but Mama encourages her to scoot over, showing her that there’s room for both. Each spread has a pull tab that shows readers the before and after effects of sharing, and straightforward, simple text helps guide parents through the not-so-easy work of negotiation. The books are durable, the illustrations are colorful, and the characters are expressive. Great additions to your social-emotional learning collections.

 

Pacifier, by Alice Le Hénand/Illustrated by Thierry Bedouet, (Feb. 2021, Twirl Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9782408024611

Ages 0-3

Another addition in the Pull and Play series from Twirl, Pacifier is all about the big moment: moving away from the pacifier. Little Bear, Little Crocodile, and their friends still use their pacifiers, but their parents encourage them to leave them behind, little by little: a slow, gradual separation; say, to take a walk or go play outside. Parents encourage their little ones to think about whether or not they want to use the pacifier any more, or mention that sometimes, the pacifier is a hindrance, making it harder to be understood when speaking. When the children all leave their pacifiers behind, even for a little while, the parents cheer their children on! They’ve taken big kid steps today! Pull tabs show each character with the pacifier and in the process of putting it away. Straightforward text helps give adult caregivers easy ways to talk to children about the process of separating from the pacifier. Pull and Play Books are all about support, encouragement, and empowering our children, making them a good addition to your collections. There are nine other books in the Pull and Play collection, covering a wide range of topics for toddlers, including potty training, feelings, siblings, and saying please and thank you.

 

Drive the Race Car, Illustrated by Dave Mottram, (March 2021, Chronicle Books), $9.99, ISBN: 9781452178868

Drive the Fire Truck, Illustrated by Dave Mottram, (March 2021, Chronicle Books), $9.99, ISBN: 9781452178851

Ages 0-3

We’ve got a twofer here, with Dave Mottram’s super-cute Drive the Car books! The wheel-shaped books open up to let little hold onto the book like a steering wheel and play as their grownup reads the rhyming stories of a day in the life of a race car and a fire truck. Each spread lets the reader imagine themselves behind the wheel of a vehicle, watching the action take place from the dashboard.  The race car puts the reader on a race track, where they can see other cars they’re racing against. They can pretend to press the buttons on the dashboard and make all the fun sound effects of a race car on the move!

Drive the Fire Truck! puts the reader in the driver’s seat of a fire truck as a call comes in: there’s a fire and they have to go to the rescue! The dashboard shows readers button including the siren, horn, and the radio, all of which come into play throughout the story. The action on the streets unfolds in front of the reader as they see the black smoke, and drive toward the fire. Perfect for lapsits, and if you’re able to secure copies for a few families to read their own copies during the storytime, even better. If you’re doing a virtual storytime, this comes in handy: hold the book up and let the readers imagine they’re at the wheel as you read.

Posted in Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

Planes brings readers a history of flight

Planes: From the Wright Brothers to the Supersonic Jet, by Jan Van Der Veken, (March 2021, Prestel), $19.95, ISBN: 9783791374413

Ages 8-12

Transportation readers are going to devour this comprehensive guide to planes. Originally published in Dutch in 2019, Planes: From the Wright Brothers to the Supersonic Jet is a detailed history, with illustrations and timelines, of planes from the Wright Brothers 1903 flyer to 2005’s Airbus A 380-800. Sections on design, atmosphere and weather, communication and navigation, and the future of flight make this much more than a book with pictures of planes; this is a detailed introduction to aerodynamics and the mechanics of airplane design. Profiles of notable planes in history include the Northrop-Grumman B-2, more commonly known as the “stealth bomber” and Lockheed’s P-38 Lightning, a popular World War II plane. Back matter includes sources. A solid desk reference for reports.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Hooray! It’s Garbage Day!

Hooray, it’s Garbage Day!, by Eric Ode/Illustrated by Gareth Llewhellin, (Jan. 2020, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 9781684641147

Ages 3-6

More truck and vehicle books! More community helpers! This rhyming concept book is all about the excitement of hearing the big garbage truck rumble down the street, lights flashing, hissing and sighing, as it grabs cans and dumps them into its maw to crunch and crash up the trash. Fun sounds in the story make for fun read alouds: let your kiddos stomp and smash, rumble and crash as you read along. Kids can count from 1 to 5 along with garbage truck workers, garbage cans, neighborhood kids waving, and more. When the kids in the book make up their own garbage crew using art supplies, encourage your kiddos (if you’re virtual) to make their own signs and trucks, or (if you’re in person) hand some out! If you’re grab and go, like I am, you can make some make and take craft bags with some pieces of cardboard, this cool recycling printable, and some truck coloring sheets, along with a few crayons. Digital artwork is colorful, bright, and cartoony.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Scooper and Dumper by Lindsay Ward

Scooper and Dumper are best friends, trucks who take care of their town in all sorts of weather. One day, a big snowstorm hits the city, and they’re called into action to save the day!

Scooper and Dumper, by Lindsay Ward, (Feb. 2021, Two Lions),
$17.99, ISBN: 978-1542092685
Ages 3-6

Lindsay Ward’s latest outing is a rhyming story of friendship, bravery, and trucks! Scooper and Dumper are friends taking care of their town, but have to head to the big city to help out when a big snowstorm hits, but Dumper finds himself in trouble when he hits an icy road that’s caused a pileup! When no other trucks can get through to help, it’s up to Scooper to save the day. The story is such a positive study of helping, friendship, and teamwork, that caregivers are going to love it as much as the kiddos will. The digital illustrations are just adorable – Scooper is bright, cheery yellow with a red and white polka dotted bow on her hood; Dumper is a baby blue with a sweet smile. Word balloons break up the story text and give it a graphic novel feel. Think of these two as cousins to Lindsay Ward’s WWII heroine, Rosie: getting the job done with a smile and some good, old-fashioned determination. Perfect for storytime reading, Scooper and Dumper will work with some toy trucks, flannels, and lots of car songs and fingerplays!

 

It’s been an… eventful start to the New Year, so let’s start things off with a giveaway. One lucky winner will win their own copy of Scooper and Dumper by entering the Rafflecopter giveaway here. U.S. addresses only, please!

Posted in Toddler Reads

More Board Books!

I’m sorry I’ve been quiet for a few days, but this year has been… a lot. But I’m back and ready to bring you some of the cutest board books in my TBR. I know I gush about board books a lot, but they are just adorable, and they’ve grown so much over the last few years. They look at concepts in new ways and have gone beyond the basic “ABCs/123s” to give real storytelling fun for our youngest learners. Let’s see the ones I’ve got here.

My Big Family, by Jeffrey Turner, (Aug. 2020, Schiffer Publishing), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764360053

Ages 0-3

Meet Doodle, the Science Poodle, as she introduces her big, blended family to readers! Family members include one aardvark, eight llamas, nine elephants, and a bunch more. Bright, colorful digital illustrations and giant numbers let readers count each of the animals in Doodle’s family. A note about the science of arithmetic connects the counting story to STEM learning. A fun way to start kids learning and counting; have goodies around for them to count, like toys, blocks, or toes (yours, theirs, the dog’s). Absolute fun for readalouds and counting songs.

 

Peep!, by Kevin Luthardt, (Aug. 2020, Peachtree Publishers), $6.99, ISBN: 9781682632000

Ages 0-3

A duckling hatches and bonds to a boy he sees. Excitedly “peeping”, the duckling follows its new friend home, and the two share time together playing and enjoying one another’s company. One day, though, the “peep!” turns to a “quack!” and the boy and his family know they have to bring the duckling to be with other ducks. But there’s always a new friend waiting just around the corner. This sweet story of friendship is sparsely worded, letting the pictures tell the story. The colorful artwork is cheery, and kids will love the little duckling – sound effects run throughout, so invite your listeners to crack, peep, and quack along with you! Make sure to sing 5 Little Ducks with this one.

 

Guess Who is Behind the Door: A Counting Book in 4 Languages, by Susan S. Novich, (Oct. 2020, Schiffer Publishing), $9.99, ISBN: 9780764360046

Ages 0-3

This rhyming story about a painting porcupine introduces counting, colors, and language concepts. Pinky Porcupine paints the doors in the town, and finds a different animal friend behind each one. Kids can count from one to 10 in English, Spanish, Chinese, and French, with pronunciations noted on each page. The animals gather together to say goodnight in their different languages at the end and fun animal facts close out this fun, fact-filled board book.  Pictures are colorful and eye-catching and fun, perfect for counting storytimes and introducing readers to new languages.

 

Faster, Please!, by Catherine Leblanc/Illustrated by Laurent Richard, (Sept. 2020, Schiffer Publishing), $12.99, ISBN: 9780764360329

Ages 0-5

A board book that opens into a play mat! A dog can go faster on a scooter, but even faster on a bike! The pup picks different vehicles to take the speed up a notch as the sections unfold into a 4 foot-long play mat, just right for zooming little cars on. Illustrations are colorful and bright, and vehicle books are so popular, that kids will gobble this right up. Invite kids to tell you which vehicles are outlined on the cover, and point them out inside the book. A felt board with vehicle cutouts would be a fun accompaniment during storytime, too. Have a couple on hand, this one will circulate hard.

 

Paper Peek: Animals, by Chihiro Takeuchi, (Sept. 2020, Candlewick Studio), $14.99, ISBN: 9781536211498

Ages 0-3

A board book, seek and find, and geography lesson all in one, Paper Peek: Animals is a wonder of board book making.  Visit the continents and oceans and discover animals native to each region through the artwork. Die cuts and colorful cut paper artwork make endless fun for exploring fingers and eyes. Discover African lions, giraffes, and zebras; North American brown bears and eagles; koalas, platypuses, and cockatoos from Oceania; seahorses, whales, and sharks from the oceans, and so much more. A map of the world at the end of the book shows the animals on their homelands. I love this book for its gorgeous artwork and for its versatility: you can use it during storytime or one-on-one time.

 

Love Can Come in Many Ways, by Terry Pierce, (Oct. 2020, Chronicle Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9781452172606

Ages 0-3

A perfect cuddle up and snuggle book, this rhyming story of all the ways animals (and people!) show love comes with 10 felt flaps to lift and explore. Giraffes nuzzlilng noses, elephant trunk hugs and embracing swan wings are just a few of the ways animals reveal their affection for one another. This is an adorable lapsit choice – invite parents to snuggle, rub noses, lightly squeeze, and play peekaboo with their littles. A soft color palette makes this a perfectly soothing read for babies and toddlers, maybe a good choice for a final story choice in storytime, to start calming things down. Make sure you keep a copy in your storytime collection; this one will get beaten up in circulation as family after family loves it.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Uncategorized

Kindness is always on time when you ride Zero Local

Zero Local, by Ethan Murrow and Vita Murrow, (Apr. 2020, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9780763697471

Ages 4-8

An above-ground train kicks off the week with delays, and tensions run high, but one passenger embraces the extra time and thoughtfully creates a thank-you drawing for the conductor. A young girl notices the act of kindness and decides that gratitude is the way to go; for the rest of the week, as moments of stress and tension creep back into the daily commute,

Zero Local shows the power of kindness and the beauty of paying it forward. Mostly wordless – the only text here exists to let readers know the day of the week and the train’s schedule status – the artwork does all the talking. Vita and Ethan Murrow capture the tension and stress of the daily commute while illustrating the power of art and empathy. Graphite illustrations derived from photos give a gritty realness to the urban commuters and bursts of yellow give us sunshine for those small, bright moments when kindness prevails. A nice addition to wordless picture books, and hopefully, an inspiration for understanding. Read and display with Melanie Hope Greenberg’s Down in the Subway, another book where a crowded, hot day on the subway turns into something magical.

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Small and Indie Spotlight!

As I continue catching up to my TBR, I’ve got more independently published books for you to enjoy. Take a look!

Tucker and the Garbage Truck, by Sarah Brown/Illustrated by Oscar Franco, (May 2020, Independently Published), $12.97, ISBN: 979-8648207370

Ages 3-6

Tucker is a little truck who discovers a big garbage truck winding its way through his neighborhood. Tucker approaches the garbage truck and asks him about his job, and the garbage truck invites Tucker along as he makes his stops, explaining why he enjoys his job. He’s too big to be one of those itty bitty trucks or cars, and he likes helping keep the town clean! At the end of the day, Tucker is happy to have made a new friend and has learned about a new job: Garbage Truck!

Digital illustrations are cute, and the text is easy to read. Kids who Disney’s Cars movies and shows, plus vehicle books like Kate and Jim McMullan’s I’m Fast! and I Stink! and Byron Barton’s board books (Train, Trucks, Planes) will enjoy this one.   Author Sarah Brown has a series of Tucker books available on her Amazon author page.

 

Carrie’s Flight (Grandma’s Closet #1), by Lois Wickstrom/Illustrated by Francie Mion, (March 2019, Independently Published), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1090828224

Ages 4-7

A little girl named Carrie discovers some of her grandmother’s boxes in a closet, and pulls them into her room, where she video chats her grandmother to ask what they are. When Grandma invites Carrie to open the boxes, she discovers feathers! And wings! Donning a pair of wings for herself, Carrie soon realizes she can fly like the starlings outside her window, and joins them in flight. She heads to her grandmother’s home for a visit, and when the birds beckon her home, she flies back. A gentle Icarus story for younger readers, this is a sweet story about a girl and her grandmother, with a fantasy spin. The artwork is dreamlike, with soft colors, and the text has emphasized fonts on certain words for added interest. If the text were laid out over and around the images, it would flow better, but the overall story is cute and will appeal to younger readers. A nice bedtime story to share. An author’s note on how starlings arrived in North America and their environmental impact adds an interesting nonfiction touch to the book.

 

How I Made a (Tiny Wacky) Friend (My Crazy Stories), by Daniel Georges, (Aug. 2019, Independently Published), $15.99, ISBN: 978-1088442432

Ages 5-8

This is my first dip into the My Crazy Stories series, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. William is a kid who likes keeping to himself. He likes to spend time by himself, making spooky masks in his room, and enjoys being out and about when there’s no one else around: until “this kid” shows up: a new kid moves into the neighborhood, and William starts seeing him EVERYWHERE. It’s really cramping his style! When his parents invite the kid and his family over for dinner, William is ready to give the kid the scare of his life – but when he puts on one of his scariest masks, the boy is THRILLED. He loves scary stuff, too! The two new friends bond over their shared love of monsters, and Willy and Olly – that’s “this kid’s” name – become fast friends, spending their days at the playground and reading monster stories together. They even bestow secret code names upon each other, because “Good friends always have secret code names”. A spread at the end of the book invites kids to put pictures of themselves and their friends into the book, and give themselves secret code names.

The book is fun, narrated in the first person by William, and is so relatable to kids, especially kids with more introverted tendencies (or children dealing with a new sibling). The artwork is fun, colorful, boldly outlined. I was really happy with this book, and will keep an eye out for the other books in the series. A fun book to help kids break down complex emotions.

Dana Digs In, by Laura Pedersen, (Apr. 2020, Independently Published), $8.75, ISBN: 979-8638193270

Ages 4-7

Dana is a biracial girl who lives in an urban community and does not like the taste of the tomatoes in her salad. It’s not that she doesn’t like tomatoes, she doesn’t like the store-bought tomatoes her parents have bought! Her father explains that tomatoes are often picked before they’re ripe, and ripen on a truck, which gets Dana thinking about waste and pollution. She’s determined to find a better way to get good food, so she researches how and where to start a community garden – and discovers the perfect spot in a future building area that she can use for a few months. After getting the seeds started and learning to compost, she’s ready – and she gets help! The community pitches in and they have a healthy harvest, a portion of which Dana donates to the local food pantry. When it’s time to relocate the garden, Dana discovers that she’s got a couple of options – exciting! Dana Digs In shows how dedication, ingenuity, and research makes all things possible, no matter what age.  The artwork uses word balloons to illustrate dialog and nicely shows the steps involved in figuring out how to set up and run a community garden. Read during a Discovery Time/STEM program and encourage kids to start their own seeds – or do a food scrap program and show kids how to start their own crops from food scraps in their kitchens!