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families families families

Families, Families, Families! by Suzanne Lang and Max Lang

Released March 24, 2015.

In rhythmic rhyme, this picture book celebrates each and every kind of family there is. Starting with families with lots of siblings, the book quickly moves to embrace only children, families with gay and lesbian parents, single parent families, and children who live with extended family. Then the book moves into other differences like step families, adoption, and parents who may or may not be married. Towards the end, the book gains momentum and speed and rushes merrily through silly types of differences in families, that underline how the most important thing in each of these different sorts of families is the love that is there.

The rhyming text has a friendly bounce to it and that ramping up of speed at the end of the book is a great twist and a grand way to reach the loving finale. The book maintains a great sense of humor throughout, both in its words and its illustrations.

The illustrations are done with cartoon cut outs placed on photographic backgrounds and then mounted as pictures in a photo album. The use of both cartoons and photographs gives this book a fresh approach. The illustrations also use animals instead of people, making it all the more friendly and approachable for small children who will enjoy finding their own kind of family on the page, probably more than once!

Funny, friendly and embracing everyone, this picture book is all about the love within families and acceptance for all. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Edelweiss and Random House.

The short list for the 25th Children’s Books Ireland Book of the Year Awards has been announced. Winners will be announced in May. The books are for all ages and must be written in English or Irish by authors or illustrators born or residing in Ireland.  Here is the short list:

When Mr. Dog Bites Apple and Rain

When Mr. Dog Bites by Brian Conaghan

Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan

Shh! We Have a Plan Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters

Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton

Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers

The Apple Tart of Hope Daideo

The Apple Tart of Hope by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald

Daideo by Áine Ní Ghlinn

Only Ever Yours Haiku: más é do thoil é!

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

Haiku Más é do thoil é! by Gabriel Rosenstock illustrated by Brian Fitzgerald

Primperfect Beyond the Stars: Twelve Tales of Adventure, Magic and Wonder

Primperfect by Deirdre Sullivan

Beyond the Stars compiled by Sarah Webb

small elephants bathtime

Small Elephant’s Bathtime by Tatyana Feeney

While Small Elephant is happy to play in water or drink it, he doesn’t like taking a bath at all. His mother tries all sorts of thing to entice him into the bathtub. She fills it with plenty of toys. She blows bubbles in the air. But nothing works. Small Elephant tries to be too busy to take a bath and gets very mad when his mother insists on a bath. He has a tantrum and then hides from the bath. Then his father gets involved and makes Small Elephant giggle enough to try out the bath after all. But who will be able to get him out when he discovers how much fun he is having?

The author of Small Bunny’s Blue Blanket and other picture books has a winner with this title. Just the right playful tone is set here for toddlers who are also reluctant to stop what they are doing to take baths. The gentle approach of both parents is great to see, offering options towards tantrums and reluctance that are inventive and filled with humor.

As always Feeney’s art has a refreshing looseness about it. Line drawings with splashes of watercolor color, the book has an aesthetic that will appeal to children and adults alike. It uses limited colors to great effect, creating a cohesive and playful feel.

Soapy, sudsy, bubbly fun for small children who will relate to the emotions Small Elephant feels.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Edelweiss and Knopf Books for Young Readers.

28,000 Scottish school children voted on the winners of the Scottish Children’s Book Awards.  Here are the winners, including one of the youngest Scottish authors, Alex McCall, at age 21.


Robot Rumpus!

Ross Collins for the illustrations of Robot Rumpus, written by Sean Taylor



Attack of the Giant Robot Chickens

Alex McCall for Attack of the Giant Robot Chickens


OLDER READERS (Ages 12-16)

Mosi's War

Cathy MacPhail for Mosi’s War

2015 Golden Kite Winners


The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) has announced the winners of their Golden Kite Awards and the Sid Fleischman Award. These awards are unique because they are the only ones judged by a jury of author and illustrator peers.  Here are the winners in each category as well as the honor books:

Revolution The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia


Revolution by Deborah Wiles


The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina's Dream


The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus illustrated by Melissa Sweet, written by Jen Bryant


A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina’s Dream by Kristy Dempsey, illustrated by Floyd Cooper


Dory Fantasmagory Freedom Summer: The 1964 Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi


Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon


Freedom Summer: The 1964 Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi by Susan Goldman Rubin

18475599 The Baby Tree


The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee


The Baby Tree by Sophie Blackall



Evil Librarian

Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen

red butterfly

Red Butterfly by A. L. Sonnichsen

Kara was abandoned as an infant and taken in by an American woman living in China. Her Mama never leaves the apartment they share and Kara doesn’t attend school. Kara does get to leave the apartment each day to run errands on her bicycle, her favorite time of day. In China where the one-child limit is in effect, parents leave infants who have physical challenges like Kara who was born with one hand with only two small fingers on it. Mama longs to return to the United States, but she can’t without abandoning Kara, who has no identification papers and has not been formally adopted. When Mama’s American daughter comes to visit, Kara finds their entire lives turned upside down and their secret exposed. Will Kara be able to bring their family back together again?

Told in lovely rich verse, this novel is elegantly written and conceived. It shows the results of the one-child policy in China and the children who were abandoned because of it. Yet it is far from a condemnation of China or the United States. It is a portrait in contrasts and complexity, showing that there is good and bad in both systems. It is also the story of one very strong young girl who has already lost one family and is determined not to lose another.

Kara is the voice of the book with the poems told from her point of view. She is unique in many ways, including being able to speak English better than she Chinese due to her upbringing. Kara’s disability is handled in a matter-of-fact way for the reader. While she is profoundly ashamed of it, her hand and disability do not label her at all in the novel. Kara’s situation is complicated by the politics of adoption and identity. In her journey to a resolution of where she will live, there are episodes in an orphanage and then later in a home in the United States. These are all deftly and clearly drawn, showing both the universal nature of family and love but also the differences in cultures.

Radiant verse and a very strong young protagonist make this verse novel a treat to read. The unusual subject matter of an older orphan from China makes it a unique read. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster Books.

Here are the links I shared on my Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr accounts this week that I think are cool:

Choose your own adventure


CCBlogC: CCBC Diversity Logs on Pinterest #kidlit #yalit #weneeddiversebooks

Dr Seuss is more widely read than JK Rowling among children – Telegraph #kidlit

Mal Peet, writer, dies aged 67 – Telegraph #kidlit

No Boys Allowed: School visits as a woman writer #kidlit #authors #sexism

When you read....


17 of March 2015’s Best YA Books: Young Adult Readers, We Lucked Out This Month #yalit

Divergent author Veronica Roth is writing TWO new books #yalit

Gene Luen Yang to Write For DC Comics #yalit

Hot YA Book ‘The Square Root of Summer’ Sells at Auction #yalit

Blue Peter Book Awards 2015

The Blue Peter Book Awards are voted on by over 200 children from 10 schools across the UK.  A panel of judges decide the shortlist which is then voted on by the children. Here are the winners:


The Spy who loved School Dinners

The Spy Who Loved School Dinners by Pamela Butchart, illustrated by Thomas Flintham



The Silly Book of Side-Splitting Stuff

The Silly Book of Side-Splitting Stuff by Andy Seed, illustrated by Scott Garrett

my name is truth

My Name Is Truth: The Life of Sojourner Truth by Ann Turner, illustrated by James Ransome

Told in her own voice, this picture book biography captures the childhood and emergence of Sojourner Truth as an orator and activist. The first pages of the book show the horror of slavery, the loss of family members when they are sold away, and the damage of loss, grief, battery and ownership. Then with her baby in her arms, Sojourner runs away, finding shelter. She eventually fought to get her son back with her, and finding her voice. Moving to New York City, she gains her new name of Sojourner Truth and begins to speak out. From wagon backs to formal lectures and then in print, her words travel and help destroy the institution of slavery across the nation.

Turner weaves Truth’s words into the text, creating poetry that is fiery and honest and burns with indignation about slavery. Using her own voice to narrate the story is a great decision, allowing readers to really see what has built the passion upon which Sojourner Truth draws again and again. The horrors of the loss of twelve members of her family never leaves her and it never leaves the book, as it begins and ends with that focus. The entire book is beautifully drawn and historically accurate. Readers can read the author’s note at the end and teachers will appreciate the book being reviewed for accuracy by experts.

Ransome’s illustrations are luscious and lovely. He shows the hard work, grueling labor of slavery and then with one page of running away, Sojourner Truth expresses freedom in the form of a large bed of her very own, something she has never experienced before. It is an image that is powerful and one that children will understand intuitively. As the book progresses, the images grow in power and strength as she comes into her own.

Strong, poetic and filled with history, this picture book biography of Sojourner Truth will be embraced by schools and public libraries alike. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

wolfie the bunny

Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Zachariah OHora

When the bunny family came home, they found a little bundle on their doorstep. It was a baby wolf! Mama and Papa were thrilled to take him in, but Dot knew that the wolf was going to eat them all. Still, the bunny family took Wolfie in. Dot kept an eye on him all night long, and tried again at breakfast to warn her family that they were going to be eaten. No one listened, again. Finally, Dot’s friends agreed that Dot was right and they went to play somewhere else. When she got back, Wolfie would not leave Dot alone. Days went by and Wolfie started to grow and grow. He also started to eat and eat, so Dot was sent to the store along with Wolfie. It was there that Wolfie finally showed his fangs, but it doesn’t turn out in the way that Dot was expecting!

Dyckman has created a very clever little book that shows adoption and new siblings in a fresh way. Dot is convinced from the very beginning that taking in Wolfie is a bad idea and that it will be catastrophic for her family. This feeling of doom is very much what human children feel when a new baby is announced. Wolfie goes through all of the steps of a new sibling, from getting all of the attention to being a pest. Yet through the entire book, Dyckman keeps the focus on wolves and bunnies and how it will all play out, creating a welcome added dynamic to the story.

OHora’s illustrations add to the humor on the page. Done in acrylic, the illustrations have a signature flat feeling to them that is very modern. They capture the cheerful bunny family, the worried Dot, and the adorable Wolfie. OHora also creates a dynamic neighborhood for the story to take place in that makes the entire book feel grounded and real. Or as real as a book about wolves and bunnies can be.

Clever, funny and bright, this picture book captures have a new sibling in a fresh way. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.


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