Review: The Turnip by Jan Brett

The Turnip by Jan Brett

The Turnip by Jan Brett (InfoSoup)

Badger girl was weeding the garden when she noticed something odd. It was a huge turnip! She tried to pull it out, but it would not budge. Soon their whole family of badgers were trying to pull the turnip out with no success. Hedgie tried to use his prickles to get it out, Mr. Ram tried using his horns, and Vanya the horse hitched up and pulled too. Nothing worked. Then Rooster strutted up and insisted that he try all by himself. Meanwhile, down in the cave below a family of bears had also discovered the turnip and pushed hard to get it out of their bedroom. The turnip sailed into the air with a triumphant Rooster flying along too. Then it was turnip pancakes for everyone!

Brett excels at retelling folktales, enlivening them with her animal characters. This is a traditional cumulative tale that sticks very close to the original. The family of bears living under the turnip is a great addition that allows strutting Rooster to claim victory over the stubborn turnip. The pacing of the tale works well, each new attempt has a longer and longer line of animals trying to help and also dreaming of what delicious things could be made out of the turnip.

As always, Brett’s illustrations are filled with fine details. She again uses her framing on each double-page spread, showing the next animal to arrive before they come in. Readers will notice the bear family on these panels too, a subtle introduction prior to them taking center stage. The illustrations show that this is Russia where the badgers and bears live. They wear traditional Russian clothing and the frames on the illustrations show a similar influence.

Another winner from Brett, this picture book will make a crowd pleaser of a read aloud, but with Brett’s detailed illustrations it’s also a winner of a lap read. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers.

Review: How to Share with a Bear by Eric Pinder

How to Share with a Bear by Eric Pinder

How to Share with a Bear by Eric Pinder, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin

Thomas made a pillow cave on a cold day. But when he went to get a flashlight to read by, he noticed that something big had taken over the cave. Something with two brown eyes looked back at him when he looked inside. It was a bear! To get the bear out of his cave, Thomas laid a trail of blueberries down the stairs and sure enough, the bear followed eating them up. Thomas ran to get books to read in his cave, but he was too late and the bear had already returned. He tricked the bear with a back-scratching stick and then got inside the cave, but stray bear fuzz had him sneezing and running for a tissue. In the meantime, the bear returned. Thomas tricked the bear again and again into leaving the cave, but when the bear returned finally and Thomas was already in the cave, something happened. The bear started to cry, revealing himself to be Thomas’ younger brother. There was only one thing to do!

Pinder has created a book sparkling with creativity. His young protagonist who is battling the invasive brother bear comes up with clever ways again and again to trick the bear into leaving the cave. Pinder keeps each of the tricks appropriate for both a bear and a little boy, keeping the audience entirely fooled until his reveal. I was completely convinced of this being a little bear and expected the book to end with a teddy bear of some kind. It was a delight to discover a different twist that speaks to how to be a good older sibling.

The illustrations from Graegin are key to keeping the audience convinced of the bear being real. She subtle makes sure that the face is not shown until that moment of reveal. The book glows with a yellow warmth that invites curling up under a blanket or in your own pillow cave to read it.

A great pick for bear story times, this picture book shows how hard sharing can be. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Review: Drowned City by Don Brown

Drowned City by Don Brown

Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans by Don Brown (InfoSoup)

This powerful graphic novel tells the story of Hurricane Katrina from the very beginning as the hurricane forms and grows in power to the slow recovery of New Orleans in the aftermath. As the winds and rains of the storm breach the levees around the city, readers will see the devastation that occurs as 80% of the city floods. The book tells the true story, one where everyday people are heroes, where supplies and help are not sent in a timely way, where presidents make appearances but don’t remedy the problems, and where people looking for help just find more death and despair. It is also the story of selfless people who come in and make a real difference, of rescues and saved lives. It is in short, a true story that unflinchingly tells the story of a storm and a city.

With an enormous list of references and sources at the back of the book, this graphic novel is based entirely on facts and first-person accounts. Brown tells the tale without any need to make it more dramatic, just offering facts about what happened and what went wrong to make it even worse. Brown’s account though is also filled with humanity, offering glimpses of the horrors that people survived, of the losses as they mounted, and of a world turned upside down for people trying to escape the city.

Brown’s art in this graphic novel is done mostly in browns and greens. There are striking pages that stop a reader for awhile, such as the art on pages 30 and 31 which has dead bodies floating past in purple water, even as survivors are being hauled up to a roof. Brown conveys the heat and the desperation of survivors, the desolation of the flooded city, and then the slow rebuilding process.

A riveting and powerful look at one of the worst disasters in American history, this graphic novel is a way to talk with children about Hurricane Katrina. Appropriate for ages 8-12.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: North Woods Girl by Aimee Bissonette

North Woods Girl by Aimee Bissonette

North Woods Girl by Aimee Bissonette, illustrated by Claudia McGehee (InfoSoup)

A girl tells about her grandmother who is not like other grandmas. She dresses in Grandpa’s old flannel shirts and she’s bony. She doesn’t bake cookies or pies, but she does take long walks out in nature. With her trusty walking stick, the two of them explore the little paths near Grandma’s house. Every season there are new things to see, things in the garden to do. The two love winter best of all, especially winter nights with a full moon when they explore the snowy woods. Grandma may not be like other grandma’s but she’s pretty special and a north woods girl to the quick.

Bissonette captures the spirit of a north woods woman beautifully in her picture book. From the no-fuss long grey braid, the flannel shirts, the stout boots to the way that nature speaks to her and that she knows it so well. This book is a celebration of the north woods too, the ways that the woods changes in different seasons, the animals that fill it, and the glory of a winter woods.

McGehee’s scratchboard illustrations have a rustic beauty. The colors are deep and lovely, and they capture the spirit of the woods. In fact, there are moments when you can almost smell the pines and the grass. There is a subtle multiculturalism here too with the little girl’s darker skin tone and curly hair. The pages are crowded with details of the woods, filled with animals and insects.

A lovely look at the northern woods, this picture book celebrates unique grandmothers living in a unique place. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Minnesota Historical Society Press.

This Week’s Tweets, Pins and Tumbls

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

~C.S. Lewis~:


Bibliography: A Fine Dessert #daily #feedly #kidlit

Do black children’s lives matter if nobody writes about them? | Daniel José Older #kidlit

Early Chapter Books with Fierce Female Characters | @denabooks @ReadBrightly

Get your children into the Thanksgiving spirit:

Kids are full of questions. Children’s book author/illustrator Marie-Louise Gay has answers #kidlit

Lara Williamson’s top 10 goodbyes in children’s literature #kidlit

The Winter 2015–2016 Kids’ Indie Next List Preview | American Booksellers Association #kidlit #yalit

YA author Jonathan Auxier on drawing in the ‘reluctant readers’ #yalit


Declining E-book Sales Hit Home #ebooks

Embedded image permalink


Bike-repair stations coming to 9 King County libraries

Indianapolis Just Got Little Free Libraries Right #libraries

King County Library System book-sorting crew reclaims ‘national’ title #libraries

NYC library defending title as fastest book sorter #libraries

Public Libraries and At-Risk Teens #libraries

Surf Like Snowden: Lebanon Libraries Offering Privacy-Friendly Flash Drives #libraries

For the fan who believes in magical minimalism. | 19 Magical Gifts To Get The "Once Upon A Time" Fan In Your Life


10 Great Pre- and Post-Hermione Granger YA Heroines Whose Books You Should Read

Bill Konigsberg Guest Post: "The Lessons I Learned From the Trevor Project Awareness Tour" #yalit #lgbt

Black Girls Matter: A YA Reading List #yalit #diversity

Please don’t air brush African teen fiction #yalit

Amazon Best of 2015 – Young Adult Books

Amazon has released their lists of the Best Books of 2015. They have two youth categories and offer a Top 20 in both. Here are the top 20 books according to Amazon in young adult books



A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1) Dumplin'

 The Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes, #1) Everything, Everything

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Finding Audrey The Game of Love and Death

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1) Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, #3)

Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

Mechanica More Happy Than Not

Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Mosquitoland Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War

Mosquitoland by David Arnold

Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1) Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1) The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten

We Are All Made of Molecules Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4)

We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen

Winter by Marissa Meyer

Wolf By Wolf (Wolf By Wolf, #1) The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn, #1)

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Amazon Best of 2015 Lists – Children’s Books

Amazon has released their lists of the Best Books of 2015. They have two youth categories and offer a Top 20 in both. Here are the top 20 books according to Amazon in children’s books:


Circus Mirandus The Day the Crayons Came Home 

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

Echo The Full Moon at the Napping House

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

The Full Moon at the Napping House by Audrey Wood, illustrated by Don Wood

Goodbye Stranger Lenny & Lucy

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Lenny & Lucy by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead

The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #1) The Marvels

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan

The Marvels by Brian Selznick

Nerdy Birdy The Nest

Nerdy Birdy by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Matt Davies

The Nest by Kenneth Oppel, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Robo-Sauce Roller Girl

Robo-Sauce by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

Stick and Stone The Story of Diva and Flea

Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

The Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems, illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi

The Thing About Jellyfish Treasury of Norse Mythology: Stories of Intrigue, Trickery, Love, and Revenge

The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Treasury of Norse Mythology by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Christina Balit

Waiting 24905389

Waiting by Kevin Henkes

Who Done It? by Olivier Tallec

Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh The Wonderful Things You Will Be

Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh by Sally M. Walker, illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss

The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin