Lesser Spotted Animals by Martin Brown
This book doesn’t include any koalas or bears or bison or tigers. Instead it’s full of mammals who tend to be ignored. In fact, I guarantee that there are animals here that you’ve never even heard of! All of them are amazing but for very different reasons. There’s the Cuban Solenodon, an insectivore with a poisonous bite. There’s the impossible to find and count Sand Cat who lives in the deserts of Africa and Central Asia. There’s the stinky Zorilla who can be smelled up to a mile away. Turning the pages of this book is a journey of discovery that is just right for any kid tired of the same old popular animals and up for a look at truly wild animals.
Brown’s tone in the book is masterful. He uses humor perfectly, creating moments of asides that made me guffaw aloud. This is one of the rare nonfiction animal books for children that you won’t mind reading aloud, even multiple times! It is full of fun facts, interesting tidbits and then that zing of humor that makes it entirely enjoyable. Brown picks his animals carefully, offering just the right amount of detail on each animal and then moving on merrily to the next.
Brown’s illustrations contribute to some of the best humor in the book. He uses images that are similar to mug shots of the various animals to show their similarities and differences to more familiar animals. He also uses comic-like speech bubbles and frames to create silly asides that add immensely to the appeal.
A delight of a nonfiction book about animals, here’s hoping that it’s the first in a series. Appropriate for ages 7-9.
Reviewed from ARC received from Scholastic.
Egg by Kevin Henkes
Henkes returns with another winner of a picture book. This time he uses a graphic novel format ideal for preschool picture book fans. The book is utter simplicity, using repetition to show each of the four eggs: one pink, one yellow, one blue and one green. At first they are whole, then three begin to crack. Soon three chicks have emerged! Still, the green egg stays whole and quiet. There is lots of waiting and the three chicks return to help the final egg start cracking open. Then they are the ones who get a surprise when the egg hatches!
Simple and completely wonderful, this picture book graphic novel is great fun to read. Children can help by repeating the phrases the right number of times along with the adult reader. There is a lovely rhythm created by the repetition, almost swinging along with the beat. The limited vocabulary is also welcome for new readers.
The art by Henkes stays simple as well. With firm lines and soft pastel colors, the book is ideal for springtime (or those of us dreaming of spring). Even the illustrations get in on the repetition, using similar panels to repeat as the different eggs wait, hatch and then wait once more.
Clever and warm, this is a very welcome addition for emergent readers and springtime story times. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from HarperCollins.
The Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books has announced their 2016 Blue Ribbons. These are books they consider the best of the year and wonderfully their list contains a lot of books that I haven’t seen on other ones. Here are the books that received ribbons:
Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu
Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit
The Call by Peadar O’Guilin
The Door by the Staircase by Katherine Marsh
Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier
Riverkeep by Martin Stewart
The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Weekends with Max and His Dad by Linda Urban
Animals by the Numbers by Steve Jenkins
Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science be Jeannine Atkins
Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph by Roxane Orgill, illustrated by Francis Vellajo
Miracle Man: The Story of Jesus by John Hendrix
Samurai Rising by Pamela S. Turner
Some Writer: The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet
This Bridge Will Not Be Gray by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Tucker Nichols
The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk by Jan Thornhill
When Green Becomes Tomatoes by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Julie Morstad
The Airport Book by Lisa Brown
Frank and Lucky Get Schooled by Lynne Rae Perkins
Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak
Goodnight Everyone be Chris Haughton
I Hear a Pickle (and Smell, See, Touch, and Taste It, Too!) by Rachel Isadora
Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke
Old Dog Baby Baby by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Chris Raschka
The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito, illustrated by Julia Kuo
Super Happy Magic Forest by Matty Long
Thunder Boy, Jr. by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales
The Heartless Troll by Øyvind Torseter
The Princess and the Warrior by Duncan Tonatiuh
The Singing Bones by Shaun Tan
Snow White by Matt Phelan
Bob, Not Bob! by Liz Garton Scanlon & Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Matthew Cordell
Released February 14, 2017.
An awful cold can cause chaos, especially if you have a dog named Bob. Little Louie is big enough that he doesn’t need his mother all the time, but when he gets sick he needs her quite a bit more. As his cold grows, his congestion makes him talk differently. So when he calls for his Mom, it comes out as “Bob.” Unfortunately though, when he calls “Bob” his dog comes running. As his cold gets worse, he only wants his mom near him, confusing his sister with confusing sentences and continuing to call his dog accidentally. Luckily though, his mom knows just what he needs.
This book is seriously fun to read aloud. The cover instructs you to read it “as though you have the worst cold ever.” And it’s a delight. The phrases that seem confusing on the page pop into sense when read aloud. The book also delights by having a child who wants his mom around him when he’s not feeling well and who also manages to confuse everyone about what he actually wants and needs. The result of the confusion though is lovely motherly warmth and attention, so actually everyone gets exactly what they need.
Cordell’s illustrations add to the zingy energy of the book. He takes the confusing language that Louie uses and creates large words with them that show those reading aloud exactly what to say in that wonderful congested voice. The family shown are people of color, giving a nice touch of diversity to the book. Add in the huge dog that bounds on the page and you have pure joy on the page.
Perfect for anyone home sick in bed, this picture book will please any kid who has a terrible cold or a great sense of humor. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Disney Hyperion.
The Rainbow Book List is a list of books with LGBTQIA+ content aimed at youth, ages birth through 18. The 2017 list includes high quality titles published between Junly 2015 and December 2016. The list includes 50 titles. Below are the Top Ten Titles identified by the committee:
And I Darken by Kiersten White
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
How Many Letters Are in Goodbye? by Yvonne Cassidy
I’m a Girl by Yasmeen Ismail
Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story About Gender and Friendship by Jessica Walton, illustrated by Dougal MacPherson
Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill
The Root by Na’amen Gobert Tilahun
This Song Is (Not) for You by Laura Nowlin
We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
Here are some cool links I shared on my Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr accounts this week:
10 Unforgettable Meals from Children’s Books
Carole Boston Weatherford has won the 2017 Charlotte Zolotow Award for “Freedom in Congo Square”!
Children’s Book Awards Highlight Race — and Politics
Discovering Deafness Through Children’s Literature
How To Get Dads To A Parenting Class? Ask Them To Read To Their Kid
Minnesota author Kelly Barnhill wins 2017 Newbery Medal for The Girl Who Drank the Moon | CTV News
Teaching New York City Children to Read in English, Even When Their Parents Can’t
Childwise report says print reading declines in teen years | The Bookseller
Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
Mary has served six years for killing a baby when she was nine years old. Now she is living in a group home with other teen girls, including ones who want to hurt her. Mary doesn’t talk much and didn’t speak for months after the baby’s death. Now though, Mary has something to speak up for and fight for. She has an older boyfriend who works at the nursing home where Mary is assigned. She also has their unborn child. Mary is smart and loves to read. She sets her mind on going to college and completing SATs. However, there are a lot of hurdles and barriers in her way from the system itself to just getting an ID. As Mary starts to fight back she will have to take on her mother, the person whose testimony got her locked up in the first place.
This is one incredible debut novel. It takes a dark and unflinching look at how our society treats young offenders and the bleak lives that are left to them. It also speaks to the horror of a baby being killed and the effect that race, where a black girl is accused of killing a white baby, has on the system. The writing is outstanding, allowing the desperation to seep into the pages and the darkness to simply stand, stark and true.
Mary is an amazing protagonist. Readers will relate to her as her intelligence shines on the page despite the grime surrounding her. As she begins to build hope and a new life around herself, readers will feel their own hopes soar and warmth creep in. Mary though is not a simple character, a girl wronged. She is her own person, messing up in her own ways and speaking her own truth.
Complex and riveting, this debut novel is one that is dazzling, deep and dark. Appropriate for ages 16-18.
Reviewed from e-galley received from Edelweiss and Katherine Tegen Books.
One Lonely Fish by Andy Mansfield and Thomas Flintham
Released January 31, 2017.
One little lonely yellow fish swims in the ocean. But soon he is joined with one fish and then others, each following with their mouth wide open to eat the fish in front of them. Counting one to ten, the fish grow bigger and bigger. Eventually though, there is just one lonely fish on the page once again.
This simple board book has a great sense of humor. There is very little text to the book other than counting upwards, making it simple enough for very small children. The board construction is sturdy enough to make this work with toddlers. But be ready for the little ones to be very surprised and perhaps sad with the twist at the end. Still, the likelihood is giggles, not tears.
The illustrations are bright and colorful. There are two little red crabs on the bottom of all of the pages with the bright yellow sand who warn observant readers of the final twist a page ahead of time. The fish are a rainbow of colors and have a variety of patterns as well.
Energetic and colorful, you are sure to be hooked by this fishy picture book. Appropriate for ages 1-3.
Reviewed from copy received from Bloomsbury.
Plant the Tiny Seed by Christie Matheson
The author of Tap the Magic Tree and Touch the Brightest Star returns with another interactive picture book that is a companion to the first two. The child first plants the seeds by pressing them into the ground. They wiggle their fingers to water them. Then comes sunshine and rain. A hungry snail has to be hurried on its way. And all the while the plants are growing and growing. Then come the flowers, bright zinnias of purple, orange and red. The flowers fade and soon there are new seeds to be scattered.
This book shows the cycle from seed to plant to flower to seed in a simple and very approachable way. While it won’t work well for large groups, smaller groups of children or single children will love the interactive component and the feeling that they are gardening along with the book. The book incorporates plenty of other nature as well with snails, bees, birds and butterflies on the page. There is also lots for parents and children to talk about, making the book even more interactive.
Matheson’s illustrations are bright and simple. She keeps the plants in the same spot on each page, so the weather and creatures provide movement and changes. Deep brown soil richly frames the bottom of the pages and most of them have a clear white as a background that lets the simple illustrations pop.
A great way to explore the life cycle of plants, this picture book is simple and friendly enough for toddlers to enjoy. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from HarperCollins.