Month: October 2017

3 Fun-Filled Picture Books

These three picture books are wild romps of fun:

I Love You Like a Pig by Mac Barnett

I Love You Like a Pig by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Greg Pizzoli (9780062354839)

This picture book celebrates all the different forms that love can take, beginning with being loved like a pig and moving to other unique ones as well. At first they may seem silly or unlikely, but the book shows what each one means through the illustrations. The text stays very simple, offering new ways of loving: I love you like a window, I’m smiling like a tuna, and You’re sweet like a banker. Then the illustrations shows how each analogy works and brings it all to life. Barnett comes up with far-fetched analogies that then are transformed into meaning. The selections are clever and will appeal specifically to children and their experiences. Pizzoli’s bright illustrations invite readers to explore the words and find the meaning too. An ingenious book about love and delight. Appropriate for ages 3-5. (Reviewed from library copy.)

The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABCs (the Hard Way) by Patrick McDonnell

The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABCs (the Hard Way) by Patrick McDonnell (9780316502467)

When the little red cat heads outside, he discovers a world of surprises and dangers that follow the ABCs. Readers will have to puzzle out what matches each letter along the way (though there is a key in the back of the book to help if you get stuck.) With a merry chase throughout the book, it has the feel of a Gingerbread Boy gallop across the pages. The book is wordless, offering only the letters along the way, providing a visual treat as the cat is joined by an alligator, a bear, a chicken, a dragon and an egg on his adventure through the alphabet. Filled with moments of humor, like the stop at the rest room for R and the lovely use of N and O, this picture book is a delight of an alphabet book that is great fun to share. Appropriate for ages 3-5. (Reviewed from library copy.)

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Nibbles: The Dinosaur Guide by Emma Yarlett (978-1-61067-643-4)

This is the second Nibbles book where the little yellow monster invades a book by munching his way right into the pages. Here a serious informational book about dinosaurs is what he enters and causes all sorts of mischief. The book names beloved dinosaurs and explains facts about them before being interrupted by the chaos created by Nibbles as he chews through the pages. Nibbles flees from Triceratops charging him. He has an eating contest with a family of Diplodocus. He is surrounded by Velociraptors and then runs right into a Tyrannosaurus Rex before escaping the book.

Yarlett has a real feel for what children love in picture books. She includes poop and fart jokes along the way, and offers lift the flap and die cut pages. Along the way, various side characters offer puns and jokes that will have readers giggling. Still, there is real information on the various dinosaurs offered as well, creating a book that combines silliness and seriousness into just the right mix.

Yarlett’s illustrations work to combine the serious and silliness. The pages on the dinosaurs are done in serious muted colors, sepia tones. But when Nibbles is around, those colors burst into fuller colors with oranges, greens and yellows. The die cuts are cleverly used to move through the book, some of them appearing through multiple pages for even more effect.

Another delicious Nibbles book that combines interactive elements and dinosaurs for what is sure to be a popular pick. Appropriate for ages 4-7. (Reviewed from copy provided by Kane Miller.)

That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E. K. Johnston

That Inevitable Victorian Thing by EK Johnston

That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E. K. Johnston (9781101994979)

Set in a world slightly in the future, this teen novel explores what might have happened if the British Empire had continued to be in power. Canada is part of the empire and the United States is a struggling land of revolutionaries and poverty. When Victoria-Margaret is allowed to have one year of freedom and visit Canada incognito, she discovers new friends, plenty of balls and parties, and a new understanding of the empire she will one day govern. One of her new friends is Helena, who doesn’t know who Victoria-Margaret actually is and who is also keeping her own secrets from Margaret and her beau, August, who also has troubles to occupy his time. As the three of them head into the Canadian country to spend time at their families’ lake homes, the truth must eventually be shared in between newfound love, country dances and letter writing.

Johnston, author of Exit, Pursued by a Bear, has created a novel that could have been entirely frothy and filled with dresses, dances and divas. Instead it is a book that explores many aspects of life from honesty to family honor to the truth of who someone actually is, deep inside. Set in the near-future, the book also has a computer that finds genetically beneficial matches for people. For Helena, this computer reveals that she is actually intersex. That fact almost topples Helena, but as she lives with it for awhile she finds herself exploring new parts of her personality and of romance.

Written with grace, this novel for teens is a lovely introduction to alternative history science fiction. The flair of the debutante season, the touches of British life throughout the realm, and the pressure on all three teens to find proper matches create a whirl of a novel. The two female lead characters are refreshingly different from one another and yet make ideal friends. There is a quiet to them both, an introspective quality and also a merriment and delight in simple pleasures.

A great book for fans of The Crown and Victoria, get this into their hands. Appropriate for ages 14-17.

Reviewed from ARC provided by Dutton Books for Young Readers.

This Week’s Tweets, Pins & Tumbls

Here are some cool links I shared on my TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr accounts in the last week:

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

6 Ways to Encourage Your Toddler to Read That Don’t Involve Singing the ABCs

11 Books That Model Empathy and Compassion for Young Readers |

15 Kid’s Books That Celebrate Immigration

17 Wonderful Wordless Picture Books Everyone Can Love

50+ Multicultural STEAM Books for Children via

A month’s worth of awesome to read to preschoolers! via

Newbery Medalist + National Book Award-winner Joan W. Blos, remembered

Top 10 Books for 2 Year Olds

What to Read With Your Kids (and Teens) When the World is Terrible

LIBRARIES

A Book Ban Like No Other

Chrome’s Library Extension Will Change Your Life

Fountas and Pinnell Say Librarians Should Guide Readers by Interest, Not Level – via

Kansas City Public Library Raises Minimum Wage for Employees

The State of Sexual Harassment in the Library thanks

Ursula K. Le Guin, who turns 88 today, on the sacredness of public libraries

TEEN READS

17 YA Books By Authors Of Color To Look Out For In The First Half Of 2018 – Bustle thanks

2017 Teens’ Top Ten Announced! – The Hub

The Best Young Adult Books of October

A Conversation with YA Author Francisco X. Stork

“Dumplin'” Is Going To Be A Movie And The Cast So Far Is INCREDIBLE via

If I Stay’ Author Gayle Forman Has New Novel Out in March – New York Times thanks

Leigh Bardugo Interviews YA Legend Tamora Pierce thanks

YA authors and On Genre Hopping, Slasher Films, and More

3 Playful Picture Books

These three picture books are all about the joy and power of play.

Another Way to Climb a Tree by Liz Garton Scanlon

Another Way to Climb a Tree by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Hadley Hooper (9781626723528)

Lulu loves to climb trees. She saves cats, retrieves kites and climbs trees that others won’t. When Lulu gets sick though, she can’t climb trees for awhile. She misses the trees and the trees and birds miss her too. As Lulu looks out of her window, only the sun is climbing the tree. But then she notices the tree’s shadow on her bedroom wall and Lulu realizes that she can still pretend to be high in the branches. Scanlon’s writing is rich and simple at the same time. She speaks about the joy of climbing trees and then with poignancy shows how much Lulu misses being outside and being up in tree branches. The illustrations by Hooper are done with printmaking and have a traditional and organic feel that adds to the connection with nature felt on the pages. Get this into the hands of children with skinned knees and sunburned noses. Appropriate for ages 4-6. (Reviewed from library copy.)

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The Five Forms by Barbara McClintock (9781626722163)

When a girl discovers a book of martial arts forms, she ignores the warming in the book that says that “unexpected results” can happen if anyone other than a master attempts them. When the girl tries the crane form, a large crane appears in her room. The crane is quite problematic and destructive, so she quickly moves on to leopard form. As the two animals fight, she adds another and another with a snake and dragon joining the battle. Finally, she reaches the last form to turn things back to normal. She tidies up the mess of the house just before her mother comes in with tickets to the zoo. Perhaps it’s time for someone else to read that book! McClintock’s text is very simple here, with much of the action of the book happening in the images. The book moves from straight picture book to comic frames and back again with alacrity and in a way that flows naturally from form to form. The illustrations are filled with huge animals, messes and activity. This is a fun look at martial arts with a dash of magic. Appropriate for ages 3-5. (Review copy provided by Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers.)

Fort-Building Time by Megan Wagner Lloyd

Fort-Building Time by Megan Wagner Lloyd, illustrated by Abigail Halpin (9780399556562)

Celebrate the seasons through play in this picture book that has different forts built by kids throughout the year. Winter starts the book with an ice and snow fort made merry with pine boughs for seating, berries and branches for decorations. Spring has a quiet fort filled with books to read, a cozy blanket hung between trees. Summer takes the fort to the beach with driftwood, towels, starfish and snacks. The fall fort is up in the changing trees with leaves falling all around. But sometimes forts go awry too! The only solution is a bigger, better fort next time. The text of this picture book is poetic and celebratory of each of the seasons with each season clearly depicted and then the fort shown in the illustrations. The images are filled with diverse children playing together. The fine-lined images are a mix of watercolor, colored pencil and digital that create a rich, warm setting. Have plenty of blankets, boxes and pillows around because little listeners will want to immediately build their own forts. Appropriate for ages 3-5. (E-galley provided by Edelweiss and Alfred A. Knopf.)

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater (9780374303235)

This nonfiction book for teens looks at two sides of a hate crime in Oakland, California. It took place on a bus where an asexual student, Sasha, was riding. They (the pronoun they use) were reading at first and then fell asleep on the public bus. A white teen, they went to a small private school in town and lived in a middle-class neighborhood. They were wearing a gauzy skirt at the time. It was a skirt that caught the eye of Richard and his friends. Richard, a black teen, attended a public high school and was newly back in the community after being in juvenile detention. Without even considering the impact of his actions, Richard set Sasha’s skirt on fire. What was meant to be a prank turned into a hate crime and potential life imprisonment.

This internationally known crime is given voice by the people who lived it in this nonfiction book. Written with such care and compassion for both sides, the book made me weep with both the fact that asexual and gender nonconforming teens and people face this type of attack and also the fact that African-American teens are charged as adults and face huge sentences as a result. Slater dances what seems at times to be an impossible line, showing the humanity on both sides of the story, explaining the facts that impact the lives of the people involved, and offering an opportunity to look deeply into a case rather than reading the headlines.

There is such humanity on these pages. It will remind everyone that there are different sides to incidents like these, that rushing to judgement is not helpful, that forgiveness has power, and that people, especially teenagers can learn from mistakes and grow from them if given a chance. Written like a novel, the book has dashingly short chapters and features the voices of the two teens whose lives changed in a moment.

The skill evident in this book is remarkable. This is the nonfiction book that teen readers today need. Appropriate for ages 15-18.

Reviewed from e-galley received from Edelweiss and Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

3 All-Natural Picture Books

Here are three wonderful new or recent picture books that celebrate nature and outdoors.

In the Middle of Fall by Kevin Henkes

In the Middle of Fall by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Laura Dronzek (9780062573117)

This book follows When Spring Comes by the same masterful duo. Here Henkes’ poem celebrates the turning of the leaves and other changes in nature. There are the squirrels, the brown gardens, pumpkins and apples. Then leaves fall, filling the air with oranges, yellows and reds that disappear quickly and soon another season is on its way, this time with snow. Henkes keeps the text of the book simple and focused on nature. There is a deep sense of the fleeting nature of autumn and how quickly it passes by. The illustrations by Dronzek are large and fill the page. They will work well shared with a group, who will recognize their own backyards and their own time outside reflected in the book. A lovely look at fall, let’s hope this duo does the other seasons as well. Appropriate for ages 2-4. (Reviewed from library copy.)

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Once Upon a Jungle by Laura Knowles, illustrated by James Boast (9781784937799)

This clever picture book uses the phrase “once upon a time” to set in motion the food cycle in a rainforest. “Once upon” quickly turns to the animal being preyed upon, eaten or hunted. Ants are eaten by a mantis who in turn is snacked on by a lizard who is hunted by a monkey. The animals get larger and larger as the book continues until finally there is an old panther. After that panther dies, he returns to the dirt where his body enriches the soil and new plants grow. Thanks to the simple phrasing, the book is fast paced and the structure allows readers to be surprised and fascinated. The book ends with an explanation of the jungle as a living habitat. The bright illustrations framed by the black backgrounds leap off of the page and offer a sense of peering through jungle leaves and vines to see what is happening. A very approachable and interesting book on food cycles. Appropriate for ages 4-6. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Thank You Bees by Toni Yuly

Thank You, Bees by Toni Yuly (9780763692612)

This bright and bold picture book is just right for the smallest of children. Exploring gratitude and appreciating the little things in life, this book moves through a little boy’s day as he thanks each thing that brings him joy. The sun is thanked for its light, the bees for honey, sheep for wool and trees for wood. By bedtime, the little boy thanks the entire earth for the life it gives. Done in very simple language of identifying what to be thankful for and then voicing the thanks, this book shows how easy it is to see the beauty of life. The art of the book is done in collage with items like wood, paper, and fabric. With the white background, the images pop on the page making this a good choice for sharing aloud with a group. It could also be used as an introduction for a gratitude exercise with small children. Appropriate for ages 2-4. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers (9781452162812)

This book on the Statue of Liberty could not be more timely for our world today. The book first looks at the French origins of the statue made to celebrate the centennial of the United States. From small renderings to large pieces of the full-sized statue, Bartholdi, the artist shipped the statue to New York City in 214 crates. Statue assembly in New York took 17 months. The copper statue was originally copper brown, but aged to the green lady we know today. The book then focuses on the statue’s right foot, a foot that is moving rather than standing still. This symbol of our nation welcoming refugees and immigrants from around the world is stepping forward, just as we must to welcome new people to our shores.

This book is a lovely cross between a picture book and a nonfiction read. Shaped as a book that is shorter and thicker than most picture books, it offers illustrations on all of the pages. The text length is welcoming for younger readers and will also work as a read aloud.

The book moves from being a factual read about the statue itself and how it was built and came to America. It transforms into a call for our nation to live up to that symbol, to step forward as well. It becomes something more than the facts, more than the details. It brings the statue and our values to life.

Rumbles of awards surround this title. It deserves all of them. Unique and fabulous. Appropriate for ages 5-9. (Review copy provided by Chronicle Books.)