Review: Sleepy the Goodnight Buddy by Drew Daywalt

Sleepy the Goodnight Buddy by Drew Daywalt

Sleepy the Goodnight Buddy by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Scott Campbell (9781484789698)

Roderick hated to go to bed, so he would make all sorts of requests and excuses to delay bedtime. Then his parents got him Sleepy, a toy that would help Roderick fall asleep. At first, no matter where Roderick put Sleepy in his bedroom, he could feel Sleepy’s staring eyes on him. Roderick tried to tell Sleepy that it was his job to help Roderick sleep, but Sleepy asked for a drink of water, then to use the bathroom, then to brush his teeth, and on and on. Until finally, Roderick loses his temper turns his back on Sleepy and just goes to sleep. Could that have been Sleepy’s plan all along?

Told in both prose and dialogue, this picture book has a merry voice. Young readers will recognize their own reluctance for bedtime and may not realize as quickly as adults that Sleepy is up to something. The dialogue between Roderick and Sleepy is fast-paced and full of humor. The book reads aloud well and demands a unique voice for Sleepy in particular.

The art really works well with Sleepy being a beautifully creepy toy or creature. His staring huge eyes, striped legs, and puffy antlers are delightfully confusing. The scenes of the two characters in bed next to each other use particularly effective imagery of wide eyes glowing in the darkness, side-by-side.

A great riff on bedtime struggles. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Sanity & Tallulah by Molly Brooks

Sanity & Tallulah by Molly Brooks

Sanity & Tallulah by Molly Brooks (9781368008440)

Living on Wilnick, an outdated and aging space station at the end of the galaxy could be dull, but not for best friends Sanity and Tallulah. Sanity, who has always wanted a pet despite rules against having one, decides to create one herself. It turns out to be a very cute three-headed kitten with a taste for meat. The kitten manages to escape soon after Tallulah’s mother finds out that she exists. The girls set out to find out whether the problems that are happening across the space station are the fault of one cute kitten or maybe it’s something else. Meanwhile, there seems to be a very large monster on the loose and the coolant tank appears to have been drunk dry. As disaster looms aboard the space station, it’s up to Sanity to save the day thanks to the technology she explored when creating her illegal pet.

Brooks sets exactly the right tone in this graphic novel. The girls best friends who tend to talk one another into getting into even more trouble while trying to fix what they have already done. Add in a three-headed kitten and mayhem follows. The two girls could not be more different, which makes for an odd-couple chemistry between them. The story is fast paced and a delightful mix of STEM and girl power.

The art in the book is done in a limited color palette with pinks and deep blues. The art brings to life the space station and its size, conveying the hazards of keeping it functional while giving the girls a lot of space to run into trouble. The cast of characters is wonderfully diverse and that extends to all of the people who live aboard the space station.

A strong graphic novel with plenty of appeal. Appropriate for ages 9-12

Reviewed from library copy.

2019 NCTE Children’s Book Awards

The winners of the 2019 National Council for Teachers of English Children’s Book Awards have been announced. There are three awards that include winners, honor books and recommended titles. For a full list of the recommended titles, check out their web page. Here are the winners and honor books in each of the awards:


Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery

Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from Football Field to the Art Gallery by Sandra Neil Wallace, illustrated by Bryan Collier


Champion: The Comeback Tale of the American Chestnut Tree Pass Go and Collect $200: The Real Story of How Monopoly Was Invented

Champion: The Comeback Tale of the American Chestnut Tree by Sally M. Walker

Pass Go and Collect $200: The Story of How Monopoly Was Invented by Tanya Lee Stone, illustrated by Stephen Salerno

The Secret Kingdom: Nek Chand, a Changing India, and a Hidden World of Art 37569315

The Secret Kingdom: Nek Chand, a Changing India, and a Hidden World of Art by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Claire Nivola

Thirty Minutes Over Oregon: A Japanese Pilot’s World War II Story by Marc Tyler Nobleman, illustrated by Melissa Iwai

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorrel, illustrated by Frane Lessac



Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster

Sweep by Jonathan Auxier


Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship 38659075

Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship by Irene Lathan & Charles Waters, illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko

The Day War Came by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Rebecca Cobb

Everything Else in the Universe Ghost Boys

Everything Else in the Universe by Tracy Holczer

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Merci Suárez Changes Gears

Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina



Paul B. Janeczko



Bunches of Board Books

Car, Car, Truck, Jeep by Katrina Charman

Car, Car, Truck, Jeep by Katrina Charman, illustrated by Nick Sharratt (9781681198958)

Sung to the tune of “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” this board book will quickly become a favorite for any little one who loves vehicles. The book is filled with all sorts of cars, trucks, boats, and planes. Each one carries a rhyme with it and creates all sorts of motion on the page. The illustrations are bright and friendly, inviting the littlest readers to explore their thick lines and bold shapes. This is one beeping good board book.

Reviewed from copy provided by Bloomsbury Children’s Books.

A Pile of Leaves by Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin

A Pile of Leaves by Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin (9780714877204)

Just right for fall reading either one-on-one or with a small group, this board book offers a unique experience. With only a preface containing words, the book opens to reveal see-through pages that form a leaf pile. Readers turn the pages, removing one layer of leaves at a time and discovering interesting things hiding in the leaves. There is a worm, ants, a mitten, a key, a grasshopper and more. Beautifully, the leaves continue to pile on the pages to the left, creating a new pile to explore. Clever and a delight to explore, this board book is like breathing crisp fall air in book form.

Reviewed from library copy.

You and Me by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

You and Me by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, illustrated by Susan Reagan (9781568463216)

This exceptional board book tells the story of an older sibling with a very adorable new baby in the house. Sharing time with Grandma isn’t easy,  but the older sibling is patient. The baby has lots of cute things that they can do, but so does the older sibling. In the end, the baby finally goes down for a nap and it’s time for the older child to be paid a lot of attention. The poem in this board book is gentle with rhymes that sway. The illustrations are truly amazing, filled with eyes alight with joy and both siblings wonderfully androgynous as well. These are images of a loving African-American family that celebrate being an older sibling.

Reviewed from library copy.


Indies Introduce Winter/Spring 2019

Ten children’s books have been selected by a panel of booksellers as the best debuts of the Winter/Spring season. Here are the titles:


Caterpillar Summer Mostly the Honest Truth

Caterpillar Summer by Gillian McDunn

Mostly the Honest Truth by Jody J. Little

Nikki on the Line

Nikki on the Line by Barbara Roberts



The Devouring Gray Izzy + Tristan

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

Izzy + Tristan by Shannon Dunlap

Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens Nocturna

Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju

Nocturna by Maya Motayne

Opposite of Always White Rose

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

White Rose by Kip Wilson


XL by Scott Brown


Review: So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth’s Long Walk Toward Freedom by Gary D. Schmidt

So Tall Within Sojourner Truth's Long Walk Toward Freedom by Gary D. Schmidt

So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth’s Long Walk Toward Freedom by Gary D. Schmidt, illustrated by Daniel Minter (9781626728721)

Isabella grew up in slavery, sold away from her mother when she was nine. She did hard labor for years, sometimes with no shoes in the winter and other times with no sleep at night because of the work expected of her. One year after she had been forced to marry a man and had five children, she was promised her freedom. But freedom didn’t come and so she escaped with her baby. She arrived at the home of two kind people, who stood by her in her escape and paid for the freedom of Isabella and her baby. When her son was sold away by her old master, Isabella went to court to have him returned to her. As time went by, she took the name Sojourner Truth and started to speak publicly against slavery. She fought many battles for equality, standing tall and speaking the truth.

This book aches with pain, loss, and grief. The book is broken into sections, each starting with an evocative phrase about slavery, that shows what is ahead. These poetic phrases add so much to Sojourner Truth’s biography, pulling readers directly into the right place in their hearts to hear her story. Schmidt’s writing doesn’t flinch from the damage of slavery and its evil. He instead makes sure that every reader understands the impact of slavery on those who lived and died under it.

Minter’s art is so powerful. He has created tender moments of connection, impactful images of slavery, and also inspiring moments of standing up for what is right. The images that accompany Schmidt’s poetic phrases are particularly special, each one staring right at the reader and asking them to connect.

A riveting biography of one of the most amazing Americans in our history. Appropriate for ages 7-10.

Reviewed from copy provided by Roaring Brook Press.

Amazon’s Best Young Adult Books of 2018

Amazon has released their list of the best YA books of the year. They have selected 20 books as the best and also one book as the top pick for the year:

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Here are the other books in the Top 20:

After the FireThe Assassination of Brangwain Spurge

After the Fire by Will Hill

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin

Bridge of Clay (Signed Edition)The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air)

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Darius the Great Is Not OkayDear Evan Hansen: The Novel

Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich

Dread NationEmergency Contact

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi

The Hazel Wood: A NovelHey, Kiddo (National Book Award Finalist)

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass)

Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

A Map of Days by Ransom Riggs

The Poet XThe Prince and the Dressmaker

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

A Reaper at the Gates (An Ember in the Ashes)

Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

Sadie by Courtney Summers

A Very Large Expanse of SeaWhat If It's Us

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

A Winter's Promise: Book One of The Mirror Visitor Quartet

A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos

Review: Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden (9780525515029)

This shivery novel for middle-grade readers will give just the right amount of creepiness for kids reading Goosebumps. Ollie’s mother died in an accident last year, and Ollie found solace in her books, withdrawing from the kids who were her friends and not talking in class. Her father continues to create a warm home for her filled with fresh-baked bread and other treats. When Ollie meets a strange woman about to throw a book into the lake, Ollie rescues the book and runs away. She reads the book, learning about the “smiling man” and the deal that a local man made with him. When she heads out on a field trip with her class, Ollie is surprised to find herself on the farm in the book that has graves for the people in the story. On their way back home, the school bus breaks down and Ollie escapes with two other students from the clutches of the scarecrows and the smiling man himself. Can they avoid capture and find a way back home before nightfall?

There is so much to love about this book. It is so readable for kids, a story that is well-paced and actually frightening, but at just the right level for young readers. The scarecrows are particularly effective as they pivot to watch the children go by and come to life at night. The ghosts are eerie as is the hungry gray bus driver. Young readers will also appreciate Ollie’s growing connection to her mother through her mother’s broken watch, something that tells her what to do and by when. It’s a clever addition to the story, offering a sign of hope and a way out of grief.

Throughout the book, there are characters who will surprise readers by going directly against stereotype. First, there are Ollie’s parents with her domestic father and adventurous mother. Then the two children who accompany Ollie through her adventure are a jock who reads and quotes literature at just the right time and a girl who looks tiny and frail but can climb almost anything and is actually brave and strong. These unexpected little touches add up to a team that is unbeatable as they face real demons.

Written with rich prose that is a delight to read, this eerie tale will be enjoyed by any young reader looking for some spine tingles. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from ARC provided by G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers.

Amazon’s Best Children’s Books of 2018

Amazon has selected the Top 20 Children’s Books of 2018. One book was selected the best book of the year:

The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon

Here are the others in the Top 20:

Baby Monkey, Private EyeLast Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents a Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo

Baby Monkey, Private Eye by Brian Selznick, illustrated by David Serlin

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss

The Day You Begin Drawn Together

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael Lopez

Drawn Together by Minh Le, illustrated by Dan Santat

Endling #1: The LastHarbor Me

Endling: The Last by Katherine Applegate

Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson

The Journey of Little Charlie (National Book Award Finalist)Louisiana's Way Home

The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis

Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo

Mixed: A Colorful Story The Night Diary

Mixed: A Colorful Story by Arree Chung

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani

The Trials of Apollo Book Three The Burning Maze

Ocean Meets Sky by The Fan Brothers

The Trials of Apollo: The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan

The Truth as Told by Mason ButtleWe Don't Eat Our Classmates

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins

The Wild Robot Escapes

The Wild Robot Escapes by Peter Brown

Willa of the Wood by Robert Beatty

Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor)

Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend