The Little Guys by Vera Brosgol (9781626724426)
The Little Guys are very small but when they work together they can do almost anything! Using leaves to float, they cross deep water. In the big forest, they hold hands to stay together and keep from being afraid. They find berries and form a stack to reach them. But as they continue their search for more and more food, they start using their combined strength in a way that upsets the rest of the forest. Chipmunks go flying, owls get forced out of their nests, and they even beat up a bear! Soon they have all of the food in the forest! But have they gone too far?
Brosgol follows her incredible Leave Me Alone! with this clever look at the impact of collective action and what happens when even the smallest of us upset the balance of nature and society. The text is simple and straightforward, told in the voice of the Little Guys as they head out scavenging. They are full of confidence as they make the trek to find food and it’s a stirring picture of the power of community until it goes awry in such a spectacular way.
Brosgol’s Little Guys are ever so adorable with their acorn caps and stick-thin limbs. Their orange bulbous noses also add to their appeal. With almost no facial expressions, it is impressive how she gives them emotions with body language. The dwarfing of their size in the forest and beside the other animals is also effectively portrayed.
A delight of a picture book that is an unusual look at sharing with your community. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy provided by Roaring Brook Press.
Here are the items I shared on Twitter this week:
5 Fantastic Picture Books that Defy Gender Stereotypes buff.ly/2XaS3dH#kidlit
Dear Dreamer – Jason Reynolds Documentary Short – https://t.co/cMmJjjzS2A
Eat Up! 20 Excellent Picture Books and Board Books About Food buff.ly/2X56C2u#kidlit
JM Barrie’s ‘Peter Pan house’ to open as children’s literature hub buff.ly/2MeV9fG#kidlit
KidsPost Summer Book Club: Make a Difference – https://t.co/gzRUGgb89F
Picture Books About Babies’ Favorite Subject — Themselves buff.ly/2wdYXTP#kidlit
These “Words for Home” Are Poetic and Powerful – https://t.co/0sZZ0BtdqM
A Universe of Podcasts: A Summer Listening Guide for Elementary, Middle, and High School Students ow.ly/Xi5I30oOWlo
Where Are All the Black Children in Picture Books about the Outdoors? – https://t.co/v4xRWF434b
The Books of College Libraries Are Turning Into Wallpaper buff.ly/30LZaM3#libraries
Emilio Estevez Talks Public Libraries with Urban Libraries Council | TechSoup for Libraries buff.ly/2HFRVxA#libraries
Can reading really improve your mental health? buff.ly/2YPmyGz#Reading
5 Inspiring Young Adult Books with Black Main Characters buff.ly/2X3M3TZ#yalit
First Flames: An Interview Between Debut Authors Hafsah Faizal and Nafiza Azad buff.ly/2X0LY3v#yalit
Portrait Of: Elizabeth Acevedo – Latino USA buff.ly/2HGGpSt#yalit
On Wednesday, the winners of the 2019 Boston Globe – Horn Book Awards were announced at SLJ’s Day of Dialog. Given in three categories, Picture Book, Fiction and Poetry, and Nonfiction, each category has a winner and two honor books. Here are the winning titles:
PICTURE BOOK WINNER
The Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba Clarke; illustrated by Van Thanh Rudd
FICTION AND POETRY WINNER
The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon
This Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy
PICTURE BOOK HONORS
Dreamers written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga written by Traci Sorell; illustrated by Frané Lessac
FICTION AND POETRY HONORS
Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
Hey, Kiddo written and illustrated by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Nine Months: Before a Baby Is Born written by Miranda Paul; illustrated by Jason Chin
Ojiichan’s Gift by Chieri Uegaki, illustrated by Genevieve Simms (9781771389631)
When Mayumi was born, her grandfather who lived in Japan built her a garden. It was a garden without tulips or flowers. Instead it was a garden of stones of all sizes. Around the edge, the garden had bushes and trees as well as a space for Mayumi to have a meal with her grandfather. As Mayumi grew up, she learned more and more about taking care of her garden alongside her grandfather. But then one summer, her grandfather could not care for his home or the garden anymore. When they arrived, the house was dusty and the garden was overgrown. Her grandfather had to use a wheelchair now. Mayumi is very angry and takes her anger out on the rocks of the garden, trying to topple the largest over. When she is unable to tip it over, she kicks the smaller rocks around. As her anger subsides, she rakes the garden back into order again and has an inspiration of what she can do to help both herself and her grandfather with this transition.
Uegaki was inspired to write this book by her own father who was a traditional Japanese landscaper and gardener. She captures with nicely chosen details the essence of a Japanese rock garden with its order, natural elements and upkeep. She also shows how a garden can create connections between in a long-distance relationship with a grandparent. She manages to have a strong point of view without being didactic at all, instead allowing the reader and Mayumi to experience the results of the garden without extra commentary.
The illustrations by Simms add to the understanding of the Japanese garden. Done in beautiful details, they offer images of the rocks, the moss, the gravel, and all of the elements. Using different perspectives for her images, she shows views from alongside the garden as well as from above. The same is true of the grandfather’s house as views change from outside looking in to the reverse.
A charming look at the connections between grandfather and granddaughter built through a garden. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Kids Can Press.
Hello, I’m Here! by Helen Frost, illustrated by Rick Lieder (9780763698584)
This book looks at a family of sandhill cranes as an egg hatches and a chick is born. The little hatchling is soon standing covered in dry fuzz next to their mother. As the day progresses, the chick discovers their brother who has already hatched. They go for a swim in the water and flee from snapping turtles back to the nest where they are now damp and muddy. They have a snack of an insect and a snail. Then they are tired enough for a rest next to their mother.
Frost writes invitingly brief rhyming couplets that accompany the brilliant photographs in this picture book. Her story emphasizes the gentle care of the parent cranes as well as the ability for the newly-hatched chicks to do a bit of exploring on their own. It’s a lovely mix of freedom and protection. The photographs echo that with their focus on the large cranes that dwarf their fuzzy offspring, the beauty of the natural setting, and the adorable pairing of the sibling baby cranes.
Another winner from Frost and Lieder, this one is just right for spring. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from Candlewick Press.
Planet Earth Is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos (9780525646570)
Nova’s big sister, Bridget, taught her all about space exploration and the planets. She is the person who has protected and defended Nova all of her life, from when they entered foster care to when people at school think that Nova is not smart. Nova finds talking difficult, so she doesn’t speak much at all, something has has gotten her labeled by their social worker as not understanding anything at all. But Nova understands a lot. In her new foster home and new school, her sister is not with her. Bridget promised that the two of them would watch the launch of the space shuttle Challenger as it takes the first teacher into space. But as the countdown of days to the launch comes to a close, Bridget has not yet appeared.
In this debut novel, Panteleakos gives readers insight into the mind of a non-verbal, autistic girl who struggles to express herself to the world though she is intelligent and full of potential. The author tells the story from Nova’s point of view which creates a real bond between protagonist and reader. Readers will find themselves wanting to protect Nova as she works through testing, new friends and a new family.
The novel is full of hope, offering a new sense of safety for Nova and potentially ways to communicate that she has never been taught before. The connection between the two sisters is also beautifully shown. The final scenes contain a revelation about what has prevented Bridget from coming to see Nova. These wrenching moments bring a new clarity to Nova’s experience in life and still result in a hope that she can move forward.
Beautifully written, this big-hearted story is a poignant tale of families and strength. Appropriate for ages 9-12.
Reviewed from copy provided by Wendy Lamb Books.
Hey, Water! by Antoinette Portis (9780823441556)
This picture book takes a look at water in our lives. It includes rivers and lakes, puddles and streams. There is water we drink from a glass and water that we bathe in. Water is also in snow and ice, steam, clouds and fog. The little girl who leads readers through the exploration of water also thinks about water being inside of her and making up part of her too. Told in short sentences that make this ideal to use with preschoolers learning about the water cycle, the book ends with deeper looks at water, the cycle and how to conserve water yourself.
The book has a jaunty and energetic tone, inviting readers to explore water around themselves too. The book pairs its short sentences with larger words that tell what is being described and invite young listeners to guess and interact with the images and text. Portis’ illustrations are filled with blues and greens that range from deep lake blue to the lightest of ice blues. White and gray add to the color palette with rain, snow and fog.
A welcome addition to STEM books for preschoolers, this one is a refreshing drink on a hot day. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy provided by Neal Porter Books.
What Is Inside THIS Box? by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Olivier Tallec (9781338143867)
This Is MY Fort! by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Olivier Tallec (9781338143904)
These are the first two books in the rather surreal new easy-reader series Monkey & Cake. Monkey and Cake are friends. In the first book, Monkey has a big box that he won’t let Cake open. Inside the box is a cat, but it’s a cat that disappears when the box is opened. This bothers Cake immensely, certain that the cat must be imaginary. But is it? In the second book, Cake builds a fort that he won’t let Monkey enter. Monkey though finds another wild solution to the problem, declaring that the entire world then is Monkey’s fort and turning Cake’s fort into a trap of sorts. Soon it is Cake who is begging to share forts.
With the two premises being unique and fascinating questions about perspective, trust and ownership, this series is great fun but also unusually deep. Even the two characters are a delightful and rather zany mashup where pie is the snack of choice, definitely not cake! The writing is done entirely in dialogue, making the reading snappy and fast paced. There is little extraneous here, as it’s a concise look at big questions. Tallec’s art is bright and friendly. The two main characters are always center stage and interacting with one another, arguing as only friends can.
A wild and interesting new easy reader series. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copies.
Music for Mister Moon by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead (9780823441600)
A collaboration between the Steads is always reason for joy. This picture book explores the imagination of Hank, a young cellist who simply wants to play all alone. When her parents suggest that she play in public, she doesn’t think that sounds good at all. So she imagines them as penguins and heads for her room which she imagines is an isolated warm room. But just as she starts to play, an owl hoots outside. Hank eventually tosses a teacup at the owl but then her cozy home starts to fill with smoke. She discovers that the moon has been hit by her teacup and fallen down to sit atop her chimney. Together, Hank and moon have a series of adventures from buying the moon a warm hat to taking a boat ride. Will Hank play her music for the moon? And how will the moon return to the sky again?
This story is intensely whimsical and lovely. From the very first page, the tone is set and readers will realize they are in a different world. This is partly because of the lightness and ethereal beauty of the illustrations. Filled with chalky color, their fine lines show a world populated with animals, coziness and quiet.
The writing is equally delicate, moving through the tale and inviting readers to linger a while and hear the cello music too. Hank is an intriguing character, a girl who loves music but not performing. She is also a girl with an intense imagination, creating teacups and flinging them high enough to tap the moon. She allows her emotions to become items she places around her, and so the journey with the moon becomes all the more beautiful.
A bedtime story that is beautiful, moonlit and filled with music. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy provided by Neal Porter Books.