Here and Now by Julia Denos, illustrated by E.B. Goodale (9781328465641)
The team who created the award-winning picture book Windows returns with a look at mindfulness. The book walks readers through a different way to view their own place in the world. It closely examines the ground under our feet and what is happening all around us at any given time, like rain collecting in a cloud. Animals around us are living their lives. We are on a planet spinning in space. New friends are waiting and new connections are being formed. And you, you are becoming something too!
Denos writes in a poetic manner that draws lovely connections between us and our entire environment. She places the reader right in this moment, acknowledging the changes happening all around us and the fact that we ourselves are changing too. This is a book that looks at us as individuals but even more as part of something much larger than ourselves. The illustrations by Goodale are dramatic and impactful. Her diverse cast of characters travel through spinning space along with the reader, enjoying the stars, nature and community along the way.
Inclusive and universal, this book invites you to think differently. Appropriate for ages 3-6.
Reviewed from library copy.
Dear Sweet Pea by Julie Murphy (9780062473097)
Sweet Pea’s parents have gotten a divorce and came up with the brilliant idea of living just one house away from one another on the same street to make it easier on Sweet Pea. The houses are decorated very similarly too, particularly Sweet Pea’s room in each of them. In between the two houses is one that belongs to the town’s resident advice columnist, a woman known to be eccentric and a loner. So when she asks Sweet Pea to be responsible for picking up her mail and sending it to her, it’s a big surprise. As Sweet Pea’s own life continues to get more complicated with friend issues and her mother starting to date, she keeps one secret all her own. She has started to reply to some of the letters asking for advice herself!
This is Murphy’s first foray into middle grade writing and it’s a great way to start! In Sweet Pea, she has created a female protagonist who isn’t obsessed with boys, isn’t thinking about hair and makeup, and is much more concerned with her family, her cat and her friends. Sweet Pea is funny, intelligent and brave. She also procrastinates, takes a few too many risks, and fails sometimes at friendship. She is also not a small girl, all of which makes her a breath of fresh air in middle grade books.
As always, Murphy’s writing is light and readable even when dealing with large emotions or issues. In one of the best scenes of the book, Sweet Pea pukes at a birthday party she crashed. The scene offers humor mixed with deep empathy and then addresses the bravery it takes to return to school afterwards. This book is all about giving people second (and even third) chances, including yourself.
The author of Dumplin’ has another winner here. Appropriate for ages 10-13.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Balzer + Bray.