Review: Cherry Blossom and Paper Planes by Jef Aerts

Cherry Blossom and Paper Planes by Jef Aerts

Cherry Blossom and Paper Planes by Jef Aerts & Sanne te Loo (9781782505617)

Adin and Dina lived on the same farm. The two of them spent long days together picking cherries on the farm and climbing high in the cherry trees. They ate the cherries and kept the pits, planting them around town in the hopes that trees would grow. But then one day, Adin’s family decided to move to the city. Adin moved to an apartment building, far from any cherry trees. Dina gave him a bag of cherry pits to take with him. He spent time creating paper airplanes, loading them with pits and launching them off his balcony. Dina did get to visit once during their year apart. The two of them quickly fell back into being close friends. When spring came, the cherry pits were gone but a path of blooming trees led right back to the farm from the city. A path that just had to be followed.

This Dutch import has a lovely quiet to it. From the quiet friendship spent together in trees eating cherries to the quiet of loneliness for a close friend, all are captured on these pages. The emotions of a friend leaving are captured beautifully too as is the lasting connection between people and places. The writing is superb, celebrating cherries and trees and steadily building to that moment in spring when trees burst into bloom.

The art of this picture book celebrates the countryside and nature. The book captures the seasons with different colors and silhouettes of the trees. The rich green of summer turns to the browns of autumn to the whites of winter and then to a vibrant light green of spring that reaches to the city with its illumination on the page.

A lovely look at a cherry of a friendship. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy provided by Floris Books.

News to Wake Your Brain Cells January 31


9 kids’ books about significant people and moments in black history – NY Metro Parents

20 children’s books that are modern classics – CafeMom

2019’s best Holocaust books for kids – Tablet

Amos McGee to return after a decade – Publishers Weekly

Books to help children cope with loss and grief – CBC

Jerry Craft’s Newbery win was an unforeseeable dream – Publishers Weekly

Justice Sotomayor teases new picture book on civics, heroes – ABC News

Obituary: Susan Jeffers – Publisher’s Weekly

Third times the charm for Caldecott Medalist Kadir Nelson – Publishers Weekly


In 2019, more Americans went to the library than to the movies. Yes, really. – Literary Hub

A lot of shamed book nerds returned to Denver libraries after late fees were waived – Denverite

Public libraries found to be more important than ever in current internet era – Mashable

Take a first peek at what Ottawa’s new ‘super library’ will look like – Ottawa Citizen


A.S. King adds a Printz Award to her Honors – Publishers Weekly

YA fantasy where the oppression is real – NPR

2020 SCBWI Golden Kite Awards

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators has announced the recipients of the 2020 Golden Kite and Sid Fleischman Awards. Here are the award winners:


The Bridge Home

The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman


Pie in the Sky

Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai



Lovely War

Lovely War by Julie Berry


With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo



Mario and the Hole in the Sky: How a Chemist Saved Our Planet by Elizabeth Rusch, illustrated by Teresa Martinez


Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet by Curtis Manley, illustrated by Jessica Lanan



Torpedoed: The True Story of the World War II Sinking of “The Children’s Ship” by Deborah Heiligman


The First Dinosaur: How Science Solved the Greatest Mystery on Earth by Ian Lendler, illustrated by C.M. Butzer



Clever Little Witch

Clever Little Witch illustrated by Hyewon Yum, written by Muon Thi Van


The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip-Hop, illustrated by Frank Morrison, written by Carole Boston Weatherford



A Green Place to Be: The Creation of Central Park by Ashley Benham Yazdani


The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson



Pie in the Sky

Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai


2020 Rise: A Feminist Book Project

The Amelia Bloomer Project will now be known as Rise: A Feminist Book Project for ages 0-18. The project continues to be part of the Feminist Task Force and the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association. Here are the Top Ten books chosen for 2020:

At the Mountain’s Base by Traci Sorell, Illustrated by Weshoyot Alvitre

A Boy Like You by Frank Murphy, Illustrated by Kayla Harren

Forward Me Back to You by Mitali Perkins

The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad with S.K. Ali, Illustrated by Hatem Aly

Rise! From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya Angelou by Bethany Hegedus, Illustrated by Tonya Engel

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

Surviving the City, Vol. 1 by Tasha Spillett and Natasha Donovan

Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mjia

What Do You Do With a Voice Like That? The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan by Chris Barton, Illustrated by Ekua Holmes

Review: Numenia and the Hurricane by Fiona Halliday

Numenia and the Hurricane by Fiona Halliday

Numenia and the Hurricane by Fiona Halliday (9781624149993)

Numenia was born in the Arctic with her two whimbrel sisters. At the autumn equinox, they faced a long migration from the far north all the way to the Caribbean along with thousands of other birds. On their journey they are hit by a hurricane, with winds and rain. Numenia is knocked off course, away from her sisters and the other birds. She finds herself tumbling into a city and landing on a windowsill. She rests there for awhile, but is drawn to fly south once again, only half the weight that she had started at. She flies alone until she gets farther south where she sees other birds and finds her sisters waiting for her.

Based on the true story of a whimbrel who was wearing a tracking device when she ran directly into a tropical storm. The device allowed scientists to see where she stopped to rest, how fast she went, and the impact of the storm on her long migration. She both battled the storm and then used the wind to her advantage and flew even faster with their help. Told in poetic lines, this picture book really explores the drama of the arduous migration that covers half the globe. From tiny chicks to quickly flying long distances, these birds are clearly heroes on our planet, their worlds larger than ours by far.

Halliday’s illustrations are dreamy, filled with downy chicks and feathery birds. She uses the natural settings to create moments of beauty, including the triumphant arrival in the south. The scenes in the city are hard and angular, adding to the drama of Numenia’s fall into the hardscape of the city away from nature.

A poetic and haunting look at migration. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from ARC provided by Page Street Kids.

Review: Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi


Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi (9781250170996)

After returning magic to the world, Zelie and Amari now face the betrayal that happened in the first novel of the series. Amari is determined to take the throne herself now that her entire family lies dead. Zelie discovers that Mama Agba still lives and has created an enclave of powerful magi in the mountains. Zelie joins them as they honor her as the Soldier of Death and quickly rises to become an elder among them. Meanwhile, Inan isn’t dead and neither is the queen. They restore their own grip on the throne and its power. Amari joins Zelie with the magi, determined to try to make peace with her brother though no one agrees with her. The two sides continue to war with one another, battles repeating between the new titans and the magi. As magic in the country continues to evolve and grow, both sides try to harness it for their own victory. But everything is complicated by efforts to forge a new way forward in the midst of the chaos.

Oh my it’s hard to summarize this middle book of a trilogy without tons of spoilers. I’ve tried, offering only spoilers that happen in the first chapters and that I needed to have my summary make any sort of sense. The novel is a strong second book in the series when sophomore books are often the weakest. It does more than serve as a bridge between beginning and ending, moving the entire story of the world forward. It also moves ahead the stories of characters we love, giving them power, loss, grief and love along the way.

The ending of the book is spectacular and worth the bit of meandering pace in the middle. There are moments throughout the book that stand out and offer real insight into the characters and their motivation. The world building is exceptional and becomes even more clear in this second book.

A strong second novel in an outstanding series. Appropriate for ages 14-18.

Reviewed from library copy.

2020 Charlotte Zolotow Award

The Children’s Cooperative Book Center (CCBC) at the University of Wisconsin has announced the 2020 Charlotte Zolotow Award winners. The award is given for outstanding writing in a picture book. Here are the winners:


Johnny's Pheasant

Johnny’s Pheasant by Cheryl Minnema, illustrated by Julie Flett



Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

A Map Into the World

A Map into the World by by Kao Kalia Yang and illustrated by Seo Kim

Pokko and the Drum

Pokko and the Drum by Matthew Forsythe


Saturday by Oge Mora


Truman by Jean Reidy and illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins



Beware of the Crocodile

Beware of the Crocodile by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura

Daniel's Good Day

Daniel’s Good Day by Micha Archer

Goodbye, Friend! Hello, Friend!

Goodbye Friend! Hello, Friend! by Cori Doerrfeld

My Papi Has a Motorcycle

My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero and illustrated by Zeke Peña

One Fox: A Counting Book Thriller

One Fox: A Counting Thriller Book by Kate Read

Small in the City

Small in the City by Sydney Smith

The Thing about Bees: A Love Letter

The Thing about Bees by Shabazz Larkin

Review: Three Things I Know Are True by Betty Culley

Three Things I Know Are True by Betty Culley

Three Things I Know Are True by Betty Culley (9780062908025)

This verse novel for teens tells the story of two families shattered by one gun shot. Jonah had always been a daredevil, but that ended one day at his best friend Clay’s house when he was playing around with a gun. Now Jonah is bedridden, unable to do anything for himself. Most people don’t believe that he can understand things, but his sister Liv knows that he’s still in there. She spends most of her nights awake with Jonah and his nurses, since she’s often the only one who can calm Jonah down. Meanwhile, there’s a trial unfolding to see who is at fault for Jonah’s injuries and if his ongoing care will be paid for. Liv tries to protect her mother from the editorials in the newspaper and finds herself also making an unlikely connection with Clay’s mother in the center of the road between their homes. Liv also speaks to Clay, who has left school after the accident and given up his phone. She is drawn to him as they avoid talking about Jonah and find both new and old ways to communicate together. As Jonah’s trial goes on, the town becomes divided over the case, but Liv becomes all the more focused on her brother and Clay.

Culley’s verse is written with the tautness of a violin string. Her words stretch and hum, resonant with meaning. She doesn’t use any extra words, her poetry spare and rich with emotion that goes unstated but fills the pages. Beautifully, she manages to reach beyond the arguments about gun control to tell a deep story about the impact of a single gun on two families. That alone is a feat while still not ignoring the politically charged atmosphere entirely.

Liv is the voice of the book, her feelings and struggles crossing the page with her actions speaking of so much more pain than she can express even to the reader. She is a protagonist caught in a river current of grief and loss that she can’t find a way to process other than to just go through it. Again, Culley gives her the space to just be on the page, speak in her voice, and experience what her family is going through.

Tragic and profoundly moving, this verse novel is something special. Appropriate for ages 14-17.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by HarperCollins.

2020 Newbery Medal


New Kid by Jerry Craft


The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker, illustrated by Junyi Wu

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams