One-Osaurus, Two-Osaurus by Kim Norman

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One-Osaurus, Two-Osaurus by Kim Norman, illustrated by Pierre Collet-Derby (9781536201796)

Some dinosaurs start their morning with a counting game. “One-osaurus, two-osaurus, three-osaurus, four.” After counting to seven, a huge ROAR interrupts the counting. The dinosaurs gather together in a herd and then make a run for it, knowing that something big is heading their way. Soon they are all hiding behind their numbers, letting us count them one more time: one through nine. Where is ten? He’s coming now, he’s “ten-osaurus rex.” But he may not be what the readers expect when he is revealed and the book takes a great twist in the end too.

Norman’s simple writing begs to be shared aloud. This counting book really works well, the numbers on the page playing into the rhyming text and building with it. The pace is wild and romping, something that makes the counting all the more fun. Thanks to its clever structure, young readers get to merrily count the dinosaurs again and again in the book without it feeling at all repetitious. The humor is a large part of the success of the book too.

That same humor is reflected in the illustrations which are big and bold, adding to the read-aloud appeal. The various dinosaurs are bright colored and pop against the changing colors of the background. Having them hide behind their big black numbers adds to the counting fun, including a page where the numbers aren’t in order and young children can find the numbers in a new way.

Smart, funny and full of dinosaurs. You can count on this one being popular. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy provided by Candlewick Press.

News to Wake Your Brain Cells – April 9

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

14 LGBTQ board books to diversify your baby’s bookshelves – Book Riot

Beverly Cleary saw kids as they are – The Atlantic

I’m a Black mother and educator. Here’s why I let my kids read racist books. – HuffPost

Macmillan Children’s to add Neon Squid nonfiction imprint – Publishers Weekly

Racial diversity in children’s books grows, but slowly – The Star

What children’s books have had the biggest impact on you? – The New York Times

LIBRARIES

ALA to Biden Administration: Don’t overlook libraries in infrastructure plan – Publishers Weekly

The Complicated Role of the Modern Public Library – National Endowment for the Humanities

Madison Public Library says concerned staff led to further delay in opening – now hoping for late May return – Channel3000

YA LIT

10 great new April YA books to TBR – Book Riot

20 YA books you can finally read in paperback this April – Epic Reads

Sequel to Rep. John Lewis’ ‘March’ graphic novel to debut this summer – ScreenRant

My Day with the Panye by Tami Charles

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My Day with the Panye by Tami Charles, illustrated by Sara Palacios (9780763697495)

Fallon is invited by her mother to head to the market together. Her mother wraps her hair in a mouchwa and then sets the panye on her head. Her mother lets Fallon try to carry the panye on her head, but it quickly falls off and crashes to the floor. So they set off together with the panye on her mother’s head. She encourages her daughter to take learning the skill slowly and not rush it. She explains that one must move gracefully under the weight of the panye, one must be strong. After they visit the market, the panye is full of food. Fallon knows that to carry the panye is to care for her family. Now she is ready to try once more. But the panye falls again. Her mother encourages her to build her nest and try again. This time Fallon stands tall and takes her time, walking like her mother all the way home.

Set in Haiti, this picture book celebrates the ancient act of carrying a basket on one’s head to handle a heavy load. It’s a skill taught at a young age, just as Fallon is learning it in the book. Fallon’s mother shows patience with her daughter and encourages her to take her time, filling their walk to the market with lessons on what carrying the panye means to the family and also to Fallon herself. It’s an empowering lesson, one that speaks to the strength and resilience of the Haitian people.

Palacios fills the pages with bright and deep colors that show the bustling market and beauty of the hills outside of Port-au-Prince. The grace of carrying the panye is conveyed in the images too, the women tall and upright, full of strength and balance.

A picture book that speaks to tradition and patience when you’re learning a new skill. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy provided by Candlewick Press.

Ten Animals in Antarctica: A Counting Book by Moira Court

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Ten Animals in Antarctica: A Counting Book by Moira Court (9781623542320)

Starting first with briefly exploring the continent of Antarctica itself, this nonfiction picture book quickly moves to the ten animals featured inside. The book is a dynamic mix of animals in Antarctica along with an opportunity to count them as they appear on the double-page spreads. First comes one leopard seal floating on his own iceberg. Two emperor penguins waddle across the next page, followed by elephant seals, whales, petrels, orcas, squid, krill, and fish. The book finishes with ten crimson sea stars that dazzle, bright red against the dark background.

Court has created a picture book that very successfully combines factual information about Antarctic animals with counting them. Her language is marvelous, building rhymes directly into her descriptive sentences. She also uses words that will stretch young vocabularies such as “courtly, portly emperor penguins” and “lumbersome, cumbersome southern elephant seals.” The language is such a treat to discover in a nature-focused counting book.

Court’s illustrations are a combination of printmaking and collage. The deep colors and textures bring the cold and icy landscape to life. Court also beautifully designs each page, paying attention to both ease of counting, but also making all of the animals look lifelike too. Readers will enjoy the additional information at the end of the book on both the continent and the featured animals.

Icy and delightful, this is just right for even the youngest of readers to discover a new continent. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Charlesbridge.

2020 Aurealis Awards Shortlist

The shortlists for the 2020 Aurealis Awards have been announced. The awards are given to works of speculative fiction by authors, editors and illustrators who are Australian citizens or permanent residents. Here are the shortlisted titles for the children’s and YA categories:

BEST CHILDREN’S FICTION

Across the Risen Sea

Across the Risen Sea by Bren MacDibble

The Chicken’s Curse by Frances Watts

Her Perilous Mansion

Her Perilous Mansion by Sean Williams

How To Make A Pet Monster: Hodgepodge (#1)

Hodgepodge: How to Make a Pet Monster by Lili Wilkinson, illustrated by Dustin Spence

The Lost Soul Atlas

The Lost Soul Atlas by Zana Fraillon

Tricky Nick

Tricky Nick by Nicholas J. Johnson

BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

The Erasure Initiative

The Erasure Initiative by Lili Wilkinson

Future Girl

Future Girl by Asphyxia

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix

The Other Side of the Sky by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Truel1f3 by Jay Kristoff

The One Thing You’d Save by Linda Sue Park

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The One Thing You’d Save by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Robert Sae-Heng (9781328515131)

A teacher asks her class to think about what they would save in an emergency. You’re allowed to save one thing, knowing that your family and pets are already safe. What would you save, no matter how big it is. Some of the students very quickly decide what they will save while others find the choices almost impossible. Others pick items that were made by grandparents who have passed away. Some have collections they’d want to rescue. Some are very practical, taking their glasses so that they can see or their wallet so they have money to survive. The class has conversations about what they chose and why, giving everyone lots to think about.

Told in verse, this book is written in the dialogue that happens in the classroom. Park captures this dialogue flawlessly, the voices distinct and clear both in their indecision and their decisiveness. Each person reveals a piece of themselves as they reveal why they chose a certain object. The result is a group of students who understand one another a lot better than when they began.

Park writes with such ease on the page that it is amazing to find out in her Author’s Note that she has used a sijo poetic structure throughout the book that limits the number of syllables per line. Within those parameters, she wrote dialogue that never seems limited or stilted as well as offering space for interjections and conversation.

Immensely clever and thought provoking, this book will be embraced by both teachers and students. Appropriate for ages 8-12.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Clarion Books.

Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2020

The American Library Association has released their annual list of the most challenged books of the previous year. These are the top titles among the 273 books that were challenged in 2020. It’s fascinating and saddening to see racism and anti-racism books take over more of the list this year.

George by Alex Gino

Challenged, banned, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the values of our community”

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds

Banned and challenged because of the author’s public statements, and because of claims that the book contains “selective storytelling incidents” and does not encompass racism against all people

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

Banned and challenged for profanity, drug use, and alcoholism, and because it was thought to promote anti-police views, contain divisive topics, and be “too much of a sensitive matter right now”

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Banned, challenged, and restricted because it was thought to contain a political viewpoint, it was claimed to be biased against male students, and for the novel’s inclusion of rape and profanity

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and allegations of sexual misconduct by the author

Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story about Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin

Challenged for “divisive language” and because it was thought to promote anti-police views

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Banned and challenged for racial slurs and their negative effect on students, featuring a “white savior” character, and its perception of the Black experience

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Banned and challenged for racial slurs and racist stereotypes, and their negative effect on students

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Challenged for profanity, and it was thought to promote an anti-police message

The Wisdom of Trees: How Trees Work Together to Form a Natural Kingdom by Lita Judge

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The Wisdom of Trees: How Trees Work Together to Form a Natural Kingdom by Lita Judge (9781250237071)

Through a combination of poetry and science facts, this nonfiction picture book invites readers into the amazing things that trees can do. The book starts with a young beech tree in the Ruhe Forest in Germany, starting to show readers that trees have a language with one another and live much longer than humans do. The roots of the trees act like an instant message web, sending chemical and electrical signals to one another. Trees also have amazing ways to protect themselves from predators, or over-grazing from giraffes. They create our climate, processing carbon dioxide and offering shelter and cool in their ecosystems. They can ask for help from their neighbor trees, who will send them extra nutrients via their root systems. They offer shelter and food to animals. They can tell time via the light, knowing when seasons are changing. The list goes on and on, creating a sense of wonder about the trees that surround us all.

Judge’s poems capture the world from the perspective of the trees themselves. They show what it feels like to be someone’s home, how they continue to live even after they have fallen, how it feels to nurture baby trees, and how it feels to soar high into the sky with your branches. Judge shares facts that truly elevate children’s understanding of trees and how they communicate with one another. The information is fascinating, offering a glimpse into a hidden world. The book ends with an extensive Author’s Note sharing more information, a glossary of terms and a list of sources and websites.

As always, Judge’s illustrations are marvelous. She captures the depths of the forest, the sunbeams kissing the younger trees. She invites us underground to see a den and the roots communicating. She shows us a variety of seasons, from the mellow tones of fall to the cool greens of spring to the ice of winter and the sun of summer. She is a master of light and movement, showing us perspectives that also amaze.

A great nonfiction read that will have young scientists fascinated by their own backyards. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Roaring Brook Press.

Where Wonder Grows by Xelena Gonzalez

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Where Wonder Grows by Xelena Gonzalez, illustrated by Adriana M. Garcia (9781947627468)

When grandmother heads to her garden, her granddaughters know to follow her. They spread blankets on the ground and get their magic rocks. Grandma taught them that the rocks are alive with wisdom from the long time they have spent on earth, so they respectfully call them grandmothers and grandfathers. The rocks are used in the sweat lodge where they help send songs and prayers into the air and to ancestors. The girls ask about the rocks that can heal. Grandma shows the colorful crystals and shares stories about them. They look at rocks worn by the water and others that fell from the sky. The rocks remind them of their place in the world, of their brief time on earth, their connection to the stars.

Gonzalez writes in beautiful short sentences, showing the connection between the generations of a Native American family, between the group of granddaughters and their grandmother. It’s a book that slows down, lingering over the various rocks, telling their stories, explaining their importance and making space for some dreams too. There is joy here, a delight in time spent together in a lovely garden and in the rocks themselves and what they mean.

Garcia’s illustrations are unique and creative. She lights each illustration as if the family and rocks glow from outside and within. The colors are deep and evocative. The book moves from the brightness of daylight to night with its purples and more subtle light. It is beautiful and filled with portraits of the family members.

An inviting look at rocks, their mystical qualities and how they connect us all. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Cinco Puntos Press.