Pond by Jim LaMarche


Pond by Jim LaMarche (InfoSoup)

Out walking in the late winter, Matt realized the the place that they had always called “the Pit” used to be a pond. So he and his friends decided to recreate the pond that had been there. They cleaned up the junk and built a new dam. As they worked, Pablo discovered a blue stone shaped like a heart in the sand. Katie started to research the birds, insects and stones as the pond started to slowly fill. They found an old wooden boat and repaired it, naming it Dragonfly. Summer ended with them floating on the newly filled pond, camping nearby. In fall, the geese discovered the pond and flocked to it. Winter brought ice skating on the pond with lots of friends. In the spring, the three friends run to the top of a hill overlooking the pond and there they see how the heart stone is connected to the pond itself.

LaMarche offers a perspective on nature that shows children that they too can do things to restore natural areas. The amount of work that the children do is not minimized at all nor is the slow return to a pond from a pit. This focus on effort, hard work and a slow pay off is vital when working with nature. The book embraces a sort of natural time, a patience while birds and bugs return. Then it picks up, swooping with changes and demonstrating how an ecosystem changes throughout the seasons and serves different animals.

LaMarche grew up in Wisconsin and you can see Wisconsin on each page of this book. From the bombardment of mosquitoes in the summer to the spotted fawns to the woods and marshes. The illustrations are superb, showing the shimmering light of water and woods, the moon rising over a pond, and again that slow transformation into natural beauty.

A testament to the power of restoration for natural areas and how children can help, this picture book is a pleasure. Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster.



Ghost by Jason Reynolds


Ghost by Jason Reynolds (InfoSoup)

Ghost learned to run fast thanks to running away from his abusive father who is now in jail. Still, Ghost keeps on running to escape the memories of his final night with his father and the truth of his family. When Ghost sees a group of teens running track, he thinks that he can outrun even the fastest of them. He races alongside the track and finds himself invited to join the team. Ghost through can’t afford the gear the other kids are using and also can’t seem to keep himself out of trouble long enough to focus on running at all. When Ghost makes another mistake and steals silver track shoes from a store while he is cutting class, he finds himself with yet another secret to keep bottled up. You can’t keep running away from problems and trouble though and soon they catch up with Ghost.

From the co-author of All American Boys and author of The Boy in the Black Suit comes this first book in a series about teens and the way track and being on a team affects their lives. This is a book that shines with hope throughout, even as Ghost is making the worst of his mistakes, there is still hope there. That hope comes from Ghost’s mother and from his new coach who gives him chances but also clarifies the new expectations that Ghost has to meet. It is that structure that allows readers to hope and root for Ghost as he negotiates his complex life.

This is a book that will be enjoyed by many children, not just those who enjoy sports or track. It will speak to them about transformation in their lives, opportunities that appear, and the hard work it takes to change and to trust. It is a book about friendships that deepen over time driven by becoming a new team together. It is a book about the power of positive adults in a child’s life and the power of belief in that child or teen.

Beautifully written, this is an accessible and powerful book about running towards the life you want. Appropriate for ages 12-14.

Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum.


Yellow Time by Lauren Stringer


Yellow Time by Lauren Stringer (InfoSoup)

The geese are flying south, the squirrels are busy and the crows are the only birds left in the trees. The air smells different and everyone knows that the trees must drop their leaves soon. Then the wind comes and the air fills with yellow leaves. Children run outside and play in the swirling yellow breezes. When the leaves have fallen, the yellow is in piles on the ground, covering everything. Children gather the leaves to press in books to remember the special time just before winter comes with its whiteness.

Stringer shares the drama of autumn in this picture book. She uses phrases like “a symphony of yellow” to capture the wonder of what is happening, mixing senses of sound and color together. When she describes the smell of autumn just before the leaves fall, she uses comparisons that children will understand: “Like wet mud and dry grass with a sprinkle of sugar.” It offers up the richness and deepness of the smell, the intangible dryness that is part of it and the sweetness as well. She skillfully creates autumn on the page with her words.

The illustrations celebrate the diversity of a small neighborhood filled with yellow trees and the children who wait for the falling leaves to start. There is a gorgeous overload of yellow on the pages, bright and cheerful, filled with motion and tumbling breezes and leaves. The pages are just as fresh and vibrant as the season she is depicting.

A joyous book that welcomes autumn with open arms. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Beach Lane Books.

The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo by Drew Weing


The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo by Drew Weing (InfoSoup)

Charles and his parents have just moved to Echo City where they are going to be living in The Bellwether, an apartment building that used to be a hotel. Charles is worried by the state of the building, knowing immediately that it must be haunted. When Charles tries to sleep in his bedroom for the first time, he discovers he is right and there is something in his closet. Luckily, a neighbor gives him a card for Margo Maloo, Monster Mediator. Charles considers himself a journalist and wants to interview Margo, but she is having none of it though she lets him join her in negotiating with the troll who lives in the basement. Charles finds himself in a parallel world to his own, where there are trolls, goblins, ogres and many more monsters than he could ever have dreamed.

Weing’s graphic novel tosses readers into a new world that is strongly based in our own. With Margo as an expert guide, this book is much less about battling monsters. It is more about how monsters can get along and live alongside humans in a urban setting. Weing has created a complete monster society and ensures with his stories that the monsters are not the bad guys, just easily misunderstood. The writing is clever, the dialogue solid and the pacing is fast.

The art of the graphic novel is modern and filled with plenty of action. The city and characters are filled with diversity that includes humans and monsters in different skin tones. Weing uses the real estate of his panels in smart ways, lengthening them to share more scenic detail, focusing the scope closely when necessary and broadening them for large buildings.

Just the right book for Halloween, expect this and future books to be popular thanks to a wise mix of humor and shivers. Appropriate for ages 8-11.

Reviewed from library copy.


This Weeks Tweets, Pins & Tumbls

Here are some cool links I shared on my Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr accounts this week:


Breastfeeding is rarely seen in children’s books – it’s time to rewrite attitudes

Donna Erickson: 8 ways to engage kids when reading picture books

Emily Mortimer Cast in Mary Poppins Returns Movie

‘Fantastic Beasts’ soundtrack will make you say ‘Yes, this is the sound of magic’

For National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, these books teach important lessons in empathy:

Got a reluctant reader? Try poetry, says author Kwame Alexander: https://t.co/yMlSjaMfLn

How the Berenstain Bears Found Salvation

It’s the – what is your hope for girls around the world? Graphic via

Love mysteries? Check out this book list featuring whodunits that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat!

The Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) – Pottermore

New Picture Books Create Strange but Believable Worlds

Take a trip with children’s book author/illustrator Brian Floca at the NCCIL

Why I’m Reading GEORGE to My Kids

Wonderful interview ! Here’s our earlier interview with the inimitable here



Inside the New York Public Library’s Last, Secret Apartments

“Kansas City Libraries Defend Free Speech in Face of Arrests, Resignations”

Milwaukee Public Library Fine Forgiveness Program Extended for Another Week

Girls Are Not Property:


5 Queer Asian YA Books

5 YA Reads Perfect for Autumn

10 Honest Books About Bullying for Teenagers | Brightly

100 Must-Read YA Books With Little or No Romance:

‘Crooked Kingdom’ author Leigh Bardugo talks YA novels, magic, bookstores and teen Wonder Woman

It’s Just Us: The Need For More Trans Stories

Surefire YA Scares: 13 of the Best Teen Horror Books | Brightly

Is That Wise Pig? by Jan Thomas


Is That Wise Pig? by Jan Thomas (InfoSoup)

Cow, Pig and Mouse are all making soup together. Mouse adds one onion, Cow adds two cabbages, but Pig tries to add three umbrellas! The other two ask Pig if that is wise. Then Mouse adds four tomatoes, Cow adds five potatoes, and Pig tries to add six galoshes. Is that wise? More ingredients go in and Pig even adds nine carrots! Then Pig reveals that she asked ten friends to join them, something that probably was not wise. Suddenly Pig’s galoshes and umbrellas make a lot of sense as the soup flies!

As always, Thomas completely understands the farcical humor that toddlers adore. Children will be so engaged in laughing at Pig’s ingredients that they won’t see the ending coming until the reveal. There is also a counting component to the book that is subtly done and the book feels much more like a story than one teaching numbers. Thomas’ illustrations will work well with a crowd, projecting easily even to those in the back thanks to their strong black lines and simple colors.

Expect lots of requests for seconds of this silly book. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Beach Lane Books.