When Malian is at her grandparents visiting, Covid-19 brings everyone into lockdown. Malian lives in Boston with her parents usually and now she is on an extended visit on the Wabanaki reservation where her grandparents live. She works to keep her grandparents safe from the virus, keeping social services and the mailmen at the end of the driveway. She is helped by Malsum, a wolf-like dog who simply showed up one day and stayed. Dogs on the reservation are different than in the city. Malsum is his own dog, responsible for himself, though he does enjoy the attention and food that Malian and her grandparents give him. Malian’s grandmother’s fry bread is a special treat for everyone. This is a lovely look at how one family got through Covid by supporting each other.
Told in verse, this middle-grade novel shares oral storytelling traditions and celebrates the love of grandchild and grandparents. Bruchac is a celebrated Abenaki children’s author with hundreds of publications in his body of work. There is a wonderful sense of place throughout this book, showing the way of life on the reservation. The pace of life is slower too, partially due to the pandemic but also by choice.
Malian is a great guide to life on the Wabanaki reservation, since she lives a different lifestyle when she is in the city. She clearly shows the distinctions between the two ways of life, each with their own benefits and challenges. Malsum, the dog, is a character himself, guiding the humans around him through his body language, approval and defense.
A timely novel that looks at the pandemic and its impact on indigenous families. Appropriate for ages 9-12.
This picture book by Caldecott Award winner Floca explores the Covid-19 pandemic. Through New York City streets, the book shows how most people were forced to stay indoors and watch the streets go quiet. But the streets never emptied entirely, since there were people working at essential jobs. People were still out and about using all sorts of vehicles. There were people delivering mail and packages, people heading to work in hospitals, others making food deliveries on their bicycles, still others picking up trash, and police and fire protecting everyone. Then every night, the windows opened and people shouted and banged their appreciation for these people who kept on working through the danger and the emptiness to keep everyone safe, fed and looked after.
The text in the book is simple, explaining what happened to cause the streets to empty as people took refuge in their homes to stay safe. The book shows vehicles of all sorts but also shows lovely moments of connection, of toys being delivered or taxis stopping to get someone with lots of grocery bags.
Floca tells us in his Author’s Note that he created these images during the pandemic’s height in New York City. As the streets emptied, he found solace in drawing the vehicles that continued to move through the city. He then took those images and made them into this book, which explains the aching melancholy of some of the images as they show the empty streets and the vast change to a normally bustling city.
A beautiful yearning look at New York City in 2020 with plenty of interesting vehicles to explore. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Vy rushes in the morning to reach the line to get rice. She is running late, but still gets a spot. Set in Vietnam during Covid, she wears and mask and stands in line on the marked spot to be socially distanced from others. The line is very long and everyone is tired. Ahead of her in line is a woman with a baby and a small boy. Vy sings to the baby, a lullaby to get him to settle. She reads the little boy a poem of rice and rain. Then the two of them draw a picture together that they give to an older woman in line. Vy lets the woman go ahead of her in line, but when Vy reaches the end, there is no more rice. But the small kindnesses she performed in line come back to her in rice for her family.
Trinh tells this story with a real grace. She shows the poverty and need with frankness while also showing how small acts of kindness in the midst of a pandemic can make all the difference in people’s lives. The story has a genuine quality to it, the acts of kindness are thoughtful and realistic as is the final sharing of rice amongst everyone who was impacted by Vy’s kindness. The text is written in a mix of narration and speech bubbles, combined with poetry and song lyrics.
Shelvin’s illustrations embrace the mixtures of texts, highlighting the song and poem with freshly bright colors of bright pinks, yellows and blues. The majority of the book is done in a subtle color palette with golds, pale blue and gray.
A quiet and lovely look at the pandemic and everyday kindness in a crisis. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
This picture book captures the experience of the Covid pandemic as we are all stuck in a place in between for months. It is a place where school is on the other side of the computer screen, where windows separate us from neighbors. But it is also a bright place, full of praise for the heroes who kept us going, phone calls with grandparents. It is a place of light, of sunsets, of time spent outdoors together. It is a place of loss, sadness and comfort. It is a storm that promises a rainbow tomorrow.
Told in simple poetic phrases, this picture book takes a frank look at the changes the pandemic brought us. While it could have stayed focused on the distance, instead it turns it around and shows the new ways we connected with others, with nature and with the promise of the future. This picture book sets just the right tone of respect for those who were lost, seriousness about the nature of the pandemic, and joy that it may pass and bring us somewhere beautiful.
Snider’s illustrations are done in bright colored pencil. The characters are whimsically drawn, while the urban landscape glows on the page. The book offers rainbows of color long before the literal one arrives at the end of the book.
Timely and quietly full of joy. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
There are only a few people who survived the devastation of the Fly Flu, a combination of an infectious flu carried by ravenous modified bees who will eat any living thing they can find. Nico has grown up in a house with her parents, surviving from one delivery of food to the next. But her mother recently died after losing her mental capabilities and her father appears to have the beginnings of the same problem. Nico’s father has told her tales of caring for a bell that will open a portal in another town, days away. Now Nico must hope that there is truth to her father’s stories as she leaves the shelter of their home and heads into the wilds with her dog. A young person named Kit also survived the Fly Flu. He lives with his mother and adopted siblings in an old movie theater. They grow their own food and try to reach out via radio to other survivors. Kit’s mother also starts to fail, sweating and confused. Now he and his siblings must leave their shelter as well to find a new way to survive. Deliverer is the person who delivered supplies to Nico’s home. Protected by a special suit, they work to try to have as many as possible survive the flu, no matter how many tries it takes.
Arnold has written a complex and layered science fiction novel. With moments of pure horror, the book dances that fine line between sci fi and horror beautifully with the bloodthirsty swarms of insects and the dangerous humans as well. It also incorporates time travel in a way that is delicately threaded through the book, showing up in glimpses and hints before being fully revealed. The writing is exquisitely done, offering clues and puzzles that click together into a whole by the end of the book.
The characters are well written and a pleasure to spend time with. Unique and interesting, they all are fully drawn, even the secondary ones. Nico is a strong character, driven by growing up without others around, she soon finds herself sharing her journey with others. Kit manages to draw others to him naturally, often serving as the bond that holds different groups together. Arnold writes his characters with empathy, care and yet never loses sight of the dangers he is placing them in.
Terrifying, joyous and full of opportunity, this apocalyptic book is never easy or simple. Appropriate for ages 14-18.
Reviewed from copy provided by Viking Books for Young Readers.
This picture book looks at what happened in 2020 when the pandemic hit. It turned bustling and busy neighborhoods into empty ones. Everyone stayed inside, everyone all over the world. Some people though continued to work, like police officers, doctors, grocery store workers and post office employees. Outside the squirrels and animals walked more freely in the empty streets. Inside everyone cooked, baked, played games and spent lots of time together. It all felt very different. Things kept on growing inside and out. Why did we all do it? It’s all about being different on the outside but just the same on the inside.
Pham has created a book that shows the best of us during the pandemic. It focuses on how people stayed inside and apart, how we made the best of it, and how nature continued on without us there. It shows how the brave essential workers carried on doing their vital jobs and celebrates the risks that they took. The ending of the book is sure to fill your heart too.
Pham’s art shows the wide diversity of people around the world who quarantined during the pandemic, showing different families as they stayed inside and entertained themselves with music, movies and more. Pham takes our warmth and connectivity and shows how we all made a difference during this difficult time.
A lovely and touching look at the pandemic’s impact on us all. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Macmillan Children’s Publishing.