Monday, August 31, 2020
Monday, August 24, 2020
Jules vs. the Ocean by Jessie Sima
The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne by Lesa Cline-Ransome and illustrated by John Parra
Swashby and the Sea by Beth Ferry and illustrated by Juana Martinez-NealSwashby retires to a cottage near the sea where he enjoys the quiet and serenity until a girl and her granny move in next door. He tries to discourage their neighborliness with messages in the sand, but the girl and the sea have other ideas. This is a sweet and clever story.
Speak Up by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Ebony Glenn
Story Boat by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh
Tune it Out by Jamie Sumner
Adult Book Recommendation
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
Wednesday, August 19, 2020
Fauja Singh Keeps Going: The True Story of the Oldest Person to Ever Run a Marathon by Simran Jeet Singh and illustrated by Baljinder Kaur
Sharing stories with children in which individuals overcome adversity and exhibit resilience and perseverance has always been important. These stories show children how others have coped with challenges and provide them with possibilities for their own lives. The COVID-19 pandemic, and all the stress and uncertainty that is associated with it, is impacting all lives including that of our children. As we strive to support children's social-emotional well-being sharing such stories is even more necessary.
Fauja Singh Keeps Going is a picture book biography with an amazing story of perseverance. Fauja faced difficulties walking as he wasn't able to do so until he was five and then even after being able to do so was not able to walk very far distances. Throughout his life, he continuously worked on becoming stronger and being able to do more than he was previously capable of. When Fauja was in his eighties he decided to take up running and eventually became the oldest person to run a marathon at the age of one hundred.
Fauja's inspiring story offers life lessons about how to face challenges and keep going even when things seem hard. Now more than ever, we want our children to understand that it's possible to move forward in the face of obstacles and this book provides a wonderful example of how to do that.
Monday, August 17, 2020
Evelyn Del Rey is Moving Away by Meg Medina and illustrated by Sonia SánchezThis is a heartfelt and beautiful story that captures the bond between two friends and the emotions of the last moments as it's time to say good-bye when one friend moves away. I found the last page particularly touching. Thanks to the publisher, Candlewick, for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with a review copy. The book publishes in September.
Love is Powerful by Heather Dean Brewer and illustrated by LeUyen PhamThis book tells the story, inspired by real life, of Mari who participates in a Women's March and learns that her voice matters. It's an empowering book with a much needed and always timely message. Thanks to the publisher for a review copy. The book publishes in September.
Memoirs of a Tortoise by Devin Scillian and illustrated by Tim BowersOliver, an eighty-year old tortoise tells about his life with his eighty-year old human companion, Ike, throughout each month of the year. The year brings joy, sadness, and change. This is a moving story about loss and the importance of spending time with loved ones.
Tad by Benji DaviesTad is the smallest of the tadpoles and all his brothers and sisters are growing up faster than him. When all the others have left the pond, Tad is left to fend for himself and keep away from Big Blub, the big, mean fish lurking in the dark waiting to eat him. This is a very sweet story illustrating the life cycle of a frog with a message that everyone grows and learns at their own pace.
Midnight at the Barclay Hotel by Fleur Bradley and illustrated by Xavier Bonet
Adult Reading Recommendation
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa GyasiI have been eagerly awaiting this book since I consider the author's Homegoing is one of my favorite books. As in her first book, Yaa Gyasi's writing is stunning. She explores important and timely topics including the immigrant experience, opioid addiction, and mental illness. The story is heart-wrenching, but thought-provoking, as well. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a digital review copy. The book publishes in September.
Thursday, August 13, 2020
Penny and the Plain Piece of Paper by Miri Leshem-Pelly
Some picture books leave me in complete awe of the author's creativity and imagination. Penny and the Plain Piece of Paper is such a book.
Penny is bored living on her plain piece of paper, so she walks off and goes on a journey to explore other types of paper. She discovers different papers, such as a newspaper, wrapping paper, and a page from a coloring book, but they all have rules that don't suit her. Returning to her own piece of paper, she realizes she doesn't have to conform to the rules of others, but can create her own.
This is a clever story with many aspects that will amuse readers. Illustrations show Penny walking off a piece of paper and, when turning the page, landing on a different type of paper. Penny herself is a unique creation, appearing as if someone used different colored crayons to draw her. Her interactions with the characters on the different types of paper, such as when she keeps encountering children on the wrapping paper who repeat the same thing over and over again (because they are part of the pattern) add humor to the book.
In addition to being an imaginative story, there is an important message about belonging and being oneself. This book will be fun to read aloud, but I also think it will spark some great conversations.
Thanks to the publisher for providing by book review group, #BookExcursion, with a review copy.
Monday, August 10, 2020
The Bear in My Family by Maya TatsukawaThis is a sweet and humorous story about living with a bear, aka an older sibling. Those with siblings will be able to relate. Charming illustrations.
Freedom Bird: A Tale of Hope and Courage by Jerdine Nolen and illustrated by James E. RansomeBased on African American folklore, this is a lyrical and powerful story of two enslaved children who escape to freedom. Gorgeous illustrations.
A Journey Toward Hope by Victor Hinojosa and Coert Voorhees and illustrated by Susan GuevaraThis book tells the story of four migrant children on their journey through Mexico to the United States. It's a heart-breaking and hopeful glimpse into immigration that will be useful to start important conversations. Notes at the end of the book give more information about the journey the children took and the projects that Baylor University, co-publisher of the book, has launched to address issues related to migration and poverty. Thanks to Media Masters Publicity for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with a review copy.
She Leads: The Elephant Matriarch by June Smalls and illustrated by Yumi ShimokawaraThis is a poignant story of a group of African elephants and the matriarch who guides and teaches them alongside factual information that provides insight into how elephants live. The text and illustrations are a beautiful tribute to this amazing animal.
13th Street #1: Battle of the Bad-Breath Bats by David Bowles
Bee Fearless: Dream Like a Kid by Mikaila UlmerMikaila was four years old when she got stung on two separate occasions by a bee and decided that rather than be afraid of them, she wanted to do something to help save them. She began making and selling lemonade to raise money which then turned into a business and now, at fifteen, she is the CEO of Me and the Bees Lemonade. This is an inspirational and insightful memoir for any kid who is interested in starting a business or being a change maker. Thanks to the publisher for providing my book review group with a review copy.
Grown-Up Summer Reading
Sunday, August 9, 2020
My 10 For 10 List...
The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story by Aya Khalil and illustrated by Anait Semirdzhyan
First Day Critter Jitters by Jory John and illustrated by Liz Climo
How to Write a Story by Kate Messner and illustrated by Mark SiegelThe companion to How to Read a Story, this book walks young readers through the steps necessary to write a story. The advice is useful and encouraging. The main character in the book works through the writing process, writing an entertaining story that she shares with friends. I think readers will be inspired to write their own stories.
Lulu the One and Only by Lynnette Mawhinney and illustrated by Jennie Poh
Our Favorite Day of the Year by A. E. Ali and illustrated by Rahele Jomepour Bell
The Power of One: Every Act of Kindness Counts by Trudy Ludwig
We Disagree by Bethanie Deeney Murguia
You Matter by Christian Robinson
Monday, August 3, 2020
Gustavo, The Shy Ghost by Flavia Z. DragoThis story is both spooky and festive. A lonely ghost makes friends by being brave and taking a chance. Really sweet and the illustrations are captivating.
Rot, the Bravest in the World! by Ben ClantonMutant potatoes, mud, and a worm are a winning combination in this humorous book. Students love Rot, the Cutest in the World! and they are going to be just as pleased, if not more so, with this second book. Hopefully, there's another Rot book in the future!
A Way With Wild Things by Larissa Theule and illustrated by Sara PalaciosPoppy loves books and spends lots of time sitting among the wildflowers observing the world around her. At parties she'd much rather blend in with the surroundings than interact with others and she does quite a good job of it. This is a sweet story about being oneself showing that what may be perceived as a weakness can actually be a strength.
Kingdom Caper #1 (Zoo Patrol Squad) by Brett BeanMany of my younger readers want to start reading graphic novels and this will be a fun one to hand them. It's the first book in a new series that has fast-paced action, adventure, and humor.
City of Secrets by Victoria YingThis is an adventurous graphic novel about a city that is a world of its own and the secrets and puzzles it holds. It's fun, intriguing, and imaginative.
BenBee and the Teacher Griefer by K. A. HoltThis is a heartfelt book written from the perspective of four kids who, with the help of a teacher, realize they are more than their learning challenges - they are divergent thinkers. The format which is unique and clever includes prose, verse, and sketchbook pages. The varied format, short chapters, and humor will all appeal to kids. Thanks to the publisher, Chronicle Books, for a review copy.
My Life in the Fish Tank by Barbara DeeBarbara Dee's books always address important, serious topics in a way that is accessible and appropriate for middle grade readers. This book explores mental illness, as Zinnie's brother has been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. In addition, she is navigating the ups & downs of friendship. It's an engaging, heart-warming, and relatable read. Thanks to the author and Media Masters Publicity for an advance reading copy.
Grown-Up Reading Recommendations
Books in the mystery/thriller genre are always a quick read for me and I've read quite a few this summer. The Distant Dead by Heather Young has a murder mystery at its center, but it's also a book about choices, survival, and forgiveness. The Girl From Widow Hills is a creepy and addictive read. One by One is the newest book by Ruth Ware that publishes in September. I loved the contrast between the cozy, idyllic ski retreat setting and the situation that turns deadly.