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The New Friend by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by Benjamin Chaud

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  The New Friend  by Charlotte Zolotow illustrated by Benjamin Chaud Review Copy from Abrams Kid s Charlotte Zolotow (1915 - 2013) was a writer, poet, editor and publisher. She had her own imprint at HarperCollins and the Cooperative Children's Book Center  created an award in her name in 1998 that honors the author of the best picture book published each year. As her obituary in The New York Times notes, Zolotow stood out for plumbing "children's interior lives, often ranging over loneliness, loss, longing and other painful topics that earlier generations of children's books had either sugar coated or ignored outright." While children's books have evolved to address myriad experiences and emotions from increasingly diverse perspectives over the last fifty years, Zolotow's work remains relevant, although diversity in the illustrations would be welcome. Originally published in 1968, I began reading, despite having read (and owning) other books by Zolotow

Every Little Kindness by Marta Bartolj

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Every Little Kindness by Marta Bartolj Review Copy from Chronicle Books First published in Slovenia, Bartolj's Every Little Kindness is a beautiful, wordless story that follows one small act of kindness as it ripples out into the community. Using graphic novel style panels and a palette in varying shades of grey, with pale yellow and blue adding depth. A minimal and well placed use of red works to tell the story as it - and acts of kindness and compassion - flow from one person to the next, beginning with a woman and her lost dog.  Heading out to hang "Lost Dog" posters around town, the woman brings along a red apple that, after some thought, she hands to a busker playing the guitar. The power of  Every Little Kindness  comes not from the (often told) story of a person who receives a kindness passing it on to another, but from the power of witnessing an act of kindness can have. A passerby (with a red messenger bag) watches as the woman gives her apple to the performer.

Melissa by Alex Gino, 195 pp, RL 4

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  M e l i s s a by Alex Gino Purchased from Barnes & Noble In September of 2015, I reviewed Gino's debut book. A groundbreaking novel about a transgender child, the book went on to win the 2016 Stonewall Book Award in the newly created Children's category. Now, almost seven years later, Gino and their book prove groundbreaking again as the author and publisher officially change the title. In July of 2021, Gino shared a post on their blog, writing, "I made a mistake when I named my first published middle grade novel. A big mistake. I used a name for my main character that she doesn't like for herself (i.e. George, the title of the book) instead of her actual name. My main character's name is Melissa, and I apologize to her, to the larger trans community, and to all of my readers for the error. I'm sorry." Sharing the many factors that influenced the original title choice, Gino goes on to tell readers that they officially have Gino's permission to c

Aaron Slater, Illustrator by Andrea Beaty & David Roberts

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  Aaron Slater, Illustrator  by Andrea Beaty & David Roberts Review Copy from Abrams Kids With Aaron Slater, Illustrator , Beaty and Roberts add a fifth (and possibly my favorite...) title to their incredible series of picture books featuring protagonists who overcome challenges as they pursue their passions. Beaty, with her unparalleled gift for writing in verse, and Roberts, with his talent for bringing colors, patterns, and cultural references to the page (as well as endearing characters), have partnered to create a world built on a foundation of creativity, curiosity, empathy, compassion and perseverance.  It is amazing to think that, in those first illustrations of Miss Lila Greer's class, as seen in Iggy Peck, Architect , published fourteen years ago, all of  The Questioneers  are there, waiting for their stories to be told. And, what is especially impressive and worth noting each and every time I review a book in this series (that now consists of picture, project and cha

The Longest Letsgoboy by Derick Wilder, illustrated by Cátia Chien

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The Longest Letsgoboy  by Derick Wilder , illustrated by Cátia Chien review copy from Chronicle Books   As with my review of Shaw Harris' Have You Ever Seen a Flower , I have to begin this review by telling you that Chien expertly employs a neon tangerine color in her illustrations that is a vital aspect of the emotional tone of The Longest Letsgoboy  and it just does not translate in the images seen here. Next, I have to confess that this was a pretty hard book for me to read and review because the longest letsgoboy is imminent for my beloved canine. A stray I lured in from the street with a pack of hot dogs ten years ago, my big, black bear of a dog has slowed down considerably, but he always manages to haul himself up from his bed when he hears, "Let's go boy!" Wilder tells this story from the cheerful perspective of a dog heading out on his final walk through the woods with his girl. His language is musical and descriptive, as the dog has his own names for the thi

Waffles and Pancakes: Planetary-Yum (A CatStronauts Kitten Adventure) by Drew Brockington, 64 pp, RL 2

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  Waffles and Pancakes: Planetary-Yum  A CatStronauts Kitten Adventure  by Drew Brockington Review Copy Drew Brockington launched his fantastic CatStronauts series in 2017, and in 2018 I reviewed the first four books in the series, which were hugely popular with kids at the elementary school where I was the librarian. Brockington's hilarious graphic novels stand out for the portrayal of space travel, the preparation that goes into a launch from Earth into orbit and even a bit of NASA history. To all this, Brockington adds sassy (and hungry) cats and fantastic cat puns administered in just the right doses. This first Kitten Adventure travels back in time to features everyone's favorite, Waffles, along with sister Pancake, in their youth. As with  CatStronauts , Brockington's blend of science and humor, along with a dash of smart safety protocols for kittens (and kids) pairs perfectly with his chunky illustrations style and exaggerated, exuberant and humorous expressions on