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Thankful by Elaine Vickers, illustrated by Samantha Cotterill

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  Thankful  by Elaine Vickers illustrated by Samantha Cotterill Review copy from Simon & Schuster Thankful follows a young girl as she begins her family's annual tradition. When the first snow falls, she writes down the things she is thankful for on strips of paper, linking them in a chain, adding to the chain as her year unfolds. Vickers's gentle texts illuminates all the things the narrator is thankful for, starting at bedtime with a home where she is safe and warm and a bedtime ritual with her parents. One gratitude flows to the next as the narrator goes through her day. On the bus to school, she is "thankful for a heart that beats," and in the classroom, in a circle of students sitting with eyes closed and legs crossed, she is thankful for, "every breath, in and out, in and out." At times, Vickers's words are lyrical, like when the narrator is thankful for "doors that lead to wonderful places," and, "snow that softens the whole wor

circle under berry by Carter Higgins

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  circle under berry   by Carter Higgins Review Copy from Chronicle Books Circle Under Berry  is whats known as a concept book in that it teaches a concept like shapes, colors, ABCs, opposites, etc. With preposition rich text that goes beyond color and shape identification, it reads more like a book of metamorphoses than a concept book. Higgins stacks shapes and words in this vibrantly illustrated book that invites readers to think about things in transformative new ways. Opening endpapers present nine shapes cut from hand-painted paper on a crisp, white background, evoking the work of Eric Carle. Over the course of the book, these shapes are stacked and rearranged, then presented in new ways, the text guiding and questioning - "Is it berry over circle or circle under berry?" and "Is this orange? Is it oval? Is this frog or square or green?" These nine shapes reappear on the closing endpapers, collaged into new and interesting things.  It's a challenge to write

See the Dog: Three Stories About a Cat by David La Rochoelle, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka, Reading Level 1.5

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See the Dog: Three Stories About a Cat  by David La Rochoelle illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka Review Copy from Candlewick Press The team that brought us the superlative picture book (and great social-emotional learning text)  How to Apologize  won the 2021 Theodore Seuss Geisel Award for their beginning reader, See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog, which is also a very fun read-out-loud. If you read See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog , then you caught a glimpse of Baby Cakes (in a green dress and riding a pink unicorn) and are primed for See the Dog: Three Stories About a Cat . And you also know that the humor (and the tension) comes from the fact that the narrator and the main character have some conflicts to work out. And again, there are some great twists and laughs that I don't want to ruin for anyone, so I will not be divulging much of the plot of this book, which begins with the cat telling readers, in a word bubble, that the dog is sick and asked for a Baby Cakes to take

Ciao, Sandro! words by Steven Varni, pictures by Luciano Lozano

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  Ciao, Sandro! by Steven Varni pictures by Luciano Lozano Review copy from Abrams Books Ciao, Sandro! follows a gondolier's dog as he traverses the city of Venice, visiting friends of his owner, Nicola. Final pages reveal the reason for Sandro's visits - he was making sure that no one forgot Nic's surprise birthday party!  For readers who know nothing about the city of Venice,  Ciao, Sandro!  is a superb introduction and inspiration to learn more - although I do wish that a map of the city could have been included. Varni, a resident of the city for over ten years (and author of a superb blog with stunning photos about living and raising a child Venice) and Lozano do a fine job giving readers an idea of how different life is in an ancient city filled with canals. I had the great fortune - and pleasure of carrying a stroller up and down the stairs of the seven bridges we crossed twice daily to get from our lodging to the heart of the city - of visiting Venice many years ago

Paranorthern and the Chaos Bunny A-Hop-Calypse, written by Stephanie Cooke, art by Mari Costa, 240 pp, RL 4

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Paranorthern and the Chaos Bunny A-Hop-Calypse written by Stephanie Cooke art by Mari Costa Review copy from ETCH With Paranorthern and the Chaos Bunny A-Hop-Calypse , Cooke takes a handful of familiar fantasy elements - witches, ravens, werewolves, discovering and owning your (magical) power - and adds a ghost in a hijab, a pumpkin-headed character who finds all pumpkin-spiced delights barbaric (in spite of the fact that pumpkins are rarely harmed in the making of such treats) and a coffee house where you can get a shot of luck, a "good-day infusion" and other potions added to your drink to create a fantastic, unforgettable story. My one regret is that my review copy of this book was not in color, but I sense that Costa's warm palette of purples and oranges add both an eeriness and intimacy to Cooke's story. In the united supernatural community of North Haven, Abby Morgan is busy during her fall break brewing up lattes at Witch's Brew, keeping an eye on her littl

Witches of Brooklyn: What the Hex?! by Sophie Escabasse, 240 pp, RL 4

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  Witches of Brooklyn: What the Hex?!  by Sophie Escabasse Review Copy from RH Graphic My only complaint about  Witches of Brooklyn  was that it left me wanting more. Now, a year and a week later, the next book in the series has arrived and is even more satisfying than the first, if that is possible. While Escabasse sets her story in the real world, she also builds a world that warm and inviting, despite the snowy weather, icy statues and teenage muggers. Where the first book in this trilogy, which had its share of sadness as Effie, who lost her mother, came to live with her aunts, Selimene and Carlota, was about introducing Effie to her powers and beginning her magical education, What the Hex?! finds Effie being introduced into her community. Effie is amazed at the diversity of the witches in Brooklyn, noting, "They're all so different . . . each one has their own area of expertise." Teachers, librarians, midwives, psychologists, DJs, social workers, computer programmer

CHIRP! Chipmunk Sings for a Friend by Jamie A. Swensen, illustrated by Scott Magoon

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  CHIRP! Chipmunk Sings for a Friend   by Jamie A. Swensen illustrated by Scott Magoon Review Copy from Simon & Schuster There are a lot of things that feel familiar about CHIRP! Chipmunk Sings for a Friend , starting with the woodland setting where a chipmunk sits on a rock and sings from sunup to sundown, longing for a friend to sing along with. Common picture book themes of making friends, being yourself, and not giving up wrap around less common themes of sadness and frustration, the expression of these difficult emotions and finding others who can be present for, supportive of, and even sympathize and empathize in the presence of these emotions. Mostly, Chipmunk's songs were happy, but sometimes they were, "bittersweet. And sometimes her songs were very sad indeed." Magoon's illustrations capture the the joy (and cuteness) of Chirp as she sings, the literal expression of her songs flooding the pages with color and movement. When she is happy, warm reds, pinks