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Showing posts from October, 2018

Mrs. Mole, I'm Home! by Jarvis

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Mrs. Mole, I'm Home! by Jarvis Review Copy from Candlewick Press Story: Mr. Mole is tired after a long shift at Gordon Ratzy's fancy restaurant. He can't find his glasses, but he's confident he can find his way home regardless. Tunneling away, Mr. Mole keeps popping up in the wrong burrow, getting farther from home as he finds himself kissing a tree filled with owls instead of his wife and bursting through the ice amidst a huddle of penguins. Finally, the smell of worm noodles guides him to where he needs to go, his kids pointing out that his glasses are perched atop his head. The final page shows Mr. Mole popping out of a hole, shouting, "Mrs. Mole, I'm hooome!" as a fierce lion looks on. Pictures: Jarvis, author/illustrator of the hilarious Alan's Big Scary Teeth, has a playful illustration style that's collage-y at the same time. Pages are filled with detail (a tiny rodent, presumably Gordon Ratzy, can be seen waving a spoon and clearly yelling at…

Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship by Irene Latham & Charles Waters, illustrated by Sean Qualls & Selina Alko, 40pp, RL 3

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Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship  by Irene Latham & Charles Waters illustrated by Selina Alko & Sean Qualls Why Read? Why Buy?: This book is so unique and special, important and timely, both in content and creation. Authors Latham, who is white, and Waters, who is black, collaborated long-distance on this book, deciding to write about what it would be like if their fifth-grade selves met today in a, "suburban school with a 60 percent white and 40 percent minority population." Drawing from individual childhood experiences and adult perspectives on race, the poems reflect their, "truest and most honest emotions and recollections about our experiences related to race. Like the speakers in this book, during this poetry project, we experienced fear, but we were open; we made missteps, yet we stumbled forward; and we learned things, and it changed us. We hope you will find the courage in these pages to have your own conversations about race.…

Ghoulia: Making Friends Can Be Scary by Barbara Cantini, 48 pp, RL 3

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Ghoulia: Making New Friends Can Be Scary by Barbara Cantini Purchased at Barnes & Noble
Story: Ghoulia: Making New Friends Can Be Scary begins with a gallery of the residents of Crumbling Manor, where Ghoulia lives with her greyhound, who may or may not be dead,  named Tragedy, her Auntie Departed and her cat, Shadow. Uncle Misfortune is a disembodied head who, when he is not talking to his younger selves, as seen in framed pictures on the wall, serves as Auntie Departed's jewelry box, and the ghost of Granddad Coffin complete this spooky family. While her Auntie Departed constantly warns Ghoulia about going outside and being seen by the children from the village nearby, Ghoulia is lonely and can't resist. When she overhears the children talking about Halloween, Ghoulia lands on the perfect plan - she will "dress up" like a zombie and go trick-or-treating! Using Uncle Misfortune as a basket for her candy, she heads out and meets with great success - and friendship -…

There's a Tiger in the Garden by Lizzy Stewart

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There is a Tiger in the Garden by Lizzy Stewart Review Copy from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Story: Nora is bored. When her grandma says there is a tiger in the garden, Nora scoffs and tells her she is too old for silly games, but heads outside with her toy giraffe, Jeff, anyway. When dragonflies as big as birds start to whiz past her, a plant tries to eat Jeff and a grouchy polar bear appears, the skeptical Nora is surprised to find herself face to face with a tiger! When Nora asks the tiger if he is real, he counters with the same question, giving her pause. The two head back to grandma's together, talking about, "breakfast, and trampolines, and the grumpy polar bear." They part with a hug and so much to tell grandma. Pictures: Stewart's illustrations are magnificent. Filled with detail (be sure to check out the toys on the first pages of the book) there is so much to see, especially when Lizzy heads into the garden, which calls to mind a Rousseau painting. With a primi…

Monster School by Kate Coombs, illustrated by Lee Gatlin

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Monster School written by Kate Coombs, illustrated byLee Gatlin Review Copy from Chronicle Books Well before the title page, Coombs's rhyming verse and Gatlin's superb creepy-cartoony illustrations invite you Monster School, a place filled with humor and humerus bones. While titles to poems like "Monster Mash," "Cafeteria Food," "Homework," and "Class Pet"may sound familiar, Coombs brings a fresh eye and way with words to this excellent collection of poems. My favorite of the bunch, "Monster Mash," begins, "Me? I'm multicultural. I come from here and there. / That's why I have a bunch of claws and floating purple hair." This twist on diversity goes beyond borders (and creatures) ending with this lovely sentiment, "I'm really multicultural. / Are you multicultural too? / I see a lot of things now that / I take a look at you." Coombs brings other creative updates to the genre of both school and Hallowe…

Little Scientist Board Book Set, text by Emily Kleinman, illustrations by Lydia Ortiz and Patrick Rafanan

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Following their hugely popular Little Feminist Board Book Set, Mudpuppy, purveyor of marvelously designed, super cool, educational "toys," from puzzles to journals, diaries, games for kids (and the young at heart), and illustrator/designer/creators Lydia Ortiz and Patrick Rafanan created the Little Scientist Board Book Set! With colorful, crisp illustrations and thoughtfully chosen subjects, author (and art director at Mudpuppy) Emily Kleinman provides one well crafted sentence that introduces readers to the four scientists (two female, two male) featured in each book. Covering astronomers, earth and life scientists, chemists and physicists, each chunky little book is a true delight! The illustrations of the subjects reminded me immediately of the Fisher-Price people that came with all their excellent play sets (and got fatter over time, when people realized the originals were choking hazards) and made me love these books all the more. And, I actually learned new things whil…

baby feminists: a lift-the-flap book by Libby Babbott-Klein, illustrated by Jessica Walker

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Working as a bookseller for almost twenty years, starting in 1995, I saw many trends, changes and often improvements in the quality and kind of kid's books I was selling. Board books, in particular, underwent a huge change during my years working in the kid's department. While I always believed that a child is never too young to explore a book (board books were everywhere in my house and car when my three kids were little) it took me a while to come around to the idea that a child is never too young to learn an adult concept, especially one that I value deeply. Today, there is no doubt in my mind that our children - our babies - need to have the names of important leaders, creators, innovators and humanitarians in their vocabulary from the start, as well as concepts like equity, social justice and feminism. These are the foundations for people they will become. Of course, this needs to be done with thoughtfulness and purpose, which is exactly what author Libby Babbott-Klein an…

Absolutely Everything! A History of Earth, Dinosaurs, Rulers, Robots and Other Things Too Numerous to Mention by Christopher Lloyd, 352 pp, RL 4

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Absolutely Everything! A History of Earth, Dinosaurs, Rulers, Robots and Other Things Too Numerous to Mentionby Christopher Lloyd Review Copy fromWhat On Earth Books What: After a foreword where author Lloyd shares the story of how a doing the dishes outdoors on a family camping trip (and not being able to identify a bird he spotted or the tree it was in) inspired the writing of this book. Aiming for, "something simple enough to understand but sweeping enough to connect together the dots of the past," Lloyd's book is for people who love to ask questions as much as they love to find answers. There are tons of general information books for kids on the shelves, with more arriving every year. What differs with each book is the format in which the information is presented and how it is organized. Unlike the hugely popular National Geographic Kids non-fiction books and the classic DK Eyewitness series, Lloyd opts for illustrations for the most part, which I find refreshing, with …

Sheets by Brenna Thummler, 239 pp, RL 4

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Sheets by Brenna Thummler Purchased from Barnes & Noble Story: Set in 1998, Marjorie Glatt is a thirteen-year-old forced to run the family laundromat after the drowning death of her mother and the paralyzing grief of her father. Not only does she have to go to school, where her class is writing a historical essay about ghosts, which Marjorie hates, along with laundry, she has to tend to the needs of demanding customers at work after school. Then, up the stairs to her family home where she and her little brother wait for her father to emerge from his room. To this strife, Thummler adds mandatory, painful swim class for Marjorie and a local buffoon, worthy of a Lemony Snicket novel (and Snicket himself has a quote on the back of the book),  who is sabotaging Glatt's Laundry so he can turn the building into a five-star yoga resort and turn the Glatts into indentured servants. Into Marjorie's life comes Wendell, a ghost struggling to keep his sheet clean. He is also an escapee f…