Showing posts from August, 2019

Pilu of the Woods by Mai K. Nguyen, 157 pp, RL 4

Pilu of the Woods by Mai K. Nguyen Purchased from The Strand Book Store

Pilu of the Woods begins with a sweet memory of a mother and daughter walking in the woods then moves to a fight between sisters. Linnea is upset with Willow for fighting at school again, especially the day before their mother's birthday. Furious, Willow stomps off into the woods with her dog Chicory. Soon, she is distracted from her dark thoughts by a sound, a crying. It'a Pilu, a wood sprite who has also run away, convinced that her mother won't miss her. Willow assures her she is wrong, very wrong, and insists on helping Pilu find her way home. Pilu agrees, but as they travel, Willow teaching Pilu all the things she learned about nature from her mother, Pilu seems distracted and uninterested in finding her way home. Eventually, Pilu explodes, telling Willow that she has no idea what it's like to be lonely, to have a mother who doesn't pay attention to you. 
Emotions roil throughout the story, a…

Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers by Celia C. Peréz, 384 pp, RL 4

Strange Birds:  A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers by Celia C. Peréz Cover art by Shannon Wright Review Copy from Kokila Books
There are so many amazing and wonderful things about Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers by Celia C. Peréz, author of one of my favorite books, The First Rule of Punk, I hope I can get them all into this review and do justice to this marvelous book. Ultimately, Peréz has written a story of friendship - how it begins, how (and why) bonds are created, and what those bonds mean. Within this story she has woven themes of social activism, institutional racism, socio-economic status, animal rights and how we make sense and deal with histories and legacies of wrongdoing today. And, as with her debut novel, Peréz shares a inspiration board and playlist for this book! Also, don't miss this post at Nerdy Book Club where Peréz shares the feelings, questions and images that inspired her to write this book, including the Radical Monarchs, an activism organizat…

This Book of Mine by Sarah Stewart & David Small

This Book of Mine by  Sarah Stewart & David Small Review Copy from FSG Books for Young Readers I am happy to be reminded of just what is special about a book, and this is exactly what Sarah Stewart and David Small do with This Book of Mine. Even better, this gently rhyming picture book ode is perfect for emerging readers newly entering the amazing experiences of getting lost in a book, being comforted by a book, being transported by a book, being inspired by a book and beyond.
Stewart's poem is elegantly simple and emotionally powerful, as are Small's illustrations that range from gestural sweeps to detailed faces. Stewart begins this book with a promise, "I take this book . . ." to be: a friend, a chew toy, a comfort item, and to "think about what I just saw - then close the book and try to draw." Books also inspire expression, be it reciting on a stage or acting in your own backyard. And, of course, books lead us to "find knowledge and happiness . . …

Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez, 400 pp, RL 4

Sal & Gabi Break the Universe A Rick Riordan Presents Book by Carlos Hernandez Purchased Audio Book  narrated by Anthony Rey Perez
I absolutely LOVE and cannot stop thinking about this beautiful, rich, warm, generous gift of a book Carlos Hernandez has written. I have to confess, I was predisposed not to like it. I am not a fan of Rick Riordan's style of writing, which I would categorize (somewhat unfairly and too briskly) as big on action and light on reflection. Despite this, I have great appreciation for his Rick Riordan Presents imprint - for his willingness  to lend his name to a series of books that he does not benefit from financially and his recognition that these are stories (and authors) from underrepresented cultures and backgrounds  that need to be told. To this I want to add that I especially value this imprint's focus on the genres of fantasy and science fiction. While the number of middle grade novels featuring people of color is slowly rising, I find most of the…

MAKER COMICS: Bake Like a Pro! by Falynn Koch, 124 pp, RL 4

MAKER COMICS:Bake Like a Pro!  by Falynn Koch Purchased with grant funding  for my school library
MAKER COMICS: BAKE LIKE A PRO is an excellent graphic novel that teaches readers how to bake while also showing the science behind baking. Using a fictional format, the book begins in a village where wizarding students are being given their assignments for the day. While her friends happily head off to learn pyromancy and transfiguration, Sage is not happy to hear that she will be learning baking with Wizard Korian. Using talking food, Wizard Korian begins her lesson by showing Sage that cooking is heating food, but baking is alchemy! Unenthusiastic and showing it, Sage jumps at the chance to bake a perfect pound cake and end the lesson. Left alone with the recipe and the ingredients, who are talking and trying to get her to follow the instructions, Sage fails the task and conjures an "instant cake." Not only does this passage serve to show readers WHY it is important to follow the …

Kids Cooking: Students Prepare and Eat Foods from Around the World by George Ancona

Kids Cooking: Students Prepare and Eat Foods from Around the World  by George Ancona Review Copy from Candlewick Press Kids Cooking: Students Prepare and Eat Foods from Around the World is a stellar non-fiction picture book that follows students as they learn to make a dish from another country while also learning about that country, the ingredients and their origins and all the other great things that you learn when you cook, from math to chemistry to art to geography and, best of all, collaboration. Ancona starts his book, "Today is cooking day! There are many smiles as the kids head to the kitchen." Photographs of very happy looking kids walking in line accompany this text. Students make dishes from Morocco, China, Italy and Mexico and all recipes, while not included in the book, can be found on this printable PDF. The simple text is wonderful, walking readers through the learning, cooking and eating. Ancona includes a phrase from each country that shows readers how to say, &…

20 Recipes Kids Should Know, Recipes + Text by Esme Washburn (age 12), Photographs by Calista Washburn (age 17)

20 Recipes Kids Should Know Recipes + Text by Esme Washburn (age 12),  Photographs by Calista Washburn (age 17) Review Copy from Prestel Publishing
Ever since my daughter could sit on the counter and help me make bread (some 25+ years ago) I've been on the lookout for great cookbooks for kids and I can tell you they are rare. At least the ones that meet my standards are rare. And now that there is a video tutorial for everything you ever wanted to know how to do, I feel like cookbooks have to meet an even higher bar. Happily, you can't give a video tutorial as a birthday gift (yet?) so the shelf life of cookbooks has not (quite) expired. Where I used to buy a few cookbooks a year, I find myself turning to the internet and apps for reference these days. The last cookbook I bought (for myself) - and my first cookbook purchase in 8 years! - was Salt FatAcidHeatby Samin Nosrat. And, while watching her show assured me of her knowledge and skill, it was ultimately her personality bursti…