Posts

Showing posts from November, 2019

Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story by Arun Gandhi & Bethany Hegedus, illustrated by Evan Turk

Image
Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story by Arun Gandhi & Bethany Hegedus illustrated by Evan Turk Purchased for my school library with grant funding Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mohandas K. Gandhi, lived with his grandfather in his service village for two years (1946-1948) from the ages of 12 - 14. As an adult, he was a journalist for the Times of India for 30 years and continues work as a socio-political activist. Hearing him speak about healing and forgiveness after witnessing the terror attacks of 9/11, Bethany Hegedus, with the goal of “bringing something good into the world,” asked Arun to partner with her to “turn his unique insights and memories of his grandfather, and the impact they had on his life, into books.” From this came Grandfather Gandhi in 2014 and Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story, published in 2016.
Be the Changefocuses on one of the eleven vows of ashram living, the one that Arun found the most challenging: not to waste. Hegedus and Gandhi illustrate the impo…

Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You by Sonia Sotomayor, illustrated by Rafael López

Image
Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You by Sonia Sotomayor,  illustrated by Rafael López Purchased with grant funding for my school library This review is posting on Thanksgiving Day, 2019 because I am deeply grateful for this book that introduces kids to diversely abled children in an affirmative, joyful, accessible way. Using a garden as metaphor, narrator Sonia (the illustration shows a Latina child in pearl earrings) tells readers that she and her friends are as different as the variety of plants that make up a garden. And kids are all different, too. Some are loud and chatty, some shy and quiet. Some of the differences are "easy to spot. Others take longer to notice. Each of us grows in our own way, so if you are curious about other kids, JUST ASK."
Beginning with her own experience, the narrator Sonia shares the experience of having to give herself insulin shots and prick her finger because she has diabetes. If you read her picture book autobiography, Turning Pages, you wi…

The Boring Book by Shinsuke Yoshitake

Image
The Boring Book by Shinsuke Yoshitake Review Copy from Chronicle Books

The Boring Book begins where you expect is might, a bored (non-gender specific) kid. However, quickly and surprising philosophical depth, it turns into an examination of and exploration of the state of boredom. After proclaiming boredom, the narrator wonders, "what does 'boring' mean anyway?" then dives into the seemingly opposite states of fun and boredom. Every page turn presents another perspective on what it means to be bored. What does the world's most boring amusement park look like? This illustration includes the hilarious sign at the entrance to the park that reads, "Today's Apology." Can everything in the world be divided into "fun" and "boring"? The illustration for this page shows two children on a seesaw, one having fun and one being furiously bored. The narrator eventually wanders into the gray area between having fun and being bored, where you are …

Reading Beauty by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Meg Hunt

Image
 Reading Beauty by Deborah Underwood Illustrated by Meg Hunt Review Copy from Chronicle Books
With Reading Beauty, Underwood and Hunt deliver yet another superb revisionist retelling of a classic fairy tale (or, as one reviewer referred to it, a "fractured feminist fairy tale.") And, as with Interstellar Cinderella, Underwood has written her tale in magnificent, mellifluous rhyme and, with her cool purple palette, Hunt has created a futuristic world with an African vibe where paper books are still relevant and beloved!
Lex is a princess who loves, REALLY loves, books. In fact, she even trains her dog Prince to fetch them for her. But, when she turns fifteen, to avoid a deadly paper cut, all her books are taken away. That's when she learns of a curse put on her by a disgruntled fairy who thought she had been shut out of Lex's birth celebration. Gathering her books, Lex decides to find the fairy and get her to reverse the curse. The fairy throws out spell after spell to st…

The Princess in Black and the Bathtime Battle by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, 96 pp, RL 2

Image
The Princess in Black and the Bathtime Battle by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale,  illustrated by LeUyen Pham Review Copy from Candlewick Press
Bathtime Battle is the seventh book in this series that just keeps getting better. When a horrible stink takes over her kingdom, the Princess in Black tries to get rid of it by fanning it away, but she can't do it on her own. The smell travels into the kingdoms of other princesses and heroes emerge to save the day. But the stink is POWERFUL! This stinky monster is, 
stinkier than a full litter box. It was stinkier than a clogged toilet. It was stinkier than a pile of dirty diapers on a hot summer day. The stinky monster was so stinky, it was more stink than monster.
From Flowergirl and Horsefly, the Cartwheel Queen and Good Boy, Miss Fix-It and Doom Rabbit the bunny, and the Princess in Blankets and Corny her unicorn - no one can figure out how to battle the beast - until they decide to work together and give it a bath. And that is when they discov…

The Midwinter Witch by Molly Knox Ostertag, color by Maarta Laiho, 208 pp, RL 4

Image
The Midwinter Witch by Molly Ostertag,  color by Maarta Laiho Purchased at Barnes & Noble With The Midwinter Witch, Molly Ostertag delivers a third deeply satisfying, engaging, exciting graphic novel with two compelling story lines. The Midwinter Witch is filled with complex emotional relationships and personal challenges, and yet the story itself is so straightforwardly streamlined. There are layers in these books, and repeated readings are rewarded again and again. The world of witches and shapeshifters may be what draws readers in, but it is the personal relationships that Ostertag creates for her characters that keeps you returning for more.
The Midwinter Festival is a magical family reunion that happens at a mountain retreat where leylines meet. Among other festivities is the annual Jolrun, where young shifters and witches compete for the title of Midwinter Shifter and Midwinter Witch. Aster's big sister Juniper, and mother Holly, have both won this title and he hopes to as w…

T. Rex Time Machine: Dinos in De-Nile by Jared Chapman

Image
T. Rex Time Machine: Dinos in De-Nile by Jared Chapman Review Copy from Chronicle Books
I absolutely LOVE reading T. Rex Time Machine out loud to kids and can vouch that it appeals to all ages. I am beside myself with glee to have yet another hilarious adventure with this dino-duo to share with my students, along with even more teachable moments! And, T. Rex Time Machine: Dinos in De-Nile offers a bounty of goodies, from a poster on the inside of the dust jacket, to some really epic endpapers, making it a MUST HAVE. The final pages of T. Rex Time Machine let readers know where the dinos were headed and, as you might expect (and hope) they are making trouble before their time machine even plants itself in the fiery hot sands of the Sahara Desert. Their main interest, food, is hard to come by until a boy - King Tut, in fact - mistakes the brown dino for Sobek, the god of the Nile and star of the king's favorite comic book series, The Mighty Sobek: God of the Nile. Thrilled to be in the …

Charlie & Mouse Even Better by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Emily Hughes, 48 pp, RL 1.5

Image
Charlie & Mouse Even Better by Laurel Snyder illustrated by Emily Hughes Review Copy from Chronicle Books Last year I glowingly, gleefully reviewed the first book in this fantastic new beginning reader series (that also won the Theodore Seuss Geisel award!), Charlie & Mouse. In addition to the Zen-like simplicity and depth Snyder brings to her characters, their stories and their dialogue, together with Hughes, they are ushering in a new, subtle diversity in generally bland beginning reader series, both with socioeconomic status and biracial, non-binary characters.  The first chapter, "Pancakes," finds mom taking orders, making them in increasingly challenging shapes, met with assurances of, "Mom is the best," with each serving. When a dragon pancake fails to impress, Charlie and Mouse noting that it does not look like a dragon, Mom responds, "It is a dragon that annoyed its mother . . . " by asking for too many pancakes. The next three chapters are ded…

Just Because by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

Image
Just Because by Mac Barnett illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault Review Copy from Candlewick Press It is bedtime. A father is putting his daughter to sleep. And, in the way that kids do, she is stalling. That said, there is no doubt that her curiosity is genuine. The father's poetically inventive answers (Arsenault dedicates this book to her "highly creative dad," which I love) to his child's questions are magical and deeply satisfying, are the the connection and interplay between the two. Sometimes one answer leads to a new question, as with "Why do the leaves change color?" The response, "In autumn, when the world gets colder, the trees keep warm by setting quiet little fires in their leaves. By winter, their branches have all burned up," leads to the question, "Why do birds fly south for the winter?" To "fetch new leaves for the trees," of course! A very imaginative response to the question of what happened to the dinosaurs also a…