Posts

Showing posts from 2021

Nia and the New Free Library written by Ian Lendler, illustrated by Mark Pett

Image
Nia and the New Free Library  written by Ian Lender  illustrated by  Mark Pett Review Copy from Chronicle Books When a tornado carries off the town library, it's up to Nia to convince the community that they need to build a new library. This proves especially challenging since everyone seems to think that libraries have become obsolete. Inspired by the folk tale, Stone Soup , a marvelous detail that is not revealed until almost the end of the book, Nia writes and illustrates a wagonload of books and begins loaning them out. But Nia's patrons seem to have problems with her books, from the plots to the illustrations. Nia fields every complaint with roughly the same response of, "Oh well, maybe you can fix it," while handing them a pencil. Soon enough, the townsfolk have written so many books that they begin to discuss the many ways they can store them, eventually coming together to build a library. Realizing they have a library but no head librarian, Nia asks the crowd

Geraldine Pu and Her Lunch Box, Too! written and illustrated by Maggie P. Chang, 64 pp, RL 2

Image
  Geraldine Pu and Her Lunch Box, Too!  written and illustrated by Maggie P. Chang Ready to Read Graphics , Level 3 Review Copy from Simon & Schuster There are so many wonderful things that come together in the pages of of Maggie P. Chang's debut, Geraldine Pu and Her Lunch Box, Too! This makes sense, because the creator herself encompasses many wonderful things! Chang, who describes herself as a "multi-disciplinary creative and educator with an entrepreneurial spirit," began her career as a teacher in Spanish Harlem, going on to open the first children's history museum, and teach at the famed LaGuardia Arts High School where she expanded the Media Technology curriculum and taught talented teen artists. Chang has co-founded service projects that, through the creation of graphic novels, empower young people to connect with the planet's ecosystems, a media company that explores the intersection of spirituality and creativity and a partnership with jewelry desi

Rain Before Rainbows by Smriti Prasadam-Halls, illustrated by David Litchfield

Image
  Rain Before Rainbows  by Smriti Prasadam-Halls , illustrated by David Litchfield Review Copy from Candlewick Press In Rain Before Rainbows , Litchfield's illustrations tell a story while Prasadam-Halls's gentle, unforced rhyme provides a lyrical rhythm that carries and comforts, encourages and affirms. Litchfield's illustrations have a luminous, moody depth. Swirling, moving colors make up the background, layered with silhouettes and etched patterns. The main characters, a girl and a fox, along with a handful of other animals that appear along the way, are given a more solid presence on the page, coming together to create a dreamlike feeling. Reading  Rain Before Rainbows  evokes the feeling of walking through a raincloud and emerging into a light filled rainbow.  Which is exactly how  Rain Before Rainbows   begins and ends, from endpaper to endpaper. The title page shows, amidst clouds and smoke, a castle on fire. The girl and the fox journey away from one home and to a

How to Apologize written by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka

Image
  How to Apologize  written by David LaRochelle illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka Review Copy from Candlewick Press Perfect. How to Apologize is a perfect book. Words and pictures partner perfectly to entertain and educate readers - a rarity in the world of picture books. Not only is it extremely difficult to write a successful, engaging picture book addressing social-emotional learning without being dogmatic, it is a challenge to get empathy and compassion on the page with the finely tuned clarity that LaRochelle and Wohnoutka bring to their book. On of the best aspects of  How to  Apologize  is its nonjudgemental tone, which begins on the first page, "Everyone makes mistakes." Every two pages (or so) comprise visual vignettes that illustrate the text, which (rather than a traditional narrative) makes  How to  Apologize  engaging and successful and ultimately relatable for readers young and old (there are plenty of adults who would benefit from learning how to apologize). Wh

Da Vinci's Cat by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky, 288 pp, RL 4

Image
  Da Vinci's Cat   by Catherine Gilbert Murdock illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky Purchased from Barnes & Noble Michelangelo, Raphael, Bramante and Leonardo Da Vinci (well, Da Vinci's cat, Juno) are some of the more famous sixteenth century greats who populate yet another historical novel shot through with fantasy from Murdock, author of Newbery Honor The Book of Boy . It is the year 1511 and eleven-year-old Federico II Gonzaga is being held hostage by Pope Julius II to guarantee his family's loyalty to Italy. However, aside from missing his mother (Isabella D'Este, sketched by Da Vinci, painted by Titian, a patron of the arts and major figure of the Renaissance) and sisters, Federico is having a fine time, treated like the gentleman he is and a frequent backgammon partner for the Pope. Although his servant, Celeste, and his Latin and fencing teachers smack him regularly, Federico is recognized for the royalty he is and his word is his command. While this may make him

The Okay Witch and the Hungry Ghost by Emma Steinkellner, 256 pp, RL 4

Image
The Okay Witch and the Hungry Shadow by Emma Steinkellner Review Copy from Simon & Schuster Magical powers are such the perfect gift to give a tween-teen characters, especially in a graphic novel, for so many reasons. Coming into one's magical powers is the literal confirmation of what we all believe when we are little - that we are special, but we're just not sure exactly how, and somewhere inside us this specialness is waiting to blossom - and is an ideal metaphor for the change from child to (young) adult. Magical powers also make for magnificent morality plays. Given a power to change something in your life, will you use it? And will this power corrupt you? Most adolescents wish aspects of their lives could be different and magical powers holds out the promise of real, immediate change. Steinkellner makes superb use of these concepts in her debut graphic novel, The Okay Witch , and the sequel, The Okay Witch and the Hungry Shadow . What makes Steinkellner's storytel

Apple of My Pie by Mika Song, 128 pp, RL 1.5

Image
  Apple of My Pie   by Mika Song Review Copy from RHGraphics While I missed Norma and Belly's first adventure in Donut Feed the Squirrels , I am happy that they have embarked on another food-centered adventure in Apple of My Pie . The adventure begins when Gramps, with his hilariously oversized spectacles, needs a break from reading out loud to Little Bee. The pair head down from their tree and off to the farmer's market where Gramps finds himself on a truck headed to an apple farm and pie making factory. Little Bee runs back home to rally Norma and Belly and make a rescue plan. As the trio sets their plan in action, Gramps is headed down a conveyor belt and into the pie factory with the rest of the apples - minus his glasses. Norma, Belly and Little Bee do their best, but it is Helen, a student visiting the orchard on a field trip, who spots Gramps and keeps him from being gobbled up in a pie eating contest before returning him, pie and all, to the Osage orange tree where they

Monster Friends by Kaeti Vandorn, 272 pp, RL 3

Image
  Monster Friends  by Kaeti Vandorn Review Copy from RHGraphic VanDorn's debut,  Crabapple Trouble , encompassed her two-fold talent for creating a visually engaging world while telling a story centered on social-emotional challenges and joys. In Monster Friends , two seeming opposites, the boisterous Emily and the retreating Reggie, find that they both struggle with the same difficulty - being heard by others. Housesitting at the seaside, Reggie is brooding over his latest adventure gone wrong. He is avoiding the pile of letters from the League of Locksmiths asking him to renew his membership or risk losing it while working up the courage - and the right words - to tell his exploring partner that he's not cut out for adventure. Emily's arrival - and her summer to-do list - draws Reggie out of the house and embarking on another adventure. As the unlikely pair fulfill Emily's goals of searching for sea monsters and planning beach parties, Reggie gains a new perspective o