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Showing posts from 2021

The Leak by Kate Reed Petty & Andrea Bell, 240 pp, RL 4

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  The Leak by  Kate Petty Reed &  Andrea Bell Published by FirstSecond Books There are so many amazing things about this graphic novel, and so many layers for readers to dig into. In many ways, almost thirteen-year-old Ruth Keller is your typical middle schooler - her friends prod and push her about her friendship/budding romance with classmate Jonathan and her dentist lectures her about brushing and flossing after finding yet another cavity. Atypically, Ruth, curious about the world she lives in with great research skills, is a passionate journalist-in-training with a newsletter where she reports the "coolest news of the week. Serving Twin Oaks and Pikes County since 2014." When she discovers dead fish and a strange sludge at Lake Particular while she and Jonathan are fishing, she senses a story that needs telling. But what is the story? Here is where Petty's story deepens from a mystery to be solved by an intrepid kid reporter to a story about information and how i

Bruno the Beekeeper: A Honey Primer by Aneta Františka Holasová, translated by Andrew Lass

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  Bruno the Beekeeper: A Honey Primer   by Aneta Františka Holasová Published by Candlewick Press Bruno the Beekeeper: A Honey Primer is a delightful surprise! The title and the charming honey-hued illustrations give a picture book vibe to what is truly a primer on beekeeping in this Czech picture book, originally published in 2013. With Bruno the bear as main character, Holasová crafts a narrative around a season of bees, starting in the late Fall. As Bruno and Grandma (a human, curiously, who, along with Bruno, is sometimes seen small enough to fit inside the hive) tend to their hives in a pastoral setting, scientific diagrams and more playful, but still technical illustrations give the bees personality, like a two page spread showing the 40-day life of a worker bee that ends with a tiny tombstone. Facts about the bees themselves are fascinating, but action surrounding the bees in their hive - and the human work that goes into helping to sustain the hive - is truly eye opening. From

Bloom by Nicola Skinner, illustrations by Flavia Sorrentino, 352 pp, RL 4

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  Bloom   by Nicola Skinner illustrations by Flavia Sorrentino Review Copy from HarperCollins Bloom is a book rooted in a Roald Dahl-esque world that grows into its own verdant adventure. Narrated by Sorrell Fallowfield, Bloom is set in the town of Little Sterilis, which, as the name suggests, is a paved over, concrete field of grimness dominated by the Chillz frozen pizza plant. Sorrell's days are filled with following Headmaster Grittysnit's ever-expanding rules for students and combatting the dangers of the decrepit home she shares with her hardworking mother, a machine operator at the Chillz plant. When Sorrell finds a packet labeled THE SURPRISING SEEDS she's not even sure what to do with them (the word "sow," along with a voice that speaks to her in her head, comes to mind) a visit to the only remaining garden center in town leads unexpected results.  As Sorrell struggles with the plants that begin growing out of her head, she begins to learn the sad histo

Welcome to the Museum: Fungarium, curated by Katie Scott and Ester Gaya

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  Welcome to the Museum: Fungarium   curated by Katie Scott and Ester Gaya Published by Big Picture Press / Candlewick Press If you have read any of the seven previous Welcome to the Museum books (click here for my reviews of them) then you can stop reading now. You already know what a gorgeously designed, elegantly illustrated, well organized, engaging book Fungarium is. Written by Dr. Ester Gaya, a Senior Research Leader at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew , where she conducts research on the diversity and evolution of fungi,  Fungarium  is a marvelous way to learn more about these mysterious, misunderstood organisms that are more closely related to animals than plants. Scott (she also illustrated  Animalium   and Botanicum ) creates scientific illustrations that are delicately radiant works of art. Fungarium  is divided into four galleries with smaller divisions within. From biology and diversity to interactions and fungi and humans, readers receive a "Welcome to the Fungar

Cars, Signs and Porcupines! by Ethan Long

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  Cars, Signs and Porcupines!  by Ethan Long Review Copy from Henry Holt Last year I reviewed the debut title in Ethan Long's Happy County series, Hello, World! . Inspired by Richard Scarry's Busytown, a childhood staple of mine (and my children) I instantly fell in love with it. While his illustration style and palette are different, the animal characters and their silly, slightly frenetic lives feel comfortably familiar. To this format, Long brings wonderful wordplay, from the names of the animal inhabitants of Happy County (like Pauly and Polly of Pauly and Polly's Porcupine Playland) to the playful names of the businesses around town (like Buckstars Coffee and the Deli Llama). With Cars, Signs and Porcupines! , Long grabs the attention of all pre-schoolers and toddlers (and older readers!) with a plethora of cars and trucks and things that go (although, minus Goldbug). But don't worry, there is PLENTY to pore over on every page. Each two page spread in  Cars, Signs

The Power of Yet by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

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The Power of Yet  by Maryann Cocca-Leffler Review Copy from Abrams Books While the title may make you think of a new-age-self-improvement book, The Power of Yet captures an everyday childhood frustration, presenting it in a way that shows young readers a concrete expression of an abstract concept. Cocca-Leffler's piglet is the perfect stand-in for a child, with expressive eyes and chubby cheeks. "Not yet. Not yet. Not yet," dances across pages as we see the piglet try to ride a bike, flip pancakes, play the violin, be too short to ride the roller coaster and too young to play on a team. A teacherly adult tells the piglet that the, "path to YET is not a straight line. / It takes growing and doing, patience and time." The following pages show the piglet doing, practicing and growing, learning that it ,"sometimes helps to work together with someone who can do it better." Frustrations and failures, along with successes, come along with a birthday as the p

City of Secrets by Victoria Ying, 252 pp, RL 4

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City of Secrets by Victoria Ying Purchased at Barnes & Noble City of Secrets is the debut graphic novel from Ying, and author and illustrator of picture books who started her career as an artist on many animated films, including "Tangled," "Wreck It Ralph" and "Frozen." Her picture book, MEOW! is one of my favorite read-alouds and a huge hit with primary grades. Ying's sets her story in a city built on clockwork secrets where four trusted families hold the keys to each. These families must come together when one of their own turns on them, placing the city in grave danger. The star of the story is twelve-year-old Ever Barnes, son of the keeper of the secret housed in the Switchboard Operating Facility, a building that was once a multileveled theater with all sorts of moving staircases and floors. Ever has been hiding out there since his father was murdered four years ago - before he could reveal the full secret he was keeping to his son. Ever is

FEARLESS FEMALES: The Fight for Freedom, Equality, and Sisterhood by Marta Breen, illustrated by Jenny Jordahl, 125 pp, Rl 4

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  FEARLESS FEMALES:  The Fight for Freedom, Equality, and Sisterhood  written by Marta Breen illustrated by Jenny Jordahl Published by  Yellow Jacket Books With this essential graphic novel, Breen and Jordhal have created a comprehensive look at the "fight for freedom, equality, and sisterhood" that centers itself from the start with a letter to readers that states, "Feminism is the opposite of misogyny," then goes on to define misogyny as: the notion that the opinions of women are less valid, and that their work is less worthwhile, that htey do not have the right to make decisions about their won lives and their own bodies, that they deserve less freedoms than men, and that they should obey men. This misogyny has long historical roots and is still very widespread. And it means that millions of women are subjected to violence, sexual harassment, forced marriage and other forms of oppression every single day. I feel like it's important to quote this in full becau