Monday, January 21, 2019

2019 Mock Newbery

We recently had our Mock Newbery, where we talk about what we think is the most distinguished book in children’s literature for the year. There were many books that we loved and talked about, and here are the ones that we picked for our winner and four honor books:

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster
By Jonathan Auxier

This is a story of Nan Sparrow—a young girl who works as a chimney sweep. She has a hard life (as does many young children who risk their lives while in the name of cleaning chimneys in Victorian London). Life is dangerous and dreary. Yet one day everything changes when she discovers that the little piece of charcoal that she holds onto—which was given to her by The Sweep who raised her and then disappeared—is really a golem. She names him Charlie. Our Mock Newbery Committee especially loved how the setting was just as much of a character as Nan, Charlie, or any of the other boys were. Plus the way that the Songs of Innocence and the Songs of Experience were sprinkled in just made the story all that more inspiring. This book won our hearts and our votes as our Mock Newbery winner.

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle 
By Leslie Connor

Mason Buttle is a kid who has dyslexia and also tends to sweat a lot. His best friend (Benny) tragically died a couple of years ago, and Mason has to keep combing through his memories of what happened as the police and other grownups keep trying to figure what happened. Mason is a character that we all fell in love with. He is genuinely caring, tells the truth, and is concerned about his friends—who he is fiercely loyal to. This was a difficult story due to the many hard and dark themes—but Mason was truly a beacon of hope in this tragic story.

The Journey of Little Charlie 
By Christopher Paul Curtis

Curtis has done it again—he has created yet another powerful story. This book tells about the journey of Little Charlie as he goes north with Cap’n Buck in search of some “stolen property”. It turns out that the “property” is runaway slaves. Charlie has to figure out what he believes and what is right and wrong all while trying to survive the journey with Cap’n Buck. We really liked Charlie and how Curtis helped us think through such big issues right along with our protagonist.

Louisiana’s Way Home 
By Kate DiCamillo

In this sequel to Raymie Nightingale we learn more about the lovable Louisiana Elefante. Louisiana’s grandmother is a bit paranoid—so it is no surprise that one night Granny wakes her up and they start driving away from their home. Only, it turns out that things get a little more desperate when Granny leaves (on purpose) Louisiana in a strange town where she doesn’t know anyone. Louisiana has to fend for herself and figure out how to get “home”. One of DiCamillo’s greatest strengths is in writing superb characters—and Louisiana is one of them. Louisiana and her story captured our hearts.

Front Desk
By Kelly Yang

Mia Tang has a lot of responsibilities. Her family lives and works in a motel—which means that often while her parents are helping to clean rooms Mia works the front desk. Since her family immigrated from China, there are a lot of things that Mia has to deal with—such as racism, learning the cultural ins and outs of her new country/school, and mastering written and oral language skills. Although there are a lot of deep issues tackled in this book, Yang’s characters are the type to bring warmth and humor to the text. We definitely cheered for this book when discussing it at our Mock Newbery.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

From Story Time: The Letter "O"

Read in Monday Book Babies

By Jan Thomas
Beach Lane Books, 2012.  Picture Book.

Join the Brave Cowboy as he tries to sing his young calf pals to sleep on a dark, dark night—EEEEEEEK! IS THAT A HUGE HAIRY SPIDER OVER THERE? Oh, it’s just a flower? Well then, back to the lullaby.

No one does preschool humor with Jan Thomas’s wit, verve, and bold, snappy color. And her Brave Cowboy and his silly, interrupted lullaby are sure to get everybody singing—before they head off into cozy dreamland….  --Publisher

Read in Monday Cuentos

Escrito por Roberto Aliaga
Ilustrado por Dani Padrón
Cuento de luz, 2015.  Spanish Picture Book.

Una mañana de sábado, los hermanos Ratón salieron en busca de aventuras.  Iban los tres muy risueños: el mayor, el mediano y el pequeño.  Junto al borde del sendero, encontraron un reflejo, como un pedazo de sol.  Era una llavecita dorada.  Y con ella… ¿qué se podría abrir?  A veces buscamos fuera y lejos, perdiendo de vista lo más importante: lo que se encuentra dentro y tan cerca de nosotros.  --Publisher

Read in Toddler Time and Preschool Time

By Darren Farrell
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2014.  Picture Book.

Ahoy! It's bedtime, and Octopus is here to help his buddy get ready. First up is a bath (Thank you, Octopus) . . . in egg salad (No, thank you, Octopus)! Then it’s time to brush teeth…with paint brushes!  And don't worry, Octopus made sure there were no monsters under the bed…because they’re all in the closet! No, thank you, Octopus!  Each page turn brings new wordplay and laughs in this hip, nautical-themed take on bedtime and friendship . . . ending with a great big surprise for Octopus and sweet dreams for two best friends.  --Publisher

Read in Preschool Time

By Britta Teckentrup
Prestel, 2016.  Picture Book.

Oskar, a charming raven, loves trees, red cherries, and the smell of spring. He also loves rain, snow, clouds, books, and the moon. With this book’s simple, boldly colored, and beautiful illustrations, children are invited into Oskar’s world and in turn to explore the wonders of the world around them. As she has done in her previous books, such as Grumpy Cat and Before I Wake Up…, Britta Teckentrup combines evocative art with a storyline that will appeal to children and those who read to them. Asking, “What do you love?” Oskar Loves… invites all of us to take a moment to appreciate the world we inhabit.  --Publisher

Read in Friday Book Babies

Some Bugs
Written by Angela DiTerlizzi
Illustrated by Brendan Wenzel
Beach Lane Books, 2014.  Picture Book.

Grab your magnifying glass! Find your field guide! And come hop, hide, swim, and glide through this buggy backyard world! Featuring butterflies and moths, crickets and cicadas, bumblebees and beetles, this zippy rhyming exploration of backyard-bug behavior is sure to have young insect enthusiasts bugging out with excitement!  --Publisher

Read in Friday Cuentos

El libro que duerme
Escrito por Cédric Ramadier
Ilustrado por Vincent Bourgeau
Lóguez Ediciones, 2016.  Spanish Board Book.

Es hora de acostarse. Pero esta vez, es el libro quien quiere que le cuenten un cuento antes de dormir. Muy lentamente, sus ojos se van volviendo más y más pesados, y después se cierran cuando le damos un besito y se queda dormido ...  --Publisher

Friday, January 18, 2019


By: Kenneth Oppel
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2018. 256 p.

Kenneth Oppel has written a funny middle grade book about an ink spot who hops off the page of a drawing and changes the lives of a struggling family. Ethan finds the ink spot first when he discovers that the pages in his math book are blank and in place of math problems there is a ink spot. The ink spot devours any ink it can find and it learns from what it eats. Ethan decides to name the ink spot Inkling and he enjoys feeding Inkling good books that teach him how to talk and communicate. Inkling becomes a caring child like ink spot who is trusting and willing to help when he is asked. He helps Ethan with his school art project, teaching him how to draw, and he helps his sister and his father who is depressed and has creative block.

Even though the book has its funny moments it also addresses the grief and loss that the family is struggling with since the death of their mother.  The story does end up being a good verses evil story with Inkling getting into trouble and Ethan trying to find a way to save him. Its a wonderful book with artwork throughout and just the right amount of suspense, action, and emotion.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Eat This!: How Fast-Food Marketing Gets You to Buy Junk (and how to fight back)

Eat This! How Fast-Food Marketing Gets You to Buy Junk (and how to fight back)
Written by Andrea Curtis
Illustrated by Peggy Collins
Red Deer Press, 2018. Informational.

January is a great time to set goals for healthy eating during the coming year. Curtis writes specifically to children about marketing and trickery the media uses to entice them to eat unhealthy foods.

"Breakfast cereals are some of the most heavily marketed food products. Companies spent about $264 million a year to advertise cereal to kids and most of it is the sugary kind."

Curtis also relays a story of nine-year-old Hannah Robertson who spoke with the head of the McDonald's chain. This story shows that kids have power! Geared toward middle grade readers, the layout and pictures will draw readers in. The staggering facts will surprise them. It reveals how much media cares about their exposure to advertisements--often at the expense of their health. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Spooked!: How a Radio Broadcast and the War of the Worlds Sparked 1938 Invasion of America

Spooked!: How a Radio Broadcast and the War of the Worlds Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America
By Gail Jarrow
Calkins Creek, 2018. Informational.

On the night before Halloween, also known as Mischief Night, people are known to play pranks. In 1938, a group of radio performers were planning one of the greatest pranks of all time - they just didn't know it yet. Orson Welles, a famous radio performer and actor, had a standing gig to perform adaptations of classic novels with his acting troupe. In 1938 they planned a special Halloween radio performance (that they were sure would fail) an adaptation of H.G. Wells' THE WAR OF THE WORLDS - a story where martians attack Earth. They were unprepared for the response of radio listeners - people who heard the broadcast thought it was a real news story.

The topic of this book is so wild, so unbelievable, and so true that it is immediately engaging to kids. The almost too-good-to-be-true narrative is highlighted by fast paced text that approaches the now infamous broadcast from multiple directions before settling on a very satisfying climax. Source documents, original photographs, and direct quotations add veracity to an out of this world tale. This is a good informational read for budding conspiracy theorists and anyone interested in bizarre history.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

You are Mighty: A Guide to Changing the World

Cover image for You are mighty : a guide to changing the world

You are Mighty: A Guide to Changing the World 
by Caroline Paul
illustrated by Lauren Tamaki
New York: Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2018

Changing the world seems like an intimidating task, but it's not so bad once you know where to start. This book makes learning about activism easy, and gives many ways that kids can start becoming more involved in their communities, cities, and even in global issues.

This book gives children a step-by-step guide to getting involved various forms of activism. From raising money to starting a petition to creating and inventing, there's something for everyone. Each chapter focuses on one type of activist action, explaining simply why people choose to participate in that particular act. At the end of each chapter is a "workbook", a series of questions to help you get started on your activism.

Most encouraging are the real-world examples of kids who have stood up for themselves, their schools, their friends, and their beliefs and seen real change come from their actions. Just some examples are Malala Yousafzai (Nobel Prize winner) and Jonas Corona (founder of the charity Love in the Mirror). This book is perfect for the budding activist looking for ways to make a difference in the world.

Monday, January 14, 2019

2019 Mock Caldecott

Provo City Library’s 2019 Mock Caldecott
This past week Provo City Library held a Mock Caldecott. We looked at 45 different books that had amazing illustrations. After multiple rounds of voting, we picked one winner and two honor books: 

Drawn Together 
by Minh Lê
illustrated by Dan Santat

This brilliant picture book is the story of a young boy who is dropped off to spend time with his grandfather—only his grandfather only speaks Thai and the young boy doesn’t. There is a lot of awkwardness and silence as the two sit together. When the boy gets bored and pulls out some paper and markers, the grandfather also gets excited and pulls out his sketch book and ink and brush. Then suddenly, through the use of art, the two are able to finally understand each other and build a bond. The brilliant traditional Thai artwork the grandfather draws alongside the brightly colored illustrations the boy produces are very distinct at first and then slowly they begin to influence each other. Our committee thought the melding of these two styles was especially “distinguished” and something that won our hearts. We also liked how when the two characters couldn’t really understand each other they were a lot of graphic novel-like boxes that chopped up the story. Then when the two start drawing together each illustration took up the whole spread. Really, this was one brilliantly illustrated book.

The Wall in the Middle of the Book 
by Jon Agee

The clever idea behind this book sure captured a lot of attention at our Mock Caldecott. The simplicity of the wall in the middle of the book’s gutter was stable, yet our ideas as to what each side of the wall represented changed as the story progressed. The expressiveness of the various animals, the knight, and the ogre all capture the imagination and propel the story toward the climax. Our committee truly enjoyed looking at and talking about this book.

Hello Lighthouse 
by Sophie Blackall

What a beautiful book! This story of a lighthouse keeper is enchanting. The use of circles—and circular feelings like the circular motion of waves—help the book have a duel feeling of motion and coziness. The colors and even the unusual size of the book add to the important feeling of the lighthouse and what it represented—both as a beacon of light and a lonely, isolated place to live. Truly this book has outstanding illustrations and we know our committee sure loved it.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

From Story Time: The Letter "N"

Read in Monday Book Babies

By Jeremy Tankard
Scholastic Press, 2007.  Picture Book.

Bird wakes up feeling grumpy. Too grumpy to eat or play. Too grumpy even to fly. "Looks like I'm walking today," says Bird. He walks past Sheep, who offers to keep him company. He walks past Rabbit, who also could use a walk. Raccoon, Beaver, and Fox join in, too. All the while, Bird grows grumpier and grumpier! But before he knows it, a little exercise and companionship help Bird overcome his bad mood. This winsome, refreshingly original story is sure to help kids (and grown-ups) giggle away theirs, too!  --Publisher

Read in Monday Cuentos

Escrito por Roberto Bravo de la Varga
Ilustrado por Lluís Farré
Combel Editorial, 2018.  Spanish Picture Book.

Una colección de cuentos populares adaptados para primeros lectores con ilustraciones cautivadoras para que se inicien en la lectura mediante las historias y los personajes de los clásicos de siempre.  --Publisher

Read in Toddler Time

Ninja Bunny
By Jennifer Gray Olson
Alfred A. Knopf, 2015.  Picture Book.

· Rule #1. You must always work alone.
· Rule #2. You must be super sneaky, especially in the most dangerous of situations.
· Rule #3. A super awesome ninja must: possess incredible strength, achieve invisibility, master the skill of climbing, gain the ability to fly. . . .

Our little bunny is ready to embark on his path to becoming a ninja. But is he cut out for the ninja life? Especially if it means leaving his friends behind?  --Publisher

Read in Preschool Time

Ninja Bunny: Sister vs. Brother
By Jennifer Gray Olson
Alfred A. Knopf, 2016.  Picture Book.

Ninja Bunny has faced incredible danger! He has demonstrated all the skills of a super awesome ninja: impressive strength, amazing bravery, extreme sneakiness! But when he embarks on a new mission to find the Golden Carrot of Awesomeness, he meets his biggest challenge yet—his annoying little sister! She insists on tagging along, and she insists that she is a ninja bunny, too. Not possible. Will she ruin Ninja Bunny’s chance at finding the world’s largest carrot? Or might she actually possess a few ninja skills of her own?  --Publisher

Read in Preschool Time

Wendell the Narwhal
By Emily Dove
Simply Read Books, 2016.  Picture Book.

Everyone in the ocean can make music, except for Wendell the narwhal.  His big, pointy horn can't go "pop pop pop" or "clappy clap clap" or even "whoosh."  Will Wendell find a way to join in with the symphony of sea creatures?  --Publisher

Read in Friday Book Babies

Incredible ME!
Written by Kathi Appelt
Illustrated by G. Brian Karas
HarperCollins Publishers, 2003.  Picture Book.

Join a rambunctious child as she exuberantly celebrates all the wonderful qualities that make her special -- her nose, her toes, her ears, herself! Award winners Kathi Appelt and G. Brian Karas team up to create this joyous tribute to the wonders of being ... ME!  --Publisher

Read in Friday Cuentos

Un cocodrilo en la granja
Escrito por Susanna Isern
Ilustrado por Carles Ballesteros
Combel Editorial, 2017.  Spanish Picture Book.

Con la intención de acompañar a los niños y niñas de 3 a 6 años en sus primeras lecturas, los cuentos de esta colección les descubrirán poco a poco los mecanismos de la lectura para que, gracias a su intuición y conocimientos previos, puedan seguir las historias. Un gran cocodrilo ha aparecido en la granja. Pero para que pueda quedarse, es necesario encontrarle un sitio. ¿Podrá vivir con las gallinas?, ¿y con los cerdos?  --Publisher

Friday, January 11, 2019

Once Upon a Star: A Poetic Journey Through Space

By James Carter
Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, 2018. Nonfiction.

This beautifully compiled book is the story of how our solar system came into existence through the Big Bang Theory. With elegant rhymes and stunning illustrations, the book explains how everything we know--the world around us, the stars and the sun--formed from nothing. It’s tentative theme of stars wraps around to the end, when the story comes back from a universal view to a question. “What about you?” it answers the question with a triumphant “you are a star!”

My favorite part is the extra “sciencey” facts at the back of the book for those eager readers who were intrigued by what they learned from the book. This book is best if read aloud, as the poetry of it will captivate any age of reader. You’ll be able to see and hear the beauty of a giant universe and your role in it.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Baby Bear's Book of Tiny Tales

Written and Illustrated by David McPhail
Little, Brown, and Company, 2018. J Easy Reader, 47 p.

This Easy Reader contains four very short stories about Baby Bear and his forest friends. In each tiny tale, Baby Bear finds an unexpected little treasure. McPhail's gentle storytelling and timeless ink and watercolor illustrations are reminiscent of Little Bear and Winnie the Pooh. A darling, old-fashioned read aloud for preschoolers with language simple enough that a first grader could read it on their own.