Thursday, February 23, 2017

Two Friends

Two Friends
By Dean Robbins
Illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko
Orchard Books, 2016. Picture book.

Two friends, Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, get together in Rochester, New York to share a cup of tea and talk about their fight for equal rights. It's the 1800's and "some people had rights, while others had none. Why shouldn't they have them too?" The two friends meet when they realize that they like each others' ideas and so they promise to help one another.

Two Friends is a very simple and engaging introduction to two important figures in history and their efforts for equal rights. There are good messages of cooperation and doing what you think is right - both of which are conveyed without seeming overbearing. The folk-art inspired illustrations and cutouts of strips with ink writing (many of which are quotes from either Douglass or Anthony) add to the style and setting of the book.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Time Museum

The Time Museum 
by Matthew Loux
First Second, 2017. Graphic Novel. 256 p.

Here is the first in an exciting new graphic novel series. Delia, a super-intelligent, science geek, is offered an opportunity to compete for an internship at the Time Museum, a place where scientists travel through time to do research. There are five other kids competing, and they are from different times and places in the world. After a period of training, the six candidates are assigned trials that are challenging and dangerous. While on one of these Delia meets a mysterious time traveler who is not from the Museum. As the trials continue, the Delia and the others have to try to figure out who they can and cannot trust. Loux's full color illustrations are clear and expressive, and propel the reader through the story and a breathless pace. This is a fun, action filled, sci-fi that will appeal to kids who like Kibuishi's Amulet series.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Doing Her Bit: A Story about the Woman’s Land Army of America

Doing Her Bit: A Story about the Woman’s Land Army of America
By Erin Hagar
Charlesbridge, 2016. Nonfiction. 32p.

Based on real people and true events, this book tells the story of “Farmerette” Helen Stevens. During World War I in America, the lack of men at home meant that crops were rotting in the fields and food shortages were threatening. Thus was born the Women’s Land Army.

Helen, a New York City college girl, goes to an Agricultural Camp and learns how whitewash walls, build fences, and plow fields. Through blisters, snakes, and fatigue, Helen and her fellow farmerettes learn to work the land, convince doubting farmers that women really can do the harsh physical labor, and do their part to make a different for their country.

This nonfiction picture book is a wonderful chronicle of a little-known historical movement and broadens the picture of the heroic men and women who worked and fought for this country.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Great, Now We've Got Barbarians!

Great, Now We’ve Got Barbarians!
By Jason Carter Eaton
Illustrated by Mark Fearing
Candlewick Press, 2017. Picture Book.

When a boy refuses to clean his room, his mom warns him that it will attract pests. Little did they know the pests would not be flies, mice, or ants but barbarians. At first it isn’t too bad shooing Vlad and Torr out of the house, but things escalate and soon they are infested by the whole clan who made themselves at home. No matter what the family does—setting traps, building a scarecrow, or even calling an exterminator—they can’t get rid of them. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and soon, there’s only one thing left to try: the boy needs to clean his room.

A humorous look at the importance of keeping your room cleaned. Kids and parents will enjoy this picture book with great lines like “But that afternoon in the playroom, I ran into Torr, who’d come seeking glory. And cheese curls!”

Look Up!

Look Up! 
By Jung Jin-Ho

Have you ever had the experience where you read a book and then you feel as if that book has changed you a little bit? Well, that was the case with this book for me. In this book a young girl who is in a wheel chair rolls to the edge of her balcony in her apartment high above the sidewalk. She keeps saying “Look up!” to all the people below who are small and look like ants (especially since all she really sees are the heads of those people). But finally, finally one boy hears her—and does something in response to hearing her. The action was simple, yet it impacted more than just the boy and the girl. The resulting “awe!” that comes from reading this story will hopefully inspire other young readers to stop and look a little more at the world around them. Seriously, this is a good one. All young, kind-hearted readers should check out this particular story.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Game Changer: John McLendon and the Secret Game

Game Changer: John McLendon and the Secret Game
By John Coy
Illustrated by Randy DuBurke
Carolrhoda Books, 2015. Informational.

On March 12, 1944, members of the Duke University basketball team crossed to the other side of town to play the North Carolina College of Negroes basketball team. Coach John McLendon believed that basketball could change people’s prejudices and set up this secret game—which was illegal at the time due to segregation laws. The Eagles played a fast-paced game that attacked the net, showcasing the future style of basketball, and in the end, the score was Duke 44 -- Eagles 88. After the game ended, they mixed up the teams to play around and ended up hanging out, talking. They all agreed to keep the game a secret so no would get in trouble, but prejudices were changed that day.

A remarkable little known story about a young coach’s courage to challenge segregation in a small way. DuBruke’s watercolors create the feeling of reading a newspaper, capturing the era, to compliment the story. A must read for any basketball fan and a great book to open a discussion about segregation and civil rights with children.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Even Superheros Have Bad Days

Even Superheroes Have Bad Days
Written by Shelly Becker
Illustrated by Eda Kaban
Sterling Children's Books, 2016. Picture Book.

Everyone has bad days. Even superheroes? Yes! Superheroes have days just like the rest of us. With their superpowers they could cause havoc venting their frustration, but they choose not to. This book describes how superheroes choose to regulate their emotions in healthy ways instead of using their powers for destruction and evil. It is a great way to talk to children, especially those who struggle with frustration, about how they can feel emotions but control their reactions. Plus, when they practice they get to be like the superheroes in the book. Every kid wants to be a superhero and this book helps to make everyday struggles just a little cooler.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Stick to the Facts, Katie

Picture Window Books, 2014.

Katie Woo is a beloved character from Manushkin's intermediate fiction series. I think this is a sweet little picture book to read with 1st and 2nd graders who are being assigned to research topics for the first time. Katie and her friends go through the process of researching and writing short papers, and they include plenty of little tips along the way. This book doesn't include any groundbreaking information, but I think it's a nice way to help and connect with a child who is just embarking on their academic journey. 

From Story Time: The Letter "S"

Read in Book Babies

Written by Alison Jackson
Illustrated by Tricia Tusa
Dutton Children's Books, 2002.  Picture Book.

An admirer tries every method he can think of to send a valentine to his sweetheart named Valentine.  He writes letters, sends homing pigeons, smoke signals, and Morse code, rents a train car, and buys a plane--but his efforts are thwarted at every turn!  But all the while, sweet Valentine is preparing a special valentine of her own to give.  The rhyming text fits perfectly to the tune of "Clementine" which makes for a silly Valentine's Day song!

Read in Toddler Time

Written by Colleen AF Venable
Illustrated by Ruth Chan
Greenwillow Books, 2016.  Picture Book. 

Gigantic letters falling from the sky tell us that Mervin the Sloth is about to do the best thing in the world!  But what could it be?  All of Mervin's animal friends make their guesses, but frustration builds because sloth's movements are SO SLOW.  Only one special friend is patient enough to stick around and discover what Mervin's languidly moving arms are about to do, but his perseverance is rewarded -- with a hug from his best friend!

Read in Preschool Time

By Stephen Shaskan
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016.  Picture Book.

Now that Max's room is clean, he's ready for some adventure!  His imagination takes off, and away he goes--around the hot lava, away with his jet pack, into the sea with the sharks, and finally back to reality where he finds his arms-crossed mother ready to slow down the enthusiastic explorer.  It must have been a great adventure because it's time for Max to clean his room again!  Brightly colored digital illustrations recount the classics of childhood imagination (didn't you pretend to fly or jump over hot lava too?).  A fun read aloud that encourages creative play.

Read in Preschool Time

By Mo Willems
Hyperion Books for Children, 2010.  Picture Book.

Elephant and Piggie are about to play a rousing game of catch when snake decides he would like to play too.  There's just one problem...snake doesn't have any arms!  And no arms in a game of catch results in a lot of ball bonks on the head for poor Snake.  But Piggie thinks and concentrates until she comes up with an idea, which turns out to be the perfect solution so that the three friends can all play catch--together!

Read in Monday Cuentos

Written by Carles Cano
Illustrated by Fran Bravo 
Everest, 2006.  Picture Book.

Un día, un dragón muy tragón, harto de tanto engordar, decide ponerse a dieta, y como único plato se come una aceituna. Aunque la ración es pequeña, el dragón comienza a sentirse mal y llama al doctor Cremallera... De la mano de Carles Cano y apoyado por el color y la alegría de las ilustraciones de Fran Bravo, conoceremos la mejor manera de adelgazar con una aceituna. Pero, ¡cuidado!, es una dieta sólo apta para dragones… y leones, y águilas… (Publisher)

Read in Friday Cuentos

Written by Giles Andreae
Illustrated by Emma Dodd
Lectorum, 2015.  Picture Book.

La relación tan especial que existe entre un niño y su mamá queda vivamente reflejada en este álbum con expectaculares ilustraciones llenas de ternura. Para que madres e hijos disfruten juntos del mágico momento de leer un cuento.  (Publisher)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Fancy Party Gowns

Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe
By Deborah Blumenthal
Illustrated by Laura Freeman
Little Bee Books, 2017. Biography.

If you've never heard of Ann Cole Lowe, don't feel bad - most people haven't. In fact, even during her lifetime she was considered "society's best known secret" though she was the first African American woman to become a couture fashion designer, owned her own salon in Manhattan, and designed the dress for Jacqueline Bouvier's wedding to John F. Kennedy. But she loved making dresses, not to get rich or famous, but to prove she could.

Just in time for Black History Month, this picture book biography tells the story of one of fashion's most significant and forgotten women. The illustrations are bright, vibrant, and very pink (as good fashion books should be) with good representations of Ann Cole Lowe's famous designs. This book is enjoyable for any number of reasons, but especially for the recurring theme that pushes Ann through adversity "Ann thought about what she could do, not what she couldn't change."