Friday, February 22, 2019

Stephen Hawking

Image result for little people big dreams stephen hawking

Written by Isabel Sanchez Vergara
Illustrated by Matt Hunt
Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2019. Informational, 29.

Stephen Hawking is one of the greatest scientific minds of the 20th century. This book starts tells his life story, starting with when he was a little boy and stared in awe up at the stars. We see the beginning of his disease explained simply and how he coped with the diagnosis. This book helps kids relate to the mathematician by showing what he was like as a kid. It's a great resource to learn more about the influential character in our history. And don't forget to check the back page to find out about more books regarding Stephen Hawking! 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Up! Up! Up! Skyscraper

Written by Anastasia Suen
Illustrated by Ryan O'Rourke
Charlesbridge, 2017. Informational, 32 p. 

As a little kid, I didn't know a dump truck from an excavator. I was too preoccupied with mermaids and fairies to care very much. But Up! Up! Up! Skyscraper helped me finally understand the appeal of these huge machines and their functions. The steps of constructing a skyscraper are described clearly and simply in the pages of this book, with illustrations that include labels and cross sections.  There are friendly, action-based rhymes on each page which will appeal to preschool-aged children, as well as descriptions of each moment within the process of constructing a skyscraper that six or seven-year-olds will understand and appreciate. Up! Up! Up! Skyscraper is a great example of process-oriented nonfiction for younger children, perfect for future engineers and construction fans.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

New Kid

New Kid
By Jerry Craft
Harper, 2019. Graphic novel.

All Jordan Banks wants is to draw cartoons in his sketchbook and go to the special arts school. But instead, his parents insist that he attend the prestigious Riverdale Academy Day School since he's smart enough to get in. This means that Jordan has to ride a bus from his apartment in Washington Heights all the way to R.A.D. everyday where his classmates wear salmon colored shorts and his homeroom teacher keeps calling the black students by the wrong name - because she can't tell them apart. For Jordan, his new school - where he is one of a handful of African American students - is one filled with microaggressions and sometimes overt racism.

The tension in this very realistic graphic novel is loosened up by humor that feels true to a seventh grade boy and realistic characters who are both likable and distinct. The three-dimensionality of all the characters in this book, which some teachers at Jordan's school seem eager to squelch, is something to celebrate. We're reminded time and time again by Jordan, by looks into his sketchbook, and by a richly nuanced cast of secondary characters that there is more to people than what meets the eye. This is a humorous and engaging graphic novel filled with social commentary that opens doors to more discussion.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Display Case: New York City

New York City Trails
by Moira Butterfield
Carlton, Victoria, Australia ; Oakland, CA : Lonely Planet Publications Pty Ltd., 2016.

Here's a book about New York that's seriously streetwise! Let Marco and Amelia, our Lonely Planet explorers, take you off the tourist trail and guide you on a journey through New York you'll never forget. This book is perfect for anyone who has been to New York, plans to go there or is just interested in finding out more about this amazing city! Discover New York's best-kept secrets, amazing stories and loads of other cool stuff from the comfort of your own home or while visiting the city! But, you don't have to be a visitor or armchair traveler to enjoy this--New Yorkers are sure to learn new things about their very own city too!

by David Weitzman
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005.

On October 27, 1904, the first section of the most famous subway system in the world was opened for business. Thousands of passengers paid the nickel fare to experience what it was like to ride beneath Broadway and other traffic-clogged city streets from lower Manhattan to the Upper West Side. Here is the story of the daring and demanding construction project that made it possible for the city's first "straphangers" to travel miles in minutes. In a lively fact-filled text and incredibly detailed pictures, gifted technical artist David Weitzman brings the mechanics of this incredible public works project to life and captures the can-do spirit of engineers and workers. This is a book for any fan of trains, tunnels, and tracks.

by Marc Tolon Brown
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, [2014]

"Marc Brown now calls New York City home, and with New York! New York! he shares his love for all that the city has to offer and all that it stands for, including the way it's always changing and evolving. From its earliest days as New Amsterdam to the contemporary wonders of Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, and the Empire State Building, to the kid-appealing subway, Circle Line, and so much more, Marc's rollicking text and gorgeous illustrations showcase what he's come to adore about New York after fulfilling his life-long dream to live in the city he fell in love with during a childhood visit. This is at once a personal story from a beloved children's book creator, a useful primer for first-time travelers on what to see and do with kids in the Big Apple, and a perfect keepsake after a visit. It's also a great gift for anyone who loves New York, the Crossroads of the World. New York! New York! It's a heckuva town! "

by Salvatore Rubbino
Somerville, MA : Candlewick Press, 2009.

New York City -- the perfect place for a boy and his dad to spend the day! Follow them on their walk around Manhattan, from Grand Central Terminal to the top of the Empire State Building, from Greenwich Village to the Statue of Liberty, learning lots of facts and trivia along the way. In this unabashed ode to America's biggest city, Salvatore Rubbino's fresh, lively paintings and breezy text capture the delight of a young visitor experiencing the wonders of New York firsthand.
Back matter includes an index.

by Puck 

New York : Duo Press, 2010.

New York City has never been more whimsical than in this visual narrative that uses wire-art sculptures to explore the Big Apple. Everything starts with a paper clip that unfolds to create some of New York's most famous symbols, including the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Empire State Building. A lively text accompanies the striking visuals, and six pages of information chronicle everything needed to know about the included attractions and landmarks.

by Emiliano Ponzi
New York : The Museum of Modern Art in association with the New York Transit Museum, [2017]

Nearly 6 million riders use the New York City subway every day. How do you make a map that helps all of them get to where they are going? The Great New York Subway Map, written and illustrated by Emiliano Ponzi and published by The Museum of Modern Art, in association with the New York Transit Museum, tells the fascinating story of the map's creation in 1972 by the great Italian designer Massimo Vignelli and his team, and introduces young readers to the idea of graphic design as a way to solve problems and shape our world.

by Melmed, Laura Krauss
New York : HarperCollinsPublishers, c2005.

Welcome to the Big Apple! This city has something to offer everyone, from A to Z. Come visit the American Museum of Natural History and see prehistoric animals, get a bird's-eye view of the Brooklyn Bridge, and check out Central Park. Fascinating details about the many neighborhoods and historic places of New York City accompany Melmed's lively, informative verse, and Lessac's vibrant folk-art paintings capture the essence of this unique and rich place that was once called the melting pot of America.


By Holly Hobbie
Random House Children's Books, 2018. Picture Book.

Elmore is a porcupine with a big heart, and even sharper quills. He wants to make friends, but his forest neighbors are a little bit apprehensive because of his pesky quills. Elmore feels the rejection from his peers deeply, and searches for a way to change their minds. The sweet message of this story centers on learning to accept the differences of others, and remembering that friendship can take many forms.

The sweet illustrations of this book feels older than they are, but in a good way. The style is calm, and feels a little nostalgic for a less busy time in cartoons. The animals have adorable faces, and everything is drawn in a gentle watercolor style. The pictures will remind adult readers of picture books they read as a child, giving them something extra-sweet to share with the kid they're reading it to. Hobbie's calm style makes this book appropriate for quiet evenings curled up under a blanket.

Elmore is a prickly-on-the-outside but gooey-on-the-inside protagonist who will wiggle his way into reader's hearts.

Monday, February 18, 2019


By Ben Guterson
With Illustrations by Chloe Bristol
Henry Holt, 2018. 370 p.

Elizabeth’s guardians (her aunt and uncle that don’t really care about her) are sending her to the Winterhouse hotel for the winter holiday. Elizabeth doesn’t really want to go—but soon discovers that the strange circumstances that sent her to the hotel, her love of puzzles, and a wee bit of magic make her stay quite memorable. This book has a lot of clever puzzles thrown in—so those that are fans of books that challenge readers to think like The Westing Game will happily devour this novel. Also, the bits of mystery as to why Elizabeth was sent to Winterhouse and what is really happening in the library at midnight will keep those mystery-reading kids looking for more clues. And there is magic. Just a little. But enough that readers who love a touch of fantasy reading will also enjoy this book. With so many twists and turns and puzzles and clues readers will race to get through this book—and since it is a trilogy with two of the three books already published they can then start on The Secrets of Winterhouse. Really, this is a delightful mystery and puzzle of a book.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

From Story Time: The Letter "S"

Read in Monday Book Babies

Written by Alison Jackson
Illustrated by Tricia Tusa
Puffin Books, 2002.  Picture Book.

Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling Valentine.  I have written forty letters, but you've never read a line.  While Valentine goes about her day, doing chores around her mountain cabin, her secret admirer is hard at work trying to find a way to ask her an important question.  He tried many ways to contact her, including Morse code and smoke signals, but he can never complete his message.  Will he ever be able to reach his beloved Valentine?  --Publisher

Read in Monday Cuentos

La idea más maravillosa
Por Ashley Spires
Beascoa, 2018.  Spanish Picture Book.

La idea más maravillosa es un cuento infantil que trata sobre la creatividad y los pasos del proceso creativo. Una historia que motivará a niños y niñas a no desanimarse, a cambiar su perspectiva y a probar de nuevo. Un día, una niña amanece con una magnífica idea en su cabeza. Con la ayuda de su perro y asistente decide dedicarse a construirla. Sabe cómo será. Sabe cómo funcionará. Y piensa que será muy fácil crearla. Pero cuando se pone manos a la obra, se da cuenta de que es una tarea más difícil de lo que ella pensaba... Trabaja, trabaja y trabaja, ¡pero no consigue que funcione! Pero entonces su ayudante logra convencerla de que se tome un descanso, para regresar a su proyecto más tarde con entusiasmo renovado, y volverlo a intentar. ¿Será suficiente para conseguir construir el invento más maravilloso jamás visto?  --Publisher

Read in Toddler Time

Stick and Stone
Written by Beth Ferry
Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

When Stick rescues Stone from a prickly situation with a Pinecone, the pair becomes fast friends. But when Stick gets stuck, can Stone return the favor? Author Beth Ferry makes a memorable debut with a warm, rhyming text that includes a subtle anti-bullying message even the youngest reader will understand. New York Times bestselling illustrator Tom Lichtenheld imbues Stick and Stone with energy, emotion, and personality to spare. In this funny story about kindness and friendship, Stick and Stone join George and Martha, Frog and Toad, and Elephant and Piggie, as some of the best friend duos in children’s literature.  --Publisher

Read in Preschool Time

Written by Mac Barnett
Illustrated by Jon Klassen
Candlewick Press, 2018.  Picture Book.

This book is about Square. Square spends every day taking blocks from a pile below the ground to a pile above the ground. This book is also about Square’s friend Circle. Circle thinks Square is an artistic genius. But is he really? With the second story in a trilogy of tales about Triangle, Square, and Circle, Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen nudge readers toward a more well-rounded way of looking at things. Understated and striking in its simplicity, this funny, thoughtful offering from two of today’s most talented picture-book creators emphasizes the importance of keeping your eyes — and your mind — open to wonder where others see only rubble and rocks. 

Read in Preschool Time

I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean
By Kevin Sherry
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2007.  Picture Book.

When a giant squid takes inventory of all of the creatures in the ocean, he realizes that he's way bigger than most of them! Of course, there are bigger things lurking around . . . but maybe this giant squid with a giant touch of hubris doesn't really care?  First-time author-illustrator Kevin Sherry is sure to garner fans of all sizes for his perfect-for-preschool read-aloud with simple text, bold and delightful collage art, and a lovable squid whose spirit just cannot be crushed. 

Read in Friday Book Babies

Falling For Rapunzel
Written by Leah Wilcox
Illustrated by Lydia Monks
G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2003.  Picture Book.

When the prince spies Rapunzel high in her tower, he's convinced she is the girl of his dreams. Of course he thinks he can save her the traditional way, but this is no traditional Rapunzel. She throws down everything but what the prince asks for--including a surprise that makes all his dreams come true.  A hilarious fractured fairy tale with clever page-turns and vibrant, eclectic art that is perfect for funny Valentine's Day story hours.  --Publisher

Read in Friday Cuentos

¡Estamos en un libro!
Por Mo Willems
Traducción por F. Isabel Campoy
Hyperion Books for Children, 2015.  Spanish Picture Book.

Gerlado es cuidadoso.  Cerdita no lo es.  Cerdita no puede evitar sonreir.  Geraldo sí puede.  Geraldo se preocupa para que Cerdita no tenga que hacerlo.  Geraldo y Cerdita son los mejores amigos.  Geraldo y Cerdita descubren el placer de que los lean.  Pero ¡¿qué va a pasar cuando se acabe el libro?!  --Publisher

Friday, February 15, 2019


By: Sharon Draper
New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2018. Fiction, p. 308

Have you ever felt like a favorite toy that is being fought over by two people? That is exactly how Isabella Badia Thornton feels every weekend when her parents do the exchange in front of the apple store in the mall. Switching back and forth between her divorced parents every week feels like "Whiplash". Isabella just gets used to one house then the week is over and she has to get comfortable in another house with different food, clothes and rules. If that wasn't hard enough she is is also struggling to figure out who she is. Eleven year old Isabella is biracial; her mom is white and her dad is black so what does that make her? People are always commenting:  "You're so exotic." "You look so unusual." "But what are you really?" She is struggling to define herself and find her place in the world.

This is an honest portrayal of a modern blended family done in true Sharon Draper style. The dialogue is realistic and the alternating chapters, Mom's week, Dad's week, helps the reader feel the conflict Isabella experiences as she goes back and forth between parents. A middle grade realistic fiction book that addresses real world issues.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

My Heart

My Heart
Written and Illustrated by Corinna Luyken
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2019. Picture Book.

Luyken's illustrations are simple with a consistent yellow and gray color scheme throughout. Hearts appear on each page in the form of different objects and plants. Each page compares a heart to different emotions and feelings.

Although outwardly straightforward text, the analogy of feelings could be discussed with older children and the theme of the book is empowerment, which can benefit any reader. One heart (or person) can go through a variety of emotions and hard experiences. Luyken's story is a beautiful representation that it is possible to exercise the power of choice to overcome difficulties and insecurities, all while experiencing tremendous growth. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

So Done

So Done
By Paula Chase
HarperCollins Publishers, 2018. Fiction.

Tai is excited for summer to end so her best friend Jamila will come home from her aunt's house in the suburbs and back to their low-income housing projects called Pirates Cove. Tai and Mila have been inseparable since they were toddlers, but Mila hasn't even sent Tai a single text the whole summer - and then she comes back acting weird. Mila is happy to be home with her dad and brothers, but sort of wishes that he would send her to live in the suburbs forever like her older sister - then she wouldn't have to stress about her dance audition for the big new Talented and Gifted Program or about accidentally revealing her secret to someone. Especially to Tai.

This is a book that carries quite a bit of heft in a small volume. Tai and Mila are two very different and interesting African American characters dealing with crushes, secrets, and very real issues. The story is told in dual-perspective with alternating chapters from Tai and Mila which helps to remind readers that we don't usually know the whole story. This is a very brave book that doesn't back down from dealing with real issues that worry many young people, but the expertly handled Vernacular English is what gives this novel real life. Paula Chase has a clear understanding of young people and a good sense for black youth culture which really shines through. This is a book for fans of contemporary realistic fiction who know that ordinary kids have stories to tell.