Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Up Up Up Down by Kimberly Gee

A chubby, brown-skinned toddler with a mischievous grin, toddles through his day, followed by a sometimes harassed but loving father. From the moment the baby demands "UP!" out of his crib, starting to climb out on his own, and then "DOWN!" on the floor, he's on the go! They go swimming, visit the park, have ice cream, and lots of "fun, fun fun!" until mom, dressed in a purple suit and chunky heels, comes home and the little family settles down for a little quiet time.

Simple text and art make this a fun story for one-on-one reading as well as storytime. Little listeners can lift their arms up, make yummy and yucky faces, and more throughout the story. The art has light, pastel colors; the soft browns of the family's skin, blue of the water, and plain colors in clothes. The pictures are small vignettes set against a white background, simple enough for young listeners to note but complex enough to take time to look at the details.

Verdict: A simple but delightful picture book, fun for families and storytimes, about a toddlers' fun day. The added diversity of the father and brown-skinned family are a nice note.

ISBN: 9780525517337; Published May 2019 by Putnam; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Max Explains Everything: Soccer Expert by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Deborah Hocking

The curly-haired expert is back to explain soccer! He's an expert, since he's been playing it for three whole weeks! Hilarity ensues as Max puts his own particular spin on the game. Max isn't particularly... focused and kids who have a hard time concentrating, or taking a game seriously, will certainly appreciate Max's antics as he watches a butterfly in the team huddle, empties his pockets as the game starts, and misses the ball while watching bugs and examining dandelions.

Max has no problem being pulled out of the game - sometimes you have to cheer on your teammates after all! He's having so much fun, that he almost forgets something important... snack! Meanwhile, of course, his teammates and the fans are yelling at Max to kick the ball as it zips by him into the goal. Although his teammates look disappointed, they quickly cheer up as they shakes hands with the other team (Max introduces himself), and give him friendly smiles as he leaves, hands full of dandelions and a blanket tied around his shoulders like a cape.

While this may be a bit idyllic, not to mention unrealistic (I suspect that even a team that's very laid-back about sports isn't going to be quite so forgiving of someone like Max who is completely off in his own world for most of the game) it's a nice picture of a team playing together just for fun. Although the coach and teammates get a little exasperated with Max at times, they are always kind and Max clearly never realizes he's any different than his teammates. A range of skin-tones and genders is shown in the team and the coach is an older woman with white hair.

Verdict: Both sports fans and non-sporty kids will get a kick out of this book, laughing at Max's antics and unique perspective, and perhaps take their own sports experiences a bit more lightly, as well as being accepting of kids who aren't as focused on the game.

ISBN: 9781101996409; Published February 2019 by Putnam; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Monday, July 15, 2019

Predator and prey by Susannah Buhrman-Deever, illustrated by Bert Kitchen

Beautiful illustrations show the relationship between predator and prey in this unusual picture book, accompanied by short poems.

Each large spread, some expanded with gatefolds, shows a delicate painting of a predator and their prey, a poem or short series of poems, and a box of information about the animals pictured. For example, one page shows a criss-crossing of bare branches and a sharp-shinned hawk, beleaguered by a "feisty mob" of chickadees. The first illustration is accompanied by a poem featuring the alarm call of the chickadees and a section explaining that a perched hawk is unwelcome but not immediately dangerous while a flying hawk is ready to attack. The facing page shows the hawk soaring into the air and two poems, one featuring the chickadees stealth warning call as they perch still on a branch and the other the hawk's reply, warning them that she will be back.

Other pairs featured are a bluejay trying to decide between poisonous and non-poisonous butterflies, a rattlesnake stalking an angry squirrel, bats hunting moths, assassin bugs and spiders. These aren't the "exciting" large carnivores, but the small creatures of backyards and grasslands, epic mini battles going on all the time right under our eyes.

Back matter consists of citations, primarily of academic papers and resources. This isn't one I can see the average kid picking up off the shelf for fun, but it's an amazing resource for teachers and, with a little booktalking, will interest kids who like biology and observing the natural world.

Verdict: A beautiful, well-researched book that can be introduced to children in a variety of ways. A great classroom resource or curriculum supplement.

ISBN: 9780763695330; Published April 2019 by Candlewick Studio; Review copy provided by LibraryThing Early Reviewers; Donated to the library

Saturday, July 13, 2019

This week at the library; or, Summer week 5

Happening this week
  • Monday
    • Paws to Read
  • Tuesday
    • Toddlers 'n' Books (2 sessions)
    • Storywagon: Colossal Fossils
    • Maker Workshop: Hand Sewing
  • Wednesday
    • Summer school kindergarten field trip: Michael Hall
  • Thursday
    • Explore Elkhorn field trip
    • Books 'n' Babies
    • Library on the Go: Summer School
    • Family Book Club: The Red Bicycle by Jude Isabella
    • Art Workshop: Photo Collage
  • Friday
    • Anime Club
  • Saturday
    • Library Make Day
  • Worked 40 hours; 13 hours on desk; 7 programs
  • Monday - bills, answered emails, last-minute planning for programs, processing new stuff, cleaning off my desk
  • Tuesday - went in at noon, we all played desk roulette, switching around to cover different desks, big group for Colossal Fossils - a summer camp came and they were surprisingly well-behaved - even their counselors were impressed! This is a new performer for us so I wasn't sure how it would go, but everyone loved it. Actually managed to grab lunch before on to hand sewing at 3:30, mixed group of experienced and beginners, some with adults some without. The last couple kids reluctantly left around 6pm, then clean up and I set up for tomorrow's field trip and managed to send a small book order.
  • Field trip in the morning, then clean-up, then sending orders, then on the desk and working (again) on the missing/lost list.
  • My associate did the field trip (mostly international students) and the family book club - it went really well. I took a volunteer to summer school, covered the desk for a while, then supervised volunteers and our art workshop. A small turn-out, but everyone stayed for a long time and enjoyed the project.
  • Covered the desk Friday morning and went through a bunch of papers and lists.
  • Saturday - disappointing turn-out. Last year I had a LOT of people, this year we invited some community groups and had barely 25 people. On the bright side, several kids got really into sewing and a few painted, plus some kids had fun playing with the spheros. This summer is just hard. We're doing even more programs, we're all tired and burning out, we've got more foot traffic and roughly equal circulation to last year, but our programs just aren't getting the attendance.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Fairy Tale Comics edited by Chris Duffy

[This review was originally published in 2013. It has been edited.]

A companion to Nursery Rhyme Comics, this follows the same format with a different artist interpreting each different classic fairy tale. I was skeptical about the appeal of Nursery Rhyme Comics, since anthologies and short stories of any kind are a hard sell at my library, but it did surprisingly well, circulating 16 times in less than a year.. I decided to give this one a closer look and see if it would have the same appeal.

Sweet Porridge by Bobby London (Brothers Grimm) will be familiar to those who know tales with magical mills or other implements that produce food until told the magic stopping words. In this story, of course, the bowl produces porridge. The art has a classic newspaper strip look, not surprising since the illustrator drew Popeye strips for many years. It's a light and funny story that younger kids will enjoy.

The 12 Dancing Princesses by Emily Carroll (Brothers Grimm) has a classic, fairy tale look. The panels have strong swathes of color and while it's not my favorite art, being a bit distorted in parts, it's mostly very attractive. It's pretty much a straight retelling of the story, not trying to get around the more icky parts of this story (some adaptations say the princesses were enchanted, but this one pretty much sticks to the original - the girls like to go dancing and don't really care that men are being beheaded for trying to find out their secret). It's a bit wordy and there's not much new to the story.

Hansel and Gretel by Gilbert Hernandez (Brothers Grimm) The art is one-dimensional with strong lines and bland colors and the humor is a bit warped. Kids will love it.

Puss in Boots by Vanessa Davis (Charles Perrault) I really don't care for Vanessa Davis' art style (her other book is a memoir, Make me a woman) but I have to admit the appeal of this story. The art is very distorted and kind of ugly, but it's undeniably funny, from the cat trying on his boots from the "itty-bitty bootery" to the princess and king taking the air in the back of a pickup truck.

Little Red Riding Hood by Gigi D.G. (Brothers Grimm) Very digital art and nothing really added to the story except the woodcutter is a heavily-muscled woman. Didn't care for this one, I don't think kids will either.

The Prince and the Tortoise by Ramona Fradon, Chris Duffy, James Campbell and Jack Morelli (1001 Nights) This story will probably be new to most kids, but seeing the prince marrying a tortoise will tickle their funny bone. The art has a classic comic book look, think Prince Valiant. There's lots of humor and odd bits in this story and it was interesting to read - it's been a long time since I read 1001 Nights.

Snow White by Xaime (Jaime Hernandez) (Brothers Grimm) This one was just weird. It's the same basic story, but the art was really freaky. Snow White has these weird, long, wibbly arms that gave me the creeps. She is also, literally, dead white. Props for showing the wicked queen dancing in red hot iron shoes, but it's still weird. I know there are a lot of fans of Love and Rockets, but that's waaaay too old for this age group and frankly I've never understood the appeal. I thought that was weird too...

The boy who drew cats by Luke Pearson (Japanese, retold by Lafcadio Hearn) This is the same person who wrote the Hildafolk books, which I adore, so of course I will love this. It's very, very funny in a laidback way. I think kids will find the cats drawn all over everything hilarious and I especially loved the final droll joke.

Rumpelstiltskin by Brett Helquist (Brothers Grimm) I don't really think of Helquist as a graphic novelist, but he does a good job with a sort of distressed oil painting look, which ages his usual rich oil style. Now, I'm not going to say I'm biased (although I'm still mad about the awful covers he did for my beloved Green Knowe books) but I didn't really see the appeal of this story. It's just the same fairy tale with illustrations, it doesn't even address why the miller's girl is apparently perfectly happy to marry the horrible king who was willing to kill her (and looks about 20 years older than her).

Rabbit will not help by Joseph Lambert (Bre'r Rabbit) This story didn't really work for me. I'm familiar with the Bre'r Rabbit story, but it's a particularly confused one and Lambert's button-eyed creatures, many of them sporting creepy overbites, didn't help. I'm not sure kids will like this or not. The random violence and events might be kind of interesting, but the animals are sort of freaky-looking and the story doesn't really move smoothly.

Rapunzel by Raina Telgemeier (Brothers Grimm) It's Raina Telgemeier, everyone will love it. I loved that Rapunzel saved the day and her final innocent remark to the wicked witch made me choke with laughter. I'm not sure kids will get the joke, but they'll love the art and movement. Telgemeier is huge here, so anything she's done will be devoured.

The Small Tooth by Charise Mericle Harper (English tale) When Harper is good, she's good. When she's not she's WEIRD as heck (see Henry's Heart). This one doesn't quite fall on the weird side of the line, and I do have a lot of Fashion Kitty fans, so it will probably be quite popular. It's nice to see some of the old English tales as well.

Goldilocks and the three bears by Graham Annable (English tale) Apparently this author does something called the Grickle cartoons and comics? They sound vaguely familiar, but I can't quite place them. This is a pretty straight-forward retelling, but the pictures are funny.

Baba Yaga by Jillian Tamaki (Russian tale) I love Baba Yaga tales and this artist really caught my attention. Lovely art, well-suited to the story and she did a good job of picking a harmonious run of elements. I really look forward to seeing more work from her.

Bremen Town by Karl Kerschl (Brothers Grimm) I didn't like this art at all, sort of glowy watercolors and why does one robber have a blue face? I don't know if kids would like this one or not, but I didn't care for it. I thought he took the fun parts of the story out too.

Give me the shudders by Mazzucchelli (Brothers Grimm) I was so glad they included this story, it's one of my favorites! Basically, the youngest son (it's one of those third youngest fool stories) can't get the shivers and spends three nights in a haunted castle. I didn't care for the way they changed the ending, but it was ok I guess. The art is different but fun.

Azzolino's Story Without End by Craig Thompson (King and His Storyteller by Petrus Alphonsi) This made a nice ending for the collection, even if it's a bit obscure and possibly overly clever as well.

Verdict: Will kids like this as much as Nursery Rhyme Comics? Well, I didn't think they'd like that at all and they did. I see this collection as much more appealing, so possibly that means it won't be at all! Regardless, it's a great introduction to lots of different comic artists and styles, and would make a great book to help kids find their next favorite graphic novelist, although it's a little annoying that many of the artists usually only do adult things. Overall, I'd buy it and intend to do so.

Revisited: Some of these illustrators, like Jillian Tamaki, have gotten much bigger in the intervening years! This is not one of our most popular graphic novels, and has been sitting on the shelf for a while, but earlier this year I introduced kids to Capstone's Far Out Fairy Tales and they've been popular, which has led a lot of kids to try this title with its fractured titles. Not an extremely popular choice, but steady circulation keeps this from being weeded any time soon.

ISBN: 9781596438231; Published 2013 by First Second; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Purchased for the library in 2013

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Lola Levine is not mean by Monica Brown, illustrated by Angela Dominguez

[Originally published 2016. This review has been edited.]

This is the book I have been waiting for my whole life.

Lola Levine loves soccer, as does her younger brother. She loves writing - in her diario, notes to her parents, and letters. She also loves animals and she has a "strong personality." She worries sometimes when the other girls tease her for having a boy for a friend and being "weird," but mostly she's happy with herself and her life.

Then, while playing soccer at recess, she accidentally hurts Juan, another player. The principal says she is too competitive and can't play sports until she has "learned her lesson" and only her friend Josh will talk to her. The mean girls have gotten everyone to call her Mean Lola Levine and she's miserable. But after some time spent helping her little brother with a girl he likes, saving his class pet, and talking to her parents, she decides to handle her problems herself. She writes a letter both promising to be more careful and reminding her principal that accidents happen; Juan forgives her and Josh stands up for her to the mean girls, and her parents decide she has shown enough responsibility to finally have a pet!

Lola has a "strong personality" and is enthusiastic and competitive, but she's not obnoxious and is willing to learn and think things through. She's a great role model for girls who love sports and want to speak up for themselves at home and at school. She handles her mixed heritage - Peruvian/Jewish/Catholic matter-of-factly; it's not a non-issue and she's had uncomfortable experiences, but she accepts herself and enjoys the many different facets of her family.

Verdict: I am have been waiting SO LONG for a beginning chapter book with a strong female protagonist, who's into sports, and who is diverse. I can't wait to introduce Lola to my patrons!

Revisited: Sadly, this did not fly off the shelves as fast as I thought it should. It is still in print in paperback and prebound editions and it circulates regularly, especially when I promote it at book clubs, but it's not as popular as some of my other series. To be fair, the only realistic fiction at this level that really circulates heavily is Junie B. Jones. I still think it's worth purchasing and am happy I have the series available.

ISBN: 9780316258364; Published 2015 by Little Brown and Company; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Purchased for the library in 2016

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Read, Read, Read, said the Baby: Whose Tools? by Toni Buzzeo and Jim Datz

[This review was originally posted in 2016 and has been edited]

I actually got the later book in this series, Whose Truck? before I realized there was an earlier title. I'm a little leary of lift the flap board books, but sometimes they're worth it.

The page on the left is a bold color with a simple border and starts with a question about the layer of the house they are building. On the right side are the tools and their names. The entire right side lifts as a flap, showing the worker beneath using the tools. So the first spread is brick red and says "To build a house, start down low. Whose tools are those? Do you know?" and on the right is pictured a chalk line, chisel, joiner, and float. Lift the page and see the masons laying a foundation.

The pictures are cute and cheerful with little eyes on the tools, silly details to look for, and a diverse population of smiling workers, including many different skin colors and women as well as typical male construction workers.The big flaps feel pretty sturdy, but I can see them separating at the fold fairly soon. However, with something this fun and potentially popular, it's worth a few replacements and some strengthening tape would probably help too.

Verdict: This is a must-have series for little ones who are obsessed with how things are made and you may even find older kids sneaking it out of the board book section.

Revisited: This was certainly popular! I did have to replace our copy after a little less than two years, but it's still in print (along with the Truck and Boat titles) and circulates regularly. Still a must-have.

ISBN: 9781419714313; Published 2015 by Abrams Appleseed; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Purchased for the library in 2016; Replaced in 2018

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The home builders by Varsha Bajaj, illustrated by Simona Mulazzani

I love a good animal homes story, ever since I was fascinated by Berniece Freschet's Beaver on the sawtooth as a child. This title, by the author of the sweet This is your baby, born today and illustrated by Mulazzani, who illustrated some very interesting titles by Giovanni Zoboli, hit all those spots for me.

Rhyming text describes the wide variety of homes animals build, "Do you see the builders work? Burrow and hide,/ Tunnel and creep,/Nibble and gnaw,/Explore and keep." The art is what really caught my eye. Soft colors show a beautiful woodland kingdom with animals, bugs, and birds peacefully building and settling into their homes. Above and below ground, in the trees and the water, animals find safety, raise their babies, and live their lives.

I realize it's a bit hypocritical that I love this so much when I'm usually very annoyed by books that don't depict predators realistically. Of course the foxes, beavers, eagles, owls, and deer are not going to sit around peacefully like neighbors in a suburban backyard. But I think it does do a good job of depicting the different kinds of homes animals build and the more peaceful aspect makes this a soothing bedtime story with a nonfiction twist.

Verdict: Not for everyone, although the lovely artwork is universally appealing, but I loved this book and would recommend it if you have kids who like animals and need more bedtime stories.

ISBN: 9780399166853; Published February 2019 by Nancy Paulsen; Review copy provided by the publisher; Donated to the library

Monday, July 8, 2019

When plants attack: Strange and terrifying plants by Rebecca E. Hirsch

When I first saw this, I immediately thought of Rebecca Johnson's 2014 title, When lunch fights back. That title focused primarily on animals, but with a similar layout, and finished with a brief mention of how some plants seem to use a kind of thought process to fight back against creatures trying to eat them. This book starts where Lunch left off with the many clever defenses of plants.

Of course there's the traditionally carnivorous plants, pitcher plants, Venus fly traps, and so forth, but Hirsch goes beyond this with the horrifically painful and sometimes deadly stinging tree, the clever defense of the thorn acacia, which protects itself from elephants by attracting stinging ants, or the apparently inadvertent killer, the Pisonia grandis, which sticks its seeds to seabirds in such numbers that it kills many of them, littering the ground about with corpses and skeletons.

Hirsch goes beyond anecdotes and dramatic tales of deadly plants to question how and why plants developed these defenses, how they use them, and what it means for considering how plants react, behave, or even think. Extensive back matter includes an author's note, source notes, glossary, bibliography, further reading, websites, and videos, and an index.

Verdict: The dramatic cover and introduction will draw in reluctant readers who will find themselves learning quite a bit about plants - and scientific research - as they devour the gruesome stories of plant defenses and survival tricks. Recommended.

ISBN: 9781541526709; Published January 2019 by Milbrook; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Saturday, July 6, 2019

This week at the library; or, Summer week 4

Teens came to Miniatures Maker Workshop
Happening this week
  • Monday
    • Open Storyroom
    • Paws to Read
    • Managers' meeting
  • Tuesday
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday - closed for holiday
  • Friday
    • We Explore Art: Julie Paschkis
    • Free Lego Build
  • Worked 28.5 hours; 10 hours on desk; 4 programs
  • 8 hours holiday
  • I'm tired. I took some time off this week to make up for the extra hours I worked before. Working on the schedule and calendar for the fall. The Friday art programs were supposed to be for groups, but I haven't had any groups yet - just a trickle of attendees. So honestly I was glad nobody came today b/c I was pretty tired and had a ton of other stuff to do.

Friday, July 5, 2019

The Unbelievable Oliver and the four jokers by Pseudonymous Bosch, illustrated by Shane Pangburn

This is a young middle grade book - I think some people would push it into beginning chapter, but it's just under 200 pages and includes fairly complex vocabulary so I don't think it qualifies as a beginning chapter book. When you consider how many kids struggle to read, it's interesting that books seem to be pushed more and more to older/more fluent readers. Anyways, I digress.

Bosch is (was?) a very popular chapter book author. My library only has the first book of his best-known series, The name of this book is secret and although I've considered more titles, I've never gotten enough interest from the kids to purchase more, since they're all available in my consortium. I was interested in this book because I'm looking for younger middle grade and because the magician theme is usually a popular one.

Oliver, an under-sized Jewish eight-year-old, dreams of being a great magician. But with a deck of cards that's incomplete and a lack of, well, magic that has even his best friends, twins Beatriz (Bea) and Martina (Teenie) unimpressed, he's ready to give up. Then the twins get him invited to the most popular (and nasty) third grader's birthday party - as the star entertainment! Oliver is desperate and begs his cousin, who works in a magic shop, for help. But all he gets is a moldy old hat. A hat with... a talking rabbit inside?

When Oliver arrives at the party, he soon finds out he has more problems than his lack of magic, a bunny on the lam who thinks they're in Vegas, and some mean kids. Bea and Teenie's present for the birthday boy, a robot cat their dads helped them buy, has disappeared and Oliver is accused of being the thief! Can he switch from magician to detective and solve the mystery?

The pages are decorated with frequent line drawings in shades of grey and purple. There are occasional speech bubbles, but I would call this an illustrated chapter book or at most a graphic blend, not a notebook novel or graphic novel.

I wasn't very taken with the book. Benny the bunny talks about a lot of "professional magic" that includes gambling, running from the police for undisclosed reasons, and lots of jokes that I think will pass over most of my readers' heads. There's not really any reason given for the sudden transition from magic tricks and a talking rabbit to solving a mystery; even when it is solved, although the solution is given in the form of a magic trick, it feels forced and the culprit doesn't make any sense. The bullies are over the top, "mean rich kids" and overall the humor felt forced. However, I'm not the audience for this and the real question is, will fluent second graders and third graders enjoy it? I think the answer is yes.

Verdict: I prefer Kate Egan's Magic Shop series, but I admit they don't have a high circulation in my library - not enough pictures would be my guess. I think this will circulate more, especially due to the more extensive graphics. While I don't see it having the staying power of humorous illustrated titles like Dragonbreath, it's certainly a perfectly acceptable filler book for kids in that transitional chapter book phase and features a diverse cast.

ISBN: 9780525552321; Published May 2019 by Dial; Review copy provided by the publisher; Donated to the library

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Parker Bell and the science of friendship by Cynthia Platt, illustrated by Rea Zhai

Parker Bell plans to be a famous scientist, like her heroes Jane Goodall and Mae Jemison. So she's thrilled when her school sets up a big science competition! With her best friend Cassie, who's also an excellent scientist (and, more importantly, willing to let Parker decide things) they're sure to win. But Cassie insists on bringing her new friend, Theo, into the mix and he's not scientific at all - in fact, back in 2nd grade he messed up Parker's assignment and it seems like all he cares about are chickens!

Can Parker come up with a great scientific presentation and keep her friendship with Cassie at the same time?

I've been going through a slew of beginning chapters/early middle grade titles that feature girls interested in science and, to be honest, this one isn't rising to the top for me. It falls back on the "sidekick of color" formula and I'm skeptical about the realism of the school presented and the big science competition. I also didn't care for the illustrations, although they are only early proofs. The cover didn't grab me and I'm doubtful it will grab kids. Naturally, I approve of the guinea pig theme, but would elementary-age kids be able to create and program guinea pig robots, even if one is a coding whiz?

Verdict: The book has generally good reviews and, although a bit predictable (nobody will be surprised that Parker eventually realizes she has things in common with Theo and can be friends with him and Cassie) it's a plot that will keep fans of science and realistic fiction reading. Ultimately, I'd call it an additional purchase, preferring Frankie Sparks, Zoey and Sassafrass, and Ellie Engineer for my collection.

ISBN: 9781328973474; Published May 2019 by Clarion Books; ARC provided by publisher

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

How to give your cat a bath in five easy steps by Nicola Winstanley and John Martz

The cover shows an optimistic-looking girl with brown skin and pink hair; and a decidedly expressionless white cat with a bulbous pink nose. This is the first hint that things aren't going to go as planned!

The first step is simple: "Fill the bathtub with warm water." Things go wrong almost immediately though, as first the water overflows, then there's not enough... and that's when the cat disappears. The chase is on and confusion - and destruction - mount. By the time the narrator is up to step 10, the girl and her cat, Mr. Flea, have had enough instructions. Especially when it turns out that... cats lick themselves clean??

The cute illustrations and rapid chaos contrast with the enigmatic text and will have listeners overcome by the giggles very quickly!

Verdict: Although physically a little small for a storytime read-aloud, this funny book is sure to be a hit in small groups or with one-on-one reading. It will also be a good choice for teachers wanting to do units on instructions or processes.

ISBN: 9780735263543; Published January 2019 by Tundra; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Ten rules of the birthday wish by Beth Ferry and Tom Lichtenheld

Periodically, people come in and ask for birthday books. I have a couple, but nothing that I really, really like (feel free to recommend your own favorite birthday books but I'm kind of grumpy as I write this and I don't promise to like them.) However, I think this may be the best birthday book ever.

In this exuberant, colorful book, a series of cheerful animals in Lichtenheld's inimitable style march through the rules. You must have a birthday, a party, a cake, some candles... unless, of course, you're a camel! Or a puffer fish! There are, naturally, exceptions. The excitement builds until the saying of the wish, then is followed by a quiet reflection as the wisher drifts off to sleep, dreaming of their wish.

This is a very traditionalist view of birthdays; it insists on some kind of treat, a light that can be blown out (whales are encouraged to try glowing jellyfish), and a wish with the expectation that it just might come true. Lichtenheld's illustrations shows a cute bevy of cartoon animals from a furry bear sleeping peacefully in bed at the end to a partying group of bugs playing "pin the stinger on the human." There's room for deviation though, as Ferry reminds readers that it's ok to combine rules, have your own treat, or get friends to help!

This is exactly what my patrons are looking for; it's mildly humorous, walks readers through a pretty typical birthday celebration in my area, and gently coaxes readers down from their sugar and excitement buzz to a peaceful sleep.

Verdict: Sure to circulate briskly, this is a sweet, funny, and accessible book on birthdays. I suggest multiple copies.

ISBN: 9781524741549; Published February 2019 by Putnam; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Monday, July 1, 2019

Beware of the crocodile by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura

You never know quite what you're going to get with Martin Jenkins' nature picture books. Some of them have an interesting mix of science concepts and animals, and most have different illustrations which makes each book unique.

This title is paired with British-Japanese author and illustrator Satoshi Kitamura, whom most Americans probably won't be familiar with, but who I know as the author and illustrator of comics about funny cat Boots. So how does this comic artist work as an illustrator of a nonfiction book about crocodiles? Quite well as it turns out.

Jenkins' prose adds a bit of humor as he describes the habits of the crocodile and Kitamura decorates the pages with gentle colors and big brownish-gray crocodiles, grabbing prey, caring for their babies, and floating through their watery world. The text glosses over the actual killing of prey, "What happens next is rather gruesome. In fact it's so gruesome that we should skip the details." This is really an introduction to crocodiles, focusing first on their hunting habits and then on their nesting and care for their babies. It ends with a lengthier author's note with more information about crocodiles, a brief index, and two websites for more information.

This is a good starting book for readers checking out their first reference materials, learning how to use an index, or learning some basic crocodilian information to urge them into more research.

Verdict: I'm looking for more books on reptiles and amphibians and this is a nice addition to Jenkins' work as well as a fun book on a favorite animals. A good choice for animal sections in your picture book collections.

ISBN: 9780763675387; Published March 2019 by Candlewick; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Saturday, June 29, 2019

This week at the library; or, Summer week 3

Set up for Tom Lichtenheld art program
Happening this week
  • My associate did brushbots - she added pompoms to stabilize them and it was a great idea.
  • I have nearly finished weeding the neighborhoods! All that's left now is to recatalog and relabel a couple sections, go through the 90+ books still checked out, and monitor to see if I need further shifting. Also, buy more shark, reptile, and dinosaur books.
  • I usually have 30+ people for marbling and I had barely 20. The sudden thunderstorm? I don't know. This summer is just so weird. Floods of people, and then suddenly nobody at all. The weather is kind of doing the same thing if it comes to that.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Disaster strikes! The most dangerous space missions of all time by Jeffrey Kluger

I love science and nonfiction, but, to be honest, I've never been interested in space exploration. However, lots of kids certainly are, and if one is invested in the CSLP summer 2019 theme (A Universe of Stories) all the space books are popular right now.

This chapter book details all the things that can - and did - go wrong on space missions from major, well-known disasters like the Challenger and Apollo 13 to disasters in the Russian space program and the astronaut who almost drowned - in outer space.

Each chapter is dedicated to a different mission and a different disaster. Kluger writes quick, breath-taking prose that includes the lead-up to the disaster, what went wrong, how the astronauts dealt with it, and the aftermath. When death results from the disaster, he writes respectfully and soberly, not giving graphic detail but reflecting on what went wrong and how astronauts are aware of the risks when they sign up.

Back matter includes an author's note, which details his sources, glossary, and index. Each chapter starts with a black and white photo.

Verdict: You'll need readers willing to pick up a book that's all text, although it's not at all dense, but strong readers, especially those who like historical disaster stories (I Survived, Lost, etc.) should be willing to dive into this book, especially as they can sample it chapter by chapter. Recommended.

ISBN: 9781984812759; Published May 2019 by Philomel; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Frankie Sparks and the class pet by Megan Frazer Blakemore, illustrated by Nadja Sarell

Frankie loves science and research and she's always got lots of ideas! So why won't her teacher and friends listen to her when she decides the best pet for their classroom is a rat?

The story begins with Frankie barely able to contain her excitement to share what she did over the weekend - visit her aunt, a rodentologist at a nearby university. She learned so many exciting and interesting things about rodents and especially about rats, that she just can't wait to tell everyone!

When their teacher, Ms. Cupid, tells them her exciting news - they are getting a class pet - Frankie knows the perfect pet would be a rat! She hardly listens to their teacher tell them the rules and limitations and the next day she's ready to get that rat, but Ms. Cupid just won't let her go ahead.

With the gentle guidance of adults, from her teacher to her parents to her aunt, Frankie slows down, does her research correctly, and even figures out a clever way to feed the rat over the weekend. But can Frankie figure out a way to convince her best friend, Maya, that a rat makes a good pet? And can Frankie get her rat and be a good friend too?

It's easy to see that Blakemore has actual school experience; one of my perennial complaints is books that show unrealistically small class sizes and this once clearly states there are 20+ kids in Frankie's class. I also appreciated that Frankie is good at making things and doing research, but struggles with actual reading and writing and readers can see how her teacher and parents help her work on those skills. Frankie's enthusiasm, which leads her to hurt her friends' feelings and sometimes overpower her, and other students, is dealt with kindly but firmly by adults and on top of this being a funny, interesting story it would make a great classroom read to talk about empathy and listening to other people.

Verdict: At just over 120 pages, this is perfect for chapter readers who can't yet handle the heftier books but still want something that doesn't talk down to them. Teachers and parents will appreciate the problem-solving suggestions included in the book and the back matter, and kids will see themselves and their friends in the light-hearted story of scientific - and personal - problems. With a diverse, realistic classroom and a main character of color, this book hits all the high points and is sure to be a popular acquisition for your library.

ISBN: 9781534430433; Published June 2019 by Aladdin; ARC provided by publisher; Purchased for the library

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The whole wide world and me by Toni Yuly

I feel like it's getting harder and harder to find picture books that are truly aimed at toddlers, not preschoolers or grade school children. Something simple that really little kids can enjoy and appreciate in storytime. One of the authors I depend on is Toni Yuly and her new book does not disappoint.

Simple illustrations in collage, charcoal, and digital collage show the big and small, all part of the world. The spreads show a dandelion, fish, and cloud first large and then on the following page small in relation to the unnamed girl. The second half of the book shows the the girl creating actions - rolling like a pebble down the mountain, splashing like a wave, and floating like a leaf. On the final spreads, the girl celebrates that she is a small and a big part of the whole world she sees around her.

Yuly's illustrations are bright and colorful, simple with just a few tiny details, like a ladybug, to find. Vibrant greens, soothing blues, and spiky yellow dandelions are spread through the book, with simple actions performed by a girl with straight black hair, pale skin, and a purple skirt, shirt, and green boots.

This would be a great storytime choice for toddlers, the simple language and bright collage illustrations catching and holding their interest. They can search for the little ladybug that appears throughout the story and identify simple parts of nature. Toddlers will also be great at trying out the different actions, floating, rolling, wiggling like a fish, and more. For older kids, pair this with other concept books like Anna Kang's You are (not) small and Henry Cole's Big Bug for a storytime on size and perspective.

Verdict: The clean lines and joyful, minimal language will make this a storytime staple for many ages. Recommended.

ISBN: 9780763692636; Published February 2019 by Candlewick; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Monday, June 24, 2019

Hair: Animal fur, wool, and more by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Julie Colombet

A perky hoopoe and droopy sheepdog narrate this informational and fun book about that furry stuff that grows on all mammals. Yep, even dolphins!

Starting with babies and the hair they're born with, the book moves into the different kinds of fur worn by animals, its purpose, and how it varies from creature to creature. Genes, camouflage, patterns, and scent, all this and more are covered. Singer touches lightly on puberty, "You will grow more hair on various parts of your body." and how hair texture and color are passed along to children. She ends with a celebration of the many unique types of hair, some additional facts, and back matter.

The illustrations are a mix of photographs, patterned backgrounds mimicking different kinds of fur, and cartoons of animals passing along facts or making jokes. Although this is laid out in picture book format, it's actually quite a complex book, ideal for handing to strong readers in the younger middle grade age group. Add this to units on studying the human body, animals, or for kids who like interesting nonfiction.

Verdict: Pair this with Nicola Davies' What's eating you, Maris Wicks' Human Body Theater, and Nancy Castaldo's Beastly Brains for kids interested in learning more about the marvelous human body and how we fit into the world around us.

ISBN: 9781512449150; Published January 2019 by Milbrook/Lerner; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Saturday, June 22, 2019

This week at the library; or, Summer week 2

What's Happening This Week
This is what happens if you ask my awesome library kids
if they like snakes!
  • Weather continues unseasonably cold, and we are swamped, even with summer school starting this week.
  • Note to self, do not plan involved maker workshop after snakes. Must have extra time for playing with snake friends. Didn't get any lunch, but had excellent programs.
  • The weather is not cooperating, had to move kindergarten field trip to the school.
  • On Thursday everyone suddenly disappeared and only about 15 people dropped in for chalk and bubbles. But I didn't have time/materials as planned out as I want so it was just as well. The kids who came had fun mixing salt and chalk, alka-seltzer, and playing with bubbles.
  • Snakes and 80 kindergarteners seemed like a good idea earlier in the summer... they were reasonably calm and enjoyed touching everything, especially the super-chill guinea pig. Note to self - select larger child to hold the skink next time, I think it's been dropped (or gotten close to it) every time. Nobody showed for the art program - turned out there were a couple families in the library who didn't realize it was across the hall and the school that was scheduled to come didn't get their bus fixed in time. One family came and enjoyed watercolors and took all the books home to read! Also just as well b/c the schedule had gotten crossed and we had to turn the room over super quick for an author visit.
  • Left my associate in charge of teens after hours and all 20+ teens seemed to be having a reasonable amount of more-or-less safe fun. There's a D&D program tomorrow that my associate is helping with, but I'm done!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Sea Sirens: A Trot and Cap'n Bill Adventure by Amy Chu and Janet K. Lee, inspired by L. Frank Baum

I am an unrepentant Oz fan, so I was really excited to see a graphic novel inspired by one of his lesser-known characters, Trot, and her adventure The Sea Fairies. I thoroughly enjoyed it but... I find it very difficult to decide how to review it, especially for non-Oz fans.

So, in the original story, Trot (it's a nickname) is a little girl who lives by the ocean with her mother and a retired sea captain, Cap'n Bill. She has several adventures in strange places, sometimes accompanied by a little boy from Philadelphia named Button Bright, and eventually she and Cap'n Bill become citizens of Oz (her mother kind of fades out of the picture). In The Sea Fairies, she and Cap'n Bill are caught in a storm and think they will drown, but are rescued by mermaids, or sea fairies, who introduce them to the wonders of the ocean, including the marvelous sea serpent King Anko and the wicked Zog the Magician, whom they eventually defeat, leaving a human boy who's been adapted to live underwater and Cap'n Bill's long-lost brother to take over his kingdom.

In the graphic novel, Trot is a thoroughly modern Vietnamese-American girl who, with her cat Cap'n Bill, loves to surf. When her grandfather, who is suffering from dementia, has an accident, her busy mother restricts them both to the house but Trot sneaks out anyways and she and Cap'n Bill are caught up in a massive wave. They are saved from drowning by the Sea Sirens, who are in a great battle with the wicked Serpents, led by King Anko. After many small adventures, some sympathetic discussions with the Siren princess who also has difficulties with her mother, and the discovery of her grandfather who is also underwater, Trot and Cap'n Bill (who can talk thanks to the Sea Sirens) discover that the evil King Anko is actually just a boy, saved from drowning long ago and taking over from the original King Anko. He's not trying to attack the mermaids, he just wants games and interesting artifacts from the surface world. Having reconciled the two nations, Trot, Cap'n Bill, and her grandfather are rescued and, after reassuring her mother, imagine the future adventures they might have.

The art is lush and lovely, a thoroughly modern take that still pays homage to John R. Neill's work with elaborate hairdos, rich undersea life, and plump-cheeked children exploring the underwater world. The whole book retains the flavor of the original, with the slightly didactic air of Oz titles, the richly imagined fantasy worlds, and the cheerful optimism of the characters, even when things seem at their worst. The question is, will kids appreciate this? Or will they even notice? My guess is that, unless they know the original, they will miss pretty much all the references to it and, while they may find the book as a whole slightly odd, since it retains that 19th century flavor, the gorgeous art, humor, and interesting characters will hold their interest.

Verdict: I'd say to purchase if you have Oz fans, but it's unlikely that you do; rather, purchase for mermaid and graphic novel fans. This may not be an absolute necessity, but it's sure to find an audience and I look forward to additional titles in what promises to be a series.

ISBN: 9780451480163; Published June 2019 by Viking Children's Books; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Bea Garcia: The tree and me by Deborah Zemke

My ultimate conclusion about the Bea Garcia books is that they're great books, kids love them, I'm happy to buy them, but they annoy the heck out of me!

In her fourth adventure, Bea is going along with her normal life, navigating her friendship with super-smart but socially awkward Judith Einstein, ignoring horrible Bert, her next-door neighbor, and hanging out at the 250-year-old oak tree in their playground. But when Bert climbs the tree and throws acorns at them all - and then gets stuck - an interfering member of the school board says they have to cut it down for safety reasons! Bea and her friends are devastated, but working together with science, poetry, and art, they save "Emily" their tree. On a trip to the national forest, even Bert gets interested in trees when he meets a pileated woodpecker that looks just like a pterodactyl to him! To placate the school board, a fence is put up around the tree, but they decorate the fence and are satisfied that they've saved their friend. Sketches, doodles, and panels sprinkle the book and make this the perfect choice for young readers who aren't ready for middle grade notebook novels yet.

I can totally see this happening - but it still annoys me! Kids SHOULD be able to climb trees without it turning into a giant production, and although Bea is definitely prejudiced against Bert, he also constantly harasses her and her friends with little to no consequences. So, as I said, these are great books but I want them to end differently! It's ridiculous that they "saved" their tree, only to have to put a fence around it and that Bert continues to constantly disrupt their activities and basically runs the classroom. Alas, this is the real world and most kids will recognize their own classrooms and classmates in this story.

Verdict: My own biases aside, this is a fun series that kids love, with copious illustrations and a gentle, humorous message. Recommended for 1st through 3rd grade.

ISBN: 9780735229419; Published May 2019 by Dial Books for Young Readers; Review copy provided by the publisher; Donated to the library

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Small Readers: Sparkly new friends by Heather Ayris Burnell, illustrated by Hazel Quintanilla

This is one of the new Acorn readers from Scholastic. The Branches books, meant to be a branch from easy reader to chapter book, have been a huge success with my readers. Kids up to 5th grade devour Dragon Masters, Notebook of Doom, and Owl Diaries, among others. This new line is meant to hit that spot right between early leveled readers and beginning chapter books, where you'd find, say, Frog and Toad, Henry and Mudge, etc. In fact, some of the series coming out later are actually remade from easy reader series like Rylant's Poppleton.

I sampled a couple books from the series and first I'm looking at Unicorn and Yet. The first book, Sparkly new friends, introduces Unicorn who is pink, has a rainbow mane, can fly, and is, well, sparkly. Yeti is big and fluffy and... not so sparkly. Or is he? When Unicorn sees something sparkling, he flies down to investigate and discovers Yeti. By crashing into him. Yeti wishes he was sparkly and Unicorn decides to convince him that he - and the snow - do have sparkles! In the second and third chapters, their friendship continues as they discover things that are different and the same about each other and learn more about their different abilities.

The pictures are cute and colorful; Yeti has a male pronoun at the end of the book but I didn't see one for Unicorn so I've decided he's a boy because I was annoyed that they defaulted to Yeti as male. Lots of sparkles, pastel colors, and little cartoon figures dot the pages. The book is laid out like a comic book, with different colored word balloons (Unicorn is orange and Yeti is purple) and a mixture of panels and full-page illustrations. 

They are calling them early readers, but after due consideration I have decided to put them in with beginning chapter books. Physically, the books are smaller than a Branches book - about 7x5 inches - and 56 pages long. They include a drawing tutorial and an encouragement to tell your own story in the back. Most Branches books are a 400-500 lexile and these seem to be coming in at a 300-400. More generally, I've found that kids are being pushed to read younger but are falling behind and losing interest earlier. Having an easy series in with the beginning chapter books will attract both younger and older readers.

Verdict: With a unicorn and Scholastic's track record of success with Branches, there's no argument that this is a necessary purchase. The only decision is the best spot to put them and how many copies to purchase.

ISBN: 9781338329018; Published April 2019 by Scholastic; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Panda Problem by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Hannah Marks

A delightfully roly-poly panda wreaks hilarious havoc in the latest addition to the popular genre of books bending the traditional picture book narrative.

The story begins, like all stories do, with a problem. But wait! This panda has no problem. No problem? How can there be a story with no problem? A hilarious conversation ensues between the increasingly exasperated narrator and the cheerfully indifferent panda, munching away on bamboo, as the narrator tries to get the story going and the panda just. won't. cooperate! But wait, the panda has an idea! Maybe the problem in this book... is the panda! What if the panda a banjo? Chaos ensues until suddenly the panda (and the panda's double) DO have a real problem - they're hungry! A bargain is struck and the story comes to its silly and satisfying conclusion.

Hannah Marks produces an excellent illustrator debut with her mischievous panda and ensuing problems. From the innocently pleased panda in a leafy bower of bamboo to the chaos of jellybeans, banjos, aliens, and penguins, Marks' sweet cartoons will keep kids laughing as they blend perfectly with Underwood's exasperated prose.

Verdict: This is a delightful addition to picture books breaking the fourth wall; Read for a riotous storytime and listen to the growing giggles of your audience as they follow the wacky adventures of this naughty panda. I've read this to about 600 kids before school ended and all universally acclaimed it!

ISBN: 9780735228504; Published April 2019 by Dial Books; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Monday, June 17, 2019

20 recipes kids should know by Esme Washburn, photographs by Calista Washburn

I think this is the first kids' cookbook that teaches you how to cook steak! Come to think of it, I've never cooked steak... It's created by two sisters, ages 12 and 17 (the younger wrote it and tested the recipes and the older took the photographs). I'm always interested in the newer type of kids' cookbook that teaches real cooking skills, and this is a fun addition to that genre.

The introduction covers measurements, safety, and a glossary of commonly used cooking terms. Each recipe is introduced with a little story from the author. The recipes are pancakes, banana bread, omelets, macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, black bean soup, hummus, salad and dressing, breaded chicken, steak, pizza (including the crust), pasta with tomato sauce or pesto (including making the pasta), mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies, strawberry shortcake, apple pie, bread, and popovers.

As you can see there's a wide variety in the recipes, from simple (grilled cheese sandwiches) to more time-consuming and complex (pasta and bread by hand). Each recipe has a mouth-watering photo, clear list of prep time, ingredients, and directions. The book itself is an over-sized hardcover with colorful text and information about and photos of the authors in the back.

Verdict: I don't know that I'd agree that every kid needs to know how to cook these specific recipes, but they do include a nice variety, in ingredients, cost and tastes, and paired with a book that teaches more specific cooking skills, like my favorite How to cook in 10 easy lessons, this is a great resource to encourage kids to try some cooking on their own.

ISBN: 9783791385075; Published April 2019 by Prestel; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Saturday, June 15, 2019

This week at the library; or, First week of summer

Some of the 30 people who came to our Eric Carle art
program - cutting up their paintings after storytime to
make collages.
Happening this week
  • Monday
    • Outdoor Playgroup
    • Books for Bedtime
    • Paws to Read
  • Tuesday
    • Toddlers 'n' Books (2 sessions)
    • Box Build
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
    • Books 'n' Babies
    • Open Storyroom
  • Friday
  • Worked 41 hours; 18 hours on desk; 5 programs
  • Worked 2 hours at home finishing emails and program plans for next week
  • Summer Reading: Approximately 300 kids signed up for summer reading, about 200 activity bags given out.
  • Headstart came to the Box Build - I think they brought about 20? people. My staff brought up massive amounts of cardboard from the basement and I had tons of masking tape, duct tape, regular scissors, markers, kitchen shears, xacto knives, and hot glue. We had a lot of cardboard left over, mostly because I had acquired way too many couch boxes earlier this year, but the kids had a lot of fun and we eventually got it all out to the recycling dumpster.
  • Updated all my field trips from the last few weeks to be ready for next year.

Friday, June 14, 2019

The Becket List by Adele Griffin

Starting with changing her name to Becket, the middle Branch is ready for the country! Her older sister and younger brother aren't so enthusiastic, but Becket is sure that if she follows her "Becket List" for "How to be a Country Kid" she'll succeed in her goals of making a new best friend and getting a younger, just-right-for-the-country dog.

Of course, nothing goes the way she has planned. The new best friend she thinks she's found doesn't like her, her enthusiasm at camp is misunderstood and everyone thinks she's snobby, and her little brother, who she was all ready to help get over his many fears and issues, is settling in much more easily than she does! As she tries to earn money, makes mistakes, and slowly settles in herself, she finds that there are positive and negative aspects of her new life, just like her old life, and that as long as she keeps trying she'll eventually succeed.

Line drawings by LeUyen Pham show an exuberant girl who goes headlong at life and sometimes trips along the way. She's white with lots of freckles; their old friends from the city, the Fairs, are black. The girl she hopes to make her new best friend is black. Fair warning - the dog dies at the end. It's not traumatic and clearly expected throughout the book, as the dog is an ancient, wheezy pug who clearly is coming to the end of his lifespan.

At just 200 pages, this is a welcome addition to chapter books for younger middle grade readers, specifically 3rd and 4th graders. Becket is a relatable character, even if her readers haven't moved from the city to the country. She's putting her best face on a difficult change and she makes mistakes, missteps, and bad choices like every other kid. Her family is always there to back her up and help her out, but they give her a chance to assert her independence and make mistakes as well.

Verdict: This is a great choice for readers who are facing big changes in their lives or who are ready to move on to more independence and need reassurance that, although mistakes can happen, things will work out in the end. The death of the dog at the end of the story is a quiet ending, surrounded by family, and leaves the way open for more stories about Blackberry Farm.

ISBN: 9781616207908; Published April 2019 by Algonquin; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Small Readers: Hello, Crabby! by Jonathan Fenske

Acorn books is Scholastic's new easy reader series, a step between leveled readers and the Branches books, which are a step before chapter books. Some of the Acorn books are new and some will feature familiar easy reader characters like Pilkey's Dragon and Rylant's Poppleton.

I have been eagerly waiting for Fenske's contribution to this new line - kids love his silly easy readers like the nut series and his picture books. Fans of Barnacle is bored and Plankton is pushy will be delighted to see all his ocean critters joining a new character for this series; Crabby.

Crabby, a grouchy red character with lowering eyebrows and a determined frown, is having his usual crabby day. He meets Barnacle, "He is always hanging around" and gets sloshed by a wave. But the real fun (or frown) doesn't begin until he meets pushy Plankton. Plankton is determined to get a smile out of Crabby. He tries jokes, introducing him to some not-so-crabby crabs, and even baking a fantastic cake. Will Crabby get over his crabby mood? Or is he just meant to be crabby?

The deadpan humor of Fenske's other books is here in full force and will have kids who appreciate the more subtle jokes laughing hysterically as they read the goofy story. I am curious as to how long it can be sustained as a series - does Crabby have enough dimension to have more books with three chapters each? But I have faith that Fenske will make them funny, whatever happens.

Verdict: There's no doubt that Acorn is going to be a hit in libraries, schools, and homes. The only question is how many copies you'll need to buy for your Barnacle and Plankton fans.

ISBN: 9781338281507; Published April 2019 by Scholastic; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Noah builds an ark by Kate Banks, illustrated by John Rocco

This contemporary retelling of the classical Bible story, depicts a sensitive boy who cares deeply for all the creatures around him.

The story begins with Noah, a boy with curly dark hair and brown skin, peeping over the fence to see a storm coming down the hill in his city. As his parents prepare the house for the storm, boarding up windows, getting out candles, and stockpiling food, Noah prepares his small friends for the storm. He creates a roof for the bed of an old wagon and fills it with food, miniature furniture, a flashlight, and other comforts. When the storm hits, Noah and his family are safe in their home; and his small friends are safe in their ark. Hummingbirds, salamanders, snakes, spiders, grasshoppers, and toads all weather the storm in safety within their ark. The creatures hiss, buzz, and sing while the family in their house tell stories; they nibble on snacks, curl up for bed, and when the storm is over emerge to see the glorious rainbow and fill Noah's yard with life one more.

Banks' pictures were created in pencil and watercolor and rendered digitally; they show a glow of light in the sky and on Noah's skin, the gathering storm clouds, and the individual personalities of each little creature as they wait for the storm to end. The rising waters, dark sky, and anxious families waiting to see if they make it through the storm are shadowed in grays and the joyful return to the world at the end shines with all the colors of the rainbow.

There are many layers and possibilities for this book; readers familiar with the Biblical story can discuss the parallels and differences and look at the book from a religious perspective as both Noah and his parents care for those under their protection. Readers unfamiliar with the story or approaching it from a non-religious viewpoint can discuss how Noah cares for the wildlife in his home and what things they can do to help their own backyard creatures. All readers can enjoy this imaginative, warm story for its lovely text and rich art.

Verdict: A strong addition to any library, this is a great choice for a preschool or older storytime, one-on-one reading, or retelling traditional stories.

ISBN: 9780763674847; Published March 2019 by Candlewick; Review copy provided by the publisher; Donated to the library

Monday, June 10, 2019

Just right: Searching for the Goldilocks planet by Curtis Manley, illustrated by Jessica Lanan

An African-American girl looks out her window, dreaming of what's in the sky... and the book segues into an exploration of the search for exoplanets and the science surrounding space and the stars. The book alternates between nonfiction and fiction, introducing astronomers and scientists of the past and analyzing what makes a planet habitable - and for what type of life forms and then switching to the girl and her sister and parents visiting a museum an exploring these concepts and questions further.

There is back matter, including an extension of the science behind finding exoplanets and more information on carbon-based life forms as well as a list of further reading and resources. The book is written simply, in a way that young children can understand, but also offers room for older readers to investigate the concepts further and think more deeply about the subject.

Lanan's watercolors show a realistic picture of a family exploring the wonders of science as well as imagining galaxies and planets beyond our reach. Smaller sections of text explore some concepts in more depth although they can sometimes be hard to decipher against the colored backgrounds.

Verdict: Whether or not you're adding to your space titles, this is a strong selection that not only explores a fascinating topic but encourages creative thinking and scientific questioning.

ISBN: 9781250155337; Published January 2019 by Roaring Brook Press; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Sunday, June 9, 2019

RA RA Read: Is there a book about...

I have mixed feelings about bibliotherapy. On the one hand, picture books on difficult topics can give caregivers a helping hand in dealing with said topics. On the other, I am personally skeptical of them really having an effect on the kids themselves. Be that as it may, I do get asked a lot for books on specific "issues" and this is the list I have so far. I have a separate list of books on divorced and blended families and all of the titles here are stories, not books specifically aimed at issues. Specific issue books are in our Parenting collection.

  • Adoption
    • My new mom and me by Renata Galindo
    • Orange Peel’s Pocket by Rose Lewis
    • Best family in the world by Susana Lopez
    • Most unusual day by Sydra Mallery
    • Goyangi means cat by McDonnell
  • Biracial families
    • Spork by Kyo Maclear
  • New Baby
    • Double trouble by Atinuke
    • There's going to be a baby by John Burningham
    • Mooshka by Julie Paschkis
    • Phoebe and Digger by Tricia Springstubb
  • Siblings
    • Flora’s Very Windy Day by Jeanne Birdsall
    • Big red lollipop by Rukhsana Khan
  • Single father (or sole interactions with father)
    • Hammer and nails by Josh Bledsoe
    • Rory the dinosaur by Liz Climo
  • Single mother
    • Two is enough by Janna Matthies
  • Dealing with Emotions
    • When Sophie gets angry by Molly Bang
    • Jar of happiness by Ailsa Burrows
    • Llama llama mad at mama by Anna Dewdney
    • The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld
    • Taming of Lola by Ellen Weiss
  • Grief and Death - animals
    • Big cat, little cat by Elisha Cooper
    • City dog, country frog by Mo Willems
  • Separation Anxiety
    • Llama Llama misses mama by Anna Dewdney
    • Roly Poly Pangolin by Anna Dewdney
    • No more blanket for Lambkin by Bernette Ford
    • I want my pacifier by Tony Ross
    • No babysitters allowed by Amber Stewart
Growing Up
  • Bedtime Issues
    • Your own big bed by Rita Bergstein
      • Moving from a crib to a regular bed
    • Back to bed, Ed! By Sebastien Braun
      • Staying in bed
    • Llama Llama red pajama by Anna Dewdney
    • I don’t want to go to bed by Tony Ross
    • Jake stays awake by Michael Wright
  • Being Sick
    • Sniffles for Bear by Bonny Becker
    • Llama Llama home with mama by Anna Dewdney
    • Bear feels sick by Karma Wilson
  • Healthy Eating (Picky Eaters)
    • Monsters don’t eat broccoli by Barbara Hicks (out of print)
    • Bread and jam for Frances by Russell Hoban
    • Soup Day by Melissa Iwai
  • Moving
    • Before I leave by Jessixa Baxley
  • Potty training
    • Saddest toilet in the world by Sam Apple
    • Dinosaur vs. the potty by Bob Shea
  • Sharing and Playing Together
    • I’m the best by Lucy Cousins
    • Llama Llama time to share by Anna Dewdney
    • Tea party rules by Ame Dyckman
School and socialization
  • Bullying
    • Bully by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
    • Llama Llama and the Bully Goat by Anna Dewdney
    • Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully by Julianne Moore
    • Stand tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
    • Dixie and the big bully by Grace Gilman
    • Trudy Ludwig (author)
  • Social Interactions
    • Plankton is pushy by Jonathan Fenske
    • Invisible boy by Trudy Ludwig
    • Kindergators: Hands off Harry by Rosemary Wells
    • Kindergators: Miracle Melts down by Rosemary Wells
  • Tolerance, diversity
    • There's a cat in our class by Jeanie Ransom
Other Issues and Subjects
  • Allergies and food issues
    • Jake goes peanuts by Michael Wright
  • Biting
    • No more biting for Billy Goat by Bernadette Ford
    • Teeth are not for biting by Elizabeth Verdick
  • Children with physical disabilities
    • Snow rabbit by Camille Garoche
  • Lice and bedbugs
    • Barnaby the bedbug behavior by Catherine Stier
    • Bugs in my hair by David Shannon
  • Poverty and social issues
    • Bike like Sergio's by Maribeth Boelts
  • Vision issues
    • Pirate of kindergarten by George Lyon
    • I can see just fine by Eric Barclay
Updated 5-19

Saturday, June 8, 2019

This week at the library; or, Last week of field trips. Summer looms.

Happening this week
  • Monday
    • Paws to read
    • Managers' meeting
    • New employee training
  • Tuesday
    • Kindergarten field trip (3 classes)
    • Fourth grade field trip (4 classes)
    • 2nd grade field trip (1 class)
    • Teen sewing club
  • Wednesday
    • Tibbets school visit (5 grades)
    • Fourth grade field trip (4 classes)
  • Thursday (last day of school)
    • 1st grade field trip (4 classes)
    • 3rd grade school visit (4 classes)
  • Friday
    • Free lego build
    • Usborne book sale
  • Saturday
    • Blast off to summer reading
    • Usborne book sale
    • In-person summer reading registration for all ages begins
  • Worked 33 hours; 10 hours on desk; 9 programs (approximately 650 kids)
  • Worked at home on collection development for several hours
  • Tuesdays 4th grade field trip was rained out - had to haul all the books over to the school. Just as well, since we forgot to put up the Pac-man maze the night before and it wasn't ready!
  • Wednesday went well... except for my somehow frying the scanner the night before, the a/c in the library being out, and only 1 kid remembering their library card! But for a first year of doing remote check-outs it was very successful and we checked out LOTS of books!
  • Last visits on Thursday - writing up all the things I need to remember to adjust next year.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Missing by Brenda Z. Guiberson

I'm more familiar with Guiberson as an author of nonfiction picture books; this is her first upper-level nonfiction title I've read.

Starting with the disappearance of Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa in 1975, Guiberson works back through history covering the disappearances of D. B. Cooper, hijacker in 1971, author and eccentric Barbara Follett in 1939, Amelia Earhart, William Morgan, who threatened to publish Mason secrets in 1826, and the princes in the Tower of London circa 1483.

Each chapter presents a narrative of the disappearance, information about the history and personalities leading up to the disappearance, and speculation and effects. The book is illustrated with black and white photographs and black and white line drawings, which to me had an outdated look. There is a bibliography organized by chapter and index.

I'm not much interested in the topic, so it's hard for me to judge how well-known these people, other than Amelia Earhart, would be. I'm pretty sure no young readers have ever heard of Barbara Follett or William Morgan and probably won't be particularly interested in these people. Jimmy Hoffa and D. B. Cooper are a little more current and might elicit more interest, while history buffs will enjoy the introduction to the princes and the continued speculation about their fate.

Verdict: I don't think this will have a wide audience. It's an interesting topic, but the black and white photos and sketches don't add much interest and the random assortment of subjects limits the appeal. An additional purchase for high-level readers.

ISBN: 9781250133403; Published February 2019 by Henry Holt; Borrowed from another library in my consortium