Monday, March 18, 2019

Terrific tongues by Maria Gianferrari, illustrated by Jia Liu

This book is for anyone who finds a little gleeful pleasure in encouraging a roomful of toddlers to stick their tongues out at people. Heh heh heh.

The story opens with a cute monkey sticking out her tongue towards some ice cream and a description of all the tools a tongue can be. "If you had a tongue like a sword, you might be a ..." the picture accompanying this shows the monkey with a long, sharp tongue fencing. Who has a sword-like tongue? Turn the page and find out that it's a... woodpecker! A red-bellied woodpecker is shown using it's long, barbed tongue to extract insects while the monkey watches from high up in a tree. Additional information about the woodpecker is included in smaller type.

The guessing game continues with the tongues of a moth (straw), frog (party blower), snake (nose), bat (mop), okapi (washcloth), and more. The last spreads show the many uses of a human tongue and a spread of all the creatures and their tongues in the book. Back matter includes more information about the different animals and their tongues and some additional terrific tongues!

Liu's digital illustrations and the layout of the book may definitely bring Steve Jenkins and Robin Page's books to mind, but this is definitely its own animal. Liu's illustrations mimic cut paper but are more colorful and detailed, especially in the wider scenes. They also offer more humorous touches, like the monkey using its tongue like a washcloth, covered in birthday cake.

Verdict: The interactive elements and colorful, humorous illustrations make this new animal attribute stand out from the crowd and are sure to guarantee it a success in storytime. Recommended.

ISBN: 9781620917848; Published April 2018 by Boyds Mills Press; Purchased for the library

Saturday, March 16, 2019

This week at the library; or, I am still tired

Happening this week
  • Monday
    • Discovery Playgroup
    • Books for Bedtime
    • Paws to Read
    • Summer Reading YS Staff Meeting
  • Tuesday
    • Toddlers 'n' Books (2 sessions)
    • VIP Volunteers
  • Wednesday
    • Lakeland School field trip
    • Winter Wigglers: Yoga
    • Meeting with new department head for Parks and Rec
  • Thursday
    • Outreach: 5th grade career fair
    • Books 'n' Babies
    • Rock 'n' Read
  • Friday
  • Saturday
  • Worked 36 hours; 18 hours on desk; 3 programs
Projects and notes
  • Of course I have a cold or something now. Of course. A mix of respiratory and stomach bugs are sweeping the down - I seem to have the respiratory one. That's why this week is fairly brief b/c I feel so icky.
  • I left work early on Tuesday to make up for last week's extra hours and had my hair done - mermaid colors are fresh now!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Mr. Penguin and the lost treasure by Alex T. Smith

I love several of Smith's picture books; could take or leave his Claude chapter book series, and, while I personally enjoyed it and thought it was funny, am doubtful about the audience for his latest book as well as having some concerns.

Originally published in the UK in 2017, this wacky book introduces the eccentric Mr. Penguin, who longs to be an adventurer and detective, but is hampered by his equally strong love of comfort (and lack of experience). However, when he gets a call from Miss Bones and her brother Montague, who need his help to find a treasure to save the Museum of Extraordinary Objects, he is on the case, along with his sidekick and assistant, Colin the spider! After many weird and wacky adventures, and with the help of their friend Edith Hedge "who lived in the park" Mr. Penguin successfully solves the case.


It turns out that the real Miss Bones has been kidnapped and the Miss Bones and her brother Montague are two (male) villains, jewel thieves in disguise. I didn't care for the plot point of having "Miss Bones" be disguised as a woman and the only person of color is Edith, who is mostly pushed aside at the end (despite having really solved the case herself). As Kirkus says, it reinforces "dominant race, gender, and class norms". This is also pretty long for the theme and plot - a little over 200 pages - while the book reads much younger, about 2nd grade.

The main reason I'm attracted to this series is that it reminds me irresistibly of Angleberger's weird but oddly popular Inspector Flytrap and also Rider Woofson, which I don't care for myself but which has several dedicated readers. Mr. Penguin is longer and more challenging and certainly won't be for every kid, but I can see my Flytrap fans, who keep begging me for more books that don't exist, falling all over this one!

Verdict: Not for every kid or library, but if you have fluent young readers who like the weird and wonderful, with a side of goofy humor, this should go over well.

ISBN: 9781682631201; Published April 2019 by Peachtree; ARC provided by publisher

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Small Readers: Mighty Truck: Traffic Tie-Up by Chris Barton, illustrated by Troy Cummings

Clarence, a dirty brown pick-up truck, has a secret. When he gets wet, he turns into Mighty Truck, a shiny red monster truck who saves the day! (A bubble before the title page gets readers up to speed on Mighty Truck's origins).

Stella the news chopper is flying high above the city, announcing traffic jams and other important news. Stella is LOUD, just like she should be... outside. But, unfortunately, she's loud inside too, and it's really annoying her friend Clarence. He decides to teach her how to use an inside voice - with an unexpected result. She starts using her inside voice outside too, and pretty soon traffic is stuck. Will anyone get to the big art show? Can Mighty Truck save the day?

Colorful cartoons decorate the pages and will definitely make kids think of the popular Cars franchise. The "moral" of the story, that Clarence needs to be more tactful and not criticize his friends is a bit off - Stella does need to learn to use an inside voice and an outside voice, just at the appropriate time and Clarence was actually really nice about teaching her how to have an inside voice.

The words are interspersed through the cartoons, in occasional speech bubbles, and between bubbles. The text is bold and dark and generally stands out well. This is a guided reading level K, so about medium.

Verdict: Not particularly stand-out, but a good filler with pleasing characters and a strong attraction for kids who like cars and trucks.

ISBN: 9780062344700; Published May 2018 by HarperCollins; Purchased for the library

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Read, Read, Read, said the Baby: Jonny Lambert's Animal 1 2 3

I discovered Lambert's watercolor collages (I don't know if that's what they're really made of, but that's what they look like to me) a while ago and I've come to really enjoy the style. This is a simple but sweet board book with attractive images.

Each spread shows a few animals - some out in the open, some hidden, and asks the reader to count them. On alternate spreads, you lift a flap to see the full picture. So for four camels, you see two small camel calves and an adult, but if you look closely, you'll see there are extra legs behind the adult. Lift the flap (up) and you will see a second adult camel bringing the total to four. On the pages with no flaps, the animals are still challenging to spot because of their blended colors and shapes.

From the beginning; 1 bear is alone, lift the flap to see two flying dragonflies. One hippo and two noses are shown, lift the flap to see all three hippos. The fifth wolf of the pack is shown as only a flying tail until you lift the flap. Six mice have no flap. Seven lizards are shown on the page, but lift the flap to see two of them dance away. Eight penguins have no flap. Nine bees buzz across two full-page flaps and a field of sunflowers. Ten flamingos (no flap) are the final number and the last spread and page of the book shows the numbers and small pictures of each animal.

The flaps are the thickness and weight of the heavy board pages themselves. I don't think they actually need reinforcement, but maybe some extra tape along the hinge would be good. The book is on the larger side, 8.5x8.5 so it would make a good storytime choice as well, spreading out the flaps for a good look.

Verdict: A fun and well-done addition to any board book collection recommended.

ISBN: 9781465478450; Published November 2018 by DK; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Up the mountain path by Marianne Dubuc

Dubuc's pastel watercolors and colored pencils present a gentle but meaningful intergenerational story. The elderly Mrs. Badger has had many experiences and lived a full life. Every week, on Sunday, she walks up the neighboring mountain. One day, she meets a small cat on the way. She shares her food and invites the cat to go with her. She helps Lulu find a walking stick and keep going even when its hard. Finally, they reach the top of Sugarloaf Peak and together they see the world. Their weekly walks and observations continue, but one day Mrs. Badger is too tired to climb the mountain. Now Lulu climbs and comes back to tell her friend of all she's seen and bring her treasures. And one day, Lulu finds a new friend to whom she can pass on the wisdom she learned from Mrs. Badger.

Just so you know, Mrs. Badger doesn't die. This isn't a story about death but about generations sharing wisdom and the beauty of the natural world together. Dubuc's soft watercolors show a wonderful world of animals, nature, and other discoveries that the two friends make on their hiking trips and a lifetime of quiet nature observations and acceptance.

Verdict: While this may not be a storytime pick, it's a lovely story to read one-on-one with a child or in a classroom of older kids and talk about the things they can learn from adults - and what they can teach themselves, as well as fostering a love of nature and the ability to overcome difficulties.

ISBN: 9781616897239; Published October 2, 2018 by Princeton Architectural Press; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Monday, March 11, 2019

Bugs don't hug: Six-legged parents adn their kids by Heather L. Montgomery, illustrated by Steven Stone

"Bugs aren't like us." So begins this silly, informative, and rather gross picture book about bugs. Bugs don't give hugs, serve scrambled eggs for breakfast, or... But wait! Mother crickets do lay extra eggs to feed their babies. Father beetles clean up their baby's droppings. Parent shield bugs find the perfect fruit for their picky eaters. Maybe bugs are kind of like humans after all?

Cartoon art contrasts realistic pictures of bugs with their offspring and caricatures showing bulgy-eyed, anthropomorphic bugs mimicking human behavior. The bright colors make for cute pictures, as long as you don't look too close... at dung beetles and their cakes of dung, burying beetles making a meal off a mouse corpse, or a mother pill big curling up with her larvae on her belly. This one isn't for the squeamish!

Back matter identifies each bug by their scientific name and gives more specific details about their habits and behavior. There are a few picture books listed for future reading and an author's note about scientific vs. playful language. There's a final note to parents gently suggesting they not pass on their bug phobias to little ones who are curious about the world around them.

Verdict: A great choice for storytimes or bug units, use this one to introduce kids to the ways we are all part of the natural world as well as to encourage interest in the bugs and creatures around us.

ISBN: 9781580898164; Published September 2018 by Charlesbridge; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Saturday, March 9, 2019

This week at the library; or, I am too tired to come up with something clever

Happenings at the library this week:
  • I realized last week I missed the deadline for two grants I was looking at. I'm hoping the Friends will cover one and the other opens again in the summer, so I'll try to be ready next time.
  • Reports, preparing for summer reading meeting with staff next week, bills, preparation for the Maker Faire, and all manner of misc. things.
  • Maker Faire was exhausting, but worth it!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Two truths and a lie: Histories and Mysteries by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson

Another edition in Paquette and Thompson's excursion into critical thinking, this book focuses on historical incidents. The book is set up to tell three stories for each category - two are true, one is a lie. There are also lists of facts (can you find the one fake fact hidden there?) and additional information. Back matter includes the solutions, sources, and a resource guide.

A goofy monkey cartoon decorates the pages, participating in various stories. The backdrops are photographs, but some of them make the text difficult to read. The book is divided into history - there is a set of stories for ancient times, more recent (over 100 years ago), and relatively recent events. The next three chapters focus on geography - weird places and the people who live there (or do they?). The final section focuses on people, from Ben Franklin to interesting cultural notes (did you know marshmallows grow in Iceland? Or do they?)

Verdict: Readers and teachers who enjoyed the first book, will be excited to find more challenges in this title. Teachers and parents will also find this useful for lessons on sifting "fake news" from the real thing and thinking critically about what we read, in print and online.

ISBN: 9780062418869; Published June 2018 by Walden Pond Press; Purchased for the library

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Open Wide! The ultimate guide to teeth by Susan Grigsby

I don't know where I first saw this, but it looked really interesting and I've been intending to read it for... a while. I finally picked it up, and it was just as fun as it looked!

The opening endpapers have six fun questions, or "toothy tidbits" with answers on the back endpages. This sets the stage for a funny and informative journey through the world of dentition. There are sections explaining the general organization of mammal teeth, the different teeth used by rodents, insects, and fish, and the different uses for teeth from eating to defense, from hunting to tools. Not just wild animals are covered, but pets, dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals. There are in-depth sections on primary (baby) teeth and permanent teeth, the history of tooth cleaning, dental hygiene, and even braces and orthodontia.

Back matter includes a variety of resources from online sites to museums, sources, acknowledgements, glossary, index, and credits.

I can see multiple uses for this handy and interesting book. Hand it to kids to dip into if they're interested in the human body, animals, teeth, dinosaurs, or history. Use it as a resource prior to dentist trips, wiggly teeth, or to soothe worries about the fate of baby teeth or future braces. Use it as a starting point for research, or just to pick up interesting facts to repeat (I'm thinking of teaching the seven-year-olds to say they're feeling grumpy because their lateral incisors are coming in...)

Verdict: Fun, informative, and definitely fills a gap, this is a toothsome book you will definitely want to have on your shelves. Recommended.

ISBN: 9781633221239; Published 2017 by Seagrass/Quarto; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Read, Read, Read, said the Baby: Hi-Five Animals! by Ross Burach

This is promoted as a "Never Bored book!" and it is definitely not boring! Get those hands ready, because it's hi-five time!

In a series of brightly colored pictures, little readers have the opportunity to hi-five a variety of animals, from a crocodile to a shark, penguin to a polar bear. Not just regular hi-fives though, a round the back polar bear paw slap, lots of monkey paws - don't leave them hanging! and a good foot-stomping trunk slap are just a few of the fun options. The animals are goofy cartoons with exaggerated paws, trunks, and flippers that swing across blocks of color on the pages, yellow, blue, and green.

Additional instructions to growl, stomp, roar, or swing are included as well, adding to the fun of this bright little board book. It's a nice, solid square with high-contrast colors that will appeal to babies and toddlers alike.

Verdict: A must-have for your board book section, if you can afford to invest in a big set of these they'd make an awesome lapsit or toddler storytime choice.

ISBN: 9781338245677; Published August 2018 by Scholastic; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Hush up and hibernate! by Sandra Markle, illustrated by Howard McWilliam

I love books about bears, fall, and hibernation, but I get so disappointed when I find ones with great illustrations but factual inaccuracies! However, when I saw that Sandra Markle had written a picture book I was sure that would not be an issue - and it wasn't!

The leaves are changing color and winter is in the air and Mama Bear knows it's time to hibernate. Baby Bear is not so in love with the idea though. He's hungry! He's thirsty! He wants to catch a fish! His bed is too hard! Parents will laugh along with Baby Bear's delays until Mama Bear finally loses it and says "ENOUGH!" Baby Bear gives in and they are soon snoring away... until Baby Bear wakes up one more time, "is it spring yet?"

Back matter includes information on hibernation, how it works, which animals do and don't hibernate, and activities to try. There's also additional activities to explore.

This is definitely a fiction book - the very human expression of exasperation on Mama Bear's face will resonate with parents everywhere who have a non-napper - but it also incorporates true facts about bears. It shows the baby hibernating with the mother (seriously, I once found a really gorgeous book that had the baby bear being raised by the father), talks about which animals do and don't hibernate, and shows a nice picture of a cozy den in a tree with leaves.

Verdict: An excellent addition to storytimes about hibernation and to your picture book collection in general. Recommended.

ISBN: 9781943978366; Published 2018 by Persnickety Press; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Monday, March 4, 2019

Little fox in the snow by Jonathan London, illustrated by Daniel Miyares

I will frankly admit that, along with many other librarians, teachers, and caregivers, I find the Froggy books to be... annoying. The kids want them read over and over again but... ugh. However! I am really thrilled at the nonfiction picture books London has been doing, each paired with a different, highly talented, illustrator.

This latest one is a single winter day in the life of a fox. In his den, the fox wakes to the morning light, hunts and catches a mouse and rabbit (only the mouse is shown being caught), and pauses for a drink. He smells a female fox, but then is chased by a wolverine and makes it back to safety with only inches to spare.

The text is written directly to the fox, "Little foxling, where will you go? You flow like a shadow across the fields. You leave little paw prints behind in the snow." The text is spare but lovely, presenting a realistic picture of the fox's life. Miyares' watercolors spread across the page, the fox's red coat a brilliant splash of color against the stark white and brown of the winter landscape. The sun glows in the sky, the wolverine's eyes flash. There's a great deal of beauty in the spare winter landscape of the forest and Miyares captures its beauty and harshness perfectly.

I've read this in several storytimes and while it's not the exuberant, funny type of story, it has a stark beauty that the kids actually respond very well to. Use a quiet voice and gestures to show the fox's movement and kids will be enthralled.

Verdict: A beautiful and informative nonfiction picture book. Note that it's eligible to be nominated for Cybils in 2019! I'm looking forward to adding this to my library. Recommended.

ISBN: 9780763688141; Published November 2018 by Candlewick; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Sunday, March 3, 2019

RA RA Read: Middle Grade adventures across the genres

There's nothing like a good adventure story, especially if it's got humor, villains, and possibly even a little magic. Of course, most of these require the absence of parents or other grown-ups (unless they're mad scientists or evil or both) This is a mix of titles from my library; some are popular, some have passed out of popularity but I still recommend them, some are new!

Gadgets, Villains, and Secret Societies
  • 39 Clues by various authors (series)
  •; by Andy Briggs
  • Nerds by Michael Buckley (series)
  • Charlie Hernandez and the league of shadows by Ryan Calejo (series)
  • Masterminds by Gordon Korman (series)
  • Seven Wonders by Peter Lerangis (series)
  • Hitler's Secret; Winter's Bullet by William Osborne
  • Accelerati Trilogy by Neal Shusterman (series)
  • Explorer Academy by Trudi Trueit (series)
  • Rule of Thre3 by Eric Walters

Science Fiction

  • Books of Ember by Jeanne Duprau
  • Missing; Shadow Children by Margaret Peterson Haddix (series)
  • Sal and Gabi break the universe by Carlos Hernandez
  • Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
Survival Adventures
  • Authors
    • Will Hobbs
    • Gary Paulsen
  • Titles and Series
    • My side of the mountain by Jean Craighead George
    • Stranded by Jeff Probst (series)
  • Dark game: True spy stories by Paul Janeczko
  • Ghosts in the fog by Samantha Seiple
  • Bomb by Steve Sheinkin
  • Guts & Glory by Ben Thompson (series)
  • Samurai Rising by Pamela Turner
Updated March 2019

Saturday, March 2, 2019

This week at the library; or, Here comes March

Happening at the library this week
  • Monday
    • Discovery Playgroup
    • Books for Bedtime
    • Paws to Read
  • Tuesday
    • Toddlers 'n' Books
    • Art Workshop: Dream Worlds
    • OPtions Curriculum Fair
  • Wednesday
    • Winter Wigglers: Obstacle Course
    • Book-a-librarian sewing
  • Thursday
    • Books 'n' Babies
    • Ozobots with Girl Scouts
  • Friday
  • Worked 40.5 hours; 15 hours on desk; 5 programs
  • Continued working on neighborhoods - got through a couple more sections
  • I was only at the curriculum fair for a few hours, but I connected with several parents, made tons of buttons with the kids, and checked out several items
  • I used this post from Artful Parent for our dream worlds program
  • My two book-a-librarian clients both made a project and had fun!
  • Ozobots with the Girl Scouts was fun and exhausting. Not all 20 2nd graders came, but it sure felt like twice that number!

Friday, March 1, 2019

How we got to now: Six innovations that made the modern world by Steven Johnson

This is an adaptation for young readers of the adult bestseller. I'm often wary of young reader's adaptations, but even though I've never read the original I really enjoyed this one and look forward to introducing it to kids.

Johnson takes readers through six major innovations that changed the world. Not the wheel, fire, or computers and engines - think more modern and more generally. His six categories are Glass, Cold, Sound, Clean, Time, and Light. Each chapter explains the evolution of these things and how they affected the modern world. Glass includes the original uses of glass for ornament, into the creation of windows, lenses, and a powerful scientific and industrial tool in the shape of fiberglass. Cold seems like a convenience, until you think about the preservation of food and how it has radically changed life expectancy and the ability to move away from an agragarian society. Sound. From the first inventions of phonograph and telephone to sophisticated uses of sound waves today, here is another invention that has radically changed safety, survival, and our way of life.
Personally, I don't find most historical romances enjoyable because all I can think about is how dirty everything is. Being dirty isn't just a personal dislike; it's a huge aspect of health. Clean water, the ability to bathe and clean your clothing and home, clean food - it all depends on a series of complex medical and engineering advances. Modern society wouldn't be possible without advances in cleanliness and how it has affected health and life in general, as well as industry. Time is a more abstract concept; before clocks and mathematical equations, how did people know what time it was? Why did it matter? How has the invention of time-keeping systems and the standardization of time affected how we live today (well, how some people live. I personally have never quite grasped math+time). The final chapter on light addresses not just the practical aspects of creating light - candles, oil, and the whaling industry, the creation of the electric bulb and the ability to create light during the darkest of days and nights, but also the use of lasers, barcodes, and other scientific tools of light.

The book is amply illustrated with photographs, and includes copious back matter.

Verdict: Hand this to middle grade and middle school readers who are interested in science and history or to anyone who wants to think a little more deeply about how we got to where we are today - and where we're headed in the future.

ISBN: 9780425287781; Published October 16, 2018 by Viking; Review copy provided by the publisher; Donated to the library

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Read, Read, Read, said the Baby: Leaves by Carol Lawrence, illustrated by Francesco Zito

I was really excited when I saw this board book series, Baby Explorer, and even bought one, Water, but now that I've actually read one I'm torn.

The first spread is a simple invitation to look and listen in the forest. But immediately on the following page, the book dives into a complex discussion of deciduous trees, how leaves are formed, types of leaves, chlorophyll, and the function of leaves.

The art is bright and simple with clearly labeled diagrams and patterns. Friendly-looking squirrels, colorful leaves with clear veins, and cute bugs fill the pages.

On the one hand, I do love introducing children to nonfiction concepts and vocabulary. The text is simple and clearly explained. On the other hand, I'm really doubtful that the average baby or toddler is going to sit still for (or grasp) the complex concepts and vocabulary.

Verdict: Textually, this is too advanced for a baby or toddler. However, the pictures are attractive and sometimes caregivers and parents do want board books for older children who can't handle the more delicate pages of picture books. I think on the whole I'll buy them, but I probably won't use them in storytime or recommend them as read-alouds.

ISBN: 9780807505168; Published October 1, 2018 by Albert Whitman; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Stop that yawn! by Caron Levis, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

This wild ride of a bedtime story is an homage to one of my favorite books, In the Night Kitchen, features the awesome art of LeUyen Pham, and basically was designed for me (and many others) to fall in love immediately.

Gabby Wild is tired of bedtime and living in Sleepytown. So her Granny packs them up into Gabby's bed and they set out on an exciting journey to... Never Sleeping City! In this exciting place, populated by anthropomorphous animals, flashing neon signs, and a variety of humans, there's always something going on. Opera, carnival, ice cream, it's wonderful! But then, as they're riding the ferris wheel Granny lets a yawn escape! Despite Gabby's desperate efforts to contain the yawn, "Grit your teeth, seal your lips, we have to stop that...YAWN" the yawn quickly spreads across Never Sleeping City and even to the readers! Finally, even Gabby succumbs and finds herself back in her bed, fast asleep and dreaming of new adventures.

Although the story delivers a nod to Sendak, it's wholly new and its own. The brisk text has a contemporary beat and mixes in the current trend of interactive books. Pham's art shows a bustling city, peopled with Sendak-like animals in elaborate costumes, but she also adds her own sweet touches from Gabby's beaded hair to Granny's tennis shoes and the old radiator in their small apartment. This is a much more diverse and contemporary world than Sendak's, but it still has all the charm of an imaginary city.

Verdict: Read this at storytime, to reluctant kids at bedtime, or just for fun any time of the day! I hope this will become a modern classic; it certainly deserves it.

ISBN: 9781481441797; Published October 16, 2018 by Atheneum; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Monday, February 25, 2019

Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson saved Apollo 13 by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Dow Phumiruk

Anyone who knows me knows I am not a fan of picture book biographies. My objections are many - they focus more on the artistic side than the informational side, they don't provide enough context for the age and knowledge of the assumed reader, they don't circulate... but every once in a while I find an exception and this is absolutely a book I will happily purchase for the library!

In simple, brisk language Becker tells the story of Johnson's youth as a math prodigy, the many barriers she faced, and the support of her family and her own enthusiasm and determination that helped her move past them to become an integral part of NASA. The science behind the rockets and Johnson's math is explained in easy metaphors and illustrations and Katherine's refrain, "count on me" keeps readers following and connecting the story to the end.

An author's note explains more details about Katherine Johnson's life and work and gives a brief list of sources. The endpages are covered in mathematical calculations, many of them accessible to young readers "Find the volume of an ice cream cone" and the cheerful, bright illustrations personify Johnson's determination to follow her dreams despite many barriers. This is an authorized biography, for which Becker interviewed Katherine Johnson and her family.

This picture book biography works because it explains Johnson's life in a way that kids can grasp - her love of math, her involvement in the space program, and offers enough context for them to have an understanding of the time period - her family having to move to a different town for her to attend high school and the discrimination she faced, "They were given the tasks that men thought were boring and unimportant."

Verdict: Hand this to young readers who are interested in space and science and recommend to teachers presenting lessons on the space race, biographies, and looking to diversify their classrooms.

ISBN: 978125013524; Published 2018 by Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Saturday, February 23, 2019

This week at the library; or, More snow?

Happenings at the library this week
  • Monday
  • Tuesday
    • Toddlers 'n' Books (2 sessions)
    • STEM Challenge: Speed Racers (2nd session for What's Next families)
    • OPtions board meeting
  • Wednesday
    • Outreach Storytime (3 sessions)
    • Library on the Go (2 sessions)
    • Winter Wigglers: Fit Kids (2 sessions)
  • Thursday
  • Friday
    • 4K outreach: Rainforest night
  • Worked 32.5 hours (8 hours PTO); 13 hours on desk; 7 programs

  • I used an old program of Amy Koester's for Speed Racers. We didn't have the right size of washers and ended up grabbing buttons and using a lot of hot glue, but the kids had fun anyways. About 20 for the first session and 5? for the second.
  • I forgot to tell my associate doing Fit Kids that Head Start was coming! However, thankfully it all worked out fine and the group was a nice size - about 20 - and everyone had a great time. She had a really detailed workout scheduled for the kids; I saw/listened to the afternoon session and the kids really got into it.
  • The rainforest program was rescheduled, but I'd already taken the day off. I packed up all the books, resources, etc. for my associate and I hope she had fun with all the four year olds! (Yes, she was hired to work with teens but she's flexible...)

Projects this week
  • Paperwork and publicity for Walmart grant
  • Update newsletter (need by Thursday)
  • Lost paperwork
  • Three sections of the neighborhoods weeded and updated

Friday, February 22, 2019

The secrets of Tutankhamun: Egypt's boy king and his incredible tomb by Patricia Cleveland-Peck, illustrated by Isabel Greenberg

This isn't exactly a graphic novel and it's not really a picture book. Illustrated nonfiction? We can go with that.

The book is divided into three parts; the life and death of Tutankhamun, the discovery of his grave by Howard Carter, and some final pages about continuing archeological research.

The book begins with an overview of the protagonists; the complicated family and ruling structure of Tutankhamun and the white archeologists who discovered his tomb. The first part gives a brief overview of the complex political structure of the time and then covers mummification as well as some Egyptian beliefs.

The largest part is the second section, which details the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb. Cleveland-Peck discusses the rivalry of various archeologists, the stormy relationship of Carter and his patron, the Earl of Carnarvon, and the world-changing discovery of the tomb. There are some brief notes that things like selling and keeping artifacts are no longer done, but there is little to no mention of the local Egyptians and their perspective on having their history dug up and sold.

The art is bright and stylized, mimicking the look of hieroglyphics. The Egyptians are shown with dark skin (I've seen some ridiculously white Egyptians, which is why I mention it).

Verdict: While this is certainly not a comprehensive discussion of ancient Egyptian history, or of the complex politics surrounding the extreme cultural appropriation and the Western craze with ancient Egypt, it's a light introduction for kids with plenty of illustrations and interesting writing. A good additional resource or starter book to get kids into Egyptian history.

ISBN: 9781681197128; Published August 2018 by Bloomsbury Children's Books; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Kitty's magic: Misty the scared kitten by Ella Moonheart

Koemi Kimura just loves cats. She loves them so much she's been nicknamed Kitty! While staying with her grandmother, while her parents are on a trip to Japan, Kitty's best friend gets an adorable kitten named Misty. Kitty begs to spend the night, even though she's allergic to cats. She gets permission - and a special locket - but later that night she just can't keep from sneezing! When she does sneeze a surprising thing happens - she turns into a cat!

Kitty discovers a whole new world, both fun and dangerous, as a cat. She makes new feline friends, takes on important responsibilities, and has a number of adventures.

Black and white pictures show a cute little girl and lots and lots of fluffy kittens and sleek, stripy, naughty, friendly cats. The book ends with a recap of the characters and some facts about cats. It's just a little over 100 pages and a good level for intermediate readers. Originally a UK series, it has that slightly twee feel - think the Rainbow Magic books - but is just fine for those voracious readers who power through a large stack of their favorite series every week.

Verdict: Hand this one to fans of Dr. Kitty Cat, cat fans, and those who like endless series of magic animals. I'll be adding it to our series collection and I expect it to start popping off the shelves soon.

ISBN: 9781681193854; This edition published 2018 by Bloomsbury; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Small Readers: Unlimited Squirrels in I lost my tooth! by Mo Willems

Mo Willems is back with a new easy reader series, this one featuring a zany band of squirrels.The light blue endpapers introduce the squirrels - some regular squirrels in varying shades of brown and gray, named Zip, Zap, Zoom, and Zing. Others are a little kookier, like Quiz Squirrel with a dramatic swirl of orange hair and a green tie, Research Rodent in a labcoat, and Flappy Squirrel.

The story is divided up by a table of contents, although it doesn't specifically have chapters - some of the sections are only a page or two long. After the table of contents there's a page showing the "Emote-acorns" which show the squirrels' "big" emotions. The main story is about Zoom Squirrel, who has lost a tooth. This incites a dramatic reaction from the other squirrels, especially when they find out that it was a baby tooth. A lost baby tooth! All alone! They must help! Eventually, after much drama and a lot of exclamation marks, all is well but a few questions remain...

Fortunately, Research Rodent is there with all the answers! What are teeth made of? How many teeth do animals have? Once the questions have been answered, Quiz Squirrel has a quiz and there are some acorn-ey jokes mixed in as well.

Mo Willems' illustration style is instantly recognizable and kids will be delighted to find the pigeon popping up here and there as well. The squirrels look a lot like the mouse that showed up in one Elephant and Piggie story, My new friend is so fun. This book is definitely a step up from Elephant and Piggie though. While the text is still simple and bold, it incorporates a lot of more complex vocabulary and there are a lot more elements in play - multiple (very similar) characters, multiple speech balloons, jokes, nonfiction, and other interruptions to the story, as well as wordplay. This is a blue level, which is the highest level of easy reader, in our collection. I'd recommend it to kids who are transitioning to chapter books. One last interesting note - none of the squirrels are given genders. I'm hoping this is maintained in future books, or that they don't all turn out to be male!

Verdict: Anything Mo Willems does in his signature style is sure to be a hit; it may take some time for this new series to build momentum and it may not achieve the character recognition of Elephant and Piggie or the Pigeon, but it's sure to be popular with kids who enjoy other transitional easy reader/chapter book titles. I'll be using this in book club and recommending it to kids who are fans of Jump-into-chapters, Eaton's Andy, and similar titles.

ISBN: 9781368024570; Published October 2, 2018 by Disney-Hyperion; Purchased two copies for the library

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog by Lisa Papp

In Madeline Finn's first story, she learns to love reading with Bonnie, a Great Pyrenees and reading therapy dog. Bonnie had puppies and now, Madeline gets to have one to keep! She chooses the littlest pup and names him Star. She wonders where Mrs. Dimple chose Bonnie and learns that she came from an animal shelter.

While Madeline works hard at taking care of Star, cleaning up after his mistakes, training him, and telling him she loves him all the time, she learns that not all animals have a home where they are loved. Madeline comes up with a great idea - to collect enough blankets and towels for all the dogs and read to them, just like she reads to Bonnie and Star. But when she gets to the shelter... she's the only one there. But just when things are too much for Madeline on her own, all the library folks show up with books, blankets and towels - and one sad little dog gets a forever home!

Papp's soft, pastel illustrations show a sweet little girl in leggings and skirt, and a series of adorable, if a little sad, dogs and other animals, just waiting for someone to love them. A warm, loving community is shown where everyone works together to make things a little better for some lonely animals.

Verdict: Kids love books about animals and this story is sure to appeal. It's a perfect fit for my library; before she retired we had a therapy dog that looked just like Bonnie and now the local shelter visits with a different animal each week looking for a home.

ISBN: 9781682630754; Published March 2019 by Peachtree; Galley provided by publisher; Purchased for the library

Monday, February 18, 2019

Magnificent Birds by Narisa Togo

This is one of those absolutely lovely books that I can't really see an audience for at my library but which I want anyways.

Each full spread covers a bird with some interesting quirk, attribute, or behavior with a linocut print of the bird and its habitat. Readers will learn about the Toco Toucan, largest of the toucans, and how it uses its famous beak. Then there's the Greater Bird of Paradise, largest of this beautiful family of birds with a marvelous mating display. Each bird has something that makes it special - the hummingbird, kakapo, or peregrine falcon.

There are two paragraphs of fairly dense text for each bird, some set against colored backgrounds that make it difficult to read. The oversized book features lovely but static prints of the various birds and their habitats. There is no back matter, but there is an acknowledgement of consultation with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (UK).

This isn't a book for storytime, nor will it appeal to readers who need to research or who are looking for a chapter book. It's more of a coffee-table book really, something for bird-lovers to pore over with their children (if they're patient enough to sit still) or to dip into to learn a little about a favorite bird.

Verdict: A beautiful book, this would make a lovely keepsake or gift for a fan of birds but is less likely to find a home in a library or school.

ISBN: 9781536201697; Published 2018 by Candlewick Studio; Review copy provided by the publisher; Donated to the library

Sunday, February 17, 2019

RA RA Read: Real Girls, Real Friendships and Best Frenemies

Somewhere between 9 and 12 some girls get really into realistic fiction. Not to say that boys don't read these books - some do - but they usually require a different booktalking technique which I'm not going into now. Most of these books deal in the emotional growth of their protagonists as they start to change how they relate to their family and friends, awareness of the world around them, or dealing with issues like death, divorce, new schools, etc. The ages are just approximations of course - there's nothing particularly teen in any of these and the most they get into romantic relationships is some possible crushes and maybe a kiss. There are lots and lots and lots of great books in this genre, but I'm just going to mention a few that I recommend frequently.

Elementary Chapters
  • Cupcake Cousins by Kate Hannigan (series)
  • Calli be gold by Michele Hurwitz
  • Friends for keeps by Julie Bowe (series)
  • Lucy Rose by Katy Kelly (series)
Middle Grade
  • The Battle of Darcy Lane; My Life in Dioramas by Tara Altebrando
  • Ruby and Olivia by Rachel Hawkins
  • The Summer I saved the world in 65 days by Michele Hurwitz
  • Boys are dogs by Leslie Margolis (series)
  • Willow Falls by Wendy Mass (series)
  • The Winnie Years; Flower Power by Lauren Myracle (series)
  • Secret Language of Girls by Frances O'Rourk Dowell (trilogy)
  • Center of everything by Linda Urban
Middle Grade with Diversity
  • Amina's voice by Hena Khan
  • Confetti Girl; Ask my mood ring how I feel by Diana Lopez
  • The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond by Brenda Woods
Graphic Novels
    Raina Telgemeier is queen of the genre in graphics. All others bow before her.
    • Be prepared by Vera Brosgol (more middle school)
    • Kat and Mouse by Alex de Campi (series) (more middle school)
    • Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova (more middle school)
    • Amelia Rules! by Jimmy Gownley (series)
    • Sunny Side Up by Jennifer Holm
    • Middle School is worse than meatloaf by Jennifer Holm (series)
    • Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
    Updated February 2019

    Saturday, February 16, 2019

    This week at the library; or, Organize or die

    Happenings this week at the library
    • Monday
      • Discovery Playgroup
      • Books for Bedtime
      • Paws to Read
    • Tuesday (weather again!)
      • Toddlers 'n' Books (2 sessions)
      • Art Workshop: Quilt Collage
    • Wednesday
      • Lakeland School outreach storytime
      • Winter Wigglers: Yoga
    • Thursday
    • Friday
      • Free Lego Build
    • Worked 39.5 hours (plus approx. 2 hours at home due to weather); 15 hours on desk; 3 programs
    Projects this week
    • Bills
    • Staff schedule through April
    • Organize and label basement supplies (one table of stuff left to sort through)
    • Paperwork and publicity for Walmart grant
    • Update obstacle course
    • Update newsletter
    • Program planning
    • Pop-up maker spaces - update list (done!)
    • Lerner NF order
    • AV orders
    • Early summer plans 
    • Look at grants
    • Lost/Paid for paperwork (worked on. not complete)
    • Two more new toy bags, lovely beasts and cookies

    Friday, February 15, 2019

    Sanity and Tallulah by Molly Brooks

    Sanity Jones and Tallulah Vega are best friends, even though they don't seem to have much in common except being stuck on an out-of-the-way space station in the far corner of the universe. Sanity is a brilliant inventory and genius, who doesn't always think before she creates. Tallulah is an imaginative, sweet girl who's not so good with the whole "science" thing. Their parents are scientists, sort-of-ex smugglers, and directors on their isolated space station.


    The story begins with the two getting into trouble, yet again, when Sanity creates, as Tallulah's mother says, "a carnivorous animal in the laboratory and has been feeding it out of my budget." But, protests Tallulah, Princess Sparkle Destroyer of Worlds is super cute! Princess Sparkle Destroyer of Worlds also happens to be a three-headed kitten. But really cute! When she gets to know you. From genetic experiments, to being grounded, to a life-threatening situation on board their space ship, Sanity and Tallulah stick up for each other and get in and out of trouble together. There are hints to darker and more serious issues (beside the whole "nearly dying" part at the end) but in general this is a ship that is a happy family. There are arguments and disagreements, power struggles and emergencies, but it's primarily a family of strong, confident, and capable women and men who work together well.

    The art is primarily in shade of pink, navy blue, and gray. Sanity is black, as are her parents, and a bit on the skinny side. Tallulah is short and red-haired, not looking much like her white-haired father, a double-amputee but more like her short and curvy mother who runs the science lab. Princess Sparkle Destroyer of Worlds is an adorably fluffy three-headed kitten (no matter what size she gets to, being fed on genetically enhanced meat).

    After the breathless conclusion, which wraps up not only the storyline but also shows the strong bonds of family and friendship among the stations' residents as they work together and trust Sanity to save them, there are hints of future adventures!

    Verdict: A wonderful new graphic novel series, sure to fly off your shelves. This will appeal to all graphic novel fans, especially readers of Zita the Spacegirl and Cleopatra in Space. Highly recommended.

    ISBN: 9781368008440; Published 2018 by Disney-Hyperion; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

    Wednesday, February 13, 2019

    Read, Read, Read, said the Baby: Will Sheep Sleep? by Hilary Leung

    Any parent or caregiver who has tried to get a lively toddler to sleep will appreciate this book.

    "Sheep has been playing all day and now he is tired.../... but will sheep sleep?" As anyone can guess, the answer is no! A bedtime drink, evening routines, all are quickly turned into a new game until finally Sheep's exhausted friends dress up in sheep suits and start a countdown. The only question left is, "Will Sheep snore?" and you can guess the answer to that one!

    Bright, digital cartoons show a creamy sheep with dark brown face and legs, toothy crocodile, smiling ladybug, and other animal friends.

    The only drawback to this title is that it's not very sturdy; instead of the usual thick cardboard pages and binding of a board book, the pages are thin, shirt cardboard, the kind that's found in folded dress clothes. The binding, especially the hinge, also seems thin.

    Verdict: A fun addition, but add some extra reinforcement and don't expect this one to last too long.

    ISBN: 9781338215625; Published May 2018 by Cartwheel Books; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

    Tuesday, February 12, 2019

    Mabel and Sam at home: One brave journey in three adventures by Linda Urban, illustrated by Hadley Hooper

    This quirky (and lengthy) picture book is a delightful excursion into the power of the imagination and the relationship between siblings. The story begins with Mabel and her little brother Sam watching a diverse group of movers hauling in a collection of furniture and other belongings at their new house. Mabel invites Sam aboard the Handle with Care (a box, obviously) and they set off to sail the seas. More adventures follow after the blue-themed sea journey; a walk through a yellow museum, and a dark green journey into space.

    Eventually Sam gets tired of Mabel's big sister bossiness and the two quarrel, but when it's time for bed they make up - and get permission to spend their first night sharing a bed like they used to share a room at their old house.

    Each adventure has a color theme and a tilted perspective that jumps easily into the imaginative aspect of the story. Readers don't get a really good view of the new house, but they do get a fun look at how Mabel and Sam, both with dark skin, Mabel with curly hair and Sam with straight, become acquainted with their new home. Some of the text is hard to read, being placed against a colored background.

    Verdict: If you're looking for longer picture books or something for siblings moving into a new home, this is a nice addition to the genre.

    ISBN: 9781452139968; Published June 2018 by Chronicle; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

    Monday, February 11, 2019

    Book of Bones: 10 Record-Breaking Animals by Gabrielle Balkan, illustrated by Sam Brewster

    I read this twice before I figured out the secret of the textures on the animals! In other words, this book has surprises.

    The oversize book offers the skeletons of 10 animals. The first spread lists facts about the animal and its skeleton, then a picture of the skeleton. This spread is in black and white with a light dusting of color. Readers can guess the animal before turning the page to a colorful spread showing the animal, its skeleton raised in light texture against its body. This picture is accompanied by a brief narrative. With a bright light the skeleton will show up through the page - it matches the skeleton on the reverse side. It's not glow-in-the-dark though, even though it feels like it!

    The animals profiled include a blue whale (biggest bone), Etruscan shrew (smallest bone), reticulated python (most bones), giraffe, elephant, peregrine falcon (lightest bones), bumblebee bat (thinnest bones), Alaska moose (fastest-growing bone), regal horned lizard (spikiest bone), great hammerhead shark (fewest bones), and the special bones of a human.

    An afterword from the author explains how they chose the different animals, the relative sizes and weights of bone, and how science changes as scientists discover new things. There is also a list of further reading "at the library" and online and a glossary.

    Verdict: A fascinating and beautifully created look at skeletons - perfect for a non-scary storytime at Halloween or for poring over any time of the year. Recommended.

    ISBN: 9780714875125; Published September 2017 by Phaidon; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

    Sunday, February 10, 2019

    RA, RA, Read: Rick Riordan and mythic fantasy

    Since I originally wrote this post, in 2017, Rick Riordan's fantasy series has grown exponentially, expanding to an imprint as well as Riordan's own books.

    Riordan's series start with the original five Percy Jackson books, expand that world into multiple series, break out into Norse mythology (Magnus Chase), and there is also a trilogy based on Egyptian mythology. Copious companion volumes, collections of mythology, etc. are also included. Riordan draws kids in with an emphasis on Greek mythology reinterpreted with lots of fantasy, adventure, and strong characters as well as a strong sense of humor.

    More Mythological Fantasy
    • Rick Riordan Presents is Riordan's imprint to showcase a diverse range of mythologies by #ownvoices authors, written in similar style as Riordan's books but unique to each author.
      • Aru Shah and the end of time by Roshani Chokshi
      • Storm runner by J. C. Cervantes
      • Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
      • Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez (2019)
    • Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
      • Celtic mythology. This is the first book in an older series and I've found circulation varies.
    • Loki's Wolves by Kelley Armstrong
      • Norse mythology.
    • Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda
      • Indian mythology - more violent than Percy Jackson and includes demons, which makes some parents uncomfortable
    • Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
      • The first book is technically Over Sea, Under Stone but it's a more old-fashioned fantasy quest. You can start with Dark is Rising. Tell kids to ignore the awful movie; this series brings together aspects of Celtic and Arthurian legend with some truly chilling moments and lovely language.
    • Serpent's secret by Sayantani Dasgupta
      • Bengali mythology
    • Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R. L. LaFevers
      • Egyptian magic and myth. Theodosia is a snarky young Victorian girl who finds she can use ancient Egyptian magic.
    • Flame of Olympus by Kate O'Hearn
      • Greek/Roman mythology. First in a series.
    • The gauntlet by Karuna Riazi
      • Middle Eastern - a group of friends find themselves in a deadly board game.
    • Chronus Chronicles by Anne Ursu
      • Greek mythology, but a heavier emphasis on fantasy than the mythic aspects.
    • Anubis Speaks; Hades Speaks; Thor Speaks by Vicky Alvear Schecter
      • Funny and informative, told in first-person by the god and discussing culture, religion, and mythology
    • Olympians by George O'Connor
      • Series of graphic novels; each features a different Greek god. O'Connor does an excellent job of retaining the sense of the myth while giving readers points to think about and not emphasizing the more inappropriate aspects.
    More Fantasy Adventure Titles (featuring contemporary protagonists)
    • Revenge of the Shadow King by Derek Benz
      • Grey Griffins trilogy. Monster-fighting.
    • Lightning Catcher by Anne Cameron
      • More a Harry Potter read-alike; a group of children discover the ability to control the weather. First in a series.
    • Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
      • Yes, the author of Hunger Games. This is her series for younger readers. Gregory travels underground to save his sister and encounters a strange and sometimes frightening world.
    • Ingo by Helen Dunmore
      • Harry Potter with Mermaids. First in a series.
    • Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
      • This is a longer, more dense series. It features book characters and worlds come to life.
    • Secret of the sirens by Julia Golding
      • The Companions' Quartet is a gentler read, featuring protectors of magical/mythical creatures.
    • Colossus Rises by Peter Lerangis
      • The Seven Wonders series. A bit like a cross between 39 Clues and Percy Jackson.
    • Keeper of the lost cities by Shannon Messenger
      • This massive series is a bit of a hard sell, but my high-level readers are crazy about it. The protagonists find themselves in an adventure that involves protecting lost cities (Atlantis, Shangri-La, etc.)
    • Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
      • This series is of a fairly hefty size, but is a quick read. It features a reservation for magical creatures and keepers protecting them.
    • Spellbinder by Helen Stringer (out of print)
      • There is some Celtic mythology and a lot of humor in this duo of books about a girl whose parents are ghosts and who goes on a quest.
    • City of Fire by Laurence Yep
      • This trilogy features various aspects of Asian and Hawai'ian mythology.

    Saturday, February 9, 2019

    This week at the library; or, Back to work

    I helped her do her first sewing! I did point out to her mom
    that she's a nurse, and it's no different than stitching up skin,
    but she did not believe me lol. She got the hang of it
    quickly and sewed most of the outside edges and stuffed it!
    Happening at the library this week
    Projects and misc.
    • After all the Weather Drama and time off last week.... we had more weather drama. Ice and more ice and then melting snow that froze into yet MORE ice! School was cancelled, programs and outreach were cancelled, but I finally managed to clean off my desk and mostly catch up, although I still have a lot of bills and other stuff to do. And I just feel really... off. I need to set aside some time when I'm not interrupted with questions, running a program, answering questions, supervising volunteers (or doing all four simultaneously) and get things planned and organized.

    Friday, February 8, 2019

    Little Red Rodent Hood by Ursula Vernon

    I would just like to pause here to address something I've noticed over the past few years. Kids have shorter attention spans, struggle to read, and fewer kids read for pleasure. This has been shown in various studies. More and more young adult books, massive fantasy tomes, and lengthy books are being published. This is just my observation. When you try to offer a shorter book to a middle grade student (remember middle grade is ages 9-12 or 3rd to 6th grade) the response I almost always get is "that's a baby book" or "that's too easy for her" or "he needs to read something challenging". Even if the kid hates to read, struggles to read, or would rather do pretty much anything else. Basically, why does it have to be 400 pages long to be a "real" middle grade book? Where are the short books? Where?

    Well, here's one of them! In Princess Harriet Hamsterbone's latest adventure, she meets a sweet, helpless little hamster in a red cloak who is being menaced by horrible weasel-wolves! Naturally, Harriet is ready to help, even though she finds the little girl (Red is her name? Really?) to be rather annoying. But there's something funny going on with the weasel-wolves, the "helpless" little girl, and her mysterious grandmother. Harriet is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery - after all, she only attacks bad people (except for that one time with the really realistic dragon costume and everyone apologized so it was ok). But just who is the bad person?

    With a blend of art, comics, and wit, Vernon presents a story that, on the surface, is about a princess who does her duty (especially when it involves sword-work), and enjoys a good fraction or three-fifths. Underneath, there's a repetition of the themes in the previous books; not judging by appearances, realizing that people all have different strengths and interests, and taking time to understand different people. However, this book adds some interesting notes about acknowledging and accepting your own identity. This has never been a problem for Harriet (naturally, she's awesome and she knows it!) but there's a whole thing about if you've been turned into a were-wolf-weasel, you have to accept it and move on, or at least get some tactful therapy from Prince Wilbur, who is good at that kind of thing.

    Verdict: I think Whiskerella might still be my favorite, but this is a strong addition to an excellent series. Buy them!

    ISBN: 9780399186585; Published September by Dial; Review copy provided by the publisher and donated to the library (I also bought a library copy and another copy for myself!)

    Thursday, February 7, 2019

    Wild Fairies: Daisy's Decorating Dilemma by Brandi Dougherty, illustrated by Renee Kurilla

    Incidentally, this is actually a cheery, bright
    orange-red and the title text is glittery
    yellow. This isn't the best picture.
    Finally! I was so excited about Rodale's new imprint for children's books but I've been disappointed by every book I've read so far. They look so cute, but the writing quality is just not very good. However, this beginning chapter book was delightful!

    Daisy and the other wild fairies are going to host the Blossom Bash this year! Daisy is very excited to be in charge of the decorations, but she's also worried - how will she come up with a theme to make everyone happy? What if it rains? As she checks in with all the other fairies, she gets more and more worried - they are all ready with entertainment, food, and more but she's not ready at all. Fortunately, in the end she realizes it's not about being perfect, it's about friends being together and celebrating nature. They all work together to make the decorations and have a wonderful festival, even if it's not exactly as they envisioned.

    Kurilla's colorful art is plentiful throughout the book. All the fairies are female, except Thistle. They are mostly flowers (Poppy, Daisy, Dahlia) but some are more general (Lily is a mermaid, Indigo has blue hair). Daisy has light-brown skin to go with her curly yellow hair, Indigo is all shades of blue and purple and likes to build and tinker with things, Thistle has spiky pink hair and light pink skin. There are cute birds, bugs, and flowers throughout the book.

    There is also a lot of back matter included; There's a section on honey (which builds on the storyline in the book where Daisy suggests Thistle eat honey to cure his allergies. Spoiler: I've tried this and it didn't work. But honey is still tasty!) and a recipe for honey cakes. Another section describes each wild fairy and their critter companion, and there are drawing guides and games included as well. There is more text in the book than, say, a beginning Branches chapter book, but it's broken up with frequent illustrations and the text itself is fairly simple, perfect for a beginning chapter book. It's also under 100 pages, including the back matter.

    Verdict: Not a necessary purchase, but sure to be a popular addition. Hand to your fairy and graphic novel fans, since they will enjoy the illustrations.

    ISBN: 9781635651324; Published 2018 by Rodale Press; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

    Wednesday, February 6, 2019

    Read, Read, Read, said the Baby: Animal Opposites by Jane Cabrera

    Cabrera has created many excellent books for toddlers and this board book fits nicely into that oevre. The book cover has a square window; turn the page and you will see a swashy blue background with a cat and a bird in a cage. The window is labeled "out" and the cat is labeled "in". Other spreads show a curly grey dog and, behind a lift-the-flap bone, a small dog for "tall" and "short," a tortoise and hare in the desert, red fox in the night and hedgehog in a tent for "dark" and "light," and so on. The final spread shows a black cat against a green background labeled "in front." On the opposite page, a yellow bush lifts to reveal the word "behind" and an orange bush, which lifts to reveal a blue bush, and finally a small black cat who says "boo!"

    The flaps are not ideal - they are thin cardboard and you have to hook a finger into a little half-moon cut-out to get them open. However, the rest of the book is very sturdy and with some additional reinforcement (and a fair amount of luck) it should be ok. The night-time picture, showing the hedgehog in a tent, might actually be a tipi, but the dark picture makes it possible to assume tent which is what I'm going with. It's not uncommon to see things like that in books originally created in Britain. I'm trying to be more relaxed about buying more board books with moving parts and I think this is a good choice.

    Verdict: If you are expanding your lift-the-flap and concept collections, this is a fun addition that toddlers are sure to enjoy.

    ISBN: 9781499806304; This edition published August 2017 by little bee; Purchased for the library

    Tuesday, February 5, 2019

    If Wendell had a walrus by Lori Mortensen, illustrated by Matt Phelan

    This imaginative picture book morphs from daydreaming into a solid friendship story.

    Wendell, a white boy with a bright orange cowlick, happens upon a cloud one day that looks like a walrus and he starts thinking... what if he had a walrus? He's soon deep in his fantasy, asking his pet-store owning uncle to sell him a walrus and imagining all the things the two could do together. But he doesn't notice another boy in the background who seems to be having a similarly disappointing time. When the two inadvertently connect, throwing invites into the ocean, they decide to wait together. Curly-haired Morrell is waiting for a whale, but in the meantime... they become best friends, doing all the things they had imagined. A final picture shows gives readers a last giggle - maybe that whale and walrus aren't imaginary after all?

    Phelan's watercolors show a lonely beachfront town with two boys gradually connecting and exploring their small town together. Expanses of blue sea and green turf are interspersed with pictures of small, cheery houses and a vaguely nineteenth century vibe - Wendell's uncle has a handlebar mustache and vest, and their neighbor Mrs. Quimby is wearing a hat, apron, and full-skirted dress.

    Verdict: This attractive book is both a fun look at imagination and also a gentle exploration of how friendships can form and grow. A nice addition to a picture book collection.

    ISBN: 9781627796026; Published April 2018 by Henry Holt; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

    Monday, February 4, 2019

    Prickly Hedgehogs by Jane McGuinness

    Hedgehogs are not native to the United States, but they are an increasingly popular pet and are undoubtedly adorable, so this nonfiction picture book is very timely.

    A long-nosed hedgehog with bristly yellow-brown spines and shy black eyes trundles through pages of this informative story. Readers will learn about hedgehog's spines and what they're made of, what they eat, their habitat, baby hoglets, and more. Additional information is included in smaller type throughout the pages. There are cute pictures of gardens at night, snails and slugs, and hedgehogs, hedgehogs, everywhere!

    I was pleased to find that this story focused on the life of the female and her young, transitioning to a male hoglet growing up and going out on his own, so readers get a full picture of the different lives of the male and female hedgehog. Throughout the story a dark-haired girl in a pink dress or coat appears, watching the hedgehogs from a distance.

    Back matter includes a few additional facts about hedgehogs, including a warning about keeping them as pets - they require careful care and are wild animals. There is also a brief index, two (British) websites, and a recommended book (not available in the US).

    Verdict: If you have hedgehog aficionados, this is sure to charm and inform them.

    ISBN: 9780763698805; This edition published 2018 by Candlewick; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

    Sunday, February 3, 2019

    ALA Award Winners

    I think we will have an Award Amaryllis
    I'm not an "every library must have every award" kind of person. I just think it's fun to look at them and see which might good for your community. Note that I skip most of the young adult stuff and if it won multiple things I only listed it the first time it came up on my list.

    • Medal: Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina
      • Owned by 8 libraries; 6 on hold or checked out
      • In February order cart for purchase
    • Honor: Night diary by Veera Hiranandani
      • Owned by 11 libraries; 4 on hold or checked out
    • Honor: The book of boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
      • Owned by 9 libraries; 6 on hold or checked out
    • Medal: Hello, lighthouse by Sophie Blackall
      • Owned by 14 libraries; 6 on hold or checked out
      • In February order cart for purchase
    • Honor: Alma and how she got her name by Juana Medina
      • Owned by 13 libraries; 7 on hold or checked out
      • Currently on my to read shelf
    • Honor: A big mooncake for little star by Grace Lin
      • Owned by 18 libraries; 10 on hold or checked out
      • In my picture book backlist for possible purchase
    • Honor: The rough patch by Brian Lies
      • Owned by 14 libraries; 9 copies on hold or checked out
      • Donated to the library (in parenting collection under dealing with death)
    • Honor: Thank you, Omu by Oge Mora
      • Owned by 13 libraries; 7 copies on hold or checked out
      • Currently on my to read list
    Coretta Scott King
    • Winner (author): A few red drops by Claire Hartfield
      • Owned by 8 libraries; 3 on hold or checked out
      • Purchased for the library
    • Honor (author): Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome
      • Owned by 8 libraries; 1 on hold
    • Honor (author): The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
      • Owned by 12 libraries; 3 checked out
    • Honor (author): The season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon
      • Owned by 12 libraries; 3 checked out
    • Winner (illustrator): The stuff of stars by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Ekua Holmes
      • Owned by 10 libraries; 7 on hold or checked out
      • In February order cart for purchase
    • Honor (illustrator): Hidden figures by Margot Shetterly, illustrated by Laura Freeman
      • Owned by 8 libraries (one has multiple copies); 5 copies on hold or checked out
    • Honor (illustrator): Let the children march by Monica Clark-Robinson, illustrated by Frank Morrison
      • Owned by 6 libraries; 3 copies on hold or checked out
    • Honor (illustrator): Memphis, Martin and the Mountaintop by Alice Faye Duncan, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
      • Owned by 6 libraries; 4 copies on hold or checked out
    Schneider Family Book Award
    • Winner (young children): Rescue and Jessica by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes
      • Owned by 14 libraries; 4 copies checked out or on hold
      • Purchased for the library per patron request
    • Honor (young children): Remember balloons by Jessie Oliveras
      • Owned by 4 libraries; 4 copies checked out or on hold
      • Added to my to read list
    • Winner (middle grade): Truth as told by Mason Butte by Leslie Connor
      • Owned by 10 libraries
    • Honor (middle grade): Collectors by Jacqueline West
      • Owned by 4 libraries
      • Added to my to read list
    • Winner (teen): Anger is a gift by Mark Oshiro
      • Owned by 3 libraries; 1 copy on hold
    • Honor (teen): (Don’t) Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start the Conversation about Mental Health edited by Kelly Jensen
      • Owned by 8 libraries
      • Added to February order cart for purchase
    Pura Belpre Awards
    • Winner (illustrator): Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
      • Owned by 15 libraries; 6 copies checked out
      • In picture book backlist for possible purchase
    • Honor (illustrator): Islandborn by Junot Diaz, illustrated by Leo Espinosa
      • Owned by 16 libraries; 4 copies on hold or checked out
      • Review copy donated to the library
    • Honor (illustrator): When angels sing by Michael Mahin, illustrated by Jose Ramirez
      • Owned by 2 libraries; 2 copies on hold (in use by staff)
    • Winner (author): The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
      • Owned by 10 libraries; 6 copies on hold or checked out
    • Honor (author): They call me Guerro by David Bowles
      • Owned by 8 libraries; 3 checked out (2 in cataloging)
    Robert F. Sibert Awards
    Stonewall Book Award
    • Winner: Julian is a mermaid by Jessica Love
      • Owned by 10 libraries; 3 on hold or checked out
      • Added to February order cart for purchase
    • Honor: Ivy Aberdeen's letter to the world by Ashley Herring Blake
      • Owned by 11 libraries; 2 copies checked out
    Geisel Award
    YALSA award for excellence in nonfiction for young adults
    • Winner: Unwanted by Don Brown (see above)
    • Honor: Beloved world of Sonia Sotomayor
      • Owned by 5 libraries
      • Added to February order cart for purchase
    • Honor: Boots on the ground by Elisabeth Partridge
      • Owned by 4 libraries; 2 checked out (1 being cataloged)
      • Purchased for the library
    • Honor: Faithful spy by John Hendrix
      • Owned by 10 libraries; 4 checked out, 2 being transferred
      • Added to February order cart for purchase
    • Hey Kiddo by Jarrett Krosoczka
      • Owned by 15 libraries; 7 copies on hold or checked out
      • Added to February order cart for purchase
    Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature
    • Picture book winner: Drawn together by Minh Le, illustrated by Dan Santat
      • Owned by 13 libraries; 10 copies on hold or checked out
      • On my to read list
    • Children's literature winner: Front Desk by Kelly Yang
      • Owned by 14 libraries; All copies checked out or being transferred (that's me - I picked it for one of our schools' social issues unit)
      • Added to February order cart for purchase