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Sunday, January 22, 2023

Board Book Pick: Non-Fiction: This Little Engineer: A Think-And-Do Primer


This Little Engineer: A Think-And-Do Primer

by Joan Holub

Illustrations by Daniel Roode

Little Simon

Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division 


26 pages

ISBN: 9781665912082

This STEM based non-fiction book introduces toddlers to engineers including Nicola Tesla who helped develop much of today's communications, female engineers like Marian Croak who developed tech to help us communicate over the internet, Gwynne Shotwell who is the president of Space X,  and Kimberly Bryant who created Black Girls Code which encourages and teaches black girls coding which will allow them to develop their own apps and computer games as well as building websites. 

Twelve engineers are highlighted and their importance to science and everyday life is presented in a toddler friendly package. Illustrations by Daniel Roode bring each engineer to life in a cartoon-like, fun way. Oversize eyes and always huge smiles greet young readers on each page. 

This board book will be most young readers first encounter with the idea that they can create and dream and work in space, technology, architecture, medical engineering and many other fields open to all of them. The sky is literally the limit! 

Recommended ages 2 and up. 

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Picture Book Pick: A Sweet New Year for Ren


A Sweet New Year for Ren

by Michelle Sterling

Illustrations by Dung Ho

A Paula Wiseman Book 

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 


32 pages

ISBN: 978534496606

Based on her father's stories of growing up in the Philippines, Michelle Sterling presents a sweet story of poor, young Ren--too little, too young to help with the preparing the pineapple cakes and dumplings for the Lunar New Year. Ren is a bit distraught. She wants to help. 

Ren hears it over and over from her mother, her baba, her aunt, everyone tells her she's too young, but her brother Charlie comes home to save the day. Charlie shows her how mix and roll the dough. Soon the house is filled with delicious aromas and Ren's extended family. Everyone gathers to eat, share and celebrate. Ren learns the best part of the Lunar New Year is her family and she is thankful. 

The recipe for Sterling's family's pineapple cakes is included. Beautiful artwork by Dung Ho will win over both readers and award committees. The warmth of the family and love is captured in every illustration. Kudos to Dung Ho! 

Highly recommended ages 3 and up. This picture book should be in every collection. 

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Non-Fiction Picture Book Pick: If You Were a Princess

 If You Were a Princess: True Stories of Brave Leaders From Around the World

by Hilary Homzie

Illustrated by Udayana Lugo


An Imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division


40 pages

ISBN: 9781534456174

If You Were a Princess is NOT the typical princess book, thank goodness! Kudos to author Hilary Homzie for approaching the term "princess," and teaching readers, especially young readers, about real princesses and their amazing achievements! This is one book all readers need. Illustrations by Udayana Lugo bring each princess to life and capture the time period and homeland of each of them. 

Real life princesses save animals, participate in the Olympics, and helped orphans in times of war. Famous princesses in history even commanded armies and defended their lands. Princess Sikhanyiso Dlamini of Eswantini (previously Swaziland) even performs  her own rap music.

Other princesses earn degrees and help their countries as professors and researchers (Princess Akiko of Mikasa of Japan and Princess Nisreen el-Hashemite of Iraq respectively). Princesses from all over the world and throughout history are included in this unforgettable book. 

Readers are encouraged to stand up for what they believe, hold their heads high and "dazzle the world." 

Pages follow of famous princessess' bios and two pages of numerous works cited. It's obvious this is a well-researched book. 

 Note: This book was researched and published before the recent Harry and Meghan vs the royal palace, so Meghan is referred to Duchess of Sussex and Catherine is referred to as Duchess of Cambridge, who will become Princess of Wales. Meghan currently still holds the title Duchess of Sussex but no longer works on behalf of the royal familly and Catherine, Princess of Wales, is Catherine's title today. This is probably of no importance to young readers, but please note history is constantly happening. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Picture Book Pick: Little Red and the Big Bad Editor


Little Red and the Big Bad Editor

by Rebecca Kraft Rector

Illustrations by Shanda McCloskey


Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers


40 pages 

ISBN: 9781534469297

In this humorous romp of a fractured fairy tale, Little Red receives a beautiful scarlet colored cape from her granny. Even though Red's class hasn't learned to write a letter yet, Little Red drafts a thank you note, packs a basket of baked goods, dons her cape and sets off to her granny's house to thank her. 

What should appear? A big, bad voracious wolf who intends to eat Red, but when he spots her note, he goes into editor mode. He tells Red that her words all run together--there needs to be spaces between the words, Using a pencil which he carries behind his ear, Wolf edits her letter. Just when he leans in to gobble up Red, she throws a muffin in his mouth! 

Red runs off, outsmarting the wolf, but he soon catches up. Again, Wolf is bothered by Red's letter writing skills--or lack thereof. He continues to edit the note until Red arrives at Granny's. Wolf wants to eat both Red and Granny now, but when Granny comments about the beautiful letter written with such attention to grammar, Wolf beams. All three eat pie together. Wolf sends a thank you note saying how much he'd love to have both Granny and Red over to his house to EAT.  

Word choice makes this book a wonderful read aloud. Onomatopoeias abound as well as well-known similes and metaphors, for example, cool as a cucumber and smart cookie. Onomatopoeias include swish, splish splash, skippity-skop and many others. Adult readers will enjoy the fun sounding words as their audience giggles and learns each sound. 

Highly recommended ages 3 and up. A must READ ALOUD book. 

Friday, December 30, 2022

Picture Book Pick: Dark on Light


Dark on Light

by Dianne White 

Illustrated by Felicita Sala

Beach Lane Books

Imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division


40 pages

ISBN: 9781534487895

What a beautiful book! Dark on Light delivers breathtaking illustrations by Felicity Sala and lyrical poetry that dances of the pages by Dianne White. This is the perfect bedtime book showing even though it's dark at night, there is so much light. What a comfort to young readers who fear bedtime and the dark! 

Soothing as a lullaby, this picture book is certain to become a bedtime favorite. A trio of siblings explore the woods near their home, taking in the magic of the night. They return home where it's warm and comfortable and climb into their beds after reading a bedtime story. 

Dark on Light deserves the highest award a children's book can receive. My pick for picture book of the year! 

Highly, highly recommended ages 2 and up. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Picture Book Pick: Yetis Are the Worst!


Yetis Are the Worst!

by Alex Willan

Illustrations by the author

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers


40 pages 

ISBN: 9781665921770ao

A bright new book from the children's author/illustrator who brought us Unicorns Are the Worst! and Dragons Are the Worst!, Yetis Are the Worst! shines the brightest of all. 

Gilbert the Goblin is out to prove Yetis exist and that they're not so mysterious nor as cool as everyone thinks. He sets off with his camera, climbing a mountain of snow to get the perfect photo of a yeti. Little does Gilbert know the yetis are everywhere around him, but he can't seem to see them. Young readers are sure to point out the "hidden" yetis and laugh as Gilbert attempts to locate even one yeti. 

When an avalanche comes roaring down the mountain, Gilbert falls into the yetis' secret hideout where he discovers yetis are just like you and me. They cook, they play music, and they even sit down to go to the bathroom! 

The yetis are fascinated by Gilbert and his camera and they happily take pictures. It turns out, as Gilbert says, "Yetis aren't so mysterious...they're just a little shy..." 

Adorable illustrations of the yetis fill each page and Gilbert's expressions and feelings captivate the reader. 

Highly, highly recommended ages 3 and up.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Crimson Twill: Witch in the City


Crimson Twill: Witch in the City

By Kallie George 

Illustrations by Birgitta Sif 

Candlewick Press


64 pages

ISBN: 9781536214635

Crimson Twill is young witch, but you wouldn’t know by looking at her. She doesn’t wear black dresses or pointy shoes. She wears bright colored polka dots, a crimson hat with a bow  to match her name and gum boots. She giggles, and skips and plays like all children instead of cackling and creeping around like witches are supposed to do. 

Crimson is so excited when her mother announces they are going to New Wart City to shop at Broomingdale’s. Crimson has a few coins to spend and can’t wait to see what the store has  to offer a young witch. After making plans to meet her mother later for the fashion show, Crimson sets off to explore on her own. She thinks she might find a new hat or a wand or even a broomstick, maybe even a pet cat? 

Crimson visits each department and ends up with a lost little dog, a new friend and a sweeping broom, not a riding broom. Crimson runs to meet her mother at the fashion show. 

The broom begins cleaning the floor (which is what brooms are supposed to do), but bumps into Crimson who drops her basket and Pepper the puppy bounds out of it into the crowd of witches. Running after Pepper, Crimson becomes the hit of the show! Other witches admire her fashion,  photographers take her picture, and the crowd applauds thinking Crimson is modeling the newest designs. 

Crimson Twill: Witch in the City is a captivating read with heart, friendship, bravery and a strong female protagonist who dares to be different and different sets Crimson apart. 

Highly, highly recommended!

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Funny Pick: The Labyrinth of Doom (Once Upon a Tim, Book 2)


The Labyrinth of Doom 

Once Upon a Tim, Book 2

by Stuart Woods

Illustrated by Stacy Curtis

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 


160 pages

ISBN: 9781534499287

Although this is book 2, readers are given enough information to understand what happened in book one without having it in hand. I strongly recommend reading both books for entertainment purposes. 

In book 2 of the series, Tim and Belinda must rescue Princess Grace from the Labyrinth of Doom. Tim is a winsome narrator using sarcasm and wit to entertain the reader on every page. Tim explains being a knight is pretty tough, but it's better than being a peasant. 

We meet the knights of Merryland: there's Sir Vyval , SirVaylance, Sir Mount, Sir Render, Sir Fass, Sir Comference, Sir Cuss and Sir Eberal (each name a pun). Tim also includes "IQ Boosters" to help the reader gain vocabulary in an entertaining way. Each IQ Booster includes the definition of the word but used in  a joking fashion as in "laborious." Tim says if your parents are worried you're reading a book with illustrations, "...you can tell your parents this book is educational." He uses laborious to say, "Doing my chores this morning was really laborious, and now I'd like to relax by reading The Labyrinth of Doom."

 With trusty Rover, a fr-dog at their side, the two enter the labyrinth. Their friend Ferkle, the village idiot, decides not to go inside but to search for the person who designed the labyrinth and figure out how to escape it. Belinda and Tim face cave snakes, a giant made of rubble, the scissors of doom, the harpies, the chasm of cave sharks and many other scary tests until they meet Chad, the minotaur, who's anything but scary. 

The illustrations are PERFECT and comical. Stuart Gibbs never fails to deliver a fun adventure that readers will love. Stacy Curtis captures Tim and Belinda's personalities bringing the story to life especially for struggling and reluctant readers. 

Highly, highly recommended grades 4 and up. An amazing read! The Labyrinth of Doom is the most fun you'll have reading a book! 

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Winter Pick: Snow Horses: A First Night Story


Snow Horses: A First Night Story

by Patricia MacLachlan

Illustrated by Micha Archer

Margaret K. McElderry Books 

Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division


40 pages

ISBN: 9781534473553

From the beautiful cover art to the captivating illustrations by Micha Archer, Snow Horses: A First Night Story is the most gorgeous book of the season. Sure to win multiple awards, this a heartwarming book  capturing the magic of a sleigh ride on New Year's Eve. 

Tim and Tom are big Percheron horses, black as midnight, and they're excited to see Jenny when she comes to the barn. They know they're in for a treat. Jenny leads them out to the sleigh and hitches them up. The sleigh is quite a sight to behold with its sleigh bells and lights. Jenny rides into the town where children are happy to see the sleigh. Children climb aboard for a sleigh ride through the snow. 

Later, Jenny heads to the manor where older people are congregating. They climb aboard and talk about their their childhoods. A golden retriever follows the sleigh everywhere it goes. Jenny returns to the barn and puts Tim and Tom inside. They are so happy because they love the snow and the people. 

Jenny's yellow dog is tired after his travels with the sleigh. He curls up in front of the fireplace on First Night. 

Beautiful story of a community of kind and giving neighbors. The two black horses are magical. Archer captures the snow and the season so well, you can almost feel the snow and hear the sleigh bells. 

Snow Horses: A First Night Story is a gem of a story and a sparking jewel of a book! 

Being from the South, I'd never heard of First Night. You really can learn so much from picture books! 

Highly recommended and should be featured in all art classes as an example of ART. 

Ages 3 and up. 

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Christmas Pick: The Magic of a Small Town Christmas


The Magic of a Small Town Christmas

by Megan Alexander

Illustrated by Hiroe Nakata

Aladdin e 

Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division


32 pages

ISBN: 9781665929806

In a small town named Heartbeat Falls, neighbors celebrate the season by choosing the right Christmas tree, visiting the town's bakery, ice skating on the pond, decorating their houses, and baking cookies. There are fun arts and crafts projects for little hands, making s'mores and a pot luck dinner the neighbors----their joy and happiness visible in  Hiroe Nakata's beautiful illustrations. 

Heartbeat Falls could be any town where people gather and care for each other. The last line is lovely, "For the beauty of a small town isn't based upon its size. It's the love shared by its people shining brightly in their eyes." 

This  charming book is a great gift for new parents and young readers. Heartfelt and appealing, The Magic of a Small Town Christmas will be a favorite read for the season. 

Highly, highly recommended for Christmas! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Nursery Rhyme Pick: The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose


The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose

Selected by Arnold Lobel

Illustrated by Arnold Lobel

A Paula Wiseman Book

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Originally published in 1986 by Random House, Inc.


176 pages

ISBN: 9781534474352

This book is considered the most concise and best collection of nursery rhymes with over 300 entries with brilliant  illustrattions by Arnold Lobel.  Lobel has little known rhymes like "Hector Protector" and "This Is the Key to the Kingdom" alongside more common ones like "London Bridge" and "Jack and Jill." You may think you know "London Bridge" and "Jack and Jill," but Lobel includes the entire rhyme and you'll be surprised to learn you've been missing entire pieces of the stories. 

There is so much to see and learn in this lovely compendium of rhymes that young readers will beg, "Just one more! Read one more!" Don't read this as a goodnight book unless you want to be up all night! 

Complete with an index of first lines and their corresponding page numbers, readers can easily find a rhyme they're searching for. 

Highly, highly recommended for all collections of poetry and rhyme and this treasure, The Arthur Lobel Book of Mother Goose, should be on every child's bookshelf! All ages but start this book early with toddlers. Early readers will love the rhymes and learn a whole new vocabulary. 


Thursday, November 3, 2022

Spooky pick: Stories To Keep You Alive Despite Vampires


Stories To Keep You Alive Despite Vampires

by Ben Aker

Illusatrations by Scott Buonchistiano

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers


197 pages

ISBN: 9781665917001

A collection of spooky stories that is accessible for both young and reluctant readers. 

Vampires, hitchhikers, witches, a creepy ventriloquist's dummy, ghosts, and werewolves--author Ben Aker offers all the beasties that readers could want. The stories can be read in order or the reader has the choice to skip around as each story is its own tale. 

Reluctant readers will find easy, short stories that will entertain them and give them a sense of accomplishment for reading an entire book (as they are likely to do in the case of this book).

Spooky illustrations by Scott Buonchistiano appear at the beginning of each chapter and chapter titles make it easy for the reader to determine what the story is likely about. Highly recommended for reluctant readers and anyone who loves spooky stories told around the campfire or spooky stories told in the dark. 

Grades 4 and up. 

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Non-Fiction Picture Book Pick: The Tower of LIfe


The Tower of Life: How Yaffa Eliach Rebuilt Her Town in Stories and Photographs 

by Chana Stiefel

Illustrated by Susan Gal

Scholastic Press


40 pages

 ISBN; 9781338225891

From School Library Journal: "A beautiful tribute...highly recommended." 

Yaffa Eliach grew up in what is now Lithuania (at the time it was a town called Eishyshok) before it fell to the Germans during WWII (It was then Poland). When the Germans invaded, they rounded up the town's people, but Yaffa and her family escaped through the woods with only the clothes on their backs, but Yaffa grabbed some family photos and hid them in her shoe. Her family was able to hide out during the war.  After the Russians freed her town, Yaffa's family left Europe and settled in Jerusalem. 

In Jerusalem, Yaffa goes to school and she meets her husband. They immigrate to the United States in 1954. Yaffa continues her education eventually earning her doctorate in history and establishes the Center for Holocaust Studies, Documentation and Research in Brooklyn, New York. President Jimmy Carter reaches out to Yaffa, known as Dr. Yaffa Eliach to help in building a memorial in the National Holocaust Museum. Yaffa remembers the photos she put in her shoe which reminded her of the happy times before the war. She thought of her little village and its people. What had happened to the friendly faces she knew? She decided to find as many survivors as she could and tell their story through photographs. 

Yaffa did radio interviews, took out ads in newspapers, and traveled to Israel to find anyone who remembered Eishyshok. She knocked on doors and found some old friends who shared their photographs. It took seventeen years for her to travel the globe, seeking people who knew Eishyshok, and collecting over 6,000 photos and stories.

The photos became the "Tower of Life" at  the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. This memorial includes1,000 plus photos and soars from the floor up three stories to the ceiling. Dr. Yaffa Eliach remembered the people,  sharing their faces, their hearts and their stories for all Americans and visitors to see and remember this time in history. The last survivors of the Holocaust will soon be gone, but the museum and Yaffa's tower teach us about the Holocaust and its survivors. 

The BEST book about the Holocaust. This easy picture book makes information accessible and the watercolor art captures Yaffa and the people. 

Highly, highly recommended for everyone. This is the ONE Holocaust book that should be in every library and on every bookshelf. 

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Picture Book Pick: Holding On


Holding On 

by Sophia N. Lee

Illustrated by Isabel Roxas

Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division


32 pages

ISBN: 9781534494459

A smart pick for diverse collections and teaching. 

A young girl visits her Lola (grandmother) every summer, and Lola tells her, "If you want to hold on, you have to sing your songs." She shares her love of Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis, Jr. and especially her Tagalong songs from her favorite singers Nora Aurnor and Basil Valdez, 

Summers and Lola's house is always filled with music and joy.  The little girl loves visiting and dancing with Lola. They make their favorite foods together and Lola tells her stories of how she met her grandfather and how they danced in the street. The girl waits all year for summer to come, so she can be filled with songs again. Heartfelt illustrations by Isabel Roxas make you feel and hear the music escaping the pages of the book. 

When Lola begins not to remember things so well, the girl holds on for her. She holds on to their favorite songs, singing them for Lola who then sings along. She repeats Lola's stories from the past, so Lola can remember them. She tells Lola it's okay to not remember sometimes. She'll remember for her. They sing and dance keeping music alive and "holding on" to each other. 

Holding On is an important book about the love between a child and her grandmother. Dealing with age, the elderly, Alzheimers, love, acceptance and joy, Holding On should win awards this year. 

Highly, highly recommended age 4 and up. 

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Easy Reader Pick: Frank and the Bad Surprise

 Frank and the Bad Surprise 

by Martha Brockenbrough

Illustrated by Jon Lau 

Arthur A Levine Book

Levine Querido

Chronicle Books, LLC


64 pages

ISBN: 987164640886

Illustrations by Jon Lau capture the personality and mannerisms of Frank the cat who has the life. He has a warm ray of sun to nap in, humans who love him, quiet times and plenty of Whiskies to eat, that is, until one day, his dear humans bring home a box. At first Frank is excited. A box! He can play in the box, crawling in and out as he pleases. 

The box is a good thing indeed until a little, yappy puppy--a puppy who invades his naps, eats his Whiskies, and steals his dear humans' hearts. His humans put Frank in a cage after Frank swats at the puppy. Frank is appalled. How dare they lock him up? This is his home. That was his food. Frank decides to make his dear humans pay. He will run away! 

Frank uses the computer keyboard to reason with his dear humans writing them several heartfelt letters begging for them to take away the puppy. He leaves a farewell  note and sets off on his own. He soon discovers the big, wide world is not as safe and wonderful as he had imagined. People are mean to him, shooing him away from their doorsteps. He has no Whiskies to eat and no warm place to nap and then when things are beginning to look dark, it starts raining. 

Maybe the puppy isn't so bad. His dear humans are excited to see a sopping wet Frank at their front door. Alerted by the puppy's barks, they open the door and let Frank back inside. Later, warm and dry, Frank realizes the puppy has warm fur. Maybe they can sleep side by side. Frank names his puppy Sunny and they sleep throughout the night. 

Lovely early chapter book about fitting in, acceptance, being open to change, embracing found family and love. Frank and the Bad Surprise answers the question: Is the grass always greener on the other side? 

Highly recommended ages 3 and up.