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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Awesome Picture Book: Hurry Up! A Book About Slowing Down


Hurry Up! A Book About Slowing Down
by Kate Dopirak
Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
Beach Lane Books
40 pages
ISBN: 9781534424975

Hurry Up! A Book About Slowing Down is brilliant! A young boy and his dog hurry everywhere. They hurry up and down and all around until they finally STOP! When the boy slows down and LISTENS, he hears and sees nature and wonder everywhere. He is able to enjoy the stars at night and listen to the buzz of insects. When he slows down, he can take a breath and relax. The joy of slowing down and finding the end of one's own rainbow is celebrated. We all need a happy story about slowing down right now.

Illustrations by Christopher Silas Neal shows the boy's harried, manic state in the beginning of the story and later nighttime illustrations in deep blue mimic the end of the day and bedtime. This is sure to become a favorite bedtime read. A must have for any child! 

Highly recommended! 

Monday, December 21, 2020

Non-Fiction MG Pick: How To Build A Story...or, The Big What If


How To Build a Story... or, The Big What If

by Frances O'Roark Dowell

Illustrations by Stacy Ebert

A Caitlyn Dlouhy Book

Atheneum Books for Young Readers


128 pages 

ISBN: 9781434438422

If you know a young person who wants to be a writer, this book is a MUST HAVE! If I were still teaching creative writing, I would make each student own a copy of this amazing, informative and FUN book about writing. While geared for grades 4-8, anyone who wants to be a writer or learn about writing will love this book. Unlike adult writing books, Dowell's book breaks the art of writing down to where it's understandable and fun. Her captivating sense of humor is echoed in the illustrations by Ebert. 

Every writer wanna-be needs to realize that rough drafts are just that: rough and EDITING is a must. Rewrites and re-do will happen again and again. It's part of the process. Writing takes time, effort and PRACTICE! 

Every story needs a character, the character needs a problem (if there's no problem, you have no story), there has to be some sort of resolution, whether it's good or bad. Also, your story needs the have some background but start with ACTION. Your protagonist needs to have something happen right away. There will be sticks and stones in the protagonist's way, but if there's a MONSTER (you'll have to read the book, to figure out what this means, wink), it makes your story much more interesting and the stakes are heightened. 

There are brainstorming activities, "the big take home," and "let's write" for students, teachers, writers, everyone! I've read many craft books, but How To Build a Story...Or, the Big What If is by far the most fun. It's adorable! 

So highly recommended, YOU NEED THIS BOOK NOW! Teachers of writing, YOU NEED THIS BOOK NOW! Writers, YOU NEED THIS BOOK NOW! 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Picture Book Pick: I Don't Want To Be Quiet!


I Don't Want To Be Quiet! 

by Laura Ellen Anderson

Illustrations by the author

Philomel Books

Penguin Random House LLC


32 pages

ISBN: 9780593117286

A young girl rebels when her mother shushes her because her baby brother is sleeping. "Stairs are for stomping..." the girl says. It's more fun to make noise. Quiet is boring. 

A trip to the library where her peers ask her (peer pressure!) to be quiet, they're reading, forces the girl to sit still and open a book. Suddenly, she's "spellbound!" Hours pass, and she's imagined pirate adventures, kings and queens, and whole other worlds. The next day, she learns more at school because she's still and LISTENS. She realizes there's a time to be quiet and time to be noisy, and when she is quiet, she notices things in her own world.

This is a sweet book with illustrations sure to please young readers. 

Ages 2 and up. 

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Non-Fiction Pick: If You Love Robots You Could Be...


If You Love Robots, You Could Be...

Ready to Read, Level Two

Simon Spotlight

by May Nakamura

Illustrated by Natalie Kwee


32 pages

ISBN: 9781534465237

This exceptional and informative non-fiction pick is for young readers who love robots or who have never even thought about robots--really, for every young reader. Vocabulary words in the glossary help kids understand jargon of robotics and various trades that work with robots in unique fields. 

There are several types of engineers who build and use robots: mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, and software engineers. Some other jobs in robotics are animatronic technicians and robotics research scientists. Robots are found on movie sets, in hospitals, at industrial sites, in warehouses, construction sites, and even in protheses, artificial limbs for people who have lost an arm or leg. Using sensors, the prothesis moves the way a body part does. 

The publisher ages this book at five to seven years old, but this reviewer feels a wide range of ages would gain knowledge about careers in fields they may know little about. 

Recommended age 6 and up to middle school. Illustrations and glossary make this a great choice for reluctant readers. 

Friday, December 11, 2020

MG Mystery Pick: Coop Knows the Scoop


Coop Knows the Scoop

by Taryn Souders

Sourcebooks Young Readers


304 pages

ISBN: 9781492640189

Thirteen-year-old Coop (don't call him Cooper) lives with his gramps and his momma in Windy Bottom, Georgia, a quaint, quiet  town where the sheriff knows everybody and Miss Ruth and Miss Merriweather, the town gossips, are only too glad to share secrets with everyone the cafe /bookstore Gramps runs. Coop keeps his ear to the ground on the day the body is found. He knows the quirky ladies will know intel about the dead body, and he's keen to have a listen.  

Funny colloquialisms and Southern charm are found in every character's dialog. Coop's best friends are Liberty and Justice--no, really, that's their names! The kids agree to deliver donuts and coffee to the sheriff and his team down at the crime scene (the kids' secret plan to snoop), but when the blame begins to fall of Coop's gramps, Coop knows he needs to solve the mystery. There's no way his grandfather murdered somebody! 

Unique and funny characters will keep the pages turning and kid readers interested. Twists and turns abound, keeping the reader glued to the story. Souders does a great job with character interaction, believable dialog, and small town drama. Liberty and Justice are exactly the type of friends all kids will want to have. 

The author's nod to Shakespeare's tragedies and how the main character "kicked the bucket" is hilarious. They are: "stabbed, poisoned, or baked into a pie (that one's from Titus Adronicus)...". Coop's hair is "shaggier than a dog." Suds O'Leary owns the gas station and bait shop and wears a T-shirt promoting his business with "Suds Gave Me Gas," which backfires (yes, pun intended) his marketing plan! 

A very funny, punny book, indeed! 

Highly recommended ages 9 and up, and anyone in the South will hear their relatives' voices when they read Coop Knows the Scoop

Saturday, December 5, 2020

MG Pick: Second Dad Summer


Second Dad Summer 

by Benjamin Klas

Illustrated by Fion Arroyo

One Elm Books


224 pages

ISBN: 978194159242

Twelve-year old Jeremiah wants to spend a "normal" summer with his dad, but not his dad's new over-the-top boyfriend Michael. Jeremiah's parents are divorced, and Jeremiah knows Dad sometimes dates men and he sometimes dates women. Michael, though, irritates Jeremiah to no end. He's too flamboyant, too flashy, his bicycle has a sparkly unicorn on it which he refers to it as his "uni-cycle!" Not only that, he seems to know the history of every landmark, every building, every street. Jeremiah wishes he would stop being a tour guide and be quiet. 

Jeremiah's summer turns out pretty okay, after all. He meets the neighbors including a new friend Sage, and he comes to terms with people being different and families looking different. And different is pretty great! This is a sweet middle grade read that so many kids will relate to. A must-have for every library. Inclusive and diverse! 

Large print and shorter chapters are a plus. Illustrations appear on each page of a new chapter. 

Highly recommended ages 10 and up. Alert: There is a neighbor who smokes cigarettes (if that's a problem). 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Most Beautiful Picture Book! MUST HAVE Counting Creatures!


Counting Creatures 

by Julia Donaldson

Illustrated by Sharon King-Chai

Dial Books for Young Readers


58 pages 

ISBN: 9780593324530

Published Nov. 20, 2020 just in time for Christmas giving!

This is the most beautiful picture book I've ever seen. The art and design are so special it should win an award for engineering or architecture! If you have littles on your Christmas shopping list, get them this book. It's a must have!

A lift-the-flap book, each spread reveals a treasure! 


The colors jump off the page and transcend the picture book experience. This little gem is sure to win awards in every state and maybe even the national best children's book of the year! 

Highly, highly recommended. BUY THIS BOOK!

I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.