Tuesday, December 31, 2013


BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!by Jamie Swenson with illustrations by David Walker. FSG, 2013.

When the lightning sizzles and thunder books, there are many things that want to creep into a little boy's bed for comfort. Will everyone fit? What happens is the bed breaks? Tie this one to The Napping House.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Little Gray Bunny

THE LITTLE GRAY BUNNY by Barbara Barbieri McGrath with illustrations by Violet Kim. Charlesbridge, 2013.

This variation of the lttile red hen has a bunny gathjer eggs, cook, eggs, dye eggs, etc. without help from other barnyard animals. In the end, they all receive a just treat!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Loving school

MARTHA BUNNY LOVES SCHOOL by Clara Vulliamy. Albert Whitman, 2013.

Martha Bunny's first day of school has arrived. But her baby brother bunnies want to go along (packed in her new backpack), so Martha has to find a way to make them happy while she is at school.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Hard to say

THE MIXED-UP MESSAGE by Heather and Ethan Long. Aladdin, 2013.

Max has some trouble
Expressing his feelings. But
Milo helps him out.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Eyes Have It!

JACOB'S EYE PATCH by Beth Kobliner Shaw and Jacob Shaw with illustrations by Jules Feiffer. Simon and Schuster, 2013.

Jacob wears an eye patch to strengthen a weak eye. But he is annoyed at all the questions from strantgers as he and his Mother head to the scinece store. All Jacob wants is a light up globe. Amblyopia (lazy eye) affects many people. Here is a lovely way of letting kids know what is going on.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

More holiday books

THE EIGHTH MENORAH by Lauren Wohl. Albert Whitman, 2013.

Are 8 menorahs
Too many? Or just the right
Number that Sam needs?

WHEN CHRISTMAS FEELS LIKE HOME by Gretchen Griffith with illustrations by Carolina Farias. Albert Whitman, 2013.

Futbol or football?
Can this new house feel like home?
Perhaps at Christmas.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Space Taxi

SPACE TAXI: ARCHIE TAKES FLIGHT by Wendy Mass and Michael Brawer. Little Brown, 2014.

Archie goes to work
Not knowing his Dad's real job.
Space taxi driver.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Benny and Teddy

BENNY GOODMAN AND TEDDY WILSON: TAKING THE STAGE AS THE FIRST BLACK AND WHITE JAZZ BAND IN HISTORY by Lesa Cline-Ransome with illustrations by James E. Ransome. Holiday House, 2014.

Benny and Teddy
Played jazz together
Making history.

Monday, December 23, 2013


THE STORY OF PASSOVER by David A. Adler with illustrations by Jill Weber. Holiday House, 2014.

Passover's story
Of Moses and Israel
Shared here for children.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Nonfiction takes a turn

PLANTS FEED ME by Lizzy Rockwell. Holiday House, 2014.

Plants are healthy food.
We eat stems, leaves, and flowers.
And grow more to eat.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

I Like to Read

THE BIG FIB by Tim Hamilton. Holiday House, 2014.

We fibbed to Miss Finn
But felt guilty afterwards.
Then we made it right.

Friday, December 20, 2013

I Like to Read

I SAID, "BED!" by Bruce Degen. Holiday House, 2014.

Mom thinks it's bedtime.
But baby would rather play.
Which one will win this?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Penguin + Bunny = BENGUIN

LITTLE BENGUIN by Estelle Billon Spagnol. Holiday House, 2014.

Penguin meets Bunny.

A benguin is birn to them.

Then he falls in love.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


THE GREAT AMERICAN DUST BOWL by Don Brown. Houghton Mifflin, 2013.

The Dust Bowl era in America, in the 1930s, is described in exquisite detail in this nonfiction graphic format. The ecological and environmental causes, the economic tolls, the sheer desperation is conveyed in the ink drawings, spare text, and brown tones that comprise this work. Have students study this GN before diving into Steinbeck's novel. Offer this to reluctant readers who will become absorbed in the illustrations. Share this with kids.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Picture Me Gone

PICTURE ME GONE by Meg Rosoff. Putnam, 2013.

Mila travels with her father who is trying to find his long time friend, Matthew, who has gone missing. As soon as Mila steps into the cabin where Matthew lived, she senses something is wrong. The mystery of the missing Matthew is just one thread in this remarkable novel by Rosoff. Mila must confront new information about her own parents and their past as she struggles to make sense of Matthew and his disappearance, too. Complex, like the relationships it examines, PICTURE ME GONE is a puzzle which readers, along with Mila, must piece together.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Grimm story

FAR FAR AWAY by Tom McNeal. Knopf, 2013.

Finalist for the National Book Award for 2013, this is the story of a young boy named Jeremy Johnson Johnson. His mother disappeared years ago, his father never gets out of bed. Jeremy faces many obstacles not the least of which is the presence of the ghost of Jacob Grimm who speaks to Jeremy in an effort to protect him from harm. When Jeremy agrees to help his friend Ginger play a prank on the local baker, Jeremy has no inkling of the change of circumstances this will cause. History meets mystery meets fantasy in a story that will compel readers to turn page after page to learn the fate of Jeremy and Ginger and Jacob.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Hiding in Plain Sight

HOW TO HIDE A LION by Helen Stephens. Holt 2013.

What do you do when a lion shows up in your town? Iris tries hard to keep the lion a secret, but eventually the secret gets out and the lion runs away. Can Iris help her friend?

Saturday, December 14, 2013


COOL CREATIONS IN 35 PIECES by Sean Kenney. Holt 2013.

Confession time: I love Legos. I love these books that show how to build things with Lego as well. I am sure kids will appreciate the step by step instructions for putting together robots, faces, vehicles, and all manner of things.

Friday, December 13, 2013


OLIVIA GOES TO THE LIBRARY by Lauren Forte with illustrations by Jared Osterhold. Simon Spotlight 2013.

Olivia and her Dad go to the library. Olivia has not finished reading her book, but her Dad assures her she can check it out again. But then, the book goes missing while Olivia is at the story time. Can she find her book?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Mooing Moose and other animals

A MOOSE THAT SAYS MOOOOOOO by Jennifer Hamburg with illustrations by Sue Truesdell. Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2013.

A child imagines a world in which moose say MOO and bears drive, and sheep take bubble baths. However, it is not long before things get WAY out of hand.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Counting on it

MUSK OX COUNTS by Erin Cabatingan with illustrations by Matthew Myers. Roaring Brook 2013.

Musk Ox is back from his triumphant debut in A IS FOR MUSK OX, this time to show us how to count from 1 to 10. Trouble is, 1 is a lonely number, and Musk Ox prefers to hang out with the yaks (2) and other animals instead. Despite Zebra's warnings about how Musk Ox is going to confuse readers, the merriment continues all the way to the final pages. Definitely NOT a book to teach counting, but definitely a funny book to share with kids. Meta-math?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sassy gassy

FARTY MARTY by B. J. Ward with illustrations by Steven Kellogg. Simon & Schuster, 2013.

Marty is a terrific cat and Mary Jane loves him. But when she takes him to school, the kids tease her and the principal asks that he not return. Marty, you see, purrs at both ends; he farts. A lot. But, in a curious twist of fate, Marty becomes famous for his ability to fart all manner of music depending on the food he has eaten. Pair this with FARTISTE and WALTER THE FARTING DOG for an irresistible trilogy for kids.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Here, kitty kitty!

ROTTEN RALPH'S ROTTEN FAMILY by Jack Gantos with illustrations by Nicole Rubel. FSG, March 2014.

Rotten Ralph heads off to spend some time with his family. He soon discovers that his family is not the place where he is loved for exactly who he is. He returns back to his owners a bit chastened, bit for how long?

BAD KITTY: DRAWN TO TROUBLE by Nick Bruel. Roaring Brook, January 2014.

Bad Kitty challenges her own author in the latest installment of the series. Nick Bruel gives kids tips on drawing Bad Kitty, but BK is often interrupting and challenging advice and story lines. Metafiction, meta-art, anyone?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Daring Women

FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE by Demi. Holt, February 2014.

Demi's biography of Florence Nightingale will introduce readers to a woman well ahead of her time. Nightingale had to struggle against the convention of her time to work to improve conditions in hospitals, work houses, and even the battlefield.

DARE THE WIND; THE RECORD-BREAKING VOYAGE OF ELIZABETH PRENTISS AND THE FLYING CLOUD by Tracey Fern with illustrations by Emily Arnold McCully. Farrar Straus Giroux, February 2014.

Elizabeth Prentiss became adept of navigating and sailing ships thanks to her father's tutelage. Under her guidance and leadership, she won a race from New York to San Francisco at the height of the Gold Rush.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

He Has Shot the President!

HE HAS SHOT THE PRESIDENT by Don Brown. Roaring Brook Press, April 2014.

The story of John Wilkes Booth and his plot to assassinate Lincoln is the topic for this picture book with incredible detail. The plotting before and after the murder of the President will keep readers drawn into the narrative. The illustrations that reflect mood and tone are a perfect accompaniment.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Eye Spy

EYE: HOW IT WORKS by David Macaulay. Macmillan, 2013.

How does the eye work exactly? Macaulay provides young readers with lots of information within the confines of a story about a soccer player coming to the field. Glossary, index, and bibliography are also included. Pair this with the pop-up book about eyes, too.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

THE MINIATURE WORLD OF MARVIN AND JAMES by Elise Broach with illustrations by Kelly Murphy. Holt, February 2014.

This sequel to MASTERPIECE brings back the intelligent and artistic beetle, Marvin. While James is away on vacation, Marvin is at loose ends. So his mother makes him play with his cousin Elaine. it is not long before the two beetles get into trouble, stuck inside of a pencil sharpener. Will marvin survive his time with his cousin? Will James still be his friend when he returns from vacation? Charming, funny, adventurous: kids will love this latest offering from Broach. While it is a sequel, it will stand alone as well.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Stormy Weather

STORMCASTER: WITCHING SEASON by Alyxandra Harvey. Walker/Bloomsbury, 2014.

The beginning of a new trilogy features a trio of cousins who are coming into their powers as witches, something none of them had quite expected. Emma finds the body of a dying witch. Suddenly the Greymalkin Sisters, a trio of warlocks, are also there, draining what little life remains from the witch. And now the battle is underway. The evil Greymalkin Sisters wreak havoc, Emma and her cousins Gretchen and Penelope must protect themselves and then there are the Keepers, a secret group who have an interest in Emma as well because of her ancestry. Romance, history (set in 19th century London), and fantasy combine for a novel many readers will love (and eagerly await the second installment).

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

JANE, THE FOX & ME by Fanny Britt with illustrations by Isabelle Arsenault. Groundwood, 2013.

One of the New York Times' Best Illustrated Children's Books for 2013, this graphic novel follows Helene, an outcast at her school. No one is ever by her side. Instead, she is teased for having BO and for being overweight (though the illustrations do not confirm this taunt). Helene's solace is found in the pages of JANE EYRE and maybe in the form of a new girl she meets on a camping trip with her class. And then there is the fox who appears one night near her cabin and come forward to reeve attention from Helene. Colors reflect tone and mood (even the type face plays a role here), setting plays a key role as well. This thoughtful book leaves much to the reader.

Monday, December 2, 2013

What the Heart Knows

WHAT THE HEART KNOWS: CHANTS, CHARMS, AND BLESSINGS by Joyce Sidman with illustrations by Pamela Zagarenski. Houghton Mifflin, 2013.

I do not think it would be an overstatement to tell you that YOU. NEED. THIS. BOOK. if you love language. Sidman has written poems in various forms that bless (or curse),lament, invite, and much more. "Invitation to Lost Things" could be a terrific lead in to William Joyce's THE MISCHIEVIANS as well as to THE BORROWERS or THE TALE OF DESPERAUX. And this in not the only piece that offers connections. Poems about bravery, death, sleep, friendship, and teachers demonstrate the sheer word smithery (is that even a word? it should be) of Sidman. Though I usually donate books once I have read them, this is one I will KEEP and read over and over again sighing at the majesty of Sidman who places ordinary words together in some sort of magical extraordinary fashion.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Rescue Duck

DUCKS TO THE RESCUE by John Himmelman. Holt, February 2014.

Bless duck's heart. All he wants to do is lend a hand (or is it a wing?). Often, though, things do not go as duck has planned. Great addition to the series of various animals (pigs, cows, chickens) to the rescue.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Monstrously Yummy!

MONSTER CHEFS by Brian and Liam Anderson. Roaring Brook, March 2014.

The Monster King demands his four chefs find him something new to eat as he is tired of eyeballs in ketchup. Each chef travels to the ends of the world seeking new food. Only one is successful. What tiny treat has he discovered?

Friday, November 29, 2013


PINK CUPCAKE MAGIC by Katherine Tegen with illustrations by Kristin Varner. Holt, January 2014.

Zoe loves cupcakes.
So do brother and his friends.
She solves this problem.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A House Divided

MONDAY, WEDNESDAY, AND EVERY OTHER WEEKEND by Karen Stanton. Feiwel and Friends, February 2014.

Henry Cooper and his dog Pomegranate split their time between Mom's apartment and Dad's house. Sometimes it is more confusing for Pomegranate who heads "home," the house where the family lived before the divorce. The sharing of different residences is presented quite matter-of-factly. The parents work together to find Pomegranate when he is lost.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Dinner with the Highbrows

DINNER WITH THE HIGHBROWS: A STORY ABOUT GOOD (OR BAD) MANNERS by Kimberly Willis Holt with illustrations by Kyrsten Brooker. Henry Holt, April 2014.

When Bernard is invited to dinner with the Highbrow Family, his mother schools him in proper etiquette and manners. Unfortunately, Mother has not met the Highbrows who escort Bernard into a limo and head off to their favorite restaurant. Great good humor and some important lessons about manners are at the heart of this picture book.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


GRAVITY by Jason Chin. Roaring Brook, April 2014.

Gravity works to
Keep us all anchored to Earth
To keep Earth on course.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Knock, knock! Who's there?

KNOCK KNOCK: MY DAD'S DREAM FOR ME by Daniel Beaty with illustrations by Bryan Collier. LITTLE BROWN, 2013.

When Dad disappears, his son wonders who will help him learn life's lessons, who will be there to teach him to shave? This brief spoken word poem is lovingly illustrated by award winning artist Collier making the reading a multi-layered experience. No matter why fathers are absent, this is a book that might just help fill up the empty hole in a child's life.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


DOT by Randi Zuckerberg with illustrations by Joe Berger.

Dot loves computers
But learns she can swipe, tap,share
In the real world, too.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Making Mischief

THE MISCHIEVIANS by William Joyce. Atheneum 2013.

Want to know where that errant sock disappears when you think it is in the dryer with its mate? Ever been concerned about belly button lint? How about where homework disappears when you know for certain you did it? Look no further. Here is a compendium of The Mischievians, creatures who are responsible for all of the odd things that befuddle and annoy humans. Terrific illustrations emphasize the humor within the text. Look for an APP and a short animated feature from Moonbot Studios shortly.

Friday, November 22, 2013


AXEL THE TRUCK: ROAD RUNNER by J.D. Riley with illustrations by Brandon Dorman. Greenwillow, 2013.

Axel is a truck
That, though small, can really go
Anywhere he wants.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Burning Sky

BURNING SKY by Sherry Thomas. Balzer and Bray, 2013.

Iolanthe is already an accomplished mage. She can control much, but there is still much to learn from her tutor and guardian. However, Prince Titus has other plans for her, plans that might help him destroy the powerfully evil Bane. There is a prophecy that ties Titus to Iolanthe, a strong tie that might put them both in mortal danger. Titus transports Iolanthe to London to Eton where she masquerades as one of the boys at his school. This subterfuge might allow Titus to continue Iolanthe's training. But there is more between Titus and Iolanthe than prophecy. A budding romance might just cause them to forget their troubles or it might mean they will become careless. Neither is wise.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


GENIUS by Seagle and Kristiansen. First Second Books, 2013.

Physicist Ted Marx was a wunderkind, a true genius, one of whom great things was expected. Now that he has reached his 30s, though, things are not the way they were planned to be. His wife is ill; his father-in-law lives with the family; his kids are in the throes of adolescence. Worse still is the pressure on Ted at work to come up with something new or lose his job. Though written for a more adult audience, there is much here to appeal to mature teen readers.

As an aside, I will point out that the reading level of this book is 3rd grade. It is worth one point on an AR test.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Why OH Why?


What are there 365 days in a year? Why is the sky blue? Why are babies and puppies considered universally cute? Answers to these and a multitude of other questions are contained in this terrific book for browsing. Tie in EVERY 60 SECONDS ON EARTH.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Look into the crystal ball

NANCY CLANCY SEES THE FUTURE by Jane O'Connor with illustrations by Robin Preiss Glasser. Harper, 2013.

Nancy sees future.
Or at least she thinks she does.
How will it turn out?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Horrible Home

HOME SWEET HORROR by James Preller with illustrations by Iocopo Bruno. Feiwel and Friends, 2013.

Dad thinks a new home will help Liam and his sister Kelly recover from their mother's death. What Dad did not count on was the house being quite as creepy as it is. At first, Liam and Kelly try to convince themselves that this is simply the nature of old homes. But there is something more malevolent lurking within the walls of this new house, something that threatens Liam's life.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Loony Situation

LOONIVERSE: DINOSAUR DISASRTER by David Lubar with illustrations by Matt Loveridge. Scholastic, 2013.

Careful of wishes
As they might come true bringing
Dinosaurs to life.

Friday, November 15, 2013



Walker is not dealing well with the loss of his older brother, Noah. His mother is wrapped in her own grief. Walker stands outside one evening and asks for help for his mother. When he returns to his bedroom, Jesus is there waiting for him. In spare free verse, the give and take between Walker and Jesus reveals the heart of loss, the true nature of grief, and the power of faith. Koertge's language is rich and powerful. In a phrase he can create an image, summon a memory, or provide assurance that things do get better.