Thursday, February 28, 2013

MICE by Rose Fyleman with illustrations by Lois Ehlert. Beach Lane, 2012.

Poetic text is presented one line per double page spread. Collage illustrations against a stark black background make the white type face and the illustrations using various fabrics, objects stand out nicely. Pair with other Ehlert texts, especially those concept books about shape and color.

TWO LITTLE MONKEYS by Mem Fox with illustrations by Jill Barton. beach Lane, 2012.

The monkeys are enjoying a carefree day when something alarms them. Cheeky and Chee fell into the trees for cover. Simple verse and watercolor illustrations underscore the happy cavorting of the animals.

MARCO GOES TO SCHOOL by Roz Chast. Atheneum, 2012.

It is time for Marco the parrot to head off to school. He is worried about what he will encounter in terms of classmates and experiences. Marco's imagination sometimes causes him to miss out on things happening around him. But once he makes a new friend, all is well.

ZORRO GETS AN OUTFIT by Carter Goodrich. Simon & Schuster, 2012.

When Zorro is given a new outfit by his owners, he is embarrassed to say the least. A cape and mask, really? But when he meets another costumed dog in the park, suddenly Zorro's feelings about his outfit change.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Adventures Galore!

DOUG UNPLUGGED by Dan Yaccarino. Knopf, 2013.

Doug is a dutiful robot. He sits home while his parents are at work learning about the world in which he lives. One day,he breaks loose of his tether and enters into the real world for the first time. Oh, the places he will go and the experiences he will have.


Come one, come all: everything you could possibly need and desire can be found here at the Pirate Emporium. In rollicking verse, Brown takes readers on a tour of the store.

THE BIG ADVENTURE OF THE SMALLS by Helen Stephens. Aladdin, 2012.

The Small children sneak out to see the party downstairs. A dropped toy sets them both off on an adventure to rescue the toy and find out what the party is all about. Mayhem ensues.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

That's what it's all about

HOKEY POKEY by Jerry Spinelli. Knopf, 2013.

In a town called Hokey Pokey, life is simple and wonderful for kids. There are bikes to ride, games of catch to play, ice cream to eat. Jack has loved living in Hokey Pokey; his life has been that ideal childhood, the one you never question until something changes. And change is coming. Jack feels it in his bones. His beloved bike, Scramjet, is stolen by a GIRL who paints it bright yellow and adds glitter and streamers to the handlebars. Jack is not sure exactly what is happening, but is sure does not feel good. Is it inevitable?

Spinelli has crafted an incredible coming of age story, an allegory of childhood and the changes one faces that make life change drastically seemingly within one moment. The STORY, the bikes, a baseball mitt, a statue: nothing is here that does not create memories of our own long agos and make us yearn for those carefree days.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Do you wanna know a secret?


From the Smithsonian comes this charming blend of fiction and nonfiction about the discovery of Pluto and the reconsideration of scientists about its planet status. Comic yet accurate illustrations tell of the search for what was pulling other planets out of their orbits, Enter Pluto (and the story behind it names). Pluto was designated a planet even though it did not always behave as did the other planets in out solar system. Once scientists began to posit the critical attributes of planets, Pluto's status changed. What will the landing of the first exploration capsule on the surface reveal?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Slim but poweful

BLACK HELICOPTERS by Blythe Woolston. Candlewick Press, March 2013.

It would be simple to underestimate the wallop (thanks, Ernie Cox for the perfect word here) of this slim novel. Valley, short for Valkyrie, has grown up literally underground with her brother Bo. Their father works for "patriots" fashioning bombs that will eliminate Those People, judges, fist responders, government agents, and the like. Bo and Valley have been raised to fear Those People and to participate in the "messages" sent by their father and the people for whom he works. Now Valley and Bo are on their own. Who can they turn to for shelter? What are they willing to do to survive? Woolston's narrative moves back and forth in time, a technique that heightens the already elevated suspense of the novel as it hurtles toward it shattering denouement.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

First Love


Amelia is shy of her 15th birthday but already hard at work as a checker in a grocery store. She is the baby here, too young for most of the activities the other employees enjoy on their time off. But she is still old enough to be smitten with Chris, a uni student who shows her the ropes. It takes only la little encouragement from Chris for Amelia to fall in love with him. Told in alternating voices (Amelia and Chris through his notebooks), this story of first love rings true in its emotional depth.

Friday, February 22, 2013

When We Wake

WHEN WE WAKE by Karen Healey. Little Brown, March 2013.

Teegan has been in love for exactly one day before she dies. Teeg and her friends headed off to a political rally never believing that violence might erupt. The last thing Teeg recalls is the sniper shot. Then darkness. Now, she is slowly regaining consciousness. Her eyes are not quite focusing yet, but she knows someone is in her room; it must b a hospital room. As Teeg slowly regains her sight, she knows things have changed. However, she is ill-prepared for the truth of her situation. Teeg has been cryogenically frozen for 100 years. Healey has crafted a wonderfully suspenseful look at science and the future, a future where the environment has paid the price for our excess use of fossil fuels, a future where water is in short supply, where meat is generally unavailable. But the focus of this novel is not the future in which Teeg finds herself, it is about the things that remain nearly constant: the need for friends, for love, for acceptance, for privacy.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Flora and the Flamingo

FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO by Molly Idle. Chronicle Books, 2013.

A textless picture books with some lift the flap action on several pages tells the story of Flora, she of the pink swimsuit and outsized flippers and the Flamingo. Textless books are perfect for the pre-literate reader, for second language learners, and for readers who long to tell their own stories.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Get in Shape

ROUND IS A TORTILLA: A BOOK OF SHAPES by Roseanne Greenfield Thong with illustrations by John Parra. Chronicle Books, 2013.

Gentle quatrains introduce shapes along with items of that shape. So, a sombrero and a tortilla are round. Carts and paletas are rectangles, etc. A glossary of Spanish words along with definitions and pronunciations are included in the back of the book.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Go, Diego, Go!

DIEGO RIVERA: AN ARTIST FOR THE PEOPLE by Susan Goldman Rubin. Abrams, 2013.

The life and loves of Diego Rivera are captured in this picture book biography by Rubin. From his fascination with the working class as subjects for his murals to his marriages, to his weight: Rubin gives readers some insight into the man and the artist and his legacy.

Monday, February 18, 2013

SALT by Helen Frost, FSG, July 2013.

Both boys are 12 years old. James lives with his family in Fort Wayne, His father runs the trading post outside the fort. Anikwa lives in a longhouse with his family and the rest of the Miami nation. The boys are best friends, often playing and hunting and fishing together. However, the adults are a bit less friendly especially when word comes that the British and American armies are set to clash near the fort. Rumor has it that the Miamis will side with the British. This makes those living in the fort even more suspicious. Trading comes to a stop; rumors abound. Now it is not just the boys' friendship that is at stake. Frost has crafted another intricate story through two different poetic styles, one for Anikwa and one for James. Her poems provide readers a detailed glimpse into the lives of two friends whose relationship is tried by the tensions in the world around them.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


MOUSETRONAUT by Astronaut Mark Kelly. Illustrations by C.F. Payne. Simon & Schuster. 2012.

Six mice are selected to go on a shuttle mission. Of course, the smallest mouse does not expect to be selected. However, one of the astronauts has his eye on the small mouse who gets the chance to go on the mission. Unlike his companions, he enjoys floating around weightless. And his tiny frame might just come in handy on the flight. Based on the astronaut's observation of a young mouse who appeared to enjoy weightlessness, this should appeal to kids as a read aloud. Dreams can come true, even if you are a tiny mouse.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I'M BORED by Michael Ian Black. Illustrations by Debbie Ohi. Simon & Schuster, 2012. A young girl is bored, bored, bored. Suddenly, she is joined by a potato (stay with me here, please), so maybe things will be more interesting. But, the potato is bored. And so the little girl demonstrates all the things they can do to be NOT bored. The potato is not impressed. Readers' theater, anyone?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Boy who cried bigfoot

THE BOY WHO CRIED BIGFOOT by Scott Magoon. Simon & Schuster, 2012.

A variant of THE BOY WHO CRIED WOLF but with an added layer: the story is actually told from two different points of view, both the boy (Bigfoot calls him Littlefoot) and Bigfoot. Spare text and lots of double page spreads to give the sense of space and size work together in this humorous and surprising retelling.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


ONE OF A KIND by Ariel Winter with illustrations by David Hitch. Aladdin, 2012.

Lysander Singleton is the only only child in his class. Everyone else is a twin. He is pretty much shunned because he is not like the other members of his class until it is time for Twindividuation. Once twins are separated and, thus, at a loss for how to get things done solo, Lysander steps in to help. All hail the conquering and unique hero.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Taking Responsibility

BROWNIE AND PEARL MAKE GOOD by Cynthia Rylant with illustrations by Brian Biggs. Beach Lane, 2012.

When Brownie and Pearl knock over the radio and break it, they want to make it right. They clean up around the house, but they cannot fix the radio. Then Brownie gets an idea that sets things right once more. Kids need to see how important it is to take responsibility for one's actions and how love is unconditional. For older readers, this is a perfect tie in to WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE by Maurice Sendak.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Spooky treat

MLOUSE'S FIRST HALLOWEEN by Lauren Thompson. Illustrations by Buket Erdogan. Simon & Schuster, 2012.

Mouse is a bit skittish. It is Halloween night, and there are so many strange sounds. What is that? Who is there? Great book to show that fears do not need to get the best of us. Tie this one to Eve Merriam's HALLOWEEN A B Cs.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A different kind of love

ZOMBIE IN LOVE by Kelly DiPucchio with illustrations by Scott Campbell. Atheneum, 2012.

Is it possible for a zombie to find true love in time for Valentine's Day? Perhaps a personal ad ill change the infintitely bad luck our erstwhile zombie has with girls. And here are a couple fo zombies from the Houston area Zombuie Walk at the Montgomery Teen Book Festival this past weekend.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Some magic in the making

BROOM, ZOOM! by Caron Lee Cohen. Illustrations by Sergei Ruzzier. Simon & Schuster, 2012.

A young witch, gazing out at the night, wants to have a broom so she can fly off and enjoy the evening. But Little Monster needs the broom to tidy up. How can the problem be solved? Simple language, boldly colored illustrations, and a lovely message combine to make this a terrific book for emerging readers. For independent readers, try ZOOM BROOM by Margie Palatini.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Flight of Fancy


Morris Lessmore is swept away by rough winds. When he settles back to earth, he finds himself in front of a house laden with books. Lessmore opens the world of books and reading to countless folks who come in search of something. Dedicated to Bill Morris and Colleen Salley, two of the greatest lovers of story in the children's book field, this book was first an Oscar winning film. It is also an incredible app for the iPad.

Friday, February 8, 2013

A B C ZOOBORNS by Andrew Bleiman and Chrise Eastland. Beach Lane, 2012.

Is there anything cuter than a baby animal? Here, we get baby zooborns from A (anteater) to M (marmoset) to Y (yak) and Z (zooborns, the whole kit and caboodle). An appendix indicates country of origin for each animal along with some other interesting facts.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Poof goes the dragon

OH NO, LITTLE DRAGON! by Jim Averbeck. Atheneum, 2012.

A small dragon is quite proficient using his smoke and flame. When he cannonballs into the tub one evening, though, a gulp of water extinguishes his flame. What IS a dragon to do? Luckily, there is a solution. This one would make a great read aloud, of course.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Seeing with new eyes

I, TOO, AM AMERICA by Langston Hughes. Illustrations by Bryan Collier. Simon and Schuster, 2012.

Collier's illustrations a mixture of collage and painting, give a new look to the classic poem by Langston Hughes. How I wish that textbooks would replace the stark black ink on a white page with the array of illustrations Collier has created for this poem. From the young man peering through the stripes of the flag on the front cover of the book to the jubilant young girl that graces the back cover, this is a perfect way to engage readers young and old in the poem, in the work of Langston Hughes and in the art of this accomplished illustrator.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


CREEPY CARROTS by Aaron Reynolds. Illustrations by Peter Brown. Simon and Schuster, 2012.

Jasper Rabbit loves carrots. He yanks up a few each time he passes the carrot patch. Soon he is seeing creepy carrots everywhere. They spy on him as he brushes his teeth and lurk in the closet. His mother thinks Jasper's imagination is getting the better of him. To be on the safe side, though, Jasper prepares a plan to keep the carrots confined. Black, white, gray and just the creepiest of orange illustrations perfectly capture the humor (and maybe a little terror) of the book.

Monday, February 4, 2013


THE MUSEUM by Susan Verde with illustrations by Peter H. Reynolds. Abrams, 2013.

A visit to a museum causes many responses in our young protagonist. A still life makes her hungry, swirling patterns cause her to twirl until she, too, is dizzy. But it is the sight of a blank canvas that sends her running for her tools, itching to paint something of her own. This would be a lovely introduction to museums and art for children. Tie this to the WHAT MAKES A MONET A MONET? art series and to OLIVIA as well.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Awesome! You MUST open this book!

OPEN THIS LITTLE BOOK by Jesse Klausmeier with illustrations by Suzy Lee. Chronicle Books, 2013.

I had seen enthusiastic posts about the book but had no idea WHY until I saw it at ALA Midwinter last week. I was captivated by this story of a little read book in which a Ladybug opens a little green book. In the little green book, a frog opens a little orange book and so on. The books within the book gets progressively smaller. There is a surprise in the middle, and now the books grow larger. Kids will spend tons of time turning pages and revisiting this book again and again.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A picture is worth a thousand words...

INSIDE OUTSIDE by Lizi Boyd. Chronicle Books, 2013.

No words, just illustrations. I adore textless books since they are wonderful for using with ELLs and struggling (striving) readers, too. Die cuts give readers a glimpse of what is on the outside when the main character is inside and vice versa. This would be terrific for making predictions!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Never, ever judge a book by its cover

LINE 135 by Germano Zullo with illustrations by Albertine. Chronicle, 2013.

Rarely am I at a loss for words. However, this exquisite picture book leaves me speechless, moved, exultant. Line drawings with a train in bold shades of yellow, green, and orange move across double page spreads. Our narrator talks about getting to know the entire world, of traveling from one place to another until the mission is accomplished. The adults say it cannot be done, but our narrator knows all is possible. This is a must see and a must share book!