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There was an Old Astronaut who Swallowed the Moon, by Lucille Colandro, and illustrated in the bright cartoonish style typical of this “Old Lady” series by Jared Lee, is actually a very informative book for youngsters ages four through eight. Typically, this series is a fun repetitive type book which brings much laughter and glee for kids. The original book is “There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly”. However, this book is filled with valuable information that includes planets, meteoroids and satellites. You’ll find more information about space in the back of the book.
Where’s the Astronaut, radiantlyillustrated by Ingela P. Arrhenius, may just ignite the youngest investigators to explore space. This delightful book purposely helps youngsters, ages one through three, to be actively engaged throughout this board book. Each open page scene has a felt shape hiding something behind waiting to be found. The first page shows a rocket ship blasting off with a bright orange flat car on the opposite page. The question posed is Where’s the engineer? You will find her by flipping up the felt car.
Future Astronaut,by Lori Alexander, and vibrantly illustrated by Allison Black, is another board book filled with simple information depicting the necessities of being able to fly into space. Each example shown on the left side of the open page depicting the Astronaut, has baby doing a similar activity on the right side. For instance, on the left side the Astronaut needs to be healthy. On the right side, baby also needs to be healthy.
The Sun is Kind of a Big Deal, by Nick Seluk, is an entertaining and important read for all ages! The facts within this book are astounding and make you truly appreciate all that the sun does for us on earth. (Or as it states, without it we couldn’t survive). The end-pages alone are full of facts. The front end-pages depict our Solar System and the back end-pages are packed with more information regarding other planets. The front inside jacket shows how fun and funny the rest of the book is: Guess What? Did you know that the Sun never stops working to keep things here on Earth running smoothly? (That’s why it’s been Employee of the Month for 4.5 billion years and counting.) The cartoon-like illustrations add to the humor, but also helps keep it kid-friendly. This book is a must!
How to be on the Moon,by Vivian Schwarz, showcases the important ingredients to a successful mission to the moon. Young Anna and her pal, Crocodile, combine their talents for this mission. Anna knows math. Crocodile has patience. And together, after Anna makes sandwiches, they are prepared to fly their rocket ship to the moon. The wonderful illustrations were done with pencil, crayons and watercolor. Many of the objects jump out, like the rocket ship, against muted gray and black. The story is a celebration of imag-ination!
Penguinaut!,by Marci Colleen, and cleverly illustrated with watercolor, collage, pencil, crayon, pen and paint by Emma Yarlett, is a hilarious and fun read-out-loud depicting a lonely and somewhat discouraged penguin who doesn’t seem to lead a very exiting life in the zoo like some of the other animals. So, he decides he will build a spaceship and fly to the moon. When he arrives there, he discovers it’s not as fun as sharing adventures with friends. So, he returns to enjoy the companionship of all the animals. There are funny puns along the way that kids may not get, but the adults will as they read it out-loud to their children.
Seven Wonders of the Milky Way,by David A. Aguilar, will undoubtedly inspire many scientists, astrophysicists and more, with this exquisitely illustrated picture book on the subject. As you learn about our galaxy the text is limited but packed within information helping keep ages ten and older engaged. The format has beautifully vivid painted images (based on factual scientific findings) that fill one side of the open page and the opposite side has the limited text to support the exquisite visual painting. More information to learn about the Milky Way is found at the back of the book. This book is geared for ages eight and up.
The Little Rocket, by Richard Collingridge, is a breathtaking and soaring ride into the far reaches of our Solar System. Here is a poetic ride with the magnitude of exploration and yet with the simplistic view of the possibilities of what’s out beyond our reach. The beginning end pages are just a sample of what’s to come. There is even a foldout at the end that not only solidifies the story’s end but also showcases the entire magnificent Solar System. This book is to be relished!
Stardust, by Jeanne Willis, and gorgeously illustrated with mixed media by Briony May Smith, captures the essence of our special “stardust” that is within each of us. A young girl doesn’t feel special. It seems her older sister is always the star. But Granddad puts a light on her, allegorically speaking, by telling her she is made of stardust and that we all shine in our own way. Each page is completely filled with color and the love Granddad projects is illustrated with glowing warmth.
If Pluto was a Pea,by Gabrielle Prendergast, and brightly illustrated digitally by Rebecca Gerlings, is an excellent picture book showcasing comparisons of our Solar System. Upon opening the book, you immediately see a colorful rendition of the Solar System with each planet labeled stretching across the inside double pages. Each open-page shows the comparison of Pluto, if it were a pea, with each of the other planets as something quite a bit larger, including the sun. It does state that because of Pluto’s size, it’s called a dwarf planet. Color completely fills every open-page illustration. This book is good for all ages.]]>
Truman, by Jean Reidy, and brilliantly illustrated using gouache, brush marker, charcoal, colored pencil and then finished digitally by Lucy Ruth Cummins, captures the essence of facing new challenges. A pet turtle, Truman, notices his young owner, Sarah, has a new backpack on her back and then she steps on the bus. Before she went out the door, she left him extra food and whispered for him to be brave. This is all disconcerting and so he sets out to find her. This lovely story has many elements to discuss which include: many items to count (such as the amount of beans Sarah leaves him for the day) and the emotion and excitement involved when beginning something new.
Perfect, by Max Amato, is an excellent story illustrating that you don’t need to be perfect all the time in everything. It’s OK to make mistakes. The two main characters in this story begin to finally work together after experiencing several conflicts with each other. An eraser desires everything to be perfect all the time. But pencil is continually making scribbles until both realize they can work harmoniously. There are very few words in the entire book and the artwork was done with photographs and hand-drawn image collages in Adobe Photoshop.
Superbuns!: Kindness is Her Superpower, by Diane Kredensor, tells us what is really important in getting along with others. Kindness will get you through even the most difficult situations which the story showcases. Superbuns has a sister who acts like she knows everything. But her perspective of her little sister completely changes when they encounter a fox which frightens them. But Superbuns’ kindness wins the day and changes her sister’s attitude toward her. This is a great book for the first day of school. The comic-style pictures were created digitally.
Angry Cookie, by Laura Dockrill, and with amusing digital illustrations by Maria Karipidou, is a rollicking story helping youngsters deal with their emotions. This hilariously drawn cookie is talking to you, the reader, and is already annoyed because you have opened the book. His roommate, a silly looking cactus, is now annoying him because he doesn’t like the song she is playing on a recorder. It seems everything around this droll cookie makes him angry until he changes and begins to see a brighter side to everything that he had just complained about. This brightly colorful book will likely help put smiles on their turned down mouths!
The Pigeon HAS to GO to School!, by Mo Willems, is the read-out-loud for your new schoolers. The storyline addresses the anxieties and fears children face prior to their first day of school. In Willems’ trademark hilarious art, Pigeon is absolutely adamant that he does NOT want to go to school. All the questions he raises can easily be addressed with your little one helping qualm his or her fears. The resolution to this darling picture book is perfect. This book is a must for the first day of school!
So Big!, by Mile Wohnoutla, has the same two words found throughout: “so big”. Each page shows different experiences as a young bear goes off to school for the first time. Some of these reflect pride when he puts on his new clothes and when he’s walking off to the bus stop. Some of the experiences show fear when he’s sitting near other students much bigger than him and when he approaches the very large school. The bright artwork was created with Holbein Acrylic gouache paint and on press watercolor paper. This is a clever use of words to show the good and bad of new situations.
I’m Worried, by Michael Ian Black, and brightly illustrated digitally by Debbie Ridpath Ohi, is the third book these two have successfully published about feelings. The same unusual characters are once again gathered as the flustered little potato states that he’s worried. He’s not sure what is coming in the near future and that has him worried. The pink flamingo seems to become worried as well. But the little girl reassures them both that bad things can happen to us all, but eventually it all works out. This is another perfect setting for first day jitters.
Ruby Finds a Worry, by Tom Percival, finds sweet happy Ruby finding something one day she hasn’t seen before: A Worry. This Worry is portrayed as a small yellow ball. But each day, it gets bigger and bigger until it becomes giant in size. It all is resolved wonderfully when she meets a boy and discovers others have worries as well and learns the best way to get rid of it. The vivid illustrations were digitally drawn using Kyle Webster’s natural media brushes for Photoshop as well as a selection of hand-painted textures.
Grumpy Duck, by Joyce Dunbar, and brightly painted with mixed media by Petr Horacek, has duck out of sorts feeling grumpy because the pond is dry. She complains to each animal and they respond by giving her suggestions. The dog invites her to dig holes with him. Her retort is a grumpy “Digging holes would make my feathers dirty”. Each animal is treated with a similar grumpy answer from Duck. But when it begins to rain, everything changes for the better. The last page is spectacular and definitely not grumpy!
Stewart’s Best Pen, by Stephen W. Martin, and comically painted with cartoon expressions by Karl Newsom Edwards, is a story about friendship. But this book presents this attribute way beyond ordinary friendship. Stewart’s best friend is a pen, yes, a pen! And this pen even has a name: Craig. They do what best friends do – depend on each other and do pretty much everything together. That is until Stewart loses Craig! What does Stewart end up doing? This engaging story has a nice way to solve Stewart’s dilemma.
First Day of Groot, by Brendan Deneen, and brightly illustrated by Cale Atkinson, showcases not only Groot and his friend Rocky, but other super heroes that kids will easily recognize. The rhyming text makes this a fun read-out-loud. You’ll find adventure / at every turn. / Now come on, quick / it’s time to learn. The firsts that they encounter include a ride on a spaceship bus and learning to share with other super heroes.]]>
Over the Moon, by Natalie Lloyd, is a magical adventure where the sky is clouded with an ever-present dust. Mallie, who was born with just one arm, can’t help her family by going down in the coal mines. Her parents can’t work anymore either, so now her little brother will be forced to dig deep down in the earth. However, Mallie is not to be deterred and sets out to earn the needed money. There are flying horses, friendship and family found throughout this beautifully written story as well as Mallie’s uplifting attitude to never give up.
The Last Day of Summer, by LaMar Giles, centers on two great friends who also happen to be cousins. When these two boys realize they are at summer’s end, they do some detective investigating only to discover they’ve looped into time travel. There are twists and turns all along the way as well as some very funny moments. This is great read out loud!
The Bigfoot Files,by Lindsay Eager, has Miranda trying to convince her cryptozoologist mom to just live a normal life so she could also feel normal. Her mom is in search of evidence proving the existence of Bigfoot. Miranda is tired of what she feels is a charade. But as you read through this fascinating story the ties between mother and daughter become remarkable and where this story leads are extraordinary.
Stand on the Sky,by Erin Bow, is a fascinating look inside Mongolian nomadic life. Aisulu resents the attention given to her brother for riding horses very well when she can do it much better. But when he suddenly becomes very ill, her parents must take him to the city. She is left with her aunt and uncle which is difficult for her. But everything changes for her, her family, and even how her tribe looks at her, when she saves and trains a baby eagle. This well written book will take you to a world unlike you’ve been before.
Serafina and the Seven Stars,by Robert Beatty, is book four in this mesmerizing series. You don’t need to read the others to enjoy this book. However, chances are you are going to want to read them all. Beatty has the most amazing gift of storytelling and this book is every bit as good as the other three. Serafina is the guardian of the large Biltmore Estate where she has won many battles against the evil forces that have tried to prevail. But the peace that exists at the beginning is short lived. When she witnesses a crime, you will be turning the pages all the way to the end to discover what happens!
The Simple Art of Flying, by Cory Leonardo, is a story about two parrots and twelve-year-old Fritz who buys one from the pet store thereby splitting them up. Spunky Alastair has great dreams of escaping and flying into the deep blue sky even with a bad wing. He is distraught however because his sister, sweet Aggie, has now been taken away from him (bought by Fritz). And he has been bought by old Bertie. This extraordinary story is told through three voices that combines poetry, storytelling and letters.
The Girl with the Dragon Heart,by Stephanie Burgis, is a lively sequel to the excellent book: The Dragon with the Chocolate Heart. Silkie is a young girl who ends up right in the middle of a power struggle between the royal family and the royal elves. Her life completely changed when her parents were stolen by fairies six years before and she must now live in poverty. But when she is asked to spy on the fairies for the princess, the book really picks up the pace and will be difficult to put down!
Shouting at the Rain,by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, is a sweet story that supports the family and the importance of love and belonging. The story takes place in a Cape Cod summer and with young Delsie being deeply loved by dear grandmother. Her mother abandoned her years before and she is currently resenting her different family as her friends seem to have normal families. This book is full of heart.
Sal & Gabi Break the Universe,by Carlos Hernandez, might just possibly become your favorite book of the year. The storyline is science fiction, but the setting takes place in the near future. Sal is Cuban American and has just moved to a new school. He has already encountered the school bully and dealt with him in a very creative way – he stuffed a real chicken in the bully’s locker. This action has caused Sal to go to the principal’s office. But he was able to meet Gabi there and this is the beginning of a great friendship. She ends up being the only one outside his family who knows he can access other universes! The adventures and sticky situations these friends experience will have you chuckling and becoming nervous from the tension that mounts along the way. This is a fabulous read as well as a terrific read-out-loud!
Pay Attention Carter Jones,by Gary D. Schmidt, is another fabulous book (actually all of these books are on the top of my list.) Carter Jones is trying to get ready for the first day of school. His father has been deployed out of the country in the military. It’s raining buckets outside. His little sisters are all causing his mom much stress when the doorbell rings. Outside stands a butler. This British speaking gentleman has been bequeathed by way of Carter’s grandfather to help this struggling family. There is a sweetness found throughout, along with much humor as you watch Carter grow and mature with the help of this gentleman. This could be a Newbery winner!
The Storm Keeper’s Island, by Catherine Doyle, takes place on an Irish island where a brother and sister go to spend the summer with their grandfather. The grandfather is the Storm Keeper who protects the island from evil and dark magic. But the time has come to select a new Storm Keeper. These siblings experience an exciting summer and begin to see how magical this island really is.
Charlie & Frog: The Boney Hand – A Mystery,by Karen Kane, is a story about two friends, Charlie and Frog, who are trying to solve a deep mystery at their school. Their friendship is strong and they go about searching for clues when an item from the school, The Boney Hand, goes missing. The mystery, and their friendship, is centerstage here. But these kids go to a school for the deaf which is only a sideline in the story. The inside covers feature sign language.
Briar and Rose and Jack,by Katherine Coville, is a combination of a few well-known fairytales. The retelling of “Sleeping Beauty” and “Jack and the Beanstalk” are the two obvious tales but there is more subtlety added in as well. This retelling is so beautifully told that it recalls the old classics.
Sven Carter and the Android Army,by Rob Vlock, is actually a sequel to the first: “Sven Carter and Trashmouth Effects”. However, there is no need to read the first to enjoy this book. But chances are you’ll desire to go back and read that one as well. Sven is part boy and part robot and he will stop at nothing to prevent the human race from being destroyed. This science fiction is hilarious from start to finish.]]>
Born Just Right, by Jordan Reeves and Jen Lee Reeves, is a most uplifting and optimistic book that every family should read! It is told through the eyes of fourteen-year-old Jordan and how she was born without the bottom half of her left arm. But she is on a mission to show kids of all ages that with a change in thinking we can all do anything we put our minds to! She tells how she had to figure out how to tie her shoes with one hand with a little help from her other arm. How she has gone out for sports, dance and many other activities with a bit of a change shift so she could accomplish what she set out to do. She understands she has limits, like being able to play on the monkey bars. But that’s ok with her! This is an amazing story about an amazing attitude!
Our Castle by the Sea, by Lucy Strange, is an historical fiction based on life in a lighthouse in southern England. The year is 1939 and twelve-year-old Petra’s mother, who has German heritage, is suddenly taken away to live in an internment camp. As Petra watches her town, community, and ultimately her country, be impacted horrifically by the onslaught of World War II, you see a young girl mature and become strong amongst adversity. There are overtures of the heroism in Dunkirk included in the storyline. This book is wonderfully written and is rich with elegant detail.
Jed and the Junkyard War and book 2 Jed and the Junkyard Rebellion, by Steven Bohls, with amazing full-page art sprinkled throughout by Allen Douglas, are books you need to read in order. In the first book, Jed’s parents have disappeared. But according to their instructions, he locates a keyhole at the back of the dishwasher. This sets off a series of adventures as he discovers what is behind that keyhole: a floating city and a mysterious world at war over junk. Book 2 picks right up where book 1 left off and many questions will be answered but not before Jed experiences even more wild adventures. The storyline in both books is very clever, well written and rich with imagination. If you’re looking for a book that you can’t put down these books will take you to another place unlike you’ve ever been before!
Batting Order, by Mike Lupica, is another outstanding sports book that is as good as his many other books on several different sports. This baseball book showcases two different types of players and how they end up working together to help the team win more games. Ben is large and strong and a bit of a show-off when it comes to hitting the ball. The only problem is, he has difficulty hitting the ball. Matt, on the other hand, is shy and small. But he is most likely the best all-around player on the team. Matt is completely taken aback when Ben actually approaches him for help. There is much to learn in this book as these players learn the strengths each person has to give as they learn to respect each other.
The Unicorn Quest Book 1 and Secret in the Stone (Unicorn Quest Book 2), by Kamilla Benko, is a beautifully told fantasy series about two sisters and their adventures in a world rich with magical creatures. In the first book, the sisters have just moved into Windermere Manor in the woods. While exploring the area, they discover a magical land in battle and all their unicorns have vanished. In the second book, the sisters hope to awaken some very precious stones that should bring back the missing unicorns. Both books are rich with adventures, twists and turns along the way and are splendidly written!
The Multiplying Mysteries of Mount Ten, by Krista Van Dolzer, begins with Esther being driven to an exciting art camp because she loves art. But somehow her stepfather gets confused and drives up the wrong mountain. And now she finds herself at math camp! But she decides to prove to the other campers that she can do math when a very difficult problem is proposed to all. She not only solves it, but she does it quicker than anyone else! Someone doesn’t want her here and begins leaving mysterious notes and then a camper goes missing. There is much to solve in this great book making this a terrific read-out-loud for a class or group.
Watch Hollow, by Gregory Funaro, is a spooky story filled with all the elements kids like in this type of genre: magic, good vs evil, a constantly twisting mystery, suspense and love woven throughout. Lucy, and her older brother Gregory, are dealing with the loss of their mom who died from cancer two years earlier. Their father owns a small clock repair shop which is struggling to remain open. Everything changes when a stranger comes to town and hires their father to go deep into the woods where the man owns a grand house. Within the walls is a huge cuckoo clock that needs to be fixed. There is something very strange going on in this house which at times is a bit scary but always full of action. Reader beware, once you begin this intriguing tale, you won’t be able to stop!
The Missing Piece of Charlie O’Reilly, by Rebecca K. S. Ansari, is a richly woven mystery about Charlie in search of his missing little brother. The problem began when he wished him away just before his birthday. Now he is missing. And worse than that, no one even remembers him, not his parents, neighbors or his best friend, Ana. She has promised to help him find his brother. But it all shifts when he finds a note in his bedroom. This is a complex story rich in the depth of love and forgiveness. The nuances Charlie learns along the way changes everything.
Focused, by Alyson Gerber, showcases Clea, a seventh grader who is suffering unknowingly from ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). She is having great difficulty finishing assignments, failing tests and seems to be easily distracted. When Clea and her parents discover that she has ADHD, they begin to take measures to help her succeed in school, and ultimately in life. Clea is very smart and has many talents which this book showcases. Plus, she must deal with this disorder. Gerber handles this story very well and fills it with heartfelt grace and clarity. In the author’s notes found at the back of the book, you learn that Gerber also suffered from this disorder when she was young.]]>
Best Family Ever, by Karen Kingsbury and her son Tyler Russell, is the first book in a planned series centering on the Baxter children. When the kids learn that their father must move their family to another state, each child deals with this transition differently. What you learn, while reading about their trials, is that this family loves each other and depends on the support, help and faith each can give to another. It’s refreshing to read about a time before electronic devices used up so much time and see how life can truly be enjoyed.
Blastaway, by Melissa Landers, is an exciting science fiction adventure featuring smart and brainy Kyler who isn’t appreciated by his family. They don’t seem to appreciate all his knowledge and love of space. When his parents turn him down to go to the Sun Festival, he takes his family’s spaceship anyway – and this is when trouble begins. Not only is he now family in trouble, but he encounters space pirates and young Wanderer. This book is action packed. But be warned – begin reading early the day as you won’t want to stop!
Meena Meets Her Match, by Karla Manternach, showcases nine-year-old Meena and her love of life! Her unique zest and rambunctious energy will grab you immediately. However, what makes this story so informative and exclusive is what ails her. Meena has seizures and her parents need to discover why. They pray it’s not from a brain tumor and eventually they find that it’s not as you read through her medical trials. But this medical condition is not what defines her. She is much more! There is some interesting background information, found in the author’s notes, as to why the author wrote about the subject.
The Collectors, by Jacqueline West, is a thrilling magical adventure that will keep you reading through the night. Eleven-year-old Van is used to moving all over the world with his famous opera singing mother. But now they are living in New York City and for once he’d like a friend. As he watches a man flip a coin into a fountain, he suddenly sees a squirrel race to the fountain to seize it followed by a girl. This is so strange that he ends up following both the girl and this small squirrel. What he discovers opens a whole new world to him and you, the reader. One thing you learn about Van, which ends up becoming unimportant and just a small part of his personality is that he is hearing impaired. You learn early on that Van is hearing impaired. This is handled well showing this is not an important trait of his thereby demonstrating that impairments don’t need emphasis when dealing with others.
Project ME 2.0, by Jan Gangsei, begins with eleven-year-lad Farley who is interested in his best friend and she has no idea why. So, in order to impress her he looks up ideas on the internet. As he‘s searching, he accidentally brings about a tiny internet guru about the size of your hand. And now his life turns upside down as this annoying little guy gives all kinds of awful help. Now he must get rid of him before all hope is lost on achieving his goal with this girl. But the mini guru defines the steps that need to be taken for him to leave and some steps are horribly embarrassing! This book is great fun and greatly funny.
A Place to Belong,by Cynthia Kadohata, is a beautifully written historical fiction that deals with the American-Japanese who were sent to internment camps directly after World War II. After the war, young Hanako and her family are sent back to Japan where her grandparents (whom she had never met) live. Their home is near Hiroshima and so there is devastation to be seen. However, this story is told with hope and optimism even with the darkness that could have easily been prevalent. This is a well told story from which to learn and grow.
Shipwreckers! The Curse of the Cursed Temple of Curses (or We Nearly Died. A Lot.), by Scott Peterson and Joshua Pruett, and sprinkled with delightful drawings by Bran Ajhar, is the perfect book to read out loud, or great for your reluctant reader, because it is packed with uproarious adventure and is hard to put down. Beware! You are about to ride along with Dani and her older brother down the Amazon River. However, the captain of this expedition is careless and constantly places them in grave danger. But even with this intrepid danger, the funny antics along the way will have you laughing out loud.
Other Wood, by Pete Hautman, is a richly told story brimming with descriptive language as two friends fill each other’s souls with incredibly imaginative stories. They love going to the woods and exploring their stories with vividness. But something happens to both of them that practically splits their friendship and they must figure out how to repair this major event before it destroys their happiness.
Camp Shady Crook,by Lee Gjertsen Malone, has to be one of the best written and fun summer camp books ever published. Archie competes with Vivian to outdo each other in pranks. However, when they get in over their heads in trouble, they realize they must team up to set things right. In the process, the wrongs they attempt to fix will have you laughing all the way to the end. If you like camp stories, you’re in for a treat with this one.
Samantha Spinner and the Spectacular Specs, by Russell Ginns, is an adventure filled with mystery and puzzles to solve. Samantha is upset because her very rich uncle has given her sister over 2 million dollars and her brother the New York Yankees. He gave her an old umbrella. But when she opens it, she discovers something very unusual. She also received some strange looking glasses. What does this all mean? Plus, her uncle has gone missing! This is the second book in the series, but you don’t need to read the first to enjoy this book. However, here’s one word to describe the first book: Wow! Both books 1 and 2 will be thoroughly enjoyed by the entire family.
Gamer Army, by Trent Reedy, is an action-packed science fiction book based around gaming. Any time I can find books on this subject that are excellent, I choose to write about them to get kids to read more and game less. The author is one of my favorites and writes with the ability to place you right into the action of the book. Young Rogan is invited to become part of a tournament where virtual-reality games have become the norm. But soon after he arrives, he notices some unusual goings on – that could affect the entire world.]]>
Apollo 8: The Mission that Changed Everything, by Martin W. Sandler, will take the reader into space and heading towards the moon. This amazing account of the giant difficulties facing America, beginning in 1957, describes the beginning of our race to reach space before the USSR. We were in the midst of the Cold War and America was losing the space race. This was the year that Russia launched their Sputnik satellite making them first to successfully orbit the Earth. Now, jump ahead to 1968. America is furiously working to prepare their lunar landing scheduled for the end of the year. However, the CIA discovered that the USSR was already on the move to be first once again – this time to orbit the moon. They would be victorious and jump ahead of the United States again. This could not happen! It also increased the possibility that the USSR could overtake America in more ways than just in space. So, NASA had to accelerate their plan and move it up several months. This was extremely difficult because NASA wanted to make sure all was as safe as possible for the astronauts. NASA made the decision to not just orbit earth, but also orbit the dark side of the moon. There are several stunning photographs found throughout this book as well as the iconic Earth photo from the moon. The author reveals the tension and scientific advancement of all who worked on Apollo 8 to achieve the moon orbit and return safely to earth. He writes this entire event book with great intensity and interest. Be sure to check out the fascinating end-pages.
Wonders of America, by Marian Dane Bauer, and rich with color by John Wallace, is a series of books for the new reader labeled Ready-To-Read Level 1. These new readers take the reader to some of the most beautiful locations in America and teach history about the locations. The newest editions are The Grand Canyon and Yellowstone.
The Oregon Trail series, by Jesse Wiley, has two new books that are perfect for ages seven through eleven. The Wagon Train Trek and Alone in the Wild are both written so that the young reader can choose different trails and discover the outcome. There are more than twenty different outcomes to choose from. Each of these situations may include wild animals, dangerous rivers, thieves, bad weather and much more. Each situation brings to light the difficult circumstances pioneers had to face traveling across the country in search of a new life.
Our Flag Was Still There: The True Story of Mary Pickersgill and the Star-Spangled Banner, by Jesse Hartland, is a marvelous picture book celebrating the United States of America flag that inspired our National Anthem. The War of 1812 was underway, and the capital had been set on fire by the British. Major George Armistead had been stationed at Fort McHenry near Baltimore, Maryland. Back in this day, ships communicated with each other and those on land with flags. The Major went to a nearby seamstress who owned a small store with other women family members, along with an indentured servant. He desired a flag so large that the British will have no difficulty seeing it from a distance. He wanted to make sure the British knew that this land belonged to America. So, Mary Pickersgill set out to make a huge flag – 30 feet by 42 feet. The battle that ensued after flying this giant flag inspired Sir Frances Scott Key to write a poem to a familiar song which later became our National Anthem. You can find the flag on display in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. There is more information and the author’s notes found at the back of the book. The illustrations have a wonderful folks-art touch which are rich with color and done with gouache.
1919: The Year That Changed America, by Martin W. Sandler, is an over-sized book full of photographs and information of events that happened one hundred years ago in America and that are significant and even relevant today. Some of these events were: America recovering from World War I, women finally being allowed to vote, rotten working conditions because they were not made public and the strong attitude of temperance leading to prohibition. This well-researched book truly gives light to what life was like a hundred years ago and how life has changed. Be sure to check out the interesting time-line for “Health Protections for the Common Good” found in the back of the book.
Picturing America: Thomas Cole and the Birth of American Art, by Hudson Talbots, is a picture book that investigates how this beautiful art form began from one of the greatest American artists. Thomas Cole moved from England to America in 1816. He had a tremendous ability to draw and drew everything he saw in his new country. But his art form changed when he became inspired on a boat ride up the Hudson River. When he saw the beauty in the wilderness of the Catskill Mountains, it changed how he painted. He became famous from the landscapes he drew and encouraged other artists to become inspired by America’s grand scope. You’ll find some of his breathtaking paintings in this informative and beautiful book.
I Survived: The Battle of D-Day, 1944, by Lauren Tarshis, is the latest installment in this historically accurate series. Seventy-five years ago, the largest seaborne invasion ever to take place in history occurred in Normandy, France. Even though many died at the hands of the enemy, this tremendous invasion turned the tide towards the eventual Allied victory in World War II. If your kids have never read any of these “I Survived” series of books they are missing out and will likely become excited to read about history. The author has a tremendous gift for blending history within a gripping narrative! There are photos and facts found at the back of the book along with more fascinating historical books for kids on World War II. Other books in this series include: The Attacks of September 11, 2001, The American Revolution, 1776 and The Battle of Gettysburg, 1863.
The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon: The True Story of Alan Bean, by Dean Roberts, and beautifully illustrated by Sean Rubin, showcases how this fourth astronaut to step on the moon gloriously painted his experience to typify what he saw through art. This picture book takes you through his youth and his tremendous desire to fly. When he became a navy pilot he longed to also paint what he saw high above the clouds. However, his painting lessons didn’t prepare him for the incredible view of earth 240,000 miles away. Be sure to check out the interesting time-line of our space explorations found in the back. This book is good for all ages.
Lost in Outer Space: The Incredible Journey of Apollo 13, by Tod Olson, is another outstanding edition in his successful series, “Lost”. The disaster for the three astronauts began when they were just two days from their greatly anticipated landing on the moon. A sudden explosion ripped through the spacecraft crippling it and potentially killing the three men inside. This amazing account is well told for kids helping them see all that had gone wrong and how miraculously the men survived and came back to earth. The entire book is riveting, and along with photographs sprinkled throughout, it’s an excellent non-fiction read!]]>
A Father’s Love, by Hannah Holt, and nicely illustrated with hand-drawn outlines using pencil and pen and then colored digitally by Yee Von Chan, celebrates dads everywhere as they lovingly dote on their offspring. Many of the fathers represented in this book are animals from around the world. The rhyming text goes hand-in-hand with the theme. Beneath a mighty REDWOOD TREE, / a fox tends to his family. / He keeps them safe / by digging chutes. / This father’s love / runs deep as roots. I especially like the statement on the back cover: A Father’s LOVE is everywhere… This book is best for ages three to eight.
Daddy-Sitting, by Eve Coy, is an adorable tribute to daddy as he attempts to watch his child. But, perhaps it’s his little girl who is watching him. The story is told through the eyes of the little girl as she describes all the duties that she must do to keep track of daddy. The antics that she must prevail upon are funny, especially coming from this youngster. On one page her daddy is carrying a basket of clothes and you see he is about to trip over toys she has left out. The text reads: Sometimes he doesn’t watch where he’s going. The watercolor and colored pencil are wonderfully done and bring out the loving relationship father and daughter have with each other. Be sure to check out the hilarious back end-pages. This book is best suited for ages three to eight.
Raj and the Best Day Ever, by Sebastian Braun, takes place on an outing with father and son (both tigers). Raj has made a list of all that he and dad are going to do while on their adventure. The first activity on the list is to go to the library. But soon things begin to go wrong when Dad forgets to bring his wallet. And on top of that, it begins to rain. Raj then declares that it’s now becoming the worse day ever. But Dad comes up with some perfect alternatives making their adventure together perfect. The vibrant color, made in mixed media, is rich and the illustrations have many goings-on with other animals on every page.
Good Dad Diego, by Brenna Maloney, showcases photos of a pug in hilarious poses and hats as he goes through many antics and as he helps with his family needs throughout the day. The book states he is not only the king of his castle, but his duties extend to many areas in the household. Sometimes he wears a police hat as he lays down the law: Stop digging up the plants! He wears a chef’s hat and cooks meat casserole-again. The pictures of the pug are hilarious making this dog the perfect reflection of dad and his jobs around the house.
My Papi has a Motorcycle, by Isabel Quintero, and illustrated with watercolor painted with texture by Zeke Pena, has young Daisy anxiously waiting to hear the roar of her dad’s truck as it enters the driveway. She grabs two helmets and runs to greet him. Both Papi and daughter head over to his motorcycle where she jumps on the back. As they zoom out onto the road, she feels the shiny blue metal of the motorcycle glow in the sun. She imagines that both her Papi and herself become a spectacular celestial thing soaring on asphalt. A comet! The author was able to convey her loving experiences with her father and the rides she took with him on his motorcycle when she was young. The elegant descriptions of the strong bond between father and daughter, along with the beautiful illustrations, are evident.
Dream Within a Dream, by Patricia MacLachlan, is a short novel that is rich in language and touching in story. Young Louisa must stay once again on Deer Island with her brother, Theo, as her parents head across the world studying birds. She wants nothing more than to get off this remote island and see the exciting world with her parents. Whereas Theo loves it there. However, Louisa is about to see this gorgeous island and her sweet grandparents like she never has before. This beautiful story will linger long after you read it. What a wonderful read-out-loud!
The Great Indoors, by Julie Falatko, and illustrated with humor by Ruth Chan, has a storyline where the tables are cleverly turned. A family goes camping, and in turn, animals you might see on a camping trip come to stay in their house. Beavers cook up a storm making a giant mess. Skunks lay on the couch. Deer dance all over the house. But before you know it, these animals miss their great outdoors. Good thing, because guess who comes home?
Tree to Sea, by Shelley Moore Thomas, and beautifully painted with digital and mixed media, this book celebrates the beauty of nature and its connection to man. Bees show me how to work hard. When work is shared the rewards are as sweet as honey. The lyrical text ties into the colorful pictures that fill the double page.
Sea Glass Summer, by Michelle Houtz, and gorgeously painted with watercolor by Bagram Ibatoulline, has a boy searching the seaside for treasures from the ocean. His grandmother gives him a magnifying glass that was his grandfather’s. She also gives him sea glass and the wonderment of it stirs his imagination. This dazzling epode contracts possible stories of beach remnants of long ago.
Caterpillar Summer, by Gillian McDunn, is a fiction book good for ages nine and up and invokes a tenderness and loving relationship between siblings and family. Cat is constantly watching and taking care of her little brother since her father passed. Her mom is now working so hard trying to pay all the bills. But when plans suddenly change and Cat and her little brother are staying at their grandparents they have never known. Cat realizes that this turns out to be a blessing because she can be a child again and enjoy life. This story is rich with adventure, discoveries and family.]]>
Believe: A Pop-Up Book of Possibilities, by one of my very favorite paper engineers – Robert Sabuda. This is a small-sized book with Sabuda’s spectacular pop-ups on every other open page. It begins with part of a sentence on an open page, When I grow up. The only other item on the page is actually a clue for what’s coming: an acorn. Upon turning the page, a giant evergreen pop-up is found. The entire book reads this way stating goals and with all the unlimited possibilities. Sabuda uses only crisp white on all pop-ups making them extraordinary!
The Amazing Idea of You, by Charlotte Sullivan Wild, and richly illustrated on the open-page with pencil, watercolor, and gouache on watercolor paper by Mary Lundquist, celebrates the incubation of ideas and collaborates with the growing season of nature. Take a bite / drop a bit / the idea might take root / sprout / shoot up / into the blue. The insinuation throughout is that there is greatness in you waiting to be found.
My Big Bad Monster, by A. N. Kang, is a wonderful book to help dispel self-doubt and inner-fears. The story begins immediately on the title page where you see a darling young red-haired girl drawing flowers around a self-portrait. You may or may not notice the beginnings of a tiny monster coming her way. You do notice, however, on the next page the monster is now larger, and she is staring at the picture she just finished. The following page has her scribbling black all over her drawing and you see an even larger monster. As the story goes on, she struggles and then overcomes this self-doubting monster and finds happiness. The watercolor and pencil drawings are delightful, and the lessons are important!
Linus: The Little Yellow Pencil, by Scott Magoon, is a soliloquy to collaboration and learning to work together. A cute pencil point, with a smile, is about to draw something amazing to enter in the family art show contest. As he draws an interesting Tyrannosaurus Rex playing a guitar, Ernie (his red eraser with a fierce expression) states the picture isn’t good enough. Ernie pays havoc on his pencil and Linus eventually goes into a cave. (The reader may discover this is actually a pencil sharpener.) What he learns inside changes his entire outlook along with Ernie and they learn to create the most magical drawings. Also, be sure to check out the end-pages.
Mr. Posey’s New Glasses, by Ted Kooser, and cleverly illustrated digitally by Daniel Duncan, is a delightful intergenerational story about an older Mr. Posey who feels gloomy. Everything seems to be the same in his old life, but he gets an idea when he looks out the window and sees young Andy and decides to go to the thrift shop with him and get new glasses. What he experiences there is magical and the conclusion is spot on!
We’ve Got the Whole World in Our Hands, a new adaptation filled with vibrant color by illustrator Rafael Lopez, celebrates this well-known song by emphasizing unity, working together and getting along. The pictures in this over-sized book fill the open-pages with glorious color and the sheet music is included at the back of the book. Be sure to check out the delightful end-pages.
Because, by Mo Willems, and beautifully illustrated by Amber Ren, depicts how one musical piece can change a life which can ultimately affect another and that life can affect yet another, etc. Likening to a domino effect, music can sway, persuade and even motivate as the notes liltingly lift and move over the instruments. Music can assimilate into many actions to increase into selflessness. A selfless act of kindness, a gesture of help, a brightness of a smile all can affect others in such a positive way in a similar way that music can. That is what is portrayed throughout this inspiring book. Both front and back end-pages include beautiful sheet music.
Lola Dutch When I Grow Up, by Kenneth and Sarah Jane Wright, is an imaginative story and the second book in this series that centers on clever, creative and full-of-wonder Lola. She has great desire to achieve so many things when she grows up (a singing performer, an inventor, a scientist and more). But ultimately, she just wants to enjoy the adventures of childhood. Lola is adorably drawn, as are all the illustrations done with pencil and watercolor, in this inspiring book. There are even paper dolls on the inside jacket.
Just Like Rube Goldberg: The True Story of the Man Behind the Machines, by Sarah Aronson, and perfectly rendered with pencil and ink and then onto a Macintosh computer by Robert Neubecker, is the true story about a man with a tremendous gift of the imagination. Rube was a very famous award-winning cartoonist and inventor who followed his dreams. His cartoons are actually very complicated in the way he made up clever inventions to suffice for everyday needs. But through their complications they are hilarious. Many of his crazy inventions are found in this amazing book. The front and back end-pages have an assortment of his actual cartoons as they looked in newspapers. “The Only Sanitary Way to Lick a Postage Stamp” is one of the examples.
The Good Egg, by Jory Kohn, and with scanning watercolor textures and digital paint to illustrate by Pete Oswald, is a verrrrrry good egg. He likes to help out when there is a need, any kind of a need. He’ll be there to carry your groceries, water your plants…even change your tires. But he is surrounded by rotten eggs. His attempts to change them and keep peace begins to crack his shell. What he discovers teaches some great lessons while enjoying this fun and funny book. The illustrations and the text are both hilarious making this the perfect read-out-loud for bedtime.]]>
She Dared: Malala Yousafzai, by Jenni L. Walsh, is a paperback that tells the true and triumphant story of Malala and of her life in Pakistan and how she barely escaped the Taliban. She knew she wanted to become a doctor, but the Taliban had prevented girls from attending school. Knowing this policy was wrong and that the Taliban was preventing girls from becoming educated, she spoke out against this evil regime. She understood that there could be repercussions, but she also knew she must speak out. It took great courage, but Malala felt she needed to let this evil group know how wrong they were. But by speaking out, she was attacked. Malala survived and has gone on to become a spokeswoman for women’s education. There are outstanding photos found in the middle of this paperback. Furthermore, Scholastic has other outstanding non-fiction books in this “She Dared” series.
Sisters: Venus and Serena Williams, by Jeanette Winter, is a quick-read picture book about how hard work, continual practice and family love and support made tennis stars out of these two sisters. It begins by showing them cleaning a tennis club and using old balls and rackets to learn to play tennis. Their father worked with them every day after all three completed their work. As the girls grew, from persistence and consistent practice, they continued to get better and better. The illustrations perfectly demonstrate the diligence needed to develop these sister’s outstanding talents. It also shows the love of family and of each other.
She’s Got This, by Laurie Hernandez, and nicely illustrated by Nina Mata, has a terrific life lesson: don’t give up! Laurie, who won an Olympic gold medal in gymnastics, showcases how she wanted to become a gymnast. But after experiencing her first traumatic fall, she thinks she wants to quit. How she keeps going, and not letting missteps stop her, is found in this expressive picture book. This inspiring book is good for ages four through eight.
Flights of Fancy: Creative Inspiration from Ten Award-Winning Authors and Illustrators, published by Walker, is a compilation of some of the best in the business. This amazing book showcases some of the following outstanding literary geniuses in children’s literature: Quentin Blake, Michael Rosen, Anthony Browne and Lauren Child. Each author demonstrates what inspired them as well as showing some of their writings. Each illustrator displays some of their beautiful drawings. In each case, if you, or your child, are inclined to one or both of these fields, your imagination will soar. All have been chosen as British Laureates.
Helen Oxenbury: A Life in Illustration, by Leonard S. Marcus, is an oversized book packed with information about this brilliant artist. Her gorgeous and expressive illustrations are found throughout this beautiful book. This biography includes several of her famous and beloved works. This elegant work will surely inspire those who love this type of work. Included are many tributes from well-known collaborators as well as her own work. These include colorful full-page drawings from: ABC of Things, Nursery Treasury, The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig and When Charlie Met Grandpa.
From an Idea to Nike: How Marketing Made Nike’s Global Success, by Lowry Bunny Sichol, and illustrated by C. S. Jennings, is a smartly written book geared for ages ten and beyond. There is so much information and inspiration packed in this smallish-sized book. From the marketing aspect you learn where the name Nike came from, along with the swoosh. You’ll read how the company initially signed their star athletes. And you’ll learn how it expanded from its roots in running into other sports. But this book is so much more. This will undoubtedly inspire youth to create their own ideas and begin their own marketing strategies. The black and white illustrations sprinkled throughout add humor and entertainment.
Share Your Smile: Raina’s Guide to Telling Your Own Story, by Raina Telgemeier, is part book and part journal. This popular graphic book creator has come up with a book to enhance or encourage all artists who like to draw in the comic realm. There are also pages set aside just for your own drawings. This compassionate guide is filled with wit, humor and, of course, encouragement to get started. So – what are you waiting for?
Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11, by Brian Flora, has been expanded to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the first moon landing. This oversized book was first published in 2009 celebrating the 40th anniversary. However, this edition is more informative and is perfect for kids (and adults) of any age. The wonderful watercolor illustrations fill the pages and capture the courage and anticipation of the three astronauts as they reached the moon. The text is minimal, yet beautifully describes, this exciting event! Be sure to take note of the front end-pages which perfectly describe the components of the Apollo Spacecraft. And the back end-pages includes a summary of the entire Apollo project. This might just be the book to motivate a future space engineer!]]>
Superhero Mom, by Timothy Knapman, and digitally illustrated with vibrant color by Joe Berger, demonstrates all that mom takes on – often all at the same time. She may not wear a cape, but she can take it all on to become quite a superhero. She can untangle hair, mend, bake and take care of scrapes on legs. In a flash, with a smile, / my supermom appears, / with a bandage and a kiss, / to chase away my tears. The rhyming text reads with delightful rhythm and alliteration found throughout.
Peeping Beauty, by Brenda Maier, and the adorable pictures rendered digitally by Zoe Waring, ultimately has the baby chicks hatching with Mama’s love. The sagacious story is a rendition of Sleeping Beauty. Mama and Papa are waiting for their babies to hatch. But one egg is taking much longer. All of the family is trying to get the last egg to hatch, but it’s Mama’s love that ultimately cracks the egg. And – there is a surprise waiting at the end. The cover is filled with glitter and the clever storyline has onomatopoeia and wordplay. The family of chicks will surely bring smiles to all.
Loving Hands, by Tony Johnston, and beautifully painted with watercolor, gouache and pencil by Amy June Bates, is a rhyming progression of mom and her sweet baby. The first picture you see, before the story begins, is mom very pregnant. The poetic story begins with mom snuggled in bed with her new baby. A child is born one winter day / His mother calls him Lamb. / She hums a tune that has no words / and holds her baby’s hand. The baby grows into a man and the bond of love continues. The story shows the powerful love of a mother for her child. The wonderful illustrations fill the pages with warm hues.
Nobody Hugs a Cactus, by Carter Goodrich, can be associated with moms because no matter what your personality or desirably, moms will accept you and love you just the way you are! Hank is the prickliest cactus and doesn’t seem to want to have anyone near him where he sits in a pot on a windowsill. He steers lizards, tumbleweeds, even coyotes away from his ledge. But it doesn’t take long for him to realize he’s lonely and wishes he wasn’t so ornery to all who approach him. What happens to this prickly cactus will bring a smile to him and the reader. The earth tones of beautiful watercolor give off the essence of a dry dessert. And the expressions of this cactus are hilarious! This book will be much hugged!
Mama Loves her Silly Goose, by Sandra Magsamen, is a small board book in the shape of a tall rectangle. There are six short nursery rhymes making this perfect for mama’s everywhere to read-out-loud for ages two to four. The bright illustrations are a trademark of Magsamen who writes and paints specifically for toddlers.
Baby Love, by Angela Di Terlizza, and illustrated with heart-felt love by Brooke Boynton-Hughes, shows the great love of a happy family. The depiction of this glowing baby with a smiling, glowing face and all the activities he gets involved with will surely bring smiles to all who read this smallish-sized board book. There are few words on each page making this a quick and easy read for little ones with mom.
Peter Rabbit I Love You, by Beatrice Potter, features this classic character from the beloved series and shows how mom adores her little bunny. Each page begins with a short sentence that begins with My little bunny following with a brief description of a simple rhyming activity. My little bunny, let’s sing and clap. My little bunny, snuggle down for a nap. There’s a surprise found on the last page of this sweetly painted book.
I Love You, Little Pookie, by Sandra Boynton, shows the great love between mother and child. Pookie is a pig in a sweet series that features her kindness throughout. Mother states in a simple sentence per page all the things she loves about her child and what she enjoys doing. She points out that Pookie is sometimes quiet and sometimes wild. Mother enjoys walking with Pookie or riding in a car. But whatever the reason, My love will go with you wherever you go. The illustrations are simple, but sweet as well.
I Love You, Little One, by Holly Surplice, celebrates the love between a sweet mother guinea pig and her little child in a poetic text. Through painting together, singing and playing instruments together, cooking together and reading together, mother and child enjoy it all and strengthen their love. There’s love in every answer to / your questions, big and small. / I do my best to help you learn, / though I don’t know it all. The energetic illustrations were made digitally.
Little Fish and Mommy, by Lucy Cousins, is told through the viewpoint of the little fish. Little Fish loves mommy and throughout this brightly painted book, with the trademark of Cousins, shows all that makes this love grow. Little Fish loves swimming with mommy, playing games with her and exploring. This darling little book is even in the shape of a fish.]]>