It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/8/2020 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!

were-movingBIG NEWS: It looks like we really are moving! After looking at homes over the last two years, and having two options fall through, we began to wonder if this would ever happen. There aren’t many affordable larger homes that come up for sale in our town, to begin with. But about two weeks ago a home that was previous well out of our price range had a hefty price drop. So we finally asked our realtor for a viewing and VOILA! It had the perfect room arrangement and location for our needs. We made an offer, they countered, we countered back, and we eventually came to a verbal agreement just last Friday. So we’re now in a slight state of shock as we begin packing up 14+ years worth of stuff for a family of seven while finishing prepping our current home for sale. Interestingly enough, our move-in date might very well coincide with our 25th anniversary. How crazy is THAT?! Needless to say, I will be forfeiting much of my summer reading time and my blog may lack coherence and depth over the next two months. We’d love your positive thoughts, moving advice, and prayers as we navigate these murky home selling/buying waters!

Thank you for visiting today! Whether it’s a new release or an older title, I always hope readers will find something of interest to add to their wish list.


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Tornado Brain
Cat Patrick
May 5, 2020
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Don’t let that cutesy cover fool you, there’s more than meets the eye in this hard-hitting story. Tess and Frankie are fraternal twins, but Frankie will openly share that she has certain needs that Tess does not. For example, Frankie doesn’t ever like to be touched, loud noises bother her, and she needs a very reliable routine. Frankie is also well aware of the fact that she has trouble making friends. That’s why she’s so bothered by the fact that Colette is no longer her friend. And why is that? Ooof. This story has a slowly unfolding mystery that kept me glued to the narration! With such young characters, this story was far deeper than I anticipated. I especially liked that it is told from a neurodiverse character’s perspective. It’s so important to have books like this in the world to serve as both a mirror and window for readers. My thanks to Libro.fm for providing me the audiobook of Tornado Brain!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
Support local bookstores through Bookstore link HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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We Dream of Space
Erin Entrada Kelly
May 5, 2020
Greenwillow Books

I was looking forward to reading this book, especially considering the fact that the three Nelson-Thomas siblings were around the age I was during the historic launch of the Challenger. Cash, Fitch, and Bird are all very different children, growing up together in a rather unhappy home. Cash keeps failing 7th grade and if he keeps this up, he’s going to fall into a grade level below his younger siblings. Fitch is a crazy ball of anger — he struggles to keep himself calm when the littlest things attempt to set him off. And Bird is a thoughtful science geek, constantly dreaming of space. Her goal is to become NASA’s first female shuttle commander, some day. We all know what happened to the Spaceshuttle Challenger, but as the story led up to that fateful day, there was so much hope in what that launch would accomplish. It was incredibly sad to witness Bird’s stunned response to the incident as she began to spiral away from her deepest dreams. But it’s in those shocking moments that family so often jumps in to help us hold it together. Does the Nelson-Thomas family have what it takes to recognize what she needs? There’s so much to discuss in this story. I can’t wait to see what other readers think — particularly those who were in middle school and high school during that historic moment. There were so many pop culture things mentioned in this story that took me right back to that time period. For example: Slimfast, Diet Tab, trading stickers (huge hobby!), hacky sack, ThunderCats TV show, and Miss Pac-Man. This was definitely a walk down memory lane while getting an intimate glimpse into the lives of the Nelson-Thomas family.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Bear Must Go On
Dev Petty
Brandon Todd, illustrator
March 17, 2020
Philomel Books

The Bear Must Go On is a cute picture book about four forest animal friends who “leap before they look.” While meticulously planning out every detail of putting on a show from the curtain to the tickets to what food will be served, they invited everyone in the forest to attend and forgot one very important detail: TO PLAN A SHOW!! But don’t worry, together these furry friends were able to discover the things that truly matter when performing on stage. The artwork in this book was created digitally. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Bear-Must-Go-On-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Old Rock (Is Not Boring)
Deb Pilutti
February 4, 2020
G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers 

Old Rock can teach younger listeners a thing or two about perspective. Hummingbird, Spotted Beetle, and Tall Pine hound Old Rock over how boring his life must be since he doesn’t fly, or see much, or dance. But his long years have shown him so many wonderful things, which he shares with his friends. Most of all, he is not even a little bit bored sitting in such a nice spot at the edge of a clearing in the middle of a forest. The back matter provides a “historical fiction” timeline of Old Rock’s life, beginning 1.8 billion years ago when old rock was formed under the earth’s crust and ending with present day Old Rock, sitting in the forest. The illustrations in this book were done with casein on watercolor paper and a bit of digital painting. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Old-Rock-Is-Not-Boring-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Word Pirates
Susan Cooper
Steven Kellogg, illustrator
September 24, 2019
Neal Porter Books 

These creepy-looking pirates may scare us with their need to steal words and eat them. But once they are forced into a duel with a word wizard (author), they learn they simply cannot match the power of words. She throws lines at them from books like Jack and the Beanstalk, The Three Little Pigs, and Where the Wild Things Are. When they head off to their own little island, they discover that even ruffians can learn to read and WRITE! 🙂 The artwork in this book was created with a variety of materials including colored inks, watercolors, colored pencils, and acrylic paints. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example of what to expect, below:

Word-Pirates-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Big and Little:
A Story of Opposites
Cheryl Pilgrim
April 23, 2019
Holiday House 

With the help of fantastic artwork, an entire story is told in opposites, like big/little, near/far, and over/under. I loved the way this was created because parents or teachers can simply remove the words and have children figure out what the set of opposites is supposed to be on each page. Such a fun story! We don’t learn how the artwork was created, but I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example of what to expect, below:

Big-and-Little-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Home Is a Window
Stephanie Ledyard
Chris Sasaki, illustrator
April 23, 2019
Neal Porter Books 

What an appropriate read for our family’s current situation. Moving away from the only home my children have ever known won’t be as easy as it sounds. Sooo many memories are made in a house. But in this book, a young girl celebrates all of the lovely things that make up a home that are NOT dependent on a single location. For example, “Home is a table with something good and the people gathered there. Home is washing, rinsing, and drying, and whenever a dish gets broken, someone to help you sweep.” I love it! The artwork for this book was created using digital tools. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Home-is-a-Window-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Baby Dragon, Baby Dragon!
Melissa Marr
Lena Podesta, illustrator
March 26, 2019
Nancy Paulsen Books

In this picture book, a young dragon swoops through the castle, upsetting everyone. So a young girl leaves her chores and spends the day going on an adventure with the dragon. Toward the end, she shows the dragon how to stay calm so they can eat dinner in the castle. Nothing really spectacular happens other than keeping the dragon safe and busy, so I got the feeling the dragon was maybe a metaphor for a younger sibling that needed taming? Also, with the way this is written with short phrases on each page, it really felt like it was supposed to rhyme (but it doesn’t). I thought it was just me, but found it funny that other reviewers were commenting on the same odd feeling. In any case, my young dragon lover will definitely enjoy this book — particularly since it’s a GIRL spending the day with the dragon. The illustrations for this book were made using pencil, ink, and gouache, and with the help of a computer. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Baby-Dragon-Baby-Dragon-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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My Happy Year by E. Bluebird
Paul Meisel
March 12, 2019
Holiday House 

What a lovely nonfiction book documenting a year in the life of a Bluebird. Written from the perspective of a baby Bluebird, each page documents the date, starting June 1st (“Today is my birthday!”) and going through June 4th of the following year. We learn about what baby Bluebirds eat, when their eyes open, when they get feathers, how they learn to fly, when they fly south, and so much more! Front matter includes a migration map and more details about the Bluebird, while the back matter includes a glossary of terms and plans for building your own Bluebird house. The artwork is gorgeous with some close up illustrations mixed with large landscaped scenes. It was created with acrylic ink on Strathmore paper, digitally enhanced. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

My-Happy-Year-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Monkey Time
Michael Hall
February 26, 2019
Greenwillow Books 

The is one of the more unusual books I’ve read. Monkey appears to be sitting in circular tree where little orange balls keep popping out at the top. Each orange ball equals a minute. And every time his arms circle around the tree, another one pops out. The entire time, the orange minute balls are teasing the Monkey:

Ha-ha. You missed me
…you are a slowpoke
we are running circles around you, Monkey!”

When Monkey finally catches an orange minute, he starts to eat it. But then all the minutes sport wings and happily fly away. Not even joking. LOL But alas, we need books of all types and this one could be a fun addition to math lessons on telling time. In the back matter, there’s a section on Monkey’s Rainforest Friends, sharing more details about other animals that can be found in a tropical rainforest. And truthfully, it wasn’t until I read that page that I went back through the book and noticed there are other animals hiding on the pages. So there’s some environmental science cross-over that can be used in here. The last page talks more specifically about calculating time with seconds, minutes, hours and days. The artwork in this book consists of digitally combined collages of painted and cut paper. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Monkey-Time-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


To Be Read:

I finally started Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman and I am thoroughly enjoying it, so far! This week I plan to finish listening to A Place to Belong by Cynthia Kadohata. And I have a magnificent pile of picture books from my college library, so I will be reading several of those, including Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots by Michael Rex and I Am Just Right by David McPhail.

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 190/200
Big Book Summer 2020 Challenge — Ugh, I still need to write this post!! Go check out Sue’s Big Book Summer Challenge if you’d like to join the challenge.


What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/1/2020 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!

49360778NOTE: Congratulations to Ben Gartner whose The Eye of Ra is a Next Generation Award-winning Finalist in the Children’s / Juvenile Fiction category of the Indie Book Awards!! And if that wasn’t good enough news, I’m pleased to learn that Ben is working on book #2 in this series — something I had truly hoped would happen. If you haven’t yet gotten your hands on The Eye of Ra, maybe you can grab up a copy this summer. E-copies are available HERE or you can support your local bookstores by purchasing a print copy HERE.

How’s everyone holding up? I’ll come clean — I’m not doing so great. I’m terribly upset over the state of my nation, right now. Things were already feeling uncertain with COVID-19, but after the horrific death of George Floyd in Minnesota, the sorrow and uncertainty has risen to a level that leaves me on the brink of tears all day long. I haven’t felt much like writing/reviewing, but I know routine is important during times of shocking change. Therefore I will keep moving forward, one step at a time.

Considering the turmoil my nation is experiencing, it’s important to note that we severely lack books written about non-white characters. I’m always delighted when I find good options to share with children, so today I will use part of this post to share some wonderful recent picture books that provide a mirror for my Black brothers and sisters. Some of these titles are equally important as windows for those of us with white privilege (because, while we are all just human beings on the inside, we sometimes need a gentle reminder that we do not all experience the world in the same way). So whether it’s a new release or an older title, I hope you find something of interest to add to your reading wish list.


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We Are Not From Here
Jenny Torres Sanchez
May 19, 2020
Philomel Books

I don’t want to spoil this story by revealing too may details, so I’ll keep this brief. Pulga, Chico, and Pequeña are teens being threatened so much that it’s no longer safe to remain in their country. So they make the gut-wrenching decision to leave the only home they’ve known and begin the devastating journey through the deadly dessert and into the United States. It’s a grueling and tearful journey, but based on many real-life experiences. And that’s all I’m going to share of the plot line. 🙂 But I’ll also say that it’s absolutely heartbreaking and will keep the reader on the edge of their seat until they discover how it all ends.

Americans generally have such a limited understanding of the reasons why so many cross the border to get into our country without going through so-called “proper channels.” Ignorance is bliss, y’all. Because this story made me feel such anger and sorrow at the lack of options for people literally running for their lives. This story forces the reader to consider — if your family was being threatened, held at gunpoint, children being raped, your food/money being stolen, while you basically become slaves to hostile community leaders, would you take a major risk and break the law in order to save your family? Perhaps you’ll never truly know. My thanks to Libro.fm for providing me the audiobook of We Are Not From Here.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
Support local bookstores through Bookstore link HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Santiago’s Road Home
Alexandra Diaz
May 5, 2020
Simon Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books

This storyline is similar to We Are Not From Here, but not quite as horrific. Award-winning author Alexandra Diaz shares the story of Santiago, a young boy who has been physically abused by his abuela and then is passed around between relatives who do not want him. One day he’s sent away from yet another family member with just enough money for a bus fare back to abuela’s house. Hungry, lonely, and with only what he has on his back, Santiago strikes up an unlikely conversation with a mother and child who, as he discovers, are traveling to the United States. Together, they arrange for safe passage to meet up with family and find work to keep them all from starving. But when bullets begin flying and the party becomes separated, how long will they remain in ICE before they’re sent back to Mexico. And will Santiago be forced to continue living with abuela’s abuse? So heartbreaking, but also brings on all the feels at times.

The back matter has an Author’s note about immigration and the different parts of this story that were true to form. For example, as mentioned in We Are From Here, the detainees were given foil blankets for weeks — they would fold them up and place them in their pockets during the day time, and use them to hold in heat during the night. And breast milk really is brought in from nursing mothers to their babies, since children are separated from their parents. At the very end, there’s a lengthy Glossary with many Spanish words and phrases, including their meaning and ways they could be used in common conversation. My thanks to Libro.fm for providing me the audiobook of Santiago’s Road Home.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
Support local bookstores through Bookstore link HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Women Artists A to Z
Melanie Labarge
Caroline Corrigan, illustrator
February 11, 2020
Dial Books

As one could gather from the title, this book shares 26 letters of the alphabet that correspond to female artists based on different traits they had. For example, Yayoi Kusama is known for her use of dots (D) in her artwork. Elizabeth Catlett is known for her use of ink (I) in her artwork. And Xenobia Bailey is known for her yarn-based artwork (Y). Each page is full of colorful illustrations, but none of the original artists’ work is showcased – it’s all depicted by a single artist (Caroline Corrigan). The back matter includes far more details on each of the selected artists, including when they lived, where they lived, and important information about their contribution to the world of art. The illustrations for this book was created digitally. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Women-Artists-A-to-Z-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Ready to Fly:
How Sylvia Townsend Became the
Bookmobile Ballerina
Lea Lyon, A. LaFaye
Jessica Gibson, illustrator
January 28, 2020
HarperCollins

Sylvia Townsend was a young African American girl growing up in 1950s America. Unfortunately, this meant she could not take dance lessons and join the white learners, like she wanted to. So she studied books from the bookmobile to learn all the ins and outs of dance. Her fourth grade teacher encouraged her and eventually other young Black girls asked her to teach them how to dance before they enter a school talent show, together. This is where Sylvia gets her big break and is invited to join a real dance studio with a professional dance instructor. Readers will definitely want to check out the back matter with references, many photos and detail about the history of the Bookmobile, and an Author’s Note. In the front matter, there’s also “A Note on Hopes and Dreams” written by Sylvia Robertson Townsend that showcases the importance of a parent noticing and encouraging their child’s interests. The artist used Photoshop CC and a Wacom Cintiq drawing tablet to create the digital illustrations for this book. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Ready-to-Fly-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Althea Gibson:
The Story of Tennis’ Fleet-of-Foot Girl
Megan Reid
Laura Freeman, illustrator
January 21, 2020
Balzer + Bray

Growing up in Harlem during the 1940s, Althea Gibson was known as “the quickest, tallest, most fearless athlete.” She played stickball, basketball, and tennis on the hot asphalt and was known as the fleet-of-foot girl who was good at everything she tried. Due to her skin color, she couldn’t attend the fancy tennis clubs, but as she became too good to ignore, many people began fighting for her to be included in the US Championships. This eventually got her to Wimbledon in 1957 where she won a championship two years in a row! The back matter includes an Author’s Note and a list of important dates with more interesting details about Gibson’s life. The artist used Adobe Photoshop to create the digital illustrations for this book. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Althea-Gibson-Fleet-Foot-SPREADwz

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Ruby Finds a Worry
Tom Percival
September 3, 2019
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Ruby has a worry. But when she attempts to ignore it, it only grows bigger. No matter what she does, it is always with her in school, on the bus, and even in the movie theater. Obviously, it is dominating her life. Eventually, she learns that everyone has worries and that sometimes the best thing you can do is talk about them. I love the adorable illustrations in this story and am so happy to see this important message available for children who suffer from anxiety (and for those who need empathy for others who suffer). The artwork in this book was created digitally using Kyle T. Webster’s natural media brushes for Photoshop and a selection of hand-painted textures. I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

Ruby-Finds-a-Worry-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Hands Up!
Breanna J. McDaniel
Shane W. Evans, illustrator
January 22, 2019
Dial Books

I loved how this picture book depicted the numerous ways we raise our hands, whether it’s to stretch, to be called on in class, to select a book off a high shelf, in ballet class, in worship services, and in so many other ways. In the back, McDaniel talks about her niece who she worries cannot always show her full range of emotions and strength because she’s a Black girl and will often be seen as a victim or villain. Forgive me while I direct quote a chunk of text, from the Author’s Note:

For many people, the phrase “hands up” brings forward difficult emotions like anger, sadness, frustration, and fear. With this story, I wanted to emphasize the ways I’ve experienced that phrase as part of my everyday life, at home, at play, in church, and at protests with young people leading the way. I want the world to remember that black kids are just that — kids, people with mommas and daddies and teachers and friends, with lives full of happiness and struggle and triumph and even sadness.

Powerful! It’s a beautiful recollection of the many ways we raise our hands, particularly during childhood. The lovely artwork in this picture book was created digitally with mixed media. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Hands-Up-Breanna-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Meet Miss Fancy
Irene Latham
John Holyfield, illustrator
January 8, 2019
G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

This is a precious story about a young boy named Frank, who loved elephants. But when he and his fellow classmates raised enough money to bring Miss Fancy to Birmingham, black children were not allowed to touch or ride her. But as Miss Fancy escapes the zoo, Frank ends up saving the day using peanuts to lure her back home. While this story contains fictional characters like Frank and his mother, there was a real life elephant named Miss Fancy. And schoolchildren really did raise enough money (in pennies) to purchase her from the circus. Furthermore, there really were segregation laws that prevented African American families from coming into certain places, like the zoo. So this historical experience was written right into the storyline. An Author’s Note shares more about Miss Fancy’s life before and after her time in Birmingham. While the book doesn’t share how the artwork was created, I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example of what to expect, below:

Meet-Miss-Fancy-SPREAD2

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Beautiful
Stacy McAnulty
Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, illustrator
September 13, 2016
Running Press Kids

This was a re-read, which I greatly enjoyed. Each page shares well-known stereotypes of  young girls and flips them on their heads. There will be ZERO gender conformity for these outgoing kiddos! The girls are obviously very happy, curious, and, of course, beautiful! I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example of the artwork, below:

Beautiful-McAnulty-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


To Be Read:

My list feels unmanageable right now. I mean, I have books coming out my ears — books I already own that I recently purchased and am having trouble squeezing into my summer schedule. So first, I’d like to (finally!) start reading Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman as my first Big Book Summer Challenge read. Then I plan to review Tornado Brain by Cat Patrick. And I just checked out 30+ new picture books through ILL, so I’m looking forward to at least reading Bear Must Go On by Dev Petty and Old Rock (Is Not Boring) by Deb Pilutti with my younger daughter and son this week.

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 180/200


What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/25/2020 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!

STRING-AROUND-FINGER-9x10Sue of Book by Book is kickstarting her annual Big Book Summer Challenge RIGHT NOW (but you can join in any time, this summer)! Any book with 400 pages or more qualifies as a “big book” for this challenge and it always begins Memorial Day weekend and runs through Labor Day weekend (September 7, this year). Challenge participants link up with Sue and share our experiences in a Goodreads group that she creates just for us. NOTE: This is not a competition, it’s just a chance to squeeze in any big books you’ve been meaning to get to. And you get a supportive group to cheer you along. I believe this is my third year to participate and it is always an encouragement to be a part of the community. I’ll write up a blog post later this week to share any titles I hope to squeeze in between now and September.

Thank you for visiting, today! I’m moving quickly this morning, but I wanted to note that in this post I am sharing two new picture books being published this month: Ray by Marianna Coppo and The Story of Alexander Hamilton by Christine Platt and illustrated by Raquel Martín. So if these sound new to you, be sure to check them out.


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Turtle Boy
M. Evan Wolkenstein
May 5, 2020
Delacorte Press

Oh my. I didn’t know what I was stepping into when I started this book. It’s another one of those “the cover isn’t nearly as serious as the book” scenarios that caught me 100% off guard. So just a fair warning that this one is heavy and meaningful and will definitely require some Kleenex. Will Levine loves turtles. He collects them from the pond behind his school and takes care of them at home. The kids at school call him Turtle Boy, but it’s not because he likes turtles. Nope, that would have been fine. He is bullied relentlessly at school and called Turtle Boy because of his odd-looking chin. But hold on to your hats, folks, because Will’s life is about to change in a way he never imagined. His bar mitzvah community service project lands him in a hospital, helping a patient who doesn’t even seem to like him. While there were plenty of somber moments that brought tears to my eyes, I seriously laughed out loud SO hard on several occasions. Such beautiful, meaningful writing. Be sure to pick up a copy and see why this story landed a starred review from Booklist.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Ways to Make Sunshine
Renée Watson
April 28, 2020
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

This sweet little early chapter book was such a fun addition to my reading week. Ryan Hart is the youngest in her family. That’s right, HER family. She was named Ryan because she is to become a great leader. And her parents don’t shy away from reminding her of her name meaning, whenever appropriate. At the opening of this story, Ryan’s family is facing some major life changes after her father lost his job with the USPS (how appropriate, considering our current situation), so they will be moving to a new (old) house across town. I wouldn’t say there was a major plot line with a big rise and fall, but the charming smaller plots were enough for a young child to easily follow and enjoy. There’s a teeny bit of mystery mixed into this story along with Ryan’s repeated attempts to overcome stage fright. And Ryan loves trying new recipes, so there’s a lot of trial and error baking in her household. (I may never forgive you, Renée Watson, for introducing me to Tillamook Marionberry Pie ice cream in this story. YUMMO!) I was practically giddy over the little illustrations scattered throughout the chapters. Soooo precious… and worth stopping to appreciate all the lovely little details. Make sure this title makes it into your children’s libraries!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Red, White & Royal Blue
Casey McQuiston
May 14, 2019
St. Martin’s Griffin

I’ve had this one on my list since it was released last spring. There are a few books that seem especially important reads if I plan to keep my finger on the pulse of YA and New Adult literature, and this one definitely qualifies with its insane popularity (wow @ 112,854 ratings already on Goodreads)! Known especially for having both Latinx and LGBTQ+ representation, this is the story of a relationship between the only son of the American president (Alex Claremont) and a Welsh Prince (Henry, Prince of Whales). Alex is a politician at heart, but there are just some people in the political scene he cannot stand. That includes Prince Henry. The guy is so snooty that he cannot even handle being in the same room with him. After a surprising altercation with the prince, including photos that were released to the tabloids, the American presidential team plans a damage control scheme to make Alex and Henry appear to be the best of friends. It’s an extremely fast-paced story that was hard to put down until the very end.

I found it very interesting how historical facts and details were woven into the storyline — including a number of quotes from past letters and books, particularly romantic notes or poems passed between political leaders and their loved ones. I couldn’t help but marvel at the intimate letters and poetry, realizing this book must have involved some serious research (which I’d love to chat with McQuiston about some time!).

AWARDS: Goodreads Choice Award for Romance and for Debut Novel (2019), Alex Award (2020)

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Ray
Marianna Coppo
May 26, 2020
Penguin Random House Canada
Tundra Books

Ray is an average closet lightbulb. Turn him on and he sees everything his family stores in the closet. But it’s the same old 41 items, every time. When the light is turned off, he becomes bored and drifts off to sleep — a sleep without dreams. However, today is Ray’s lucky day! He feels spinning as his family removes him from the closet fixture and places him in a lantern that they take on a camping trip. He encounters a number of new things on this journey, including the biggest lightbulb in the world (sun). After all these grand new experiences, he now knows that even after returning to his closet, his life will never ever be the same again. I think the point to this sweet book came through easily and youngsters will relate to the way a change in scenery can impact our thoughts and dreams. What a great story to use with children when discussing all the new things they learned and discovered on a recent trip or while having a new experience. The simple artwork is really sweet natured with soft colors. Thank you to Netgalley and to Tundra Books for approving an advance reader’s copy so that I would provide my honest review. This book will be published tomorrow, May 26th.

The artwork in this book was rendered in tempera, pastels and digital collage. I’ll provide one page spread from the Advance Reader’s Copy to serve as an example, below:

Ray-lightbulb-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Story of Alexander Hamilton
A Biography Book for New Readers
Christine Platt
Raquel Martín, illustrator
May 19, 2020
Callisto Media/Rockridge Press

Thanks to Callisto Media and to Netgalley for providing an Advance Reading Copy so that I could share my honest review. The Story of Alexander Hamilton is a children’s biography chapter book with scattered illustrations and charts. It begins with a Table of Contents outlining chapters 1 through 8. I must admit, I learned quite a bit about Hamilton from this little 43-paged book. It was especially helpful to have thought-providing questions posed throughout the chapters — thinking questions that will help children stop and ponder things like: what must life have been like when… ? There are also things like “Myth & Fact,” a family tree, famous quotes, and maps to remind the reader where things took place throughout Alexander Hamilton’s life. Comprehension questions are also posed as a quiz at the very end with an answer key provided. The book concludes with a glossary and bibliography of books, government websites, and historical sites that can be visited. One thing I noted during my examination of this book was that the ARC has a family tree where it indicates Alexander’s birth as 1775, so hopefully that will be corrected in the final print copy.

I contacted the illustrator (Raquel Martín) and she shared that her artwork was created with gouache and finished digitally. I’ll provide one page spread from the ARC (subject to change) to serve as an example of what to expect, below:

The-Story-of-Alexander-Hamilton-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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My Brother the Duck
Pat Zietlow Miller
April 21, 2020
Chronicle Books

Stella has a new baby brother, but she’s pretty sure he’s not your normal baby brother. Could he, by chance, be a baby duck? Stella immediately gets busy testing her hypothesis by asking questions and gathering data. The twist ending to this book will bring on a few giggles, for sure. By the way, if you’re short on print picture books at the moment, Amazon Prime members can access this title for free right now through the Prime Reading Library.

The illustrations in this book were rendered digitally. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

My-Brother-the-Duck-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Nest That Wren Built
Randi Sonenshine
Anne Hunter, Illustrator
March 10, 2020
Candlewick Press

In this gorgeous poetic nonfiction picture book we confront the familiar rhyming text (in the manner of The House That Jack Built) which concludes each page with “…the nest that Wren built.” This book is an outstanding addition to either the study of birds/Wrens or of life cycles, and will be especially perfect for spring time. The back matter finishes the book with an illustrated glossary followed by a page full of Wren Facts. The soft, detailed illustrations in this book were done in ink and colored pencil on tinted paper. I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

The-Nest-that-Wren-Built-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Love from the Crayons
(Crayons)
Drew Daywalt
Oliver Jeffers, Illustrator
December 24, 2019
Penguin Workshop

 In this very short book, each page shares both positive and negative actions, feelings, or metaphors that are associated with a specific color of love. It’s a tiny package, but could be nicely used as a mentor text. The book doesn’t share specifically how the artwork was created, but I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

Love-from-the-Crayons-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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A Tiger Like Me
Michael Engler
Joëlle Tourlonias, illustrator
September 1, 2019
Amazon Crossing Kids

With absolutely enchanting illustrations, a young boy proves, without a shadow of a doubt, that he’s really a tiger. The text reads like poetry and each page ends with a similar phrase of, “Because I am a tiger…” Oh SO cute! And such a wonderful bedtime story for youngsters. This is another title that can be accessed for free right now if you’re an Amazon Prime Member. Just check out their Prime Reading Library through your online account.

AWARDS: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Picture Books (2019)

The adorable artwork was rendered digitally. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

A-Tiger-Like-Me-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Nobody Hugs a Cactus
Carter Goodrich
April 16, 2019
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Hank is a very little potted cactus, but he packs a very hot head. He wants people to stay quiet and off his grass. As characters continue to pass by, his frustrations grows on every page until he’s suddenly aware of how lonely he is. Awww. What will Hank do to make up for his past behavior? The expressions on this little cactus are utterly adorable! I’m getting some teen Groot vibes, here. I’m certain they would be good friends! As this obviously takes place in the southwest, the artwork is mostly in dusty browns and reds. The illustrations in this book were rendered in watercolor. I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

Nobody-Hugs-a-Cactus-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


To Be Read:

I’m just a little way into We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez and I hope to start Tornado Brain by Cat Patrick before the end of this week. Then I’d like to spend a bit of my reading time this week looking over my TBR list to decide what to tackle for the Big Book Summer Challenge.

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 171/200


What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/18/2020 #imwayr

2020-5-18-COLLAGE

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!

Thank you for visiting today! In my stack this week I am reviewing two brand new books: The Elephant’s Girl will be released tomorrow, Tuesday, May 19th, and Felix After the Rain was officially released last week. Whether it’s a new release or an older title, I hope you find something of interest to add to your reading wish list.


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The Elephant’s Girl
Celesta Rimington
May 19, 2020
Crown Books for Young Readers

Lex Willow was only a toddler when, seven years ago, she was found inside the elephant habitat at the Lexington Zoo, after a devastating tornado. She was being guarded by Nyah, a young elephant, and was found only because a ghost pointed the way to where she was located. When a lengthy search turned up no family, she was allowed to live in the zoo with Roger Marsh, the zoo’s train engineer, as her guardian. Lex’s best friend, Fisher, also lives inside the zoo since his parents are both zoo employees. While Fisher attends a local public school, Lex is homeschooled because the school children made fun of her, pointing out the fact that she talks to the wind and by also calling her Elephant Girl. So in the present, Lex discovers a ‘misplaced spirit’ who has a mystery that must be uncovered. Lex feels compelled to reveal the secrets she uncovers, even if it includes damaging zoo property. But she eventually bites off more than she can chew, risking losing permission to live on zoo property any more.

When I agreed to review this book, I didn’t even know it was set in Lexington, Nebraska — not too far from where I live. So all the references to weather and other local hot spots in the area were spot on! Also worth noting is the fact that Lex’s homeschool teacher, who happens to be Fisher’s mom, is requiring her to write a paper comparing herself to Karana from the book Island of the Blue Dolphins. So there are a number of ways she examines her experiences throughout that story. I usually examine parent/child relationships in coming of age books, but in this book it’s complicated by her unusual circumstances of being taken in by a zoo employee who hasn’t officially adopted her. But it’s still a beautiful relationship with mutual respect — the type that I would hope all children have with their biological or adoptive parents.

This book is Celesta Rimington’s debut novel, but it certainly didn’t read like one. The writing was so beautiful and I easily slipped into the story, admiring her descriptive language and in-depth understanding of Lex. Furthermore, Rimington went to great measures to research elephant communications, zoos, and the circus. Additionally, she worked for Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, so there was plenty of personal experiences to guide her on her research path, leading to this book. I happily recommend this story to young readers who love mysterious adventures. That said, the story will be equally engaging for adult readers who long to remember the feeling of being young, curious, open-minded, and often misunderstood. My thanks to Netgalley and Crown Books for providing me with an Advance Reader’s Copy so that I could give an honest review. This title is scheduled to be published tomorrow, May 19th.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Clap When You Land
Elizabeth Acevedo
May 5, 2020
Quill Tree Books

I really enjoyed Acevedo’s With the Fire on High and The Poet X, so I jumped at the chance to read her latest novel told in verse. This story was told from two perspectives — a young teen who lives in New York City and another who lives in Dominican Republic. There’s not only self-discovery and immense grief for a lost father, but an uncovering of deeply hidden family secrets that bring these two characters together. Clap When You Land is an #ownvoices story that includes Latinx and LGBTQ representation. I expect to see this in teen and YA libraries, everywhere.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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When Stars Are Scattered
Victoria Jamieson
Omar Mohamed
April 14, 2020
Dial Books

I would easily name this book one of the most important books I’ve read in 2020 to encourage understanding and empathy. This story is autobiographical, friends. Co-author Omar Mohamed is the Somali man who lived the story and dedicated himself to sharing it with the world. He flawlessly addresses poverty, illness, parental loss, disabilities, immigration, education, sexism, and SO much more in this book. It’s full of sadness and devastation, but there’s a continual thread of optimism throughout as faith gave refugees the courage to always be patient and never give up hope. Any time something good happened to them, they would continue to ask: Why us? There are so many others more deserving. While this is a graphic novel, I have to give a HUGE yell out for the audiobook. I listen to a lot of books while I work around the house or in the yard and this would definitely make my five all-time favorite audiobooks. There were multiple narrators and the sound effects were so realistic that sometimes I forgot they weren’t happening in my own home. There’s an important Afterword about Omar and Hassan, but I won’t share all the finer details here for those who don’t want to know the outcome. But for more information about Omar Mohamed and what he’s up to today, you can visit  https://www.refugeestrong.org/ And one final note: If there’s a new refugee in your community, take the opportunity to introduce yourself and open yourself up to learning about them and their story.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Felix After the Rain
Dunja Jogan
Olivia Hellewell
May 15, 2020
Tiny Owl Publishing

Felix is carrying a burden — a heavy burden. All of his pain and worries are packed into a suitcase he is carrying with him — the loss of his grandmother, hurtful things his father said to him, etc. But after a good rain, he’s able to release his feelings and feel much lighter. The story is sweet and important. However, the text will need some discussion to help young children unpack the meaning. This will work well for children who’ve faced trauma and who need some nudging on how to express their hurt and grieve. My thanks to Netgalley and Tiny Owl Publishing for sending me an ARC in exchange for my honest review. I have seen at least three different dates of publication, but Netgalley says May 15th, so it should be available for ordering right away.

While I’m not sure what changes will be made to the font and artwork in the final edition, I thought I would  share this one illustrations from the e-ARC as an example of what to expect:

Felix-after-the-rain-ILLUSTRATION

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Save the Ocean
(Save the Earth #1)
Bethany Stahl
April 26, 2019

The Kindle edition of this little picture book was on sale this week, so I picked up a copy. It’s the story of a young mermaid named Kaleisha and a sea turtle named Agwe. Agwe accidentally eats a plastic bag when it looks too much like a jellyfish. When Kaleisha saves him, it is evident that we need to work harder to keep the oceans clean. The artwork appears to be rendered digitally. I’ll provide one page spread, below, to serve as an example of what to expect:

Save-the-Ocean-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Flubby Is Not a Good Pet!
(Flubby #1)
Jennifer E. Morris
April 23, 2019
Penguin Workshop

Awwww. Emergent readers who appreciate cats will love Flubby, even though he is NOT a good pet. With repetitive text, we learn that Flubby doesn’t do any of the cool stuff other pets do, like sing or play catch. Still, he needs his owner and she needs him.

AWARDS: Geisel Award Nominee (2020)

The book does not share how the artwork was created, but I’ll provide a page spread as an example, below:

Flubby-is-Not-a-Good-Pet-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Truck Full of Ducks
Ross Burach
March 27, 2018
Scholastic Press

With bright, bold, and expressive artwork, this funny picture book introduces us to a delivery truck driver who cannot find the customer who ordered a truck full of ducks. Everywhere he stops, the individual says they did not order a truck full of ducks. Eventually they enter a dark and spooky forest where things appear to take a turn for the worst. But I’m happy to report, SPOILER: everyone makes it out alive. 🙂 The artwork in this book was created with pencil, crayon, acrylic paint, and digital coloring. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Truck-Full-of-Ducks-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Before She Was Harriet
Lesa Cline-Ransome
James E. Ransome, illustrator
November 7, 2017
Holiday House

What exactly do you know about Harriet Tubman outside of her role in the underground railroad? Written in verse, we learn about her life before and after that experience. What a fascinating woman! I always enjoy James. E. Ransome’s artwork. The depth in color and shadow captivates my eyes and emotions. Plus, check out all those awards!

AWARDS: Charlotte Zolotow Award Nominee for Highly Commended Title (2018), Jane Addams Children’s Book Award for Younger Children Honor (2018), Audie Award for Young Listeners (2019), South Carolina Book Award Nominee for Picture Book (2020), Coretta Scott King Award Nominee for Illustrator Honor (2018) NAACP Image Award Nominee for Children (2018)

The book doesn’t share how, exactly, Ransome created his artwork, but I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

Before-She-Was-Harriet-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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I See a Cat
Paul Meisel
September 5, 2017
Holiday House

Page after page shows the dog alone in the house, looking out the window. And on every spread, it begins with the repetitive words, “I see…” This particular dogs sees everything — a cat, a bird, a fly, a squirrel to some mice, a bee, and a boy. This book must be written about my dog. She sees and hears everything and barks often! 🙂

AWARDS: Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Nominee (2018)

The artwork was created with watercolor, acrylic and pencil on Strathmore paper with digital enhancements.

I-See-a-Cat-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Grand Mosque of Paris:
a Story of How Muslims Rescued
Jews During the Holocaust
Karen Gray Ruelle
Deborah Durland DeSaix
September 15, 2009
Holiday House

While this picture book contains much larger blocks of text than the typical children’s book, it was incredibly enlightening. Page spreads of dark, shadowy illustrations showcase the many locations and ways Jewish people were protected by Muslims in Paris during World War II. The Grand Mosque of Paris was quite instrumental in moving those in danger from one location to another, but it is important to note that there was also a general call to all Muslims to protect Jews as if they were family:

“Yesterday, the Jews of Paris were arrested. The elderly, the women, and the children. In exile like ourselves, workers like ourselves. They are our brothers. Their children are like our own children. Anyone who encounters one of his children must give that child shelter and protection for as long as misfortune–or sorrow–lasts. Oh man of my country, your heart is generous.”

The back matter is rather extensive, including a lengthy afterword which explained the tedious process in collecting whatever historical data still exists. You’ll also find a glossary of terms, acknowledgements, references, and a bibliography which lists publications, films, interviews, a website, and a long list of recommended books and films. The artwork in this book was created with oil paint applied with brushes, paper towels, and all twenty fingers. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Grand-Mosque-of-Paris-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Doorbell Rang
Pat Hutchins
October 26, 1989
Greenwillow Books

Last week I shared The Bell Rang and it made me recall an older book with a similar title from the 80s: The Doorbell Rang. So I asked my husband to bring it home from work. During my early years of teaching, I was a reading teacher for Kindergarten students and this was a hot title for a fun K/1 math lesson (practical division). The story starts off with “Ma” making a batch of a dozen cookies for her two kids to share between them. But before they can dig in, two neighbors show up. So then they must divide the cookies between four people. The doorbell keeps ringing as more kids show up, until everyone had just one cookie on their plates. So what will happen when the doorbell rings, yet again? It’s a really cute ending and goes well with a box of Cookie Crisp cereal (or a batch of homemade cookies if you’re doing a math activity with a smaller group of children). 🙂 Also worth noting is the diversity of skin colors in a children’s book from the 80s!

The full-color paints were done in ink and watercolor. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Doorbell-Rang-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


To Be Read:

I’m right in the middle of reading Turtle Boy by M. Evan Wolkenstein, and WOW is it good!! I guess I wasn’t expecting much, but I have laughed so hard and felt so much. I just got Ways to Make Sunshine by Renée Watson and so I hope to start that by Wednesday. And I am planning to start the audiobook of Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, this week to listen to while I garden and do housework.

2020-5-18-TBR


Family Snapshot:

I have to skip most of this section this week. Just no time to gather up all of the family details, since it’s so late. However, I do know that my longer term reads are still Girls & Sex by Peggy Orenstein, Who Wrote the Bible? by Richard Elliott Friedman, The One Year Book of Devotionals #1 (daily read with the kids, all year), and we’ve started Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer as a family read aloud in preparation for the movie release on Disney Plus (June 12th).


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 162/200


What are YOU reading?

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/11/2020 #imwayr

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!

Not much time to chat this week, due to Mother’s Day festivities. But I’m excited to share that my family surprised me with a used iPad to replace my failing iPad mini. I use it to read a lot of my Netgalley and Kindle books, but lately the mini hasn’t been sleeping or waking properly. In fact, it hasn’t been allowing me to change apps without restarting the device. So I’m grateful to have a new (and hopefully better functioning) iPad. Bring on the e-books! 😀

Thank you for visiting, today! Please feel free to share any great reads you’ve encountered this past week, in the comments. And whether it’s a new book or an older title, I hope you find something of interest in this post to add to your reading wish list.


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The One and Only Bob
(The One and Only Ivan #2)
Katherine Applegate
May 5, 2020
HarperCollins

2013 Newbery Medal winner The One and Only Ivan stole my heart, so I was super excited when The One and Only Bob was available this week through Overdrive audiobooks. Narrated by Danny DeVito, this story is told by Ivan’s little canine friend, Bob. I won’t spoil the details of the story, except to say that I love how this one spends some wonderful time examining courage and regrets.

I was afraid. A coward. There’s a certain freedom that comes with owning your faults.”

But there are also important lessons in forgiveness — forgiveness of others AND especially of one’s self. I still think book #1 is my favorite, but I wish I’d re-read it just before starting this one. Kids will definitely connect with Bob and be excited to learn more about what’s going on with Ivan and Ruby.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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If These Wings Could Fly
Kyrie McCauley
March 3, 2020
Katherine Tegen Books

**SOBS** When I got just a few chapters into this book, I couldn’t help but think WHY AM I NOT HEARING MORE ABOUT KYRIE MCCAULEY?! Well duh. It looks like this is her YA debut! I was really hoping to find a good YA novel to complete my week and this book was pretty much perfection for me. TRIGGER: Domestic violence. (But I deeply appreciate how the abuser is given a layered presence. While you may feel hatred toward the abuse, the story examines where it stems from. So powerful.)

The book spans four months — the first chapter begins on September 2nd and the final chapter begins on January 1st. Some favorite quotes:

When the legacy is anger, the inheritance is fear.”

Sometimes I really wish he were just mean through and through. Evil is easy to hate. But broken. Broken can love and be loved.

I love how the main character notices that someone else’s dad has “a version of loud that isn’t angry.” Oooof.

Also important to know is the fact that there’s a bit of magical realism in this book, but it doesn’t completely dominate the story. It could even be attributed to the mental confusion experienced by victims of domestic abuse (but I personally don’t think that’s the case). No spoilers here, but I will say that if I never much liked crows before, I kinda do now. So wise. So instinctive. So protective. I look forward to seeing what others in our reading community think!!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Far Away
Lisa Graff
March 19, 2019
Philomel Books

I can tell you, for sure, that this isn’t a book I would have chosen to read all on my own after reading the synopsis. I feel uncomfortable reading about deceit and I wasn’t sure what angle the story would take on psychic mediums. All that said, I’m glad I took a chance because this was a good read.

CJ (Caraway June) is being raised by her Aunt Nic, who just happens to be a famous medium. CJ knows that her mother died when she was little, but Aunt Nic sometimes intercedes and lets CJ’s mother talk to her. CJ completely believes in her aunt’s abilities and sees “spirit” as a powerful being. However, one day she and her new friend, Jax, meet a surprise visitor who shares details about her aunt that threaten to unravel all CJ has ever believed in. This one is a quick read and there’s lots to discuss about family relationships, anxiety, and spiritual beliefs.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Bear and the Star
Lola M. Schaefer
Bethanne Andersen, illustrator
September 24, 2019
Greenwillow Books

This poetic story has a Christmas-y feeling as there’s snow, a new star, the people in the story seems to be wearing a lot of read and green, and everyone is hoping for peace. This is a soothing read with calming illustrations that will work especially well as a bedtime tale for young listeners. Oil paints on gessoed Arches printmaking paper were used to prepare the full-color art. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Bear-and-the-Star-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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When a Tiger Comes to Dinner
Jessica Olien
April 9, 2019
Balzer + Bray

Let’s get one thing straight: There’s lots to learn about tigers before you invite one to dinner. Like, how do you say hello? What will the tiger want to eat? What games does a tiger like to play? It’s a good thing that mouse has an expert book on how to impress a tiger. Surely there will be no surprises, right? 🙂 The front and back matter doesn’t say how the artwork was created, but it appears to be rendered digitally. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

When-a-Tiger-Comes-to-Dinner-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Dragons Get Colds Too
Rebecca Roan
Charles Santoso, illustrator
February 12, 2019
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

In this funny picture book, we’re given steps #1 through #7 on how to care for a dragon when it gets sick. Each step is followed by a “fact” and a “tip.” Hilarious brightly-colored illustrations accompany each step, including full page spreads between each step which showcase just how difficult the task will be. Sometimes “how to” books make any task seem so easy, and children will most definitely pick up on the humor and the comparison to caring for a sick young child. The artwork for this book was created digitally. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Dragons-Get-Colds-Too-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Bell Rang
James E. Ransome
January 15, 2019
Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books

Written in stanzas, The Bell Rang is a gorgeous picture book that shares a week in the life of a young female slave. It begins on Monday as the bell rings. Each day, after the bell rings, daddy gathers wood and mama cooks. Then her parents go off to work on the plantation while she goes with the “young’uns” to Miss Sarah Mae’s. Thursday is different, however, because her brother is missing. Ben risked his life for freedom and all the family can do is wait and cry and pray that he made it to safety. Not knowing is heartbreaking, yet hopeful. The last page simply ends with “Monday…” but there’s a bird flying away, seemingly indicating freedom for Ben. An Author’s Note talks about what it was like when a slave ran for freedom and how slave owners encouraged family ties to suppress running.

AWARDS: Coretta Scott King Book Award Nominee for Illustrator (2020), A Kirkus Reviews Best Picture Book of 2019, ALA Notable Children’s Books (2020)

The beautiful illustrations for this book were rendered in acrylics. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

The-Bell-Rang

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Book in the Book in the Book
Julien Baer
Simon Bailly, illustrator
January 8, 2019
Holiday House

What a fantastically entertaining little book. The story is exactly as the title indicates — a book in a book in a book. With repetitive text, each story has an identical storyline with a young boy named Thomas, but the illustrations make them all quite unique because of the setting. And in each story, a boy named Thomas eventually finds a new book to open. On the last page we see him walking away and a book is left in the sand. This one would be great for a discussing the power of illustrations, or how the setting can change the feeling of the book, or whether Thomas ever found a book to begin with — could it all have just been a dream? There are no notes on the artwork, but I’ll provide one page spread to show how the second book is found, below:

Book-in-the-Book-in-the-BookSPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Vast Wonder of the World:
Biologist Ernest Everett Just
Mélina Mangal
Luisa Uribe, illustrator
November 1, 2018
Milbrook Press

This is one of the most fascinating picture book biographies I’ve read. Ernest Everett Just faced a number of difficulties early on, including the death of his father at age four, severe lasting impact of typhoid fever (meaning losing the ability to read), the death of his mother before college, attending Dartmouth College while working to pay his tuition while also sending money back home to support his siblings, and simply making his way in the world of academia as a black man during years of dreaded segregation. Nevertheless, his contributions to science were ground breaking, particularly in regards to his discoveries of the egg cell. This book needs to be in every school and public library! My one disappointment would be that there were no dates or years found within the book, but this certainly wouldn’t deter me from sharing with young readers. The illustrations in this book were created using pencil, paper, and Adobe Photoshop. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Vast-Wonder-of-the-World-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Harriet Gets Carried Away
Jessie Sima
March 6, 2018
Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

Harriet is a lot like my youngest. She likes to wear costumes all the time. And in this quirky little picture book, she goes to the store in a penguin costume to buy party hats for her party, but ends up leaving with some real life penguins. And let’s just say you’ll never guess how Harriet makes it back home. What a crazy experience! The illustrations for this book were rendered in Adobe Photoshop. I’ll provide one page spread to serve as an example, below:

Harriet-Gets-Carried-Away-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


To Be Read:

This week I plan to finish up an ARC of The Elephant’s Girl by Celesta Rimington. It takes place not far from where I live, so that’s kinda cool! I also started listening to Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo. Acevedo is one of the narrators and so I knew I’d enjoy her narration style after enjoying the audiobook of With the Fire on High! I really hope to start When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson before the end of the week — I’ve heard such great things. I’m also currently waiting for a new batch of 30+ picture books to arrive through ILL, so that should be fun!

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 150/200


What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/4/2020 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!

teacher-apple-TAWHappy Teacher Appreciation Week, everyone! As we all know, this semester has thrown so many of our teachers for a loop — it’s been a learning curve for some more than others, but it’s a beautiful sight to see so many teachers, students, and parents pulling through together.

On a personal note, it’s been a pretty great week for our family. If you missed my belated post last week, you’ll be happy to know that hubby is settling back into work quite nicely after being on lockdown in a teeny-tiny upstairs bedroom for three weeks. Whew! I cannot tell you how much we’ve appreciated all the well wishes from the #imwayr community during his healing. ❤

Thank you for visiting, today. This Monday I’ll be sharing two new middle grade novels, both just published in March. One is a sci-fi set on planet Mars and the other is a contemporary realistic fiction set in Los Angeles. I’m also working my way through my remaining picture books from the last year, so I’ll share another eight that were published in 2019. Please feel free to share any great reads you’ve encountered this past week, in the comments. And whether it’s a new book or an older title, I hope you find something of interest to add to your reading wish list.


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In the Red
Christopher Swiedler
March 24, 2020
HarperCollins

Michael Prasad failed his space suit certification due to what appeared to be a panic attack. Now he’s on a secret mission to pass it once and for all, without his parent’s knowledge. However, when he sneaks into a new testing group, he quickly discovers that he’s in the “advanced” testing group. The instructor is quite impressed with his high level of STEM skills as he shows up the older kids in his group. This means he is now in a position to pass not only the basic level, but the advanced levels. What will his parents think of THAT?! But what happens when there’s a shocking planetary accident that kills a number of adults and leaves Michel and his best friend, Lilith, on death’s doorstep? Filled with mathematics, science, and technology, this book and fast-paced storyline will keep readers on the edge of their seats. I deeply appreciated the parent relationship in this one. And there’s just a tinge of romance for coming-of-age tweens, but nothing remotely heavy. There’s also quite a bit of anxiety discussion, which is so important for today’s adolescents who are constantly under pressure, both online and in-real-life. I’m not sure if this will be a stand-alone novel or if it’s the beginning of a new series, but I’ll be interested to see what Swiedler has up his sleeve, next!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Stand Up, Yumi Chung!
Jessica Kim
March 17, 2020
Kokila

Yumi Chung’s greatest desire is to become a stand-up comedian. But her Korean-American parents have sacrificed everything to send her to a special private school in order to get her into a top-notch university in hopes that she’ll become a lawyer or go to med school like her “perfect” older sister. While her parents face severe financial troubles at their family-owned restaurant, they are informed that Yumi can continue to attend her private school on scholarship if she scores high on an exam. So she’s being sent to specialized tutoring all summer long. Yumi really doesn’t want to continue to attend her school. She doesn’t feel like she fits in and there are constant microaggressions she faces as a non-white student. However, she attends her tutoring sessions and plans to do as well as possible on the exam. By completely accident, Yumi happens upon a comedy camp taking place as a local theatre. When she pops her head in to see what’s going on, she is mistaken for another enrollee who didn’t show up. She plays the part perfectly and becomes Kay Nakamura at camp, but remains Yumi Chung at her tutoring group. As would be expected, her friends from both places eventually meet in a single space and Yumi’s lies begin to unravel. How will she explain this without everything falling apart?

The heart of this story is about taking a risk to do what you love doing. But in the story we discover (and understand) how hard Yumi’s parents have worked to keep their family business running and WHY they’ve sacrificed everything in hopes that Yumi’s life will be devoid of a financial stress. Being a stand-up comedian means a lack of financial security, so they’re only trying to look out for her. There are a number of comedic moments throughout the story, but I just loved the thoughts about second chances and the cozy, feel-good ending. ❤ I’m more than happy to recommend this book!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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You’re Missing It!
Brady Smith
Tiffani Thiessen
April 30, 2019
Nancy Paulsen Books

WARNING: Before reading this book, make sure you’re ready to walk-the-talk. Because as cute and hilarious as the artwork is, the message is hard-hitting. One of my very favorite movie scenes is from Hook, starring Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman. There’s a point at which Peter’s wife, Moira, takes his cell phone and flings it out the window in frustration. She gives one of the most heart-wrenching speeches that ends with “...and you are missing it.” Check out this 1-minute clip, below:

So as I blink the wetness from my eyes, this book is the story of a little boy who goes to the park with his father. Everything is so bright, cheery, and colorful as the boy sees EVERYTHING happening all around him — there are birds, squirrels, dogs, flowers, butterflies, other kids, and even other distracted parents. While the boy marvels at the world all around him, including an escaped purple rhinoceros, his dad is MISSING. IT. ALL. …because he can’t look away from his phone. It becomes almost obnoxiously silly to see all that he’s missing. Thankfully, the dad eventually realizes what’s going on before it’s too late. Nevertheless, on the final page we’re left with yet another child running along, trying to get her mom’s attention (since she’s on her phone). The illustrations were done with a #2 pencil, an eraser, a Faber-Castell artist pen, and watercolors. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Youre-Missing-It-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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It Began with a Page:
How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way
Kyo Maclear
Julie Morstad, illustrator
October 8, 2019
HarperCollins

From a very young age, Gyo Fujikawa loved to fill pages with her artwork. One of her teachers in high school found a way to get her through art school and she was eventually hired by the Walt Disney’s studio in New York (to work on promotional work for the movie Fantasia). This picture book biography shares one of her lowest points in life, when Roosevelt signed an Executive Order sending all Japanese Americans living on the West Coast to internment camps, including Fujikawa’s family. 😦 But we also witness one of her highest points when she wrote and illustrated a children’s book called Babies which included multiracial characters on the same page. At first the publishers said “NO!” and explained that white Americans would be very unhappy about having white babies illustrated alongside black and brown babies, but Fujikawa persisted and was successful in publication. She went on to create more than 50 children’s books before her death in 1998.

You don’t want to miss the back matter which includes black and white photos from Gyo’s family, a timeline of important happenings from 1908 to 1998, an author and illustrator’s note with more information about Gyo’s life, a selected bibliography, and sources used in the writing of this book. The artwork in this book was created with liquid watercolor, gouache, and pencil crayons. I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

It-Began-with-a-page-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Mulan: The Legend
of the Woman Warrior
Faye-Lynn Wu
Joy Ang, illustrator
September 10, 2019
Harpercollins 

This is the well-known Chinese folktale of Mulan, the brave, young woman who chose to join the emperor’s army in place of her aging father. She fought fiercely for twelve long years before leading her troop back to the emperor’s palace as a victorious commander. She was offered an appointment to the high court, but ask if she could instead return to her beloved family. The illustrations in this picture book were created by Joy Ang. The front and back do not share how the artwork was created, but I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

Mulan-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Get Me Out of This Book!:
Rules & Tools for Being Brave
Kalli Dakos
Deborah Cholette
Sara Infante, Illustrator
June 11th 2019
Holiday House

Max is a bookmark who is more than terrified of scary images he gets trapped with inside of books. He attends Bookmark School where he learns the rules and tools to help him handle his fears. He discovers that breathing deeply and using good thoughts can get him out of just about any bind. That said, this book might be a nice way to begin a discussion on facing fears or even on childhood anxiety. Oh, and watch out for the cute little twist at the end of the story.

The artwork in this book was created with mixed media. I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

Get-Me-Out-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Grandpa Cacao:
A Tale of Chocolate,
from Farm to Family
Elizabeth Zunon
May 21, 2019
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

In this sweet little story, a mother heads off to pick up a birthday treat for her daughter while the young girl and her father bake a chocolate birthday cake. As they mix and bake the cake, her father tells her all about Grandpa Cacao and how they can only enjoy chocolate because of farmers like him. We learn about the family’s origins in the Ivory Coast, the hard work out in the hot fields, how Grandpa Cacao selected the perfectly ripe fruit, how the village worked together to harvest and protect the dried cocoa beans, and how they sold them off for chocolate making. The surprise ending is especially meaningful after the family history lesson. The back matter includes four pages with far more information about the cacao trade (including exploitation of children), the science, history, and even a chocolate celebration cake recipe.

The artwork in this book was created with oil paint and collage with screen print. I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

Grandpa-Cacao-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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And the Bullfrogs Sing:
A Life Cycle Begins
David L. Harrison
Kate Cosgrove, illustrator
May 21, 2019
Holiday House

Last week I enjoyed reviewing Caterpillar and Bean, a new picture book that combined the life cycles of a butterfly and a bean plant, and that book would pair nicely with And the Bullfrogs Sing which is about the life cycle of a bullfrog. The book cycles through two years as we learn about the male bullfrog’s song, how the female lays her eggs, how tadpoles hatch, how they survive through the cold winter, and what must happen before they become full grown bullfrogs. The back matter includes more information about bullfrogs, including a selected bibliography.

The artwork in this book was created with pencils and digital tools. I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

And-the-bullfrogs-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Boy and the Bear
Peter Stein
May 14, 2019
Holiday House 

In rhyming text, we watch while a boy and his bear are bombarded by many new and exciting things to take with them. When it becomes too much to handle, the boy realized the bear is all he really wanted all along. The boys facial expressions showcase a wide variety of feelings, so in the back pages they offer a two pages where children can match the feelings with the face while discussing emotions. The story could also be used to introduce the topic of consumerism (or what to do if you discover a random blimp losing stuffed animals – lol).

The artwork for this book was created with graphite and digital color. I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

Boy-and-the-Bear-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Birds of a Feather: Bowerbirds and Me
Susan L. Roth
May 14, 2019
Neal Porter Books

This is a very creative nonfiction picture book where the author, Susan L. Roth, compares her artwork compositions to the work of a bowerbird. They’re both collectors, they like beauty, every composition is different, they use similar tools, they love colors, and more. Each spread is so beautiful and keeps the reader entertained by everything going on across the page. The back matter provides many more details about bowerbirds, about how they work, about how Roth works, and all their similarities. There’s also a selected bibliography and full color photo of a Male Satin Bowerbird and it’s creative work.

The artwork for this book was created as collages with assorted papers, fabric, wires, threads, pipe cleaners, beads, ribbons, and more, especially those that are bright blue. I’ll provide one page spread as an example of what to expect, below:

Birds-of-a-Feather-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


To Be Read:

I’m looking forward to beginning Far Away by Lisa Graff, this week. And I’m so happy to have received at ARC of The Elephant’s Girl by Celesta Rimington, which will be published on May 19th. If I have enough time this week, I will also start If These Wings Could Fly by Kyrie McCauley.

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Family Snapshot:

More long term reads for me are: Girls & Sex by Peggy Orenstein, Who Wrote the Bible? by Richard Elliott Friedman, and The One Year Book of Devotionals #1 for Kids by Children’s Bible Hour (daily read with the kids, all year).

Hubby, during quarantine, read: The Wisdom of Menopause by Christine Northrup, MD, The Feeling Good Handbook by David D. Burns, MD (a re-read), The Explosive Child by Ross Greene, and I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez. He’s now working on The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, Phaedo by Plato, and Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

Brayla (16) is reading Girls & Sex by Peggy Orenstein (per our request — excellent parent/teen discussion material) and Lucky in Love by Kasie West (but it is feeling too predictable, so this may be her first DNF of 2020).

Brandon (14) is reading It by Stephen King and The Novice (Summoner #1) by Taran Matharu.

Brighton (12) is reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

Briston (9) is reading Stargazing by Jan Wang and the Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey.

Breena (6) just started reading The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Field Guide by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, Chúcaro: Wild Pony of the Pampa by Francis Kalnay, and Now We Are Six by A. A. Milne. But she dabbles and can be found reading pretty much any book she finds around the house.


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 140/200


What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/27/2020 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!

Bree-Ukulele-4-25-20It’s been a very nice few days with sunny skies, high temps, and just a few spring showers. We’ve been hanging out at the state park a bit and have started back on our daily walks. Our youngest just turned six in March and for her birthday she got a baby blue ukulele from her big sister, so she’s been serenading all of us over the last few weeks. ❤

OH!! And hubby came out of quarantine on Saturday. YAY! As you’ll recall, he came home from work with a terrible headache on Friday, April 3rd, and after beginning to run a fever and experience other cold symptoms, he called our public health district and tightly quarantined upstairs in our bedroom on Sunday, April 5th. So his complete seclusion lasted just one day shy of three weeks. We are so glad to have him back in (mostly) working order and today is his first official day back in the office.

In other news, my mom sent us a set of seven beautiful face masks made by her seamstress friend in Texas. Our younger kiddos rarely leave the home right now (except to play outside, riding bikes/scooters), but with the current requirement to wear a mask in public spaces, these are especially helpful for those of us who either work outside of the home or run errands. Then my brother-in-law in Seattle surprised us with another set of seven masks with special themes that were specifically selected for each member of our family (for example, unicorns for our youngest, LEGOs for our 9 year old, etc.). They are so darling!

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

Thank you for visiting, today! Whether it’s a new title, or an older one, I hope you find something of interest to add to your reading list. (NOTE: I’m going to try doing what a few others in the #imwayr community do and briefly share what the rest of my family is reading. Depending on how this goes the first couple weeks, I may move that section to only once-per-month. For now, I’ll call it “Family Snapshot” and it can be found at the very bottom of my posts.)


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The Space Between Lost and Found
Sandy Stark-McGinnis
April 28, 2020
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

My thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury for providing me an Advance Reading Copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Sadly, my family is well acquainted with the emotional fallout due to Alzheimer’s disease. Nevertheless, we’ve not experienced the devastation of early onset Alzheimer’s disease (meaning a patient under the age of 65 — many people when they’re in their 40s and 50s). Cassie is not yet a teenager and yet she and her mom have practically reversed their familial roles — she must now take care of her mom when her dad is not around. This means setting aside her love of soccer (and possibly her best friend) so that she can focus on what’s most important. Cassie’s biggest hope is that one day, hopefully very soon, her mom will remember her name. Why can’t she just say it?

There are threads of memories that continue to come back to Cassie — from before her mom began to lose her memory. They’d visit the beach, her mother enjoyed dancing to Cindi Lauper’s music, and her parents were so very happy and in love. Therefore, when we jump back to the present, witnessing Cassie’s mom experience this degenerative illness, it leaves us feeling helpless. There’s a very real lack of control when you never know if you’ll be remembered or how your loved one will react in different situations. The pain was even more evident as Cassie and her father slowly realize they must move forward, almost as if her mother had died. However, it was so beautifully written and it’s definitely an underrepresented topic in middle grade literature. This title will publish on Tuesday, April 28th, 2020, so be sure to order a copy!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Water Bears
Kim Baker
April 21, 2020
Wendy Lamb Books

What a deceiving cover… At first glance, it makes me think of a cutsie childhood story. But this book was anything but childish. Thirteen-year-old Newt Gomez recently survived a bear attack. He’s struggled with the memory of the attack, but he doesn’t want to be known only as “the boy who survived a bear attack.” Lately, he’s been wanting to leave his quirky Murphy Island to live with his abuela on the mainland as he enters seventh grade. He keeps pushing the issue of changing schools with his parents, but they’re just not very supportive. When Newt unexpectedly encounters a bear statue that grants wishes, he knows what his one wish will be. That is… until the bear is stolen and it looks like he missed his chance. With typical school relationship issues, a mythological creature on the loose, a potential non-existent friend named Izzy, extended family relationship ups and downs, a mother’s secrets uncovered, and Latinx representation, there’s so much more going on in this book than I can fit into one little paragraph. But it was a very quick and engaging read.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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What Lane?
Torrey Maldonado
April 14, 2020
Nancy Paulsen Books

As a biracial kid, Stephen is confronted with the fact that he’s living in two worlds. However, he doesn’t fully fit into either one the way he wants to. While his friends are sometimes blind to the realities, he’s hit, head on, by social injustices and the very real understanding of white privilege. And he tries, many times, to figure out which “lane” he belongs in. The best summary of this book can be found in this quote:

“I need to wake up more of my white friends so they see prejudice is real. They can fix that in their lane.”

It’s wonderfully executed in less than 150 pages — I hope this one makes its way into may school and public libraries this year!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Wink
Rob Harrell
Michael Crouch, Narrator
Marc Thompson, Narrator
March 31, 2020
Dial Books

I’ll admit that I wasn’t really attracted to the cover, but wow did this story surprise me. In short, this book shares the very raw experiences of living with a rare eye cancer. Ross has already lost his mom to cancer and now he is facing slowly losing his vision. At the same time, he’s looking for some life-changing epiphany — in middle school. And if there’s one big truth about middle school, it’s that kids can be so cruel. There’s also a classmate named Sarah who “smells like sunshine and joy” and always appears so sweet. But the silver lining in Ross’s life is his best friend, Gabby — and trust me when I say that everyone needs a “Gabby.” She brought fireworks to this story in a way nothing else could have.

By the time I got barely halfway through the story, I had to stop to look up Rob Harrell to see what else he’s written SO THAT I COULD READ IT! He had me sobbing halfway through. It’s so gut-wrenching and yet simultaneously beautifully written and narrated. And ultimately what Ross discovers is that even the worst of kids need friendship and acceptance. You really never know what someone else is living through…  NOTE: On the audiobook there are these AWESOME comic episodes with cool music, sound effects, and wacky narration. I’m more than happy to recommend this title. Please fill your school, public, and home libraries with copies of Wink!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

Captain Underpants
Dav Pilkey

I don’t know how many books of this series I’ve read with my kids, nor how many times I’ve read each one. I believe it all started when I was teaching 1st and 2nd grades in Texas around 2000-2002. My students loved Captain Underpants and the stories got many reluctant readers to happily pick up a book. I later bought the series for my two first born kiddos (who are now 14 and 16 year olds) when they were much younger and our beat up copies have made the rounds, over the years. The books contain lots of toilet humor, but overall they are quite clever and include some high-level vocabulary for young readers. This month I’ve been reading these aloud with my 9-year-old and we’ve both laughed quite a bit!

You can read more about the whole series on Goodreads HERE.


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Saturday
Oge Mora
October 22, 2019
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Ava and her mother have all sorts of wonderful plans for their Saturday. It’s the best day of the week because mother doesn’t go to work. Yet things don’t always go as planned, and this is certainly the case on this particular Saturday. Storytime at the library is canceled, their hairdos are ruined by a car splash, the park is too loud, and they miss the puppet theatre they were so excited to attend. Ultimately, they’re faced with the understanding that Saturdays are special primarily because they get to spend them together. I love the message in this one and I adore Mora’s collaged illustrations! The back matter shares that the collages for this book were created with acrylic paint, china markers, patterned paper, and old-book clippings. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Saturday-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Reading Beauty
Deborah Underwood
Meg Hunt, illustrator
September 24, 2019
Chronicle Books

In Reading Beauty, we have another fractured fairy (from the creators of Interstellar Cinderella). On her fifteenth birthday, avid reader Princess Lex has all her books taken away by her parents. They explain that they must do this because of the curse of a fairy who said Lex would be cursed by a paper cut when she was fifteen. Faced with a life devoid of books, Lex knows she must confront the wicked fairy and demand she lift the curse. Will she save the day or make matters worse? The brightly colored illustrations in this book were rendered in brush and ink, pastel, marker, and graphite, and colored digitally. I’ll provide one page-spread as an example of what to expect, below:

Reading-Beauty-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Nighttime Symphony
Timbaland
Christopher Myers, illustrator
Kaa Illustrations, illustrations
May 28, 2019 (org. 10/12/10)
Atheneum Books for Young Readers

The whole world becomes music for a young boy as he prepares to go to sleep, at night — raindrops tap a steady beat, trees dance, radios sing, the wind howls, while umbrellas become turntables that DJs can spin. The entire musical symphony takes place at nighttime. And when morning breaks, they discover the storm was just a lullaby. This one is perfect for reading at bedtime, for obvious reasons. The illustrations for this book were digitally rendered. I’ll provide one page-spread as an example of what to expect, below:

NIghttime-Symphony-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Field Trip to the Moon
John L. Hare
May 14, 2019
Margaret Ferguson Books

I really enjoyed the life found in the shadows of a mostly gray/white pallet. In this wordless picture book a school bus-looking yellow rocket ship takes a class on a field trip to the moon. The faceless children travel the dusty terrain of the moon while one child finds a cozy spot to sit and draw planet Earth. But what happens when the rocket ship leaves the moon without said child? You won’t want to miss this cute ending!! The artwork for this book was created with acrylic paint. I’ll provide one page-spread as an example of what to expect, below:

Field-Trip-to-the-Moon-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Caterpillar and Bean:
A First Science Storybook
(First Science Storybooks)
Martin Jenkins
Hannah Tolson, illustrator
April 2, 2019
Candlewick Press

When I taught the younger grades in elementary school, we enjoyed units on life cycles — both for plants and insects. And this book is a perfect combination featuring a plant and a butterfly cycling through life. I liked the color combination of mostly greens/blues with orange/reds. And at the very end, there’s a section on how to grow your own bean plant. I’m sure looking forward to seeing the beautiful butterflies, this year, and this book will be an excellent share for that experience! The illustrations were done in mixed media. I’ll provide one page-spread as an example of what to expect, below:

Caterpillar-and-Bean-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow:
a Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix
Gary Golio
Javaka Steptoe, illustrator
October 4, 2010
Clarion Books

I’ve actually had this book in my stack for a looooong time. I picked it up to use in my Music for the Elementary Teacher college course for education majors, last year. In fact, it appears one of my students lost the first copy of it, so the college purchase another copy for our use. So I’m glad to finally get to share it on my blog, today. As would be expected by the title, this is a picture book biography of Jimi Hendrix. It begins with young Jimmy in 1956 in Seattle, Washington during a thunderstorm. He hears music in everything around him. A child on his block sounds like a clarinet. A truck engine backfiring sounds like a bass drum. And his neighbor’s rake sounded like a snare drum against the sidewalk. Jimmy even saw colors with every sound he heard. He was elated when his dad purchased their neighbor’s guitar for $5, and he practiced many hours on his own to figure out how to play before joining a local band. His greatest excitement seemed to be when he discovered all of the sounds he could make through a guitar amplifier when he plugged in an electric guitar. He then could use his guitar to make a wide assortment of sounds (a rainbow of sounds) that he’s most known for, today.

Don’t let nobody turn you off from your own thoughts and dreams. -Jimi Hendrix

The artwork in this book was created in mixed media. I’ll provide one page-spread as an example of what to expect, below:

Jimi-Sounds-Like-a-Rainbow-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


To Be Read:

Some of my Overdrive/Libby books lapsed. Ugh. But I just got my hands on Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim and In the Red by Christopher Swiedler, so I’m looking forward to starting those this week. And I am excited to have It Began With a Page by Kyo Maclear. Then we’ll see what else I can squeeze in.

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Family Snapshot:

In addition to my regular TBR books, listed above… more long term reads for me are: Girls & Sex by Peggy Orenstein, Who Wrote the Bible? by Richard Elliott Friedman, and The One Year Book of Devotionals #1 for Kids by Children’s Bible Hour (daily read with the kids, all year).

Hubby, during quarantine, read: The Wisdom of Menopause by Christine Northrup, MD, The Feeling Good Handbook by David D. Burns, MD (a re-read), The Explosive Child by Ross Greene, and I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez. He’s now working on The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, Phaedo by Plato, and Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

Brayla (16) is reading Girls & Sex by Peggy Orenstein (per our request — excellent discussion material) and Lucky in Love by Kasie West (but it is feeling too predictable, so this may be her first DNF of 2020).

Brandon (14) is reading It by Stephen King and The Novice (Summoner #1) by Taran Matharu.

Brighton (12) is reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

Briston (9) is reading Stargazing by Jan Wang and the Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey.

Breena (6) just started reading The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Field Guide by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, Chúcaro: Wild Pony of the Pampa by Francis Kalnay, and Now We Are Six by A. A. Milne. But she dabbles and can be found reading pretty much any novel she discovers sitting around the house (including MY novels. No joke.).


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 130/200


What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/20/2020 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!

We’ve really appreciated your sweet comments and prayers during this time of my husband’s illness and quarantine. He has stayed locked away for over two weeks and is still feeling a bit stir crazy, but he appears to be past the worrisome cold/flu symptoms for over 24 hours, now (and he hasn’t had a fever in over a week). If all goes according to as planned, he’ll be able to able to rejoin the world before this weekend. YAY!

Thank you so much for visiting, today. This week I’m sharing a number of books that were published over the last two months. I hope you find something of interest to add to your reading “wish” list. I look forward to making the rounds to see what is on your bookshelf!


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Bloom
(The Overthrow #1)
Kenneth Oppel
March 10, 2020
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

A+ for creep factor!! Bloom is the first book in a trilogy (book #2 should be released in September). The story centers around three teens: Anaya, Petra, and Seth. Each of them have unusual traits which come into play once their nation discovers they are under attack. The invasion comes in the form of rain. But how and why, I can’t exactly say without spoiling the story. It’s a very hard-to-put-down sci-fi that I believe will be quite popular. Another interesting tidbit to know —  much of this story mimics what we’re experiencing right now with COVID-19:  the US blames China, there’s no toilet paper in the bathrooms, the Ministry wants to handle investigation, the government declares a state of emergency, there are worries about food production and world reserves, the southern hemisphere isn’t hit as bad, people are stocking up on grocery items, they’re wearing masks in the stores, the hospitals are overloaded, the economy is failing, and eventually school is cancelled. It was weird thinking about how this book was written well before we knew anything about COVID-19! Anyway, I will definitely show up for book #2! This was my first Kenneth Oppel read, but now I really want to pick up some of his older work. Very well written and addictive!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane
Kate O’Shaughnessy
March 3, 2020
Knopf Books for Young Readers

This was an audiobook “read” this week that was a last-minute impulse-grab. It was beautifully narrated by Catherine Taber and, at only 6 1/2 hours, it’s a very quick listen. Maybelle was raised as an only child in a single-parent home. She’s fascinated with recording interesting sounds and she collects/records them on special occasions, sorta like keeping a diary. Her mom is a singer-songwriter and has always been a bit secretive about Maybelle’s father. Maybelle never met him, but she knows his voice so well because she heard it on a voice mail recording (and listened to it over and over and over). So imagine her shock when she hears that same voice on the radio one day. She continues to listen to her dad’s radio program and discovers her dad’s radio station is doing a music/singing competition in Nashville. Could she actually meet her real father without her mom knowing? And next thing we know, she’s loaded up and on her way to Nashville with her commanding next-door neighbor and an annoying boy from school tagging along. This road trip was my favorite part of the story because she gets to know her two travel mates in a way that never would have happened by just living next door to them. Over time, they learn more about the past. And they collectively pave a better road for each of their futures. It’s written with sooo much heart — highly recommend for middle grade readers!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The List of Things That Will Not Change
Rebecca Stead
April 7, 2020
Wendy Lamb Books

I sure kicked my week off with some intense, realistic fiction novels. The List of Things That Will Not Change follows 10-year-old Bea through the aftermath of her parents’ divorce. They reassured her that they would always love her and she was given a green notebook that she could use to write down everything that will NOT change. But the truth is, there are many things that will change. For example, her father is remarrying. And the man he is marrying has a daughter Bea’s age. She has always wanted a sister, so she’s elated. Nevertheless, the transition is awkward — how does her mom feel about her dad remarrying? And will Bea’s new sister even like her? Rebecca Stead addresses so many important issues in this book, including homophobia, the complications of having two different homes, and the normalization of therapy.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Efrén Divided
Ernesto Cisneros
March 31, 2020
Quill Tree Books

Raw and gripping. Seventh-grader Efrén Nava has his hands full when his mother is suddenly deported. She always made sure everyone looked their best (always bathed, having perfectly pressed clothing, etc.). So the entire family is suddenly in limbo and struggling to survive while figuring out how to be reunited. Efrén’s best friend, David, is running for office at his school, but so is their classmate, Jennifer. And Efrén is faced with the fact that Jennifer will make a great leader because she’s organized and passionate about important real issues. Does he stick by his best friend or support who will be the best leader? In the meantime, Efrén’s father raised the money needed to transport his mother back. But the journey through Tijuana, to get Efrén’s mom the money, will be incredibly dangerous. Will all this be worth it in the end? I mean, after all, their country is more concerned with eggs being cage-free than they are people being cage-free.

This is a very emotional read, but important for developing empathy — both a mirror and a window. Ernesto Cisneros shares, on Goodreads, that he wrote this book for his daughter: “…so she could see that people of color, people of Mexican descent, are worth writing and reading about. I wanted her to see her world depicted in a book.”

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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When We Were Vikings
Andrew David MacDonald
January 28, 2020
Gallery/Scout Press

I’ve heard a lot of buzz about this book the last few months, so I picked it up without knowing much about it. I saw some readers referring to it as young adult and/or coming of age, therefore I was a little caught off-guard when it was so much more “adult” than I expected. Twenty-one year old Zelda was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and she’s completely obsessed with Vikings. She’ll stop at nothing to protect her tribe. After the death of their mother, Zelda and Gert moved in with an abusive uncle. But now the two of them live together, alone, and they’ve adopted strict rules that make Zelda’s life easier to manage. Gert’s life has been anything, but easy. Thankfully, he was awarded a scholarship for college after writing an essay about his life with Zelda. So when Zelda discovers that Gert is failing out of his classes and has resorted to inappropriate methods of income, she takes matters into her own hands to get their tribe back on track. The story explores Zelda’s relationship with her boyfriend, Marxy, as they plan to have sex for the first time. And we see the inner workings of her therapy sessions, as well as the community center where she interacts with other adults with developmental delays. Zelda is a courageous young woman in this story. And while I honestly struggled to connect with her in the beginning, I admit I cried through the ending.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Cave Dada
Brandon Reese
March 31, 2020
Chronicle Books

In only a few words, this darling picture book reveals that bedtime woes stem all the way back to the Stone Age when little ones tried every trick in the book to extend the routine. Cava Dada’s baby doesn’t want a rattle, or blanky, or a rock-a-baba. But he does want a 2-ton bedtime story. And one of the funniest parts of the story is when Cave Dada is exhausted and finally says: “Dada feel cry too”! LOL The back matter tells us that Brandon Reese used his own experiences as inspiration for this story. The illustrations were rendered in colored pencil, gouache, and Adobe Photoshop. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Cave-Dada-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Next President:
The Unexpected Beginnings and Unwritten
Future of America’s Presidents
by Kate Messner
Adam Rex
March 24, 2020
Chronicle Books

This is one of the more creative nonfiction picture books I’ve ever read. And what an important time to read it — just as the US is gearing up for another presidential election. The Goodreads synopsis explains: “When George Washington became the first president of the United States, there were nine future presidents already alive in America, doing things like practicing law or studying medicine. When JFK became the thirty-fifth president, there were 10 future presidents already alive in America, doing things like hosting TV shows and learning the saxophone.” This presentation format helps highlight the fact that each of our presidents were normal humans, just like each child reading the book. I really, really like how Messner presented the information by years and I think it will resonate with children. Back matter includes more Presidential information and includes an extensive Bibliography. A must have for any children’s library!

The illustrations in this book were rendered digitally. I’ll provide a couple spreads to serve as examples of what to expect, below:

Next-President-SPREAD1

Next-President-SPREAD2

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Like the Moon Loves the Sky
Hena Khan
Saffa Khan, illustrator
March 10, 2020
Chronicle Books

Written in rhyming text, the sweet book shares the love and hopes of a mother for her child(ren). Each page showcases something the child feels, has done, or what she hopes they will do, from planting gardens to expressing gratitude. The word “inshallah” is repeated throughout this book and in an Author’s Note we are told this Arabic for “if God wills it.” The author shares: The phrase “inshallah” is something I say throughout my day when making any plan or wishing anything for the future… The illustrations in this book were primarily rendered digitally, with ink for strokes and texture. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Like-the-Moon-Loves-the-Sky-SPREAD
You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


To Be Read:

I’m currently reading an advance readers copy of The Space Between Lost and Found by Sandy Stark-McGinnis, which is schedule to be published on April 28th. I’m still in the middle of Girls & Sex by Peggy Orenstein. Very important information — highly recommend at this point, but I won’t fully review until I’ve finished it. And I’m also hoping to start both Wink by Rob Harrell and The Elephant’s Girl by Celesta Rimington, due to be published May 19th.

2020-4-20-TBR

I also have A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat, Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes, and If These Wings Could Fly by Kyrie McCauley sitting on my virtual bookshelf. So they’re next on my list if some extra time clears up over the coming week.


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 119/200


What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/13/2020 #imwayr

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!

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14-year-old in Zoom meeting

I hope everyone is hanging in there whether you’re on full lockdown or simply social distancing. My husband came home ill on Friday, April 3rd. After a couple days with on/off fever, he called our public health district for phone evaluation and they said they wouldn’t be testing at this time (we had a very limited number of tests, locally). He’s not to return to work until he has no symptoms for a full 72 hours. Given the sheer possibility that he’s infected with COVID-19, he’s been strictly quarantined in an upstairs bedroom for over a week. I know he so badly wants to come downstairs or go outside, but we’re waiting it out and keeping an eye out for any developing respiratory issues (which has not been a problem, so far). At least he has a big screen TV in his room, good internet service, and me bringing him anything he needs throughout the day. We’ve all had our fair share of weekly Zoom meetings (work, church, youth group), loads of Marco Polos, and more hand-held device usage and social media than is probably healthy. But this is completely new territory, so we are giving ourselves a little grace. 

Thank you so much for visiting today. It’s been a sincere struggle to stay focused on my reading amidst new community protocols and uncertainty. In fact, I only finished about half my normal weekly reading load. Nevertheless, what I did finish was very enjoyable. I was pleased when Netgalley approved my request for an ARC of Micah McKinney and the Boys of Summer earlier this spring, so I’ll be sharing this new title, today.  Whether it’s a brand new title or an older one, I hope you find something of interest here to add to your wish list!


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Micah McKinney and the Boys of Summer
Nina Chapman
April 1, 2020
Capstone Editions

My thanks to Netgalley and Capstone Editions for providing an e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. Twelve-year-old Micah McKinney and her father recently moved to the other side of town where she must start over with new friends, a quickly developing body, and without her beloved mom. She’s just about to start seventh grade and, due to an unfortunate incident with her previous best friends, she will no longer be playing her favorite sport: soccer. In an adorable meet cute, Micah develops a bond with a group of three boys who all seem to vie for her attention. But what happens when her new life and old life collide just when Micah McKinney least expects it?

I especially appreciate the father/child relationship we see between Micah and her father. He’s not perfect, nor completely healed from losing his wife, but he deeply cares about his daughter and attempts to interact in meaningful ways (where too many other fictional fathers fail). I also enjoyed the depth of character development with each of the boys in the group of friends. In the beginning there’s one boy who is so unnerving and thoughtless, but we get to watch him mature and become one of Micah’s greatest allies. Unfortunately, the “mean girls” Micah encounters are just that — mean. But they’re countered by a cast of kind, generous, down-to-earth female friendships that make middle school relationships worth finding and working on. There are also some encounters with older young adults and other parents that highlight the importance of developing adult/child relationships to meet needs that can’t always be fulfilled by parents (especially if you only have one).

At the end, Chapman shares how this book began as a classroom writing exercise with her students, but eventually bloomed into a full-blown story that allowed her to use her personal experiences of losing her own mother. In this way, it’s an important #ownvoices book that brings fresh understanding to such a devastating parental loss. But there’s plenty of funny, lighthearted moments mixed into this story, making it a perfect upper-middle grade read.

Unless I’m mistaken, this is Nina Chapman’s debut middle grade novel. I’m very happy to recommend it and I’ll look forward to following any of her future work.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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How to Walk Away
Katherine Center
May 15, 2018
St. Martin’s Press

After enjoying Things You Save in a Fire, I knew I had to read another Katherine Center book. And she didn’t let me down! Margaret Jacobsen does everything right. She worked very hard to get the right degree, the dream job, and the perfect fiancé. But on the very night she gets the marriage proposal she’s wanted for so long, tragedy strikes, landing Margaret in the hospital with terrible burns and severe spinal cord damage. Margaret cannot walk! The story shares painful family dynamics, shocking secrets, uncomfortable recovery experiences, and yes, even romance. This book was very difficult to “walk away” from until I finished it. 🙂

AWARDS: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fiction (2018)

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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World So Wide
Alison McGhee
Kate Alizadeh, illustrator
March 1, 2020
Two Lions

My sincere thanks to Laura of Beagles and Books, Two Lions, and Amazon Publishing for offering this book as a giveaway last month. I was thrilled to win and am now excited to share this book with my readers (and my own children!).

Somewhere in the world
the world so far
the world so wide
someone is the youngest person alive.

And so begins the gorgeous picture book celebrating the beginning of life and all that a child will see, hear, smell, touch, and do in their lifetime. In the end, the baby comes full circle, eventually witnessing the birth of his own baby. What a perfect book to share with anyone, young or old, in your life. It would make a wonderful gift for the birth of a new baby or for a child going off into the world (maybe graduation). I love it so much and am giddy to have a copy for my home!

The lovely artwork in this book was created digitally and features a culturally diverse family with both indoor and outdoor scenery. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

World-So-Wide-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
Charlie Mackesy
October 10, 2019
Ebury Press

For everyone who got to this book before I did, you were right. It’s so incredibly warm and lovely! I must have a copy of my very own. I need to buy it for my mom for Mother’s Day — or any day, really. And I need to read it, individually, with each of my children. The artwork and hand penned writing are such a cozy combination. There’s no real story to speak of, so you can start anywhere in the book to feel inspired. It’s mostly filled with questions and concerns that children have, followed by simple, comforting responses. It’s definitely reminiscent of well-loved characters like Winnie the Pooh. I’m feeling all the feels, here. NOTE: The only difficulty I had a few times was reading the text. But I was always able to figure it out, in the end.

AWARDS: Barnes & Noble Book of the Year

Check out the following video of Charlie Mackesy talking about the creation of his book:

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


Currently Reading/To Be Read:

I’m currently right in the middle of listening to When We Were Vikings by David MacDonald. Through Overdrive library, I just got access to The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead, Efren Divided by Ernesto Cisneros, and If These Wings Could Fly by Kyrie McCauley. I’m still working on Girls & Sex by Peggy Orenstein– fantastic information!! And another set of 10 picture books just arrived via ILL through my college library, so I’m also looking forward to picking those up later today. Let’s see how many of these new titles I can knock out this week.


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 111/200


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What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/6/2020 #imwayr

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!

Coronavirus-CDCThis current experience of COVID-19 is utterly surreal. I am concerned about several loved ones, near and far, but I understand they are doing everything possible to stay away from the public. Like most everyone else, we’re just reading tons of information online about this novel virus and keeping our family at home as much as possible. One thing is for sure, it will be very interesting to read future “historical fiction” books that include the COVID-19 experience as part of the story, won’t it?

While I know most of us have access to plenty of e-books and audiobooks, I would love to hear about any brick and mortar libraries in your area that are doing pick-up orders once a week or libraries that are delivering. It’s impressive how multiple businesses are finding new ways to serve the public while keeping a safe distance. I’m very grateful to my college library for continuing to let me order ILL print books from other libraries. I just got another batch of 35+ ordered a week ago and I was excited when a lot of them arrived a couple days ago. The library quarantines the books for just a few days and then we still sanitize them the moment they reach our home. All in all, it’s been a great borrowing experience and I’ve been able to catch up on some wonderful picture books I missed over the last couple years. Nevertheless, with the increasing need for social distancing, I realize this option may not last much longer.

Thank you so much for visiting, today. Whether it’s a new or older title, I hope you find something of interest to add to your TBR list. And if you link-up through the kidlit #imwayr community, I’ll be around to see what you’ve been reading very soon.


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To Fly Among the Stars: A True
Story of the Women and Men Who
Tested to Become America’s First Astronauts
Rebecca Siegel
March 3, 2020
Scholastic Focus

This book was so engaging — all about America’s space program and the aviators who set its course. There’s amazing focus on how difficult it was for women to be involved with NASA, but also so many personal details about various people who came in and out of the picture over the years. Also, I didn’t realize this until after I finished the book, but Mercury 13’s story is told in a recent Netflix documentary and a play based on Cobb’s life, “They Promised Her the Moon.” So I hope to check that out very soon!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Only Black Girls in Town
Brandy Colbert
March 10, 2020
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

I absolutely loved this debut middle-grade novel about Alberta and Edie — the only black girls in town. Edie is new to town after her mother purchased a bed and breakfast. When Edie decides to make her bedroom in the attic of her new home, she and Alberta find a whole pile of journals left behind by someone who passed years ago. While reading through the journals, they both simultaneously experience racism in their community while coming to terms with who they can count on. This was such a pleasant surprise! I would classify it as a historical fiction novel because of the focus on black history, including specific mentions of Rosa Parks, Emmett Till, etc. It also had a Parker Inheritance feel because of the dual stories occurring between the past and the present. Highly recommend for the upper middle grade reader in your life!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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The Giver
(The Giver #1)
Lois Lowry
April 26, 1993
Houghton Mifflin

As I mentioned last week, this was a re-read because I wanted to share it with my five kiddos. All the kids stuck with it, respectfully listening and responding these last two weeks. However, I completely forgot the high vocabulary level of this book. Wow. I also forgot about the discussions of “stirrings,” which definitely became a family joke with my teens this month. LOL Anyway, we had wonderful discussions about sameness and how different governments throughout history have attempted to create sameness on various levels — some in very positive ways and some in highly questionable ways. Then we followed the conclusion of the book with watching the movie on Friday night.

AWARDS: Newbery Medal (1994), Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Nominee for Children’s Literature (1994), Golden Duck Award for Young Adult (Hal Clement Award) (1994), Garden State Book Award for Teen Fiction Grades 6-8 (1996), Buckeye Children’s Book Award for Grade 6-8 (1997), Grand Canyon Reader Award for Teen Book (1995), Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award for Grade 6-9 (1995), Golden Sower Award for Young Adult (1995), Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award for Grades 3-8 (1995), Soaring Eagle Book Award Nominee (1996), Pacific Northwest Library Association Young Reader’s Choice Award for Senior (1996), Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Nominee for Fiction (1993), New Mexico Land of Enchantment Award (1997), Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award (1997), William Allen White Children’s Book Award (1996), Wyoming Indian Paintbrush Nominee (1996), NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature Nominee (2013), Oklahoma Sequoyah Award for YA (1996), Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award (1996), Hea Lasteraamat (2010)

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Froggy Builds a Snowman
Jonathan London
Frank Remkiewicz, illustrator
January 7, 2020
Viking Books for Young Readers

Today is the Winter Carnival and Froggy is super excited as it’s his first time to attend. But once it begins, Froggy is doing everything out of order. Eventually he gets with the program and enjoys a full day of snowy fun with all his animal friends. The day ends on a very happy note, full of smiles. The artwork in this book was created with watercolor. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Froggy-Builds-a-Snowman-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Snow Much Fun!
Nancy Siscoe
Sabina Gibson, illustrator
October 29, 2019
Balzer + Bray

What really makes this book so fun is the artwork. It was created with photos of fabric animals, so it the 3D feel will be enticing to children. Berry, Ginger, and Willow are off to enjoy a snow day. They have a wonderful day sledding, ice-skating, building a snowman, and even making cookies. The following day they hang garlands, go skiing, and play some hockey. But before the day is over, they look outside and see new flurries beginning to fall — tomorrow will be another snow day! The artwork in this book was created with a mix of handmade props and photography. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Snow-Much-Fun-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Hello Ninja (Netflix original)
N. D. Wilson
Forrest Dickison, illustrator
October 15, 2019 (orig. 2013)
HarperCollins

With vivid greenery, an ocean of blue, fluffy white blizzards, and fancy castles with crowned cats, Ninjas are busy hopping, chopping, dancing, prancing, dodging, and spinning. But all good things must come to an end when Ninjas need a good night of sleep. The artwork in this book was created with photoshop. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Hello-Ninja-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Going Down Home With Daddy
Kelly Starling Lyons
Daniel Minter, illustrator
April 1, 2019
Peachtree Publishing Company

There’s no surprise that this book was a Caldecott Medal Nominee this past year. Stunning artwork will keep readers searching the page for context clues as the heartwarming text shares a story of the love of extended family. Reading this book is like being wrapped in a cozy-warm blanket as we read of road trips, hugs from Granny, an amazing dining room spread with so many comfort foods, going to church with family, family quilts, discussing history and ancestors, card games, and a final goodbye that leaves us hungering for the next family reunion. ❤

AWARDS: Caldecott Medal Nominee (2020)

The illustrations in this book were created in acrylic wash. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Going-Down-Home-With-Daddy-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Horse & Buggy Paint It Out!
Ethan Long
June 11, 2019
Holiday House

Horse and Buggy have very different approaches to painting. Horse doesn’t want a plan. He believes his artwork will materialize when it’s ready. Buggy, however, understands the importance of having a detailed plan of action before beginning. How will these two come to a mutual understanding? Or do they need to? The artwork in this book was created digitally. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Paint-It-Out-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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As Warm as the Sun
Kate McMullan
Jim McMullan, illustrator
August 13, 2019
Neal Porter Books

This lovely picture book is about a little French Bulldog named Toby who loves the warm spots in his home — the sunlight on the floor, the fireplace, the cozy lap of his owner. But one day a new little dog named Pinkie comes along and begins invading all his favorite spots. Toby hides in a cold corner all by himself until he learns that you can find warmth in a new friend. The artwork for this book was made with watercolor. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

As-Warm-As-The-Sun-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


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Scribble Stones
Diane Alber
March 12, 2019
Diane Alber Art LLC

About a year ago I reviewed Splatter by Diane Alber and Scribble Stones is a similarly cute book about a boring gray stone trying to find his purpose and meaning. Eventually he encounters splatters and scribbles and, in an effort to help them solve their problem, he becomes beautifully decorated. Soon, other stones are lining up to bring happiness and fun everywhere they go.

One reason I appreciated this book is because we have a special group in Chadron called Chadrocks. People decorate and hide stones all over town. Then they take photos of what they find or what they hide so that someone else can find it. Perhaps you have something similar in your town? It’s a fun day to brighten the community and share our experiences on social media!

The artist used liquid watercolor, gouache, and pencil crayons to create the illustrations for this book. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:

Scribble-Stones-SPREAD

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


To Be Read:

I’m just almost finished with my ARC of Micah McKinney and the Boys of Summer by Nina Chapman — it’s a really fun read! And I’m still working on Girls & Sex by Peggy Orenstein. It’s a lot to digest, but so very important (and eye-opening) for any parents of teens. I think I’ll start How to Walk Away by Katherine Center after enjoying Things You Save in a Fire over a month ago. And, as always, I also have a large stack of picture books to read this week. YAY!


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 107/200


What are YOU reading?