Monthly Archives: March 2018

Shelter

Shelter
by Celine Claire and Qin Leng
Kids Can Press
Originally published in France.

Forest animals wake to approaching storm and they race to prepare.  Little Fox worried if all animals are safe. A cold father and son bear approach warm homes, but no one offers help.  But Little Fox comes out and offers them a lamp.  The bears use it to light their handmade shelter of snow.  Then the roof begins to collapse in the foxes’ den and the family scurries out.  When they see the bear’s lantern light, they ask for shelter and are generously squeezed in.  A strong, quiet story rendered in pen and ink and water color.

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Shaking Things Up, 14 Young Women Who Changed the World

Shaking Things Up, 14 Young Women Who Changed the World
by Susan Hood
HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2018

More and more books about women in history who made a difference are appearing on the market in time for National Women’s History month. This book selects women from the 1700’s through 2014, and women from the US and around the world.

Beginning with Molly Williams, who was named an official fire fighter near the time of the American Revolution, to 13 year old Mary Anning who unearthed the first ichthyosaur skeleton, to 21 year old Maya Lin who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. In each story snippet, we learn the background, what the women went through to achieve their success and how their success made a difference in their world at their time.  To add to the beauty and uniqueness of the book, each story is written in a poetic form: rhyme, open verse, acrostic, and many more.  Readers learn history and poetry simultaneously, while being inspired by (often) little known stories.

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A Different Pond

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Different Pond
by Bao Phi, illustrated by Thi Bui
Capstone Young Readers, 2017
2018 Caldecott Honor Book

A touching story of a Vietnamese refugee and his family surviving in America.  Working two jobs, he also takes his son fishing to ensure they have dinner. Written in brief, poetic snippets, the reader learns of how it felt to have been in the war and how it feels to speak with a heavy accent:

A kid at my school said
my dad’s English sounds like
a thick, dirty river.

But to me his English
sounds like gentle rain.

When the boy wants to help, but feels uncomfortable hooking a minnow, the dad smiles and respects his son’s decision. A poignant glimpse inside a refugee’s family’s experience.  Backmatter provides more details on the family’s entry into America.

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Malala’s Magic Pencil

Malala’s Magic Pencil
by Malala Yousafzai, illustrated by Kerascoet
Little, Brown and Company, 2017

An inspiring book written by its featured hero, who later became a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Inspired by her writing talent, Malala dreams of what she can do with a magic pencil.  She learns other girls and boys scour the dump for valuables they can use to buy food to eat.  This causes her to think about freedom, especially about going to school. She knows girls in her country are limited in their education, as well as in their dreams and aspirations.

Then the limitations hit Malala directly. While she works hard in school to reach her dreams, dangerous men with weapons enter her city and declare girls are forbidden from attending school. She writes what it is like to be scared to walk to school and how her friends had moved away because of the dangers.   “My voice became so powerful that the dangerous men tried to silence me.  But the they failed.” Malala left her country, but still campaigns for education, including for women.

The art is exquisite, done with ink and watercolor, using gold to represent Malala’s dreams. This voice isn’t going away; a great introduction to contemporary world issues.

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Islandborn

Islandborn
by Junot Diaz, illustrated by Leo Espinosa
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2018 – march 2018

Lola’s problem becomes the reader’s problem and Lola’s delight becomes the reader’s delight in Islandborn.

Lola’s school assignment is to draw a picture of her original country, but Lola left as a baby and does not remember her country. Then she decides she can ask her family and neighbors who were all from the island.  Each person has one thing they remember best, from blanket bats to poetry on the beaches and even a great monster and the brave female heroes who stopped the monster. She works on her drawings all evening.

Each page is filled with moving colors showing what everyone remembers best: music, dancing, favorite foods, the sea life, … Bravely, the story includes the monsters, the reason why everyone left their island and tells of the brave women who battled the monster and sent the monster away.  A beautiful, honest, heart-warming, and fun story. A wonderful way to introduce discussions of immigrants, for both immigrants and native-born.

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Rodeo Red

Rodeo Red
by Maripat Perkins, illustrated by Molly Idle
Peachtree Publishers, 2015

Take yourself out on the ranch with Rodeo Red.  This perfect read-aloud is fun-fun-fun to share.

Rodeo Red and her best friend Rusty were “happier than two buttons on a new shirt…until Sideswiping Slim showed up.” (baby brother) She knew right away he was trouble, but the Sheriff and her Deputy seemed smitten.  As the months wore on, Slim started moving into her territory and then he stole ole’ Rusty!  When she tried to remove Rusty from Slim’s clutches, Rodeo Red is the one to get into trouble!  Fortunately, City Slicker Aunt Sal sent a sissified simpleton (white stuffed cat) and Red knew she had her answer.

Red’s voice carries this story and combined with soft pastels showing lots of expression, this book will want to be read again and again.

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