Author Archives: admin

Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog

Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog
by Lisa Papp
Peachtree Publishers

Madeline, of Madeline Finn and the Library Dog, learns about and visits an animal shelter.  She volunteers by rummaging their closet for old towels to donate. To help more, she collects towels from neighbors. But she wants to let the animals know they are loved and coordinates a “read to the shelter animals’ day”, like they have at the library.

An endearing story showing a child who made a difference in her world.

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Carter Reads the Newspaper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carter Reads the Newspaper
by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Don Tate
Peachtree Publishers, 2018

Carter Reads the Newspaper documents the history of Black History Month, beginning with two unknown figures.  Oliver Jones, a coal miner, and Carter G. Woodson, a former miner and, later, historian.

Oliver opened his home to other miners and provided them books written by African-Americans and newspapers from all over the world.  One of the people visiting his home was Carter, who had had some education and knew how to read.  He soon began reading to others.  When others asked questions about the news, Carter researched them and found the answers. After three years in the mines, he returned to school, graduating at age 20, eventually earning his Ph.D. in history from Harvard.  In 1926 he established Negro History Week, which later expanded into Black History Month.

Well documented story, with illustrations inspiring pride. The book also includes illustrations of 43 Black leaders and a bit about them.

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Step up to the Plate, Maria Singh

Step up to the Plate, Maria Singh
by Uma Krishnaswami
Tu Books, 2017

Set in Yolo County California in the 1940s. The top story features Maria Singh, a girl from a mixed marriage (India/Mexico) who loves baseball, but woven into the story are multiple subplots.  The rich layers include: a heartfelt story on how the family and community made up of different cultures support each other during important challenges, even when they may not normally support each other; old laws where people not from America can’t purchase their own land; interracial marriages are not allowed; and baseball for girls. It includes insights on women working during World War II when men were on the battlefields.

I heard Uma Krishnaswami speak at a picture book bootcamp and she gave a talk like no other I have heard.  I felt empowered to write.  She detailed several of her journeys to publication, sharing how the stories started, evolved and ended.   Insightful and meaningful.

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With Love, Grandma XOXO

With Love, Grandma XOXO
by Helen Foster James, illustrated by Petra Brown
Sleeping Bear Press, 2018

Between receiving letters from Grandma and the allure of attending Camp Grandma, this story hooked and reeled me in.

Grandma goes away on her own adventure, but sends notes to her grandson each week.  Each letter has a new greeting, from “Snickerdoodle,” to “Ahoy, Matey!” Each letter is filled with love and familiar phrases, such as “shwashbuckling adventures,” jokes and rhymes.  Tucked in here and there is education, like the meaning of “plein air”.  Each page is filled with activities Grandma will do when she returns.  Love flows on each page in both words and illustrations.  Because each greeting and each adventure are so unique, readers can’t wait to hear what comes next.  Perfect for the youngest readers-to-be.

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Eat Pete!

Eat Pete!
by Michael Rex
Nancy Paulsen Books, 2018

The illustrations and words in Eat Pete! dance together beautifully as readers follow a suspenseful path. We open with a monster with a one-track mind to “Eat Pete!”  When Pete meets the monster, he offers to play cars with him.  The monster really wants to eat Pete, but decides to play car because he never has before.  The moment they are done with cars, Pete suggests they play pirates. The monster had never played pirates before and agrees, though he’d much rather eat Pete. Pete stays one step ahead of the monster, until the monster does eat Pete!  The clever twist is that the monster is bored and spits Pete up, until he decides to….  You’ll have to read the surprise ending in this classic suspense.

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Rice from Heaven, The Secret Mission to Feed North Koreans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rice from Heaven, The Secret Mission to Feed North Koreans
by Tina Cho, illustrated by Keum Jin Song
Little Bee Books, 2018

A story based on a true event.

A group in South Korea organize to send balloons carrying rice across the border to South Korea in the hopes that the families will receive the rice.  The people in North Korea are starving and their government does nothing.  Some who help send the rice, are from South Korea and know starvation.  When some children cry, “They are the enemy,” the story’s hero declares the children are eating grass and bark for they have no food. Understanding, the opposing children join in the effort.  Launched under the cover of darkness, the rice must fly 118 miles and not be noticed by North Korean soldiers.  Six pages of backmatter introduces Korea and what is taking place there today. This book is ideal for discussion to supplement what children are hearing in today’s news.

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Holes in the Sky

Holes in the Sky
by Patricia Polacco
G.P.Putnam’s Sons

A story that will stay in the heart long after it’s read.

It opens with a Patricia, her brother, and their babushka laying in a field at night, staring up at the stars. Their grandmother knows her end is near and shares how the stars are holes in the sky where she can look down on them when she is gone.  Their babushka passes, the farm is sold and they move to California. There, Patricia looks for a sign that babushka is watching over her, but finds none. A new life begins, with new people, and new challenges, but she can’t see the sign that babushka is watching over her…until she does, and sees her babushka was there all along.

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Vincent Comes Home

Vincent Comes Home
by Jessixa Bagley, illustrated by Aaron Bagley
Roaring Book Press, 2018

Vincent, the ship’s cat, has a difficult time understanding this place everyone called ‘home’. The Captain and mates raved about it, but Vincent doesn’t understand.  After many months at sea, the ship arrives at home port and, for the first time in his life, Vincent went on land.  He followed his shipmates and learned what home meant and why it was so special.  But then he realized he didn’t have a home, until…

A heart-warming story ideal for new explorers, complete with illustrations of a ship’s galley, cargo, and ports of call.

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What Do You Do with a Chance?

What Do You Do with a Chance?
by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom
Compendium Inc, 2017

Another thoughtful and inspiring book by Kobi Yamada and Mae Besom.  Filled with a boy’s gentle self-reflections and illustrated in loose drawings that fill out the story, this is a book that inspires both children and adults.

One day a young boy saw “a chance” flutter by and he wondered what to do. He wanted to grab it, but was unsure and it flew away.  The next time a chance showed up, he still wasn’t sure, but reached for it any way.  He missed it and fell, and others laughed at him.  Embarrassed, he decided never to reach for another chance. Soon he noticed he never saw any more chances. In time, he decides he can be brave for only a short time to take the chance.

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Perfect

Perfect
by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Cathy Fisher
Graffeg, 2017
Originally published in Wales.

A tender story of a boy who finds he cannot love his baby sister when she arrives and his struggle to find his way to do so.

Another rich, moving story by Nicola Davies.  We learn about the boy through his love of swifts nested in the roof above his attic bedroom.  He’s a deep, caring boy.  He imagined  “racing and chasing, screaming with laughter and delight” with his baby sister when she came home, but, instead she lay quite still. Sad, he went outside, alone, and cried for his loss.  All summer long he couldn’t love his sister, no matter how hard he tried. He found solace in watching the swifts.

Then one day he found a baby swift on the ground. He picked it up and stretched out its wings and legs.  “Perhaps, I thought, it only needs a little help.”  He took it to his attic room and lifted it to the sky and it flew away.  He turned to his sister’s crib and thought, “Perhaps, … she only needs a little help.”  He picked her up, went outside to lay on the grass and told her of all his dreams of them together.

The illustrations show the emotions surrounding each scene: outside, inside, in his dreams.  In this dark time for the boy, blackness shrouds many pages of soft colors depicting his emotions.  Beautiful images.

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