Category Archives: Ages 4-8

Mother Ghost: Nursery Rhymes for Little Monsters

Mother Ghost: Nursery Rhymes for Little Monsters 
by Rachel Kolar, illustrated by Roland Garrigue
Sleeping Bear Press

This brilliant collection of nursery rhymes for young Halloween readers will keep pages turning and laughter rolling.  In What Are Little Bats Made Of?, readers explore what little bats and little ghouls are made of.  Little imaginations will run wild in Mary Had a Little Ghost and run creepy in Zombie Miss Muffet.  But what happens in Sing a Song of Witches, when the blackbirds attack the witch?

Geared for the youngest readers, humor is woven in with the spooky, as in Mary, Mary, Tall and Scary:

Mary, Mary, tall and scary,
How does your graveyard grow?
With buried bones and carved gray stones
And little ghosts all in a row.

Illustrations are done in night darks and spooky purples to support the scary poem re-writes.  They often tell another story beyond the re-written one, as when the dog in Old Mother Hubbard hilariously runs away with arm and hand bones.

Those who love scary Halloweens will love Mother Ghost.

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I’m Sad

I’m Sad
by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018

An engaging story of a sad flamingo that voice a child’s many concerns about being sad, with a spunky girl who speaks clearly on how being sad is just part of life.  The third character, a potato, inserts humor throughout the story and sets up the surprise ending.  If sadness exists in a little one’s life, this book will help explain it and accept it.  It might be the child sees your sadness or a friend’s sadness.  With few words and expressive characters, even the youngest readers will learn from this thoughtful rendering.

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Drawn Together

Drawn Together
by Mihn Le, illustrated by Dan Santat
Disney Hyperion, 2018

A boy visits his grandfather and they sit in silence, as one speaks Vietnamese and the other English.  Finally, the boy pulls out his art materials and creates a superhero figure.  Grandfather sees what he is doing and next to the boy’s caped superhero emblazoned in color, grandfathers creates a detailed black ink drawing of a Vietnamese warrior. Suddenly they communicate—through their art.  Each one’s imagination adds to the other, the boys in color, the grandfathers in black ink. They create their new world, building a closeness, until… that old distance comes between them. But, having bridged their gap, they find a way to love one another.

A beautiful story of a relationship built on mutually shared gifts.  Santat’s breathtaking, detailed art flushes out Le’s story bringing a compounded richness to each page.

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Julian is a Mermaid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julian is a Mermaid
by Jessica Love
Candlewick Press, 2018

A loving story of accepting our differences.

When Julian sees other mermaids, he falls in love with them and dreams of being one.  When he dresses up as one, his abuela is at first surprised, but offers him a necklace and they leave for a surprise.  They go for a walk to the beach … where Julian can wear his mermaid costume with other mermaids.

Abuela shows complete acceptance for the Julian’s unusual preferences and supports his dreams.  Illustrations provide creative, colorful seaside costumes. A wonderfully, warm story.

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Ebenezer Has a Word for Everything

Ebenezer Has a Word for Everything
by Chelsea H. Rowe, illustrated by Frank Dormer
Peachtree Publishers, 2018

After a few slow pages of listing words, the story picked up when Ebenezer opened up a “word” stand (he couldn’t give away words), bought a goldfish named Arty (short for Carassius uratus) and went on a catastrophic field trip (where everything that could go wrong, did).  Then he met Fitzgerald.  He had a collection of ideas.  Soon, Ebenezer provided words for Fitzgerald’s ideas and the two became inseparable, like Q and U. They made up stories and acted them out on the playground. Everyone loved them.  Ebenezer and Fitzgerald were the best of friends.

Word lovers will love the story, and those that want to expand their vocabulary will be introduced to thirty new words, with definitions after the story.

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Prince and Knight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prince and Knight
by Daniel Haack, illustrated by Stevie Lewis
Little Bee Books, 2018

A modern day ‘they lived happily ever after’ story of the prince and his groom.

Told in engaging rhyme readers meet a prince whose parents are getting older and are concerned the prince needs to find a worthy bride. They search the kingdom, but the prince learns ‘he was singing a different tune.”  One day a dragon attacked the kingdom, even the soldiers ran away, but the prince faced the dragon alone, until a knight in shiny armor appeared. Together they capture the dragon and know they are for each other. The villagers, king and queen all celebrate the prince’s joy.

A beautiful story with adventure and romance.

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A House that Once Was

A House that Once Was
by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Lane Smith
Roaring Book Press, 2018

The title promises a trip back in time, a mystery, and that’s exactly what’s delivered in this story poem tale with its mystical, magical illustrations.

We’re invited into an old house and on each page, we learn a few more things about the house, on a hill.  All the items of the last owner are still in their place, as told my favorite line:

Who was this someone
who left without packing
someone who’s gone
but is still everywhere?

Two children are the house explorers, but not the main characters.  The illustrations feature the main character, the house and all its contents.  Readers learn much from a yellow mustard jar, an artist’s palate, and photos on the wall. The author draws us into the story when she wonders who may have lived there, and where they may have gone.  After what must have been several hours, the children return home and the illustrations show they returned with a few treasures.

This is the kind of story poem that takes readers to a special place and will entice readers to return into the story’s feeling again and again.

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The Water Walker

The Water Walker
by Joanne Robertson
Second Story Press, 2017

Based on a true story that began in 2003, Nokomis (Ojibwe tribe in Ontario Canada) loved water and one day had a dream telling her that water will one day be more valuable than gold if we didn’t take care of it.  In her dream she was asked what she would do.  She and three friends formed the Mother Earth Water Walkers and set off to walk around the entire great lakes to get the public’s attention on water conservation. During 2015 she put nearly 4,500,000 footsteps on her sneakers.

Told simply, and using Ojibwe words throughout, I found this story inspiring, that one person in simple ways can bring attention to a public need.

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I am a Cat

I am a Cat
by Galia Bernstein
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2018

A gray tabby cat, Simon, introduces himself to a roomful of large cats—think lions, tigers, leopards, panthers, etc.—and claims he is just like them. The large cats, of course, find that hilarious and laugh at Simon.  Each large cat introduces himself and what makes him distinctive. Simon challenges them how they can all be the same, when they each are different, and the large cats list off what they have in common and Simon quickly responds, “I have all of those things.  Only smaller.”  Find out how Simon gets them to agree they are all cats.

A hilarious read that introduces young readers to the world of large and small cats.

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Rescue and Jessica, A Life-Changing Friendship

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rescue and Jessica, A Life-Changing Friendship
by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, illustrated by Scott Magoon
Candlewick Press, 2018

Jessica, the hero in the story, writes of her and her service dog’s journey together.

In the opening scene, Rescue learns he is not meant to be a Seeing Eye dog, but he would be great as a service dog.  He’s disappointed. Meanwhile Jessica has her left leg amputated, which changes her whole life.  Rescue learns all the commands to be a service dog and Jessica learns to walk with a prosthetic leg. When Jessica decides to get a service dog, Rescue graduates from training and they get each other.  Love at first sight, they do everything together.

Readers follow both Jessica, as she learns to cope with her new disability, and Rescue, as he learns to help others.

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