• Geraldine

    by Elizabeth Lilly
    A Neal Porter Book, 2018

    Geraldine moves to a new school where she is the only giraffe and is soon known as “That Giraffe Girl.”  At her old school she was ‘Geraldine”, but here she is “That Giraffe Girl.”  Feeling left out, she hides behind a tree, sort of.  One day another girl sits in Geraldine’s tree spot. The new girl, Cassie, is defensive as everyone calls her names because she’s smart, likes math and organizes her food.  Soon they start playing together, and like it.  One day Geraldine drags Cassie to the lunch table and introduces her as someone who can stay in a handstand for 167 seconds.  The other kids are impressed.  Cassie introduces Geraldine as the Queen of England. The kids are quiet, until Geraldine gives them her most queenly royal wave, and they all laugh.

    A beautifully written book that provides a role model showing the importance of being one’s self even when you move to a new school.  I suspect more Geraldine books will soon turn up.

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  • Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise












    Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise
    by Sean Taylor, Illustrated by Jean Jullien
    Candlewick Press, 2015

    This humorous mystery book keeps the pages turning!

    Hoot Owl disguises himself in costumes to sneak up on his prey.  He is not deterred when the rabbit hops away from his carrot disguise.  He immediately locates his next victim and cleverly creates his next disguise.  But lo, his victims never end up in his tummy, until the last one!  This g rated ending provides a humorous, satisfying conclusion.

    With creative descriptions, tension and repetitive phrases, young readers will want to read this clever story again and again.

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  • The Day You Begin












    The Day You Begin
    by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael Lopez
    Nancy Paulsen Books, 2018

    Jacqueline Woodson writes a deeply felt book on diversity as only she can.

    Told in second person, the books speaks frankly to its readers about how “no one … is quite like you.”  She shares many ways in which everyone is different from everyone else.  She shows how her summer story of reading books to her sister can be just as wonderful as everyone else’s stories of summer travel.  And it shows how even when you are excluded from teams and play, how you still have “your own brave self”.  It ends with, “every … friend has something a little like you—and something else so fabulously not quite like you…”  A book that speaks to the heart and gently enlightens and empowers the soul and imagination into a world of acceptance of differences.  Beautiful story.

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  • Winter Dance

    Winter Dance
    by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Richard Jones
    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017

    Written in a poetic voice, a fine red fox introduces young readers to how winter creatures survive winter.

    When the first snowflake falls from the sky, fine red fox wonders what he should do.  From the woolly caterpillar soon-to-be butterfly, from turtles who bury themselves in the mud, and from the snowshoe hare who turns white, fox is given solutions.  Each time, fox declares, “That won’t do for me.”   What will he do?  As the snow gently turns the land white, another fox joins him and they dance, what foxes do in nature!  A gentle story about animals and how they adapt to winter.  Illustrated in soft, winter colors and the bold orange for the fox, the artist shows the curious fox study each suggestion to see how he might use it.  Endearing illustrations.

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  • Hush Hush, Forest

    Hush Hush, Forest
    by Mary Casanova, woodcuts by Nick Wroblewski
    University of Minnesota Press, 2018

    Award-winning author, Mary Casanova, brings readers another story that introduces young readers to nature. Hush Hush, Forest introduces late-fall moving into winter where animals prepare for the cold.  Rich with forest animals preparing for winter, parent and child can discuss the season’s changes and how animals adapt.  She also sprinkles in other changes, including lengthening shadows, hummingbirds that fly to warmer breezes, and the colorful Northern lights.  The woodcuts give the story a rustic, down-home ambiance to comfort tired souls. Written in a gentle lyrical voice, it is perfect for bedtime.

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  • Rock What Ya Got

    Rock What Ya Got
    by Samantha Berger, illustrated by Kerascoet
    Little, Brown and Company

    I’m usually not a huge fan of obvious “love” type books, but this one was fun!  It opens with, “Once upon a blank piece of paper, where anything could happen…” and wraps into a ‘fairy tale’ the anticipation of wonder.  Then we meet Viva, a girl an artist had sketched.  The artist is not happy with what she drew, so she attempts to change the drawing, but Viva keeps saying, “Rock what ya got and rock it a lot…..”.  The bouncy rhyme repeats itself, allowing readers to eventually ‘sing along’ with Viva.

    With loose, color-splashy illustrations we watch Viva’s emotions of dislike and joy and we dance/sing at the turn of each page.  A book readers may want to dance and sing out loud!  Delightful to the heart.

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  • Samurai Santa, A Very Ninja Christmas










    Samurai Santa, A Very Ninja Christmas
    by Rubin Pingk
    Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2015

    A super-active, tall tale for the holidays.

    On Christmas Eve Yukio dressed for snow and decided the snowfall was perfect and he needed to have an EPIC snowball fight.  He checked with his other ninja friends, but they knew Santa was on his way and they had to remain good.  Yukio decided Santa must be chased away!

    He set up an ambush.  When Santa appeared, Yukio banged the loudest gong and shouted “Intruder!”  The sleepy ninjas chased the bright red intruder, wondering who he was.  They looked everywhere but could not find him.  Suddenly an army of snowmen and a samurai yelled, “Banzai!” and the ninjas and snowmen clashed.  It was Epic!  But when the tired ninjas returned home, they blamed Yukio for chasing Santa away.  A wonderful surprise ending follows.

    In black, white, red and grays, this barely looks like a traditional Christmas story, but super active—and especially ninja—youngsters will love the turns and twists in this tall tale.

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  • Countdown, 2979 Days to the Moon












    Countdown, 2979 Days to the Moon
    by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez
    Peachtree Publishers, 2018

    For readers interested in space, Countdown, documents the Apollo Project whose mission was to land a man on the moon and bring him back by the end of the 1960’s.  At the time is was an outrageous dream.  Two countries, the U.S. and the Soviet Union, dared to chase it.

    The Apollo team had to design, build and test four new crafts: the command module, to carry the crew to the moon and back; the service module, to provide electricity, oxygen, and other supplies; the lunar module, that will land on the moon and provide a home there; and the Saturn rocket, to launch the entire mission into space.

    Countdown, an oversized book filled with pictures of the dreamers, space and the technologies, captures the thrill, the tension, and the seemingly impossibility of the Apollo Project. It’s well written, well documented and may well inspire new astronauts and scientists.  A perfect gift for the holidays.

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  • 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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