Summer ’17 Children’s Books

Hattie & Hudson by Chris Van Dusen

This eloquent, evocative book about compassion is perfect for sparking discussions on      prejudice. A sensational choice for a seasonal storytime. (School Library Journal)

Be Quiet by Ryan Higgins

This hilarious and fun read-aloud will be a hit at any story time. Kids will be laughing out loud. (School Library Journal)

Little Pig Saves the Ship by David Hyde Costello

The story will be a familiar one to any young reader who feels too small to join in with older siblings or peers, and offers an empowering message of learning to overcome one’s small stature. (School Library Journal)

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Drywalt

Laugh-out-loud funny and outrageous at times, this read-aloud will have listeners jumping out of their seats. This is the sort of story that makes children love to read.

The Fearless Traveler’s Guide to Wicked Places by Pete Begler

Twelve-year-old Nell Perkins lives in the small town of Mist Falls with her mother, Rose, and her brothers, George and Speedy. A dark cloud filled with evil witches sucks Rose up, and Nell and her brother’s team up with local resident Duke Badger following the cloud into the Dreamlands, the wondrous and horrific realm of all dreams. (School Library Journal)

The Great Treehouse War by Lisa Graff

It’s kids vs. parents in epic fashion, and Graff’s not-quite-fantasy world is every kid’s dream. All of the frustrations young people feel with their parents during a divorce are hilariously hyperbolized in a way that will make children feel vindicated and less alone. The epistolary format allows readers to get to know all of the characters through creative footnotes, sticky notes, newspaper articles, emails, and tiny drawings. Graff’s whimsical, original work is a breath of fresh air.  (School Library Journal)

The Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts by Avi

Wakening to a terrible storm, 12-year-old Oliver Cromwell Pitts finds his English seaside house flooded and his lawyer father gone off to London, leaving the child bereft, penniless, and facing the unsavory possibility of being remanded to the children’s poorhouse. Alas, that is exactly what happens. Happily, circumstances and quick wits allow him to flee the dreadful place, but, his life now in danger, he must escape to London. But how? Because of  his flight and the  fact that he has, er, borrowed some money, he’s wanted by the  authorities and must travel secretly, and the  road to the  capital is long and fraught with danger—there will be no relying on the kindness of  strangers. Will he find his way to London? This story is filled with suspense, surprises, and ultimately satisfaction. (School Library Journal)

Fairy Floss: The Sweet Story of Cotton Candy by Ann Ingalls

When Lillie and her aunt finally get to the World’s Fair, they take in all the sights, including a dazzling array of newfangled gadgets, and when they finally get to John and William’s kiosk, Lillie gets to make a batch of fairy floss herself. Ingalls’ story , centered on the  modernization of cotton candy , is well matched by Blanco’s colorful, whimsical, full-page 1904 World’s Fair scenes, which pack in plenty of  period detail, including clothing, transportation, and images of the  historic exhibits. Have cotton candy ready as a follow-up to this dip into the history of a well-loved amusement-park treat. (Booklist)

Ginni Nichols, Children’s Librarian

Fall Is In The Air!

The days are getting shorter and cooler, and fall is definitely in the air.  Leaves are turning shades of yellow, orange, and red, carpeting the ground and changing the landscape.  It’s easy to fall in love with fall and its beautiful colors! Following are some books to share with children about this beautiful season.

This book shows the transition from summer to fall as a young girl and her dog walk through the woods and through town, noticing the changes as one season slowly becomes the next.  The illustrations are beautifully done.
 Wonderfall by Michael Hall
The title alone—Wonderfall—is a good indication of what is to come in this collection of poems about autumn. By substituting –fall for–ful, as in “Beautifall” and “Plentifall,” the author introduces the changing season through poems and digital art that looks like cut-off paper collages.
 Awesome Autumn by Bruce Goldstone
This awesome book is packed with information, fun facts, and scientific explanations about the season.  Illustrated with colorful photos and photo collages, it’s a great way to learn about fall.  Also included is a list of fall activities and craft projects.
Sarah Duffy, Library Assistant

New Children’s Books for October

Picture books
/* Starred Review */ PreS-Gr 2—This worthy successor to Little Mouse’s Big Book of  Fears is another of  Gravett’s comic, inventive marvels. Little  Mouse finds certain creatures worrisome. How can the rodent make them less scary? Using a paint set, paper, magazine cut-outs, and origami folds and doing some serious editorializing, Mouse tries to calm the ferocious “original” illustrations. In the section on lions, a handwritten Post-it note reads: “How to make this page less scary. 1) Remove roar. 2) Cover claws. 3) Turn the page.” The growling, pouncing lion’s mane has been watercolored, and his toothy jaw has been fastened with a tab labeled “shhhhhh.” A decoupage of  red mittens has been glued over his feet. Each animal spread is accompanied by a short poem, and in the lion’s case, the last word is ROAR! But Little  Mouse has clipped the word from the page and relocated it to the beast’s  own mouth. Like its predecessor, this book  is not designed to be read aloud to groups but rather is a leisurely exploration of  Gravett’s, or one mouse’s , ingenuity: the crocodile’s mouth can’t close because of  a tall toothbrush someone placed between its jaws; the rhino’s stampeding pace is slowed by dainty shoes. Little  Mouse uses a paintbrush and an ad for a bouncy chair to launch through a hole in one page, thereby escaping three irate bears. Pages are torn, munched, and folded. Origami instruction booklets and wasp-battling newspapers spring out at readers. VERDICT Colorful, clever, and wonderfully witty, this interactive volume will provide entertainment and artistic inspiration, not to mention therapeutic methods, to children of  a variety of  ages.—Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY –Susan Weitz (Reviewed 10/01/2016) (School Library Journal, vol 62, issue 10, p76)
Duck on a Tractor by David Shannon
/* Starred Review */ PreS-Gr 2—A  daring duck  gets the wild idea to ride an unattended bike down on  the farm in Shannon’s Duck on a  Bike. At the very end of that now classic storytime title, the mischievous drake spies a tractor , thereby setting the stage for this delightful follow-up. Duck  decides to drive the massive red vehicle into town, with his fellow barnyard pals piled comically on  top. As they roll down the main road and past the local diner, the townsfolk exclaim in wonder, disbelief, and concern. Following the pattern of the first book , each character says one thing but thinks something else (“Deputy Bob blabbered, ‘If that don’t beat all!’ But what he thought was, ‘How am I gonna explain this to the sheriff?’ ”). Careful observers may notice some striking similarities between the human residents and the farm animals. The folksy dialogue and repetition make this ideal for reading aloud. It’s Shannon’s painterly and exuberant artwork, however, that steals the show. Characters’ exaggerated facial expressions and body language will keep kids giggling, while dynamic compositions and changing points of view add to the pitch-perfect comedic timing. VERDICT An energetic, laugh-out-loud tale that’s a  worthy companion to Duck’s  first big adventure.—Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal –Kiera Parrott (Reviewed 06/01/2016) (School Library Journal, vol 62, issue 6, p84)
StoryWorlds Nature by Thomas Hegbrook
/* Starred Review */ PreS-Gr 2—Simple narratives about animals and nature  unfold through artwork in this refreshingly open-ended work. The book begins with an invitation: “Every picture tells a story. What do you think that story is?” One hundred wordless illustrations are presented for children to examine, interpret, and discuss. From a snake shedding its skin to a baby koala climbing out of his mother’s pouch and onto her back, the scenes celebrate the beauty and mystery of nature . Full-page spreads interspersed with vertical and horizontal panels add variety to this sturdy oversize volume. The rich, jewel-tone illustrations are large and bright, ideal for sharing with a group but intricate enough to encourage individual pondering. In the back, Hegbrook offers his own explanation for each scene alongside thumbnails of the illustrations, so readers can check their own interpretations against the author’s intentions and learn more about the creatures represented. Overall, the book is conducive to building a sense of wonder and appreciation for nature , while encouraging the development of narrative and critical thinking skills. VERDICT This visually sumptuous volume will be a valuable addition to any library’s collection of quality artistic nonfiction.—Suzanne LaPierre, Fairfax County Public Library, VA –Suzanne LaPierre (Reviewed 08/01/2016) (School Library Journal, vol 62, issue 8, p122)
Bella’s Fall Coat by Lynn Plourde
/* Starred Review */ An exuberant girl leaps into the joys of seasonal change with her loving grandmother. Bella is growing, but she wants things to last forever, such as the crunchy autumn leaves, the geese that fill the sky, and especially her beloved old coat . Whenever Grams kindly mentions the need for a new coat , there’s a “WHOOSH,” “WHIZZ,” or “ZOOM” as the ruddy-complexioned child sprints out the door to play in the natural world. Each trip outside brings delight; each return, the opportunity to bond with Grams. Plourde’s lovely text about the ephemeral nature of objects and seasons—and the lasting love of family—is beautifully realized by Gal’s expressive, digital collage illustrations. Vibrant and spontaneous, they recall Keats and Isadora. Cleverly, she contrasts the cool blue tones of the girl’s outfit against the autumn-colored orange of fall , then flops the contrast as the seasons change. Bella’s  joie de vivre emanates from the page, her wavy, often wild, blue-black hair a perfect extension of its vivacious owner. But Gal also captures the tender, quiet moments: Grams asleep under the warm glow of a lamp, the new coat  she’s made in her lap, and the loving twosome walking hand in hand under a pink, purple dusky sky. Adults may feel nostalgia over seasons past—and young readers will be introduced to the enticing lure of autumn and the joys of sharing it with someone they love. (Picture book. 3-5)(Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2016)
/* Starred Review */ PreS-Gr 2—Longtime fans and newbies alike will enjoy Otis the tractor’s latest adventure. It’s a particularly hot and dry summer in the valley. Otis and his animal friends work hard on the farm, but they still have time for their favorite game, tug-of-war. Their tugging skills save the day when Otis is trapped in a burning barn while rescuing a litter of helpless, big-eyed kittens. As always, perseverance, teamwork, and a heart of gold pay off for Otis and his friends. When read aloud, the text flows off the tongue with sounds (“putt puff putted chuff”) and words (“The floor collapsed and Otis plunged to the darkness below”) that extend the imagery created in the attractive gouache and pencil illustrations. The compositions make great use of perspective and motion and are expertly laid out to pull the eye to the important characters and action. The painterly images use a nostalgic palette of grays, creamy yellows, rusty oranges, and Otis’s signature tractor red. There are wonderful textured details (scratchy straw, smooth chrome) that bring the story to life. VERDICT This first purchase is the perfect lapsit read-aloud, combining the ever-popular subjects of tractors, farm animals, and firefighters.—Amy Seto Forrester, Denver Public Library –Amy Seto Forrester (Reviewed 09/01/2016) (School Library Journal, vol 62, issue 9, p127)
Leave Me Alone by Vera Brosgol
/* Starred Review */ Graphic novelist Brosgol’s (Anya’s Ghost) first picture book opens in a traditional folk tale setting as a Russian grandmother in a tiny cottage struggles to finish her winter knitting. She has dozens of grandchildren, and they swarm all over her yarn: “Her grandchildren were very curious about her knitting…. Could you eat it? Could you make your brother eat it?” Brosgol’s cartooning delivers laughs throughout; here, a girl in a kerchief stuffs a ball of yarn into a baby’s mouth as three boys chase another ball with sticks. Fed up, the old woman takes off (after cleaning the house thoroughly, of course), bellowing, “Leave me alone !” The cry is repeated in the forest, in the mountains, and even on the moon, where aliens inspect her “with handheld scanners that went ‘beep boop.’ ” She finds peace at last in the black void on the other side of a wormhole, where she finishes her knitting. The fizzy collision of old-fashioned fairy tale elements with space-age physics is delightful, and even the most extroverted readers will recognize that sometimes you just need a little space. Ages 4–7. Agent: Judith Hansen, Hansen Literary. (Sept.) –Staff (Reviewed 06/20/2016) (Publishers Weekly, vol 263, issue 25, p)
Graphic Novels
Ghosts by Raina Telegmeier
/* Starred Review */ Gr 4–8—Catrina and her family have just moved to Northern California. Bahía de la Luna is different from Cat’s hometown—for one thing, everyone is obsessed with ghosts —but the sea air makes it easier for Cat’s younger sister, Maya, who has cystic fibrosis (CF), to breathe. Carlos, a new friend and neighbor, introduces the girls to a different perspective on the spiritual world. Ghosts , he says, aren’t frightening; they’re the spirits of loved ones. Cat has her doubts—especially after a ghostly encounter puts Maya in the hospital—but as Day of the Dead celebrations draw closer, she starts to reconsider. Readers will relate to these realistically flawed characters. Maya is frank about her illness and optimistic despite her awareness that her prognosis is poor, while Cat struggles, feeling intensely protective of her sister, anxious about her illness, and resentful about the limitations that Maya’s condition places upon the whole family. Themes such as the sibling bond, death, and culture are expertly woven throughout. As Cat comes to terms with the existence of ghosts , she also navigates her background (her father is white, while her mother is Mexican). Telgemeier employs the cheerful cartoon artwork that fans of Smile, Drama, and Sisters know and love, but her palette is more muted in places, fitting the book’s somewhat serious and somber themes. VERDICT A can’t-miss addition to middle grade graphic novel shelves; hand to fans of the author and newcomers alike.—Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal –Mahnaz Dar (Reviewed 06/01/2016) (School Library Journal, vol 62, issue 6, p100)
Compass South by Hope Larson
/* Starred Review */ Gr 4–8—In this fast-paced, high-energy tale, 12-year-old twins Alex and Cleo Dodge find adventure—and trouble—as they search for their father and, at times, each other. The siblings join the Black Hook Gang, but Alex is soon arrested for stealing. The twins leave town, yet there’s still more excitement to come. Has the key to finding a lost pirate treasure been in their possession all along? Set in 1860, the story includes stops in Manhattan, New Orleans, and even a pirate ship on the high seas. Larson, best known for her graphic novel adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, weaves a wonderful, vivid story, assisted beautifully by Mock’s illustrations, which take the twins from murky back alleys to bright and vibrant ocean scenes. VERDICT A charming choice for elementary and middle school library graphic novel collections.—John Trischitti, Midland County Public Libraries, TX –John Trischitti (Reviewed 06/01/2016) (School Library Journal, vol 62, issue 6, p100)
Chapter Books
“My dog, Maxi, dies,” warns Timminy at the start of this friendship tale set in small-town Maine. After preparing readers for the inevitable, the white boy comforts them (and himself) with memories of how Maxi—a huge, deaf Great Pyrenees—helped him to make friends and cope with a bully after starting middle school in a new town as a “shrimpy kid.” Walking with Maxi, he meets Abby: the “blindest” and “blackest” kid in school, who has no patience for his troubles. The old trope of sassy disabled and/or black characters dispensing tough love is mitigated here by explanations of blindness and “blind talk”: funny, surprising, and gross ways to describe particular qualities of what Abby can’t see. Maxi—”a marshmallow in the middle of a big bowl of broccoli”—ultimately reveals similar qualities in her humans, finally coaxing sympathy from  Abby and exposing a bully Timminy calls “the Beast of the East” as a nice guy, while Timminy learns to laugh at himself. Maxi’s death may prompt a few sniffles, but Timminy’s coping strategies could help readers dealing with the loss of a pet. A short subplot mentions MIRA, a real organization that provides guide dogs to kids. Each chapter is summarized by a “secret”: an aphorism that applies to life in general. Though purposive, this earnest boy-and-his-dog tale makes a strong case for Secret No. 11: “There’s nothing so bad in the world that dog kisses won’t make it better.” (Fiction. 9-12)(Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2016)
Catching a Storyfishby Janice N. Harrington
/* Starred Review */ Gr 4–7—Keet, a  girl from Alabama, loves language and storytelling, but her family’s move to Illinois makes her feel silenced. Comfort comes through a  budding friendship with Allegra, her Latina classmate and neighbor, and through fishing with her beloved grandfather. “To catch a  fish,” he tells her, “You’ve got to sit quiet and hold still/You’ve got to listen, really listen/with your inside ears.” Like Nikki Grimes does in Words with Wings, Harrington perfectly captures her character’s growth by using all the tools poetry provides: artfully chosen words, thought-provoking metaphors, appropriate rhythm and pacing, and changing points of view. Some poems give voice to other characters. Harrington also includes various poetic forms and a  postscript offering additional information about each of them: an unusual addition for a  title of this format. There is very little to identify the social or racial context of Keet’s family, but close reading reveals Keet as brown skinned with “flippy-floppy braids.” VERDICT Keet’s is a  simple and familiar-feeling story, but one that is understated, fully realized, deftly written, and utterly absorbing.—Rhona Campbell, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC –Rhona Campbell (Reviewed 06/01/2016) (School Library Journal, vol 62, issue 6, p94)
Full of Beans by Jennifer Holm
/* Starred Review */ In this excellent prequel to the Newbery Honor–winning Turtle in Paradise, Holm recounts the origins of  the Diaper Gang, the group of barefoot boys who have the run of Key West during the Great Depression. Their unofficial leader, Beans , narrates the arrival of the New Dealers who attempt to transform the poverty-stricken island into a tourist destination. Through Beans’s eyes, Holm captures the population’s economic distress (“Our town looked like a tired black-and-white movie”), with his father heading north to look for work, his mother’s hands “red and raw” from doing the neighbors’ laundry, and the ubiquitous “conch chowder.” To help his family, Beans ventures into a life of crime, setting false fire alarms to create diversions for Cuban rum smuggler Johnny Cakes; dire repercussions motivate him to make amends, igniting his latent leadership skills to the town’s benefit. Period details—like keeping Sears and Roebuck catalogues handy in outhouses, “marble mania,” people with leprosy hidden by their families, and the Shirley Temple craze—make for entertaining and illuminating historical fiction. Ages 8–12. Agent: Jill Grinberg, Jill Grinberg Literary Management. (Aug.) –Staff (Reviewed 05/16/2016) (Publishers Weekly, vol 263, issue 20, p)
The Poet’s Dog by Patricia MacLachlan
/* Starred Review */ Newbery Medalist MacLachlan creates a spare, moving tale told from the perspective of Teddy, the dog of the title. Teddy can speak, but only poets and children can understand him, so Teddy isn’t surprised when both Nicholas (Nickel) and his younger sister, Flora, ask him for help when they get lost in a snowstorm. Since the  death of his owner and friend, Sylvan, Teddy has relied on Sylvan’s student, Ellie, for care. But Ellie and Teddy know that the  arrangement isn’t forever, and Teddy needs to find a way to move on and love again. Using simple words that even youngest readers will understand and enjoy, MacLachlan tackles subjects such as death and mourning with understated grace (“And he closes his eyes, his hands still on my neck. By the  time Ellie gets there he is still. Silence”). Overarching themes of love and family permeate the  narrative, providing readers of all ages with a deep understanding of the relationship Teddy had with his previous owner and the  one he is building with his new family. Ages 6–10. Agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content. (Sept.) –Staff (Reviewed 06/20/2016) (Publishers Weekly, vol 263, issue 25, p)
Reviews have been copied from School Library Journals or other review magazines.
Ginni Nichols, Children’s Librarian