October 16, 2017

Subscribe to SLJ

Picture Books Xpress Reviews | August 2016

Get the latest SLJ reviews every month, subscribe today and save up to 35%.

1608-Xpress-PictureBk

Benjamin, A.H. “Oh, No,” Said Elephant. illus. by Alireza Goldouzian. 48p. Minedition. May 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9789888341078.

PreS-Gr 2 –Elephant, Leopard, Zebra, and Monkey are playing. Though Elephant always wants to join in and tries his best, he has trouble with the proposed games. His size makes concealing himself a challenge during hide-and-seek. He is too tall and heavy for leapfrog and too clumsy for jump rope. His friends let their frustrations show: “ ‘You’re useless!’ said Monkey. ‘You’re foolish!’ said Leopard. ‘You’re terrible!’ said Zebra.” A few other suggested games fare no better until finally Elephant suggests a game—tug-of-war. Here the large, strong elephant is in his element and has an opportunity to reverse the roles and shine among his playmates, defeating them all single-handedly. The engaging art’s rich colors, bold shapes, and interesting layouts bring humor to the text and visually exaggerate the physical contrasts among the animals to heighten their difficulties. While the four still have differences to work out before they can truly play well together, they have developed new respect for a wider range of abilities. VERDICT This wild playdate among the animals will show readers a good time and provide a subtle lesson in inclusivity. A great read-aloud choice.–Julie Roach, Cambridge Public Library, MA

Delange, Ellen. I Will Always Be Happy To See You. tr. from Dutch. illus. by Jenny Meilihove. 32p. Clavis. May 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781605372716.

PreS-Gr 1 –In this ode to unconditional love, a girl tells her dog that—no matter what—she will always be happy to see him. Her canine friend demonstrates his admiration for her by trying to do the right thing. He brings her pretty flowers that come from the not-so-happy neighbor’s garden. He attempts to help by taking out the garbage. Unfortunately, his way of accomplishing this task is to dump the trash out the window. Like all of us, the pup has moments of selfishness. He takes the best seat on the train, brings home tons of dirty laundry, and doesn’t always go to bed on time. None of this matters, because his owner will always be happy to see him. Although this is a tale about a girl and her dog, the story can be applied to children and everyday situations. It sends a great message, and the large, bright, and colorful illustrations are simple and appealing to young listeners. The characters are very animated and display fun expressions. VERDICT This is a good book but not necessarily a first purchase.–Barbara Spiri, Southborough Library, MA

Fairgray, Richard. My Grandpa Is a Dinosaur. illus. by Richard Fairgray & Terry Jones. 32p. Sky Pony. May 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781634506328.

PreS-Gr 2 –By most standards, Wanda’s family is pretty odd, but to young Wanda, they’re not so strange. Except for her grandpa, who she’s pretty sure is a dinosaur. He has a tail and scales, and paleontologists follow him around; he just seems to fit the bill. Thing is, no one else believes her. So, with only one option left, she asks her grandpa directly, “Are you a dinosaur?” The answer may surprise. Fairgray and Jones take the often derogatory term and repurpose it to good effect. Their portrayal is at once comical and respectful; this is one grandpa who has an active lifestyle and even rides roller coasters. Humor springs from the discrepancy between Wanda’s serious inquiry and the thought of this anthropomorphized dinosaur doing such commonplace activities. The art only emphasizes this with its comical character designs, serious expressions, and sedate hues. VERDICT Children, parents, and grandparents alike will find much to amuse them in this frankly funny picture book about perception and family.–Rachel Forbes, formerly at Oakville Public Library, Ontario, Canada

Garralon, Claire. Black & White Cat. illus. by Claire Garralon. 30p. Sourcebooks. Jun. 2016. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781492637813.

Toddler-PreS –Suppose the world were just black-and-white? The black cat, who lives in a white house, can’t visit the white cat, who lives in a black house, and vice versa. When one calls on the other, the caller promptly disappears. This enchanting board book features simple black-and-white collages of cats, or cats in houses, until the triumphant, colorful ending. Garralon, a native of France, has a number of delightful titles to her credit, both as illustrator and author. One can hope that all of these works will soon be published in English-language versions. VERDICT Young children will enjoy this board book’s whimsical wit and artistry. A winner.–Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY

Gorin, Leslie. Bertie Wings It! illus. by Brendan Kearney. 40p. Sterling. Jun. 2016. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9781454915737.

PreS-Gr 2 –Bertie is a bird who knows he’s ready to leave his too tiny treetop digs and leap out into the wide, waiting world. He spreads his wings and makes a break for it, but the obstructionist Admiral Bird interrupts his progress and convinces him that he lacks the necessary skills to take to the skies. Outfitted with apps, gear, and a badge from flight school, Bertie tries a second time, only to be deterred by the rule-mongering Prunella Flapdoodle of the “Department of Migrating Varmints.” Despite being armed with the appropriate certifications, a beleaguered Bertie is sidelined a third time, by a convincing kiwi named Monique, who assures him that he needs “hipster pants and furs from France.” When Bertie does actually flap into flight, the weight of his unsolicited accessories causes him to drop like a stone. It isn’t until he lets go of the unnecessary accoutrements that he can fly freely because “deep down inside, he knew that he knew—he had always known—how to fly.” Kearney’s saturated, bustling illustrations populate Gorin’s story with wild characters, silly situations, and the suspicion that Bertie just needs a little space. VERDICT Bertie’s journey is one that children and adults will be drawn to, whether shared one-on-one or in a small group.–Jenna Boles, Greene County Public Library, Beavercreek, OH

Graves, Keith. Puppy! illus. by Keith Graves. 32p. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter Bks. Apr. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781626722255.

PreS-Gr 2 –Trog has everything that a cave boy could possibly want, from sticks to stones—even mud. But what he really desires more than anything is a puppy, which he finds one day out in the prehistoric fields. The “puppy” is of course a baby dinosaur, but that doesn’t stop Trog from dragging the reluctant animal back to his cave. Trog tries to get his puppy to adapt to life with his family, but it clearly does not want to stay no matter how hard Trog tries to please it. The boy then must decide whether keeping his puppy at home is truly fair to his animal. The story does seem fairly familiar, but children will enjoy seeing Trog’s reptilian puppy tear through his house, and the simple language makes this title a great choice for beginning readers. Graves’s simple cartoon illustrations add to the lighthearted feel of the book, while his gritty outlines match the crudeness of the time period. VERDICT A fun addition to pair with Tammi Sauer and Bob Shea’s Me Want Pet! for a great storytime.–Peter Blenski, Greenfield Public Library, WI

Gravett, Emily. El gran libro de los miedos. tr. from English by Raquel Mosquera. illus. by Emily Gravett. 32p. Obelisco. Jan. 2016. Tr $21.95. ISBN 9788416117444.

K-Gr 3 –This playful title is presented as a clinical book on overcoming fear, which Ratoncito (or Mouse) has taken over. Each page contains the word for a type of fear, from arachnophobia to sciophobia, with Ratoncito’s specific examples added. As in other works by Gravett, the illustration style is engaging and eclectic; included are a foldout map, newspaper clippings, and photo collages. A twist at the end will be an easy lead into an age-appropriate discussion of the irrational nature of many fears. The translation makes for an easy read-aloud, although the many details on each page make this title more suitable for smaller groups. VERDICT A humorous, interactive Spanish-language look at the things that make us jump; for collections in need of Spanish translations of popular titles.–Gesse Stark-Smith, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR

Guest, Patrick. That’s What Wings Are For. illus. by Daniella Germain. 32p. Little Hare. Jul. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781742978291.

PreS-Gr 2 –After Bluey the dragon hugs another dragon, he gets his wings tied to prevent it from happening again. His wings are too floppy to fly, and he wonders if he is a real dragon. After he goes on a long, dangerous journey, Bluey meets a wise lizard and a brave boy. His interactions with them make Bluey feel proud of himself because he discovers he has the ability to do something the other dragons cannot do, and that realization makes him feel like he’s flying. The ink, watercolor, and gouache illustrations are surreal in style, mixing the modern landscape with a dragon’s world. The story crosses from a land up in the clouds to ones down below in the city and the desert. VERDICT This book tells a wonderful story about kindness; a good choice for large collections.–Tanya Boudreau, Cold Lake Public Library, AB, Canada

Highway, Tomson. Dragonfly Kites. illus. by Julie Flett. 32p. Fifth House. Apr. 2016. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781897252635. BL

Gr 1-3 –A bilingual book in English and Cree. Joe and Cody are two Cree brothers who live in Northern Manitoba. With their vivid imaginations and isolation from others, they roam the world. While their parents are fishing, they make toys out of sticks and rocks to play with and befriend the terns, loons, eagles, and squirrels they meet. Their favorite creature are the dragonflies. During the day, the boys tie thread around them and turn them into magic kites. At night in their dreams, they run behind their dragonfly kites, bounding up into the sky, into the sunset until morning light. Flett’s illustrations are full of color with clear, sharp lines. The dragonflies’ wings look like they landed on the page. VERDICT This charming tale is an engaging look at the universal joys of childhood. Recommended.–Amy Zembroski, Indian Community School, Franklin, WI

Kosinski, Colleen Rowan. Lilla’s Sunflowers. illus. by Colleen Rowan Kosinski. 32p. Sky Pony. Jul. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781510704640.

PreS-Gr 2 –A way to make sure a loved one will always be thinking of you is to give them a memorable object as a reminder. Lilla has a special bond with her father. One thing they enjoy doing is spending warm summer days in the sunflower patch. When Lilla learns that Papa has to leave for a long trip (military deployment), she wants to give him something so he’ll remember her. She gives him the perfect thing…a sunflower seed. Time goes by, and waiting for her father to return is difficult. She thinks of him as she plants more sunflower seed and watches them grow and change throughout the year. Lilla finally learns that Papa is coming home. He sends her a special note with a picture. In the photo she sees that the seed has changed. After he returns home, Papa tells Lilla how one little seed helped many other people feel so much better. This is a unique tale about how one little thing can spread happiness among many people. The warm and lovely illustrations are expressive and add to the book’s charm. VERDICT Many children will find this story helpful if they have parents who travel a lot or friends who live in different locations. An excellent choice for communities with large populations in the military.–Barbara Spiri, Southborough Library, MA

Lendler, Ian. Saturday. illus. by Serge Bloch. 40p. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter Bks. Jul. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781596439658.

PreS-Gr 1 –Saturday is a great day to play and pretend and have fun with family. In this tongue-in-cheek picture book, a boy revels in the joys of the weekend: reading a stack of books with his dad, playing spies with his little brother, and going to birthday parties. Each of the activities he loves, however, has a less enjoyable side for his parents, who are woken up early on their day off and are responsible for the three family meals a day; by dinner, the boys are shown sitting in front of a shoe on a plate as their parents finally put their feet up in the background. Just when it seems like Saturday is finally over, the boy announces, “Tomorrow is Sunday and we can do it all over again!” The juxtaposition of the text and pictures is charming, with the sweet-faced boy blissfully unaware of the work he’s creating for his parents. The simplicity of the retro-looking pencil and digital illustrations perfectly complements the innocence of the main character. Young readers will relate to the joy of a weekend and be tickled by the boy’s antics, and grown-ups will recognize the fun, and the reality, of free time spent with little kids. VERDICT A clever selection that is worth reading, on Saturday or any day of the week. Children will want to pore over the humorous artwork again and again.–Marian McLeod, Convent of the Sacred Heart, Greenwich, CT

Long, Ethan. Pug. illus. by Ethan Long. 24p. (I Like To Read). Holiday House. Jul. 2016. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9780823436453; pap. $6.99. ISBN 9780823436880; ebk. $14.95. ISBN 9780823437405.

PreS-Gr 1 –One snowy day, Pug sees his friend Peg outside and wants to join her, but no one is willing to leave the cozy house to go for a walk. Only when the pup threatens to misbehave does Tad give in to his insistent pleas. By the time they make it outside, Peg is nowhere to be seen. Pug’s frantic yapping results in a burst of answering yaps, and Pug is happy at last to be with Peg. With a large font and a vocabulary of only a dozen words, this beginning reader is designed at the easiest level. It’s sure to delight pug owners and Long’s many fans. VERDICT A fun story for beginning readers, with a supersimple vocabulary.–Gaye Hinchliff, King County Library System, WA

MacKenzie, Emily. Wanted!: Ralfy Rabbit, Book Burglar. 32p. Bloomsbury. May 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781681192208.

K-Gr 2 –This is the endearing tale of Ralfy, a little rabbit who can’t get enough to read. While other rabbits dream of lettuce and carrots, Ralfy dreams of nothing but books. When he’s not reading, he’s making lists of his favorites (The Catcher in the Vegetable Patch, The Hoppit) and lists of books he wants to read (The Rabbit with the Dandelion Tattoo, A Hutch with a View). While it is unlikely that most children will get most of the references, they are indeed quite clever (A Tale of Two Warrens, One Flew over the Rabbit Hutch). Then, Ralfy begins sneaking into houses and reading other people’s books; next, he’s nabbing novels and pinching poetry. Arthur, who also loves to read, discovers gaps in his bookshelves along with half-eaten carrots and lies in wait one night. He spots Ralfy, but no one believes his story about a bunny book thief. However, when Ralfy sneaks into Officer Puddle’s house, he is captured and identified in a lineup because all the other rabbits wearing “I Love Books” T-shirts grab the carrots from the conveyor belt while Ralfy goes for the books. Arthur feels sorry for Ralfy, and comes up with the perfect solution, taking Ralfy to a place where he can borrow all the books he wants. The volume is accompanied by charming, child-friendly cartoon-type illustrations with lots of details that enhance the humor. VERDICT This sweet tribute to libraries and reading has lots of child appeal and deserves a place in every collection.–Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ

Manushkin, Fran. Katie Woo, Super Scout. ISBN 9781479561780.

––––. Katie’s Happy Mother’s Day. ISBN 9781479561797.

ea vol: illus. by Tammie Lyon. 32p. glossary. Picture Window. Aug. 2016. Tr. $19.99.

Gr 1-3 –Slice-of-life predicaments are explored in two new additions to the beginning reader series. In the first book, the young girl lovingly tends to her mom, who is feeling under the weather. Katie fluffs her mom’s pillow, offers up her teddy bear, and sings a lullaby. With Mother’s Day fast approaching, Katie worries that she doesn’t have a gift to give. More pampering inspiration strikes when Katie notices her mom wiggling her unpainted toes. Bright red nail polish and a relaxing pedicure make for a perfect Mother’s Day surprise. In the second title, Katie and her scout troop embark on a hike through the woods. Katie partners with a new girl during a treasure hunt and is jealous when Janine proves to be more adept at the search. Feelings are hurt, but a truce is called when the friends find a common interest and collaborate to build a fairy house out of twigs. Lyon’s cheerful watercolor illustrations feature a diverse cast of characters. New readers can use the spot vignettes to help understand the meaning of the text. Emotions are clearly discernible, from crossed-armed annoyance to supportive hugs. The text in both volumes is arranged in three short chapters, features plenty of repetition and is displayed in a large-font size for readability. Each title also contains a glossary (which defines vocabulary such as yawn and acorn), discussion questions, writing prompts, and an extension activity. VERDICT Katie Woo is a relatable and likable character, and fans will enjoy her latest adventures; a good choice for most beginning reader collections.–Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada

Mayer, Mercer. Little Critter: Just a Baby Bird. illus. by Mercer Mayer. 32p. (My First I Can Read). HarperCollins. Mar. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062265357.

PreS-Gr 1 –Little Critter is back with another fun adventure sure to appeal to the bird lover in us all. The story is told with simple, repetitive text that is perfect for new readers. Little Critter and Little Sister find a bird, and with the help of Mom and Dad, they learn the importance of how to care for a baby bird. The colorful images add to the story and show how Little Critter has changed with the times; for instance, Father uses his cell phone to take a photo of the baby bird’s new family. VERDICT Little Critter never fails to delight children and is a welcome addition to your collection.–Andrea Pavlik, Huntington Public Library, NY

Miyanishi, Tatsuya. You Are My Best Friend. illus. by Tatsuya Miyanishi. 40p. (Tyrannosaurus). Museyon. May 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781940842103.

K-Gr 2 –In a prehistoric world, there is a “mean and fierce, nasty and selfish” Tyrannosaurus. While terrorizing a herd of small Styracosauruses, the Tyrannosaurus falls off a cliff into the ocean. Saved from drowning by a gentle and gigantic Elasmosaurus, the Tyrannosaurus lies about his true identity to his new friend. From that time on the two dinosaurs do everything together. The story reaches a climax when the Elasmosaurus is wounded by an ocean bully. The devastated Tyrannosaurus pours his heart out to his unconscious friend. Happily, the Elasmosaurus recovers and the two vow to be together “forever and ever.” Originally published in Japan in 2004, this friendship story has a strong antibullying message tempered by bold illustrations and a fablelike narrative. The flat illustrations use thick black lines and an unusually saturated yet captivating palette. Overall, the illustrations are humorous and dynamic, although occasionally the darker backgrounds make it difficult to read the black text. The narrative, which begins on the title page, has moments of wry humor, as well as touching scenes of friendship. The flow among dialogue, thoughts, and narrative is easy and natural. Owing to the lengthier text, this title is a great choice for a lower elementary read-aloud. VERDICT This unusual selection is a general purchase that will find an audience among young dinosaur lovers.–Amy Seto Forrester, Denver Public Library

Novesky, Amy. Finding Dory: Three Little Words. illus. by Grace Lee. 40p. Disney Pr. May 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781484725856.

PreS-Gr 2 –Appropriate for kids, as well as a potential gift book for all ages. The motivational message—just keep swimming—is written over beautiful watercolor images based on the film Finding Dory. This offering is evocative of the “Pete the Cat” series’ positive mantras and also comparable to Barbara Kerley’s The World Is Waiting for You, as both mention troubles one might experience in life, but pair them with encouragements for readers never to give up in spite of those difficulties. VERDICT The sure-to-be-popular film and positive advice may increase demand for titles featuring the characters.–Paige Mellinger, Gwinnett County Public Library, Lawrenceville, GA

Reagan, Jean. Cómo cuidar a tu abuela. ISBN 9788416117888.

––––. Cómo cuidar a tu abuelo. ISBN 9788416117895.

ea vol: illus. by Lee Wildish. 32p. ebook available. Obelisco. Apr. 2016. Tr $17.95.

K-Gr 3 –A Castilian Spanish translation of the best-selling picture books How To Babysit a Grandma and How To Babysit a Grandpa. The titles are narrated by a nameless girl and unidentified boy, respectively, who inform readers of all the important details necessary to care for a grandparent when parents leave for the evening. The children speak directly to readers and provide lists of important grandparent snacks and activities, all the while actively engaged in the exploits they narrate. Teachers and librarians should note that the version of Spanish in this book may not be easily comprehensible for young U.S. Latin@ children, particularly for those of Mexican or Central American heritage, given its use of Iberian Spanish terms for common vocabulary words (e.g., tentempiés rather than meriendas for snacks), as well as the employment of the vosotros verb conjugation. The translation is also a bit forced at times, presenting a literal translation of the original English, rather than its meaning and effect. This factor makes the visual representation of the text in its engaging illustrations particularly important for young readers. VERDICT This translation may require significant adult assistance for children to comprehend, unless their linguistic background is Peninsular Spanish.–Ruth Quiroa, National Louis University, IL

Reich, Kass. Hamsters on the Go! illus. by Kass Reich. 24p. Orca. Mar. 2016. Board $9.95. ISBN 9781459810167.

Toddler-PreS –A concept book featuring charming and friendly pastel hamsters using a mix of typical and unexpected modes of locomotion. Traditional conveyances like a bus and train contrast with “Hamsters on a unicycle” and “Hamsters on a Moon rover.” The rhyme and repetition make this an easy title to share with babies or toddlers. The cartoon-style illustrations introduce humorous detail, as shown in the facial expressions of the hamsters and the reaching tentacle on the “and even way down low” spread, while still maintaining a simplicity appropriate for a toddler audience. VERDICT Recommended for board book collections, this is a work that caregivers will enjoy sharing.–Amanda Foulk, Sacramento Public Library

Rubin, Susan. Roy’s House. illus. by Roy Lichtenstein. 40p. Chronicle. Jun. 2016. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781452111858.

K-Gr 4 –Pop artist Lichtenstein is best known for his larger-than-life paintings composed of dots and featuring black outlines, primary colors, and comic book themes, but it’s a photo of the sculpture House 1, created to his specifications, that opens this volume. Readers are invited to “come on in!” and take a tour of the abode, his living room, with a “great big couch,” a bedroom with “yellow pillows and lamps,” and a counter where they can sit and “have a tasty snack…maybe a hot dog in a bun.” Each highlighted room, nook, appliance, or food item is an image from a Lichtenstein oil, drawing, or screenprint. The text, which reflects the hyperbolic tone (and font) of many early comic books (and his paintings), serves to highlight the art in the book; thus the image of a ringing phone (“R-R-R-R-Ring!”) stands opposite the words “In Roy’s House, A Telephone Rings. COMPANY IS COMING!” An endnote and information on the images included fill in a few details. Steer older students to Rubin’s WHAM!: The Life and Art of Roy Lichtenstein for material on the artist’s life, influences, and processes. VERDICT While those looking for a story may be disappointed, this entry will provide children with a gallery’s worth of images by one of the 20th century’s most celebrated artists.–Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal

Schaefer, Carole Lexa. Monkey and Elephant and the Babysitting Adventure. illus. by Galia Bernstein. 48p. Candlewick. Apr. 2016. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780763665357.

K-Gr 2 –Best friends Monkey and Elephant embark on their final adventure. Together they volunteer to watch cousin MeeMee’s three children so she can pick up her Yum-Yum Baking Contest prize. Babysitting isn’t as easy as it seems, so they decide to come up with several rules along the way. Monkey and Elephant make one last rule for themselves and promise to stay adventure friends and of course best friends forever. The colorful digitally created images enhance the story and help guide readers through the tale. VERDICT Fans of the earlier titles will delight in Monkey and Elephant’s last escapade.–Andrea Pavlik, Huntington Public Library, NY

Spelman, Cornelia. Cuando estoy triste (Spanish Edition). illus. by Kathy Parkinson. 24p. ebook available. Obelisco. Jan. 2016. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9788416117505.

PreS-Gr 1 –This smooth translation of Spelman’s When I Feel Sad uses simple language to describe experiences common to all children. Spelman is a social worker, and in a note to parents and educators, she stresses the importance of helping children to recognize and share their own feelings. The author avoids didacticism by taking the child’s point of view on situations that can produce sadness (missing someone, losing something, feeling excluded, etc.). Parkinson clearly but subtly illustrates the characters’ feelings, giving readers an excellent starting point for conversations about emotions. VERDICT A great Spanish-language pick to discuss coping mechanisms for sadness in a classroom or one-on-one setting.–Gesse Stark-Smith, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR

Stark, Ulf. The Midsummer Tomte and the Little Rabbits. tr. from Swedish by Susan Beard. illus. by Eva Eriksson. 120p. Floris. May 2016. Tr $24.95. ISBN 9781782502449.

K-Gr 2 –Grump the tomte feels lonely. The farm he protects has long been abandoned, and his friend the bumblebee has flown away. “I’ve been too friendly,” he thinks. “I’ve not been grumpy enough. That’s why I’m feeling sad. It’s time to make a few changes.” Changes are coming, but not the kind Grump expects. It starts with a rabbit family and their plans for a midsummer festival. Father longs for a chance to show off his hat, philosophical but forgetful Grandfather hopes to give speeches and write poems, and the others wish for dancing, food, love, and magic. When a great storm forces all the woodland animals to seek shelter at the tomte’s farm, his carefully structured, solitary life is thrown into chaos. Interwoven through the plot is the story of Rory, a newcomer rabbit who captures the affections of young Binny and the ire of Father, who cannot forgive Rory for mistaking his beloved hat for a bucket for dandelion leaves. Translated from Swedish, Stark’s tale, with its whimsical characters and engaging narrative tone, brings to mind Tove Jansson’s “Moomin” books and A.A. Milne’s “Winnie-the-Pooh” stories. The oversize format and delicate, expressive colored pencil illustrations give the work a timeless flair. VERDICT This selection’s mix of childlike wonder and kernels of wisdom will appeal to child listeners and their adult readers, making it perfect for reading aloud at bedtime.–Suzanne Myers Harold, formerly at Multnomah County Library System, Portland, OR

Sullivan, Mary. Treat. illus. by Mary Sullivan. 40p. HMH. Mar. 2016. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780544472709.

PreS –In her follow-up to her Geisel Honor Ball, Sullivan once again tells the tale of a canine with a one-track mind, this time obsessed with getting a treat. This equally whimsical and funny volume uses the exact same format as its predecessor. The dog, this time a pudgy Boston terrier, desperately tries to draw the attention of his humans to get the object he so desperately desires. When the pup cannot attract them, he falls asleep and has a trippy dream where he is haunted by the object he wants the most, always just out of reach or held hostage by some ridiculous captor. The dog finally does wake up and gets the treat that he so rightfully deserves. Sullivan’s artwork features exuberant facial expressions and a faded color scheme, giving this offering a warm, retro feel. VERDICT Nothing new but still a wonderful experience. This is a welcome addition to the series and any collection.–Peter Blenski, Greenfield Public Library, WI

Tiscareño-Sato, Graciela. Captain Mama’s Surprise/La sorpresa de Capitan Mamá. illus. by Linda Lens. 42p. glossary. websites. Gracefully Global Group. Jul. 2016. pap. $15.99. ISBN 9780997309003. BL

K-Gr 3 –Marco’s second grade class goes on an Air Force base field trip. His mom is the navigator on an aerial refueling tanker, and the kids are excited about touring the plane and meeting the crew. In an easygoing first-person narrative, Marco describes the adventure. Everything from the refueling process to the manual landing gear crank is explained to the eager students. The smiling, accommodating crew members outline their responsibilities and the importance of working as a team. However, it is somewhat odd that the narrator’s mother fails to introduce herself or provide her rank to the children in spite of having done so for the rest of the aircrew. Lens’s simple but colorful illustrations reinforce the childlike quality of the book. Tiscareño-Sato is a Mexican American military veteran/aviator, and in this continuation of her bilingual series “Captain Mama,” the author affords young readers the opportunity to observe a coed, multiethnic crew performing their vital tasks. In addition, the final six pages include an English/Spanish glossary, a list of educational resources and their respective links, and an art/engineering project. VERDICT An accessible and positive portrayal of the mothers and people of color who serve proudly in the military; a good purchase for bilingual collections.–Mary Margaret Mercado, Pima County Public Library, Tucson, AZ

Walsh, Melanie. Isaac and His Amazing Asperger Superpowers! illus. by Melanie Walsh. 32p. websites. Candlewick. Mar. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763681210.

PreS-Gr 2 –Walsh’s sweet and significant picture book depicts Asperger’s syndrome as a superpower that makes its protagonist, a young boy named Isaac, different than his peers. The first-person narrative frames Asperger’s syndrome in positive and cheerful way, with Isaac saying that “it just means my brain works a little differently.” The book is an accessible introduction to the syndrome for younger children, describing the positive and more challenging aspects of Isaac’s Asperger’s superpowers. For example, the narrative depicts Isaac’s wonderful memory and energy and his sensitivity to particular sounds and difficulties making eye contact. The simple, straightforward language used throughout is supported by the bright, colorful, and expressive illustrations. These images, along with the kid-friendly superhero theme, work together to craft a story that is informative and engaging. A helpful list of links about Asperger’s and autism spectrum disorder directed at educators is appended. VERDICT A very effective way to build awareness of and sensitivity toward children with Asperger’s syndrome.–Kathryn Justus, New Hartford Public School Library, CT

This article was published in School Library Journal's August 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Share

Comments

  1. Thank you Mary Margaret Mercado of the Pima County Public Library in Tucson for reviewing “Captain Mama’s Surprise / La Sorpresa de Capitán Mamá,” the second book in my award-winning, bilingual series inspired by my military aviation service. It is my hope that more teachers and parents will bring positive images of women veterans and Latina veterans into classrooms with this series for Hispanic Heritage Month, Veterans Day, Women’s History Month, Memorial Day and more. My goal is to inspire ALL children to pursue challenging, satisfying careers like aviation and provide role models for girls at the same time. Both bilingual Captain Mama books are now available in hardcover too. The program I bring to schools and libraries is described here. http://www.captainmama.com/index.php?page=for-librarians

    Again, thank you Mary and thank you SLJ.

    Graciela