June 22, 2017

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Round by Joyce Sidman | SLJ Review

SIDMAN, Joyce. Round. illus. by Taeeun Yoo. 32p. HMH. Mar. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544387614.

PreS-K –Sidman delivers a captivating homage to the many round things found in nature and in the world around us. Told in the voice and sensibility of a young child, the simple text follows a girl as she comes across round objects, feels their smoothness, and wraps her fingers around their curves. Some she appreciates from afar (turtle eggs and sunflowers), watching how they […]

All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle | SLJ Review

ENGLE, Margarita. All the Way to Havana. illus. by Mike Curato. 40p. Holt. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781627796422.

PreS-Gr 2 –Accompanied by the vibrant onomatopoeia of an old rebuilt car, a brown-skinned boy travels with his family from their village in Cuba to the capital city, Havana, to celebrate the “zero-year birthday” of his cousin. The focus of this colorful picture book is on the car (nicknamed “Cara Cara”), one of Cuba’s many mid-20th-century American vehicles maintained through […]

Me and You and the Red Canoe by Jean E. Pendziwol | SLJ Review

PENDZIWOL, Jean E. Me and You and the Red Canoe. illus. by Phil. 32p. Groundwood. Aug. 2017. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781554988471.

PreS-Gr 2 –Two siblings, a lush forest, a red canoe, and a love of adventure and exploration. These are the elements that Pendziwol weaves into this stunning book celebrating friendship across the backdrop of the Canadian landscape. Narrated by one of the boys, the story is structured into paragraphs arranged like poetry, with frequent use of rhymes and […]

Pandora by Victoria Turnbull | SLJ Review

TURNBULL, Victoria. Pandora. illus. by Victoria Turnbull. 32p. Clarion. Apr. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780544947337.

PreS-Gr 1 –Pandora, an anthropomorphic fox, finds slivers of beauty in a wasteland of discarded objects. From piles of detritus, she ferrets out treasures—a teddy bear, a van Gogh painting—repairs broken objects, and fills her house, a rickety cottage on stilts, with them. Her solitary existence is interrupted when an injured bird drops from the sky. Pandora nurses the bird, and as he becomes […]

The Bad Seed by Jory John

JOHN, Jory. The Bad Seed. illus. by Pete Oswald. 40p. HarperCollins/Harper. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062467768.

K-Gr 2 –Corn kernels, pistachios, peanuts, and other seeds gasp and point as a “baaaaaaaaaaad seed” goes by. When others mumble about him, he can hear them because he has “good hearing for a seed.” The bad seed tells “long jokes with no punch lines,” lies “about pointless stuff,” and never puts things back where they belong. But he did not start […]

Mighty Moby by Barbara DaCosta | SLJ Review

DACOSTA, Barbara. Mighty Moby. illus. by Ed Young. 40p. Little, Brown. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316299367.

PreS-Gr 2 –The book jacket depicting Herman Melville’s infamous behemoth befits the epic adventure it heralds: blackness swallows the crimson light surrounding the whale, setting an ominous tone. In an author’s note, DaCosta writes that every word comes from Moby-Dick except one. The text is minimal but dramatic, with dialogue as well as faux ballad and sea shanty verses. The story opens […]

Now by Antoinette Portis | SLJ Review

PORTIS, Antoinette. Now. illus. by Antoinette Portis. 32p. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter Bks. Jul. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626721371.

PreS-Gr 1 –A young girl names all her favorite things as she joyfully lives out her days. “This is my favorite mud…my favorite rain.” Other treasured objects include a worm and a paper boat. Mostly, the girl loves these things because they are what she is experiencing in the moment. For example, of the several holes she’s dug, her favorite is […]

Charlotte the Scientist Is Squished by Camille Andros | SLJ Review

ANDROS, Camille. Charlotte the Scientist Is Squished. illus. by Brianne Farley. 40p. Clarion. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780544785830.

PreS-Gr 2 –Young rabbit Charlotte considers herself a serious scientist, complete with a lab coat and goggles, a clipboard, and a healthy understanding of the scientific method. There’s just one small detail holding her back: her large, rambunctious bunny family. Tired of being squished at the dinner table and finding her beloved beakers and test tubes accidentally broken, Charlotte hypothesizes, […]

Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus | SLJ Review

NABERHAUS, Sarvinder. Blue Sky White Stars. illus. by Kadir Nelson. 40p. Dial. Jun. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780803737006.

K-Gr 2 –Naberhaus, an Indian American immigrant, and Nelson, an African American illustrator, collaborate on this timely homage to the relationship among America’s majesty, its hopefulness and diversity, and its flag. Beginning with iconic images of the country (rows of autumn-burnished trees, a white trail of wagons moving west under the blue sky), the spreads feature descriptive phrases paired with illustrations […]

7 Ate 9: The Untold Story by Tara Lazar | SLJ Review

LAZAR, Tara. 7 Ate 9: The Untold Story. illus. by Ross MacDonald. 32p. Disney-Hyperion. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781484717790.

K-Gr 3 –Private investigator Al F. Bet relates a recent case history—the mysterious disappearance of Number 9. It all starts with Client Number 6, who comes into the office visibly agitated about Number 7. Has shady 7 committed a horrific crime? Are his own days “numbered”? In search of some leads, the PI heads to Café Uno, and after […]

4 Picture Books Celebrating the Importance of Family

A wide array of titles that show the warm and sometimes wacky world of familial interactions.

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall | SLJ Review

CORNWALL, Gaia. Jabari Jumps. illus. by Gaia Cornwall. 32p. Candlewick. May 2017. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780763678388.

PreS-Gr 2 –An African American boy and his baby sister and father head to an urban community pool. Jabari has completed his swim lessons and tests and is ready to jump off a diving board. In his zigzag swim trunks and swim goggles, the boy tells his dad that diving looks easy. But when he stands at the ladder and looks up, up, […]

Poor Louie by Tony Fucile | SLJ Review

FUCILE, Tony. Poor Louie. illus. by Tony Fucile. 40p. Candlewick. Apr. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763658281.

PreS-Gr 1 –Louie is a cute and cuddly Chihuahua in crisis. He speaks directly to readers and tries to solicit their sympathy. The pup recounts his idyllic life as the apple of his human parents’ eye. Walks in the park, eating ice cream, and shopping excursions are all part of their normal family routine, along with dinner, movies, and plenty of snuggle time. […]

Little Pig Saves the Ship by David Hyde Costello | SLJ Review

COSTELLO, David Hyde. Little Pig Saves the Ship. illus. by David Hyde Costello. 32p. Charlesbridge. May 2017. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781580897150.

PreS-Gr 1 –The adorable protagonist of Little Pig Joins the Band returns as his brothers and sisters head off to sailing camp for the summer. Little Pig is too small to join his siblings, so his brother leaves him a book of sailors’ knots, and his grandfather carves him a miniature boat. Each day Little Pig and his […]

Wordplay by Ivan Brunetti | SLJ Review

BRUNETTI, Ivan. Wordplay. illus. by Ivan Brunetti. 40p. TOON. May 2017. Tr $12.95. ISBN 9781943145171.

K-Gr 2 –The fun begins with the title—Wordplay—a compound word for a book about compound words. Annemarie and her classmates work on their assignment to compile lists of compound words. “How about housework?” asks a boy. “YES!” responds the teacher as Annemarie quietly giggles, imagining cheery houses vacuuming and dusting. Each new word conjures up another humorous imagining—two boys playing catch with a foot […]

What’s Your Favorite Color? by Eric Carle & others | SLJ Review

CARLE, Eric & others. What’s Your Favorite Color? illus. by Eric Carle & others. 40p. Holt. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805096149.

PreS-Gr 2 –Carle and 14 other picture book artists share their favorite colors through memories, poems, and child-friendly snippets in this collection of testimonials. Despite the emphasis on the visuals, text and illustrations in each spread are equally strong. From Philip C. Stead’s gentle ode to the many shades of green to Jill McElmurry’s tactile imagining of […]

Goldfish Ghost by Lemony Snicket | SLJ Review

SNICKET, Lemony. Goldfish Ghost. illus. by Lisa Brown. 40p. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter Bks. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626725072.

K-Gr 3 –In a droll twist on the typical “beloved dead pet” story, this one opens with a death—reimagined as an otherworldly birth—of a boy’s pet goldfish. Born upside down and floating on top of his fishbowl, Goldfish Ghost, who remains in that position throughout, slowly drifts out of the boy’s bedroom and along the idyllic seascapes of Cape Cod […]

Go Sleep in Your Own Bed! by Candace Fleming | SLJ Review

FLEMING, Candace. Go Sleep in Your Own Bed! illus. by Lori Nichols. 40p. Random/Schwartz & Wade. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780375866487.

PreS-Gr 1 –Day is done, and the farm animals quietly take to their beds to get some much-needed rest. Pig toddles off to his sty, with all its glorious mud and slop, but finds a cow in his spot. “Go sleep in your own bed!” Pig demands. Cow clompety-stomps to her stall, but there she startles awake […]

SLJ’s April 2017 Popular Picks

The latest thriller from Cristin Terrill, a feminist primer for little ones, and a heartfelt memoir by a BuzzFeed editor.

5 Picture Books Celebrating Dads (and Granddads)

5 warm and tender titles with male-focused parent-and-child interactions that celebrate the special bonds between father (or grandfather) and child