March 24, 2017

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9 Refugee Stories for Kids and Teens

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These nine titles—from picture books to YA—explore the many dangers, factors, and effects that refugees and immigrants face every day.

3 Adorably Fox-y Picture Books

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Dispel the negative connotations surrounding foxes in children’s stories with these three cuddly tales.

Morris Mole by Dan Yaccarino | SLJ Review

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YACCARINO, Dan. Morris Mole. illus. by Dan Yaccarino. 40p. HarperCollins. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062411075.

PreS-Gr 2 –Morris the mole is unique in his family. His brothers spend their days digging, eating, and sleeping. Morris is smaller than his siblings and follows a slightly different routine. One day the moles discover that they have run out of food. Morris has a suggestion that he thinks can save the day. When Morris attempts to inform his brothers about his […]

Walk with Me by Jairo Buitrago | SLJ Review

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BUITRAGO, Jairo. Walk with Me. tr. from Spanish by Elisa Amado. illus. by Rafael Yockteng. 32p. Groundwood. Mar. 2017. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781554988570.

Gr 1-4 –A girl invites an imaginary lion, a metaphor for her missing father, to accompany her on her long walk home. Along the way, she must pick up her baby brother from child care and purchase groceries, and when they arrive home, she prepares dinner before her mother returns from the factory. The illustrations are […]

That Neighbor Kid by Daniel Miyares | SLJ Review

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MIYARES, Daniel. That Neighbor Kid. illus. by Daniel Miyares. 32p. ebook available. S. & S. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481449793.

PreS-Gr 2 –The illustrations tell the story in this subtle, heartwarming, nearly wordless picture book. The tale opens with a moving van parked in front of a house, and readers see a boy sitting beneath a huge tree in his new yard, engrossed in a book called Living in Trees. His neighbor, a girl, timidly watches him, first […]

Pig & Goose and the First Day of Spring by Rebecca Bond | SLJ Review

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BOND, Rebecca. Pig & Goose and the First Day of Spring. illus. by Rebecca Bond. 48p. ebook available. Charlesbridge. Mar. 2017. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9781580895941.

PreS-Gr 2 –This delightful transitional reader, dedicated to Arnold Lobel, celebrates the joy of new friendship. In the first chapter, Pig fixes herself a picnic on a beautiful day. The small white dot she spies turns out to be Goose, who lands right beside her. When Pig admires her new acquaintance’s flying skills, Goose […]

The Blue Hour by Isabelle Simler | SLJ Review

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SIMLER, Isabelle. The Blue Hour. tr. from French. illus. by Isabelle Simler. 42p. Eerdmans. Feb. 2017. Tr $19. ISBN 9780802854889.

K-Gr 3 –This stunning ode to the “blue hour” celebrates the time of day between sunset and night. Beginning with endpapers that itemize more than 30 evocatively named shades of blue (peacock, azure, periwinkle, celadon), the striking oversize spreads feature richly textured images of blue mammals, sea creatures, birds, insects, and plants, many of whose “blueness” extends to their […]

The Tree by Neal Layton | SLJ Review

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LAYTON, Neal. The Tree. illus. by Neal Layton. 40p. Candlewick. Feb. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763689520.

PreS-Gr 2 –This sweet and simple story (only 38 words) conveys an important and powerful message. A man and woman come upon a plot of land for sale. They make plans to build a magnificent home, bring in their supplies, and eagerly set to work. However, when the couple begin to cut down a tree that is right in the middle of their […]

Away by Emil Sher | SLJ Review

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SHER, Emil. Away. illus. by Qin Leng. 32p. Groundwood. Apr. 2017. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781554984831.

PreS-Gr 2 –Skip is heading to summer camp soon, but despite her mom’s reassurance, she’s certain that she’ll have a terrible time. However, a visit from Mimsy, Skip’s maternal grandmother, soon begins to convince the girl that camp might be fun. Unusually—and effectively—the story is told entirely through notes that the mother and daughter leave for each other. Both Skip’s and Mom’s voices are […]

Rain by Sam Usher | SLJ Review

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USHER, Sam. Rain. illus. by Sam Usher. 32p. Candlewick/Templar. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763692964.

PreS-Gr 2 –In a suitable sequel to the author’s Snow, Sam can’t wait until he is “out in the rain. You can catch raindrops, splash in puddles, and look at everything upside down.” Granddad and his young grandson watch through the window as drops fall steadily, increasing until the street disappears in a steady downpour. They wait and wait, one reading about sea monsters […]

Checking the Bear-omator | SLJ Spotlight on Picture Books

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Bear stories are perennial favorites for the toddler and preschool set to curl up with and these new titles are no exception.

Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper | SLJ Reviews

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COOPER, Elisha. Big Cat, Little Cat. illus. by Elisha Cooper. 40p. Roaring Brook. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781626723719.

PreS-Gr 1 –Bold and simple illustrations perfectly depict life with cats. Elegant, expressive black line drawings on white backgrounds capture the essence of all things feline and call to mind the work of Clare Turlay Newberry and Nikki McClure. The book follows a lone white cat who gains a small black companion, their life together, and the eventual loss of […]

The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Jerry Pinkney | SLJ Review

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The Three Billy Goats Gruff. adapted by Jerry Pinkney. illus. by Jerry Pinkney. 40p. Little, Brown. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316341578.

PreS-Gr 2 –Employing his signature pencil and watercolor compositions, Pinkney brings a thoughtful, nuanced perspective to this classic tale. The story begins as expected, with the goats “trip-trapping” across the bridge in search of food—the first two urging the troll to wait for the bigger animal coming next. Each goat has a distinctive appearance; the troll is […]

SLJ’s February 2017 Popular Picks

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These materials will fly off the shelves, from a story about a young boy who loves his green pants to a timely YA novel centered on gun violence and Islamophobia by Barry Lyga.

Niko Draws a Feeling by Bob Raczka | SLJ Review

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RACZKA, Bob. Niko Draws a Feeling. illus. by Simone Shin. 32p. Carolrhoda. Apr. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781467798433.

K-Gr 3 –A dedicated young artist finds a friend who understands his vision in this picture book ode to the creative spirit. Niko carries a pad of paper and a box of colored pencils everywhere he goes, and his urban community provides plenty of inspiration for his artwork. Unfortunately, his abstract attempts to capture the “ring-a-ling” of the ice-cream truck’s bell, […]

Boat of Dreams by Rogério Coelho | SLJ Review

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COELHO, Rogério. Boat of Dreams. illus. by Rogério Coelho. 80p. Tilbury House. Jan. 2017. Tr $22.95. ISBN 9780884485285.

Gr 1-4 –Outside a seaside cottage sitting on stilts, an elderly gent and his avian companion spy a glass bottle floating in the ocean. When the bottle reaches the shore, the man discovers that it contains a blank sheet of paper. The bird encourages him to sketch a picture on the paper, and the man does, creating a fantastical flying ship, […]

Little Wolf’s First Howling by Laura McGee Kvasnosky | SLJ Review

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KVASNOSKY, Laura McGee. Little Wolf’s First Howling. illus. by Laura McGee Kvasnosky & Kate Harvey McGee. 32p. Candlewick. Apr. 2017. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780763689711.

PreS-Gr 2 –As night falls, a canine father and son head to a hilltop for an important rite of passage. First, Little Wolf watches as Big Wolf models proper howling form: he stands tall, points his muzzle skyward, and sings out a thrilling “AAAAOOOO….” Eager to give it a try, Little Wolf echoes the classic […]

Laundry Day by Jessixa Bagley | SLJ Review

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BAGLEY, Jessixa. Laundry Day. illus. by Jessixa Bagley. 40p. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter Bks. Feb. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626723177.

PreS-Gr 1 –A wonderfully entertaining, amusing, and beautifully illustrated story, this book is sure to delight a wide audience. Tic and Tac, two rambunctious badgers, are bored. They have done everything there is to do in the world, it seems. Mama Badger suggests that they try hanging up laundry with her. Once they try it, they realize that they love […]

Short Stories for Little Monsters by Marie-Louise Gay | SLJ Review

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GAY, Marie-Louise. Short Stories for Little Monsters. illus. by Marie-Louise Gay. 48p. Groundwood. Mar. 2017. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781554988969.

K-Gr 3 –In this comic collection disguised as a picture book, each short, highly imaginative story is contained on a spread. Readers can consume them in a single sitting or one at a time (though they’ll notice that some characters appear in more than one tale). The first entry, “When I Close My Eyes,” effectively sets the stage for the […]

Town Is by the Sea by Joanne Schwartz | SLJ Review

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SCHWARTZ, Joanne. Town Is by the Sea. illus. by Sydney Smith. 52p. Groundwood. Apr. 2017. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781554988716.

K-Gr 3 –This first-person narrative portrays a day in the life of a loving family in a seaside mining town. As the tale begins, Schwartz lays the foundation for a comparison of the boy’s daily routines, illuminated by sunshine, with the father’s world underground. The rhythm is established and continued at logical junctures with the protagonist’s introductory words: “It goes […]