August 17, 2017

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I’m Smart! by Kate McMullan | SLJ Review

MCMULLAN, Kate. I’m Smart! illus. by Jim McMullan. 40p. HarperCollins/Harper. Jun. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062449238.

PreS-Gr 2 –Oozing confidence and energy, a big-eyed, grinning school bus describes his morning route, informing listeners that it “takes BRAINS to do my job—drive you to SCHOOL and keep you SAFE!” As with previous titles, the McMullans (I’m Brave!; I Stink!; I’m Cool!) infuse everyday activities with an infectious excitement bound to entice vehicle-loving youngsters. When the bus’s lights flash amber, it means “Cars and trucks, […]

Pup and Bear by Kate Banks | SLJ Review

BANKS, Kate. Pup and Bear. illus. by Naoko Stoop. 32p. Random/Schwartz & Wade. Oct. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399554094.

PreS-Gr 2 –At the close of an Arctic winter, a wolf pup, stranded on an ice floe, is rescued by a polar bear. “I am not your mother,” says the bear, but she assures the fearful pup that she will care for and shelter him. As the seasons turn, she protects the pup, plays with him, and teaches him to fish until at last […]

Review of the Day: What’s My Superpower? by Aviaq Johnston, ill. Tim Mack

What’s My Superpower? By Aviaq Johnston Illustrated by Tim Mack Inhabit Media $16.95 ISBN: 978-1-77227-140-9 Ages 4-7 On shelves August 4th I credit Booger Beard. I will explain. While many children’s librarians will tell you that they have strived to make their book collections diverse and inclusive, they have always been hampered by what was […]

The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC’s by Patrick McDonnell | SLJ Review

MCDONNELL, Patrick. The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC’s (the Hard Way). illus. by Patrick McDonnell. 48p. Little, Brown. Sept. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316502467.

PreS-Gr 1 –McDonnell’s abecedarian tale takes a small scarlet cat on a breathtaking adventure. The clever tale—wordless except for two signs and one warning shout—begins when the feline notices his home’s front door standing open and takes to the hills. He almost immediately comes upon a gape-mouthed Alligator, a climbing Bear, and an agitated […]

When’s My Birthday? by Julie Fogliano | SLJ Review

FOGLIANO, Julie. When’s My Birthday? illus. by Christian Robinson. 40p. Roaring Brook. Sept. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626722934.

PreS-Gr 1 –An exuberant ode to children’s anticipation for the most special day each year: their birthday. Fogliano’s insistent verse wastes no time and doesn’t even stop for traditional capitalization—just like the young narrators, who want to know, “when’s my birthday?/where’s my birthday?/how many days until/my birthday?” They continue breathlessly, wondering if they will “sing so happy happy?” on the big day. The exaggerated excitement […]

Sing, Don’t Cry by Angela Dominguez | SLJ Review

DOMINGUEZ, Angela. Sing, Don’t Cry. illus. by Angela Dominguez. 32p. Holt. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781627798396.

PreS-Gr 2 –In this semiautobiographical picture book, Dominguez honors the memory of her grandfather Apolinar, whose music and optimism had a great effect on her. Every year, Abuelo visits from Mexico, bringing his guitar and his joyful outlook. “He would tell us about his life, and if we were sad about something, he would say, ‘Sing, don’t cry. Because singing gladdens the heart.’ ” Abuelo advises […]

Review of the Day: Accident! by Andrea Tsurumi

Accident! By Andrea Tsurumi Houghton Mifflin Harcourt $17.99 ISBN: 978-0-544-94480-0 Ages 4-7 On shelves October 3rd There is no accident so small that a forward thinking six-year-old can’t turn it into World War III. You see, there are certain things they won’t tell you when you prepare to become a parent. They’ll conveniently fail to […]

Why Am I Me? by Paige Britt | SLJ Review

BRITT, Paige. Why Am I Me? illus. by Selina Alko & Sean Qualls. 40p. Scholastic. Oct. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338053142.

PreS-Gr 2 –Britt tackles the metaphysical for the picture book crowd. Two (presumably) parent/child pairs approach a subway from different directions: an African American father and son and a light-skinned mother and daughter. The boy reads a book while riding a skateboard; the girl has a musical instrument case strapped to her back. As the kids notice each other, he wonders: “Why […]

The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken | SLJ Review

LUYKEN, Corinna. The Book of Mistakes. illus. by Corinna Luyken. 56p. Dial. Apr. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780735227927.

PreS-Gr 3 –It starts with a mistake, but page by page, one slightly too large eye, a wonky elbow, and feet a little too far off the ground transform and combine into a larger picture—one that not only is functional but also works perfectly. Illustrations rendered in ink, colored pencil, and watercolor are the focal point. They start small—just a circle, […]

Picture Books: New Titles from Mo Willems, Jane Ray, & More | July 2017 Xpress Reviews

Mo Willems presents a guide to welcoming new additions to the family; Jane Ray breathes new life into an Indian folktale.

This article was published in School Library Journal's July 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Perfect Summertime Picture Books | SLJ Spotlight

Five titles perfect for celebrating—or reliving—the long, lazy days of summer.

This Beautiful Day by Richard Jackson | SLJ Review

JACKSON, Richard. This Beautiful Day. illus. by Suzy Lee. 40p. S. & S./Atheneum. Aug. 2017. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781481441391.

PreS-Gr 1 –A dark and stormy morning cannot dampen the spirits of three siblings in this ode to summer weather. The day begins with a song, a dance, and a skip as the kids splash through puddles and march through the neighborhood with friends. As the sky clears, the children delight in doing what children do: playing outdoors, expending energy, […]

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 […]

Download SLJ’s Sneak Peek Guide to Fall 2017 Books

Download this handy guide to over 150 of the most hotly anticipated fall titles, curated by SLJ editors. With info on ALA author signings and galley giveaways.

No, the places YOU’LL go.

When I say, as I do with some regularity, “I hate Dr. Seuss,” I don’t mean it as criticism of his work for any kind of aesthetic or political shortcoming, and obviously I don’t have anything against the man himself. What I mean is that The Cat and the Hat, etc. made five-year-old me very, very […]

Review of the Day: Town is By the Sea by Joanne Schwartz, ill. Sydney Smith

Town Is by the Sea By Joanne Schwartz Illustrated by Sydney Smith Groundwood Books $19.95 ISBN: 978-1-55498-871-6 Ages 4-9 On shelves now There’s been a lot of talk lately about how a parent can engender empathy in their children. It’s a good question and worth a lot of discussion and listening. As a parent I’ve […]