February 25, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Book Review: Preschool to Grade 4 Fiction

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

Maple (Nichols) ©2014 by Lori Nichols

Maple (Nichols)
©2014 by Lori Nichols

redstarHurley, Jorey . Nest. illus. by author. 40p. S & S/Paula Wiseman Bks. Feb. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781442489714. LC 2012044005.

PreS-Gr 1– In this stunning debut, we meet a pair of robins and their egg. We watch the parents incubate and hatch the egg and teach the baby bird to survive and fly. Seasons change, colors change. The family faces danger, but ultimately finds safety and comfort. This story is told primarily through the crisp illustrations that have a light, airy quality. The narrative includes only fifteen words, one on each spread, which adds to the dramatic impact: “Nest…warm…hatch….grow…jump….” The conceptual space between each page turn invites readers to thread together the story and imagine each step in the bird’s journey. The illustrations evoke the eloquent simplicity of a Japanese woodblock print while the frontispiece depicts clusters of robin’s eggs, reminiscent of clouds in a Georgia O’Keefe painting. Every page resonates with a vision that is both ethereal and quotidian. The birds are depicted naturalistically and an author’s note includes factual information about robins and their nests. Nest’s beauty and originality will stand up to countless re-readings.–Jess deCourcy Hinds, Bard High School Early College, Queens, NY

redstarIsaacs, Anne . Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch. illus. by Kevin Hawkes. 56p. Random/Schwartz & Wade. Feb. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780375867453. LC 2011046490.

Gr 1-4– Isaacs excels at writing tall tales, and readers will not be disappointed by her newest yarn. In 1870, the widow Tulip Jones inherits millions of dollars and a ranch, so she moves from England to By-Golly Gully. She quickly learns that everything is bigger in Texas, including her garden vegetables and her beloved pet tortoises. But her blissful peace is disrupted when word gets around about her rich and unmarried status. Hilarity ensues as the widow comes up with a variety of ways to get rid of the 1000 suitors who line up at her door. Exaggeration is the name of the game from text to illustrations. The story is told in a linear, yet compelling way, and the delightful tongue-twisting narration uses a variety of fun and folksy phrases. Isaacs takes her time, humorously setting the scene through the first few pages, which prepares readers to expect larger-than-life problems and solutions. The characters are exaggerated as well, from the odious suitors to the spunky and independent widow Jones, who takes a proactive approach to solving her problems. Hawkes’s painterly illustrations, rendered with acrylic and pencil, feature vast blue skies, fluffy white clouds, and sun-drenched landscapes that firmly establish the setting. These exaggerated visuals match the humorous tone set by the text. At its best when read aloud, this story will also appeal to elementary school kids who will be inspired to create their own tales with over-the-top characters.–Amy Seto Musser, Denver Public Library

redstarLamb, Rosy . Paul Meets Bernadette. illus. by author. 40p. Candlewick. 2013. RTE $14. ISBN 9780763661304. LC 2012947712.

PreS-Gr 2– Paul, a solitary goldfish, spends his days swimming in circles. His life is uneventful until another fish, Bernadette, drops into his bowl. Not content to simply go round and round, she encourages Paul to take a look at the world outside their watery home. She shows him ordinary household items, which when viewed through the curved glass bowl and through the power of her imagination, become transformed. A bunch of bananas turn into a yellow boat and a vase of flowers is an enchanting forest. Some of Bernadette’s creative interpretations will make young readers giggle, especially when a blue teapot becomes an elephant and two fried eggs are the sun and the moon. As he eagerly examines the fascinating world outside, Paul becomes equally captivated with his new friend. The whimsical story is accompanied by striking oil paintings. The two fish are portrayed in fluid orange and gold brushstrokes, while the bowl is a luminous sphere reflecting different colors from page to page. One of the final spreads depicts a homey breakfast table holding all of the everyday objects bestowed with magical qualities through the eyes of the fanciful goldfish. Pair this story with Devin Scillian’s Memoirs of a Goldfish (Sleeping Bear, 2010).–Linda L. Walkins, Saint Joseph Preparatory High School, Boston, MA

redstarNichols, Lori . Maple. illus. by author. 32p. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Bks. Feb. 2014. RTE $16.99. ISBN 9780399160851.

PreS-Gr 1– Readers will fall in love with Maple, whose parents planted a tree in her honor when she was “still a whisper.” Each page turn shows the child growing, playing, and seeking refuge under her leafy companion. She sometimes longs for the friendship of someone who can play with her (“The tree wasn’t very good at throwing snowballs”) and wonders if the tree feels the same way. One day, Maple is surprised to realize that there’s a sapling growing next to her tree, and she soon discovers that a sibling of her very own is on the way. The crispness of Nichols’s lush, leafy illustrations on each thick white page helps Maple’s adventures around the little sapling stand out. This may be Nichols’s debut picture book, but the only thing green about this effort is the perfect shade of a maple leaf. This is a fresh addition to the standard new sibling fare, and young naturalists will identify with Maple’s adventurous and tender spirit.–Jenna Boles, Greene County Public Library, Beavercreek, OH

redstarUnderwood, Deborah . Here Comes the Easter Cat. illus. by Claudia Rueda. 80p. Dial. Jan. 2014. RTE $16.99. ISBN 9780803739390. LC 2012038134.

PreS-Gr 2– What happens when a lazy cat decides he wants to take over Easter? Readers meet Cat, who conveys his thoughts with pictures and facial expressions. As the story progresses, Cat becomes more and more convinced he is the perfect candidate to replace the Easter Bunny. Will he get his way? The narrator, who kids will enjoy pretending to be, explains Cat’s actions and asks all the right questions. “Clothes? No, you don’t need special clothes. Well…the Easter Bunny does wear a very nice vest. Wow. That’s very…sparkly.” This is a book that will be enjoyed in storytimes as well as one-on-one. The wonderful ink-and-color pencil illustrations depict the characters’ expressions perfectly, enabling children to decipher what is happening even without the narrative. The combination of witty text, plentiful white space, and brilliant images make this a truly winning book, especially for libraries looking to expand their Easter collections.–Brooke Rasche, La Crosse Public Library, WI

The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue:

Preschool to Grade 4

American Museum of Natural History. ABC Animals. 16p. photos. Sterling. 2013. Board $7.95. ISBN 9781454903864. LC 2013002440.

Abdo, Kenny . All for a Game. ISBN 9781616419509. LC 2013001065.

––––. Duck, Dive, Rock & Roll. ISBN 9781616419523. LC 2013001067.

––––. Triple Take. ISBN 9781616419554. LC 2013001070.

ea vol: illus. by Bob Doucet. 80p. (Haven’t Got a Clue!). ABDO/Magic Wagon. Jan. 2014. lib. ed. $18.95.

Adler, David A. Danny’s Doodles: The Jellybean Experiment. illus. by author. 112p. Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky. 2013. pap. $4.99. ISBN 9781402287213.

Atinuke. Splash, Anna Hibiscus! illus. by Lauren Tobia. 32p. Kane Miller. 2013. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781610671736. LC 2012954083.

Austin, Mike . Junkyard. illus. by author. 40p. S & S/Beach Lane. Jan. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781442459618; ebk. $12.99. ISBN 9781442459625. LC 2012042199.

Belle, Trixie & Melissa Caruso-Scott, retels. Beauty and the Beast. ISBN 9780805097887. LC 2012951228.

––––. The Little Mermaid. ISBN 9780805097894. LC 2012951231.

––––. Rapunzel. ISBN 9780805097900. LC 2012951229.

––––. Sleeping Beauty. ISBN 9780805097917. LC 2012951230.

ea vol: illus. by Oliver Lake. 26p. (Les Petits Fairytales). Holt. 2013. Board. $7.99.

Berger, Lou . Dream Dog. illus. by David Catrow. 40p. Random/Schwartz & Wade. Feb. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780375866555; RTE $20.99. ISBN 9780375966552. LC 2011048582.

Blechman, R. O . The One and Only 1, 2, 3 Book. illus. by author. 24p. Creative Editions. 2013. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781568462455. LC 2012046266.

Byous, Shawn . Because I Stubbed My Toe. 32p. Capstone. Feb. 2014. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9781623700881; pap. $5.95. ISBN 9781479538089.

Carnavas, Peter . The Children Who Loved Books. illus. by author. 32p. Kane Miller. 2013. Tr $11.99. ISBN 9781610671453. LC 2012940902.

Carrey, Jim . How Roland Rolls. illus. by Rob Nason. 68p. Some Kind of Garden Media. 2013. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780989368001. LC 2013940248.

Catalanotto, Peter . More of Monkey & Robot. illus. by author. 64p. S & S/Atheneum/Richard Jackson Bks. Mar. 2014. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781442452510; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781442452534. LC 2012051501.

Guarnaccia, Steve, retel. Cinderella: A Fashionable Tale. illus. by reteller. 32p. Abrams. 2013. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781419709869. LC 2013006459.

Coddington, Rachel Roellke . Monsters Under Bridges: Pacific Northwest Edition. illus. by Jolby. 32p. Sasquatch. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781570618567.

Dempsey , Kristy . A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina’s Dream. illus. by Floyd Cooper. 32p. Philomel. Jan. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399252846. LC 2013009520.

Engle, Margarita . Tiny Rabbit’s Big Wish. illus. by David Walker. 32p. Houghton Harcourt. Mar. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780547852867. LC 2013020194.

Epstein, Adam Jay Andrew Jacobson. Palace of Dreams. illus. by Dave Phillips. Bk. 4 336p. (The Familiars Series). HarperCollins/Harper. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062120298; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780062120304.

Esbaum, Jill . I Hatched! illus. by Jen Corace. 40p. Dial. Jan. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780803736887. LC 2012006100.

Feeney, Tatyana . Little Frog’s Tadpole Trouble. illus. by author. 32p. Knopf. Jan. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780385753722; lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9780385753739; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780385753746.

George, Lucy . The Cemetery Dance. illus. by Ayesha Lopez Rubio. ISBN 9781848987890.

–––– . Owen the Astronaut. illus. by Emma Foster. ISBN 9781848987944.

Goodman, Louise . Celebrity Celia. illus. by Kimberley Scott. ISBN 9781848987883.

–––– . Hugh is New. illus. by Keino. ISBN 9781848987913.

ea vol: 24p. (I Love Reading Phonics Series). chart. TickTock. 2013. pap. $3.99.

Gibson, Ben . The Ghastly Dandies Do the Classics. illus. by author. 64p. Penguin/Razorbill. 2013. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781595145277.

Grahame, Kenneth . The Wind in the Willows. illus. by David Roberts. 256p. Candlewick. 2013. RTE $24.99. ISBN 9780763665265. LC 2012952050.

Harper, Charise Mericle . Just Grace and the Super Sleepover. Bk. 11. illus. by author. 208p. (Just Grace Series). Houghton Mifflin. Jan. 2014. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780544045842. LC 2013004813.

Himmelman, John . Duck to the Rescue. illus. by author. 32p. Holt. Feb. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780805094855. LC 2012027681.

Horacek, Judy . Yellow Is My Color Star. illus. by author. 32p. S & S/Beach Lane. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781442492998. LC 2013009628.

Ismail , Yasmeen. Time for Bed, Fred! illus. by author. 32p. Walker. Jan. 2014. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780802735973. LC 2013010711.

Jeffers, Oliver . It Wasn’t Me. Bk. 2. illus. by author. 32p. (The Hueys Series). Philomel. Jan. 2014. RTE $17.99. ISBN 9780007420674. LC 2013019164.

Jennings, Patrick . Odd, Weird & Little. 160p. Egmont USA. Jan. 2014. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781606843741; ebk. $15.99. ISBN 9781606843758. LC 2013018248.

Kelly, Mij . Friendly Day. illus. by Charles Fuge. 32p. Barron’s. 2013. pap. $8.99. ISBN 9781438003450. LC 2001012345.

Kent, Derek Taylor . The Northern Frights. illus. by Scott M. Fischer. Bk. 3. 272p. (Scary School Series). HarperCollins. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780061960987; ebk. $13.99. ISBN 9780062208514. LC 2012022160.

Kerner, Susan . Always By My Side. illus. by Ian P. Benfold Haywood. 32p. Star Bright. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781595723369; pap. $6.99. ISBN 9781595723376. LC 2012019398.

Kimmel, Elizabeth Cody . A Taste of Freedom: Gandhi and the Great Salt March. illus. by Giuliano Ferri. 48p. further reading. maps. photos. websites. Walker. Feb. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780802794673. LC 2013019877.

Lean, Sarah . A Hundred Horses. 224p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen. Jan. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062122292; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780062122377.

Lewis, J. Patrick . The Good Ship Crocodile. illus. by Monique Felix. 30p. Creative Editions. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781568462387. LC 2012051781.

London, Jonathan . Froggy Gets a Doggy. illus. by Frank Remkiewicz. 32p. Viking. Feb. 2014. RTE $16.99. ISBN 9780670014286. LC 2013014761.

Lowry, Lois . Gooney Bird and All Her Charms. illus. by Middy Thomas. 160p. (Gooney Bird Greene Series). Houghton Harcourt. Jan. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780544113541. LC 2012041887.

McBain, Chani . No Such Thing as Nessie! illus. by Kirsteen Harris-Jones. 32p. Floris. 2013. pap. $11.95. ISBN 9780863159534.

McCain, Murray . Books! illus. by John Alcorn. 42p. AMMO. 2013. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781623260200. LC 2013935433.

McLellan, Stephanie . Tweezle into Everything. illus. by Dean Griffiths. 32p. Pajama. Feb. 2014. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781927485477.

Monroe, Mary Alice with Linda Love. A Butterfly Called Hope. photos by Barbara J. Bergwerf. 32p. diag. maps. Sylvan Dell. 2013. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781607188544; pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781607188568; ebk. $9.95. ISBN 9781607188575. LC 2013013641.

Murphy, Mary . Say Hello Like This! illus. by author. 32p. Candlewick. Feb. 2014. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9780763669515.

Nelson, Kadir . Baby Bear. illus. by author. 40p. HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray. Jan. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062241726. LC 2013003083.

Peppa Pig and the Vegetable Garden. 32p. Candlewick. Feb. 2014. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9780763669874. LC 2013944004.

Puchner, Willy . The ABC of Fabulous Princesses. tr. from German. illus. by author. 64p. NorthSouth. Jan. 2014. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9780735841130.

Reeve, Rosie . Training Tallulah. illus. by author. 32p. Walker. Jan. 2014. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780802735904; ebk. $6.99. ISBN 9780802736758. LC 201301712.

Riley, J. D . Axel the Truck: Rocky Road. illus. by Brandon Dorman. 32p. (I Can Read! Series). Greenwillow. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062222329; pap. $3.99. ISBN 9780062222312. LC 2013012764.

Rim, Sujean . Birdie’s Big-Girl Hair. illus. by author. 40p. (Birdie Series). Little, Brown. Feb. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316227919. LC 2012039921.

Rix, Jamie . Panda Panic: Running Wild. illus. by Sam Hearn. ISBN 9781438003085. LC 2013936281.

Whybrow, Ian . More Meerkat Madness: A Daring Desert Adventure. illus. by Sam Hearn. ISBN 9781438003054. LC 2013936275.

Willis, Jeanne . Penguin Pandemonium: The Rescue. illus. by Nathan Reed. ISBN 9781438003061. LC 2013936282.

ea vol: 192p. (Awesome Animals Series). Barron’s. 2013. pap. $6.99.

Robinson, Michelle . How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth. illus. by Kate Hindley. 32p. Holt. Jan. 2014. RTE $16.99. ISBN 9780805099669.

Sadler, Marilyn . Ten Eggs in a Nest. illus. by Michael Fleming. 32p. (Bright and Early Books for Beginning Readers Series). Random. Jan. 2014. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9780449810828. LC 2012051234.

Spangler, Lois . The Fort on Fourth Street: A Story About the Six Simple Machines. illus. by Christina Wald. 32p. Sylvan Dell. 2013. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781607186205; pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781607186328; ebk. $9.95. ISBN 9781607186441. LC 2012045128.

Surplice, Holly . Peek-a-Boo Bunny. illus. by author. 32p. HarperCollins/Harper. Jan. 2014. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9780062242655.

Watson, Tom . Stick Dog Wants a Hot Dog. illus. by Ethan Long. 224p. HarperCollins/Harper. 2013. Tr $12.99. ISBN 978-0-06-211080-0.

Wells, Rosemary . Sophie’s Terrible Twos. illus. by author. 32p. Viking. Feb. 2014. RTE $16.99. ISBN 9780670785124. LC 2013014733.

Weninger, Brigitte . Happy Easter, Davy! tr. from German by Rosemary Lanning. illus. by Eve Tharlet. 32p. NorthSouth. Jan. 2014. Tr $15.95. ISBN 9780735841611.

West, David . Dinosaurs On My Street. illus. by author. 64p. chart. Firefly. 2013. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781770852204; pap. $6.95. ISBN 9781770852211.

Witek, Jo . Hello in There!: A Big Sister’s Book of Waiting. illus. by Christine Roussey. 28p. Abrams/Appleseed. 2013. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781419703713. LC 2011941062.

Wolf, Gita, adapt. Gobble You Up! illus. by Sunita. 40p. Tara Bks. 2013. Tr $29.95. ISBN 9788192317144.

Wood, Douglas . When a Dad Says “I Love You.” illus. by Jennifer A. Bell. 32p. S & S. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780689875328. LC 2012013268.

This article was published in School Library Journal's January 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Diversity and Cultural Competency Training: Collections & RA

Do you want to ensure that your library’s collections are diverse, equitable, inclusive, and well-read?

Do you want to become a more culturally literate librarian and a more effective advocate for your community?

We've developed a foundational online course—with live sessions on February 28 & March 14—that will explore key concepts essential to cultivating and promoting inclusive and equitable collections.