March 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Baseball, Bears, Bees, and Tu B’Shevat | Nonfiction Preschool to Grade 4

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


See our complete list of
November 2014 SLJ Stars.

redstarSayre, April Pulley. Raindrops Roll. photos by April Pulley Sayre. 40p. further reading. websites. S. & S./Beach Lane. Jan. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481420648.

K-Gr 2 –This first-rate book highlights the beauty and wonder of rain—a seemingly commonplace occurrence—and shows its effects upon the rest of the natural world. In general but lyrical terms, the work explains what raindrops do (“Raindrops settle. They slip. They dot.”). The text is accompanied by scenes from a forest rainforest (drops clinging to flowers or spider webs, insects and birds dealing with the downpour). Sayre has created a poetic atmosphere, using rhyming words (“Raindrop spangles/mark angles.”), and her vibrant, close-up photographs, which effectively complement the narrative and will engage children and adults alike. The last two spread, titled “A Splash of Science,” offer information on the three forms of water (ice, liquid water, and water vapor) and their characteristics. This attractive work is also ideal for read-alouds and an easy entry for students delving into nonfiction reading, especially in poetry or science units. This excellent title will transform how readers think about rain.–Tracey Wong, P.S. 54/Fordham Bedford Academy, Bronx, NY

redstarSidman, Joyce. Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold. illus. by Rick Allen. 32p. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Nov. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780547906508.

K-Gr 4 –The 12 selections in this collection offer a winter wonderland of deftly crafted poetry, fascinating science facts, an amazingly rich vocabulary, and stunning illustrations. In the title poem, the bees are lyrically described, ”Born with eyelash legs/and tinsel wings/we are nothing on our own./Together, we are One….Deep in the winter hive,/we burn like a golden sun.” In “Big Brown Moose,” the animal humorously chants, “I’m a big brown moose,/I’m a rascally moose,/I’m a moose with a tough shaggy hide…” Science facts about the animals’ lives in harsh winter climates appear in sidebars on each spread. Sidman explores the safe places that allow for survival, such as in the underwater beaver lodge, “In the dim oval room,/they groom, snack, kiss;/strong brown bullets that dive/in the under-ice world.” The poet also includes the role of plant species in the process, such as the skunk cabbage that signals spring’s arrival as the first plant to sprout through the snow and its importance as it attracts insect pollinators. Readers come to understand that the seemingly barren winter is actually teaming with the hidden activity of plant and animal life. Allen’s intricately detailed, hand-colored, linoleum prints jump off the page, wrap around the words, and breathe life into the foxes, voles, swans, wolves, and more. This combination provides a magnificent celebration of winter that delights and informs. A comprehensive glossary of specialized words is included. Douglas Florian’s Winter Eyes (Greenwillow, 1999), Barbara Rogasky’s Winter Poems (Scholastic, 1995), and Anna Grossnickle Hines’s Winter Lights (Greenwillow, 1995) also celebrate the season but cover a wide range of events. Winter Bees distinguishes itself with a focus on the science of animal survival, coupled with superlative illustrations. Readers young and old will enjoy this winter journey and marvel at the wonders of nature.–Carole Phillips, Greenacres Elementary School, Scarsdale, NY

redstarWeatherford, Carole Boston. Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century. illus. by Raul Colón. 40p. Random/Knopf. Dec. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780375856068; lib. ed. $20.99. ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780385392464.

Gr 2-5 – Weatherford continues to showcase groundbreaking African Americans often overlooked by history books and popular culture. World-famous opera singer Leontyne Price gets her due in this luscious picture book biography. Price’s talent and perseverance enabled her to follow in the footsteps of singer Marian Anderson and become a celebrated soprano whose wondrous voice rang through the Metropolitan Opera House in her iconic Aida role and on Broadway as a lead in Porgy and Bess. A true marriage of lyrical text and majestic illustrations, the book shines a much-needed spotlight on an important cultural figure. Colón’s earthy hues establish the tone of Price’s early years, set against the backdrop of her humble Mississippi upbringing and a childhood surrounded by supportive parents and gospel music. The watercolor and pencil drawings seem to vibrate off the page, especially in the form of rainbow-colored musical notes that often envelop the work’s subject. An author’s note includes more information on other singers for whom Price paved the way. While the exact audience for this book is hard to place, the emphasis on the performer’s predecessors (“The song of her soul soared on the breath of her ancestors.”) and mentions of segregation will tie this title into units on African American history and female pioneers. A gorgeous book in the ranks of the author’s I, Matthew Henson: Polar Explorer (Walker, 2007) and Becoming Billie Holliday (Boyds Mills, 2008).–Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal

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

American Museum of Natural History. ABC Insects. 18p. (AMNH ABC Board Books). photos. Sterling. 2014. Board $7.95. ISBN 9781454911944.

Cross, Amanda. My First Juices & Smoothies: Healthy Recipes Children Will Love. photos by Vanessa Davies. ISBN 9780600629672.

Johnson, Becky. My First Baking Book: 50 Recipes for Kids to Make and Eat! ISBN 9780600629665.

ea vol: 128p. illus. index. photos. Octopus/Hamlyn. 2014. pap. $9.99.

Das, Prodeepta. A Day I Remember: An Indian Wedding. photos by Prodeepta Das. 28p. Frances Lincoln. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781847804464.

Franklin, Carolyn. Gorilla Journal. ISBN 9781905638710.

––––. Lion Journal. ISBN 9781906370725.

ea vol: 32p. (Animal Journals). glossary. illus. index. maps. photos. Black Rabbit/Book House. 2014. Tr. $28.50.

Halfmann, Janet. Animal Teachers. illus. by Katy Hudson. 36p. Blue Apple. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781609053918.

Houts, Michelle. Kammie on First: Baseball’s Dottie Kamenshek. 148p. (Biographies for Young Readers). bibliog. chron. ebook available. glossary. notes. photos. reprods. Ohio Univ. Pr. 2014. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9780821421307.

Ingalls, Ann. J is for Jazz. illus. by Maria Corte Maidagan. 40p. glossary. World Book/Bright Connections Media. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781622670260.

McCully, Emily Arnold. Queen of the Diamond: The Lizzie Murphy Story. illus. by Emily Arnold McCully. 32p. notes. photos. Farrar/Margaret Ferguson Bks. Feb. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374300074.

MacLeod, Robert. Vikingworld: The Age of Seafarers and Sagas. 80p. chron. illus. maps. photos. reprods. Carlton. 2014. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781783120468.

Meltzer, Brad. I Am Jackie Robinson. illus. by Christopher Eliopoulos. 40p. (Ordinary People Change the World). chron. further reading. notes. photos. Dial. Jan. 2015. RTE $12.99. ISBN 9780803740860. LC 2014017473.

Muntz, Kendra. Invisible to the Eye: Animals in Disguise. 48p. photos. World Book/Bright Connections Media. 2014. lib. ed. $9.99. ISBN 9781622670291.

Navarro, Paula Àngels Jiménez. Surprising Experiments with Sound. illus. by Bernadette Cuxart. 36p. (Magic Science). Barron’s. 2014. Tr $7.99. ISBN 9781438004259. LC 2013943423.

Newman, Lesléa. Here Is the World: A Year of Jewish Holidays. illus. by Susan Gal. 48p. glossary. Abrams. 2014. RTE $18.95. ISBN 9781419711855. LC 2013029463.

Nolan, Nina. Mahalia Jackson: Walking with Kings and Queens. illus. by John Holyfield. 32p. chron. websites. HarperCollins/Amistad. Jan. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780060879440; lib. ed. $18.89. ISBN 9780060879457. LC 2013051288.

Ofanansky, Allison. New Month, New Moon. photos by Eliyahu Alpern. 32p. ebook available. Kar-Ben. 2014. lib. ed. $16.95. ISBN 9781467719452; pap. $7.95. ISBN 9781467719469. LC 2013022211.

Ringgold, Faith. Harlem Renaissance Party. illus. by Faith Ringgold. 40p. further reading. glossary. websites. HarperCollins/Amistad. Jan. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780060579111.

Robinson, Anthony. Real Stories from Street Children Across the World. illus. by June Allan. photos by Anthony Robinson. 36p. maps. Frances Lincoln. 2014. lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9781847804341.

Schmidt, Sarah, ed . The Kid’s Guide to Exploring Nature. illus. by Laszlo Veres. 120p. (BBG Guides for a Greener Planet). chart. glossary. photos. Brooklyn Botanic Garden. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781889538884.

Shields, Carol Diggory. After the Bell Rings. illus. by Paul Meisel. 32p. Dial. Feb. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780803738058. LC 2014002797.

Walker, Sally M. Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh. illus. by Jonathan D. Voss. 40p. notes. photos. websites. Holt. Jan. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805097153.

Winter, Jonah. The Founding Fathers!: Those Horse Ridin’, Book-Readin’, Gun-Totin’ Gentlemen Who Started America. illus. by Barry Blitt. 48p. websites. S. & S./Atheneum. Jan. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442442740; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442442757. LC 2012030311.

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