April 20, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Picture Books: A Bunny’s “Staycation” and a Big Brother Dinosaur | April 2018 Xpress Reviews

Daniel W. Vandever’s imaginative picture book centers a Navajo student who doesn’t follow the line; two titles expand the “bedtime book” genre; a lyrical meditation on losing a loved one.

This article was published in School Library Journal's April 2018 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Baby Bear’s Book of Tiny Tales by David McPhail | SLJ Review

PreS –Reminiscent of books from another era, this is a collection of four short stories about an active and curious little bear named Baby Bear.

New Picture Books from Dav Pilkey, Ellie Sandall, & More | March 2018 Xpress Reviews

A “Scaredy Kat” finds some courage; a young dragon dancer celebrates the Lunar New Year; and a black family tackles the tough topic of police brutality with their children in this month’s Xpress.

This article was published in School Library Journal's March 2018 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Baby Monkey, Private Eye by Brian Selznick & David Serlin | SLJ Review

PreS-Gr 1 –Selznick and Serlin take the easy reader format to new creative heights.

Benny Doesn’t Like To Be Hugged by Zetta Elliott | SLJ Review

Toddler-Gr 1 –With sweet, colorful illustrations and straightforward text, this book explores acceptance and understanding between two young friends.

I Walk with Vanessa by Kerascoët | SLJ Review

PreS-Gr 3 –A picture book without words, but with images that speak volumes.

Let’s Go to the Farm! by Caryl Hart | SLJ Review

Toddler-PreS –Bee and Billy are two children who meet at a farm. They both enjoy an exciting trip as they meet farm animals, witness an egg hatching, and play with friends.

Accident! by Andrea Tsurumi | SLJ Review

PreS-Gr 2 –When Lola the armadillo spills juice all over her family’s white chair, she hastily decides to run to the library, since “they have books and bathrooms,” and hide there till she’s a grown-up.

Feather by Cao Wenxuan | SLJ Review

PreS-Gr 2 –Wenxuan has created a picture book that tells the hopeful tale of a single feather as it embarks on a journey to find out where it came from and where it belongs.

Los Pollitos/Little Chickies by Susie Jaramillo | SLJ Review

Jaramillo, Susie. Los Pollitos/Little Chickies. illus. by Susie Jaramillo. 11p. (Canticos). Encante Pr. Apr. 2016. Board $14.99. ISBN 9780996995900. BL 

Toddler-PreS –An accordion-style board book featuring one of the most well-known Spanish songs for children. In this classic nursery song of the Spanish-speaking world, little chicks go, “!Pio! !pio! !pio!” when they are hungry and when they are cold; mother hen finds food for them and keeps them warm. Snuggled up under her wings, they sleep […]

Hare and Tortoise by Alison Murray | SLJ Review

Murray, Alison. Hare and Tortoise. illus. by Alison Murray. 32p. Candlewick. May 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763687212. 

PreS-Gr 1 –A delightful and witty retelling of the traditional Aesop fable. The story remains true to the original, while adding in wonderfully quirky descriptions of the main characters. In doing so, Murray makes the well-known animals that much more lovable. It is impossible not to smile at Tortoise’s catchphrase, “I may be slow, but watch me go,” as […]

When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes | SLJ Review

Henkes, Kevin. When Spring Comes. illus. by Laura Dronzek. 40p. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062331397. 

PreS-Gr 1 –There’s something almost magical about the changing of the seasons, and Henkes and Dronzek once again perfectly capture the quiet wonder of the natural world, as they did in Birds and Oh! Through second-person narration that features the refrain “but if you wait…,” they detail the subtle and less subtle changes that occur as spring replaces winter—snow melts, […]

Hiding in Plain Sight | SLJ Spotlight

Whether it’s a story about a game of counting and scouting for hidden friends or looking for cleverly concealed visual clues, these books sharpen children’s observation skills and allow them to succeed vicariously by paying attention, honing sharp-eyed reflexes, and having fun along the way.

My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith | SLJ Review

Smith, Monique Gray. My Heart Fills with Happiness. illus. by Julie Flett. 24p. Orca. 2016. Tr $9.95. ISBN 9781459809574. 

Toddler-PreS –Joyful and tender, this board book celebrates the activities that bring gladness through family and cultural connections. On one spread, three children wait in front of the oven in a modern kitchen (“My heart fills with happiness when…I smell bannock baking in the oven.”). The patterns on their clothing are echoed in the kitchen textiles, creating […]

Looking for Bongo by Eric Velasquez | SLJ Review

Velasquez, Eric. Looking for Bongo. illus. by Eric Velasquez. 32p. Holiday House. Feb. 2016. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780823435654; ebk. $16.95. ISBN 9780823436026. 

PreS –An Afro Latino boy searches for his missing stuffed toy in this tender tribute to family, music, and childhood. The adorable narrator, depicted charmingly with a puffy Afro, protruding tummy, inquisitive eyes, and pj’s, inquires after the whereabouts of his beloved Bongo. With Spanish-peppered text, the toddler asks his parents, the family pets, […]

I Hear a Pickle: (and Smell, See, Touch, and Taste It, Too!) by Rachel Isadora | SLJ Review

ISADORA, Rachel. I Hear a Pickle: (and Smell, See, Touch, and Taste It, Too!). illus. by Rachel Isadora. 32p. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Bks. Jan. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399160493.

PreS-Gr 1 –Isadora provides a sensory tour of early childhood, exploring common sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures. Each “chapter” consists of a number of simple declarative sentences matched with colorful ink and watercolor vignettes to capture what the children are experiencing or have learned not to try. […]

Cricket Song by Anne Hunter | SLJ Review

Hunter, Anne. Cricket Song. illus. by Anne Hunter. 32p. HMH. Mar. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780544582590.

PreS-Gr 1 –In a yellow house, in a blue bedroom decorated with planets and stars, a boy sleeps. He cuddles a sea otter toy, and on the wall behind a windblown curtain is the painting of a South Pacific island, volcanic, the ocean parted by a whale’s tail. The tranquil spread is underlined with a long, narrow panel depicting his […]

My House by Byron Barton | SLJ Review

Barton, Byron. My House. illus. by Byron Barton. 40p. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. Apr. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062337030.

PreS-K –Jim the cat provides a tour of his cozy home. This orange tabby explores both his outdoor and indoor spaces with an active prowl; he perches comfortably in a tree, jumps to the rooftop, and springs to the ground as he explores his surroundings. Jim takes full ownership of his home with a mixture of catlike and human characteristics; […]

Is Mommy? by Victoria Chang | SLJ Review

Chang, Victoria. Is Mommy? illus. by Marla Frazee. 40p. ebook available. S. & S./Beach Lane. 2015. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781481402927.

Toddler-PreS –A troupe of toddlers cheekily field questions about their mothers. An unseen narrator asks, “Is mommy tall…/or short?” A red-headed imp ponders the query and imagines a tall mommy reaching down for a loving embrace, and then fantasizes about towering over a suddenly diminutive, doll-like mommy. A huge speech bubble, spread across the next two […]

The House that Zack Built by Alison Murray | SLJ Review

Murray, Alison. The House that Zack Built. illus. by Alison Murray. 32p. Candlewick. Feb. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763678449.

PreS-K –Murray brings back Zack, an easygoing mop-haired boy, and his super-cute dog, Rufus, from Hickory Dickory Dog (Candlewick, 2014). This version of the cumulative rhyme preserves—even possibly enhances—the bounce and sway of the original Mother Goose favorite. The trouble starts with a farmyard fly, and an engaging tale ensues: “This is the cat/that stalked the fly/that […]