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Review of Mel Fell

Mel Fell by Corey R. Tabor; illus. by the author Primary    Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins    40 pp.    g 2/21    978-0-06-287801-4    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-0-06-308952-5    $12.99 This playful and innovatively designed book tells the story of a small bird who is eager to fly. When Mama leaves the tree one day, Mel...

Review of Keeping the City Going

Keeping the City Going by Brian Floca; illus. by the author Primary    Dlouhy/Atheneum    40 pp.    g 4/21    978-1-5344-9377-3    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5344-9378-0    $10.99 Caldecott winner Floca (Locomotive, rev. 9/13) presents a love letter to New York City and its essential workers during COVID-19. “We are here at home now, watching...

Review of The Rock from the Sky

The Rock from the Sky by Jon Klassen; illus. by the author Primary    Candlewick    96 pp.    g 4/21    978-1-5362-1562-5    $18.99 In this collection of five connected short stories, clocking in at over ninety pages and composed solely of dialogue, Klassen introduces readers to a turtle, an armadillo, and a snake...

Review of Bear Island

Bear Island by Matthew Cordell; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Feiwel    48 pp.    g 1/21    978-1-250-31716-2    $18.99 e-book ed.  978-1-250-82193-5    $10.99 As in his Caldecott Medal–winning Wolf in the Snow (rev. 11/16), Cordell begins his story before the title page, a series of wordless images telling of loss and...

Review of The Passover Guest

The Passover Guest by Susan Kusel; illus. by Sean Rubin Primary    Porter/Holiday    40 pp.    g 1/21    978-0-8234-4562-2    $18.99 This reimagining of I. L. Peretz’s 1904 Yiddish story “Der Kunzen-Macher” (“The Magician”) follows Muriel, a young girl living in Washington, D.C., during the Great Depression. On the first night of Passover,...

Review of Outside, Inside

Outside, Inside by LeUyen Pham; illus. by the author Primary    Roaring Brook    48 pp.    g 1/21    978-1-250-79835-0    $18.99 “Something strange happened on an unremarkable day just before the season changed. Everybody who was OUTSIDE…went INSIDE.” The “something strange” is, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic, as safety protocols were put into...

Review of Nice Try, Charlie!

Nice Try, Charlie! by Matt James; illus. by the author Primary    Groundwood    48 pp.    g 9/20    978-1-77306-180-1    $18.95 e-book ed.  978-1-77306-181-8    $16.95 Sporting a full beard, shaggy hair, and a wide-brimmed hat, Charlie roams his neighborhood finding things: an old television, a pair of mismatched oven mitts (and Aunt Myrtle’s...

Review of Watercress

Watercress by Andrea Wang; illus. by Jason Chin Primary    Porter/Holiday    32 pp.    g 3/21    978-0-8234-4624-7    $18.99 e-book ed.  978-0-8234-5054-1    $11.99 Transcending space and time, memories bring a Chinese American family together. A girl in cutoffs and a T-shirt is embarrassed when her parents stop the car to pick wild watercress...

Review of Milo Imagines the World

Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Peña; illus. by Christian Robinson Primary    Putnam    40 pp.    g 2/21    978-0-399-54908-3    $18.99 Spanish ed.  978-0-593-35462-9    $18.99 e-book ed.  978-0-399-54909-0    $10.99 Harold and the Purple Crayon meets twenty-first-century urban realism in this picture book by the Last Stop on Market Street (rev....

Review of Northbound: A Train Ride Out of Segregation

Northbound: A Train Ride Out of Segregation by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein; illus. by James E. Ransome Primary    Candlewick    40 pp.    g 10/20    978-0-7636-9650-4    $17.99 In this picture book set in the 1960s (and inspired by the author’s childhood memories), Michael and his granddaddy are fascinated by the...

Review of Time for Kenny

Time for Kenny by Brian Pinkney; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Greenwillow    40 pp.    g 1/21    978-0-06-073528-9    $17.99 Four brief stories take us through young Kenny’s day as he gets dressed, has an encounter with a monster-like vacuum cleaner, learns “no hands!” soccer skills, and resists bedtime. Pinkney’s text...

Review of Everything Naomi Loved

Everything Naomi Loved by Katie Yamasaki and Ian ­Lendler; illus. by Katie Yamasaki Primary    Norton    48 pp.    g 9/20    978-1-324-00491-2    $18.95 e-book ed.  978-1-324-00492-9    $17.48 Naomi lives on busy, bustling 11th Street — “It wasn’t pretty but it was alive!” — where she and her best friend Ada love to...

Review of Off to See the Sea

Off to See the Sea by Nikki Grimes; illus. by Elizabeth Zunon Preschool    Sourcebooks    32 pp.    g 1/21    978-1-4926-3829-2    $17.99 It’s bath time for the child we first met in Bedtime for Sweet Creatures (rev. 1/20), and once again the youngster’s mother is the narrator. As in many households, here...

Review of Me & Mama

Me & Mama  by Cozbi A. Cabrera; illus. by the author  Preschool, Primary    Millner/Simon    40 pp.    g  8/20    978-1-5344-5421-7    $17.99  e-book ed.  978-1-5344-5422-4    $10.99  In the early morning, a young unnamed Black girl tiptoes through the house and past various sleeping family members, to be greeted by the smell of...

Review of Out the Door

Out the Door by Christy Hale; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Porter/Holiday    40 pp.    g 10/20    978-0-8234-4644-5    $18.99 Hale’s got a clever premise here — a this-is-how-I-get-to-school picture book written entirely with prepositional phrases that combine a direction or position with a location. The title page kicks things off...

Review of The Bear in My Family

The Bear in My Family by Maya Tatsukawa; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Dial    32 pp.    g 3/20    978-0-525-55582-7    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-0-525-55583-4    $10.99 A child asserts that there is a bear in his family, and indeed the illustrations show a little boy sharing space with a large gray creature. “Scary, right?” The...

Review of On Account of the Gum

On Account of the Gum by Adam Rex; illus. by the author Primary    Chronicle    56 pp.    g 10/20    978-1-4521-8154-7    $17.99 Shown wordlessly before the title page, our unnamed protagonist is in a sticky situation after falling asleep while chewing gum. Upon awakening, and after that unpleasant discovery, the child’s ­gum-removal...

Review of Your House, My House

Your House, My House by Marianne Dubuc; illus. by the author; trans. from French by Yvette Ghione Preschool, Primary    Kids Can    24 pp.    g 10/20    978-1-5253-0490-3    $18.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5253-0573-3    $9.99 “It’s the start of a new day at 3 Maple Street. But not just any day — it’s Little...

Review of Sato the Rabbit

Sato the Rabbit by Yuki Ainoya; illus. by the author; trans. from Japanese by Michael Blaskowsky Primary    Enchanted Lion    64 pp.    g 2/21    978-1-59270-296-1    $16.95 Sato is a little boy in a rabbit costume, a kind of Japanese second cousin to Max in his wolf suit. In a set of...

Review of Cave Paintings

Cave Paintings by Jairo Buitrago; illus. by Rafael ­Yockteng; trans. from Spanish by Elisa Amado Primary    Groundwood    48 pp.    g 10/20    978-1-773-06172-6    $19.95 e-book ed.  978-1-773-06173-3    $16.95 Buitrago and Yockteng (Walk with Me, rev. 5/17; On the Other Side of the Garden, rev. 7/18) turn to full-blown science fiction in...

Review of Circle! Sphere!; The Last Marshmallow; Up to My Knees!; What Will Fit?

Circle! Sphere! [Storytelling Math] by Grace Lin; illus. by the author Preschool    Charlesbridge    16 pp.    g 10/20    978-1-62354-124-8    $6.99 The Last Marshmallow [Storytelling Math] by Grace Lin; illus. by the author Preschool    Charlesbridge    16 pp.    g 10/20    978-1-62354-126-2    $6.99 Up to My Knees! [Storytelling Math] by Grace Lin; illus. by...

Review of The Night Before Christmas

The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore; illus. by Loren Long Primary    Harper/HarperCollins    40 pp.    g 9/20    978-0-06-286946-3    $18.99 Long’s inclusive take on Moore’s poem focuses on four different families in four diverse dwellings: a country farmhouse, a city apartment, a trailer home, and a house in the tropics....

Review of Once upon a Winter Day

Once upon a Winter Day by Liza Woodruff; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Ferguson/Holiday    40 pp.    g 11/20    978-0-8234-4099-3    $18.99 e-book ed.  978-0-8234-4404-5    $10.99 Milo’s mother is too busy to read him a story, so the boy reluctantly heads out to play in the snow. Under the bird feeder...

Review of All Because You Matter

All Because You Matter by Tami Charles; illus. by Bryan Collier Preschool, Primary    Orchard/Scholastic    40 pp.    g 10/20    978-1-338-57485-2    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-338-67474-3    $10.99 A richly illustrated affirmation for Black children — especially boys. An African American expectant mother and father eagerly await the arrival of their child, embracing him...

Review of I Talk like a River

I Talk like a River by Jordan Scott; illus. by Sydney Smith Primary    Porter/Holiday    40 pp. 9/20    978-0-8234-4559-2    $18.99 In this lyrical and empowering picture book, Canadian poet Scott tells a story based on his own experiences as a boy who stuttered. In simple, evocative language, he captures the isolation,...

Review of Prairie Days

Prairie Days by Patricia MacLachlan; illus. by Micha Archer Primary    McElderry    40 pp. 5/20    978-1-4424-4191-0    $17.99 In this nostalgic idyll set on the American prairie (judging by clues in the illustrations, in the mid-twentieth-century), a young girl describes summertime farm life as she and the other children ride horses, take...

Review of The Bear and the Moon

The Bear and the Moon by Matthew Burgess; illus. by Cátia Chien Preschool, Primary    Chronicle    48 pp.    g 9/20    978-1-4521-7191-3    $18.99 e-book ed.  978-1-4521-8125-7    $11.99 A wide-eyed bear — a furry stand-in for toddlers learning to manage strong emotions, as well as readers of all ages dealing with sorrow —...

Review of Our Little Kitchen

Our Little Kitchen by Jillian Tamaki; illus. by the author Primary    Abrams    48 pp.    g 9/20    978-1-4197-4655-0    $17.99 Our narrator explains, with great enthusiasm and gusto, how “every Wednesday, we come together in this little kitchen” to prepare a communal meal for all who are hungry. Meal prep begins with...

Review of Sun Flower Lion

Sun Flower Lion by Kevin Henkes; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Greenwillow    40 pp.    g 9/20    978-0-06-286610-3    $18.99 Library ed.  978-0-06-286611-0    $19.89 Meet the sun, “as bright as a flower”; a flower that looks like a lion; and a lion, who sees the flower and dreams about a field...

Review of Your Name Is a Song

Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow; illus. by Luisa Uribe Preschool, Primary    Innovation    40 pp.    g 7/20    978-1-943147-72-4    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-1-943147-91-5    $10.99 Roll call can be difficult for a child with an unusual name. A young girl describes how her name “got stuck” in her teacher’s mouth...

Review of Ten Ways to Hear Snow

Ten Ways to Hear Snow by Cathy Camper; illus. by Kenard Pak Preschool, Primary    Kokila/Penguin    32 pp.    g 10/20    978-0-399-18633-2    $23.99 e-book ed.  978-0-593-11123-9    $11.99 When she wakes to discover that it blizzarded the night before, Lina isn’t deterred from her plans to walk to see her grandmother (in Arabic,...

Review of Can Bears Ski?

Can Bears Ski? by Raymond Antrobus; illus. by Polly Dunbar Primary    Candlewick    40 pp.    g 11/20    978-1-5362-1266-2    $16.99 Bear’s home is loud — full of Dad Bear’s rumbling, shaking, and trembling — and our protagonist enjoys the commotion. Perplexingly, though, Dad and everyone else seems to keep asking, “Can bears...

Review of Robobaby

Robobaby by David Wiesner; illus. by the author Primary    Clarion    32 pp.    g 9/20    978-0-544-98731-9    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-0-358-41605-0    $12.99 In his latest picture book told with comics panels, Wiesner (Mr. Wuffles!, rev. 9/13) presents a new-baby story; the twist here is that the family in question are robots. The...

Review of In the City

In the City by Chris Raschka; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Jackson/Atheneum    40 pp.    g 9/20    978-1-4814-8627-9    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-4814-8628-6    $10.99 In this inquisitive and celebratory story, Raschka explores the enigmatic nature of fledgling friendships, reflecting on how friends find each other. In separate spaces in a bustling...

Review of Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away

Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away by Meg Medina; illus. by Sonia Sánchez Preschool, Primary    Candlewick    32 pp.    g 9/20    978-1-5362-0704-0    $17.99 Spanish ed.  978-1-5362-1334-8    $17.99 Daniela knows she’s going to have to say goodbye to Evelyn, her next-door neighbor and “número uno best friend.” But first, the two girls...

Review of I Am Every Good Thing

I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes; illus. by Gordon C. James Preschool, Primary    Paulsen/Penguin    32 pp.    g 9/20    978-0-525-51877-8    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-0-525-51878-5    $10.99 Barnes and James reunite, after the multi-award-winning success of Crown (rev. 11/17), for this beautiful and necessary book that affirms Black boys and their...

Review of Every Color of Light

Every Color of Light by Hiroshi Osada; illus. by Ryōji Arai; trans. from Japanese by David Boyd Preschool, Primary    Enchanted Lion    40 pp.    g 8/20    978-1-59270-291-6    $16.95 Poetic phrases and vibrant mixed-media illustrations capture the intensity of a thunderstorm across a natural landscape. The book begins with a small image...

Review of Desert Girl, Monsoon Boy

Desert Girl, Monsoon Boy by Tara Dairman; illus. by Archana Sreenivasan Preschool, Primary    Putnam    32 pp.    g 5/20    978-0-525-51806-8    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-0-525-51807-5    $10.99 In this beautifully rendered study of contrasts and commonalities, Dairman imagines a girl and boy from two different biomes in India. Split pages portray the girl...

Review of The Weather's Bet

The Weather’s Bet by Stephen Cowan; illus. by Ed Young Primary    Philomel    32 pp.    g 3/20    978-0-525-51382-7    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-0-525-51383-4    $10.99 “One day a shepherd was fast asleep / upon a hill with her flock of sheep.” The three powers who rule the Earth — Rain, Wind, and Sun...

Review of If Winter Comes Tell It I'm Not Here

If Winter Comes, Tell It I’m Not Here by Simona Ciraolo; illus. by the author Primary    Candlewick    32 pp.    g 10/20    978-1-5362-1530-4    $16.99 As a little boy sits on the side of a pool eating an ice-cream cone, his older sister informs him that he had better enjoy it, because...

Review of Julián at the Wedding

Julián at the Wedding by Jessica Love; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Candlewick    40 pp.    g 10/20    978-1-5362-1238-9    $16.99 Love’s follow-up to Julián Is a Mermaid (rev. 5/18) features characters both familiar and new. At the start of the story, Julián and Abuela are strolling down the sidewalk, arm-in-arm...

Review of If You Come to Earth

If You Come to Earth by Sophie Blackall; illus. by the author Primary    Chronicle    80 pp.    g 9/20    978-1-4521-3779-7    $18.99 Quinn, a small child in a red gnome hat, writes a letter to potential visitors to our planet to explain to them what we’re about: our location in the universe,...

Review of In the Half Room

In the Half Room by Carson Ellis; illus. by the author Primary    Candlewick    32 pp.    g 10/20    978-1-5362-1456-7    $16.99 In a series of images that depict halves, Ellis ushers readers into a delightfully surreal setting. With pleasing rhymes (“Half a window / Half a door / Half a rug on...

Review of Outside In

Outside In by Deborah Underwood; illus. by Cindy Derby Primary    Houghton    40 pp.    g 4/20    978-1-328-86682-0    $17.99 The intersection of outside and inside is creatively explored in this reflection on nature and its gentle persistence and ever-presence. The story begins in nature, as a young girl explores an impressionistic forest....

Review of Overground Railroad

Overground Railroad by Lesa Cline-Ransome; illus. by James Ransome Primary, Intermediate    Holiday    48 pp. 1/20    978-0-8234-3873-0    $18.99 e-book ed.  978-0-8234-4390-1    $11.99 “Some walked. / Some drove. / But we took the train north.” In 1939, as part of the Great Migration, young Ruth Ellen and her parents leave North Carolina,...

Review of You Matter

You Matter by Christian Robinson; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Atheneum    40 pp.    g 6/20    978-1-5344-2169-1    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5344-2170-7    $10.99 No saccharine self-esteem book, this is a powerful affirmation of each reader’s worth. Robinson’s text is loaded with child appeal (“When everyone thinks you’re a pest. / When...

Review of One Golden Rule at School: A Counting Book

One Golden Rule at School: A Counting Book by Selina Alko; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Ottaviano/Holt    40 pp.    g 6/20    978-1-250-16381-3    $17.99 Within the familiar rhythms and routines of a school day, viewers count from one (“One backpack”) to ten (“Ten chickpeas lined up for lunch”) and back...

Review of 13 Stories About Harris

13 Stories About Harris by Amy Schwartz; illus. by the author Preschool    Holiday    40 pp.    g 7/20    978-0-8234-4249-2    $18.99 Thirteen short stories follow city dweller Harris on preschooler-sized adventures. A very few seem geared toward adult sensibilities; most tap directly into authentic early-childhood behaviors and experiences. Harris, completely absorbed in...

Review of A Thousand Glass Flowers: Marietta Barovier and the Invention of the Rosetta Bead

A Thousand Glass Flowers: Marietta Barovier and the Invention of the Rosetta Bead by Evan Turk; illus. by the author Primary    Atheneum    48 pp.    g 8/20    978-1-5344-1034-3    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5344-1035-0    $10.99 In fifteenth-century northern Italy, on the island of Murano, where glassmakers thrived, lived young Marietta Barovier. Marietta dreamed...

Review of Sun and Moon Have a Tea Party

Sun and Moon Have a Tea Party by Yumi Heo; illus. by Naoko Stoop Primary    Schwartz & Wade/Random    40 pp.    g 7/20    978-0-385-39033-0    $17.99 Library ed.  978-0-385-39034-7    $20.99 e-book ed.  978-0-385-39035-4    $10.99 Sun and Moon meet for a late-afternoon tea party and discover the disparities between their worldviews. As they...

Review of The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story

The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story by Tina Cho; illus. by Jess X. Snow Primary    Kokila/Penguin    48 pp.    g 8/20    978-1-9848-1486-9    $17.99 Young Korean girl Dayeon admires her diver grandmother (“You are like a treasure-hunting mermaid”) and wants to be like her. Grandma is a haenyeo, one of many...

Review of Nana Akua Goes to School

Nana Akua Goes to School by Tricia Elam Walker; illus. by April Harrison Primary    Schwartz & Wade/Random    40 pp.    g 6/20    978-0-525-58113-0    $17.99 Library ed.  978-0-525-58114-7    $20.99 e-book ed.  978-0-525-58115-4    $10.99 Although her grandmother, Nana Akua, is her “favorite person in the whole universe,” young Zura is not excited about...

Review of Field Trip to the Ocean Deep

Field Trip to the Ocean Deep by John Hare; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Ferguson/Holiday    40 pp.    g 9/20    978-0-8234-4630-8    $17.99 Hare’s follow-up to Field Trip to the Moon (rev. 9/19) again features a compelling setting, a not-too-scary adventure, and immersive illustrations. This wordless story begins on the book’s...

Review of Swing

Swing by Michael Hall; illus. by the author Preschool    Greenwillow    40 pp.    g 5/20    978-0-06-286617-2    $17.99 The title spread introduces a school — a place of learning and growth — where outside the classroom window a swing set stands empty and waiting. A letter L sits alone on one of...

Review of We Will Rock Our Classmates

We Will Rock Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins; illus. by the author Primary    Disney-Hyperion    48 pp.    g 7/20    978-1-368-05959-6    $17.99 This second installment about T. rex Penelope (We Don’t Eat Our Classmates, rev. 9/18) centers on the school talent show. Penelope loves to rock and roll, and using her...

Review of Good Guys, Bad Guys

Good Guys, Bad Guys by Joanne Rocklin; illus. by Nancy Carpenter Preschool, Primary    Abrams    32 pp.    g 5/20    978-1-4197-3417-5    $16.99 Rocklin and Carpenter present a ­rollicking homage to neighborhood kid–­summertime play. The story begins on the title-page spread as two children get ready to greet the morning. On the left-hand...

Review of Bo the Brave

Bo the Brave by Bethan Woollvin; illus. by the author Primary    Peachtree    32 pp.    g 4/20    978-1-68263-182-9    $17.99 When Bo’s two older brothers, Erik and Ivan, set off from the castle on a quest to hunt a monster, they refuse to allow her to join, sneering that she’s too little....

Review of The Blue House

The Blue House by Phoebe Wahl; illus. by the author Primary    Knopf    40 pp.    g 8/20    978-1-9848-9336-9    $17.99 Library ed.  978-1-9848-9337-6    $20.99 e-book ed.  978-1-9848-9338-3    $10.99 Wahl’s picture book tells an affecting story about loss and starting over. In it, interdependent text and art channel a Molly Bang–like artistic style...

Review of We Are Water Protectors

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom; illus. by Michaela Goade Primary    Roaring Brook    40 pp.    g 3/20    978-1-250-20355-7    $17.99 The book opens with a young Indigenous girl collecting water with her grandmother, who tells her that “water is the first medicine.” Vibrant blues, greens, and purples depict the river...

Review of Whoo-Ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story

Whoo-Ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story by Maria Gianferrari; illus. by Jonathan Voss Primary    Putnam    32 pp.    g 3/20    978-0-399-54842-0    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-0-399-54843-7    $9.99 Readers follow a pair of great horned owls and their owlets from winter into the next autumn in this life-cycle narrative told in haiku....

Review of Everyone's Awake

Everyone’s Awake by Colin Meloy; illus. by Shawn Harris Primary    Chronicle    48 pp. 3/20    978-1-4521-7805-9    $17.99 Meloy and Harris depict one family’s anarchical bedtime routine within their ramshackle lighthouse-esque domicile. ­Rollicking rhymes, narrated by a young family member, set the scene: “We all got / tucked in early. / A...

Review of Jules vs. the Ocean

Jules vs. the Ocean by Jessie Sima; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Simon    48 pp. 5/20    978-1-5344-4168-2    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5344-4169-9    $10.99 Intent on impressing her older sister at the beach, Jules plans to build a big sandcastle. When the waves foil her plans, she assumes “the Ocean” is...

Review of A New Green Day

A New Green Day by Antoinette Portis; illus. by the author Preschool    Porter/Holiday    40 pp. 4/20    978-0-8234-4488-5    $18.99 In this exuberant celebration of a summer day, readers engage with compelling page-turns to solve simple nature riddles. “Morning lays me on your pillow,” the book opens, “square and warm. Come out...

Review of Where's Baby?

Where’s Baby? by Anne Hunter; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Tundra    40 pp. 1/20    978-0-7352-6498-4    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-0-7352-6499-1    $10.99 “Have you seen Baby, Mama Fox?” Mama Fox feels certain Baby is “somewhere,” and so Papa Fox begins the search, like a game of hide-and-seek. “Ba-by! Are you indoors?...

Review of A Stopwatch from Grampa

A Stopwatch from Grampa by Loretta Garbutt; illus. by Carmen Mok Primary    Kids Can    40 pp. 4/20    978-1-5253-0144-5    $17.99 “When summer started, I got Grampa’s stopwatch. I don’t want his stopwatch. I want him.” The accompanying illustration shows a child sitting all alone on a porch swing, bereft. We next...

Review of Kaia and the Bees

Kaia and the Bees by Maribeth Boelts; illus. by Angela Dominguez Preschool, Primary    Candlewick    40 pp. 3/20    978-1-5362-0105-5    $16.99 Kaia knows that she should appreciate bees, and she would if she weren’t so scared of them. It doesn’t help that her apiarist father cares for two hives on the roof...

Review of Big Papa and the Time Machine

Big Papa and the Time Machine by Daniel Bernstrom; illus. by Shane W. Evans Primary    Harper/HarperCollins    40 pp. 1/20    978-0-06-246331-9    $17.99 As Big Papa drives his (unnamed) grandson to school, he learns that the child would rather not go because he’s scared. The solution? Big Papa’s “time machine” — visually...

Review of The Camping Trip

The Camping Trip by Jennifer K. Mann; illus. by the author Primary    Candlewick    56 pp.    g 5/20    978-1-5362-0736-1    $17.99 City-dweller Ernestine has never been camping, but when Aunt Jackie and cousin Samantha invite her, she gets her dad’s okay and starts preparing: new flashlight and sleeping bag, a homemade batch...

Review of Rita & Ralph's Rotten Day

Rita & Ralph’s Rotten Day by Carmen Agra Deedy; illus. by Pete Oswald Preschool, Primary    Scholastic    48 pp. 3/20    978-1-338-21638-7    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-338-59927-5    $10.99 Rita and Ralph are best friends. Each day they meet at the apple tree midway between their houses and play games together. One day the...

Review of Green on Green

Green on Green by Dianne White; illus. by Felicita Sala Preschool, Primary    Beach Lane/Simon    48 pp.    g 3/20    978-1-4814-6278-5    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-4814-6279-2    $10.99 Do we need another picture book about the seasons? When it’s this good, the answer is an emphatic yes. White’s text is written in eminently readable...

Review of In My Anaana's Amautik

In My Anaana’s Amautik by Nadia Sammurtok; illus. by Lenny Lishchenko Preschool    Inhabit Media    24 pp. 4/20    978-1-77227-252-9    $16.95 A baby’s perspective of being held in its anaana’s (mother’s) amautik (“the pouch in the back of a woman’s parka where a baby can be carried”) is explored in lulling, sensory-rich...

Review of See Me Play

See Me Play [I Like to Read] by Paul Meisel; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Holiday    32 pp. 6/19    978-0-8234-3832-7    $15.99 e-book ed.  978-0-8234-4314-7    $9.99 The amiable yellow dog from Meisel’s previous entries in the estimable I Like to Read series (including Meisel’s Geisel Honor–winning See Me Run) returns...

Review of Hike

Hike by Pete Oswald; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Candlewick    40 pp.    g 3/20    978-1-5362-0157-4    $17.99 A new day dawns as a father wakes his child so they can head out from their city home into the country to go on a daylong hike. They see all sorts of...

Review of Summer Song

Summer Song by Kevin Henkes; illus. by Laura Dronzek Preschool    Greenwillow    40 pp. 4/20    978-0-06-286613-4    $18.99 Library ed.  978-0-06-286614-1    $19.89 Henkes and Dronzek complete their seasonal quartet (beginning with When Spring Comes, rev. 3/16) with a joyful ode celebrating summer and its myriad natural wonders and seasonal sights and sounds....

Review of Lift

Lift by Minh Lê; illus. by Dan Santat Primary    Little, Brown    48 pp.    g 5/20    978-1-368-03692-4    $17.99 Lê and Santat (Drawn Together, rev. 7/18) present another story focused on everyday familial relationships, expressed through concise writing and extraordinary visuals. As young Iris waits for an elevator with her family in...

Review of Home Base: A Mother-Daughter Story

Home Base: A Mother-Daughter Story by Nikki Tate; illus. by Katie Kath Primary    Holiday    32 pp. 3/20    978-0-8234-3663-7    $18.99 Although our two protagonists spend little of the book together, they are connected throughout by their hard work and achievement. This family of two starts the day in a groggy daze...

Review of My Mama

My Mama by Annemarie van Haeringen; illus. by the author; trans. from Dutch by Bill Nagelkerke Preschool    Gecko    32 pp. 3/20    978-1-776572-67-0    $17.99 Told from the baby’s point of view (“I’ve known my mama for a long time”), this playful offering explores, through two elephant characters, the strong emotional bond...

Review of Mama Baby

Mama Baby by Chris Raschka; illus. by the author Preschool    Candlewick    32 pp.    g 3/20    978-0-7636-9060-1    $14.99 In this artfully composed picture book, Raschka gets to the emotional core of the relationship between a young child and a trusted adult. Mama, on the verso, looks adoringly at her child, a...

Review of One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey

One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey by Henry Cole; illus. by the author Primary    Scholastic    48 pp.    g 4/20    978-1-338-35997-8    $18.99 e-book ed.  978-1-338-59929-9    $11.99 This wordless story follows a family and a paper bag through the generations. A tree becomes a log that gets hauled to a paper mill,...

Review of The Cool Bean

The Cool Bean by Jory John; illus. by Pete Oswald Primary    Harper/HarperCollins    40 pp. 12/19    978-0-06-295452-7    $18.99 This third collaboration about an endearing food staple features John’s and Oswald’s trademark humor-wrapped-around-a-message that made The Bad Seed and The Good Egg (rev. 3/19) so entertaining. This time it’s a cool-is-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder tale...

Review of ¡Vamos!: Let's Go Eat

¡Vamos!: Let’s Go Eat by Raúl the Third; illus. by the author; color by Elaine Bay Primary    Versify/Houghton    40 pp.    g 3/20    978-1-328-55704-9    $14.99 e-book ed.  978-0-358-33070-7    $9.99 Little Lobo and his canine sidekick Bernabé, whom we met in ¡Vamos!: Let’s Go to the Market (rev. 3/19), are getting ready...

Review of The Underhills: A Tooth Fairy Story

The Underhills: A Tooth Fairy Story by Bob Graham; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Candlewick    48 pp. 10/19    978-1-5362-1112-2    $16.99 Tooth fairy sisters April and Esme (April and Esme, Tooth Fairies, rev. 9/10), along with dog Ariel and new baby brother Vincent, are fluttering in for a sleepover with...

Review of What Color Is Night?

What Color Is Night? by Grant Snider; illus. by the author Preschool    Chronicle    48 pp. 11/19    978-1-4521-7992-6    $15.99 “What color is night? / Is it only black… / and white?” So begins an evocative picture book that urges young viewers to “look closer” at the night — to see, for...

Review of I'm Brave! I'm Strong! I'm Five!

I’m Brave! I’m Strong! I’m Five! by Cari Best; illus. by Boris Kulikov Preschool, Primary    Ferguson/Holiday    32 pp. 10/19    978-0-8234-4362-8    $18.99 In this intrepid bedtime story, an independent young girl confronts and overcomes her fear of the dark by reminding herself, “I’m brave! I’m strong! I’m five!” It’s time for...

Review of Brown Baby Lullaby

Brown Baby Lullaby by Tameka Fryer Brown; illus. by AG Ford Preschool    Farrar    32 pp.    g 1/20    978-0-374-30752-3    $16.99 Chronicling the nighttime routine of a family, Brown has penned a bedtime story that is immediately warm and relatable for families with young children. We follow an Afro-Latinx couple as they...

Review of Goodnight, Veggies

Goodnight, Veggies by Diana Murray; illus. by Zachariah OHora Preschool    Houghton    32 pp.    g 3/20    978-1-328-86683-7    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-0-358-33076-9    $12.99 As the sun sets over a rooftop community garden, it’s time for the garden’s vegetables to get some rest. “Turnips tucked in tightly. / Potatoes closing eyes. / Tuckered-out...

Review of Do I Have to Wear a Coat?: A Journey Through the Seasons

Do I Have to Wear a Coat?: A Journey Through the Seasons by Rachel Isadora; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Paulsen/Penguin    32 pp.    g 3/20    978-0-525-51660-6    $17.99 Isadora’s (I Hear a Pickle, rev. 1/16) characteristic ink and watercolor art uses vignettes set against white backgrounds to show children joyfully...

Review of Almost Time

Almost Time by Gary D. Schmidt and Elizabeth Stickney; illus. by G. Brian Karas Preschool, Primary    Clarion    32 pp.    g 1/20    978-0-544-78581-6    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-0-358-16693-1    $12.99 Waiting for spring can wear on one’s patience, but readers may find comfort sharing the burden with Ethan and his (apparently single-parent) father,...

Review of Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tail

Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tail by Lesléa Newman, illus. by Susan Gal Primary    Charlesbridge    32 pp. 1/20    978-1-58089-882-9    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-1-63289-742-8    $9.99 On Passover, inside his warm and cozy house, a boy waits expectantly for his family’s Seder. Outdoors, a kitten waits alone for the moon...

Review of The Old Truck

The Old Truck by Jarrett Pumphrey and Jerome Pumphrey; illus. by the authors Preschool, Primary    Norton    40 pp. 1/20    978-1-324-00519-3    $17.95 e-book ed.  978-1-324-00520-9    $12.15 The author-illustrator brothers tell the story of a family farm and the truck that assists with chores. As the hard-working truck ages, so does the...

Review of My Best Friend

My Best Friend by Julie Fogliano; illus. by Jillian Tamaki Preschool    Atheneum    32 pp. 3/20    978-1-5344-2722-8    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5344-2723-5    $10.99 What begins on the title spread as a small redheaded girl hesitantly approaching another girl on a tire swing becomes an ode to making friends. Our narrator gleefully shares this discovered joy:...

Review of A Girl like Me

A Girl like Me by Angela Johnson; illus. by Nina Crews Preschool, Primary    Millbrook    40 pp.    g 2/20    978-1-5415-5777-2    $19.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5415-7891-3    $18.99 It seems not even the sky’s the limit for the imaginative, adventurous, inventive girls depicted in this inspirational picture book. Johnson’s upbeat text, paired with Crews’s...

Review of Just like a Mama

Just like a Mama by Alice Faye Duncan; illus. by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow Preschool, Primary    Millner/Simon    32 pp. 1/20    978-1-5344-6183-3    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5344-6184-0    $10.99 An homage to all the African American women who are mothering children not biologically their own. Carol Olivia Clementine lives with Mama Rose because “Mommy...

Review of Johnny's Pheasant

Johnny’s Pheasant by Cheryl Minnema; illus. by Julie Flett Primary    Minnesota    32 pp.    g 11/19    978-1-5179-0501-9    $16.95 Minnema (a member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe) and Flett (of Cree-Métis descent) present an engaging and humorous intergenerational story of patience, hope, and surprise. Johnny spots a motionless pheasant in...

Review of Pluto Gets the Call

Pluto Gets the Call by Adam Rex; illus. by Laurie Keller Primary    Beach Lane/Simon    48 pp. 11/19    978-1-5344-1453-2    $17.99 e-book ed.   978-1-5344-1454-9    $10.99 Rex and Keller dramatize Pluto’s demotion to dwarf planet status in this smart and playful offering of informational comedy. Rex’s wry and engaging text is told completely...

Beyond Black History Month

Celebrate Black History Month beyond February with the following recent picture book biographies of inspiring Black figures, recommended for sharing with young readers all year long.   Anderson, Beth Lizzie Demands a Seat!: Elizabeth Jennings Fights for Streetcar Rights 32 pp. | Boyds Mills & Kane/Calkins | January, 2020 |...

Review of Freedom Bird

Freedom Bird by Jerdine Nolen; illus. by James E. Ransome Primary    Wiseman/Simon    32 pp. 1/20    978-0-689-87167-2    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-4814-0222-4    $10.99 Nolen presents an original story about flight and freedom — the former an enduring motif, the latter a recurrent theme, in African American folklore. Millicent and John worked alongside...

Review of Black Is a Rainbow Color

Black Is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy; illus. by Ekua Holmes Primary    Roaring Brook    40 pp. 1/20    978-1-62672-631-4    $17.99 A young girl sits on her stoop contemplating the colors of the rainbow, then notes, “But my color is black…and there’s no black in rainbows.” There is, however, black in...

Review of Bedtime for Sweet Creatures

Bedtime for Sweet Creatures by Nikki Grimes; illus. by Elizabeth Zunon Preschool    Sourcebooks Jabberwocky    32 pp.    g 1/20    978-1-4926-3832-2    $17.99 Grimes puts an animal-centric spin on a youngster’s innovations for bedtime stalling. This lushly illustrated story, on double-page spreads full of bold, saturated color, opens with an African American child’s...

Review of Octopus Stew

Octopus Stew by Eric Velasquez; illus. by the author Primary    Holiday    40 pp. 9/19    978-0-8234-3754-2    $17.99 With love and humanity — and humor — Velasquez (Looking for Bongo, Grandma’s Gift) once again affirms young Black Latinx boys’ identities and family experiences. Inspired by her cape-wearing grandson’s painting of an octopus...
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