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Review of The Squirrels’ Busy Year

The Squirrels’ Busy Year [A First Science Storybook] by Martin Jenkins; illus. by Richard Jones Preschool, Primary    Candlewick    32 pp.    g 7/18    978-0-7636-9600-9    $16.99 A pair of squirrels and other residents of their pond-side community interact through four distinct seasons. In winter, the sleeping squirrels pop out quickly for acorns under the watchful eye of […]

Review of Quiet

Quiet by Tomie dePaola; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Simon    32 pp. 10/18    978-1-4814-7754-3    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-4814-7755-0    $10.99 A grandfather, a girl, a boy, and their dog out for a walk notice the busyness of the natural world around them: the bees buzz, the birds fly fast, a dragonfly zooms, all “busy as […]

Review of Friends and Foes: Poems About Us All

Friends and Foes: Poems About Us All by Douglas Florian; illus. by the author Primary    Beach Lane/Simon    48 pp. 7/18    978-1-4424-8795-6    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-4424-8796-3    $10.99 This collection of twenty-five poems teases out many of friendship’s fundamentals, as well as its more nuanced complexities. Along with jealousy, bullies, and new and imaginary friends, the punchy […]

Everyday — and otherworldly — wonders

In these new books for intermediate readers, the boundaries between our reality and more fantastical realms blur, allowing protagonists and magical beings alike to walk between worlds. My Beijing: Four Stories of Everyday Wonder, author-illustrator Nie Jun’s graphic novel for young readers, begins with a girl, Yu’er, who dreams of swimming in the Special Olympics. […]

Five questions for Zetta Elliott

Zetta Elliott’s Dragons in a Bag (Random, 8–11 years) kicks off a new middle-grade fantasy series starring Jaxon, a young African American Brooklynite who gets a glimpse of the magical possibilities of our world (and others) when he spends a day with new acquaintance Ma. 1. In the acknowledgements of Dragons in a Bag you […]

Creative concepts

Crafting a fresh concept book is no easy task, but the creators of these new picture books introduce fundamental topics in imaginative ways. “Look! Elephants! / One, two, three, four, five…” Five elephants, each rendered in a different pastel color with a thick brown outline, march across the pages of A Parade of Elephants. Counting […]

Review of Dragons in a Bag

Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott; illus. by Geneva B Primary, Intermediate    Random    154 pp.    g 10/18    978-1-5247-7045-7    $16.99 Library ed.  978-1-5247-7046-4    $19.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5247-7047-1    $10.99 There are two things you should never do when dealing with dragons. First, do not let them out of the bag; and second, do not feed them […]

Review of A Home in the Barn

A Home in the Barn by Margaret Wise Brown; illus. by Jerry Pinkney Preschool, Primary    Harper/HarperCollins    32 pp. 9/18    978-0-06-623787-9    $17.99 This cozy (previously unpublished) story from the late, legendary Margaret Wise Brown opens and closes with the same playful rhyme: “Here is the barn / Hear the wind rattle / Open the door / And see all […]

Review of Vivid: Poems & Notes About Color

Vivid: Poems & Notes About Color by Julie Paschkis; illus. by the author Primary    Godwin/Holt    32 pp. 7/18    978-1-250-12229-2    $17.99 Fourteen color poems pair with vibrant gouache illustrations, beginning with the color yellow: “Loudly, rowdy / daffodils yell hello. / Hot yellow.” The poem, set inside a bright sun, blazes above butterflies, birds, flowers, and a bee, […]

Review of Lena’s Shoes Are Nervous: A First-Day-of-School Dilemma

Lena’s Shoes Are Nervous: A First-Day-of-School Dilemma by Keith Calabrese; illus. by Juana Medina Preschool, Primary    Atheneum    40 pp. 7/18    978-1-5344-0894-4    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5344-0895-1    $10.99 Young Lena is totally prepared, and excited to start kindergarten. She’s not nervous…but her shoes are. Lena enlists her headband (who is “friends with everybody” and “a good listener”) […]