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Pinkney Preschool, Primary    Harper/HarperCollins    32 pp. 9/18    978-0-06-623787-9    $17.99 This cozy (previously unpublished) story from the late, legendary Margaret Wise Brown opens and closes with the same playful rhyme: “Here is the barn / Hear the wind rattle / Open the door /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

Review of The Sinking of the Vasa

The Sinking of the Vasa by Russell Freedman; illus. by William Low Primary, Intermediate    Godwin/Holt    40 pp.    g 8/18    978-1-62779-866-2    $18.99 Freedman (posthumously) tells the story of the Swedish warship Vasa, from its tragic sinking to its eventual recovery and restoration as a museum piece. Sweden’s King Gustav II Adolf commissioned the Vasa, intended to […]

Review of The Princess and the Pit Stop

The Princess and the Pit Stop by Tom Angleberger; illus. by Dan Santat Preschool, Primary    Abrams    48 pp. 7/18    978-1-4197-2848-8    $16.99 With one lap to go in this fast-paced mashup of fairy tale and auto race, the Princess finds herself in last place after a pit stop. Undaunted, she once again takes off around the […]

Review of Beasts of India

Beasts of India edited by Kanchana Arni and Gita Wolf; illus. by various artists Preschool, Primary    Tara    48 pp. 6/18    978-93-83145-58-4    $30.00 Pricey, sure, but precious (it’s a limited edition), this small square book depicts animals of India screen-printed on textured paper. The diversity is both biological (tiger, deer, snake, etc.) and cultural, with the […]

Review of Square

Square by Mac Barnett; illus. by Jon Klassen Primary    Candlewick    40 pp.    g 5/18    978-0-7636-9607-8    $15.99 The Barnett-Klassen tag team is back with a companion book to Triangle (rev. 5/17), told through the collaborators’ signature meld of earthy, textured images and witty, thoughtful narrative. Square spends his days pushing square-shaped boulders from the bottom of […]