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    Biographies and Memoirs

    By Sandip Wilson and Carolyn Angus
     | Apr 16, 2018

    Biographies reflect human experiences in different settings. They are sources of information about times and places in history, as well as accounts of the lives of individuals, including some forgotten in the historical record. The biographies and memoirs reviewed here are thought-provoking stories about lives and moments and periods of history.

    Ages 4–8

    The Flying Girl: How Aída de Acosta Learned to Soar. Margarita Engle. Ill. Sara Palacios. 2018. Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    The Flying GirlWith lyrical text and bright, mixed-media illustrations, this biography tells the story of how Aída de Acosta (1884–1962) “learned to soar” after seeing a man fly an airship. “If that man can fly, so can I. / All I need are some lessons / and a chance to try!” Although her mother objects, 19-year-old Aída takes lessons from the airship’s inventor, Alberto Santos-Dumont, and—after only three sessions—flies solo. Landing in a polo field, Aída is taunted by observers for unladylike behavior, but Alberto cheers, “You flew! You’re a hero, such a brave inspiration for all the girls of the world!” An author’s note provides background information on Aída’s historic flight near Paris in 1903.
    —CA

    Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles. Patricia Valdez. Ill. Felicita Sala. 2018. Alfred A. Knopf/Random House.

    Joan Procter, Dragon DoctorFascinated by reptiles as a child (she even had a baby crocodile), Joan Beauchamp Procter (1897–1931) eventually became the assistant to the curator of reptiles and fish at the Natural History Museum in London. Her scientific research and creation of reptile exhibits led to her appointment as curator upon her mentor’s retirement. Proctor later designed the London Zoo’s Reptile House, including a special enclosure for the newest additions to the zoo’s reptile collection: two seven-foot-long Komodo dragons. Back matter for this biography includes colorful illustrations of Procter working with reptiles, additional information about her life and work, notes on Komodo dragons, and a bibliography.
    —CA

    Marie Curie. Demi. 2018. Henry Holt.

    Marie CurieBorn in Poland in 1867, Maria Sklodowska Curie dreamed of obtaining a university education at a time when women in Poland were not allowed to attend universities. In 1891, she enrolled at the Sorbonne in Paris, where she not only earned degrees in physics and mathematics, but was also the first woman to earn a doctorate in science in Europe. In 1903,  Curie became the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics (shared with her husband, Pierre Curie, and Henri Becquerel) for research on the radioactivity of uranium. In 1911, Curie won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her discovery of the elements polonium and radium. Demi’s biography, complemented by colorful mixed-media illustrations, educates readers about Curie's scientific accomplishments and their implications. Back matter includes a timeline, references, and additional resources. 
    —SW 

    Up & Down: The Adventures of John Jeffries, First American to Fly. Don Brown. 2018. Charlesbridge.

    Up & DownAt the end of the American Revolution, loyalist John Jeffries (1745–1819), a Boston physician, fled to England, where he became one of the thousands of Londoners who marveled at the sight of the first manned balloon flight. Seeing the opportunity to measure temperature at different altitudes and observe air currents, Jeffries, an amateur meteorologist, paid the famous French balloonist Jean-Pierre Blanchard to accompany him on a flight over London. The success of the voyage led Blanchard and Jeffries to plan a flight across the English Channel. Beautifully illustrated in oil-based pencil and watercolor, Don Brown chronicles the perilous journey to France made on January 7, 1785. Back matter includes a “More Hot Air” endnote, a bibliography, and quotation sources. 
    —CA

    Ages 9–11

    Confucius: Great Teacher of China. Demi. 2018. Shen’s Books/Lee & Low.

    ConfuciusDemi introduces young readers to Confucius (551 BCE–479 BCE) in this beautifully crafted biography. She weaves together legend and fact to tell the story of the Chinese philosopher and teacher’s life and work and incorporates numerous quotes from The Analects, in which students and followers compiled Confucius’ sayings after his death. Her distinctive, delicate illustrations, done in paint and ink and framed in gold and red, exquisitely complete this portrait of Confucius, whose principles of governance and education continue to have influence today.
    —CA

    The Secret Kingdom: Nek Chand, a Changing India, and a Hidden World of Art. Barb Rosenstock. Ill. Claire A. Nivola. 2018. Candlewick.

    The Secret KingdomFull of stories he heard from his family and visitors in his village north of Lahore (now Pakistan), Nek builds a small world of his own on the banks of a stream, creating a palace from silt and people and animals from clay, sticks, and rocks. With the 1947 partitioning of the country, he is forced to flee his home and settle in Chandigarh, the first planned city in the new India. Lonely for the people and places of home, Nek builds “a secret kingdom” with rocks, boulders, and discarded items on undeveloped scrubland near the city. When the government threatens to destroy his magical world, which he has kept secret for 15 years, people from Chandigarh come to the rescue. Beautiful watercolor and gouache illustrations suggest a sense of place. A final double gatefold opens to display a collage of photographs with views of the 25 acres of artwork (on the 45-acre “Rock Garden” site) that Nek Chand created over his lifetime. Back matter includes an author’s note with additional information about Nek Chand Saini (1924–2015) and the Rock Garden and a bibliography.
    —SW   

    Ages 12–14

    Claiming My Place: Coming of Age in the Shadow of the Holocaust. Planaria Price (with Helen Reichmann West). 2018. Farrar, Straus and Giroux .

    Claiming My PlacePrice tells the life story of Barbara Reichmann (1916–2007), born Gucia Gomolinska in central, predominantly Catholic Poland. As a teen before World War II, she becomes a leader in the Zionist movement—until the Nazis invade Poland in 1939 and establish the first Jewish ghetto in her town of Piotrko´w Trybunalski. After obtaining false identity papers as Danuta Barbara Tanska (nicknamed Basia), blonde, blue-eyed Gucia poses as a Catholic Pole and spends the war years working in Poland, Germany, and Switzerland, always in danger of being caught. At the end of the war, she reunites with a few surviving family members, and in 1951 immigrates to the United States. “New Beginning,” an afterword by her daughter, Helen Reichmann West, completes this story of a courageous young woman determined to survive the Holocaust. Special features that help tell the story include a 16-page photo album, maps, and an endnote on what happened to members of the Gomolinski family and other characters in the story.
    —CA  

    March Forward, Girl: From Young Warrior to Little Rock Nine. Melba Pattillo Beals. Ill. Frank Morrison. 2018. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    March Forward, GirlMelba Beals, one of the nine students who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957, recounts her family life, elementary and middle school days, and her striving for a quality education. Knowing from a young age the discrimination and segregation that oppressed the black community, she dreamed of freedom and of the opportunities that white people enjoyed. Beals describes her efforts to be an exemplary student with the support of her grandmother and modeling of her mother, against great odds. The book includes archival photographs, an epilogue, and a note to readers that provide more information about her life.
    —SW

    Roses and Radicals: The Epic Story of How American Women Won the Right to Vote. Susan Zimet. 2018. Viking/Penguin.

    Roses and RadicalsHighlighting leaders of the women's suffrage movement, Zimet chronicles the turbulent journey that led to the passage of the 19th Amendment. She details the life and work of such notables as Lucy Stone and Alice Paul to make suffrage a national priority. The depiction of their persistence, in the face of good, bad, and ugly public responses, is dramatic and heartrending. Quotations from the suffragists’ writings and speeches bring their personalities into focus. With archival photographs, source notes, and a bibliography, the book is a valuable historical resource and an exciting reading experience. 

    —SW 

    Ages 15+

    Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card. Sara Saedi. 2018. Knopf/Random House.  

    AmericanizedOnly 2 years old when her family fled Iran, Sara didn't learn of her undocumented status until 11 years later, when her older sister needed a Social Security number to apply for an after-school job. This memoir chronicles her teenage years, during which she longs for a boyfriend and her own car, enjoys the company of friends, and experiences anguish about the security of her family as they spend years trying to obtain legal citizenship. Saedi’s humorous description of the traditions and practices of her extended family and Iranian culture make this informative book a pleasure to read.
    —SW

    Fly Girls: The Daring American Women Pilots Who Helped Win WWII. P. O’Connell Pearson. 2018. Simon & Schuster.

    Fly GirlsWhen the United States entered World War II, military officials realized that skilled pilots were needed to operate bigger and more powerful aircrafts. But only men were allowed in military airplanes, even if the expert pilots who trained them to fly were women. A group of 1,100 determined female pilots—who had to prove their worth time and time again—ultimately formed the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP). They risked their lives testing new aircraft designs and flying for target practice. They transported planes from one post to another in the U.S. and rose to meet each challenge with resourcefulness and expertise—even when met with discrimination from military personnel. The book includes source notes, an extensive bibliography, and an epilogue noting lives of the pilots after the WASP was disbanded and the recognition they finally received in the 21st century.
    —SW 

    Sandip LeeAnne Wilson serves as professor in the School of Education and the English Department of Husson University, Bangor, Maine. Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

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    More Poetry, Please

    By Nancy Brashear and Carolyn Angus
     | Apr 11, 2018

    Join in the celebration of National Poetry Month in April by sharing poetry in your classrooms and libraries. The recently published books reviewed in this week’s column include poems that lead us to look at our world, our culture, and our lives in special ways while also encouraging an appreciation of the beauty and power of the language of poetry. Make a place for poetry in the curriculum each day in April—and throughout the year.

    Ages 4–8

    Hidden City: Poems of Urban Wildlife. Sarah Grace Tuttle. Ill. Amy Schimler-Safford. 2018. Eerdmans.

    Hidden CityIn 28 free verse poems, Sarah Grace Tuttle celebrates plants and animals that are city dwellers: moss and wildflowers in sidewalk cracks; peregrine falcons nesting on skyscrapers; bees, ants, snails, and garter snakes in community gardens; raccoons feasting on garbage from upturned pails; pigeons and ducks in city parks; and other urban wildlife. Lines such as, "A peregrine falcon / six weeks old / teeters thirty-two stories above / busy sidewalks and a traffic jam" in the poem “Falcon Fledge,” about a fledgling’s first flight, remind readers to take time to observe the “hidden city” around them. Amy Schimler-Safford’s colorful, richly textured digital illustrations provide stunning city scenes through the season that complement Tuttle’s vivid word pictures. Back matter includes “Fun Facts About the Wildlife in These Poems” and “Suggestions for Further Investigation.”
    —NB  

     I Am Loved. Nikki Giovanni. Ill. Ashley Bryan. 2018. Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    I Am LovedNikki Giovanni’s brief poems, set in black or white type against colored backgrounds against Ashley Bryan’s glorious illustrations—rendered in bright colors in tempera and watercolor and featuring black children, their parents, and animals—celebrate love in all its different forms. Some of the poems reflect pride of African-American heritage— “I reflect the strengths / Of my people / And for that alone / I am loved”). Others, such as the final rhythmic verse, encourage play and movement— “. . . do the rosa parks / say no no / do the rosa parks / throw your hands in the air . . . ”  Kindness, compassion, and action ring clear in this joyful picture book. 
    —NB

    Rooster Summer. Robert Heidbreder. Ill. Madeline Kleeper. 2018. Groundwood/House of Anansi.

    Rooster SummerA young brother and sister spend the summer at their grandparents’ farm with Rexter the Rooster (“roo-da-doodling at our sides”), Seed-Sack (the mule with a “slow swaying back”), Tuftin (a “spiky-haired … girl cat”), and Ginger-Tea, the new dog and defender of the chicken coop (with her “tawny, spicy-looking” coat). Poems, accompanied by vignettes and full-page illustrations in sepia tones, celebrate day-to-day adventures: gathering eggs from the coop and bringing them back to the farmhouse with Seed-Sack, swinging on a rope from the hayloft, taking a hayride under the stars, and getting a surprise at the end of the summer. An endnote describes the origin of this story in verse, which is based on Robert Heidbreder’s childhood memories.
    —NB

    Seeing into Tomorrow: Haiku by Richard Wright. Richard Wright. Nina Crews (Ed.). Ill. Nina Crews. 2018. Millbrook/Lerner.

    Seeing Into TomorrowEach of the double-page spreads of this beautifully designed picture book pairs a haiku by the well-known African American writer Richard Wright (1908–1960) with a photo collage by Nina Crews. Together, the 12 poems and illustrations celebrate the activities and observations of African American boys at different times of the year. The book begins with “Just enough of snow / For a boy’s finger to write / His name on the porch.” It ends with “A spring sky so clear / That you feel you are seeing / Into tomorrow.” Crews’ brief introduction includes a photograph of Wright reading to his young daughter. Crews appends a note on haiku, a brief biography of Richard Wright, a note on the illustrations, and a list of books for further reading.
    —CA

    With My Hands: Poems About Making Things. Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. Ill. Lou Fancher & Steve Johnson. 2018. Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    With My HandsTwenty-six poems about making things, presented in the first-person voice of the maker, are paired with mixed-media and collage illustrations of children working projects (building a bird house, soap carving, making a collage, creating origami shapes, knitting, and more) or showing the results (a boat made from twigs and foil, a sock puppet, or paper snowflakes). Each poem captures some aspect of the creative endeavor and the joy of making “something new / that / never / was / before.”  There is even a poem that serves as a reminder—or a warning—about expecting a mess. “Yes. It’s my mess. / Do not let it distress you. / I’m making a project / that just might impress you. / Projects are messy— / all makers agree. / And the messiest maker / of projects is . . . me.”
    —CA

    Ages 9–11

    Earth Verse: Haiku from the Ground Up. Sally M. Walker. Ill. William Grill. 2018. Candlewick.

    Earth VerseFrom a description of the layers of the Earth (fragile outer crust, / shell around mantle and core— / Earth: a hard-boiled egg”), to the eruption of a volcano ("hotheaded mountain / loses its cool, spews ash cloud— / igneous tantrum”) to groundwater (“underground water / trickles through a sandstone sponge, / pools inside the well”), 29 haikus, paired with impressionistic colored pencil illustrations, playfully explore the Earth’s geology. Back matter includes additional information on the Earth, minerals, rocks, fossils, earthquakes, volcanoes, atmospheric and surface water, glaciers, and groundwater as well as suggestions for further reading.
    —CA

    The Horse’s Haiku. Michael J. Rosen. Ill. Stan Fellows. 2018. Candlewick.

    The Horse's HaikuHaiku, presented in three sections (“In the Field,” “At the Barn,” and “In Saddle”), explores such shared experiences of horses and humans in pastoral settings as the birthing of a foal, caring for cattle in the fields, and enjoying a ride onthe beach at low tide. Lush watercolor paintings, rendered in earth tones with touches of red and blue, complement the haiku for a rich sensory experience. Back matter includes “Grazing: A Note on the Haiku” in which Rosen makes an apt comparison: “horse champs another / clump of grass . . . munching . . . chewing— / like this haiku!”
    —NB

    In the Past. David Elliott. Ill. Matthew Trueman. 2018. Candlewick.

    In The PastIn the Past is an invitation to step back into prehistoric times to meet animals from each of the geologic periods of the Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic Eras. David Elliott’s clever poems, written in a variety of formats, and Matthew Trueman’s striking mixed-media illustrations present portraits of 29 fascinating prehistoric creatures, from the trilobite of the Cambrian Period (544–505 million years ago) to the genus Mammuthus of the Quaternary Period (1.8 million years ago–present). For example, one of four poems about animals from the Jurassic Period (208–144 million years ago) is a terse verse about Dilophosaurus: “Blessed / with / crests.”Back matter includes an author’s note and a “Notes on the Animals: The Facts That Inspired the Poems” section.
    —CA

    Ages 12–14

    Jabberwalking. Juan Felipe Herrera. 2018. Candlewick.

    JabberwalkingThis energetic, stream-of-consciousness, poetry handbook with black-and-white scribble artwork created by Juan Felipe Herrera will help you turn your “Jabber Burbles” to “Poetry.” After taking the reader on a zany airplane trip to the Library of Congress (Herrera served as the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2015–2017), he spins off to Pluto in search of his dog, Lotus, where he runs into former student Zandunga García, a “Jabberblogger” from Bunion Junction. Interspersed between experimental forms of poetry writing exercises are autobiographical excerpts from Herrera’s “Jabber Notebook.” By the end of the book, like Herrera, you may have discovered that as a Jabber Walker writer you too can “make all life so beautiful your heart becomes a diamond-galaxy that shines out fast flickering, moving, turning on lights—everywhere.” And for added inspiration, you’ll want to read Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky.” 
    —NB

    Poetry for Kids: William Shakespeare. William Shakespeare. Marguerite Tassi (Ed.). Ill. Mercè López. 2018. MoonDance/Quarto.

    Poetry for Kids William ShakespeareThis beautifully crafted book, curated for young readers by Shakespeare scholar Marguerite Tassi, includes 31 of William Shakespeare’s most famous speeches, verses, and sonnets, beginning with “All the World’s a Stage” from As You Like It and ending with “Our Revels Now Are Ended” from The Tempest. The selections are accompanied by Spanish artist Mercè López’s expressive artwork and made more accessible through the inclusion of a glossary of words from the verse that the reader might find difficult to understand on the same page, in smaller italic print. Tassi gives a brief introduction to the life and work of the English playwright, actor, and poet, William Shakespeare (1564–1616), and adds a brief commentary on each selection in an appended “What William Was Thinking” section.
    —CA

    Ages 15+

    Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners. Naomi Shihab Nye. 2018. Greenwillow/HarperCollins.

    Voices in the AirIn this collection of almost 100 poems, Naomi Shihab Nye honors people from the past and present with her accessible poetry through which she offers insights and advice—“Why didn’t you take a photograph / out the window of every place you ever stayed?”—and advocates mindfulness—“Can we go outside and listen?” Nye focuses on details that might slip by without notice. For example, in a poem about gossip, Nye observes that Ernest Hemingway ate an apple before writing, which “might or might not have explained his crisp, / short sentences,” Most of all, she reminds readers to expand their lives. “Your day is so wide it will outlive everyone. / It has no roof, no sides.” Back matter includes detailed biographical notes on “the great voices” of the past and present that have inspired Nye and others. 
    —NB

    Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English at Azusa Pacific University, in Azusa, California. Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

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    International Children’s Books

    By Laura Cutler and Carolyn Angus
     | Apr 02, 2018

    Sponsored annually by the International Board on Books for Young People, International Children’s Book Day is celebrated on or around Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday, April 2, to inspire a love of reading and to spotlight children’s books around the world. The theme of this year’s celebration is “The small is big in a book.” In recognition, we reviewed the following new works of international literature.

    Ages 4–8

    Aquarium. Cynthia Alonso. 2018. Chronicle.

    AquariumIn Argentinian artist Cynthia Alonso’s wordless picture book (originally published in Portugal), a young girl ventures to a dock and gazes into the water below. Vibrant shades of blue set against soft pastels create visual symmetry between the protagonist and the surrounding water. A red fish, colored to match the fish printed on the girl’s dress, unexpectedly leaps onto the dock and the girl decides to take it home. There, she creates an elaborate system of waterways for the fish from various sized containers and tubes. Her construction plans take over the house, but she eventually realizes that the fish belongs back in the water—not in the living room! With a nod to the happiness that can be found by letting go, the back endpaper offers a satisfying conclusion to the story with the depiction of the girl and fish swimming together. 
    LC

    Get on Your Bike. Joukje Akveld. Trans. Laura Watkinson. Ill. Philip Hopman. 2018. Eerdmans.

    Get On Your BikeAn argument between best friends Bobby (a panda) and William (a dog) ends with William shouting, “Go on! Just get on your bike and leave!” And that’s just what Bobby does. He rides through busy city streets still fuming over his squabble with “buffle-brained” William. Riding into the countryside, Bobby calms down and begins to think about where to go and what to do next. Decision made, he speedily cycles back to William’s home. After an exchange of apologies, Bobby begins to think about a bike ride with William the next day. The text for this oversized picture book (originally published in The Netherlands) appears in small boxes in the upper left of each colorful, richly detailed double-page spread. It’s fun—and not so easy—to spot Bobby in his red hoodie on each page.
    —CA

    Herodotus the Hedgehog. Jean-Luc Buquet. 2018. Eerdmans.

    HerodotusAfter witnessing Bear worshipping the Mighty Bear Spirit, Herodotus, a curious hedgehog, wants to know if other animals have their own Great Spirits. After Fox tells him about the Great Fox, Herodotus visits Venerable, the old and wise hedgehog, and asks about the Great Spirit stories of hedgehogs. Venerable explains to Herodotus that, as humble creatures, hedgehogs know only one important fact:"that the sun rises and sets each day.” Herodotus is underwhelmed by Venerable’s teachings, and continues to ask other animals, including Weasel, Sheep, Wolf, and Hoopoe, about Great Spirits. Confused, he contemplates what he has heard. When Venerable joins him, his “I understand, I think. Let’s go see the sunset,” suggests he’s discovered the importance of appreciating each new day as it comes. Originally published in French, this thought-provoking story will leave readers contemplating their own beliefs about life’s big questions and remind them of the significance of appreciating what life has to offer.
    LC

    I Really Want to See You, Grandma. Taro Gomi. 2018. Chronicle.

    I Really Want to See You, GrandmaIn this tale (translated from Japanese) about the power of love and determination, Yumi and her grandmother each set off to visit each other. As they arrive at their destinations, each discovers that her loved one is not home. Nothing will stop Yumi and her grandmother from seeing each other, so they continue to go back and forth, unknowingly passing each other on the way. This humorous story, told through simple text and colorful illustrations, portrays Yumi and her grandmother employing various modes of transport to reach one another—including bus, train, taxi, scooter, and even grandma on a motorcycle! Finally, Yumi and her grandmother run into each other on their travels and, to avoid future confusion, decide to designate a tree that is growing along the road as their special meeting spot.
    LC 

    Old Hat. Emily Gravett. 2018. Simon & Schuster.

    Old HatHarbet, a big-eyed, long-nosed, waggy-tailed dog, loved the warm and cozy hat that his Nana knitted for him, but, as a dinosaur, bear, and bird sporting Carmen Miranda-styled hats point out, his hat is an OLD HAT! So Harbet gets one of these “latest, most up-to-datest” hats, only to learn that the fashionistas have moved on. Determined to have the latest hat, Harbet reads Top Hat Magazine and is first in line at the hat shop on Hat Unveiling Day. Having amassed a pile of new but already declared out-of-fashion hats, Harbet decides to do something daring—go hatless. The surprise ending reveals that Harbet has become the new trendsetter. Gravett’s latest picture book, with humorous, hat-filled illustrations (rendered in pencil, watercolor, and acrylic ink), offers a gentle lesson: Doing your own thing is always in style.
    —CA

    On the Other Side of the Garden. Jairo Buitrago. Trans. Elisa Amado. Ill. Rafael Yockteng. 2018. Groundwood/House of Anansi.

    On the Other Side of the GardenMexican writer Jairo Buitrago’s spare text and Columbian artist Rafael Yockteng’s detailed, textured, digital illustrations tell the story of city girl Isabel, who has been left by her father at Grandmother’s house out in the country. As she joins three animals (an owl, a frog, and a mouse) on a moonlit walk in the garden, Isabel tells them that Mum lives in another country and that Dad has left her with Grandmother while he looks for work. They tell her that her grandmother is lonely and kind. Returning home, Isabel is greeted with a hug and reassurance that she can walk in the garden anytime. “This is your house, too.” There is the hope that Isabel will adapt to the reality of separation from her parents as she lives with Grandmother and explores beyond the fence around the garden.  
    —CA

    Who Was That? Olivier Tallec. 2018. Chronicle.

    Who Was ThatFans, young and old, of French author-illustrator Olivier Tallec’s Who Done It? (2015) and Who What Where? (2016) will be delighted to test their observation and memory skills in his new interactive picture book. After following a direction such as “Now, cover Roger—he’s on the diving board—with your hand,” the reader is asked a question. In this case, it’s “How many teeth does he have?” The answer: three. Readers soon realize that they need to carefully observe the cartoon-like illustrations if they are to have a chance at answering the questions posed. Older children can extend the fun of Who Was That? by making up their own questions about the illustrations to test the memory of a reading buddy.
    —CA

    Ages 9–11

    The Land of Neverendings. Kate Saunders. 2018. Delacorte/Random House.

    The Land of NeverendingsWhen Holly died, Emily not only lost her sister—she lost her connection to their imagined toy world, Smockeroon, the Land of Neverendings. Emily begins to have fantastical dreams and visions about Holly’s beloved stuffed animal, Bluey, and of the imaginary world of Smockeroon. Soon Emily realizes that these fantasies are real and that the magic of Smockeroon is seeping into the human world—leaving the toy world in a state of unrest. When those around her are also affected by Smockeroon’s magic, Emily knows she must do something to restore the balance between the two worlds. English author Kate Saunders takes readers on an unforgettable adventure as Emily and her friends try to save Smockeroon from certain disaster. This story presents an honest depiction of the grief experienced after losing a loved one and helps young readers see that happiness can be found even in times of tremendous sorrow.
    LC

    The Rabbit and the Shadow. Mélanie Rutten. Trans. Sarah Ardizzone. 2018. Eerdmans.

    The Rabbit and the ShadowThis French import is the story of “a Rabbit who wants to grow up, / an anxious Stag, / a Soldier at war, / a Cat who keeps having the same dream, / a Book who wants to know everything, / and a Shadow.”  With 10 short episodes and colorful, expressive ink-and-watercolor illustration (from small vignettes to full-page spreads), Belgium artist-illustrator Mélanie Rutten weaves together the stories of these characters into a complex tale of adventure, growing up, emotions, and dreams with a warm and satisfying ending.
    —CA

    Ages 12–14

    The Book of Pearl. Timothée de Fombelle. Trans. Sarah Ardizzone & Sam Gordon. 2018. Candlewick.

    The Book of PearlThis extraordinary fantasy chronicles the quest of Joshua Pearl, a prince (whose real name is Ilian) to reunite with his first love. Joshua Pearl is banished from the world of fairy tales—the land of Kingdoms—by his cruel and resentful brother. He magically arrives in Paris at the onset of World War II and is unaware that his love, Olia, a fairy, has also been banished to the human world. Because magic prevents Olia from revealing herself, she is forced to watch Joshua from the shadows. Readers are left spellbound by the magic and mystery of Joshua’s quest to return to the Kingdoms and reunite with Olia. Only at the story’s conclusion does French author Timothée de Fombelle reveal how Joshua and Olia find their way back to the Kingdoms and to each other.
    LC

    Ages 15+

    Ophelia. Charlotte Gingras. Trans. Christelle Morelli & Susan Ouriou. Ill. Daniel Sylvestre. 2018. Groundwood/House of Anansi.

    OpheliaTenth grader Ophelia is a loner, who seldom says anything. When an author visiting her Quebec high school gets no response from students when she asks for questions, however, Ophelia asks “Why do you write? What’s the point of writing?” At the end of the session, the author thanks Ophelia for speaking up and gives her a blue notebook, writing in it her address along with the message “If you feel like writing . . . Or you want to write to me . . .” The letters Ophelia writes to the author in the notebook and the art she begins to create in an abandoned building she comes across one night while out tagging walls with her signature little broken heart are the beginning of a journey of self-acceptance, finding friendship, and reaching out to other outsiders in this coming-of-age story with intriguing abstract and collage artwork incorporating French words.
    —CA

    Laura Cutler is a PhD student in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences at the University of Delaware. Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

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    Drop Everything and Read: Independent Reading

    By Susan Knell and Carolyn Angus
     | Mar 26, 2018

    What began as a celebration of National Drop Everything and Read (D.E.A.R.) Day on April 12—the birthday of popular children’s book author Beverly Cleary—has become an annual month-long celebration. Here is a selection of recently published books to add to classroom libraries to encourage independent reading. Join the celebration by setting aside time for students to read in class every day during April or, better yet, all year long.

    Ages 4–8

    The Adventures of Wrong Man and Power Girl! C. Alexander London. Ill. Frank Morrison. 2018. Philomel/Penguin.

    The Adventures of Wrong Man and Power Girl!Never fear! Wrong Man is here! Or maybe not. In this adventure story, illustrated with a father–daughter duo of super hero character in comic book fashion, Wrong Man does exactly the opposite of what is needed to rescue people from catastrophes, such as a meteor heading toward the city, a fire, a bank robbery, and even homework-eating dogs! However, Power Girl is always there to save the day. This is a heartwarming story of the loving relationship between a daughter and her dad, with an ending that assures readers “even Wrong Man is right sometimes.”
    —SK

    City Cycle. Alison Farrell. 2018. Chronicle.

    Cycle City 2It’s the morning of Cycle City’s Starlight Parade, and Mayor Snail is helping the parade committee deliver eight last-minute invitations. It’s not an easy task as everyone moves around the bustling city on wheels. Double-page spreads provide panoramic city scenes (reminiscent of Richard Scarry’s books) filled with animal citizens riding different kinds of cycles. Footnotes provide clues and ask readers to help the mayor find the individuals he needs to invite. Mission accomplished, it’s time for the parade to begin. The back endpaper identifies the cycles featured in this delightful seek-and-find book.
    —CA

    Hello, Door. Alastair Heim. Ill. Alisa Coburn. 2018. Little Bee.

    Hello DoorA bushy-tailed red fox stealthily approaches an elegant house and enters through a window. Moving through rooms, he greets objects with a “Hello” and stashes valuables into his big sack. Finding a huge jewelry box in an upstairs bedroom, he exclaims, “Hello, necklace. / Hello, rings. / HELLO, OTHER SPARKLY THINGS.” Then, with sack bulging, the bejeweled thief is on his way out. “Bye-bye, bedroom. / Bye-bye stairs. / Bye-bye, mirror. / Bye-bye . . . / . . . BEARS?!?” After being pursued through the house, the empty-handed fox is tossed out a window by Madame Bear. Lesson learned? Probably not. The final spread shows the fox approaching an even grander house. “Hello, door!” There’s more to discover in the richly detailed cartoon illustrations—including clues about the residents of the burgled house—with each rereading.
    —CA

    Prickly Hedgehogs! Jane McGuinness. 2018. Candlewick.

    Prickly Hedgehogs!“Someone’s sniffling and snuffling and snaffling . . . whirring and churring and purring.” It’s a prickly hedgehog. With engaging text (accompanied by insets of related facts) and mixed-media full-page and paneled illustrations, Jane McGuinness introduces a mother hedgehog and her five hoglets, who are ready to leave the nest, learn to hunt for food, and learn to live independently. Little Hedgehog eats and eats on nocturnal forays, getting fatter and fatter, and at the end of fall makes a nest in preparation for hibernation through the winter. Back matter includes a “More About Hedgehogs” page, an index, and sources for more information.
    —CA

    Rabbit Moon. Jean Kim. 2018. Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic.

    Rabbit MoonIn her debut picture book, Jean Kim draws inspiration from her own heritage and Korean folklore to tell the story of the rabbit on the moon. Far away, Raccoon and his animal friends make wishes that set sail as paper airplanes into the night sky. Rabbit holds a magical mortar and pestle with which he grinds the wishes into stars. However, he has his own wishes, and decides to leave the moon to visit these new friends. As together they watch the stars disappear into a black night, rabbit leaves and returns to the moon where he magically turns the dark sky into a sparkly sky full of stars for his friends to see. This beautifully illustrated story about wishes, friendships, and adventure is perfect for encouraging young children to think about what they see when they look at the moon.
    —SK

    This Zoo Is Not for You. Ross Collins. 2018. Candlewick.

    This Zoo is Not For YouA platypus enters a zoo with an envelope in his hand. There is a notice on the entry gate that says “Interviews Today. Apply Within.” As he meets with various animals (a panda, flamingoes, monkeys, chameleons, and an elephant) they brag about what makes them so special and point out reasons why Platypus doesn’t belong there. As the platypus turns around to leave, the animals start to feel bad about how they treated him and decide that he really could have joined their zoo. But what to do? The illustrations show monkey finding the envelope that the platypus dropped on his way out. The animals discover they were quick to judge, and that his intentions weren’t at all what they assumed. The rhyming text and colorful illustrations (done in watercolor and charcoal) make this a pleasing story with a gentle lesson about jumping to conclusions, acceptance, and friendship.
    —SK

    Ages 9–11

    Hope in the Holler. Lisa Lewis Tyre. 2018. Nancy Paulsen/Penguin.

    Hope in the HollerWavie’s beloved mom left her a list of instructions just before she died, hoping to help her move on with her life. Wavie is in for a big surprise, however, when she is whisked away from the cemetery and taken to Conley Hollow in Appalachia by a mean and mysterious aunt. Living in squalor, poverty, and a world of abuse, Wavie knows she has no choice but to live with this evil woman. Amid her troubles and grief for her mom, Wavie makes friends with Gilbert and Camille, who help her live by her mom’s advice: “Be brave, Wavie B! You got as much right to a good life as anybody, so find it!”
    —SK

    The Ultimate Book of Sharks: Your Guide to These Fierce and Fantastic Fish. Brian Skerry. 2018. National Geographic Society.

    The Ultimate Book of SharksNational Geographic explorer and photographer Brian Skerry takes readers on an underwater adventure to learn about the diversity and fantastic features of sharks. Eight chapters cover topics such as types of sharks, shark anatomy, shark myths, fossils, and shark conservation. Each chapter contains a wealth of captioned full-color photographs and text organized in brief paragraphs and charts. Special features include dramatic “Moments of AHHH!?!!,” close-up photographs, “Shark Bites” of trivia, and “Skerry Encounters” highlighting personal insights from Skerry on his interactions with sharks.
    —CA

    The United States v. Jackie Robinson. Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen. Ill. R. Gregory Christie. 2018. Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins.

    The US vs. Jackie RobinsonReaders may know that Jackie Robinson broke the color line in Major League Baseball on April 15, 1947, when he played with the Brooklyn Dodgers against the Boston Braves at Ebbets Field. However, many are unaware of his resistance to discrimination while serving as a second lieutenant during World War II. Like many other black soldiers, he experienced racism daily. Despite an army’s order forbidding segregation on military posts and buses, on July 6, 1944, at Fort Hood, Texas, Robinson was arrested for refusing to move to the back of an army bus. On August 2, his court-martial began. The verdict: Not guilty. Robinson had fought for what he knew was right and won. Back matter includes a timeline, an author’s note, and bibliography.
    —CA

    Ages 12–14

    Mapping the Bones. Jane Yolen. 2018. Philomel/Penguin.

    Mapping the BonesJane Yolen once again transports readers to the troubling scene of World War II, the Lodz Ghetto, and the unmanageable horrors of the Holocaust, as depicted in her award-winning The Devil’s Arithmetic (1988)and Briar Rose (1992). Fourteen-year-old twins Chaim and Gittel communicate with each other through their private sign language. Chaim, who stutters, also expresses his thoughts and fears through poetry he composes in his mind. When word comes that their family is about to receive a “wedding invitation” (code for being transferred to a camp), the family escapes and makes arrangements with partisans to transport Chaim and Gittel to safety. Yolen’s historical novel, with overtones of a dark Hansel and Gretel,will have readers marveling at Chaim and Gittel’s will to survive the horror that has become their new reality—as it reminds them to never forget.
    —SK

    Rising Above:  Inspiring Women in Sports. Gregory Zuckerman (with Gabriel Zuckerman & Elijah Zuckerman). 2018. Philomel/Penguin.

    Rising Above: Inspiring Women in SportsIn this collective biography of 10 female U.S. athletes, the author and his two sons relate how each woman overcame various obstacles to attain world-class athletic achievement. Gymnast Simone Biles was taken from her mother and lived in a foster home until her grandparents adopted her. Ronda Rousey had to deal with her father’s suicide, then bullying as her body became stronger and more athletic with judo lessons. Carli Lloyd was cut from her college soccer team. And Wilma Rudolph, stricken with polio at age four, was born into a poor African American family in the segregated South. Each of these mini biographies will engage and inspire readers. Back matter includes an afterword on the author’s experiences in interviewing these women, a bibliography for each athlete, and an index.
    —SK

    Ages 15+

    Fum. Adam Rapp. 2018. Candlewick.

    FumCorinthia Bledsoe is not your average Midwestern high school junior. She’s over seven feet tall, wears size 22 shoes, is extremely bright, and can predict doom and gloom—such as a tornado that will hit her high school, leaving a cow standing in the middle of the Lugo Memorial field house. Corinthia has other storms brewing in her life, not the least of which are school bullies, teachers, and her own mother, who unable to come to terms with her daughter’s size, joins a support group for parents of grossly deformed children. Readers will follow Corinthia as she deals with her increasingly dysfunctional family, physical challenges, and an admirer at school who is facing his own challenges. Reading like a dark fairy tale, this book has an ending that may be somewhat happily-ever-after following a strange and surprising turn of events.
    —SK

    Susan Knell is a professor in the Department of Teaching and Leadership at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas, where she teaches literacy and literature courses at the undergraduate and graduate level. Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

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    STEM Stories

    Jennifer Shettel and Carolyn Angus
     | Mar 19, 2018

    Reading trade books is an important component of an interdisciplinary approach to developing literacy skills and learning STEM content. This week we review recently published books that are strong choices for introducing STEM topics, initiating discussions and activities, and encouraging independent reading in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

    Ages 4–8

    Bird Builds a Nest (First Science Storybooks). Martin Jenkins. Ill. Richard Jones. 2018. Candlewick.

    Bird Builds a NestBirds are nature’s feathered engineers! With simple, straightforward text and beautiful mixed-media illustration, Jenkins and Jones give young readers a physics lesson on forces as Bird builds a nest. After successfully pulling up a juicy worm for breakfast, Bird lifts twigs of just the right size and pushes and pulls them in place to construct her nest, lines it with dried grasses and feathers, and molds it into shape with her body. A bonus “thinking about pushing and pulling” section with questions gets children thinking scientifically. 
    —JS

    Face to Face with Wolves (Face to Face with Animals). Jim Brandenburg & Judy Brandenburg. 2018. National Geographic Society.

    Face to Face With WolvesOnce on the endangered species list, wolves have made a comeback in the United States. This book is filled with beautiful photographs (many of them close-ups) that invite the reader to come face-to-face with majestic wolves. After introducing readers to wolves and their activities, the authors describe the plight of the wolf from both historical and modern-day perspectives. Informational text features throughout the book include interesting captions, sidebars, and maps. Special features in the back matter include sections on how children can get involved and educational extensions for teachers. 
    —JS

    Flying Deep: Climb Inside Deep-Sea Submersible Alvin. Michelle Cusolito. Ill. Nicole Wong. 2018. Charlesbridge.

    Flying Deep“Imagine you’re the pilot of Alvin, a deep-sea submersible barely big enough for three.” It’s an invitation for a dive almost two miles to the seafloor. An accessible text and digitally created illustrations give an hour-by-hour account of a dive: preparation for launch from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s research ship Atlantis; the two-hour descent beginning at 8:00 a.m.; survey of the site and collection of specimens from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.; and ascent for a 5:00 p.m. end of the mission. Back matter includes an author’s note on the story behind Flying Deep, an illustrator’s note, Alvin facts, a glossary, notes on organisms encountered, and a “Learn More” section.
    —CA

    Hello Hello. Brendan Wenzel. 2018. Chronicle.

    Hello HelloA “Hello Hello” greeting showing two cats, identical except for their colors (one white and one black), is followed by “Black and White” and a line-up of animals from the black cat on the left to a black-and-white striped fish on the right. The parade of animals continues, showcasing the diversity of their colors, shapes, patterns, habits, and more. “A world to see / A world to know.” An author’s note draws attention to getting to know more about the world’s animals and conservation efforts to save those in trouble. On the final four pages, the 92 featured animals are identified by common names along with a notation of their conservation status.
    —CA

    Hey-Ho, to Mars We’ll Go: A Space-Age Version of “The Farmer in the Dell.” Susan Lendroth. Ill. Bob Kolar. 2018. Charlesbridge.

    Hey-Ho, to Mars We'll Go!“THE ROCKET’S ON THE PAD. / The rocket’s on the pad. / Hey-ho, to Mars we’ll go— / The rocket’s on the pad.” Budding young astronauts will delight in this picture book about journeying to Mars that can be sung to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell.” Each spread includes a four-line verse and one or more short paragraphs that provide readers with an account of what they could expect if they were astronauts travelling to Mars. The computer-generated, cartoonlike illustrations depict a diverse crew of young space explorers. An endnote provides information about Mars exploration and suggests three websites for further investigation.
    —JS

    Kate, Who Tamed the Wind. Liz Garton Scanlon. Ill. Lee White. 2018. Schwartz & Wade/Random House.

    Kate, Who Tamed the WindEco-engineering is explored in this story about a man with a problem: His house sits at the top of a very windy hill, and the wind is wreaking havoc with his house and belongings. A clever young girl named Kate comes up with the idea of planting saplings that will grow to be a protective windbreak. As the trees grow over the years, Kate keeps coming back to visit the man and to see how her solution is working. An author’s note provides readers with more insight as to how trees help people and how people can help trees. The lyrical cumulative text and mixed-media illustration filled with windblown details make this picture book a good read-aloud choice.
    —JS

    This Is the Nest That Robin Built. Denise Fleming. 2018. Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster.

    This Is the Nest That Robin BuiltWith spring approaching, it’s the perfect time to read Fleming’s picture book about the nest that Robin built—with help from some friends. A cumulative verse patterned after “This Is the House That Jack Built” and brightly colored, textured illustrations (created using print-making techniques combined with collage) relate the contributions of the friends to the nest building. A gatefold provides a step-by-step summary of Robin’s construction of the nest, in which she lays three eggs. The final pages show the young birds leaving the nest. “[N]ow young FLEDGINGS, / rumpled and ruffled, and ready to fly. / Good— / bye!”
    —CA

    Ages 9–11

    Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover. Makus Motum. 2018. Candlewick.

    Curiosity“Wherever you are in the world right now, I’m a very long way away. I’m not even on the same planet as you.” Beginning with these words, Mars rover Curiosity chronicles her personal journey from being designed and built at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, near Los Angeles, California, to launch from the Kennedy Space Center, on the Florida coast, to safely landing on Mars in 2012 (after 253 days of traveling 13,000 miles per hour), to her continued exploration of Mars today. Curiosity ends her narration with speculations about the future of space exploration. Motum’s mixed-media illustrations in which he uses flat, geometric shapes in characterizing Curiosity, the expanses of outer space, and the Martian landscape have an intriguing retro look. Back matter includes information about other rovers that have now joined Curiosity on Mars, a timeline of Mars missions, and a glossary. 
    —CA

    Ellie Engineer. Jackson Pearce. Ill. Tuesday Mourning. 2018. Bloomsbury.

    Ellie, EngineerThird grader Ellie is an aspiring engineer. With her trusty toolbelt and design notebook always in hand, Ellie is the neighborhood go-to girl when problems need to be solved. When Ellie wants to design a doghouse for her friend Kit as a birthday present, Toby, one of the “yukky” neighborhood boys asks to help her, and she finds herself navigating the “girls-only/boys-only” mentality that has been causing friendship problems for her. Keeping secrets from Kit creates even more problems for Ellie. This middle-grade novel, complete with sketches from Ellie’s notebook and a guide to her favorite tools, includes themes of friendship, overcoming gender stereotypes, collaboration, and valuing everyone’s strengths.
    —JS

    Who Says Women Can’t Be Computer Programmers?: The Story of Ada Lovelace. Tanya Lee Stone. 2018. Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt.

    Who Says Women Can't Be Computer ProgrammersThe informative text and witty gouache-and-india ink illustrations of this picture book biography provide an introduction to the life and accomplishments of Ada Byron Lovelace (1915–1952), who is recognized today as the first computer programmer. Fearing that she would grow up to have a wild imagination like her father, the famous poet Lord Byron, Ada’s mother set her on a course of study of math and science. Mastering these subjects, however, did not curb her imagination. When teenager Ada met scientist Charles Babbage, who demonstrated the model of his Difference Engine, a basic calculator, to her, “she was excited to realize that math and imagination did not have to be opposites.” Her later development of algorithms for Babbage’s proposed Analytical Engine was an important contribution to computer programming—even before there were computers. Back matter includes an author’s note, references, and sources of quotations.
    —CA

    Ages 12–14  

    Drawn from Nature. Helen Ahpornsiri. 2018. Big Picture/Candlewick.

    Drawn From NatureBritish artist Helen Ahpornsiri uses small, precise pieces of hand-pressed flowers, leaves, stems, and other plant parts to create delicate collage portraits of animals in their natural habitats that celebrate changes observed during the four seasons. For example, in the first section, Spring, topics include the predawn chorus of song heard during the mating season of songbirds, nest building, the budding of trees, the life cycles of butterflies and frogs, the hopping of hares in fields signaling the beginning of breeding season, and ducklings swimming in a row behind their mother. Each page includes several paragraphs of text describing this exploration of nature through the year. An author’s note, accompanied by a photograph of Ahpornsiri’s work space, helps readers understand how she creates her intricate artwork.
    —CA

    Wildflowers (Ultimate Explorer Field Guides). Libby Romero. 2018. National Geographic Society.

    WildflowersThis new entry in the Ultimate Explorer Field Guide series is a compact, kid-friendly wildflower field guide for backyard adventurers and budding naturalists. Filled with full-color photographs, descriptions, facts, tips, tidbits, and even a few jokes, this handy guide, just right for the pocket or backpack, will help children spot and identify wildflowers in their backyard, neighborhood, and beyond. Back matter includes a photo-reference list organized by color, a glossary, and an index.
    —JS

    Ages 15+

    Very, Very, Very Dreadful: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918. Albert Marrin. 2018. Knopf/Random House.

    Very, Very, Very DreadfulAlbert Marrin presents an engaging history of influenza, focusing on the 1918 pandemic, the “most deadly disease event in the history of humanity.” He documents the overcrowded conditions of training camps, battlefronts, and hospitals during World War I and the lack of scientific understanding of the cause and ways of treating and controlling the spread of the disease that contributed to the three influenza waves—seasonal outbreak, epidemic, and pandemic. Marrin ends with present-day research, including the threat of the mutated H5N1 as a terrorist weapon and the inevitability of another influenza pandemic, the outcome of which will be “very, very, very dreadful” if we are not prepared to meet it. Back matter includes source notes, bibliography, picture credits, and index.
    —CA

    Jennifer W. Shettel is an associate professor at Millersville University, PA, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate course in literacy for pre-service and practicing teachers.  Prior to joining the faculty at Millersville, she spent 16 years as an elementary classroom teacher and reading specialist in the public schools. Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books at Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

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