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    STEM Stories

    By Jennifer Shettel and Carolyn Angus
     | Mar 18, 2019

    Reading trade books is an important component of an interdisciplinary approach to developing literacy skills and learning STEM content. This week’s column includes books that are effective choices for introducing lessons and activities on STEM topics as well as for independent reading in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

    Ages 4–8

    Bloom Boom! April Pulley Sayres. 2019. Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster.

    Bloom! Boom!“Every spring, / across the land.... /Seeds sprout. / Stems pop out. / Bloom, / boom!” With lyrical text and stunning photographs, author and photo-illustrator April Pulley Sayres celebrates the profusion of flowers that burst out all at once in the spring in glorious bloom booms. Back matter includes information on the spring blooms in various regions (desert, meadows, woodlands, gardens, forests, and hills); “A Bit More About the Blooms” section with the common and scientific names and notes about the plants featured; and a list of resources.
    —CA

    Flower Talk: How Plants Use Color to Communicate. Sarah C. Levine. Ill. Masha D’yans. 2019. Millbrook/Lerner.

    Flower TalkIn this book, a cranky cactus describes why the color of a plant’s flowers is important for attracting the appropriate pollinators. For example, plants with red flowers are typically visited only by birds, while plants with blue or purple flowers are usually visited by bees. Vibrant watercolor paintings add to the humor of this engaging informational picture book about “flower talk.” Back matter includes a more detailed explanation about pollination, some tips on how to protect animals that are pollinators, and a list of other books about plants and pollinators for young readers.
    —JS

    The Frog Book. Steve Jenkins & Robin Page. Ill. Steve Jenkins. 2019. Houghton Mifflin.

    The Frog BookIn their latest collaboration, Steve Jenkins and Robin Page introduce readers to some of the more than 6,000 species of frogs, amphibians that live both in the water and on land and are found on every continent except Antarctica. Double-page spreads feature images of frogs, created in Jenkins’ signature cut- and torn-paper collage technique, and accessible text on characteristics (body structure, metamorphosis, and behavior); the diversity of frogs in colors, shapes, sizes; habitats; special adaptations; “extreme frogs,” record holders in the world of frog; and conservation status (one-third of all frog species are in danger of extinction). Back matter includes a table showing the sizes, diets, and ranges of the frogs in the book, and a list of books and websites for more information.
    —CA

    The Night Flower. Lara Hathorne. 2019. Big Picture/Candlewick.

    The Night FlowerWith a descriptive text of rhyming quatrains and expressive stylized illustrations, Lara Hawthorne presents a story of the activity in the Sonoran Desert over 24 hours that ends with the dramatic once-a-year nighttime blooming of the Saguaro cactus. The strong scent and brilliant white petals of the magnificent flowers of the Saguaro attracts the cactus’ pollinators, brown bats with black wings. Back matter includes diagrams of the life cycle and structure of the Saguaro, a “Did you spot...?” section of fauna (including the long-nosed bat and white-lined sphinx moth, nocturnal visitors to the Saguaro flowers) in the illustration, and a glossary.
    —CA

    Seashells: More Than A Home. Melissa Stewart. Ill. Sarah S. Brannen. 2019. Charlesbridge.

    SeashellsYoung children, especially those who have collected seashells at the beach, will enjoy the informative text and realistic watercolor illustrations of this informational book that features 13 different types of shells and how they are used. For example, the flat, round bivalve shell of a scallop is used to propel the mollusk through the water and to protect it from predators when closed. A nature journal feature for each shell gives young naturalists a glimpse into how they might document their own sand treasures. Back matter includes a double-page spread identifying the five major groups of mollusks: bivalves, cephalopods, chitons, gastropods, and scaphopods; author’s and illustrator’s notes; suggested books for young readers; and selected sources used by the author and the illustrator. The endpapers provide information about the habitats and ranges of the 13 featured mollusks.
    —JS

    Skyscraper. Jorey Hurley. 2019. Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster.

    SkyscraperThis nearly wordless picture book features a single verb (such as “crush,” “scoop,” “dig,” or “push”) on each double-page spread alongside an image of the construction vehicle that performs that job in the building of a skyscraper. The colorful illustrations created in Photoshop will captivate young children who love construction trucks of all kinds. A two-page glossary presents images and names of the 14 construction vehicles featured in the book and brief descriptions of their special job. For example, “A front loader lifts and relocates batches of loose materials such as demolition debris.”
    —JS

    Soar High, Dragonfly! Sheri Mabry Bestor. Ill. Jonny Lambert. 2019. Sleeping Bear.

    Soar High, DragonflyThe life cycle of the green darner dragonfly is presented with a lyrical primary text and brightly colored, stylized illustrations with the look of collage artwork. Each double-page spread also includes a block of text in a smaller font that provides additional information about dragonflies and details of their incomplete metamorphosis: egg, nymph, and adult. Pair this inviting picture book with Bestor and Lambert’s Good Trick, Walking Stick! (2016) to introduce lessons on the life cycles of insects to young children.
    —CA

    Ages 9–11

    The Everyday Journeys of Ordinary Things: From Phones to Food and from Paper to Poo…The Way the World Works. Libby Deutsch. Ill. Valpuri Kerttula. 2019. Kane Miller.

    The Everyday Journeys“Every day we are surrounded by ordinary objects and services that have been on the most extraordinary journeys to reach us,” and this child-friendly oversize book describes some of these journeys through step-by-step diagrams with illustrations and brief text. Red arrows direct the reader in following numbered steps that meander across each double-page spread. Curious young children will enjoy following the steps of 20 examples from the journey made by a birthday card in “How Does Mail Reach Me?” to how milk gets to your breakfast table in “From Cow to Carton.”
    —CA

    Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet. Curtis Manley. Ill. Jessica Lanan. 2019. Roaring Brook/Macmillan.

    Just RightA curious young girl wonders whether any of the stars she sees in the night sky have planets orbiting around them and whether there is life on them. Readers join her on a visit to a planetarium’s “Searching for Exoplanets Exhibition” to learn how astronomers use powerful telescopes to search for a planet much like Earth, a Goldilocks planet “just right” for supporting life. So far scientists have found no proof of life elsewhere, but they continue to search for it. The last part of this informational picture book explores the question of what that life might be like. “Maybe it’s beings like ourselves...Or maybe it’s like nothing we can even imagine.” The endpapers feature a timeline of discoveries of our place in the universe. Back matter includes additional information on the science of detecting exoplanets, a bibliography, and sources for information. 
    —CA

    Rotten!: Vultures, Beetles, Slime, and Nature’s Other Decomposers. Anita Sanchez. Ill. Gilbert Ford. 2019. Houghton Mifflin.

    Rotten!“It’s a rotten world” and that’s not a bad thing. Anita Sanchez explores the fascinating process of decomposition in eight accessible chapters that take the reader on “a trip into the world of rotten” that introduces different decomposers from dung beetles to earthworms to vultures. An inviting format features “decomposer selfies”; the answers to questions such as “Why do dung beetles love dung?” and “Why does a dead animal smell so bad?”; “Rot It Yourself” activities such as building a compost pile; and colorful cartoon artwork that complements the lighthearted tone of the text. Back matter includes a glossary, sources of quotes, an extensive bibliography, and an index.
    —JS

    Ages 12–14

    A Ray of Light: A Book of Science and Wonder. Walter Wick. 2019. Scholastic.

    A Ray of Light“What about light? What is it made of? How does it fit alongside everything else in the world? With these questions, author and photographer Walter Wick introduces this fascinating exploration of the science of light. Each spread features striking color photographs and paragraphs of text which serve as extended captions of the photographs on a specific principle such as incandescence, light waves, the color spectrum, and iridescence. Two pages of notes on the science and experiments Wick presents in this stunning visual presentation on light provide additional details that will be of interest to more advanced readers and those using this book in STEM programs.
    —CA

    The Woolly Monkey Mysteries: The Quest to Save a Rain Forest Species. Sandra Markle. 2019. Millbrook/Lerner.

    The Woolly Monkey MysteriesFor years, not much has been known about the species of woolly monkeys found in the rain forests of South America, but a recent project involving the installation of over 30 camera traps (a tool used by scientists to capture and record photographs of wild animals) has allowed researchers to understand more about the behavior of this primate species. Sandra Markle’s accessible text, with captioned photographs and diagrams, provides readers with information on how scientists are working to learn more about the complexities of survival of the woolly monkey in the wild. QR codes throughout the book allow readers to access related video and sound-bytes. Back matter includes an author’s note, glossary, a “Find Out More” section with text and web-based resources, and an index.
    —JS

    Ages 15+

    The Electric War: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Light the World. Mike Winchell. 2019. Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt/Macmillan.

    The Electric WarDuring the Gilded Age, a time when innovation became big business, a battle ensued over who would win “the race to light the world.” The competitors were Thomas Alva Edison (18471931), inventor of the established direct current system of electricity, and Nikola Tesla (18561943) and George Westinghouse (18461914), with their experimental alternating current system. The inviting conversational tone of Mike Winchell’s well-researched narrative, complemented by captioned black-and-white photographs and diagrams, provides an accessible account of this important scientific competition. Back matter includes a timeline, an extensive bibliography, and an index.
    —CA

    Jennifer W. Shettel is a professor at Millersville University of Pennsylvania where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in literacy for preservice 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, 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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    Biographies and History

    By Sandip Wilson and Carolyn Angus
     | Mar 11, 2019

    Biographies are unsung heroes in the reading lives of children. The recently published works in this week’s column present the stories of characters living in diverse situations, times, and places and offer insights into important moments in history as they provide memorable and exciting reading experiences.

    Ages 4–8

    Away with Words: The Daring Story of Isabella Bird. Lori Mortensen. Ill. Kristy Caldwell. 2018. Peachtree.

    Away With WordsBorn in 1831, Isabella Bird longed for adventure although she was sickly and in pain. On the advice of doctors for fresh air and a change of scene, Isabella set out on international travel. Digitally created illustrations depict her sometimes perilous adventure. She kept notes, some of which are quoted in the double spreads, during her journeys that included travel to Tibet. Publication of her notes in books brought her fame, a presentation to Queen Victoria, and the honor of becoming the first female member of London’s Royal Geographic Society. Back matter includes a timeline, source notes, bibliography, and an author’s note with an archival photograph of Isabella Bird in Manchu dress.
    —SW

    Brave Ballerina: The Story of Janet Collins. Michelle Meadows. Ill. Ebony Glenn. 2019. Henry Holt/Macmillan.

    Brave Ballerina“This is the girl / who danced in the breeze / to the swoosh, swoosh, swoosh / of towering trees.” A spare text of four-line verses in a rhythmic “This is . . .” pattern and warm, expressive digital art tell the life story of Janet Collins, who was born in New Orleans, LA, in 1917. Supported by her family, Janet pursued her dream of being a dancer, even when segregation limited her opportunities for training. With her talent and perseverance, Collins went on to become the first African American prima ballerina with the Metropolitan Opera House. “This is the dancer, / bold like the sun, / a prima ballerina / in 1951.” Back matter includes an author’s note and sources.
    —CA

    Fearless Mary: The True Adventure of Mary Fields, American Stagecoach Driver. Tami Charles. Ill. Claire Almon. 2019. Albert Whitman.

    Fearless  MaryIn 1895, former slave Mary Fields heads west, and arriving in Cascade, Montana, decides to apply to be a stagecoach driver for Wells Fargo, a job in which she would face the threat of robbery, the challenge of controlling powerful horses, and hardships on the trail. As a woman in her 60s, determined to make a better life for herself, she proved she could do the job as well as any man and showed her strength of spirit in protecting mail, cargo, and passengers. In an author’s note, Tami Charles tells of her inspiration, explains the challenges of her research, and clarifies the separation of fact from fiction. 
    —SW

    Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré. Anika Aldamuy Denise. Ill. Paola Escobar. 2019. HarperCollins.  

    Planting StoriesWhen Pura Belpré arrived in New York City from her native San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 1921, she carried a wealth of her grandmother’s stories in her memory and heart. She found the perfect job as a bilingual assistant at the New York Public Library and, when she discovered the lack of Latino stories, began a program for families in which she told stories. Warm, richly colored, computer-generated illustrations complement the engaging text about Pura Belpre’s gift for storytelling that inspired her to write books “planting seeds in the hearts and minds of children.” Back matter includes an author’s note; selected bibliography; lists of archival collections, articles, and films; suggested reading; and notes on Belpré’s stories mentioned in the book.
    —SW

    Ages 9–11

    Elvis Is King! Jonah Winter. Ill. Red Nose Studio. 2019. Schwartz & Wade/Random House.

    Elvis is KingIn 1952, shy, 13-year-old Elvis and his mother moved from his birthplace, Tupelo, MS, to Memphis, TN, to build a better life. With an engaging text and illustrations created with hand-crafted clay figures set in three-dimensional sets, Winter presents defining moments in the life of young Elvis, who found solace in music. He adapted songs he heard coming from the African American Church and the blues he heard in local nightclubs on a guitar his mother gave him when he was 11 years old. Finding a producer who wanted to record African American blues for a white audience, at a time when the music world was segregated, Elvis went on to become an international sensation.
    —SW

    Let ’er Buck!: George Fletcher, the People’s Champion. Vaunda Micheaux Nelson. Ill. Gordon C. James. 2019. Carolrhoda/Lerner.

    Let'er BuckA folksy narrative and energetic oil-on-board paintings tell the story of George Fletcher (1890–1973), who became an accomplished broncobuster, but as a black cowboy was frequently banned from competitions. In 1911, at the age of 16, George finally got his chance to prove his skill as a finalist in the Saddle Bronc Championship at the Pendleton Round-Up, the biggest rodeo in the Northwest. Despite George’s show-stopping ride on a wildly bucking horse, the judges gave first prize to a white rancher. The crowd booed, and Sheriff Tillman Taylor, recognizing the injustice of the decision, raised prize money for George on the spot from the spectators who proclaimed him “People’s Champion!” Back matter includes a glossary; biographical notes on Fletcher, the other finalist, and Sheriff Taylor; and a bibliography.
    —CA

    The Story of Olympic Swimmer Duke Kahanamoku (The Story of . . .). Ellie Crowe. Ill. Richard Waldrep. 2019. Lee & Low.

    The Story of Olympic SwimmerOpening with an account of Duke Kahanamoku’s incredible feat of riding out a rare 30-foot Bluebird wave for almost two miles on a wooden surfboard on Waikiki Beach in 1917, this new entry in Lee & Low’s chapter book biography series tells the life story of native Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku (1890–1968), who grew up in Honolulu an avid swimmer. Despite racial and financial challenges, he went on to become a record-breaking Olympic swimmer and a legendary surfer. Sidebars on the history of Hawaii, the Olympics, and surfing and black-and-white illustrations add interest. Back matter includes a timeline; glossary; text, quotation and sidebar sources; and bibliography.
    —CA

    Wilma’s Way Home: The Life of Wilma Mankiller. Doreen Rappaport. Ill. Linda Kukuk. 2019. Disney-Hyperion.

    Wilma's Way HomeRaised in a Cherokee community by a mother of Irish Dutch lineage and a Cherokee father, Wilma Mankiller understood Gadugi, the philosophy of helping one another. The narrative, enriched with quotations from primary sources, elaborates on formative events of Mankiller’s childhood, including her family’s move to San Francisco as part of the federal government’s initiative to relocate native people to urban areas. Miserable in the city, she found companionship with other native people and in that shared experience her fervor to promote the interests of her people grew. She became the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation in the 1980s. The warm, bright hues of the watercolor illustrations depict her work in improving the lives of members of the Cherokee nation until her death in 2010. Back matter includes author’s and illustrator’s notes, a timeline of Wilma Mankiller’s life, a pronunciation guide, sources, and source notes for quotations.
    —SW

    Ages 12–14

    Dreaming in Code: Ada Byron Lovelace, Computer Pioneer. Emily Arnold McCully. 2019. Candlewick.

    Dreaming in CodeWith an engaging, well-researched text, Emily Arnold McCully tells the intriguing life story of Ada Byron Lovelace (1815–1852). Fearing that Ada would grow up to have a wild imagination like her father, famous poet Lord Byron, Ada’s controlling mother, set her on a course of study of math and science. Mastering these subjects, however, did not break her spirit, and when teenager Ada met inventor Charles Babbage, who demonstrated the model of his Difference Engine, a basic calculator, she was thrilled to become his collaborator and went on to develop algorithms for Babbage’s proposed Analytical Engine. McCully clearly shows how Lovelace’s extraordinary insights and contributions to science during her short life time led to her present-day recognition as a pioneer in computer programming.  Back matter includes appendices of Ada’s Notes and documents related to failed attempts for funding Babbage’s Analytical Engine, source notes, glossary, bibliography, and index.
    —CA

    Never Caught, the Story of Ona Judge: George and Martha Washington’s Courageous Slave Who Dared to Run Away (Young Readers Edition). Erica Armstrong Dunbar & Kathleen Van Cleve. 2019. Aladdin/Simon & Schuster.

    Never CaughtThe daughter of a slave on the Washingtons’ Mt. Vernon plantation, Ona grew up as a special house slave to Martha and traveled with the family in the early days of George Washington’s presidency. In 1796, when President Washington and his wife lived in Philadelphia, 22-year-old Ona Judge left their house and headed to New Hampshire and an uncertain future. She would live in New Hampshire until her death in 1848, marrying John Staines, raising children, facing poverty, and living under the shadow of capture, but always knowing she was free.  This young reader’s edition of historian Erica Dunbar’s Never Caught: The Washington’s Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge (2017) clearly separates fact from conjecture in telling the life story of Ona Judge.
    —SW

    Standing Up Against Hate: How Black Women in the Army Helped Change the Course of World War II. Mary Cronk Farrell. 2019. Abrams.

    Standing Up Against HateBy 1942, educated African American women who were officers in the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps trained recruits who wanted to contribute to the war effort. Farrell’s historical account, illustrated with captioned archival photographs, chronicles the role black women played in the army during World War II, fighting for jobs worthy of their training and education while facing the challenges of a segregated United States and the prejudice that a woman’s place was in the home. One interesting example recounts how, in 1944, when the allied forces in Europe had mailbags of tens of thousands of packages and letters that had not been delivered, the women took on the challenge of clearing that backlog. Back matter includes a glossary, source notes, and a bibliography.
    —SW

    Ages 15+

    Queen Victoria: Twenty-four Days That Changed Her Life. Lucy Worsley. 2019. St. Martin’s/Macmillan.

    Queen VictoriaTaking the English throne at age 18 in 1837, Queen Victoria ruled England and a large fraction of the colonial world during the 19th century. Lucy Worsley incorporates descriptive details and quotations from primary sources in recounting 24 defining days in Victoria’s life as queen, wife, and mother. Worsley’s inclusion of details related to health practices and medicine of the time, government and politics, and the royal family make her biography of Queen Victoria also a history of the period. Captioned archival images and photographs in the middle of the book add information about Victoria’s personality and the time in which she lived. Back matter includes acknowledgments, sources and source notes on quotations, and an index.
    —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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    Sequels and Series

    By Nancy Brashear and Carolyn Angus
     | Mar 04, 2019

    Series are perennial favorites for many readers of all ages. Once they have been introduced to characters in a picture book or novel, they enjoy following them through new books. This week’s column includes reviews of several much-anticipated sequels and some first books in new series in a variety of genres.

    Ages 4–8

    A Gift for Goose (Duck & Goose). Tad Hills. 2019. Schwartz & Wade/Random House.

    A Gift for GooseDuck has a gift for his friend Goose. After putting the gift (not pictured) into a white box, he decorates and presents a splendid blue, red, and yellow striped box to Goose. “For me?” honks Goose. “It is the nicest box I have ever seen!” “But…,” quacks Duck, looking downcast, as Goose makes plans to put his special things in it. When Duck finally says, “But, Goose, this box is not your gift,” it is Goose who looks sad. Duck explains, “Your gift is inside this box,” and when Goose opens the box, he—and the reader—are in for a surprise. Young children who have enjoyed listening to Duck and Goose stories will be delighted to read this new early reader on their own.
    —CA

    Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog. (Madeline Finn #2). Lisa Papp. 2019. Peachtree.

    Madeline Finn and the Shelter DogAfter Madeline adopts Star, puppy of Bonnie, the library dog who helped her love reading in Madeline Finn and the Library Dog (2016),Mrs. Dimple, the librarian, invites Madeline and her mother to join her at the shelter where she volunteers with animals needing “forever homes.” Soft pastel illustrations in pencil and watercolor show Madeline taking care of Star and, after visiting the shelter, worrying that those animals aren’t getting the same attention she gives Star. Creating a program (“Come read to the shelter animals. / Bring a blanket and a book.”), Madeline and other children read to the animals, and Mr. Chips, the loneliest dog there, finally finds his own “forever home.”
    —NB

    Penguin Flies Home (Flight School #2). Lita Judge. 2019. Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    Penguin Flies HomePenguin loves to fly, so he enrolled in flight school where he’s the mascot. However, it’s only when tethered to Flamingo high in the sky that he feels “the wind beneath his wings, / the song that rose from his little round belly, / the sight of new and wonderful places.” Realizing that Penguin misses his friends, Teacher and Flamingo “fly” him back to the South Pole where his fellow penguins are interested in swimming, not flying. Penguin’s question to himselfabout whether his friends will like him if they don’t share the same dreamsis answered when they celebrate his individuality before he returns to school. This lyrical story, accompanied by expressive illustrations rendered in pencil and watercolor, will encourage readers to follow their own dreams and soar.
    —NB

    William Wakes Up. Linda Ashman. Ill. Chuck Groenink. 2019. Disney-Hyperion.

    William Wakes UpWilliam, a young boy, awakens his sleeping animal friends (Chipmunk, Porcupine, Groundhog, and Bear) with the repeated refrain, “Wake up! It’s spring! / Today’s the day— / a special guest is on the way / Rise and shine—no time to lose.” Pencil-and-Photoshop illustrations in earth tones depict everyone busily baking a Welcome Cake, tidying up the cabin, and decorating—except for Raccoon, who “snores and burrows deep” until special guest Bluebird arrives and he hears the word “cake.” After Chipmunk and Bear protest that since Raccoon hasn’t helped at all, “He shouldn’t get a single slice,” Raccoon volunteers to help Bluebird build a nest, and William says, “But first / grab a plate— / …right now it’s time to celebrate!” A rhyming text with a repetitive refrain and humorous illustrations make this sequel to William’s Winter Nap (2017) a perfect read-aloud.
    —NB

    Ages 911

    Amazing Origami Animals (Amazing Origami). Rob Ives. 2019. Hungry Tomato/Lerner.

    Amazing Origami AnimalsThis book from a new series on origami begins with a brief introduction to the art of paper folding and a how-to-get-started section on folds, arrows, and directions that are the basics of origami. Clear and easy-to-follow illustrated steps lead children through projects of increasing difficulty from a bird, butterfly, and fox created in 78 steps to a dog, frog, mouse, and rabbit in 1314 steps. Each project is introduced with a brief note about the animal. Children can continue having more paper-folding fun with Rob Ives’ Amazing Origami Dinosaurs, Amazing Origami Vehicles, and Amazing Origami Gifts published simultaneously.
    —CA

    Escape from the Palace (The Royal Rabbits of London #2). Santa Montefiore & Simon Sebag Montefiore. Ill. Kate Hindley. 2019. Aladdin/Simon & Schuster.

    Royal Rabbits of LondonShylo Tawny-Tail, the timid country bunny who journeyed to London and led the Royal Rabbits who live underground beneath Buckingham Palace in foiling the scandalous scheme of the Ratzis against the Queen in The Royal Rabbits of London (2018), is now proudly one of the Royal Rabbits. With the arrival of the POTUS (accompanied by the ROTUS, the Rabbits of the United States), Papa Ratzis has ordered the Ratzis to disrupt the Royal Banquet. Shylo, who has been kidnapped by the Ratzis, must escape if he is to help the Royal Rabbits and American Jack Rabbits prevent destruction of the “Special Relationship” between Britain and America. The intriguing Epilogue promises another adventure of Shylo Tawny-Tail, the unlikely hero of this fast-paced, humorous animal fantasy series.
    —CA

    The Extremely High Tide! (Secrets of Topsea #2). Kir Fox & M. Shelley Coats. Ill. Rachel Sanson. 2019. Disney-Hyperion.

    The Extremely High TideWhen Talise, the only bathymetrist in Topsea, the bizarre town first visited by readers in A Friendly Town That’s Almost Always by the Ocean (2018), discovers a mysterious message in a bottle on a beachcombing trip with Ms. Grimalkin’s fifth-grade class, she takes it as sign that she must build a boat in preparation for an impending Extremely High Tide. In 14 linked episodic stories about Talise and her fellow students, a delightfully wacky adventure unfolds as The Topsea School Gazette reports breaking news that an Extremely High Tide is coming and the Town Committee for Lunar Consequences sends out notification to ignore these rumors. And, when the predicted rare tide does hit, Talise’s boat is needed to return a beached narwhal to the ocean.
    —CA

    From an Idea to Nike: How Marketing Made Nike a Global Success (From an Idea). Lowey Bundy Sichol. Ill. C. S. Jennings. 2019. Houghton Mifflin.

    From an Idea to NikeFor an assignment in an entrepreneurship class at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, “Invent a new business, describe its purpose, and create a marketing plan,” Phil Knight, who had been a high school and college runner, developed the idea of a company to make affordable specialized running shoes for competitive athletes. Lowey Bundy Sichol tells the story of the growth of Knight’s idea into what is now the multibillion-dollar Nike corporation, focusing on the role marketing played in its success. The accessible text includes insets with definitions of basic business terms; “Fun Facts”; quotations; and sections on basic marketing concepts. Back matter includes a timeline of Nike, a list of Nike’s top endorsement deals, source notes, and a bibliography.
    —CA

    Ages 12–14

    Comet Rising (Shadow Weavers #2). MarcyKate Connolly. 2019. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky/Sourcebooks.

    Comet RisingEmmeline (a shadow weaver) and best friend Lucas (a light singer) are hunted while searching for Lucas’ missing parents and talent allies to fight evil Lady Aisling, who kidnaps magical children of all sorts to plant in her dying Garden of Souls where she feasts on their powers. Using a sky shaker, Lady Aisling makes the Cerelia Comet appear 12 years early to produce more talents—and misaligns the heavens, which must be set right before destruction hits. More complications arise as Emmeline and Lucas race to save their world. Readers may want to revisit the first book in this duology, Shadow Weaver (2018), to fully appreciate this companion book.
    —NB

    Slayer (Slayer #1). Kiersten White. 2019. Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster.

    SlayetrIt’s two years since Buffy, the Chosen One (a slayer, specially endowed to fight demons), threw good and evil out of balance. It’s been 62 days since Buffy died destroying the Seed of Wonder that fed all magic on earth and Nina got showered in interdimensional demonic goo. Nina and her twin, Artemis, are students at the Watcher’s Academy in Scotland where Nina serves as the castle’s only medic, and Artemis trains to qualify one day as a Watcher (a personal slayer assistant). When a hellhound breaks onto the academy grounds and she kills it with hitherto unknown supernatural skill, Nina realizes that she is the last slayer, ever, and that while being chosen is easy, making choices is difficult.
    —NB

    Ages 15+

    Courting Darkness (Courting Darkness #1). Robin LaFevers. 2019. Houghton Mifflin.

    Courting DarknessIn this first book of a duology, it is 1489, and Sybella and Genevieve, daughters of Mortain (the god of death) who have trained as assassins at the Convent of Saint Mortain, make separate perilous journeys to the French court. Sybella continues serving as lady in waiting to Duchess Anne of Brittany, who will wed King Charles VIII, and Genevieve, embedded among the French nobility for years, intends to convince the king to save the Convent of Saint Mortain, which has been disbanded. All the political intrigue, conspiracy, betrayal, murder, and romance of Robin LaFevers’ His Fair Assassin Trilogy set during the 15th Century French-Breton War continues as the stories of these two strong women, presented in alternating voices, finally come together in the last chapter of this complex historical novel that leaves the reader eagerly waiting for the next book.  
    —CA

    Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English, 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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    • Children's & YA Literature

    Curriculum Connections

    By Susan Knell and Carolyn Angus
     | Feb 25, 2019

    A growing body of research indicates that today's youth are more engaged in global issues and more primed to make a difference. They are interested in how today’s problems are linked to the past and concerned about how they will affect the future. In this week’s column, we review some of the recently published books that introduce critical issues, contribute to conversation, invite further exploration, and support the activism of children and young adults.

    Ages 4–8

    The Bell Rang. James E. Ransome. 2019. Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    The Bell RangMonday. “The bell rings, / and no sun in the sky, / Daddy gathers wood. / Mama cooks. / We eat.” This is the start of the daily routine of enslavement on a plantation for the narrator, a young girl; her older brother, Ben; and her parents. Wednesday. Ben gives his sister a homemade doll before running to catch up with his friends, Joe and Little Sam. She loves on that doll all day long. Thursday. The three boys are gone. Her parents are beaten. Saturday. Joe and Little Sam are brought back to the plantation and beaten. But Ben is gone. Sunday. The slaves sing, hope, and pray that Ben made it to freedom. On Monday . . . With a simple free verse text and beautiful paintings, James E. Ransome tells a powerful story and leaves readers wondering what did happen on Monday.
    —SK

    Carter Reads the Newspaper. Deborah Hopkinson. Ill. Don Tate. 2019. Peachtree.

    Carter Reads the NewspaperAs a child, Carter read the newspaper to his illiterate father, a former slave who wanted to be an informed citizen, and later while working in a coal mine, he read to miners who couldn’t read. Determined to be educated, he eventually made it to Harvard, where it has been said a professor told him that Black people had no history. Carter (who earned a PhD in history) established Negro History Week in 1926 and devoted the rest of his life to informing people about Black history. Don Tate’s expressive mixed-media illustrations, which include portraits of past and contemporary Black leaders, complement this informative and engaging biography of Carter Woodson (1875–1950), who is recognized as the father of Black History Month. Back matter includes author and illustrator notes, a bibliography, timeline, list of Black leaders, and source notes.
    —SK

    Crab Cake: Turning the Tide Together. Andrea Tsurumi. 2019. Houghton Mifflin.

    Crab Cake“Under the sea, where sunlight touches sand,” Clownfish, Manta Ray, Sea Turtle, Spiny Lobster, Octopus, and other ocean dwellers go about doing what they do. And crab bakes cakes. Then one night, with a big splash, a boatload of trash is dumped into the ocean. All the startled animals freeze, except for Crab. Crab bakes a cake, which brings everyone together. Nourished and encouraged, they come up with a clever plan, and with each animal contributing to the cleanup campaign (including Octopus, who inks a “Come Get Your Junk!” sign”), they restore their under-the-sea home and go on doing what they do. “Especially Crab.” Andrea Tsurumi’s full-page spreads of richly detailed cartoon illustrations add humor to this story with a gentle message about community and environmental action.
    —CA

    Meet Miss Fancy. Irene Latham. Ill. John Holyfield. 2019. Putnam/Penguin.

    Meet Miss FancyFrank adores everything about elephants but has never seen one in real life. When he hears that Miss Fancy, a circus elephant, is retiring to Birmingham’s Avondale Park, he sets off to meet her, only to be turned away at the park entrance by a “No Colored Allowed” sign. It’s 1913 and segregation prevails, but Frank doesn’t give up. He’s determined to meet Miss Fancy. The characters are fictional, but Miss Fancy was real and lived at Avondale Park for 21 years. John Holyfield’s lively illustrations give readers a glance into the world of Jim Crow laws that affected African Americans in the South through the experiences of one young boy. An author’s note about Miss Fancy and segregation laws provides a context for the engaging story.
    —SK

    Ages 9–11

    Mangoes, Mischief, and Tales of Friendship: Stories from India. Chitra Soundar. Ill. Uma Krishnaswamy. 2019. Candlewick.

    Mangoes, Mischief, and Tales of FriendshipThis collection of eight original tales with the flavor of traditional Indian folklore in both the telling and black-and-white artwork will delight children. Each story centers around the court of King Bheema, who hears subjects’ complaints and settles disputes with fairness. When the King is unable to preside, 10-year-old Prince Veera and his best friend, Suku, get permission to hold court. How do they handle the candy maker who charges a man for smelling the candy?  How do they find a way to count all the crows in the kingdom? How do they convince the King that just because a man is poor doesn’t mean he brings bad luck? Each story is filled with humor and a bit of trickery. Readers will enjoy trying to solve the problems before the clever boys do.
    —SK

    Superlative Birds. Leslie Bulion. Ill. Robert Meganck. 2019. Peachtree.

    Superlative BirdsLeslie Bulion presents 20 clever poems about record-breaking birds from around the world.  The first poem, “Superlative Birds,” establishes the theme and the last, “For the Birds,” is a call for action: “Let’s save our birds’ futures now.” Double-page spreads feature poems and science notes about 18 different “superlative birds” (including the smallest, the bee hummingbird found only in Cuba; the bird with the most feathers, the emperor penguin in Antarctica; and the smelliest, the hoatzin of the Amazon and Orinoco Basins) and Robert Meganck’s colorful digitally rendered cartoon illustrations. Throughout the book, a chatty chickadee contributes information about characteristics unique to birds and those they share with other animals. Back matter includes a glossary, notes about the poetry forms Bulion uses, and resources for further exploration about the world of birds.
    CA

    Ages 12–14

    Biddy Mason Speaks Up (Fighting for Justice). Arisa White & Laura Atkins. Ill. Laura Freeman. 2019. Heyday.

    Biddy Mason Speaks UpIn a preface, the authors identify this book as a “creative act . . . of imagining Biddy Mason’s life” based on information available in the limited historical record that does not tell the history of everyone. A series of free verse poems (each with a colorful digital illustration) tells her life story of enslavement on a Mississippi plantation where she learned to be an herbalist and midwife, being sold and migrating West with a Mormon family, and finally finding freedom in California where she became a key figure in the first Black community of Los Angeles. The pairing of the biographical poems with pages of well-organized expository text (with definitions, photographs, text boxes, and timelines) and the inclusion of source notes, a bibliography, and an index make this an excellent classroom resource.
    —CA

    This Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality. Jo Ann Allen Boyce & Debby Levy. 2019. Bloomsbury.

    The Promise of ChangeJo Ann Allen was one of the African American students who walked into Clinton High School on August 27, 1956. “We are the first in Tennessee / or any Southern state / to cause an all-white public school / to change—to integrate. / . . . I can’t help feeling hopeful / (though hope can trip and fall) / to know that I am one of twelve / to break / this / racial / wall.” This memoir in verse (with insets of headlines and quotes from local, regional, and national newspapers; extracts of legislation and court rulings; and interviews) tells Jo Allen’s story in the fight for school equality. An epilogue and extensive back matter provide additional background and resources including a scrapbook of captioned photographs and a timeline of school desegregation and civil rights landmarks.
    —CA

    We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugees Around the World. Malala Yousafzai. 2019. Little, Brown.

    We Are DisplacedIn the first part of We Are Displaced, Malala Yousafzai tells the story of her family’s internal displacement from the Swat Valley in Pakistan in 2009, their exile to England after she was shot by Taliban soldiers in 2012, and her plan to continue activism for girls’ education. The second part includes oral histories of girls she has met in her world travels as an activist. Each entry is a personal story of flight from a homeland, loss, and survival as well as hopes and dreams for the future. Back matter includes a “How You Can Help” section, biographical notes on contributors, and photographs. In a time when, as Yousafzai points out in the prologue, “for any refugee or any person displaced by violence . . . it seems as if there is no safe place today,” this is thought-provoking reading for everyone.
    —CA

    Ages 15+

    Fake News: Separating Truth from Fiction. Michael Miller. 2019. Lerner.

    Fake NewsIn the first chapter of Fake News, Miller points out that the term “fake news” is used in two ways: as “news items or social media post that are mostly or wholly untrue but are designed to look like real news stories” and as a means of labeling “legitimate new stories . . . in a negative light.” Subsequent chapters discuss topics such as the many forms of fake news, why fake news is harmful, how to tell real news from fake news, and how you can help fight fake news. This book on “separating truth from fiction” is reader-friendly. The well-organized text includes subtitles, numerous examples, captioned color photographs, and text boxes of related information; and the extensive back matter includes source notes, a glossary, a selected bibliography, further information (books, websites, films and videos), and an index.
    —CA

    We Are Here to Stay: Voices of Undocumented Young Adults. Susan Kuklin. 2019. Candlewick.

    We Are Here to StayListening to the voices of nine young adult undocumented immigrants who tell their stories through interviews with Susan Kuklin, readers can’t help but have empathy and respect for everything they endured to come to the United States to be with family, to get an education, and to escape violence and poverty in their countries of Colombia, Mexico, Ghana, Independent Samoa, and Korea. Kuklin had planned to include each young person’s photo in the book originally scheduled for publication in 2017, but because of uncertainty surrounding recent executive action on DACA recipients, she decided to withhold their identities to protect them, so the pages that would have held their portraits are blank. An extensive “Notes and Resources” section includes information on U.S. immigration laws, chapter notes, an author’s notes, resources, and an index. This is a timely book to read and, most importantly, to discuss.
    —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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    Meet Some Memorable Characters

    By Nancy Brashear and Carolyn Angus
     | Feb 18, 2019

    Getting into the mind of a character is one of the greatest parts of reading, whether you’re finding a new one or rediscovering an old favorite. From a dinosaur who’s on a quest to improve his hug to a 13-year-old elephant driver who lives on the edge of the jungle in the borderlands of 1970s Nepal, the books in this week’s column introduce readers to compelling characters having exciting experiences in interesting places.  

    Ages 4–8

    Carl and the Meaning of Life. Deborah Freedman. 2019. Viking/Penguin.

    Carl and the Meaning of LifeAfter a field mouse asks why he tunnels underground day after day, Carl the earthworm realizes he doesn’t know why. He asks a rabbit, fox, and squirrel, “Why do I do what I do?” but none has a satisfying answer for him although they know why they do what they do. However, when a ground beetle laments that he can’t find any grubs, Carl discovers the dirt has turned hard as rock. He finally has his answer and gets busy turning the hard dirt back into fluffy, fertile soil, which sprouts seeds for the mouse who asked him the question in the first place and triggers a chain of events that benefits everyone. Freedman’s colorful mixed-media illustrations add depth to her engaging story with an important child-friendly message. The author’s note “Everything is connected” along with a challenge for readers to identify how they help the earth and a relevant quote from Charles Darwin about the important role of the earthworm in our world.
    —NB  

    Cyril and Pat. Emily Gravett. 2019. Simon & Schuster.

    Cyril and PatCyril, the only squirrel in Lake Park, is lonely until he meets Pat. Cyril happily shouts that his new friend is a big gray squirrel, but Pat is actually a rat. The other animals try to point out his error. “Oh, Cyril, can’t you see that your friend Pat / is not like you. Your friend’s a . . .” but before they can say rat, Cyril jumps in with “Real joker!” or “Brilliant sharer!” or “CLEVER SQUIRREL.” After Pat’s true identity is revealed by a young boy and all the animals reinforce that squirrels can’t be friends with rats, Cyril is sad—until a scary misadventure leaves him recognizing that two individuals can be friends in spite of differences. Follow the reading of Kate Greenaway Medalist Emily Gravett’s colorful rhyming picture book by introducing young children to some of her other delightful stories about interesting animal characters.
    —CA

    Fear the Bunny. Richard T. Morris. Ill. Priscilla Burris. 2019. Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    Fear the Bunny“Bunnies, bunnies, burning bright, in the forest of the night—.” When Tiger comes across a hedgehog reading an altered version of William Blake’s “The Tyger” to a group of animals, he attempts a correction. “The poem is about . . . ME! The most feared animal in the forest.” Insisting that in their forest they fear bunnies, the animals hide as a bunny approaches in the dark, and Tiger pokes fun at their fright—until he pursued by a stampede of bunnies. In the final double-page spread, Tiger is shown reading “Bunnies, bunnies, burning bright . . .” to a gathering of animals including two tigers. Pricilla Burris’ mixed-media illustrations featuring Tiger and a host of cute animals against a dark forest background make this a good scary-but-not-too-scary read aloud. Blake’s “The Tyger” is included on the back endpaper.
    —CA

    Tiny T. Rex and the Impossible Hug. Jonathan Stutzman. Ill. Jay Fleck. 2019. Chronicle.

    Tiny T. RexTiny T. Rex tries to cheer up his sad pal Pointy with a hug but can’t wrap his short, stubby arms around his large dinosaur friend. After asking for advice from his father, aunt, and mother, whose responses are not helpful (“mathematics might be the answer,” “balance and freshly squeezed cucumber juice,” and “it’s okay if you can’t hug”), his siblings suggest that he practice. A lot. Hugging a purple tree trunk that turns out to be the leg of a dinosaur that flies through the air with him clinging to it, Tiny lets go and plops right down onto the head of his friend Pointy, who exclaims, “That was the biggest hug ever.” Bright, digitally colored pencil illustrations demonstrate size comparisons nicely as Tiny learns not to give up because tiny hugs come from big hearts.
    —NB

    Ages 9–11

    Freya & Zoose. Emily Butler. Ill. Jennifer Thermes. 2019. Crown/Penguin.

    Freya & ZooseInspired by Hints to Lady Travellers at Home and Abroad, a guidebook for Victorian adventurers, Freya, a Scandinavian rockhopper penguin, stows away on Captain Salomon August Andrée’s hot air balloon expedition to the North Pole. Once aloft she discovers that there is another stowaway, a cocky, ill-mannered London-born mouse named Zoose, who wants to become famous as the first mouse to explore the North Pole. When the ill-fated expedition is forced to land in the Arctic, Freya and Zoose must learn how to work together if they are to survive. Jennifer Thermes’ black-and-white drawings extend the humor of Emily Butler’s captivating animal fantasy. In an author’s note, Butler provides background information about Captain Andrée, Nils Strindberg, and Knut Faenkels, who attempted the flight by hot-air balloon to the North Pole in 1897 and perished; rockhopper penguins; the Artic region; and Lillias Campbell Davidson, the author of Hints to Lady Travellers.
    —CA

    Mr. Penguin and the Lost Treasure. Alex T. Smith. 2019. Peachtree.

    Mr. PenguinHaving placed an ad in the newspaper offering his services, Mr. Penguin is eagerly awaiting his first adventure as a Professional Adventurer, and it comes with a call from Boudicca Bones, owner of the Museum of Extraordinary Objects. To save the very old museum in need of restoration, she and her brother are desperate to locate the treasure buried by their great-great-great-grandfather somewhere in the museum. With his sidekick, a resourceful spider named Colin, Mr. Penguin rushes to the museum and soon discovers that the job is going to be more difficult, more dangerous, and definitely more adventurous than he anticipated. Will he find the lost treasure? How will he survive his first proper Adventuring job? Readers who enjoy this humorous action-packed tale will be eager to join Mr. Penguin on another exciting Adventure.
    —CA

    Rabbit’s Bad Habits (Rabbit & Bear #1). Julian Gough. Ill. Jim Field. 2019. Silver Dolphin/Printers Row.

    Rabbit's Bad HabitsBear awakens mid-hibernation to find her store of food (honey, salmon, and beetles’ eggs) gone. While building a snowman, she accidentally rolls a big ball of snow over the entrance to a rabbit’s hole and encounters grumpy and unfriendly Rabbit. Rejecting kind and friendly Bear’s invitation to help build a snowman, Rabbit decides to make an even better snowman, but first, for energy he eats lots and lots of honey, salmon, and beetle’s eggs. “Then he did a little poo, and ate it.” (Yes, rabbits do that, as Rabbit explains in a funny and informative sequence.) After Bear saves Rabbit from pursuit by a hungry Wolf with a well-tossed snowball “as big as an avalanche, and as fast as a train,” they enjoy a celebratory winter picnic of honey, salmon, and beetle’s eggs and go to sleep in the cave. This series opener with a giggle-inducing text and illustrations on every page is perfect for newly independent readers.
    —CA

    Straw into Gold: Fairy Tales Re-spun. Hilary McKay. Ill. Sarah Gibb. 2019. Margaret K. McElderry/Simon & Schuster.

    Straw Into GoldHilary McKay spins different perspectives into her retellings of the ten traditional fairy tales in this collection: “Rapunzel,” “Cinderella,” “The Princess and the Pea,” “Rumpelstiltskin,” “The Pied Piper of Hamelin,” “The Swan Brothers,” “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves,” “Red Riding Hood,” “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” and “Hansel and Gretel.” In “Straw into Gold,” Petal, the miller’s daughter, manipulates Rumpelstiltskin, a hob who yearns for a child, into spinning a barnful of barley straw into gold thread (so the King will marry her) in exchange for her first child, and then tricks him with a guessing game about his name to go back on her promise. In a twist at the end, after Petal’s death, her son delivers an apology from her to Rumpelstiltskin, and they enjoy time together. Sarah Gibb’s black-and-white, delicately detailed painted scenes and silhouettes are exquisite additions to these “re-spun” tales. A bibliography is included.
    —NB

    Ages 12–14

    A Circle of Elephants. Eric Dinerstein. 2019. Disney-Hyperion.

    A Circle of ElephantsThirteen-year-old Nandu works for the head of the king of Nepal’s elephant stable as an elephant driver at the Royal Elephant Breeding Center in the borderlands between Nepal and India. As Nandu protects his “elephant brother” (Hira Prasad, a powerful bull elephant) as well as other elephants and endangered animals from danger in nature (drought, earthquakes, predators) and man (poachers and corrupt government officials), help comes from old and new friends and allies, and he learns that “we are all connected and stronger together than apart.” Back matter includes a glossary and an informative author’s note from conservationist Eric Dinerstein. Readers interested in the backstory of Nandu’s abandonment in the jungle 10 years earlier will want to read the earlier companion book, What Elephants Know (2016).
    —NB

    Ages 15+

    Lovely War. Julie Berry. 2019. Viking/Penguin.

    Lovely WarOn the eve of World War II in a New York hotel, Aphrodite (goddess of love) and her brother-in-law Ares (god of war) are caught in the act of adultery by her husband, Hephaestus (god of fire and forges), who agrees to preside over their private trial as judge, jury, and executioner. Presented in the format of a court trial, complete with witnesses, Aphrodite offers her orchestrationof the love stories of two mortal couples (Hazel, a classical pianist from London, and James, a British soldier with dreams of becoming an architect; and Aubrey, a Harlem jazz pianist in the U.S. Army, and Colette, a Belgium orphan and singer) from the World War I era. Pronouncing acquittal, Hephaestus realizes that not only has Aphrodite demonstrated the transcendent power of love, she also identified him as the only one capable of loving her before sealing the deal with a “kiss for the ages.”
    —NB

    Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English, 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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