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    Books Too Good to Miss

    By Carolyn Angus, Chelsey Bahlmann Bollinger, and Nancy Brashear
     | Jan 07, 2019

    As each year comes to an end, we are always aware of the many books still on our shelves that we wanted to see reviewed in this weekly column. So here, in this first column of the new year, we feature 20 books published in 2018 that we think are just too good to miss.

    Ages 4–8

    Blue. Laura Vaccaro Seeger. 2018. Neal Porter/Roaring Brook.

    BlueSeeger explores the color blue with stunning acrylic-on-canvas paintings and rhyming two-word couplets (“baby blue / berry blue / maybe blue / very blue”) to tell a story of the bond between a boy and his dog as they grow up together. This companion to Seeger’s 2013 Caldecott Honor book, Green, beautifully expresses the range of emotional responses to the color blue.
    —CA

    The Dreamer. Il Sung Na. 2018. Chronicle.

    The DreamerThe dreamer in this whimsical picture book is a plump, blue-green pig who wonders if he could ever fly like the birds he admires. He studies, thinks, designs, builds, recruits the help of friends, and modifies plans until one day he does fly and reaches even higher heights than he initially intended. Through this experience, he sees the world differently—and still a dreamer, he continues to admire the birds.
    —CBB

    A First Book of the Sea. Nicola Davies. Ill. Emily Sutton. 2018. Candlewick.

    A First Book of the SeaThis collection of 53 poems set on expansive double-page spreads with dramatic, realistic watercolor illustrations is organized into four sections—"Down by the Shore,” “Journeys,” “Under the Sea,” and “Wonders.” The anthology is a celebration of the sea, its abundance of plant and animal life, and the joy of playing and exploring at the seaside.
    —CA

    Hansel & Gretel. Bethan Woollvin. 2018. Peachtree.

    Hansel & GretelIn Woollvin’s imaginative retelling of this classic folktale, Willow, a good witch, encounters Hansel and Gretel in the forest. After nibbling at her gingerbread home, the siblings take advantage of the good witch’s hospitality and misuse her spells and wands. When Hansel and Gretel push her into the oven and continue their mischief until the house is literally bursting with magic, Willow (who “wasn’t ALWAYS a good witch”) finally gets angry and takes revenge in a delightful way.

    —CBB

    Little Robot Alone. Patricia MacLachlan & Emily MacLachlan Charest. Ill. Matt Phelan. 2018. Houghton Mifflin.

    Little Robot AloneEvery morning Little Robot sings a song as he puts on his tracks, charges his battery, and eats breakfast as part of his peaceful—but lonely—daily routine. One morning, inspired by a dream, he creates a perfect companion in his workshop, Little Dog, a robotic pet. A lyrical narration with Little Robot’s cheery song and soft watercolor-and-pencil illustrations make this gentle story perfect for reading aloud.
    —NB

    The Patchwork Bike. Maxine Beneba Clarke. Ill. Van Thanh Rudd. 2018. Candlewick.

    The Patchwork BikeA lively text and stunning textured acrylic-on-cardboard paintings tell the story of three siblings who cobble together a bike from discarded items they find around their “mud-for-walls home” in a village at the edge of a “no-go desert.” Author’s and illustrator’s notes call attention to third-world poverty and celebrate the ability of children to find joy regardless of circumstances.
    —CA

    Whale in a Fishbowl. Troy Howell. Ill. Richard Jones. 2018. Schwartz & Wade/Random House.

    Whale in a FishbowlEmotional prose and moody hues capture the melancholy of Wednesday, a whale who lived in a fishbowl in the middle of a gray city. When she leaps up, Wednesday sees “a calm bit of blue” in the distance. She wonders what it is, and with a tremendous leap that tips over the fishbowl (pictured in a vertical gatefold), the spilled water whooshes Wednesday through the city and out to sea, and she finds herself singing for the first time in her life.
    —CBB

    Zola’s Elephant. Randall Sève. Ill. Pamela Zagarenski. 2018. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    Zola's ElephantA young girl with an overactive imagination doesn’t want to meet her new neighbor, Zola, who she believes has an elephant with whom she takes baths, plays hide-and-seek, builds a clubhouse, and tells stories (activities portrayed in playful multimedia paintings). Admitting, “I really like elephants,” she finally goes next door and discovers that her assumptions are incorrect and that, indeed, she can be Zola’s new friend.
    —NB

    Ages 9–11

    Every Month Is a New Year: Celebrations Around the World. Marilyn Singer. Ill. Susan L. Roth. 2018. Lee & Low.

    Every Month is a New YearFree verse poems and colorful, mixed-media collage illustrations create a calendar of celebrations of the new year around the world including the midnight ball drop in Times Square in New York City (December 31); Songkran, the Thai New Year Celebration in Thailand  (April 13 to 15); and Diwali, the five-day Hindu Festival of Lights, in India in November.
    —NB

    Lu (Track #4). Jason Reynolds. 2018. Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    LuIn this conclusion to Reynolds’ series about the members of the Defenders, an elite youth track team, Lu—with the help of his friends, family, and coach—overcomes hurdles on and off the track, as he practices for the championship track meet and faces bullies, accepts his identity as an albino African-American, and begins to understand his father’s past. Most importantly, Lu learns that integrity means “having a gold medal . . . on the inside.”
    —NB

    Not One Damsel in Distress: Heroic Girls from World Folklore. Jane Yolen. Ill. Susan Guevara. 2018. Houghton Mifflin.

    Not One Damsel in DistressIn an introductory letter to her daughter and granddaughters, Yolen states that she wrote this book because she didn’t have a book like it as a child. Her retellings of 15 folktales show that strong, brave, and resourceful girls have always been around. They’ve just been “hidden away . . . in the back storeroom of folklore.”
    —CBB

    Pass Go and Collect $200: The Real Story of How Monopoly Was Invented. Tanya Lee Stone. Ill. Steven Salerno. 2018. Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt.

    Pass GoIn 1904, Elizabeth Magie patented the board game that we now call Monopoly, which has been played by over one billion people around the world. Lizzie created the Landlord’s Game based on the economic injustices she noticed in 1800s America. Over the years, others have modified the game and tried to take credit for Monopoly, but Stone shares the true story of the game’s inventor. Back matter includes a “Tremendous Trivia! page, some “Monopoly Math” problems, an author’s note, and sources.
    —CBB

    Ages 12–14

    Backyard Bears: Conservation, Habitat Changes, and the Rise of Urban Wildlife (Scientists in the Field). Amy Cherrix. 2018. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    Backyard BearsCherrix, a resident of Asheville, provides a close-up view of “backyard bears” being studied in a five-year investigation of North Carolina’s black bear population as she reports on her in-the-field experiences with biologists from the North Carolina Urban/Suburban Black Bear Study. Cherrix also includes other examples of the rise of urban wildlife around the world. 
    —CA

    China: A History. Cheryl Bardoe. 2018. Abrams.

    China HistoryUsing artifacts and images from The Field Museum in Chicago, where she was the senior project manager of exhibitions, Bardoe presents a fascinating and accessible history of China, the world’s oldest urban civilization, from prehistoric times to the 21st century, as well as predictions for the future. Back matter includes a time line and detailed notes on artifacts from the museum.
    —CBB

    D-Day: The World War II Invasion That Changed History. Deborah Hopkinson. 2018. Scholastic Focus/Scholastic.

    D-DayHopkinson’s fascinating and accessible account on the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, focuses on the experiences of Americans at Omaha and Utah Beaches. The narrative, which includes sections called “Briefings” that provide context, “Dispatches” with personal accounts, and “Reporter’s Notebook” entries about reporters and photographers who covered the invasion, is enhanced by maps, archival photographs and extensive back matter.
    —CA

    Thoreau at Walden. John Porcellino. 2018. Disney-Hyperion.

    Thoreau at Walden 2Porcellino tells the story of the two years Henry David Thoreau (18171832) spent at Walden Pond with excerpts of Thoreau’s philosophical observations on man’s relationship to nature (“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”) paired with simple line drawings in graphic novel panels. An introduction describing Thoreau’s life, an afterword by the author telling why he chose to write this book as an “impression of experience,” and a “Panel Discussions” section are included.
    —NB

    Ages 15+

    All the Stars Denied. Guadalupe Garcia McCall. 2018. Tu/Lee & Low.

    All the Stars DeniedIn this companion book to Shame the Stars (2016), which takes place 15 years later, 15-year-old Estrella del Toro, her family, and many in their community, whether citizens or not, have been brutally deported from their Texas homes to Mexico through mass Mexican repatriation during the Great Depression (the first “repatriation” deportation in U.S. history). Estrella and her family must overcome horrific obstacles to be reunited in Texas. Back matter for this timely, thought-provoking historical novel includes an author’s note, a further reading list, and glossary.
    —NB

    Isle of Blood and Stone (Tower of Winds #1). Makiia Lucier. 2018. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    Isle of Blood and StoneNineteen-year-old Elias, the royal mapmaker, is set on a quest by his best friend, King Ulises, to solve an 18-year-old mystery: What happened to Elias’ father, Lord Antoni (the Royal Navigator) and Ulises’ two older brothers (one of whom would have become king) who vanished during a picnic along with Elias’ father? Through solving riddles on two cryptic maps and with the help of Ulises, the king’s cousin Mercedes, and sometimes unexpected allies, Elias uncovers unimaginable truths that could change his life and the course of the island kingdom of St. John del Mar in this adventurous fantasy.
    —NB

    A Thousand Beginnings and Endings: 15 Retellings of Asian Myths and Legends. Elise Oh & Elsie Chapman (Ed.). 2018. Greenwillow/HarperCollins.

    A Thousand Beginnings and EndingsAuthors with Asian roots reimagine popular myths and legends in East and South Asian cultures in short stories incorporating folktale elements such as love, fate, malevolence, revenge, and magic that delight and evoke a range of emotional responses. Each story is followed by a note from the author with a description of the traditional tale that inspired its retelling.
    —CA

    Undocumented: A Worker’s Fight. Duncan Tonatiuh. 2018. Abrams ComicArts/Abrams.

    UndocumentedEighteen-year-old Mixteco Juan crosses the border and takes a job as a busboy in a restaurant where he is underpaid and works 12-hour shifts, seven days a week. After years working under unfair conditions, Juan joins the fight for equal rights for all workers. Tonatiuh’s evocative and timely graphic story about the plight of undocumented workers in the U.S. is illustrated in his signature Mixtec codex style on accordion-fold pages.
    —CA

    Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California. Chelsey M. Bahlmann Bollinger is an assistant professor in the Early, Elementary, and Reading Department at James Madison University, in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English, Azusa Pacific University, in Azusa, 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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    Herstory: Achievements of Women in the Past and the Present (Continued)

    By Nancy Brashear and Carolyn Angus
     | Dec 17, 2018

    In this week’s column we review more of the trade books published in 2018 that tell “her stories,” stories about the achievements of female visionaries, creative thinkers, innovators, activists, and doers in the past and the present. These stories need to be heard and read today and will inspire young people to dare to dream big.

    Ages 4–8

    Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race. Margot Lee Shetterly (with Winifred Conkling). Ill. Laura Freeman. 2018. HarperCollins.

    Hidden FiguresThis informational picture book, inspired by Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race (William Morrow), tells the story of four black women who “were good at math. Really good.” These women were “hidden figures” who did the seemingly impossible, overcoming sexism and racism through determination, persistence, and hard work to make important contributions in the field of aeronautics and space exploration. Back matter includes a timeline highlighting the dates when the four women started working as computers in the federal government’s aeronautics and space programs (during a time when mathematical computations were done by humans, not machines); a “Meet the Computers” section with biographies of Dorothy Johnson Vaughan (19102008), Mary Winston Jackson (19212005), Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson (1918–present), and Dr. Christine Mann Darden (1942–present); a glossary; and an author’s note in which Shetterly shares her hope that Hidden Figures will inspire readers “to ride their dreams as high as their talent and determination will take them.”
    —CA

    Spring After Spring: How Rachel Carson Inspired the Environmental Movement. Stephanie Roth Sisson. 2018. Roaring Brook.

    Spring After Spring“Spring after spring, year after year,” Rachel Carson explored nature during her childhood. She wanted to be a writer until, during a college course, she became fascinated by the plants and animals she saw in a drop of water through a microscope and decided to study biology. She became an underwater researcher and wrote books about the sea. Then, always a careful observer, she started to notice that “all around, nature’s voices were going quiet” and began the research that led to the discovery that the chemicals being used to kill insects were harmful to humans and other animals. Her book Silent Spring (Houghton Mifflin) raised public awareness of the destruction of the environment by poisons such as DDT, led to the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency, and inspired the environmental movement. Stephanie Roth Sisson’s use of paneled, full-page, and double-page spreads of mixed-media artwork makes this biography of Rachel Carson (19071964) an inviting introduction for young readers to the important contributions made by this scientist, writer, and environmental activist. Back matter includes an author’s note, notes providing additional information related to specific pages of the book, a bibliography, and source notes.
    —CA

    Turning Pages: My Life Story. Sonia Sotomayor. Ill. LuLu Delacre. 2018. Philomel/Penguin.

    Turning PagesIn this picture book autobiography, Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina U.S. Supreme Court associate justice, encourages young readers to dream big. Although forced to deal with difficult challenges during her childhood such as learning English, experiencing the death of her father, and being diagnosed with childhood diabetes, she found courage and direction in words. The recurrent phrase “Books were . . .” threads itself throughout the text of Turning Pages, and LuLu Delacre’s artwork, created in mixed media with oil washes and collage elements, clearly shows how important books have been to Sotomayor throughout her life. The endpapers feature captioned photographs of Sotomayor’s childhood, family, and friends and milestones of her academic and professional life. Back matter includes a timeline of Sotomayor’s life from her birth in the Bronx (June 25, 1954) to her swearing in as the 111th Justice of the Supreme Court (August 8, 2009).
    —NB

    Ages 9–11

    Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World. Vashti Harrison. 2018. Little, Brown.

    Little DreamersThis collective biography is an inspiring celebration of 36 visionary women from around the world and throughout history. Double-page spreads pair a colorful, interest-catching portrait (done in Adobe Photoshop) with one page of text about the life and work of each trailblazer—from Fatima Al-Fihri, a ninth-century North African educational philanthropist who built Al Quaraouiyine, the oldest university in the world, to Maya Lin (1959), the sculptor and architect who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC.  A “More Little Dreamers” section includes biographical sketches of 18 other visionary women. Back matter includes a list of resources to learn more about these women, sources Harrison used in her research, a glossary, and acknowledgments.
    —CA

    So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth’s Long Walk Toward Freedom. Gary D. Schmidt. Ill. Daniel Minter. 2018. Roaring Brook.

    So Tall WithinSold into slavery as a child, Isabella continued to face hardship: a family ripped apart, betrayal by an owner who lied about setting her free, the kidnapping of her 5-year-old son (who was later returned to her, damaged for life), and other painful injustices. Daniel Minter’s beautifully composed and somber paintings, created in a predominately russet and blue palette, complement Gary D. Schmidt’s lyrical story that culminates in Isabella adopting the name Sojourner Truth and walking across America “to tell the truth about Slavery.” Weary upon her return home, she asks herself, “What is anybody in the world for?” and realizes “[I] had a work to do. My lost time . . . being a slave was made up.” Back matter includes a biographical note with additional information about Sojourner Truth, a bibliography, and artist’s notes in which Minter explains his use of a series of vertical paintings to introduce events in Sojourner Truth’s life.
    —NB

    Ages 12–14

    Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women. Catherine Thimmesh. Ill. Melissa Sweet. 2018. Houghton Mifflin.

    Girls Think of EverythingThis new edition of Girls Think of Everything, originally published in 2000, has been revised and updated to include stories that spotlight the diversity of the female inventors and inventions related to the technological world we live in today. Following an introduction on women as inventors throughout history, short chapters with Catherine Thimmesh’s engaging narratives, complemented by Melissa Sweet’s clever mixed-media collage artwork, present 15 inventions and the creative thinkers behind them that range from the famous chocolate chip cookie accidentally created by Ruth Wakefield to the computer compiler invented by Grace Murray Hopper to the space bumper invented by Jeanne Lee Crews. Front and back endpapers present a time line of inventions by women from pre-1800s to the present. The final chapter, “Your Turn,” includes information on patenting inventions and contests and organization that will be of particular interest to aspiring young innovators. Back matter includes sources, a glossary, and an index.
    —NB

    She Did It!: 21 Women Who Changed the Way We Think. Emily Arnold McCully. 2018. Hyperion.

    She Did It!In this collective biography, Emily Arnold McCully profiles 21 women who have significantly influenced the way Americans think. The entries (arranged chronologically) feature a full-page portrait (rendered in pen-and-ink and watercolors) and one-page introduction, followed by extensive narrative on each woman’s life and accomplishments. The accessible and well-organized chapters include sidebars providing historical context, spot art, and a quotation. The diverse group of women begins with pioneer investigative journalist Ida Minerva Tarbell (1857–1944) and ends with Temple Grandin (1947–present), the scientist who changed perceptions of autism. A last section, “Second Wave Feminism,” covers the women’s liberation movement in the 1960s and 1970s. McCully ends with a timely, thought-provoking statement: “The Second Wave had made women’s rights human rights. A generation had awakened and fought for those rights. But sexism is ancient and persistent and must be beaten back again and again.” Back matter includes sources and an index.
    —CA

    Ages 15+

    Becoming. Michelle Obama. 2018. Crown/Random House.

    Becoming Michelle ObamaMichelle Robinson Obama—lawyer, writer, and wife of Barack Obama, 44th president of the United States—is the first African-American woman to serve as First Lady. Her memoir, which is divided into “Becoming Me,” “Becoming Us,” and “Becoming More,” begins with her growing up in a loving family in the South Side of Chicago and ends as she, her husband, and two daughters reenter civilian life after eight years (2009–2017) in the White House. Spending the majority of her adult life as an advocate within African-American and other communities for women’s rights in the workplace, for issues related to childhood obesity, for needs of military families, and for educating girls around the world, she celebrates the transformative power of “owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become.” Endpaper photographs, a preface, and an epilogue complete this inspiring story of a woman who continues to empower us to work together for greater possibilities for all people.
    —NB

    The Strange True Tale of Frankenstein’s Creator Mary Shelley. Catherine Reef. 2018. Clarion/Houghton Mifflin.

    The Strange True Tale of Frankenstein's CreatorIn 1797, Mary Shelley was born to feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft, who died shortly after giving birth to her. Raised by William Godwin (her strict, atheist, bookseller, anti-establishment father), Mary met poet Percy Bysshe Shelley when he attended intellectual discussions with other up-and-coming young gentlemen, led by her father in their home. Falling in love, 16-year-old Mary married Percy. The couple fled and began a family, living an unconventional life as they traveled as free spirits from one place to another—and suffered tragedies along the way. Early on, beginning with a challenge to write a ghost story in a week, 18-year-old Mary created her soon-to-become-a-classic Frankenstein and, thus, began her career as an author. This fascinating biography is enlivened with an abundance of photographs, sketches, engravings, and documents. Back matter includes notes, a bibliography, a list of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s published works, and an index.  
    —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.

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    Herstory: Achievements of Women in the Past and the Present

    By Nancy Brashear and Carolyn Angus
     | Dec 10, 2018

    As educators, we are excited about the rising number of trade books being published that celebrate remarkable women and their achievements in the past and the present. The inclusion in classrooms and libraries of books such as the ones reviewed in this week’s column will inspire young people and enrich the history curriculum with “herstories.”

    Ages 4–8

    Elizabeth Warren: Nevertheless, She Persisted. Susan Wood. Ill. Sarah Green. 2018. Abrams.

    Nevertheless, She PersistedThis engaging picture book biography of Elizabeth Warren presents the senator from Massachusetts as an individual who, throughout her life, has been a fighter—a fighter for families, for those struggling to be heard, for those in need of help. And she has done that fighting with an insistent voice. While on the debate team in high school, she learned to craft persuasive arguments and to challenge her opponents. As a lawyer and law professor, her concern for the plight of struggling middle-class families led to a specialty in bankruptcy and work on consumer protection. During her first political campaign for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, she promised to fight for equal rights for everyone, and she won. And since 2012, Elizabeth Warren has insisted, resisted, and persisted inside and outside the U.S. Senate chambers in fighting for equality for all. Back matter includes an author’s note and bibliography.
    —CA

    Have You Heard About Lady Bird?: Poems About Our First Ladies. Marilyn Singer. Ill. Nancy Carpenter. 2018. Hyperion.

    Have You Heard About Lady BirdMarilyn Singer's witty poetry and Nancy Carpenter’s whimsical pen-and-ink illustrations introduce readers to the women who have “served” as First Lady, from Martha Dandridge Custis Washington (“‘Lady Presidentess,’ dear wife of our first leader, / did not bemoan, she set the tone, / for all who would succeed her.”) to Melania (Knavsi) Knauss Trump. Back matter includes a “Being the First Lady” note, brief biographical notes on the women, and sources. You might consider pairing the reading of poems about the First Ladies in this collection with poems in Singer’s Rutherford B., Who Was He?: Poems About Our Presidents (2013).
    —CA

    Nothing Stopped Sophie: The Story of Unshakeable Mathematician Sophie Germain. Cheryl Bardoe. Ill. Barbara McClintock. 2018. Little, Brown.

    Nothing Stopped SophieGrowing up during the French Revolution, when a woman’s education often consisted of learning about manners, marriage, and music, Sophie Germain (17761831) loved math. Even when her parents took away her candles so she couldn’t study at night, “nothing stopped Sophie.” After convincing her parents to support her studies, she secretly pursued a university-level study of mathematics by submitting written work to a world-famous professor under a man’s name, won a prestigious prize from the Paris Academy of Science for her work on predicting patterns of vibration, and made significant contributions to the field of mathematics and physics. Beautifully designed illustrations (created with pen-and-ink, watercolor, and collage) accompany this fascinating and inspiring story of a determined self-taught mathematician. Back matter includes an experiment on vibrations, biographical and historical notes, a bibliography, and author’s and illustrator’s notes. 
    —NB

    Ages 9–11

    Bold & Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote. Kirsten Gillibrand. Ill. Maira Kalman. 2018. Knopf/Random House.

    Bold & BraveSenator Kirsten Gillibrand introduces three “bold and brave” women in her family (her great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother) before turning to 10 women who came before them, boldly and bravely fighting for justice and equality: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Jovit Idár, Alice Paul, Inez Milholland, Ida B. Wells, Lucy Burns, and Mary Church Terrell. Double-page spreads feature Maira Kalman’s vibrant full-page gouache portraits of these “heroes” and Gillibrand’s profiles focusing on the challenges they faced and the contributions they made to the suffragist movement. The book ends with a spread depicting the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, D.C. and a final image of young protestors accompanied by the text “Now it’s your turn. You are the suffragists of our time. . . . Stand up, speak out, and fight for what you believe in. Be bold and be brave. The future is yours to make.”
    —CA

    Herstory: 50 Women and Girls Who Shook Up the World. Katherine Halligan. Ill. Sarah Walsh. 2018. Simon & Schuster.

    HerstoryHistory is often about “his” stories, but this book includes “her” stories that encourage readers to “take inspiration from these 50 women and girls and shake things up!” The book presents the stories of a diverse selection of women and girls from different countries, cultures, and eras, including Sacagawea, Theresa Kachindamoto, Mirabai, Frida Kahlo, Mary Seacole, Eva Perón, Ada Lovelace, Valentina Tereshkova, Emmeline Pankhurst, and Malala Vousafzai. Each profile is given a double-page spread on which Katherine Halligan’s skillfully crafted and informative narrative is complemented by Sarah Walsh’s captivating illustrations (created in gouache, colored pencil, and Photoshop), and photographs. Back matter includes a “When They Were Born” timeline, a glossary, and an index.
    —NB

    No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Kathleen Krull. Ill. Nancy Zhang. 2018. HarperCollins.

    No Truth Without RuthKathleen Krull uses “No truth without Ruth!” throughout the narrative in this inspiring profile of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933–present) as a “fierce fighter for fairness and truth.” Facing gender and religious discrimination and overcoming obstacles, she studied law, had a successful legal career, and was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1933. A “Top 10 Moments When Ruth Bader Ginsburg Fought for Fairness on the Supreme Court” section in the back matter supports the importance of Justice Ginsburg as a changemaker and fearless advocate for justice and equality. The picture book biography, complemented by Nancy Zhang’s expressive mixed-media illustrations in soft colors, also includes a chart of the U.S. federal court system and sources.
    —CA

    Ages 12–14

    The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor. Sonia Sotomayor. 2018. Delacorte/Random House.

    The Beloved World of Sonia SotomayerIn this middle-grade edition of her memoir for adults, My Beloved World (2013), Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor advises her readers to always “dream big.” Born in the Bronx into a working-class family of Puerto Rican descent, Sonia experienced tough times as a child (including poverty, juvenile diabetes, and the death of her father) but discovered how reading enlarged her world and gave her even bigger dreams. Most importantly, she developed techniques for succeeding in unfamiliar and challenging settings and found mentors who guided her through life, health, and career choices. The book includes an eight-page photo insert, and a glossary and brief history of the Supreme Court in the back matter.
    —NB

    She Made a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein. Lynn Fulton. Ill. Felicita Sala.2018. Knopf/Random House.

    She Made a Monster“Two hundred years ago, on a wild, stormy night, in a beautiful house on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland,” Mary accepted Lord Byron’s challenge to write a ghost story in just one week. With the help of a scary experience from her childhood and inspiration from the memory of her feminist mother (Mary Wollstonecraft, who felt women could do anything—even be writers), Mary developed a vision for her story. Only 20 years old when Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus was published in 1818, Mary became a trailblazer for women writers, especially creators of horror fiction. Felicita Sala’s illustrations, rendered in funereal tones with watercolor, ink, and colored pencil against dark backgrounds, complement Lynn Fulton’s account of Shelley’s creation of her classic horror story in the darkest hours of the night. Fulton’s author’s note provides background and indicates changes she made in the true story for this picture book.
    —NB

    Ages 15+

    Jane Austen: Her Heart Did Whisper. Manuela Santoni. 2018. Graphic Universe/Lerner.

    Jane Austen-Her Heart Did WhisperThis graphic novel tells the life story of British novelist Jane Austen (1775–1817) through the medium of spare black-and-white manga-style artwork and text (translated from Italian into English). Through letters she wrote to her sister Cassandra, the narrative begins at the end of Jane’s life with “Do you know where the line is between fiction and the real world?” and winds its way back to Jane’s childhood, against the backdrop of a time in which women had few legal rights in England. Jane follows her heart and gains rights to her father’s library, becomes a passionate reader, writes short stories and novels, falls in and out of love, and dies at a young age. Back matter includes biographical notes and a timeline. 
    —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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    • Children's & YA Literature

    Translations: Picture Books for Everyone

    By Laura Cutler and Carolyn Angus
     | Dec 03, 2018

    Picture books are great resources for engaging students of all ages, and here are some of our favorites from 2018. All translated works, these books are relevant choices for students at different grade levels, not only to enjoy as stories but also to encourage discussion about other languages and cultures and to introduce writers and artists from around the world. 

    Felix. Giovanna Zoboli. Trans. Laura Watkinson. Ill. Simona Mulazzani. 2018. Eerdmans.

    FelixFelix, a domestic grey cat, travels around the world visiting members of the cat family in this whimsical Italian import. He plays with tigers in India, has tea with snow leopards in China, eats blinis with a lynx in Russia and a steak with a puma in a desert of the western U.S., learns how to be a night prowler from a panther in a Brazilian rain forest, and naps with lions in the African savannah. Simona Mulazzani’s portraits of the anthropomorphized cats in their natural environments offer readers a visual around-the-world tour.
    —LC

    The Fishing Lesson. Heinrich Böll. Adapt. Bernard Friot. Ill. Emile Bravo. 2018. Eerdmans.

    The Fishing LessonIn this adaptation of a story by German author Heinrich Böll (1917–1985), a fisherman napping in his small boat in a coastal harbor is woken by the click, click, click of a tourist’s camera. In a series of colorful multi-panel and full-page illustrations by the French comic artist Emile Bravo, the tourist proceeds to explain to the fisherman how he could expand his fishing business to include multiple vessels, a smokehouse, and even a seafood restaurant. All the while, the fisherman remains silent. When the tourist states that becoming rich and successful would allow him to nap in the sunshine of the harbor, the fisherman points out that is exactly what he was doing before the tourist woke him up! This story is a humorous and gentle lesson reminding readers that success can be defined in many different ways.
    —LC

    How to Knit a Monster. Annemarie van Haeringen. 2018. Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    How to Knit a MonsterIn this charming tale originally published in the Netherlands, Greta, a goat who is a talented knitter, must use her extraordinary skills and quick thinking to solve a problem that gets bigger and bigger the more she knits. When Mrs. Sheep insults her knitting skills, Greta becomes distracted, loses track of her knitting, and accidentally knits a wolf. When the wolf springs to life and gobbles up Mrs. Sheep, Greta must quickly knit a solution to save her. A humorous series of events unfolds as Greta knits larger and larger beasts to save Mrs. Sheep and herself. Using India ink, watercolor, and colored pencils, Annemarie van Haeringen effectively uses line drawings on primarily white backgrounds to keep readers’ attention on the foreground and Greta’s textured, intricately knitted creatures.
    —LC

    Koko and Bo. Lisen Adbåge. Trans. Annie Prime. 2018. Enchanted Lion.

    Koko and BoOriginally published in Sweden, this picture book follows Koko and Bo (presumably Koko’s father, although not explicitly stated) as they navigate the young child’s stubborn exercise of independence by exclaiming “I DON’T WANT TO!” when asked to do something throughout the story. Although the story presents situations that may make some adults uncomfortable (such as Bo’s “Don’t then” response and departure following Koko’s refusal to leave after four hours at the playground), these events present opportunities to discuss parent–child relationships. The illustrations clearly express the emotions of Koko and Bo in their encounters as well as their love for each other. Additionally, Adbåge makes the illustrative decisions to depict Koko as gender neutral (the child is never identified as a boy or a girl in the text), and Bo, who is shown wearing brightly patterned clothing, is only identified as male by the use of the pronoun “his” at the end of the story.
    —LC

    Little Bear’s Big House. Benjamin Chaud. 2018. Candlewick.

    Little Bear's Big HouseIn early spring, restless Little Bear announces that he’s ready for a big adventure and sets out to explore far, far away from the forest. French author/illustrator Benjamin Chaud’s humorous, richly detailed artwork for this oversize book reveals Little Bear’s hurried movement through the forest and arrival at a charming red, multi-storied house in a clearing. Little Bears enters the unoccupied house and makes a big mess as he explores its many rooms happily singing “La, la, la-di-dum! Being on my own is so much fun!” until he hears a loud bang. Who’s in the house? Monsters? Ghosts? Discovering what sends Little Bear—and Mama, Papa, and Teeny Tiny Bear—running back to the forest makes this latest adventure of Little Bear as delightful as his earlier ones: The Bear’s Song (2013), Bear’s Sea Escape (2014), and The Bear’s Surprise (2015).
    —CA

    The Old Man. Sarah V. Dubois. Trans. Daniel Hahn. Ill. Claude K. Dubois. 2018. Gecko.

    The Old ManAs the people in town begin their day, it is also time for an old man to get up after a night on the streets. He’s cold; he’s hungry; he’s moved along by police officers. At the shelter where he hopes to get a meal, he must give his name but can’t remember it. As he huddles under his blanket in the park, he is noticed by a young girl who offers him her sandwich and tells him he looks like a teddy bear. That evening, the man returns to the shelter, and when asked for his name, he says, “Teddy.” The pencil sketches washed with a muted palette that match this quiet story, originally published in France, express the despair of the homeless old man and the difference a small act of kindness makes to him.
    —CA

    RainRain. Anders Holmer. 2018. Eerdmans.

    Twelve pairings of haiku and illustrations by Swedish author/illustrator Anders Holmer capture a series of short vignettes, each of them taking place in a differennt kind of rain, including a drizzle, downpour, thunderstorm, and even a shower of cherry blossom petals. The vivid imagery of the verses and the paintings (done in muted greys and brown with touches of color) invite reflection on nature and our relationship to it. For example, the verse “Beneath ashes are / seeds for a new forest that / might burn someday too” is visually portrayed in an exquisitely detailed painting showing a gentle rain extinguishing the last embers of a forest wildfire.
    —CA

    Sports Are Fantastic Fun! Ole Könnecke. Trans. Monika Smith. 2018. Gecko.

    Sports Are Fantastic Fun!This informational picture book playfully depicts anthropomorphized animals participating in a wide range of sports—everything from golf to rugby to billiards. Each sport is individually highlighted, allowing readers to read as much or as little as they want to at one time. Readers of all ages can learn about different games and competitions (including some they may not know about such as French boules, caber toss, and slacklining) in this collection of sports played around the world. German author/illustrator Ole Könnecke’s humorous ink-and-watercolor spreads with a Richard Scarry-like layout of small blocks of text with basic information (and clever asides) and illustrations of animal athletes—alligators climbing a snowy alpine mountain, a giraffe pole vaulting, a flamingo performing a rhythmic gymnastics routine, and more—add to the fun of this engaging introduction to sports.
    —LC

    The Visitor. Antje Damm.Trans. Sally-Ann Spencer.2018. Gecko.

    The VisitorGerman author/illustrator Antje Damm uses intriguing illustrations, created with cutout figures posed against dioramas, to tell the story of a visit made by a boy to a reclusive woman that brings color to her life. One day, when Elise opens a window to let fresh air into her tidy but colorless room, a strange blue thing made of paper flies in. In the morning, when she responds to a persistent knocking, she finds a small boy at the door. “I’m here for my plane,” he says, and then asks to use her bathroom. “It’s urgent!” As the boy moves through the house, bright colors are added to all the things he sees and asks about. By the time the boy waves goodbye after spending the day, even the once white image of Elise is touched with pink as she adds, “Bye for now, Emil.”
    —CA

    The Wolf Who Visited the Land of Fairy Tales. Orianne Lallemand. Ill. Éléonore Thuillier. 2018. Auzou.

    The Wolf Who Visited the Land of Fairy TalesWolf wants to bake an apple cake for the annual Spring Tea Party and sets out to find a recipe and gather ingredients. Although plagued by the “big bad wolf” stereotype, he succeeds in getting Aunt Rosie’s recipe from the three little pigs after helping them build their houses, and borrows needed ingredients (flour, butter, eggs, sugar, and apples) from various characters in the Land of Fairy Tales. Following Aunt Rosie’s recipe, Wolf arrives at the party with a perfectly baked apple cake and some new friends, including the Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, the Little Red Hen, and Snow White. Wolf, who is featured as a long nosed, big eyed, toothy, charming, and not-at-all-bad wolf in the colorful cartoon-style illustrations, is a popular character in The Wolf Who . . . series in France.
    —CA

    Wolfy. Grégoire Solotareff. Trans. Daniel Hahn. 2018. Gecko.

    WolfyWolfy (a young wolf) and Tom (a rabbit) develop an unconventional friendship, but when a game of Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf becomes too frightening for Tom, he refuses to leave his burrow and does not want to see Wolfy again despite Wolfy’s attempt to apologize. After having his own scary encounter with a pack of wolves, Wolfy truly understands how scared he made Tom feel and the two patch up their friendship. French author/illustrator Grégoire Solotareff uses bold black lines and large blocks of bright primary colors for dramatic effect in this story of the ups and downs of friendship. Wolfy is the first translation into English of Solotareff’s popular classic picture book Loulou, first published in France in 1989.
    —LC

    Laura Cutler is a Ph.D. 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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    • Children's & YA Literature

    Animals, Animals, Animals

    By Jennifer Shettel and Skye Hisiro
     | Nov 26, 2018

    The diversity of animals around the world captures the attention of people young and old. The books in this week’s column invite readers to learn about the characteristics and behaviors of various animals that populate the land, sea, and sky and to consider their relationships with humans.

    Ages 4–8

    Inky’s Amazing Escape: How a Very Smart Octopus Found His Way Home. Sy Montgomery. Ill. Amy Schimler-Safford. 2018. Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster.

    Inky's Amazing EscapeNaturalist Sy Montgomery shares her love for the octopus in this delightful picture book based on the true story of Inky, a young octopus who proved to be an escape artist. Found in a fisherman’s lobster trap, Inky was donated to the National Aquarium in Wellington, New Zealand, where he lived for several years before escaping from his tank and finding a way back to the ocean through a drain in the floor. Amy Schimler-Safford’s whimsical mixed-media illustrations capture the sense of mischievous fun that Montgomery uses to characterize curious Inky. Back matter includes an endnote on the escapes of Inky and other octopuses, eight “fun facts” about the octopus, a bibliography, and links to news articles and video clips about Inky’s escape.
    —JS

    Little Whale. Jo Weaver. 2018. Peachtree.

    Little WhaleWith gentle text and beautiful monochromatic artwork done in charcoal, author/illustrator Jo Weaver tells the tale of Gray Whale and her baby, Little Whale, as they journey from the warm southern seas to the cool waters of the North. Readers will relate to Little Whale’s mixed feelings of uncertainty, wonder, and fear during the migration. With Gray Whale’s nudging and encouragement, Little Gray swims through kelp forests, over coral reefs, and through dark ocean waters until finally they hear the welcome-home song of their pod of gray whales. Reading this engaging fictional story to young children is the perfect introduction to learning more about the long annual migration made by gray whales to breeding grounds in the warm waters of Mexico in the late autumn and their return to feeding grounds in the Arctic seas in the spring.
    —SH

    A Pandemonium of Parrots and Other Animals. Ill. Hui Skipp. 2018. Big Picture/Candlewick.

    A Pandenomium of ParrotsThis book about the collective names of 13 animals—from a company of angelfish to an ambush of tigers—offers an engaging interactive reading experience for young readers. Each double-page spread features brightly colored portraits of a variety of individuals and a four-line verse of rhyming couplets about the animal. For example, the spread for a lounge of lizards includes “Casually they lie around, / slouched on rocks or on the ground. / Suddenly one spots its prey, / and in a flash, it darts away.” Questions scattered on the pages (such as “Who’s the smallest?” and “Who’s catching a fly?” in the case of the lizards) add a search-and-find element. Back matter includes a “Did You See?” section that prompts rereading and a “Who’s Who” section with a brief paragraph about each animal.
    —SH

    The Secret Life of the Little Brown Bat. Laurence Pringle. Ill. Kate Garchinsky. 2018. Boyds Mills/Highlights.

    The Secret Life of the Little Brown BatLaurence Pringle’s latest book in his Secret Life Of series, with beautiful realistic illustrations, rendered in pastels and aqua crayons on sanded paper, by Kate Garchinsky, follows one year in the life of a little brown bat named Otis. Vocabulary related to the characteristics and behavior of the little brown bat such as echolocation, hibernation, and nursery colony is introduced in context in the accessible text. Back matter includes a glossary of terms highlighted in italics in the text and an author’s note with additional information on the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) and other bats, including the recent decline in bat populations due to white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease.
    —JS

    The Squirrels’ Busy Year (A First Science Storybook). Martin Jenkins. Ill. Richard Jones. 2018. Candlewick.

    The Squirrels' Busy YearMartin Jenkins’ spare, lyrical text (“Down the trunk . . . / over to the stump . . . / a quick dig, and yes! / Some acorns.”) and Richard Jones’ beautifully-composed mixed media illustrations invite young readers to explore a year in the lives of two gray squirrels. Descriptions of weather conditions through the seasons—beginning in winter and ending in late fall as winter is again approaching—help readers understand the changes in the squirrels’ behavior during their busy year. An introductory note mentions concepts related to why there are seasons that adults may want to discuss with young children as this narrative informational book is read to them. Back matter includes a “Thinking About Seasons and Weather” section of questions and a simple activity and an index.
    —SH

    Wild Orca: The Oldest, Wisest Whale in the World. Brenda Peterson. Ill. Wendell Minor. 2018. Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt.

    Wild OrcaOn the longest day of the year, a young girl named Mia is on a whale-watching mission with her family in the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington. Annually, faithful whale watchers eagerly await the arrival of Granny—the matriarch of a superpod of orcas migrating along the Pacific Northwest—and the new calves. Information about orca family structure and communication is placed within the context of the story. Wendell Minor’s illustrations, rendered in gouache watercolor, express the excitement of the day and present majestic images of the orcas. An author’s note provides additional information about Granny (who was believed to be 105 years old the last time she was spotted in 2016) and encourages protection of the orcas in their natural environment.
    —JS

    Ages 9–11

    Hawk Rising. Maria Gianferrari. Ill. Brian Floca. 2018. Roaring Brook.

    Hawk RisingA young birdwatcher watches as a hawk family wakes up. Mother Hawk stays with the young chicks while Father Hawk prepares for the hunt. Missed opportunities and obstacles prolong Father Hawk’s hunt as a chipmunk scuttles away, crows force him away from his perch, and sparrows shield themselves in brambles. Finally, a squirrel is spotted, and Father Hawk “parachutes. Legs tipping, talons gripping . . . and grabbing” and return to the nest with his prey. The imagery of the lyrical text created by Maria Gianferrari’s use of alliteration (“drying drops of dew” and “darting and diving, driving”) and vivid verbs (jostle, charge, thrash, scurry) is complemented by Brian Floca’s stunning realistic watercolor illustrations. Back matter includes facts about red-tailed hawks, suggestions for additional reading, and links to related websites.
    —SH

    Magnificent Birds. Ill. Narisa Togo. 2018. Candlewick Studio/Candlewick.

    Magnificent BirdsThis beautifully designed, oversized book introduces readers to 14 birds from around the world, including the bald eagle from North America, the Andean flamingo from South America, the greater bird of paradise from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, and the kakapo from New Zealand. Each double-page spread features a colorful lino-cut illustration of a bird in its natural habitat and a block of text with the bird’s common name, scientific name, native region, and one to two paragraphs on its characteristics and behavior, including facts about what makes the bird particularly unusual and “magnificent.”
    —JS

    Ages 12–14

    The Great Rhino Rescue: Saving the Southern White Rhinos. Sandra Markle. 2018. Millbrook/Lerner.

    The Great Rhino RescueIn her latest animal rescue text, Sandra Markle informs readers of the plight of the Southern white rhinoceros—a mammal believed to be extinct in the 1800s due to overhunting for sport and loss of its savanna habitat to farming. Although a small group (less than 100) of the mammals was discovered in South Africa in 1895, the numbers of white rhino remains small today—around 20,000—and the species faces a new threat from illegal poaching for their much sought-after horns. The high-interest text provides background on the conservation status of the rhinoceros over the years as well as current efforts to save the species from extinction. Nonfiction text features include a table of contents, heading/subheadings, numerous captioned full-color photographs, sidebars of related information, an author’s note, a timeline, a glossary, an index, and additional resources (books and websites) for readers to explore.
    —JS

    The Hyena Scientist (Scientists in the Field). Sy Montgomery. Ill. Nic Bishop. 2018. Houghton Mifflin.

    The Hyena ScientistIn their latest book in the Scientists in the Field series, naturalist/ author Sy Montgomery and biologist /photographer Nic Bishop challenge popular negative perceptions of hyenas by shadowing zoologist Kay Holekamp and her research team at Camp Fisi in Masai Mara, Kenya. Readers will feel like they are along on the adventurous 10-day visit as they enjoy Montgomery’s account of observations and experiences working with the researchers and Bishop’s close-up photographs of the spotted hyena. Sidebars present stories of the team members’ educational journeys to this line of animal research. Back matter includes “Fast Facts” about the spotted hyena’s habitat, diet, breeding, relatives, and more; a bibliography; acknowledgments; and an index.
    —SH

    Ages 15+

    Animals Go to War: From Dogs to Dolphins. Connie Goldsmith. 2018. Twenty-First Century/Lerner.

    Animals Go to WarThe opening story of this fascinating book about a brave dog named Judy, who was an official Prisoner of War during World War II, provides the reader with an initial understanding of the important role animals play in wartime. Subsequent chapters focus on other animals (including elephants, pigeons, and horses) that go to war. After readers gain a better understanding of how animals are currently being trained in support of troops, they will be able to thoughtfully defend a position on whether or not they think animals should be used in battle. Back matter includes source notes, a glossary, an index, a selected bibliography, and other resources for further exploration of this interesting topic.
    —JS

    Outrageous Animal Adaptations: From Big-eared Bats to Frill-necked Lizards. Michael J. Rosen. 2018. Twenty-First Century/Lerner.

    Outrageous Animal AdaptationsMichael J. Rosen uses a humorous, conversational style of writing to inform and intrigue readers about adaptations of 24 animals, including unfamiliar ones such as the aye-aye and geoduck as well as some odd species of more familiar animals. A table of contents with attention-grabbing, descriptive titles directs readers to chapters on animals of interest. For example, “Mayan Tapir: A Most Noteworthy Nose” refers the reader to a three-page chapter (presented in a witty fashion) about the tapir, including that the vegetarian tapir’s flexible, trunk-like nose is useful for snatching fallen fruit from the forest floor, grabbing branches of higher foliage—and for sniffing out the urine-marked paths of other territorial tapirs. Chapters include captioned full-color photographs and sidebars of key adaptations, basic information on classification, distribution, and conservation status, and “curious facts” about the animals.
    —SH

    Jennifer W. Shettel is an associate professor at Millersville University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in literacy. Prior to joining the faculty at Millersville, she spent 16 years as an elementary classroom teacher and reading specialist in the public schools. Skye Hisiro is an elementary classroom teacher in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and is a recent graduate from Pennsylvania State Harrisburg’s Masters in Literacy Education Program.

     

    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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