Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Hazy Dell Press makes monsters fun for readers!

Last year at BookExpo, I saw a table with board books like, “Goodnight Krampus” and “Get Dressed, Sasquatch!” and I immediately ran over. I’m the mom that buys Cthulhu board books for my kid, so this spoke to me. The guy at the table was great, gave me a bunch of stickers, and I went happily on my way. (My kid quickly snagged and stuck the stickers all over his closet. So much for decorating my laptop.) A year later, I saw the board books up on Edelweiss for review, and yelped, quickly hitting “request”. My little guy was thrilled that he got read the books that matched the stickers on his closet, and the best news of all: the books are as much fun on the inside as they are on the outside. Check ’em out.

Get Dressed, Sasquatch!, by Kyle Syllivan/Illustrated by Derek Sullivan,
(Sept. 2018, Hazy Dell Press), $13.95, ISBN: 9780996578738
Ages 1-5

Sasquatch loves running around without his clothes on – he’s a Sasquatch, it’s what they do! But the exasperated park ranger wants him to put on some pants. This hilarious rhyming tale is all about getting Sasquatch to try on some clothes and find something that works for him… or maybe, just letting go and taking advantage of the moment! There’s fun, kid-friendly art, a friendly neighborhood Sasquatch and a good-natured bear, and a park ranger who learns to loosen up with the rules once in a while.

 

Don’t Eat Me, Chupacabra! / ¡No Me Comas, Chupacabra!, by Kyle Syllivan/Illustrated by Derek Sullivan,
(Sept. 2018, Hazy Dell Press), $13.95, ISBN: 9780996578776
Ages 1-5

A little chupacabra has a hankering for goat in this bilingual story about picky eaters. He nips a goat, who tries to expand the little monster’s palate, introducing him to other food options like fruits, flowers, fish, or bugs, but Little Chupa isn’t having any of it. Luckily for the goat, Abuela is home and she always knows what to do! Set in Puerto Rico, the book offers Spanish and English vocabulary, and a nice lesson about finding new strategies for picky eaters. If food allergies aren’t an issue, bring some plantain chips to introduce to the readers at storytime.

 

Goodnight Krampus, by Kyle Syllivan/Illustrated by Derek Sullivan,
(Sept. 2018, Hazy Dell Press), $13.95, ISBN: 9780996578776
Ages 1-5

Santa’s getting ready to go on his Christmas Eve ride, but little Krampus is WAY too keyed up to go to sleep! This rhyming tale stars Santa Claus, trying to talk the Krampus into bedtime – something every parent and caregiver is familiar with, right? Krampus is riding toy trains, he’s banging drums, he’s psyched. But Santa breaks it down for him: if he can’t go to bed, Santa can’t deliver toys. Krampus immediately discovers that he’s exhausted after all, and Christmas Eve can continue! Absolute fun for Christmas reading or anytime reading, and gives us a mischievous but sweeter Krampus than the traditional German one.

 

Monster ABC, by Kyle Syllivan/Illustrated by Derek Sullivan,
(Sept. 2018, Hazy Dell Press), $13.95, ISBN: 9780996578707
Ages 1-5

Don’t trust appearances – that’s the first thing kids will learn with this rhyming abcedary, which tells kids, “Some monsters seem spooky when seen at first glance, but who knows if they’re scary if we don’t give them a chance?” Good life advice! The next 26 pages are dedicated to different monsters and their fun descriptions: “G is is for Ghost, who gave us a start; H is for Hobgobin, who smells like a fart” (guess what spread my kid’s favorite is?). Banshee, Krampus, Chupacabra, and Sasquatch are all in here, which makes me hope that the other featured monsters are in the pipeline for their own adventures. (I will buy a Quezsalcoatl board book YESTERDAY if you offer it, Hazy Press!) Kudos for introducing me to a new one, too: I had to look up Xingtian after we discovered him in the book.

 

Hush Now, Banshee!, by Kyle Syllivan/Illustrated by Derek Sullivan,
(Sept. 2018, Hazy Dell Press), $13.95, ISBN: 9780996578752
Ages 1-5

Another rhyming tale, this one, on manners! Banshee is a shrieking little demon who wants friends to play with her, but she’s so loud that she startles everyone! The story counts the monsters that Banshee encounters on her way through the Irish landscape: one Banshee, two ghosts, three hobgoblins… you get the idea. Sad Banshee wonders why no one is around for her to play with, until her friends have a polite intervention, telling her that she’s got to respect their quiet time, and teach her to count down from ten to one. It’s a nice read-aloud for teaching kids to be patient, and respectful of other people’s space. And the nine meditating druids are my absolute favorite (nudge nudge, Hazy Press).

The digital artwork in each of these books is super kid-friendly, eye-catching, and just fun to read. I’m in love with this set! Check out Hazy Press’ website, where you can sign up for a newsletter, read their blog, and download some free activity sheets. Give to your C is for Cthulhu, Sweet Dreams Cthulhu, and Mummy’s Always Right-loving parents and kids, and if you don’t have ’em in your library… consider it. Seriously, they’re too much fun.

Advertisements
Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Dusti Bowling spends 24 Hours in Nowhere

24 Hours in Nowhere, by Dusti Bowling, (Sept. 2018, Sterling), $14.95, ISBN: 9781454929246

Ages 9-12

Gus is a 13-year-old kid, abandoned by his parents, living with his grandmother in Nowhere, Arizona. When Bo Taylor, the worst bully in town, tries to force him to eat a spiny cactus, Rossi Scott interferes. She’s one of the best dirt bike racers in nowhere, and she’s got designs on winning the big race the next day – until she gives up her bike to save Gus. Now Bo has the bike, and Gus heads to Dead Frenchman’s Mine in the hopes of finding a piece of gold to get the bike back. Matthew, one of Bo’s cronies, is along for the trip, making sure Gus doesn’t spray paint a rock; Jessie, Gus’ former best friend, and Rossi show up to talk some sense into Gus, but a cave-in traps the four friends, leaving them to seek a way out and avoid mountain lions.

I loved Dusti Bowling’s fantastic debut, Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus (2017), so I immediately requested the ARC for 24 Hours in Nowhere. I am happy to say, there’s no sophomore slump here! Dusti Bowling continues writing smart, empathetic books about kids who are just doing the best they can in the face of everyday life. The teens share stories about their Worst Day Ever, giving us a glimpse into poverty, abuse, neglect, abandonment, race, (Jessie is Mexican-American, and Rossi is Native American, from the Tohono O’odham Nation) and white privilege, all within the greater examination of life in poor, rural America. Gus is a first-person narrator and alternately has moments of introspection, empathy, and humor. There’s a little bit of Goonies, a little bit of Holes, and a lot of great storytelling to be found here. Psst… teachers… put this one on next year’s Summer Reading lists, please?

Check out Dusti Bowling’s author website for extras (just Cactus for now, but sure to be updated with 24 Hours shortly) and school visit info, including free Skype visits! 24 Hours in Nowhere has a starred review from School Library Journal.

Posted in Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction, picture books

H is for Haiku and the magic of the small moment

H is for Haiku, by Sydell Rosenberg/Illustrated by Sawsan Chalabi, (Apr. 2018, Penny Candy Books), $16.95, ISBN: 978-0998799971

Ages 5+

Sydell “Syd” Rosenberg, who lived, wrote, and taught in New York City. Syd passed away in 1996, but her daughter, Amy Losak, made it her mission to see her mother’s work published. H is for Haiku, is a fun, illustrated book containing 26 “small moments” haiku: little slices of daily life. As Ms. Losak notes in her introduction, “Haiku poems make small moments big”.

Reading H is for Haiku took me back to sons’ “small moments” units in elementary school. They and I both struggled with the idea of a small moment; often puzzling over the feedback, “no, smaller”. How could a trip to the grocery store get smaller? H is for Haiku is the book to go to for those moments: a cat dreams; rain water collects in an old watering can, a girl rides a bike downhill. Syd Rosenberg captures the magic in these tiny moments, finding the poetry in the everyday and illuminating them for readers. Sawsan Chalabi’s artwork is a treat, bringing creativity and movement to these magical moments with color and bold fonts.

A library card’s potential, through the eyes of a new reader. I want a print of this for my library!

This is so Queens. I love it. Book samples courtesy of Penny Candy Books.

This is a great way to bring poetry, particularly haiku, to kids. It’s a great way to explain small moment writing to students, too. Consider adding H is for Haiku to your collections, or giving a copy to your poetry readers. To see more of a illustrator Sawsan Chalabi’s work, visit her website; to learn more about Amy Losak and her mother’s haiku, visit the Penny Candy website.

Posted in Early Reader, Non-Fiction, Preschool Reads

Baby Loves Science – big ideas for little ones

I’m all for introducing science in all its wonderful forms to kids as early as possible, and all about introducing new vocabulary to kids, so science and math don’t scare them as they get bigger. I haven’t read any of the Baby Loves… Science! series by Ruth Spiro and illustrated by Irene Chan, so I started with the two newest books, Baby Loves Gravity! and Baby Loves Coding!

Baby Loves Gravity, by Ruth Spiro/Illustrated by Irene Chan, (June 2018, Charlesbridge), $8.99, ISBN: 9781580898362

Baby drops a noodle, and Puppy gobbles it up. How does that noodle fall? Gravity! Simple enough concept to explain to a toddler, and that’s how Baby Loves Gravity! starts out: simple and relatable. From there, we get a clear explanation of matter, mass, and gravity, and how it works on the sun, moon, and earth’s pull on us here. It’s clear and nicely illustrated, but this is a lot of information, even for toddlers, no matter how simply it’s phrased. I liked the illustrations, was pleased to see a child of color as the star of the show, but would read the beginning and ending, where baby slides down a slide, illustrating gravity, for a toddler STEAM or science storytime. I would rather test this out in a Kindergarten-level science storytime. The board book format makes for easy holding, and the illustrations are large, bright, and easily seen by a circle time group of kids. I could work with a group of kindergarteners, even pre-kindergarteners, in a science workshop using this as a companion text.

 

Baby Loves Coding!, by Ruth Spiro/Illustrated by Irene Chan, (June 2018, Charlesbridge), $8.99, ISBN: 9781580898843

Baby’s playing choo-choo, and wants to add a red car to his train. Let’s follow him as he walks over! Baby Loves Coding features a child of cover on the cover, and is an adorably illustrated, clearly laid out way to introduce coding to kids, but this is also way above a little one’s head. The first few spreads, explaining how baby walks to the toy box, are great – you can get kids up and moving along with you on this one – but the text launches into an explanation of algorithms, programmers, and reading code, and this is just going to lose little ones. The pictures do all the work here, illustrating, with colorful interlocking blocks, how code fits together, like the cars of a train. I do love the explanations and the artwork, and the idea of getting kids up and moving works with CS Unplugged activities I’ve done in my library. I’ve used Code.org’s curriculum; CS Unplugged also has some great lesson plans and printables.

My advice? Use these with your pre-k and Kindergarten science storytimes. They’re great books for the right age.

Posted in picture books

Magnificent Creatures: Animals on the Move!

Magnificent Creatures: Animals on the Move!, by Anna Wright, (July 2018, Faber & Faber), $17.95, ISBN: 9780571330683

Ages 5-10

If you have readers who love beautiful illustration, this is a book for them (and you). Anna Wright’s Magnificent Creatures: Animals on the Move is all about beautiful design and illustrating movement and texture. Featuring 12 animals, from sea turtles and springboks, to Monarch butterflies and fireflies, each spread contains a brief explanatory paragraph on each animal, but the real star is the pen and ink illustration, enhanced with textiles to create stunning art. Springboks roam the African plains with striped and floral fabric bodies; checkered, chevroned, and polka dotted zebras spread out in search of food. Southern Carmine bee-eaters have a hint of gold crowning their feathered heads, and fireflies dance with gold leaf wings.

The art is beautiful and begs kids to use their own imagination, plus any scrapbooking paper, fabric, yarn, or ribbon you may have in your craft boxes, to create animals of their own. Could be a fun Summer Reading challenge! The text is easy to read and would be a nice, eye-catching addition to an animal storytime. There are some great, unique facts about each animal, too: every zebra’s stripe pattern is unique, like a human fingerprint; herring can swim in a school of up to 3 billion!

Pair this one with Helen Aphornsiri’s Drawn from Nature to let readers explore nature through artwork – from nature. Pair paper with leaves, flowers, sticks, and fabric to come up with 2-D and 3-D creations. Let your minds run wild! Get some more inspiration from Anna Wright’s website.

Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction

The Key to Everything: But will it cure?

The Key to Everything, by Pat Schmatz, (May 2018,  Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9780763695668

Ages 9-12

Eleven-year-old Tash is angry. She doesn’t want to go to camp, but her Uncle Kevin needs to travel to Australia, and she and Cap’n Jackie, their friend and neighbor, clashed over the whole business. Tash ends up having a pretty good time at camp, after all, but returns home to find Cap’n Jackie gone: she’s had a fall and is in the hospital, and Tash’s world turns upside down overnight. She’s determined to return a special key to Cap’n Jackie; one that opens up a magical world to her, and that’ll make it all better. Cap’n Jackie even said so, so it has to be true, right?

The Key to Everything can be a bit hard to follow. We have Tash, seemingly abandoned by her mother and living her with uncle while her father is in jail. Kevin, who takes care of Tash, Cap’n Jackie, a loving and cantankerous older woman, and Nathan, Cap’n Jackie’s nephew, who lives in New York, but comes back when Cap’n Jackie is hurt. We don’t get a lot of exposition in this story, but we do learn that family is who you make it. Two major characters, Jackie and Nathan, are gay; something that’s very lightly touched on, but it’s nicely done. Tash suffers from PTSD and a fear of being alone, while Jackie struggled with agoraphobia. Readers have to put in a bit of work to make all the lines connect, but it’s a solid read about family, grief, moving on, and growing up.

Posted in Fantasy, Science Fiction, Teen

Garrison Girl: YA in the Attack on Titan universe!

Garrison Girl: An Attack on Titan novel, by Rachel Aaron, (Aug. 2018, Quirk Books), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-68369-061-0

Ages 12+

Humanity lives in walled cities while giant titans roam the earth. They’re without sense, without intelligence, motivated by a ravenous hunger for human flesh. The military guards the walls, always watching, always waiting. Rosalie Dumarque is the daughter of a wealthy, prominent general; her only purpose in life is to marry well and bring honor to her family, but that’s not going to work for Rosalie. She graduated from military school with honors, and she wants to fight titans, not get married. She convinces her father to let her serve for the six months before her wedding; he sends her to the Wall Rose Garrison in the hopes that she’ll be scared off. With titans wandering too close to the wall, death is always a possibility; under the command of Jax Cunningham, it’s more of a certainty. But Rosalie, along with new friends Willow and Emmett, are determined to stick it out and improve. At first, Rosalie is looked down on as the rich girl, but her commitment to the wall and Rose Garrison quickly makes her part of the team. She even manages to get through to Jax, who starts seeing her as more than a spoiled rich girl. The specter of her engagement looms as a romance blooms between the two, and when Rosalie decides that six months isn’t enough for her, she risks losing her father’s respect and her family’s support. BUT WHO CARES? THERE ARE TITANS, MAN!

Garrison Girl is a YA novel set in the Attack on Titan universe. Look, I’d never seen an episode or cracked open an Attack on Titan manga in my life before Ivy at Quirk sent me this book; I had a vague notion of what the story is about, so that was good enough for me. I finished the book in a day and a half. I refused to put it down, it was so good. These are original characters in a familiar universe, but if you’ve never set foot in that universe before, fear not! The book gets you up to speed pretty quickly with everything you need to know, and the action hits fast, hard, and brutally. I turned to my 14 year-old, who watches anime and reads manga, and said, “HE ATE A GUY!” My son sagely nodded and said, “Yup. Like a carrot.” I threw the book down on the couch in the break room at work and yelled at the end, and had a coworker comment, “You read books like people watch movies”. Well, yes, I do, and if you read this book, you will too. There are characters you will love and want to shield with your own body, and there are characters you will want to punch until a titan walks by and munches on them like potato chips. The book moves fast, the characters are well-thought out and written, and the action and tension are equally high. Fantasy fans, add this to your TBR. Put this on your Attack on Titan displays.

And, Rachel and Ivy? We’re getting more of this, right? RIGHT?