Mom Read It

If the kids are reading it, chances are I have, too.

A mirror unites a boy’s homes in The Mirror in Mommy’s House/The Mirror in Daddy’s House March 21, 2017

The Mirror in Mommy’s House/The Mirror in Daddy’s House, by Luis Amavisca/Illustrated by Betanía Zacarías, (Apr 2016, nubeOCHO), $15.95, ISBN: 978-84-945415-5-1

Recommended for readers 4-8

A child talks about growing up in a home in the midst of a marital breakup, and how a mirror provided an escape into a wonderful land with no arguing parents. Now that the child lives in two houses, things are much better. Mom and Dad are happier, and so is the child. There are pictures of the entire family at both houses, and a very special mirror at each house; plus, Mom and Dad each share something very special: their child!

We don’t need to talk about the 51% divorce rate to illustrate the need for books like The Mirror. This is a positive book for families going through divorce for a number of reasons: it illustrates the stress on kids living with parents who argue constantly; it’s not singling out either gender – the child can easily be male or female; and the parents care enough about their child to make sure that photos of the entire family – rather than a single parent with the child – have real estate in the child’s room, along with the special mirror that’s become a touchstone. The book is a two-in-one, giving kids a chance to read about each parent’s home and what makes it special. When you finish reading about the mirror in Mommy’s house, just flip it over to read about the mirror at Daddy’s house.

The art appears to be mixed media, with some artwork appearing to be drawn in crayon; it gives the book a comfortable feeling, as if the child created these books himself or herself.

Originally published in Spanish in 2016, nubeOCHO published The Mirror book(s) in English this year and still makes the Spanish language edition available (978-84-945415-6-8). Additional books for families going through divorce to read with young children include Dinosaurs Divorce, by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown, Nancy Coffelt’s Fred Stays with Me, and Karen Stanton’s Monday, Wednesday, and Every Other Weekend.

 

From California Girl to Cemetery Girl: Sydney MacKenzie Knocks ‘Em Dead March 3, 2017

25446348Sydney MacKenzie Knocks ‘Em Dead, by Cindy Callaghan, (March 2017, Aladdin Books), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1481465694

Recommended for readers 9-13

California almost-in crowder Sydney MacKenzie just got the worst news: her father sold his failing sporting goods retail business, and they’re moving to Buttermilk River Cove, Delaware: population 800. Her dad’s inherited the Lay to Rest cemetery, and they’ll be living in a Victorian house on the cemetery grounds. As if! Desperate to be the cool girl, Sydney tries putting on her best California Girl airs, but the Delaware kids are remarkably unimpressed – but they are impressed by her new digs. Movie-obsessed Sydney starts out making up a creepy history of the house, but quickly discovers that her house has some real history of its own, and sets out, with the help of her new friends, to investigate.

I just didn’t love this one. I’ve liked Cindy Callaghan’s Lost in…” series, which is light and fun, but that vibe didn’t translate as well for me here. Sydney comes off as a largely vapid social climber, even as the kids around her try to teach her that it’s not about what’s on the surface. An Underground Railroad subplot feels awkwardly attached to the book to give it more depth. It’s a quick, easy read that tween girls will likely check out for the fun cover and title, but for me, this one’s an additional purchase. I’d rather add another “Lost in…” set to my collection.

 

A rabbit mother and child find The Way Home in the Night February 26, 2017

the_way_home_in_the_nightThe Way Home in the Night, by Akiko Miyakoshi, (Apr. 2017, Kids Can Press), $16.95, ISBN: 9781771386630

Recommended for ages 4-7

A mother bunny carries her little bunny home at night. Narrated in the first person by the young bunny, readers see what he sees from the its vantage point in bunny’s mother’s arms. Shops are closing; phones ring; bunny smells a pie. Neighbors have parties, watch television, and say goodbye, all visible through their open windows. As the father bunny tucks the little one into bed, little bunny wonders about all the neighbors: are the party guests saying goodnight? Is the restaurant cook taking a bath, and is the bookseller reading on the couch?

Children love being out at night. It’s a magical thing; everything looks different. The bunny’s descriptions of the sights, sounds, and smells of night time, carried in mother’s arms, will appeal to readers who have had the same experience. The story also provides an opportunity for interactivity – ask kids to think of a time they, like the bunny, were carried home, and what they remember. Take your own kids outside at night for a walk down the street – what do you see together?

Akiko Miyakoshi’s black and white pencil, charcoal, and acrylic gouache artwork adds gently placed color for emphasis, and the hazy look to the artwork makes the story almost dreamlike; like the young bunny’s sleepy memory. Invite kids to draw their neighborhood at night – what are the neighbors doing? Do they hear cars, people talking, a train rumbling by, a dog bark, or silence?

The Way Home in the Night received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly. The original Japanese release received a 2016 Bologna Ragazzi Award. Miyakoshi’s first picture book, The Storm (2016), won the Nissan Children’s Storybook and Picture Book Grand Prix.

 

Waiting for Sophie is great older sibling reading! February 25, 2017

sophieWaiting for Sophie, by Sarah Ellis/Illustrated by Carmen Mok, (April 2017, Pajama Press), $10.95, ISBN: 9781772780208

Recommended for ages 5-8

Liam can’t wait for his little sister, Sophie, to be born; once she arrives, though, he’s disappointed when she can’t do very much just yet. She can’t talk, she can’t play, and she makes quite a bit of noise. How long is it going to take before she grows up, already? Together, Liam and Nana-Downstairs, his grandmother who lives… well, downstairs, build a Get Older Faster Machine that Liam hopes will help move things along.

Waiting for Sophie is a great older sibling book for younger school-age kids. Sarah Ellis not only captures the excitement of waiting for a new baby brother or sister, but also gives voice to the little frustrations kids can experience when dealing with a new baby in the house, and the desire to have a playmate their age. Sarah Ellis shows readers the fun side of being an older brother, like being the one to make the baby giggle. The gently colored illustrations make this a cozy reading choice for parents and kids, or educators discussing caregiving, to gather together and enjoy. This is a good book for any expectant sibling – you can easily equate the excitement of waiting for an adopted sibling to arrive with Liam’s waiting for Mom to bring Sophie home.

 

Grandpa’s Great Escape is brilliantly funny and touching February 24, 2017

grandpaGrandpa’s Great Escape, by David Walliams/Illustrated by Tony Ross, (Feb. 2017, HarperCollins), $16.99, ISBN: 9780062560896

Recommended for ages 8-12

I’ve been a David Walliams fan since the decidedly un-kid-friendly UK show, Little Britain; his children’s books have just made me love him that much more. He and illustrator Tony Ross are this generation’s Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake; bringing hilariously dry British humor with a touch of true affection to American audiences. Demon Dentist introduced readers to Alfie, a kid taking care of his father while fighting a dentist from hell. In Grandpa’s Great Escape, we head back to 1983 to meet Jack and his grandpa, a World War II flying ace who shares his stories with Jack. Grandpa is Jack’s absolute favorite person in the world, so when Grandpa starts forgetting things, Jack becomes the only person who knows how to communicate with him: by addressing the Wing Commander on his own battlefield. But Grandpa starts wandering, and Jack’s parents make the worst possible choice ever: to send Grandpa to Twilight Towers, a questionable old-age home run by the very questionable Matron Swine. It’s up to Jack to save Grandpa!

Grandpa’s Great Escape is laugh-out loud hilarious while addressing the stress of watching a grandparent grow older. Where people around him see Grandpa as a nuisance, a danger to himself and others, or both, Jack sees his World War II hero; his playmate; his best friend. He’ll never give up on Grandpa, and Grandpa will never give up on Jack. Jack draws on the life lessons Grandpa taught him to save his best friend: and take him on one last mission.

A must-add to any collection, and a great book to have on hand for discussions about grandparents and aging. Take a look at David Walliams’ website for more about his books, and special features – like newsagent Raj’s shop!

 

Doll’s Eye is SO creepy. Perfect for horror fans. February 22, 2017

dolls-eyeThe Doll’s Eye, by Marina Cohen, (Feb. 2017, Roaring Brook Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781626722040

Recommended for ages 9-13

Twelve year-old Hadley is not thrilled with her mother’s decisions. Since she married Ed, whose 6 year-old son, Isaac, is nosy and allergic to everything, means Hadley’s constantly chasing him away from her stuff AND her entire way of eating has changed to accommodate Isaac. They’ve moved out of their apartment and away from her friends to live in this huge, dilapidated house, away from everything, because her mom and Ed got it cheap. Her mother even broke her promise to send Hadley to summer camp with her best friend, to go on a family road trip instead. And worst of all, her mother seems to have no time for her anymore. The only neighbor her age is a bug-obsessed kid named Gabe; at least the tenant, an older woman named Althea, treats her like a granddaughter.

Hadley discovers an old dollhouse with a doll family, and wishes her family were perfect, just like the dolls. But you should always be careful with wishes…

Doll’s Eye is creeptastic and perfect for middle grade horror fans that are ready for some more scares in their reading. Hadley is well thought-out and written, and her supporting characters will keep readers turning pages. Wacky former neighbor Grace is a delight, a scary movie staple as the person who’s in tune with the spirit world. The unexpected ending will get some strong reactions – Doll’s Eye is a great book to give to Goosebumps fans who are ready to go next level.

Give this to your Mary Downing Hahn fans and tell them between The Doll’s Eye and Took (by Hahn), they’ll be looking at their dolls (or their siblings’ dolls) with a very different set of eyes.

 

 

A new heroine rises: Gum Girl! February 14, 2017

gumgirl_2Gum Girl: Chews Your Destiny (The Gumazing Gum Girl #1), by Rhode Montijo, (Aug. 2013, Disney-Hyperion), $14.99, ISBN: 9781423157403

Recommended for ages 6-10

Gabby Gomez LOVES bubble gum. She will chew it any time, anywhere, much to her mother (and dentist father!)’s chagrin. Gabby also gets her gum all over everything, which makes a huge mess! Gabby’s mom lays down the law and tells her NO MORE GUM, which really doesn’t work for Gabby, who sneaks a little piece on the way to school one day. What’s one little piece, right? She blows a bubble – the biggest bubble EVER – and it pops all over her! How is she supposed to go to school, looking like this? But wait! Someone needs help! Gabby answers the call, and discovers that she’s been transformed into The Gumazing Gum Girl, a superheroine with super sticky, super stretchy, bubble gum powers! Now, she just needs to keep enough peanut butter on hand to help her get all the gum off and transform back into Gabby, before her family finds out!

 

The Gumazing Gum Girl is too much fun! She’s a superhero for intermediate and middle grade readers, adorably written and drawn by Rhode Montijo, who creates a graphic novel/chapter book hybrid that kids love. Kids will love her Latinx family, who lovingly speak Spanglish to one another, and they’ll love how the seemingly ordinary power of bubble gum transforms a girl into a superheroine. Plus, they’ll see that Gabby is a good kid, who struggles with keeping a secret from her parents: her superpowers come from her breaking the rules and chewing gum. There are fun villains and the art is super kid-friendly; combinations of pink, black and white, with bold lines and expressive fonts will catch and hold any reader’s attention.

When I was at ALA Midwinter last month, I found myself lucky enough to get hold of the NEXT Gum Girl Adventure: Gum Luck! A colleague shrieked when she saw me with it (and she does collection development for my library system, so, whoo hoo!), and another colleague read it the day I got back to the library after Midwinter. To say this is an anticipated sequel is putting it mildly.

gumgirl_1The Gumazing Gum Girl: Gum Luck (The Gumazing Gum Girl #2, by Rhode Montijo, June 2017, Disney-Hyperion, $14.99, ISBN: 9781423161172) introduces readers to a new villain, and readers will see Gabby continue struggling with her big secret. She’s torn between doing the right thing by telling her parents the truth about her alter ego and her gum-chewing habit and between… well, doing the right thing with her superhero activities.

If readers love Chews Your Destiny, they’ll love Gum Luck. Start booktalking Gum Girl now, and get them ready: Gum Luck hits shelves in June, just in time for summer reading! (Hmm… the theme for CSLP’s Summer Reading is Build a Better World… can we use gum for that? Wait, no… not in the library. Please.)

Visit Rhode Montijo’s author webpage for more info about his books, a peek at his portfolio, and his web store.