Posted in Fiction, Humor, Middle Grade

A rogue 3-D printer and a young artist unleash monsters at school!

Monsters Unleashed, by Jon Kloepfer/Illustrated by  Mark Oliver, (July 2017, HarperCollins), $16.99, ISBN: 9780062290304

Recommended for ages 8-10

Freddie Liddle is anything but. He’s a big guy, bigger than the average fifth grader, and that makes him stand out: right where the bullies can see him. His best friend, Manny, always has his back. In fact, the two buddies were about to create a monster movie based on the bullies; Freddie drew monster versions of each bully, and they used the 3-D printer at school to make models for filming. Holy maker meltdown, though: this printer makes REAL MONSTERS. They’re alive, they’re mean, and they’re GROWING. It looks like Freddie and Manny may need to team up with the very bullies that inspired their monsters in order to take them down and save their town!

Jon Kloepfer’s already got a huge fan following with his Zombie Chasers series; this new series, Monsters Unleashed, is a fun romp that brings a little maker fun into the mix. Freddie’s monster sketches turn into real-life terrible monsters that grow when they get wet, and are even meaner than the bullies they’re modeled after. Bullies get a second chance at redemption when they join Freddie and Manny in the fight, proving that some bullies take a little nudging, but may not be all bad (monster invasion notwithstanding). There’s lots of humor and action here, with fun black and white illustrations to keep kids interested.

Posted in Fiction, Intermediate, Realistic Fiction, Uncategorized

Chow Mein and Potstickers brings global friends together

Chow Mein and Potstickers, by Liselotte Schippers/Illustrated by Monique van den Hout, (June 2017, Clavis Publishing), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1605373287

Recommended for readers 5-10

Chan is new to the neighborhood and wants to make some friends. The best way to go about it? Go door by door, of course! Told in the first person, we follow Chan along and meet the neighbor kids, who are from Bosnia, Indonesia, Poland, Afghanistan, Turkey, the Netherlands, Suriname, the U.K., South Africa, and Italy. Each new friend introduces Chan, and the reader, to a fun activity, food, and greetings in each language. The kids all gather together at the end for a celebration, where they share food and friendship.

Originally published in Belgium and Holland in 2015, Chow Mein and Potstickers is an initiative by Inclusive Works, a Dutch organization that promotes diversity and inclusiveness – and what better way to accomplish that than by having children serve as our example? Chan is our guide, as the new kid who wants to make friends. By playing together, Chan – and readers – learn about the ways kids all over the world have fun; we learn how to greet one another in global languages, and finally, we share food together. All great ways of promoting peace and togetherness. My son’s pre-k class had an international day where we did something similar; they sang “It’s a Small World” in 15 different languages and ate food that parents contributed from their native countries. This is a great story to read for a similar occasion; it’s a great story to read to our preschoolers and beyond to promote the global village we call our world.

Each 2-page spread features a new child Chan encounters; backgrounds are light, washed out, to bring the realistic artwork of the children to the forefront, with bright faces and clothing, surrounded by colorful toys. The vocabulary is set off with smiling icons for hello and good-bye, and a colorful sketch of each food the kids eat together.

This is a solid addition to diversity collections. It’s similar to How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea, in that it stars a character who travels the world (well, in this case, the world in a diverse neighborhood), meeting different people from different cultures, and sharing food together. Get some recipe cards together and hand them out with coloring sheets for a multicultural storytime!

Posted in Fiction, Intermediate, Realistic Fiction

Jasmine Toguchi is determined to make mochi!

Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen, by Debbi Michiko Florence/Illustrated by Elizabet Vukovic, (July 2017, Farrar, Straus and Giroux), $15.99, ISBN: 9780374304102

Recommended for readers 6-9

Jasmine Toguchi is an 8 year-old dynamo. She’s funny, smart, and loves her family, especially during the holidays, when Obaachan, her grandmother,  flies in from Japan and the family begins their mochi-tsuki ritual: mochi making!  – a Japanese rice cake, made from pounded rice. The whole family gets involved in the process – except, that is, for Jasmine, who’s still too young to help out. Her older sister, Sophie, helps the women by hand-rolling the mocha balls. Her mean, older cousin, Eddie, helps the men pound the mochi with the super cool mochi hammer. But Jasmine is not yet 10, so she has to wait. In the meantime, Sophie and her mother order her around, and Eddie mercilessly teases her. So Jasmine comes up with a plan: it’s time to break tradition! She’s going to convince her family to let her pound the mochi this year! But first, she’s got to build up her arm strength — that mochi hammer is heavy!

Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen is a fun early chapter book for readers who are moving up from Easy Readers. We meet Jasmine, a spunky, Japanese-American girl who loves her family tradition of making mochi, but feels like it’s time for a change. She’s tired of her older sister getting to be the first to do everything, and she’s tired of her obnoxious cousin. She wants to make her own statement, her own mark in the family, and when she sets her mind to it, there’s no stopping her. Kids will enjoy learning about Japanese traditions and relate to the frustration that comes with being told “you’re too young”, when they feel perfectly ready and able to pitch in. An author’s note explains mochi-tsuki, and provides a microwave mochi recipe for kids and their adults to try together. Black and white illustrations bring Jasmine and her world closer to readers. There’s a second book coming in July, with  more activities at the end of the story.

Jasmine Toguchi is a good, new series to add to your intermediate collections – there’s some lovely diversity available for readalikes, including the Ruby Lu and Alvin Ho series, by Lenore Look; the Clara Lee series by Jenny Han; the Katie Woo and Pedro books by Fran Manushkin, and Ellray Jakes, by Sally Warner.

Get an early peek at the next Jasmine Toguchi titles (and covers) by navigating over to author Debbi Michiko Florence’s site, where you can also find info about author visits, with programs she conducts for each grade.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Gareth Lucas Noisy Books are too much fun!

Gareth Lucas Noisy Books are fun board books that feature different sounds on each spread. No more worrying about the sounds being off from the spread when your little ones press the page 10 times on the first spread! (I can’t be the only one who sweated that, can I?)

Dinos on Deck!, by Gareth Lucas, (June 2017, Silver Dolphin Books),
$14.99, ISBN: 978-1-62686-938-7

All aboard the Jurassic Jewel for a dino-riffic adventure! Each spread boasts roars, squawks, splish-splashes, digging, creaks, and a hoo-ray as the dinos set sail in search of a tasty treasure. The dinos are cartoony and fun, the sounds have a good volume and are clear, and toddlers and preschoolers alike will love reading this one again and again. My own kindergartener-to-be won’t let this one out of his room: I’m writing this while he’s at camp. Shhh.

 

Dig, Dig, Digger!, by Gareth Lucas, (June 2017, Silver Dolphin Books),
$14.99, ISBN: 978-1-62686-936-3

A construction crew of friendly animals build a playground! They’ve got diggers and cranes, bulldozers and cement, and there are plenty of beeps, crashes, and bangs for kids to enjoy as they follow the builders to the playground. The art is cartoony and fun, and each sound – as with the Dino book – is easy to spot, set off with a bold, fun font and blue design on each spread.

Both books are sturdy and should hold up to multiple readings. There’s battery information on the back of each book, so parents (and librarians) can stock up and extend the life of the books. Each adds its own fun to storytime, whether you read them together for a fun, noisy storytime or separately, to enhance a construction storytime (a nice fit with Summer Reading’s Build a Better World theme), a pirate storytime, or dino storytime.

The Noisy Books are adorable and fun, and little ones will get a kick out of them. I love introducing books with unexpected moments, like lift the flap, pop-ups, and sounds, in toddler storytimes; it adds a sense of excitement for the kids, and their expressions make storytime even more rewarding. Try one in your next circle time!

Posted in Preschool Reads

Blog Tour: The Queen is Coming to Tea!

The Queen is coming for tea! Ellie has to make sure everything is perfect, and travels the world, with her faithful friend, Langley, at her side, to orchestrate the best tea party ever. A fun look at tea parties, with a bit of global flavor. Fun for storytime – have the kids bring in their own stuffed animals for a post-storytime tea party! – and have tea recipes ready for the parents to take home and enjoy with their kiddos. Display with How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea by Kate Hosford, Jane O’Connor’s Fancy Nancy and Fancy Nancy Tea Parties, and Mind Your Manners, B.B. Wolf! by Judy Sierra for a fun tea time display.

The Queen is Coming to Tea

Author: Linda Ravin Lodding
Illustrator: Constranze von Kitzing
Published: February 7, 2017, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
ISBN: 9781492607571; $16.99; Hardcover

Can Ellie and her furry friends get everything ready in time for tea with the Queen?

One day there was a knock at Ellie’s door. There stood the Queen’s Footman.

“A message from Her Royal Highness.” He offered Ellie a note on a silver tray.

May I please come for tea?

Sincerely yours,

The Queen Herself

When Ellie finds out the Queen is coming to tea, she snaps to attention! With her best friend, Langley the Elephant, Ellie travels to Paris, China, Italy, and New York to make sure they have everything they need for tea with the Queen. But will the Queen patiently wait? And what exactly will be waiting for the Queen?

About the Author and Illustrator:

LINDA LODDING is originally from New York, but has spent the past fifteen years in Austria, the Netherlands, and now lives in Sigtuna, Sweden. Visit her at http://www.lindalodding.com.

After finishing her studies, CONSTANZE VON KITZING worked in the cover department at Der Spiegel. She now works as a freelance illustrator, teaches, and runs an art shop in Cologne, Germany, where she lives with her family.

Peach Mango White Iced Tea Recipe

Ingredients:

4 Cups Water

3 White Tea Bags

1 Peach

½ Cup Chopped Frozen Mango

1 tbsp sugar plus Sugar to Taste

 

Instructions:

Boil the 6 cups of water; remove from heat.

Steep the tea bags about 5 minutes; remove bags and allow tea to cool to room temperature.

Add chopped peaches and mango to a mixing bowl and mix with sugar; let fruit soften.

Place fruit in pitcher and pour cooled tea on top; add sugar to taste and stir.

Chill and serve.

 

GIVEAWAY: Enter this Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win your own copy of The Queen is Coming to Tea! AND a ceramic tea set!

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

When Pigs Fly…

Pigs Might Fly, by Nick Abadzis/Illustrated by Jerel Dye, (July 2017, :01First Second), $9.99, ISBN: 9781250176943

Recommended for readers 9-13

Lily Leanchops is the daughter of famous inventor Hercules Fatchops, and she’s certainly inherited her father’s pioneering spirit. While the rest of the folks in Pigdom Plains scoff at the very notion of pigs flying, Lily’s been working on her own flying machine in secret. She’s seen her father’s flying machines fail, and she’s taking everything he’s doing into account as works to create her own flyer. Like her father, she embraces science, not magic (mostly), but when the dangerous Warthogs threaten to invade – flying their own machines, powered by magic, and led by someone very familiar with Lily and her dad – it’s up to Lily to save her home and her town. Even if that means pushing her experimental craft and herself to their limits.

The science versus magic dilemma takes center stage in this graphic novel, which will appeal to kids and, on a deeper level, to older readers who are aware of the science versus faith arguments that frequently occur splashed across social media. Although pigs are the main characters in the story, they are illustrated and given very humanlike qualities and dress – Lily could be another Amelia Earhart or Bessie Coleman in her pilot gear. An interesting parable for current events, with a plot that embraces diversity and working together. A good addition to middle school reading lists and libraries; invite readers to make comparisons between the story and what they see in the world around them and on the news.

Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction, Women's History

The Girl Who Ran: The Story of Bobbi Gibb

The Girl Who Ran: Bobbi Gibb, The First Woman to Run the Boston Marathon, by Frances Poletti & Kristina Yee/Illustrated by Susanna Chapman, (June 2017, Compendium), $16.99, ISBN:  978-1-943200-47-4

Recommended for readers 5-12

Believe it or not, there was a time not too long ago when women weren’t allowed to run marathons. The Boston Athletic Association, in fact, said women were “incapable” of running 26.2 miles. (But we can carry and give birth to children. That makes sense.) Bobbi Gibb set out to prove them wrong in 1966 – told you it wasn’t that long ago – and The Girl Who Ran, by Frances Poletti and Kristina Yee, tells her story in beautiful inks, prose, and poetry.

Starting with Bobbi’s childhood, we learn how she loved to run, as kids do. But one day, all of her friends stopped, and she kept going. Her father took her to see the Boston Marathon when she was older, and she was determined to do it. Susanna Chapman’s art is incredible, creating swirling tornadoes of negative words each time Bobbi is told why she can’t run: “girls can’t run marathons”, “what a strange idea”, “what if you injure yourself?”, and “rules are there for a reason”. Each time, Bobbi physically pushes those words away and endures; she trains where her parents can’t see her, running cross-country; she dresses in baggy clothes to hide her gender, and joins the Marathon, where she finds an outpouring of support for her fellow runners. When she reveals herself, the support reaches a crescendo, illustrated with vibrant reds and oranges. Wellesley girls support her with cheers and signs, and as she nears her last steps, the book opens into a gatefold to welcome Bobbi to the finishing line. After the race, Bobbi wonders what else could be proven wrong? And that, my friends, is the question we still need to ask.

Photos of Bobbi Gibb, with a brief biography and illustrated timeline of the Boston Marathon complete this gorgeous book. I’m always on the lookout for biographies that go beyond the usual names on our shelves; this is certainly one I want my Queensboro Kids to see. This fits in with the Build a Better World summer reading theme, too: ask your kids what else can be proven wrong as they look around their world today; and how did Bobbi Gibb contribute to building a better world in 1966 and beyond? Bring up Title IX, a federal law passed in 1972 which prevents gender discrimination in education programs and activities, and led the way to girls competing in school sports. Did Bobbi Gibb contribute to this landmark decision?

There’s a Bobbi Gibb website, and ESPN has a good article discussing Bobbi Gibb’s place in history and a statue that’s underway commemorating her historic run. The Girl Who Ran received a starred review from Kirkus and is an Amelia Bloomer Project nominee. It’s a strong addition to biographical, sports, and feminist collections.