Mom Read It

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

Black History Month: The Youngest Marcher, by Cynthia Levinson February 14, 2017

youngest-marcherThe Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist, by Cynthia Levinson/illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton, (Jan. 2017, Atheneum Books for Young Readers), $17.99, ISBN: 9781481400701

Recommended for ages 5-10

In May 1963, children in Birmingham, Alabama, trained in peaceful, civil disobedience, marched to protest segregation. Nine year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks was the youngest marcher, fully invested in civil rights and aware that she would likely go to jail. She spent a week in juvenile hall with flimsy blankets and no toothbrush, but she persevered and made history. Nonfiction author Cynthia Levinson tells the story of the youngest marcher, with illustrations by Vanessa Brantley Newton, here for younger audiences, assuring children that no one is too small, too young, to make a difference in the world.

I’ve been handing this book to kids coming in, looking for African-American biographies for their Black History Month reports for just this reason. I want children to see that they are important. They count. At a time when many feel marginalized, books like The Youngest Marcher, with its powerful words and images, offer representation and affirmation. Children have a voice, and with support and encouragement, they can use them and be heard.

Cynthia Levinson’s author website offers links to further resources, including curriculum guides and videos. Illustrator Vanessa Brantley-Newton was spotlighted by the WeNeedDiverseBooks initiative, for which she also created original artwork. For more information about the 1963 Birmingham Children’s Crusade, visit Biography.com or the Zinn Education Project, offering information about the award-winning documentary, Mighty Times.

 

 

What is it that Lou can’t do? February 10, 2017

louThe Thing Lou Couldn’t Do, by Ashley Spires, (May 2017, Kids Can Press), $17.95, ISBN: 9781771387279

Recommended for ages 3-7

Lou and her friends are adventurers! They run faster than airplanes, build mighty fortresses, and rescue wild animals. One day, though, Lou’s friends decide to make a nearby tree the location of their pirate ship, and Lou balks. She’s never climbed a tree before. She likes her adventures to be down, on the ground. Her friends scurry up the tree, but Lou’s not going. What will it take for Lou to get up that tree?

Kids will recognize themselves in Lou, whose got a vibrant imagination, a great group of friends, and a healthy fear of a climbing a tree, which – let’s be honest – can be a pretty scary thing. Like most kids, Lou tries to divert her friends’ attention by suggesting “not-up-a-tree games” and stalling (changing her shoes, claiming an injury, spotting an asteroid heading right for them). With her friends’ encouragement, Lou does attempt that climb – and when she doesn’t make it, her friends are right there for her, heading for a playground to continue their game. Is Lou defeated? Nope. She’s going to try again, maybe even tomorrow. Showing a child overcome her fear and her self-reliance when she doesn’t succeed the first time sends a positive message to kids who may struggle with anxiety over new situations; surrounding her main character with supportive friends sends a message to all kids, to support one another and to compromise.

The digital art is fun and will appeal to all kids; the group of friends is diverse and no one is relegated to “girl” or “boy” roles here – they’re all pirates, race car drivers, or deep sea divers. They’re kids, playing together, like kids do.

I loved Ashley Spires’ award-winning book, The Most Magnificent Thing, and her Binky the Space Cat series has been a winner at any library I’ve worked at. I love her positive messages of self-reliance and the power of imagination, and I can’t wait to get this book on the shelves next to my other Spires books. A great book for elementary collections and kids who are learning that it’s okay to be scared sometimes.

Check out Ashley Spires’ website for more of her artwork and information about her books.

 

Ladybug’s Garden Blog Tour! February 8, 2017

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(Ladybug’s Garden, by Anabella and Sofia Schofield, Jan. 2017, Pink Umbrella Books, $9.99, ISBN: 9780998516202)

Sixteen year-old sisters Anabella and Sofia Schofield have written a sweet story about a ladybug who takes time out to help friends in need, even as she’s on her way to a picnic. With hand-created illustrations and sweet rhyming text, little ones will enjoy the story about friendship, sharing, and helping others.

This is a project the Schofield sisters began when they were 13. The text shows a gift for rhyme and flow that makes for fun storytime reading and listening. The art is very sweet, and will inspire little ones to make their own ladybugs – help them along with a fun ladybug storytime craft like this paper plate craft, from My Mommy Style. For preschoolers and kindergarteners, pair this with Eric Carle’s The Very Grouchy Ladybug and ask your listeners to point out the differences and similarities between the two ladybugs.

Support this budding author and illustrator and take a look at Ladybug’s Garden!

Ladybug’s Garden Blog Tour:

February 8: Mom Read It

February 9: Beach Bound Books

February 10: Book Review Mama

February 11: I Heart Reading Pre-launch Party

February 12: The Reader’s Salon

Books Direct Review and Giveaway

Pop’s Blog Author Interview

February 13: Little Fox Reads Author Interview

February 14: Life with A

SolaFide Publishing Blog

February 15: Katie’s Clean Book Collection

February 16: Cranial Hiccups, Two Heartbeats

February 17: Sarah Boucher

February 18: The Resistance

 

Boo! Who’s biggest? Who’s bravest? January 27, 2017

boo_1Boo!, by Ben Newman, (Apr. 2017, Nobrow), $12.99, ISBN: 9781911171058

Recommended for ages 3-6

A cute little mouse claims to be the bravest animal around, but he has no idea what’s coming up behind him… BOO! Each animal in Boo! is ready to brag about being the bravest, but there’s always a shadow lurking, waiting to pounce in the next spread in this fun cumulative story. This is a fun story about size and how being the biggest may not always mean being the bravest. It’s a fun, interactive read, giving kids the opportunity to call out when there’s a rising shadow that the current bravest animal doesn’t know about, and to yell, “BOO!” in each reveal. You can make animal noises, ask kids to predict what animal is in shadow, and what animal could be scarier as you progress.

There’s a nice rhythm to the story: animal states that he or she is the bravest; the opposite page shows a shadowy antagonist rising up behind the current star of the story, and the following spread features the jump scare reveal. Kids will love the suspense and the chance to be part of the story. Ben Newman’s retro art is fun and bright, with exaggerated scale and reactions for his characters. This is an especially great read-aloud, yell-along book for toddler and pre-k audiences! Fun endpapers show the progression of the scare chain.

 

 

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Ben Newman is an award-winning illustrator who also works on the Professor Astro Cat children’s books with Dr. Dominic Walliman; also published by Nowbrow/Flying Eye Books. His website has a podcast, some great artwork and a trailer for Boo!, which is currently released in the UK.

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A boy and his friend must act fast to save The Last Tree January 20, 2017

last-treeThe Last Tree, by Ingrid Chabbert/Illustrated by Guridi, (April 2017, Kids Can Press), $17.95, ISBN: 9781771387286

Recommended for ages 4-7

A boy listens to his father describe running and playing in the grass as a child, but has only a concrete playing area with a diminishing patch of grass available to him. One day, the boy and his friend discover a baby tree – a sapling, really – hidden behind a wall and are amazed: it’s the first tree they’ve ever seen up close. The boy goes home and discovers, to his horror, that a luxury condo complex is scheduled to begin construction right in the very spot where the tree is growing, and the boys spring into action to save the last tree.

This is a powerful look at how lack of green spaces affects children. Ingrid Chabbert’s narrator is an adult, looking back on his childhood, and how important saving that tree was to him and his friend. It sends a message about the importance of conservation and preservation today, and offers some hope for tomorrow. Artist Guridi communicates this message using charcoal, gravure ink, gouache, pencil, and digital art to create a spark of hope in the grey, bleak future that faces us as we see more green spaces disappear under development.

A strong addition to collections for Earth Day, conservation units, and to empower kids who may not understand that they can have a long-lasting impact on the world with the smallest and kindest of acts. The Last Tree invites a discussion on empathy by examining the boys’ actions and asking children to contribute by sharing a time when they took action to help someone or something that needed it.

 

 

Trains and tracks love to play in Old Tracks, New Tricks December 28, 2016

oldtracks_1Old Tracks, New Tricks, by Jessica Peterson, (March 2017, The Innovation Press), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1943147243

Recommended for ages 3-6

Trixie, Tracky, and Tinker are three wooden toy tracks that are excited when a little boy brings them home. They’ve been waiting to join a train set of their own! Things are a little different than they expected, though, when they arrive.  The trains are bossy and mean, and the old tracks just snore on the floor. These tracks aren’t about to just snooze their days, away, though – they get to work and show the old tracks (and trains) some new tricks – and then share them with readers!

This is such a fun little rhyming story full of adorable photo and digital art! The facial expressions digitized onto the toys give a fun feel to the story and little additions, like stickers, paint, and crayon, personalize the characters, really making the toys look and feel like they’ve come from a child’s room. Younger audiences will love the rhyming cadence, and the bright colors really catch a reader’s attention.

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The book includes instructions for the track tricks used in the story. Tips offer ideas for experimenting and suggest adult help where necessary. A website dedicated to the book (maybe it will become a series?) is coming in January, and further resources, like printables and educator resources, may be on the way in the future.

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This is a fun go-to for storytime, especially if you’ve got room for a couple of trains and tracks to keep out so the kids can play and explore with parents after storytime. If space or budget is an issue, there are fun paper trains you can make as a post-storytime craft. You can hand out some paper track printables, if time permits, and have parents and kids fit together their own train routes. This is one of those books that will be a great resource for preschoolers and school-age kids alike; you can discuss ideas like teamwork, bullying, and welcoming a new friend.

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Holiday Giveaway: How to Catch an Elf! December 14, 2016

The holidays are just around the corner and it’s time to catch an elf!

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Sourcebooks’ newest holiday picture book, How to Catch an Elf (ON SALE; October 2016, $10.99), is the latest from the gang who brought us the New York Times bestseller, How to Catch a Leprechaun. This time out, one of Santa’s elves is wise to kids’ tricks: they can’t catch Santa, so they’re going to try and catch him! He’s got to navigate all the traps that kids set – and keep Santa safe and delivering presents! -as Christmas Eve progresses.

The endpapers bring you right into the fun, with peppermint candies across a pale blue background. The digital over sketched artwork is adorable – I love Santa’s and the elf narrator’s sweet facial expressions, and the traps are hilariously complex, like mad scientists in training got together and worked on them. The rhyming text makes for some fun reading, and watching the duo dodge flying food, prowling pets, and the Elf Snatcher 3000 allow for kids to point out some wacky Christmas fun. This is a great Christmas read-aloud – make sure to get those milk and cookies ready before you settle down with this book and your favorite little elves on Christmas Eve.

Want a chance to win a $50 gift card for some last-minute holiday shopping? It’s simple – snap a photo of your very own #elftrap and post it with the hashtag #catchanelf, to be entered to win a $50 gift card for last-minute holiday shopping! There are more details on the Sourcebooks Pinterest page. Good luck!

Want a chance to win your own copy of How to Catch an Elf? If you’re a US or Canada resident, just enter this  Rafflecopter giveaway and I’ll contact you if you’re a winner! This giveaway also runs through December 16, so enter now!