Posted in Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction

My First Book of Soccer explains the game to rookies!

My First Book of Soccer: Mostly Everything Explained About the Game (A Rookie Book), by the Editors of Sports Illustrated for Kids (May 2017, Sports Illustrated), $11.99, ISBN: 978-1-68330-002-1

Recommended for readers 4-8

Sports Illustrated’s newest book in their Rookie series introduces readers to Soccer – football, if you’re from anywhere other than the U.S. As with previous Rookie books, there are two Rookies on hand to show readers the ins and outs of the sports. I’m particularly excited about the Soccer Rookies, because we have a girl and a boy, and the girl – also the more knowledgeable of the two – is a lovely, brown-skinned young lady who’s too happy to teach her friend about the sport!

My First Book of Soccer is a light-hearted, informative introduction to the sport, featuring photos of current soccer stars (with silly word bubbles providing funny commentary) and the Rookies alike, interacting from the sidelines. The fonts are big and bold, with key words and ideas in capital, larger size. Scoreboards in the upper left- and right-hand corners keep track of the quarter and game time, giving kids a breakdown of what goes on during each part of a game.

Kudos to Sports Illustrated Kids for adding female players AND a female child of color Rookie! A must-add to sports bookshelves and collections for early readers, My First Book of Soccer joins previous Rookie books on football, baseball, and hockey. Put these out for a great sports-themed display and add them to a sports-themed storytime. I’d pair these with the Dino-sports series by Lisa Wheeler for a fun fiction/non-fiction pairing. Add some printables, courtesy of Sports Illustrated, for even more fun – check out My First Book of Soccer activity sheets.

Check out this giveaway! Get a copy of My First Book of Soccer plus two Rookie buttons! Enter this Rafflecopter giveaway!
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Posted in Fiction, Intermediate

Happy British National Tea Day! Spend it with The Queen!

How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea, by Kate Hosford/Illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska, (March 2017, Carolrhoda Books), $18.99, ISBN: 978-1-4677-3904-7

Recommended for ages 5-10

A pampered queen is fed up with her usual cup of tea and demands that her butler take her in search of the perfect cup of tea. The duo travel via hot air balloon to gorgeous, green, tea-growing lands and meet three children: Noriko, from Japan; Sunil, from India, and Rana, from Turkey, all of whom teach the Queen to make tea as they do – after she snuggles a kitten, dribbles a soccer ball, and dances. The Queen, noticeably more relaxed with each trip, returns home, invites the children to a tea party, and greets them, hair askew, smiling, and happy.

The soothing repetition of this story, combined with Gabi Swiatkowska’s colored pencils and the strong individual characters Kate Hosford creates all come together to give readers a story about unity, multiculturalism, and letting your hair down. The Queen’s transformation from stuffy and coddled to open and self-sufficient is a joy to watch. Each new experience, each new child she meets, expands her world view, signified by the different teas she enjoys.

The tea rituals are also repetitive in their own way; each ingredient is laid out, and the steps in making each tea are illustrated, inviting readers (with adult help) to make their own tea. An author’s note at the end touches on the history of tea and the author’s inspiration in coming up with the Queen.

This makes a great addition to a multicultural storytime, or a fun addition to a food-related storytime (have some cooled tea prepared for kids to try). I read this one with my 4 year old, who loved the idea of traveling by balloon and meeting new kids – wasn’t so interested in the tea – and that’s the whole point of the book. Talk to kids about being self-sufficient and open to new experiences, and you’ll be just fine.

Want a Queenly storytime? Pick up Gabi Swiatkowska’s own book, Queen on Wednesday (2014), and see how the two monarchs match up.

Updated: Lerner Books just posted an interview with the author AND downloadable tea recipes!

Don’t forget to enter this Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win a copy of How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea!

Posted in Uncategorized

The Tale of the Mighty Brobarians!

Brobarians, by Lindsay Ward, (March 2017, Two Lions/Amazon Publishing), $17.99, ISBN: 978-15039-6167-0

Recommended for readers 3-7

“Two barbarians, once at peace – Uh-Oh! – were now at odds.” Otto and Iggy are brothers and barbarians, but when Iggy stages a takeover of the land, Otto fights back and the two go to war. Told as an epic tale, Brobarians is the adorably fun story of two brothers and their disagreement, resolved only when a higher power interferes.

This book is adorable. The endpaper maps that depict Otto’s (he’s the bigger brother, so I assume he created them) layout of his and Iggy’s territory, the illuminated manuscript-like exposition that leads into the tale and the epic storytelling style are wonderful. If you’re a fan of sword and sorcery movies like I am, then you’ll hear the Conan the Barbarian-like narration in your head and squeal with joy.

The art – cut paper, pencil, and crayon on chipboard – escalates, dipping into the brobarians’ imaginations to render them as fierce (but still really cute) brothers on wild steeds. The fonts are exaggerated, colorful, providing readers with a wholly fun storytime experience. You can’t read this in a monotone, you just can’t. I read it to my little guy and immediately slipped into epic narrator mode, with mock gravity and urgency at different points of the story. I was rewarded with belly laughs, which are wonderfully contagious.

You need this book for the kids you love. Heck, you need this book for yourself. Let’s try and see my kid get this off my bookshelf, where it lives next to my Red Sonja comics!

About the Author
Lindsay Ward would never have written this book if she hadn’t stayed up late one night watching Conan the Barbarian. She finds the idea of baby barbarians to be very funny . . . and hopes you do too. Lindsay’s recent books include Rosco vs. the Baby and The Importance of Being 3. Most days you can find her writing and sketching at home in Ohio with her family. Learn more about her at www.lindsaymward.com or on Twitter: @lindsaymward. She’s got Brobarians activities coming soon, too – keep an eye on the website!

Praise for BROBARIANS:

“Highly cinematic, both in imagery and narrative soundtrack…Good and campy and a fine opportunity for vocabulary building.”—Kirkus Reviews

“As readalouds go, it’s pretty epic.” – Publishers Weekly

 

Giveaway!

One lucky winner will receive a copy of BROBARIANS courtesy of Two Lions (U.S. addresses). Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway here!

Posted in Animal Fiction, Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads

Percy, Dog of Destiny – What Ho!

percyPercy, Dog of Destiny, by Alison McGhee,/Illustrated by Jennifer K. Mann, (March 2017, Boyds Mill Press), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1-59078-984-1

Recommended for readers 3-6

Percy is so excited for his trip to the park. After finding his special ball, he and his human head out, meeting his friends along the way. Molly, the poodle, has her ladylike kerchief; dachshund Oatmeal Raisin Cookie has her frisbee, and giant Fluffy has his bone. With a hearty “What ho!”, the friends run to the park and play. While the group acts as one: racing along the fence, digging holes, peeing on the tree, Fluffy marches to the beat of his own drummer, garnering an “Oh, Fluffy”, from Percy. After a run-in with some squirrels puts Percy’s ball at risk, Fluffy shows just what he’s made of.

I picked this advanced reader copy up at ALA Midwinter because Percy looks like my doggie, Chester. When I opened it, and saw that “What ho!” was the second sentence in the book, I knew I needed to read this. This book is laugh-out-loud hilarious and works perfectly as a read-aloud. I read this with my little guy, and we took turns shaking our heads and saying, “Ohhhhh, Fluffy”, each more dramatic than the last. Surround yourself with fun stuffed doggies and let the kids mimic Percy and his friends, and hand out dog coloring sheets to finish up a fun storytime. What ho!

Alison McGhee is an award-winning author whose book Someday will bring any parent to tears. Jennifer K. Mann is an author and illustrator; you can see more of her artwork at her site.

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads, Realistic Fiction

What is it that Lou can’t do?

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.

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

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

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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Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads

Maggie McGillicuddy’s got an eye for trouble… do you?

maggie mcgillicuddyMaggie McGillicuddy’s Eye for Trouble, by Susan Hughes/Illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan, (Oct. 2016, Kids Can Press), $16.95, ISBN: 9781771382915

Recommended for ages 4-8

This fun look at imagination appeals to a kid’s sense of play, but also teaches them to be aware of their surroundings. Maggie McGillicuddy sits on her porch, knitting away, and sees things a little differently. When she sees a shadow on the wall, she just knows it’s a hungry tiger! She clacks her knitting needles and scares that wildcat away. That’s no tree branch behind the pizza delivery girl’s bike, it’s a snake! She whacks her walking stick and scares that slippery snake right off. But when Charlie, her next door neighbor, is about to run into the street while chasing a ball, Maggie springs into action – this is no figment of her imagination!

This is such a great story about imagination and playing little games with yourself, but it makes a point about being aware, too. When Maggie sees that Charlie’s in danger, there’s no clacking of knitting needles or whacking a walking stick, she yells and gets Charlie’s attention – she makes him very aware of his surroundings! And playing games with your imagination is a fun way of being aware of what’s around you, too. Charlie and Maggie bond over their active imaginations, and invite the reader in, with repeated wink and nudge phrases like, “you see it there, don’t you?”

The artwork is rendered in watercolor, pencil crayon, gouache and collage, all coming together to give a light, fun tone to the book. Kids will recognize the places where Maggie’s and Charlie’s imaginations take root: tree roots that become snakes, shadows that become wild animals, herds of elephants out on the horizon and a dinosaur lurking behind a bush. I love the movement in illustrator Brooke Kerrigan’s work, too; Maggie’s scarf sways gently until she jumps to action: then, it swings outward, almost at attention. When all is well, the scarf gently relaxes at Maggie’s feet. Throughout the book, the scarf gets longer until both Maggie and Charlie are wearing it, looped around their necks.

Read this and talk to kids about being safe: from looking both ways before crossing a street to knowing street signs and where you are. Maybe even link this story to a book on community helpers, so kids know who to turn to if they need assistance. Have kids draw pictures of what they see in their imaginations when they look outside and make up a story of their own about what’s in the hallway!

Very good for Pre-K and elementary collections. The fun of imagination is contagious.