Posted in Preschool Reads

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2018: Down in the Subway #ReadYourWorld

Take a tropical vacation… in the New York Subway!

Down in the Subway, by Miriam Cohen/Illustrated by Melanie Hope Greenberg,
(2003, Star Bright Books), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-932065-08-4

Recommended for ages 4-8

Oscar and his mom are on a hot subway train, when a fellow passenger – a brightly outfitted Island Lady – reaches into her bag and pulls out a magical Island Party, complete with food, cool island breezes, a Calypso singer and steel band, even the green Caribbean sea! You can just hear the music and feel the energy coming from this story as you read it; it’s a wonderful New York story that embraces our multicultural surroundings and shows how a hot, sticky summer subway ride can turn into a great time with a little imagination.

Miriam Cohen’s story invites readers in for a magical afternoon, and Melanie Hope Greenberg’s art is colorful and loaded with movement and expression, from the swirling island breeze that winds its way through the subway car, to the group of passengers jumping up to dance and eat together. I love the spread that illustrates three of the train cars moving and grooving along the track with palm trees sticking out of the windows and an island breeze carrying it along its path. Down in the Subway shows New York at its best: a gathering of cultures, enjoying a trip together.

I’ve enjoyed this book for a few years now, so I was thrilled to receive this for my MCBD review. I had a great Subway Storytime using this book, plus Karen Katz’s Subway, and I gave kids little laminated (play) Metrocards of their own to wave around as we sang songs. (That was a laptop or two ago, so I’ll have to dig into my portable hard drive for that storytime plan and put it up.)

Thanks so much to Star Bright Books and MCBD!

 

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Multicultural Children’s Book Day (1/27/18) is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2018 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board.

2018 MCBD Medallion Sponsors

HONORARY: Children’s Book Council, Junior Library Guild

PLATINUM: Scholastic Book Clubs

GOLD: Audrey Press,Candlewick Press, Loving Lion Books, Second Story Press, Star Bright Books, Worldwide Buddies

SILVER: Capstone Publishing, Author Charlotte Riggle, Child’s Play USA, KidLit TV, Pack-n-Go Girls, Plum Street Press

BRONZE: Barefoot Books, Carole P. Roman, Charlesbridge Publishing, Dr. Crystal BoweGokul! World, Green Kids Club, Gwen Jackson, Jacqueline Woodson, Juan J. Guerra, Language Lizard, Lee & Low Books, RhymeTime Storybooks, Sanya Whittaker Gragg, TimTimTom Books, WaterBrook & Multnomah, Wisdom Tales Press

2018 Author Sponsors

Honorary Author Sponsors: Author/Illustrator Aram Kim and Author/Illustrator Juana Medina

Author Janet Balletta, Author Susan Bernardo, Author Carmen Bernier-Grand, Author Tasheba Berry-McLaren and Space2Launch, Bollywood Groove Books, Author Anne Broyles, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Eugenia Chu, Author Lesa Cline-Ransome, Author Medeia Cohan and Shade 7 Publishing, Desi Babies, Author Dani Dixon and Tumble Creek Press, Author Judy Dodge Cummings, Author D.G. Driver, Author Nicole Fenner and Sister Girl Publishing, Debbi Michiko Florence, Author Josh Funk, Author Maria Gianferrari,Author Daphnie Glenn, Globe Smart Kids, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Author Quentin Holmes, Author Esther Iverem, Jennifer Joseph: Alphabet Oddities, Author Kizzie Jones, Author Faith L Justice , Author P.J. LaRue and MysticPrincesses.com, Author Karen Leggett Abouraya, Author Sylvia Liu, Author Sherri Maret, Author Melissa Martin Ph.D., Author Lesli Mitchell, Pinky Mukhi and We Are One, Author Miranda Paul,Author Carlotta Penn, Real Dads Read, Greg Ransom, Author Sandra L. Richards, RealMVPKidsAuthor Andrea Scott, Alva Sachs and Three Wishes Publishing, Shelly Bean the Sports Queen, Author Sarah Stevenson, Author Gayle H. SwiftAuthor Elsa Takaoka,Author Christine Taylor-Butler, Nicholette Thomas and  MFL PublishingAuthor Andrea Y. Wang, Author Jane WhittinghamAuthor Natasha Yim

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00pm.

Join the conversation and win one of 12-5 book bundles and one Grand Prize Book Bundle (12 books) that will be given away at the party! http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/twitter-party-great-conversations-fun-prizes-chance-readyourworld-1-27-18/

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with MCBD on social media and be sure and look for/use the official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

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Posted in Early Reader, Non-Fiction

Clavis non-fiction picture book series: Want to Know

Clavis Books’ non-fiction picture book series, Want to Know, introduces non-fiction concepts for younger readers, providing information in a light-hearted, fiction-meets-non-fiction way. With cut-out pages, foldout illustrations, and facts and quizzes throughout each book, each topic provides opportunities to learn and do.

This season’s additions to the Want to Know series include The Romans, by Suzan Boshouwers and illustrated by Boshouwers and Veronica Nahmias, and Traveling by Train, by Pierre Winters and illustrated by Tineke Meirink.

The Romans, by Suzan Boshouwers/Illustrated by Boshouwers and Veronica Nahmias, (Apr. 2017, Clavis), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1605373195

Recommended for readers 6-8

The Romans falls under Want to Know’s History category. We meet Theo and his little sister, digging a deep hole in hopes of finding Roman artifacts. Suddenly, Theo, his sister, and we readers are transported back in time to the Low Countries – part of the Roman Empire, where we now call the Netherlands, Belgium, and the Rhine, Meuse, Scheldt, and Ems rivers. We learn where the Romans lived, how they celebrated, the story of Romulus and Remus, and about the Roman gods. Endpapers include a map of the Roman Empire un der Emperor Trajan, and a look at some Roman artifacts recovered near the Netherlands.

The book provides a wealth of information for younger readers, but while the author doesn’t shy away from slavery being a part of Roman life, the slaves are depicted more like servants; they’re pretty happy around their captors. There are other books available, like books by DK and the Step Into Reading series, but if you’re looking for a more picture book-based introduction to Ancient Rome, this is an additional add to collections.

 

Traveling by Train, by Pierre Winters and illustrated by Tineke Meirink, (Apr. 2017, Clavis), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1605373409

Recommended for readers 4-7

Traveling by Train, from Want to Know’s The World section, is a fun addition for transportation fans. From learning about the first trains to trains in other countries, this book is loaded with fun information, quizzes, activities, and rhymes for young readers. Wrapped around the story of a boy named Sam’s first train trip, readers journey through the book, learning fun facts and discovering the story behind how trains run: who works for the railroad, and who does what; what trains look like on the inside; what schedules and connections are, and what a modern train station looks like. Endpapers feature artwork depicting an overcrowded train in India. The artwork kid-friendly, fun, and nicely detailed for its age group. I’d gladly add this one to my train books, and introduce it during a vehicle storytime.

Make this one a centerpiece with Thomas the Tank Engine books, or a host of vehicle-related books, for your readers to love.

 

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 Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Murder on The Transatlantic Express? The Transatlantic Conspiracy

transatlantic consThe Transatlantic Conspiracy, by G.D. Falksen (June 2016, Soho Press), $18.99, ISBN: 978-1616954178

Recommended for ages 12+

It’s 1908, and 17 year-old Rosalind Wallace, daughter of a self-made millionaire industrialist, is vacationing in England, spending time with her best friend, Cecily de Vere. Cecily’s family is high-society, old moneyed England, and treats Rosalind as more of a curiosity, even referring to her as “my peasant”. Where Cecily eschews intellectual pursuits and seeks a full dance card during party season, Rosalind is more adventurous; her father has used her to promote his inventions for years, and she’s quite brilliant. When her father calls for her to return back to the States by way of his newest venture, the Transatlantic Express – an underwater railway – Cecily and her handsome brother, Charles, offer to journey with Rosalind.

The problems begin almost immediately, when Charles goes missing while boarding the train; things take a turn for the worst when Cecily and her maid are discovered murdered in their room. Rosalind tries to deal with her grief while proving her innocence and conducting her own investigation into her friend’s murder.

There is so much rich material to draw on in The Transatlantic Conspiracy, but it never fully realized its potential. It’s promoted as a YA novel, but reads more like a middle grade book; the black and white illustrations throughout the book add to this overall look and feel. The characters are stiff, with little development; there are some interesting concepts glanced over, but we don’t get much in the way of development. The detective on the train is one-dimensional but borders on being so much more. Cecily is victimized by her lack of development; all we get is a vapid party girl who, it turns out, is more than she seems, but gets killed off so early on, that I guess we’ll eventually find out about her, posthumously, in subsequent adventures.

I was hoping for more from The Transatlantic Conspiracy. It may be a good introduction to readers who aren’t typical steampunk readers, but fans of the genre may be let down. I’m going to test this one out with the kids in my library and see how it goes; I’ll report back.

Posted in Early Reader, Preschool Reads, Uncategorized

Train is On Track is perfect for your transportation book lovers!

train is on trackTrain is on Track, by Peter Bently/Illus. by Louise Conway (Aug. 2015, QEB Publishing), $14.95, ISBN: 9781609927905

Recommended for ages 3-6

Train is in the rail yard, preparing for today’s journey. Dog checks the controls and gets the train moving, picking up and discharging passengers. But wait! During a thunderstorm, a tree has fallen onto the track and the mail truck has derailed. Can train help deliver the mail on time?

With bright colors and easy to read text, Train is on Track from QEB’s Busy Wheels series is a fun addition to any transportation library. Mr. Bently presents new vocabulary words for young learners; Ms. Conway’s art helps make the connections. A detailed spread at the end of the story, “Let’s Look at Train”, offers illustrations detailing different parts of railroad vehicles, such as the driver’s cab and switches, and several different types of trains.

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The kids in my preschool libraries LOVE transportation books. Boys and girls alike, the books fly off the shelves, and I’m always on the lookout for good transportation books.  This Busy Wheels series will be a great purchase for me!

Posted in Preschool Reads

Book Review: Dinosaur Train, by John Steven Gurney (HarperCollins, 2002)

dinosaur trainRecommended for ages 3-6

A young boy loves dinosaurs and trains. One night, a dinosaur train shows up and takes him on a ride.

Dinosaurs and trains are both very popular themes for young readers – there’s a PBS show called Dinosaur Train, unrelated to this book – and putting the two together in a Polar Express-type of situation is a great idea. Jesse is a young boy who loves dinosaurs and trains. He draws them, he plays with them, he thinks about them constantly. When he gets ready for bed one Thursday night, he hears a loud noise, and his house begins to shake – a train full of dinosaurs has pulled up outside his window, and he’s been invited along for a ride! He hops on for a brief adventure. The artwork, done in oils and finished in Photoshop, detailed and bright, standing out against the plain backgrounds. The dinosaurs all have pleasant faces and are wearing people-like clothes – engineer’s overalls and caps, a ticket taker with a change belt, and jeans and dresses. Jesse is dwarfed by the huge dinosaurs, but there is never a moment where we worry for his safety.

 

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Dinosaurs and trains could be a fun storytime idea to explore further, with this book linking the two concepts. There are many train-related and dinosaur-related songs and fingerplays available; Everything Preschool has themes devoted to both.  It may be fun to stock the play area with toy trains and dinosaurs, and allow for a dinosaur train playtime after the story, or even arrange for a viewing of the PBS show.