Ten Magic Butterflies – by Danica McKellar, illustrated by Jennifer Bricking

  Ten Magic Butterflies – by Danica McKellar, illustrated by Jennifer Bricking, Crown Books for Young Readers, (9781101933824), 2018.

Format: Hardcover Picture Book

Rating: 1-5:  (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre: Math

What did you like about the book? In this gentle introduction to math, ten brightly-colored flower friends wish they could fly like the fairies. A dark-skinned fairy grants their wishes by transforming them one at a time into butterflies.  They enjoy their mobility at first, but by the next day, wish to return to their life as flowers. Again, the kind-hearted fairy grants their wish. The transformations are used as an opportunity to point out that there are different ways to make up ten, “1 butterfly flew as / 9 flowers looked on. / There were still 10 of them / in the sky, on the lawn.” There are cleverly engaging touches in the illustrations. Several of the flowers display distinct personalities, both in the lines they speak and their appearance. Watch especially for the pudgy caterpillar who adoringly observes the activities on each page until it achieves its own transformation. Fantasy and reality intersect near the end where a little dreaming girl who looks like the fairy clutches a stuffed caterpillar; a doll that resembles both the girl and the fairy sits on her nightstand. At the end, McKellar addresses caregivers to suggest methods for inspiring children to enjoy math and to provide activities to use with the book. Even the end pages contribute by displaying sample ten-frames made up of various flower/butterfly combinations.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  A few of the rhyming lines did not scan well when read aloud.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Use with youngsters pre-K to grade 1.

Who should buy this book? Preschools, elementary school libraries, and public libraries, especially those looking to increase their offerings on the topic of math.

Where would you shelve it?  Shelve with picture books.

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Yes, if you work with or read to this age group.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Mary Melaugh, Marshall Middle School Library, Billerica, MA

Date of review:  2/25/18

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Slider – Pete Hautman

   Slider – Pete  Hautman, Candlewick Press, (9780763690700), 2017.

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5:  (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre: Realistic fiction

What did you like about the book? David’s overachieving older sister is away at college earning her usual plethora of “A’s”, while his younger brother Mal (who sounds like he is autistic though the word isn’t used) requires constant monitoring by the whole family. In comparison, middle child David has no special issues and often feels invisible. There is one thing at which he excels – his capacity to eat. He isn’t overweight; he just has a talent for packing away large volumes of food. David begins to enter eating contests so he can win back money he accidentally spent in an online auction. Though the plot follows his path to a national competition, the heart of this story concerns how David’s family copes and even thrives while raising a child with special needs. As a plus, almost everyone in the story models basic decency. For readers who stick with the story, there is a sweet and realistic ending.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Recommended for upper middle school.

Who should buy this book? Middle school libraries and public libraries.

Where would you shelve it?  Shelve with realistic fiction.  

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  No.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Mary Melaugh, Marshall Middle School Library, Billerica, MA

Date of review:  2/24/18

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Festival of Colors – by Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal, illustrated by Vashti Harrison

 Festival of Colors – by Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal, illustrated by Vashti Harrison, Beach Lane Books, (9781481420495), 2018.

Format: Hardcover Picture Book

Rating: 1-5:  (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre: Holidays

What did you like about the book?  Two smiling brown-skinned children, Chintoo and Mintoo, are excited about the upcoming celebration of Holi, an Indian festival of colors. To get ready, the adorable children happily pick springtime flowers of many colors: red hibiscus, purple orchids, orange marigolds, blue iris. They dry them out, and press the petals, creating piles of powder. On the day of Holi, Chintoo and Mintoo parade outdoors with cheerful family and friends, all wearing white. Finally, it’s time. Everyone shouts, “Holi hai!,” as they throw the colored powders on each other.  A note from the authors states that the coating of vibrant colors is meant to symbolize “inclusiveness, new beginnings, and the triumph of good over evil.”  This is a light-hearted and fun, as well as visually pleasing, introduction to Holi.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No.

To whom would you recommend this book?  This is suitable for pre-K to second grade.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school libraries and public libraries, especially those looking to increase the breadth of multicultural offerings in their collections.

Where would you shelve it?  Shelve with picture books.

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Yes, it is very cute, and it tells about a festival that many Americans do not know.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Mary Melaugh, Marshall Middle School Library, Billerica, MA

Date of review:  2/24/18

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Big Tree Down! – by Laurie Lawlor, illustrated by David Gordon

  Big Tree Down! – by Laurie Lawlor, illustrated by David Gordon, Holiday House, (9780823436613), 2018.

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5:  (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Genre: Non-fiction

What did you like about the book? Everyone knows the enormous local landmark affectionately named Big Tree. When it comes down during a storm, a host of community employees mobilizes to handle the emergency – police cordon off the dangerous downed wires, power company staff re-string the lines, town forestry workers cut up and chip the tree, and a water department worker fixes the toppled fire hydrant.  Clear, colorful illustrations detail the machinery and their operators. With no electricity, neighbors of all colors gather outside to barbecue and eat the ice cream melting in their freezers. Sadness at the loss of the tree is acknowledged, and people share their happy memories of “this neighbor [that] had lived here longer than anyone.” In a final scene, a new sapling is planted and people look forward to Little Tree growing to play the same role as Big Tree. Lawlor deftly provides an opportunity here to spark discussions about local landmarks, handling emergencies, the roles of community workers, and recovering after a disaster.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Recommended for preK – grade 2

Who should buy this book? Elementary school libraries and public libraries.

Where would you shelve it?  Shelve with picture books.

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Yes, if you work with or read to this age group.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Mary Melaugh, Marshall Middle School Library, Billerica, MA

Date of review:  2/24/18

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Strongheart: Wonder Dog of the Silver Screen – written by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann

  Strongheart: Wonder Dog of the Silver Screen – written by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann, Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, 9781101934104, 2018

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review4

Genre:  Historical fiction

What did you like about the book With the foundation of a true story and a literal underdog, Strongheart will warm the hearts of many young readers.  The German Shepherd was a film star in the 1920s with nation-wide fans eagerly watching his incredible stunts and show of emotions; Fleming and Rohmann work together and bring Strongheart’s backstory to life with a few creative liberties for a comprehensive narrative and a message of love, hope, and family.

This sweet story is a fairly quick read due to the combination of text and beautifully rendered illustrations, making the pages fly by for a satisfying conclusion.  The aforementioned illustrations seamlessly elevate the book to another level, giving readers a more immediate connection to both the action and emotions surrounding Strongheart’s thoughts and story.

Many younger readers will delight in this small bit of history with giggles and wide eyes throughout.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  While this is certainly intended to be a gentle story, too many conflicts are quickly dismissed with a playful lick from our hero, making the interaction fall a little flat.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Kids who enjoy animal stories and heroes will love the sweet story of Strongheart.  This is a great suggestion for those who enjoyed the Young Reader’s Editions of Racing in the Rain by Stein or Marley by Grogan.  Additionally, readers who are getting ready for longer reads after Dog Diaries or  Animal Inn will eagerly flip through the pages while not being overwhelmed, thanks to the expressive illustrations.

Who should buy this book? Children’s library collections (public and school)

Where would you shelve it ? Juvenile fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes. I read this in just an hour and really enjoyed it; if you would like quick read (with a very sweet and loving family), this book is a great pick for a relaxing evening.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Melissa McCleary, Pembroke Public Library, Pembroke, MA

Date of reviewFebruary 24, 2018

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Get on Your Bike by Joukje Akveld, illustrated by Philip Hopman

        Get on Your Bike by Joukje Akveld, illustrated by Philip Hopman. Translated by Laura Watkinson. Eerdmans, 2018. 9780802854896

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

What did you like about the book? Two friends have an argument. William, a whiskered dog, stays in the bike shop. Bobby, a panda, rides off on his bike, anger clouding his head. Despite the angry beginning, this is a charming picture book with lots of appeal for a general audience. Each page opening depicts a busy city street full of a variety of animals doing a variety of daily things on a variety of vehicles – pigs on bikes, cows drinking coffee at a cafe, a peacock in a convertible, a raccoon on a tricycle. There is a ferry, a tractor, motorcycles and trucks, in short, a transportation vehicle lover’s dream. Readers can examine the many funny animals out and about while they are searching for Bobby in the crowd riding off his angry feelings. Astute readers will even find an ET like animal in a basket.  So this book is a two-fer – a book about how anger can be assuaged through exercise, and a search and find. Originally published in The Netherlands, the setting has an old world feel.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Kids 3-6 who like bikes and other vehicles, or who like search and find books. Also for anger bibliotherapy.

Who should buy this book? Day cares, elementary school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: February 24, 2018

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Detective Nosegoode and the Music Box Mystery – written by Marian Orton, illustrated by Jerzy Flisak

       Detective Nosegoode and the Music Box Mystery – written by Marian Orton, illustrated by Jerzy Flisak, Translated by Eliza Marciniak, Pushkin Children’s Books, 9781782691556, 2017

Format: Paperback

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review):  3

Genre:  Middle grade fiction/mystery

What did you like about the book?  This book features a retired detective and his talking dog.  Together, they solve a gentle mystery in their small European town.

Originally written in Polish, this book is part of a collection published by Pushkin with the goal of bringing tales from different cultures to young English readers.  

Originally published in 1968, Detective Nosegoode definitely has an old-fashioned feel.  

The story has a slow pace and takes place in the kind of small town we don’t see anymore:  there’s a chemist, a clockmaker, and a newsagent.  The neighbors all know one another.  The people and places have mildly amusing names.  The detective does not jump to conclusions, but pieces together the evidence before making an accusation.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  There’s not much action, and it may be a stretch for today’s children to get worked up about a missing music box.  

To whom would you recommend this book?  Recommended for independent readers who might enjoy this dip into another era, to children who like older stories, such as Lois Lenski’s, Eleanor Estes’, Harriet the Spy, or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  Children too young to read this on their own might enjoy it as a read aloud.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries.

Where would you shelve it ?  Fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  No.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State:  Robin Shtulman, Athol Public Library, Athol, MA

Date of review:  22 February 2018

 

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