Ella’s Night Lights written and illustrated by Lucy Fleming

  Ella’s Night Lights – written and illustrated by Lucy Fleming, Candlewick Press, 9781536212693, 2020

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre:  Picture book

What did you like about the book? Many say one can’t judge a book by its cover. I’d argue that Ella’s Night Lights proves that adage wrong. From the moment the reader holds the book in his or her hands, the magic seems to float off of the richly illustrated, subtly glittered cover offering up the promise of a magical and special tale. Ella is a fairy-like, nocturnal, moth-winged creature who cannot go out during the day lest her wings suffer damage in the sunlight. She doesn’t lament this setback, rather, she spends her nights busily and selflessly helping any creature who needs the light that she gathers in her wings, returning to her cozy nook in the oak tree before the dawn of the next winter’s day. The creatures decide to repay Ella for her generosity and they gather together to fashion a den of darkness for Ella so that she may safely enjoy the sunrise and be with them during the light of day. The book’s dedication: “To every single person who makes the world a brighter place” is a perfect descriptor of the message of this beautifully written tale of the power of giving to others. The digital illustrations are as magical as the tale they surround. Each page is filled with beautifully rendered details. The nighttime winter scenes are inviting and warm. While not intended to be a holiday story, this book would work beautifully to promote giving and the celebration of light during the winter season. Ella’s Night Lights is a treat for readers of all ages and a gentle reminder that we all have a responsibility to care for our friends and neighbors.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?  This book would make a wonderful gift for young readers. It would also be a great addition to a holiday/winter picture book collection

Who should buy this book? Elementary and public libraries, families

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: Linda Broderick, Lincoln Street Elementary School, Northboro, MA

Date of review: 11/22/2020

Posted in *Book Review, *Picture Book, *Starred Review, Friendship, Lucy Fleming | Tagged | Leave a comment

Dinosong by Tim McCanna, illustrated by Richard Smythe

   Dinosong by Tim McCanna, illustrated by Richard Smythe, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781534430020 (HB), 9781534430037 (E-book), 2020

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre:  Picture book

What did you like about the book? The creators of Watersong return with this rhythmic and whimsical romp with a triceratops, sauropod, and an ankylosaur. Pre-school readers will love to move and jive along with the rhymes as they listen to the book read aloud at school or a library lap sit. School-aged readers will equally enjoy the rhythm and rhyme with the added benefit of exploring onomatopoeia and vibrant verb usage, an added benefit for teachers who are looking to address these concepts in unique and engaging ways. An added bonus is the end page with interesting facts about rocks and their cycle. The watercolor illustrations are lush and fun, providing a playful backdrop for the dinosaurs as they romp through their habitat for our entertainment.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book? Young dinosaur enthusiasts will enjoy listening to this story. Children (and adults) who enjoy a rhyming read-aloud will find this a delight. 

Who should buy this book? Pre-schools, daycares, elementary 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: Linda Broderick, Lincoln Street Elementary School, Northboro, MA

Date of review: 11/22/2020

Posted in *Book Review, *Picture Book, *Starred Review, Dinosaurs, Onomatopoeia, Rhyming, Richard Smythe, Tim McCanna | Tagged | Leave a comment

Tigers Can’t Purr by Thea Feldman, illustrated by Lee Cosgrove / Sharks Can’t Smile by Elizabeth Dennis, illustrated by Lee Cosgrove

 Tigers Can’t Purr (Super Facts for Super Kids, Level 2) by Thea Feldman, illustrated by Lee Cosgrove, Simon Spotlight, 9781534467743 (PB), 9781534467750 (HB), 9781534467767 (E-book), 2020

  Sharks Can’t Smile (Super Facts for Super Kids, Level 2) by Elizabeth Dennis, illustrated by Lee Cosgrove, Simon Spotlight, 9781534467712 (PB), 9781534467729 (HB), 9781534467736 (E-book), 2020

Format: Hardcover

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

What did you like about the book? Young readers making the transition from learning to read to reading to learn often face their biggest challenges in attempting to read and comprehend non-fiction texts. The Super Facts series does an excellent job of presenting interesting facts in inviting ways. The colorful chapters are written in an accessible, large font and are peppered with colorful photographs and comic-like illustrations. The glossary is front and center in both books, and the charts, graphs, and diagrams are detailed without being overwhelming. The facts presented appear to be well researched and provide information that would be perfect for use in an entry-level research project for primary students.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?  These books would be great additions to any classroom or school library as mentor texts for non-fiction informational writing and research. They also would work quite well for reluctant readers who enjoy picture breaks to help ease the burden of reading more complex texts.

Who should buy this book? Elementary and public libraries

Where would you shelve it? In an easy-to-read non-fiction section or J 599.75 and J 597.31 respectively

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Linda Broderick, Lincoln Street Elementary School, Northboro, MA

Date of review: 11/22/2020

Posted in *Book Review, *Starred Review, Animals, Beginning Reader, Easy / Early Reader, Lee Cosgrove | Tagged | Leave a comment

Vinny Gets a Job – written and illustrated by Terry Brodner

 Vinny Gets a Job – written and illustrated by Terry Brodner, Aladdin, 9781534413566, 2020

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre:  Picture book

What did you like about the book? A successful picture book has a winning storyline combined with illustrations that complement and support the plot in unique and creative ways. Vinny Gets a Job has the ingredients needed to keep young readers engaged. A second-grade class enjoyed the recent read aloud as they cheered Vinnie on and took turns predicting what may go wrong each time Vinnie started a new job and took the boss’ directions too literally. They appreciated the vibrant pencil, ink, and watercolor illustrations and begged to look closer at the two page spreads that feature Vinnie’s neighborhood. When the pup learns at the end that he has a very important job right in his home, the students agreed and enjoyed sharing stories of their own pets and how important they are in their lives. Vinnie Gets a Job is a fun, heartwarming, and entertaining story for all ages.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?  Some of the children commented that they saw connections with Amelia Bedelia’s books and they thought other readers who enjoy those stories may enjoy this book too.

Who should buy this book? Elementary and public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? It would make a fun addition to a picture book collection.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Linda Broderick, Lincoln Street Elementary School, Northboro, MA

Date of review: 11/22/2020

Posted in *Book Review, *Picture Book, *Starred Review, Dogs, Terry Brodner | Tagged | Leave a comment

King of the Mole People / King of the Mole People: Rise of the Slugs by Paul Gilligan

King of the Mole People (9781250171344) 2019/ King of the Mole People: Rise of the Slugs (9781250171368) 2020 by Paul Gilligan. Christy Ottaviano Books.

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3.5

Genre:  Fantasy

What did you like about the book? Seventh grader Doug Underbelly works “really hard on the normal thing.” It doesn’t help that he lives in a rundown former funeral home and that his dad is writing a cookbook on eels. It seems like he has one thing going for him: he has been dubbed King of the Mole People. But when he is summoned to intervene in the brewing trouble between the Mole People and the Slug People, the Stone Goons, the Mushroom Folk, and other worlds further beneath the surface, he’s over his head (pun intended). His Royal Advisor Croog may not be who he thinks, and even Magda, from his class, his sometime nemesis, takes on a new role in his life. Full of sly, absurd and occasionally gross-out humor, this tale of a misfit just trying to fit in will get kids snorting with laughter. Gilligan also provides the frequent black and white vignettes which give these subterranean dwellers lots of personality.

In Book 1, Doug saves the Mole People from all out war instigated by the evil Croog. In Book 2, which is well recapped in the first chapters, a field trip to nearby caves reveals a revolt by the Slug People. Doug endeavors to harness the subterranean masses to spruce up the house where he lives with his dad, who has successfully published his cookbook, Cook Eel with Zeal, in advance of reporters coming to interview him and causing Doug more embarrassment than he already causes himself. Things advance with Magda, but you never know what new social and underground horrors will squash his hopes for normalcy. More zany humor and middle grade drama.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Some of the jokes may go over the head of a middle grade reader, such as a Mole saying “… me look for love in all the wrong place,” a pop song from the 1980’s. Oh well, I found it funny.

To whom would you recommend this book?  For kids who enjoy other humorous middle grade books such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Mac Undercover.

Who should buy this book? Elementary and middle school and 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: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: November 22, 2020

Posted in *Book Review, Fantasy | Tagged | Leave a comment

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star illustrated by Nicola Slater

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star illustrated by Nicola Slater. Nosy Crow, 2020. 9781536214376

Format: Board book

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

Genre:  Board book, musical

What did you like about the book? Wonderful digital illustrations with a retro feel enliven this board book of the traditional lullaby. In addition, the reader can turn on a switch on the back cover, and when the tiny speaker on each page opening is pressed, the music of that stanza of the song plays, with the instrument pictured. It’s very cute, and musical readers will enjoy hearing the individual sounds of a clarinet, trombone, banjo, and accordion. And the instrument sounds pretty acoustic. The last page features the whole band. I like that the music plays only when the button is pressed, and not every time the page is turned.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No, but libraries will have the difficult decision on whether to disable the sound, to prevent librarians descending into madness.

To whom would you recommend this book?  For the youngest patrons, especially those who like interactive books.

Who should buy this book? Day cares and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Board books

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

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

Date of review: November 22, 2020

Posted in *Book Review, *Starred Review, Bedtime Story, Board book, Interactive, Nicola Slater, Nursery rhymes | Tagged | Leave a comment

Match Point /  Dive In – by David Sabino, illustrated by Setor Fiadzigbey

  Match Point (Game Day, Level 2) – by David Sabino, illustrated by Setor Fiadzigbey, Simon Spotlight, 9781534453920 (HC), 9781534453913 (PB), 2020

  Dive In (Game Day, Level 2) – by David Sabino, illustrated by Setor Fiadzigbey, Simon Spotlight, 9781534465442 (HC), 97815344565459 (PB), 2020  

Format: Hardcover

 

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

What did you like about the book? These ready-to-read texts are perfect bridges for readers who are not quite ready for chapter books. The font is larger and easier on the eyes, and there are plenty of picture cues to provide support. Each of the texts in this series focuses on a particular sport. Match Point provides a vocabulary glossary at the front of the book which is key to understanding the sport of tennis, and it takes the reader through a game play-by-play. The illustrations depict a diverse variety of players – women and men. The end pages provide fun facts for the reader who is interested in going beyond the text to learn even more about the sport.

Dive In has a similar format although it goes behind the scenes with swimmers and divers preparing for the Olympics. The illustrations primarily feature women. The end pages provide additional facts about swimming and diving for those who wish to learn more about the history of the sport and its famous contenders.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?  Young readers who are interested in sports

Who should buy this book? Elementary and public libraries

Where would you shelve it? 796.4 and 796.3 respectively

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? They aren’t a must read, but would be nice to add to non-fiction early reader collections as they may be particularly suited for reluctant readers

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Linda Broderick, Lincoln Street Elementary School, Northboro, MA

Date of review: 11/21/2020

Posted in *Book Review, *Starred Review, Beginning Reader, David Sabino, Sports | Tagged | Leave a comment

This is Your Brain on Stereotypes: How Science is Tackling Unconscious Bias by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, illustrated by Drew Shannon

This is Your Brain on Stereotypes: How Science is Tackling Unconscious Bias by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, illustrated by Drew Shannon. Kids Can Press, 2020. 9781525300165

Format: Hardcover

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

What did you like about the book? The clear, direct, non-preachy writing makes learning about something that we all think we already understand a real pleasure. This book outlines the science behind how we unconsciously sort people into categories and how we can “rewire” our brains to remove our inherent biases. From discerning bias, discrimination, prejudice and stereotype, to hearing about impression management and contact hypothesis, everyone has something to learn here. The author definitely thinks society can do better, and outlines ways to make a difference. Well researched and documented, the book includes substantial back matter. The digital art adds humor and breaks up the pages of text. I can’t forget the illustration on the title page, of a girl and boy, seen from behind. Presumably secretly, the girl is handing the boy a doll, and the boy is handing the girl a truck. Love it!

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?  For anyone interested in current thinking on social psychology, especially activists who want to change stereotypes in their school or social milieu.

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

Where would you shelve it ? 303.38

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? It’s worth a browse

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

Date of review: November 22, 2020

Posted in *Book Review, *Starred Review, Drew Shannon, Science, Social issues, Tanya Lloyd Kyi | Tagged | Leave a comment

Sounds All Around: A Guide to Onomatopoeias Around the World – written and illustrated by Dr. James Chapman

       Sounds All Around: A Guide to Onomatopoeias Around the World – written and illustrated by Dr. James Chapman, Andrews McMeel Publishing, 9781524850760, 2020

Format: Paperback

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

What did you like about the book? The book is well laid out with sounds of onomatopoeias organized by category, and the illustrations are colorful and inviting. All sounds from around the world are presented in a comic-like speech bubble fashion. The author provides detailed preface pages that explain onomatopoeia and its linguistic nuances in an accessible and easy to understand way.

Anything you didn’t like about it? While the premise of the text is interesting, I am hard-pressed to imagine who would be interested enough to pursue the book with heightened engagement. I found myself drifting and flipping quickly once I was a few pages in. Younger children may enjoy looking at the illustrations, however, the linguistic subtleties will likely be lost. Older readers will likely tire of the text quickly unless they have a particular interest in linguistics and onomatopoeia in particular.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Linguistics buffs or educators who wish to teach onomatopoeia in a very detailed way.

Who should buy this book? I would not recommend using funds to purchase this text unless one is deeply interested in onomatopoeia.

Where would you shelve it? J 401.41

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Linda Broderick, Lincoln Street Elementary School, Northboro, MA

Date of review: 11/21/2020

Posted in *Book Review, Language | Tagged | Leave a comment

Speak Up, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell, illustrated by David Catrow

Speak Up, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell, illustrated by David Catrow. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2020. 9780399260025

Format: Hardcover

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

 Genre: Picture book

 What did you like about the book? “Molly Lou Melon was a tiny little girl with a big, deep-down heart.”  So begins the latest tale of the spunky, self-confident heroine, who tries to do the right thing and be kind to all, sprinkled with admonitions from her mother about being responsible and accepting, and helpful to others.  Molly Lou’s patience is tested at school when mean Bettina Bonklehead teases her and her friends, and leaves Molly Lou a big mess to clean up after a project.   When a new boy arrives at school, Bettina picks on him too.  Molly stays patient and kind, and even teaches the new boy her secret handshake.  Things come to a head when Molly goes nose-to-nose with Bettina after a tripping incident at summer camp, which is quickly resolved with a group hug, and a reminder that “If you want to be a friend, it’s all up to you!”

This really is two different books in one.  The first half is more of an introduction to Molly Lou Melon, describing her character and depicting her home life with a multitude of pets with whom she regularly engages in hijinks.  Her mother gives her advice, and then each piece of advice comes into play in the second portion of the book which is the story at school in which she is a good friend to all, accepts responsibility when she makes a mistake, and stands up to a bully by speaking up for her friend.  Catrow’s standard whimsical illustration style will doubtless inspire a great deal of conversation as much more is shown in the pictures than is told in the text.

Anything you did not like about the book? The ending was just a little too pat – young readers would probably enjoy hearing more of the story of Molly Lou and Bettina than spend 12 pages learning about Molly’s character traits.

 To whom would you recommend this book?  Fans of previous Molly Lou Melon books will appreciate this new entry, and teachers and parents looking for books to help with mild bullying situations or to work on self-confidence with kids in 1st-3rd grade should add it to their collection.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it?  Picture books

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  no

 Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.

Date of review: 11/20/2020

Posted in *Book Review, *Picture Book, Bullying, David Catrow, Friendship, Patty Lovell | Tagged | Leave a comment