My Teacher is a Robot by Jeffrey Brown

912Txo03o7L._AC_UL436_My Teacher is a Robot by Jeffrey Brown. Crown, 2019. 978055353451

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre:  Picture book

What did you like about the book? Freddy is a comics- and dinosaurs- obsessed youngster who firmly believes his teacher, Mr. Bailey, is a robot. Through lavishly illustrated pages chock full of color art, with speech bubbles for text, depicting Freddy’s school day and imagination, he tries to make his case to the reader. The art channels his little kid ideas in such fabulous color and detail that one can practically hear the kids, feel the mud of the mud monsters, and smell the school lunch room. I love that the teacher, who is black, has such humor and affection for his students, of different races and abilities. And I love that Brown so effectively gets into the mind of a kid and his imagination. Of course, after the school day filled with learning and wild imagination, when his dad asks him how his day went, Fred answers “Boring.” The book cover and end papers meld with the story and offer additional fun story lines of their own. And I would say that the jury is still out as to whether Mr. Bailey is a robot, or just a great teacher.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?  Fans of Brown’s Darth Vader and Jedi Academy series, ages 5 and up, will enjoy this foray into picture books. Even younger kids who can’t get enough robots will love the book.

Who should buy this book? 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: August 17, 2019

Posted in Book Review, Graphic picture book, Jeffrey Brown, Picture Book, School | Tagged | 2 Comments

Sing a Song: How “Lift Every Voice and Sing” Inspired Generations, by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Keith Mallett

  Sing a Song: How “Lift Every Voice and Sing” Inspired Generations, by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Keith Mallett, Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin Random House, 9780525516095, 2019 

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

Format: Hardcover picture book

What did you like about the book?  A touching and proud tribute to the Black National Anthem. The book opens with an illuminated little girl, practicing a song taught to her by her principal, James Weldon Johnson. Together with his brother, John Rosamond Johnson, they wrote the hymn for a celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday in 1900.  As the timeline of the song stretches through the twentieth century, each character in the book takes responsibility for teaching the song to his or her own children. We see Lift being sung on a train heading north during the Great Migration, by soldiers of color returning home after WWII, at Martin Luther King’s funeral, at family reunions and finally at the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The digital illustrations are very literal, which will help children grab hold of the history. The look is hand-drawn, almost like pastels on textured paper; each page glows with warm color. The combination of the art and text manages to give a great sense of time and place, without disturbing the lyrical flow of the narrative. The endpapers feature the lyrics to the song. The book closes with a note from the author about her own connection to the song and about important performances over the years.

Anything you didn’t like about it? A timeline showing the actual date of the song’s creation and other points in time along the song’s history would have been helpful.

To whom would you recommend this book? This reminded me of one of my favorite picture books This Is the Rope: A Story from the Great Migration (2017) by Jacqueline Woodson with illustrations by James Ransome. I can see this book being a great activator for music teachers who are planning to use the song in the classroom — I’m passing it on to one of mine!

Who should buy this book? Elementary schools and public libraries

Where would you shelve it? In a school library, I would put it in the nonfiction area, 780s. But it could also happily live in the picture book section.

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

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: August 13, 2019

 

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The Magnificent Migration: On Safari with Africa’s Last Great Herds by Sy Montgomery, photographs by Roger and Logan Wood

  The Magnificent Migration: On Safari with Africa’s Last Great Herds by Sy Montgomery, photographs by Roger and Logan Wood, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9780544761131, 2019 

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

Format: Hardcover

What did you like about the book?  This lavishly photographed and beautifully designed book might make you think “coffee table” at first glance, but once you open it up, you realize it’s meant to be read. Sy Montgomery recounts her recent safari through the Rift Valley in Tanzania with wildebeast expert Dr. Richard Estes, sprinkling in science, politics, history and adventure. Readers will feel like they’re in the rugged SUV with the explorers, contending with tsetse flies and cracked differentials, elusive herds and lazy lions. Interspersed with this story are descriptions of other great migrations: Arctic terns, monarch butterflies and loggerhead turtles, to name a few. All of these events, which actually shape the landscape of our world, are endangered because of human activity and climate change and Montgomery does a masterful job of balancing awe with an aching sadness. There’s ways to get involved, an index and a bibliography.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No.

To whom would you recommend this book? The prose in the book is so effective that I found myself drawn into the adventure. It would be a good fit for students in grades 3 all the way up to adults planning their own visits to Africa. If you’re not ready for the text, you can spend time pouring over the amazing illustrations and maps. 

Who should buy this book? Elementary, middle and high schools, public libraries. 

Where would you shelve it?  591.568

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes! Perfect for armchair traveling.

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: August 13, 2019

 

Posted in *Starred Review, Animals, Book Review | Tagged | Leave a comment

My Tiny Pet – written and illustrated by Jessie Hartland

  My Tiny Pet – written and illustrated by Jessie Hartland, Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin Random House, 9781524737535, 2019 

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

Format: Hardcover picture book

What did you like about the book?  I love Jessie Hartland’s artwork! There’s always so much detail to pour over. In this story, a little girl’s family decides to downsize, moving from their towering, modern, glass house in a noisy city to a cute little cottage in the woods. They seem to have been driven literally insane by their huge menagerie, including normal pets like 6 poodles and a trio of turtles, large pets (pig, pony, goat) and the bizarre (an octopus?) Now they have more time to pursue other interests, but the little narrator wants just one small pet and manages to convince her parents that a microscopic tardigrade is the perfect companion. It’s small, doesn’t need a special bed, eschews toys and grooming, just right!

The droll drawings, done with gouache, are endlessly detailed and entertaining. It’s not just the number of pets, it’s all their accoutrements that drive the need for change: poodle hair relaxer, mouse tail bows, ruffled feather conditioner and octopus eye-liner.

Anything you didn’t like about it? The only thing that gave me pause was ease with which the family manages to find “good homes” for all the pets. I realize it’s tongue-in-cheek, but the drive to acquire all the animals and then blithely divest of them seemed slightly callous.

To whom would you recommend this book? Fans of Hartland’s other books will enjoy looking at this one. Could be useful for families looking for picture books on downsizing or simplifying.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

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

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: August 13, 2019

 

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Flamingo: A Playful Book of Counting!/Unicorn: A Magical Book of Colors! – Patricia Hegarty, illustrated by Fhiona Galloway

       

Flamingo: A Playful Book of Counting!/Unicorn: A Magical Book of Colors!  (My Little World) – Patricia Hegarty, illustrated by Fhiona Galloway, Tiger Tales (9781680105988/9781680105971), 2019

 

      Format:  Board Book

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

Genre:  Picture Book

What did you like about the book? These concept books feature rhyming text and brightly colored die-cut board pages that will appeal to little ones.  In Flamingo, little ones count from “One bright flamingo is pretty and pink” to “Ten cozy flamingoes snuggle up tight.”  Unicorn features a variety of colored unicorns having fun with a die-cut rainbow on each double page spread.  Both titles end with a bedtime scene making this a good choice for a nighttime read aloud.   

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?  These are nice choices for a bedtime story .  

Who should buy this book?  Public Libraries and preschool libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture Books

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA

Date of review: 8/16/19          

 

Posted in Board book, Book Review, Colors, Counting, Rhyming | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Happy, Snappy Crab – Gareth Lucas

       The Happy, Snappy Crab – Gareth Lucas, Tiger tales, (9781680105841), 2019

Format:  Board Book

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

Genre:  Picture Book

What did you like about the book?  Young readers visit ocean creatures in this fun pop-up book with sturdy board pages.  Rhyming text on each double page spread introduces the sea creatures: sea turtles, a pufferfish, a shark, a crab, a whale and an octopus.  The bright illustrations feature colorful, smiling sea life, and even the shark is not scary. A nice feature is that beneath each pop-up illustration there is a full color replica illustration.  If the pop-up becomes detached, the book is still complete. This is a nice read aloud before a visit to the aquarium or the beach.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?  A cute addition to sea-themed pop-up board books that little ones will love. 

Who should buy this book?  Public Libraries and pre-school libraries

Where would you shelve it? Board Books

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA

Date of review: 8/16/19          

 

Posted in Board book, Book Review, Pop-up book, Rhyming | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Very Short, Entirely True History of Unicorns – Sarah Laskow, illustrated by Sam Beck

    The Very Short, Entirely True History of Unicorns – Sarah Laskow, illustrated by Sam Beck, Penguin Workshop, (9781524792732), 2019

Format:  Hardcover

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

What did you like about the book?  This book is an introduction to unicorn lore that will be popular with readers who love the mythical creatures.  Short, mostly two-page chapters, cover the history of the unicorn, myths of the unicorn from around the world, possible real-life creatures such as the rhinoceros and narwhal that may have been responsible for the myth, unicorn powers, and much more.  The book concludes with a look at the popularity of the unicorn beginning in the 1980s and continuing through present day. It includes a recipe for Unicorn Poop Bark and a Bibliography. The chapters are interspersed with drawings, maps and unicorn artworks.  This is sure to be a hit with readers interested in unicorns.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No

To whom would you recommend this book? This book will be enjoyed by readers who love unicorns.  

Who should buy this book?  Public libraries and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it? 398  (folk and fairytales)

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA

Date of review: 8/16/19           

 

Posted in Book Review, Fairy tale, Folk Tale | Tagged | Leave a comment