Elem. – A Fun Day at the Fun Park

Schaefer, Lola M. A Fun Day at the Fun Park. Simon Spotlight, 2021. 978-1-6659-0329-5. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades PreK-1. 

A Fun Day at the Fun Park is the first book in the Sprinkles and Swirls graphic novel series designed for early readers. The protagonists of the series, Sprinkles and Swirls, are two adventure loving cupcakes. In this first volume, they escape the bakery to enjoy a day at the amusement park! At the park they enjoy activities such as riding the bumper cars, a flight simulator, a zip line, and go-karts. At the conclusion of their excursion, they touch up their wind-blown hair (aka frosting/toppings) with some spare frosting and sprinkles that Sprinkles carries in her handy fanny pack, and they return to the bakery just prior to closing. They fall asleep with dreams of their next adventure swirling through their heads. 

THOUGHTS: This enjoyable read is a great way to introduce young readers to the concept of graphic novels. In fact, the book starts with a few panels in which Sprinkles and Swirls explain to readers how to read the graphic novel format. The panels and text are large and use simple text, ideal for young readers. A worthwhile purchase for schools serving younger elementary students. 

Graphic Novel            Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – Captain Cat and the Pirate Lunch

Virjan, Emma J. Captain Cat and the Pirate Lunch. Simon Spotlight, 2021. 978-1-534-49571-5. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades PreK-1. 

When three yellow birds land on a ship, they soon learn that it is a pirate ship captained by a cat in this short story told in rhyming verse. Two of the birds fly into the cabin with the cat. When the third bird looks in through a window, he sees the cat getting ready to cook lunch while the two birds sit and watch. Could his friends be on the menu? Worried, the third bird recruits a whale to help him rescue his friends. An end of story twist reveals that the bird has made some incorrect assumptions and misunderstood the cat’s intentions. Ultimately, a new friendship is formed between all the animals. 

THOUGHTS: This delightful story is an excellent choice for beginning readers and would also be a good selection for shared reading or read alouds. Though the story is short and the text simple, the author is able to incorporate a lesson about friendship that readers (and educators) will appreciate.

Picture Book                 Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem./MG – Living with Viola

Fung, Rosena. Living with Viola. Annick Press, 2021. 978-1-773-21548-8. 267 p. $22.95. Grades 3-7.

Many people have experienced an occasional internal voice saying: You are weird, bad things happen because of you, no one likes you … for Canadian 6th grader Olivia, this anxiety manifests as a shadowy “twin” named Viola who hovers nearby, pulling Livy out of the moment with reminders that validate her deep self-doubts. Livy worries that her lunch smells strange, that she’s “too Chinese” or not Chinese enough, and that she is a disappointment to her family (her parents are immigrants). As Viola gains strength and volume, the negative dialogue seriously affects Livy’s confidence and friendships. It also undermines her enjoyment of her hobbies, including drawing, reading, and making dumplings with her mom. Fortunately, with a solid support system, Livy learns that “sometimes, the very strongest and bravest thing you can do is to ask for help.” Debut author Rosena Fung depicts Livy’s anxiety, depression, and panic attacks through dusky, bruise-purple panels and flowing rivers of negative thoughts. Happier, lighthearted moments and school scenes occur in a warm, autumnal color scheme.

THOUGHTS: This excellent middle grade graphic novel creatively delivers the most important message of all for young readers: You are not alone! Livy always may have anxiety, but she also can thrive. Fans of Guts by Raina Telgemeier will love it!

Graphic Novel          Amy V. Pickett, Ridley SD

Elem. – Mr. Watson’s Chickens

Dapier, Jarrett, and Andrea Tsurumi, illustrator. Mr. Watson’s Chickens. Chronicle Books, 2021. 9781452177144. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K-2.

Mr. Watson and Mr. Nelson live in a big house with a small yard that’s home to two dogs, three cats, and a handful of chickens. Mr. Watson loves his chickens, but when their numbers grow to 456 even he must admit that things are getting out of hand. One, Aunt Agnes, even has her own song and warbles it nonstop! The pair packs up and heads for the county fair to find loving homes for their chicks, but not before further hijinks ensue. One action-packed illustration offers a fun Where’s Waldo vibe as readers hunt for Aunt Agnes on the fair’s bandstand. 

THOUGHTS: This wonderfully inclusive picture book will delight young readers with the chickens’ escapades and bright colors! Mr. Watson’s Chickens also could serve as a gentle introduction to a life cycle or animal care unit.

Picture Book          Amy V. Pickett, Ridley SD

Elem. – Three Lines in a Circle: The Exciting Life of the Peace Symbol

Long, Michael G. Three Lines in a Circle: The Exciting Life of the Peace Symbol. Flyaway Books. 2021. $18.00. Grades K-4.

It was only three lines in a circle. One line straight down, one line to the left, one to the right, with a circle around it. This is the picture Gerry drew as he sat at his drawing table. This was the symbol of his dream: His dream of a world without bombs. Although mocked, his symbol eventually caught on, drawing people together around the world. Between the ‘March from London to Aldermason’, to ‘Making Peace Not Hate,’ this symbol became famous for representing peace for all people.

THOUGHTS: A simple story that shares the movement of the peace sign and what it stands for. The back of this book contains detailed information on the peace sign, its creator, and influence throughout the years.

303.48 Social Change           Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

Elem. – Hello, Rain!

Maclear, Kyo & Chris Turnham. Hello, Rain! Chronicle Books. 2021. 978-1-452-13819-0. $16.99. Grades PreK-2.

Rain can sadden people, but rain is also a reason for joy! This beautiful picture book shares the delights of the rain. From the ability to help flowers bloom, to splashing in puddles, Hello, Rain! shares many delightful aspects of a rainy day. As the main character plays inside and outside, she celebrates and is delighted in all that she sees and experiences.

THOUGHTS: A true rainy-day book to share when you have a rainy-day! This book illustrates beautifully the wonders of the rain and the possibilities it holds.

Picture Book          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

Elem. – They’re Tearing Up Mulberry Street

Ng, Yvonne. They’re Tearing Up Mulberry Street. Amicus Ink. 2021. 978-1-68152-238-8. $17.99. Grades PreK-3.

One day as a boy is walking home, he sees that construction workers are tearing up Mulberry Street! As the boy looks at the road, the civil engineer explains that the road is bad, pipes underneath the street are old, and the surrounding area needs to be improved. The boy watches each day as the construction continues on Mulberry Street, improving the area around the old street. At the end, the fresh new road is beautiful and delightful, creating a brand new Mulberry Street.

THOUGHTS: This is a great book for not only showcasing machinery for interested readers, but also to explain the process that occurs when a road is being replaced at the ground level! While the text is explained in a manner that is easier for young readers, it is very detailed with the process and machinery that is used. A great construction book!

Picture Book          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

Elem. – Home Is…

Barnaby, Hannah. Home Is… Beach Lane Books. 2021. 978-1-5344-2176-9. $17.99. Gr. PreK-3.

Home is many things to many different people and creatures. Home can be small or big, above or below, cold or warm. Home can be any place one calls its own. With beginning lyrical text, this picture book shows young readers how home is where a person (or animal) loves to be and how that is different for all creatures.

THOUGHTS: This book contains detailed pictures to share how homes are different for all creatures. With simple text, this book can provide instructors with a simple resource to discuss home, nature, environment, or a variety of topics within a curriculum.

Picture Book          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

Elem. – Stop that Poem!

Ode, Eric. Stop that Poem! Kane Miller Books. 2021. 978-1-68464-223-6. $14.99. Grades 3-6.

When creating a poem, we find that it can soar to new heights… which is exactly what happened here! A young girl created a poem that became too tall and flew away! As the young characters in the book chase after the pieces of the poem, the reader becomes aware of how a poem can create, soar, float, slither, and become a multitude of possibilities. While we want to stop the poem from soaring away, we also want to set the poem free with our words.

THOUGHTS: A uniquely created book, as we follow several pages of floating words in different environments to create a variety of poems. Readers will begin to see the possibility that poetry can be as they read through this book.

811 Poetry          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

Elem. – 13 Ways to Eat a Fly

Heavenrich, Sue. 13 Ways to Eat a Fly. Charlesbridge. 2021. 978-1-58089-890-4. $16.99. Grades K-4.

Science and math combine to make an icky, yummy, tasty counting book filled with insects and ways they can be consumed! As a swarm of flies go by, one-by-one they are consumed in a variety of ways by a variety of animals. Don’t be sad, however, as the flies are consumed, for more will be born and the process will continue! You will laugh and be shocked at the icky ways these bugs are consumed, in ways humans may not want to know about!

THOUGHTS: This is a very fun book all about how insects are consumed! This book is filled with great details, scientific facts, and fun pictures.

595.77 Other Invertebrates            Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD