Elem. – The World Needs More Purple People

Bell, Kristen & Hart, Benjamin. The World Needs More Purple People. Random House Books for Young Readers, 2020. 978-0-593-12196-2. 40 p. $17.99. Grades PreK-2.

You can hear Kristen Bell’s voice on every page in this adorable story about the importance of being an everyday hero. The moral of the story is to work hard, bring the community together, and use your voice. This book does not offer answers to some of the world’s toughest current issues, but it does offer a primer in recognizing that the world isn’t perfect and it’s hard to be angry if you’re laughing.

THOUGHTS: Although the book isn’t explicitly political, I do wonder if purple comes from combining red and blue (political party colors). A quick, silly read that can keep the attention of the youngest readers.

Picture Book          Samantha Hull, Ephrata Area SD

Elem. – Cookiesaurus Christmas; Hawk Rising; Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets; Made by Maxine; The 5 O’Clock Band; The Manic Panic; Who Eats Orange; Sing a Song of Seasons; Flowers

Dominy, Amy Fellner, and Nate Evans. Cookiesaurus Christmas. Ill. AG Ford. Disney Hyperion, 2018. 978-1-484-76745-0. $16.99. Unpaged. Gr. K-2.

Cookiesaurus Rex wants to be Santa’s cookie and go to the North Pole, but Mr. Spatula has a different cookie in mind.  As Cookiesaurus Rex tries to be the cookie on Santa’s plate, disaster strikes. Although he makes his way to Santa’s cookie plate he realizes that perhaps the cost of showing his Christmas spirit might have been too high.  

THOUGHTS:  Cookisaurus Christmas is a sweet story about the price paid trying to make it to the top.  It shares a lesson on friendship and the importance of be apart of something instead of trying to be something.  The play on words throughout keeps all readers entertained, and the illustrations are bright pencil drawings that incorporate the whole picture (counter) and all of Cookiesaurus Rex’s individual ideas and shenanigans.

Picture Book          Erin Bechdel, Beaver Area SD


Gianferrari, Maria. Hawk Rising. Roaring Brook Press. 2018. 978-1-626-72096-1. $18.99. Gr. K-3.

The story of a hawk family being observed by a young girl in the distance. We watch as Father Hawk travels to perch-hunt for his chicks that are hungry and waiting back in the nest. Father Hawk examines the area and swoops down, only to have his prey escape. As we watch this process, the young girl in the story observes him as well, watching to see where he goes. Father Hawk continues to search for prey and miss, until he is finally successful and captures dinner for his chick’s meal.

THOUGHTS: This early level nonfiction picture book provides beautiful illustrations by Brian Floca on red-tailed hawks. This books is an appropriate description of predator vs. prey in a simple way for children to understand. The book also contains facts in the back of the book for continued knowledge and information on red-tailed hawks, which can provide increased instruction and information for students, teachers, and parents.

598.9 Birds          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

Khan, Hena. Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets: A Muslim Book of Shapes. Chronicle Books, 2018. 978-1-452-15541-8. 32 p. $17.99. Gr. Pre-K – K

This lovely book introduces young children to different shapes and relates them to objects of Islam. A little girl points out the different shapes her Muslim family encounters from things in their home (diamond patterned clothing and hexagonal wall tile) to designs in a Mosque (rectangle door and octagon fountain). People of Islamic faith will feel at home with the vocabulary of this book such as Quran (holy book) and wudu (ritual washing). Readers who are learning about something new will be exposed to foundational terms of Muslims and find the glossary in the back easy to use. The in-depth text is accompanied by beautiful and descriptive pictures, portraying various lives of Muslims all over the world.

THOUGHTS: I strongly believe that children should be introduced to many cultures and religions at a young age. They should have their first, second, third, and fourth introductions to be positive and wholesome before introducing what are viewed as the negative aspects. It is equally, if not more, important that children of minorities should be able to see themselves positively portrayed in books and literature.

Picture Book          Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School

Spiro, Ruth. Made by Maxine. Dial Books for Young Readers, 2018. 978-0-399-18629-5. 32 p. $16.99. Gr. K – 3.

The rise of the Maker Culture makes this book ideal for young elementary school students. An upcycler and inventor, Maxine, wants her best friend, Milton the goldfish, to be able to participate in the class pet parade. Yet Milton, unable to walk on his own, would have to be carried. Maxine, who’s made loads of successful inventions before (out of old, used things), is sure she can solve this problem! But she can’t… at least at first. Failure doesn’t stop Maxine! She thinks of it as figuring out what won’t work, that way she can find something that does.

THOUGHTS: I love the celebration of failure in this book. Maxine, who is a strong individual and loves being unique, from her colored hair to having an unusual pet, is a wonderful role model for young children. If I did have a complaint about this book it would be that the invention she comes up with isn’t really realistic. But maybe that’s why Maxine, a kid, makes it and not an adult like me.

Picture Book          Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School

Andrews, Troy. The 5 O’Clock Band. Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2018. Unpaged. 978-1-419-72836-5. $17.99. Grades 2-5.

In this companion book to the Caldecott Honor winning Trombone Shorty, Troy Andrews shares more memories of his life as a child in New Orleans. Told in third person, this text focuses on the famous trombonist’s hometown and his first band, known as the Five O’Clock Band. Troy, whose nickname is Trombone Shorty, was supposed to meet his band friends, but was caught up playing his trombone and missed them. The young musician laments being late and wonders how he will ever become a bandleader if he lets his friends down like this. As Shorty searches for them, he meets some interesting town residents, who give him advice on how to accomplish his goal. Tuba Tremé says that it is important to understand the tradition of New Orleans music, while chef Queen Lola tells Troy that loving what you do is the key to success. Big Chief of the Mardi Gras Indian tribe explains that it is the dedication to and the practicing of one’s craft that makes a leader. Eventually, the band is reunited, and Shorty reports what he has learned. The back matter contains an author’s note, where Andrews discusses the musical legends of New Orleans, the musical parades, and Mardi Gras. The author also explains that he formed the Trombone Shorty Foundation to help young musicians in the community. Collier’s illustrations are just as appealing in this text as in his Caldecott Honor book. Once again he uses watercolor, pen and ink, and collage to create expressive images that allow the reader to almost hear the music reverberating from each page. There are photographs of individuals discussed in the story, including a special one of the band members themselves.  

THOUGHTS: This book is a valuable addition to all elementary libraries. Children will be inspired by this story and may embark on a musical career of their own. After reading this book out loud, librarians may wish to show a video clip of Shorty’s “NPR Tiny Desk Concert” to cap off a fun-filled musical storytime.  

92, 921, 788.9          Denise Medwick, West Allegheny SD
Biography, Brass Instruments

Jha, Richa, and Mithila Ananth. The Manic Panic. Creston Books, 2018. 978-1-939-54743-9. Pages 32. $16.99. Gr. K – 4.

Originally published in India, this book is timely for many kids around the world. When the internet goes down one day, the world seems like it is ending… for the parents. The girl and her grandmother know what to do, however! The kid takes charge, showing the screen-addicted adults what the world is like when you are not consumed by technology. It takes them a bit, but they learn to enjoy themselves. The daughter and grandmother provide ample activities for the adults, and it ends with the girl sighing about what a perfect day it has been…until she realizes she has a book report due!

THOUGHTS: I love the fact that it’s the parents throwing fits and acting immature, while the child takes charge. A fun book for anyone, but a much needed book for kids who feel that technology is drawing away their parents’ time and attention.

Picture Book          Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School

White, Dianne.  Who Eats Orange?  Beach Lane Books, 2018.  Unpaged. 978-1-534-40408-3. $17.99.  Grades PreK-2.

The young reader becomes acquainted with the colorful food eaten by various animals in this creative concept book. The text is written in a question and answer format, where the author asks who eats food of a particular color and then gives the answers. The fifth answer is incorrect and answered with a resounding “NO!” and the correct color of food is listed on the next page. The color words are written in their actual colors and are placed at the top left corner of the left page in a large font size. The reader must look to the back matter to identify the names of the foods and to learn more about the animals, which includes some that are lesser known. A page near the end of the book shows a child’s hand grabbing some blueberries, with the author stating that she eats a “rainbow” of fruits and vegetables just like the reader. Robin Page’s signature illustrations are done on a large scale and show a lot of white space, making the animal and its food the main focus. She uses Adobe Photoshop to create drawings that are brightly colored and appealing to the target audience.  

THOUGHTS: This book is a great resource for teaching children about colors, as well as the food habits of animals. The question and answer format makes this text an ideal interactive readaloud that will generate some interesting discussion. Elementary librarians will want to add this one to their collections.

591.5 Ecology of Animals          Denise Medwick, West Allegheny SD

Waters, Fiona, Ed. Sing a Song of Seasons:  A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year. Nosy Crow, 2018.  978-1-5362-0247-2   333 p.  $40.00  Gr. K-12.

This heavy tome edited by Fiona Waters, who is British, contains carefully selected nature poems, one–just as the subtitle promises–for each day of the year.  Accompanying the poems are lush, gorgeous illustrations by Frann Preston-Gannon. The poems range in tone, form, and style; some are silly, some serious; many are classics, and all are easily accessible to and enjoyable for children of almost any age.  Poets as disparate as William Shakespeare and Jack Prelutsky are included; many poems are anonymous. However, it is important to note that only a few poems included are NOT by white authors.

THOUGHTS: The book’s impressive design and presentation, in addition to its content, make it worth the price. Any school seeking to bulk up its poetry collection would find this a welcome and popular addition.

Poetry          Maggie Bokelman, Cumberland Valley SD

Gibbons, Gail.  Flowers.  Holiday House, 2018. 978-0-823-43787-0.  32 p. $17.99. Grades 2-5.

This is the latest addition to Gibbons’ series of science picture books. In this text, the author-illustrator explores the field of floral botany. The work contains vividly colored drawings, which were created with ink, watercolors, and colored pencils. The illustrations are full bleed, and the text appears at the bottom of the page. Each page contains panels and numerous images, many of which have labels. Gibbons discusses such topics as habitat, anatomy, seed formation, pollination, gardening, and types of flowers. The section on pollination is fairly detailed.  

THOUGHTS: This book is a good introduction to flower units. Due to the number of small images, it is better viewed individually or in small groups.

635.9 Flowers          Denise Medwick, West Allegheny SD

Elem. – The Little Red Fort; Jack B. Ninja; Pink Is For Boys; If You’re Going to a March; Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World; Little White Fish; Ocean Meets Sky; The Lighthouse Family; Elle of the Ball

Maier, Brenda. The Little Red Fort. Scholastic Press, 2018: ISBN 978-0-545-85919-6. 40pp. $17.99. Gr K-3.

Inspired by the folktale of The Little Red Hen, this is the story of Ruby, a spunky girl with a mind full of big ideas. After discovering a pile of old boards, Ruby sets out to build something. She asks her three brothers for help, but they are too busy with their own activities. They also point out that she has no experience building anything. Ruby is undeterred by her brothers’ lack of faith in her. Although they proclaim that she doesn’t know how to build, sketch plans, gather supplies, saw, or hammer, Ruby proves them wrong every step of the way. When she finishes building her fort and asks who wants to play, all three boys change their tunes and are eager to join in the fun. But, Ruby turns them away, deciding to play by herself instead. While she’s inside the fort, her brothers finally chip in by building a mailbox, planting some flowers, and painting the fort bright red. That night, Ruby invites them all to a fort-warming party, and they all chow down on a plate of freshly-baked cookies. This fresh retelling shines thanks to a cast of diverse characters and bright, splashy illustrations.

THOUGHTS: This retelling will be a good fit for STEM-inspired story times, and it effectively underscores the idea that children, and in particular, girls, can do anything they set their minds to. It would also work well for a compare and contrast folktale unit.

Picture Book          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

McCanna, Tim. Jack B. Ninja. Orchard Books, 2018: ISBN 978-0-545-91728-5. 32 p. $16.99. Gr K-3.

This fractured nursery rhyme, set in Japan, features Ninja Jack who is on a secret mission. He leaps over bamboo sticks, scales high walls, dives into garden pools, and breaks into a bandit cave. In the cave, he recovers the stolen treasure chest but must fight off the bandits with his grappling hook and rope. After escaping, it’s revealed that the bandits are actually his family in disguise, and the stolen chest contains a birthday cake! The entire family frolics on the rooftops in their ninja gear until the sun rises and they disappear to begin their next mission. The story’s rhymed couplets are fast-paced, and their bold, white text stands out against the large-scale, full-bleed illustrations.

THOUGHTS: Hand this to ninja fans, or to anyone looking for an action-packed read-aloud. This will also be a good fit for units featuring stories that have been retold or for nursery rhyme story times.

Picture Book. Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

Pearlman, Robb, and Eda Kaban. Pink Is For Boys. New York, NY: Running Press Kids. 2018. 978-0-762-46247-6. $17.99. Unpaged. Grades K-2.

Even though this title would seem to draw in debate, Pink Is For Boys is all about gender and color equality for everyone. With a basic pattern of alternating boys and girls first, we go through the crayon box from pink to blue and down to black and white. There is a brief action statement attached to each color which is also accessible to boys and girls. For example, “BLUE is for girls. And boys. And uniforms on a team.” There is imagination and variety to Eda Kaban’s colorful illustrations which can lead to further discussions, or maybe just end the controversy over color designations for genders once and for all! As the ending suggests, “And all the colors are for EVERYONE. Girls and boys.”

THOUGHTS: While this binary format does not include gender neutral options, I do think that all children could feel represented from this book. It helps to break down stereotypes and creatively shows gender harmony in the roles that children can play. I would pair it with other primary books like They She He Me by Maya & Matthew to give a balanced picture of identity.

Picture Book          Dustin Brackbill, State College Area SD

Freeman, Martha, and Violet Kim. If You’re Going to a March. New York, NY: Sterling Children’s Books. 2018. 978-1-4549-2993-2. $16.95. Unpaged. Grades K-3.

As social activism becomes a meaningful part of children’s lives, Martha Freeman’s newest book provides some valuable advice. Going to a march or protest can be in turns invigorating, exhausting, joyful, and fearful. Hearing simple advice addressed directly to young readers can help alleviate worries and prepare the participants. Freeman goes through basics- from signage to outfits to emotions- and keeps the advice specific enough to be useful but general enough to apply to various marches. Likewise, the artwork from Violet Kim keeps the diverse students at the forefront while showing many of the realistic operations happening in the background. Advice for recognizing officers, reporters, and even counter-protestors is succinct and relevant for children heading into these situations. Most importantly, Freeman wants readers to know that their voice matters, their ideas can help make a difference, and a little protest can march our country in the right direction!

THOUGHTS: Even students who may not be heading into a march will find value in the concept of this book and the insight that it provides. There are plenty of subjects that students feel passionate about, and this gives them one outlet for sharing their opinions respectfully and sincerely. Knowing what to look for in advance can go a long way toward creating a positive experience.

300, Social Sciences          Dustin Brackbill, State College Area SD

Hood, Susan. Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World. New York, NY: HarperCollins. 2018. 978-0-06-269945-9. $18.99. 40 pages. Grades 3-6.

“If you want to do it, you can do it!” Nellie Bly’s straight-forward message is at the heart of this poetry collection about 14 brave and interesting females who pursue their passions. Across careers from artist to astronaut to activist, Susan Hood chose girls and women who were willing to step into the light and make history. Her poems are one page for each entry, including a quote and bios mixed with a variety of poetic forms. The illustrations are from 13 different female artist, so that further highlights a mosaic of styles and interests. Perhaps future female firefighters (Molly Williams), librarians (Pura Belpre) and scientists (Angela Zhang) will find inspiration to shake things up themselves!

THOUGHTS: The variety of this book appeals to me, from the art to the poetry to the choices of women both famous and less well known. Certainly, further research about any of these subjects would be beneficial. Likewise, discussing the traits such as grit, persistence, and process along with the quotes provided would make for lessons that go way beyond Women’s History Month.

811, Poetry          Dustin Brackbill, State College Area SD

Van Genechten, Guido. Little White Fish. Clavis Publishing. 2018. 978-1-605-37430-7. $12.95. 11 p. Birth-K.

Little White Fish is lost and looking for his mother! As he searches the sea, he finds a lot of sea animals of many colors, but none that match him. Follow Little White Fish as he tries to find his mother, who looks just like him!

THOUGHTS: Little White Fish is a birth-Kindergarten book that is great for developing readers, especially those may need assistance with some basic skills. This book provides young readers with the chance to practice their color and matching skills. While designed for colors and matching, this book does provide insight to some of the sea creatures of the world, opening additional doors and exploratory areas for young readers. A beginner book for young children. Note: This book is now being republished as a board book.

Picture Book          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

Fan, Terry, and Eric Fan. Ocean Meets Sky. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 978-1-481-47037-7. Unpaged.  K-3. $17.99

This is a beautiful and imaginative book that tells the story of a young boy who is searching for the place where “the ocean meets the sky,” as described in the tales told to him by his late grandfather. Readers see an illustration of the boy listening to his grandfather in his workshop, which contains many artifacts and curiosities. The boy decides to seek out this special place and builds a boat. After a short nap, the boy awakens to find himself on a sea voyage, where he encounters a giant golden fish with a moustache who resembles his grandfather. During the voyage, he sees clouds in the shape of an elephant, a pipe, a whale, and bird, and as night falls, he sees moon jellyfish floating in the sky. Later the boy meets a large whale and finds himself floating in the sky where he sees a moon with his grandfather’s face on it. His mother awakens him, and the boy stands there looking at the moon, thinking about how it indeed was a “good day for sailing.” The illustrations are done in graphite and enhanced digitally with color, which adds a dreamy quality to the book. Young readers will enjoy poring over the details in the drawings and will be delighted to find objects in the workshop reappearing in the sky and ocean during the boy’s voyage. This story deals with the theme of the loss of a loved one, but this message may be missed by young readers.  

THOUGHTS: This is a contemplative book best shared one on one and would be a good choice when a book on grief and loss is needed.

Picture Book          Denise Medwick, West Allegheny SD

Rylant, Cynthia. The Lighthouse Family: The Bear. Beach Lane Books, 2018. 978-1-481-46028-6. 48 p. $15.99. Grades K-3. (The Lighthouse Family series)

          The Sea Lion.  978-1-48146-025-5
The Storm. 978-0-689-84880-3
          The Otter. 978-1-48146-045-3
The Whale.  978-0-689-84881-0
          The Eagle. 978-0-689-86243-4
The Turtle.  978-0-689-86244-1
The Octopus.  978-0-689-86246-5

In her latest offering in “The Lighthouse Family” series, Rylant tells the story of a bear called Thomas who comes out early from hibernation. While visiting his neighbors, the Lighthouse family, he eats a large number of pancakes and then goes to sleep on the family’s hammock for another 43 days. In the beginning of the book, the author explains how the Lighthouse family came together. They represent a diverse group with a female cat acting as mother, a fluffy dog acting as father, and three young mice who appeared on the island after being found drifting on the sea in a teacup. The family occupation is to “keep the lights burning” in the lighthouse so that boats will avoid the rocks near the island. The illustrations by McDaniels are done in graphite and appear full bleed on the chapter heading pages. While this book looks like an easy reader at first glance, the word length is a little longer than found in the Henry and Mudge series and is at a higher reading level. 

THOUGHTS: Purchase where this Rylant series is popular.

Fiction          Denise Medwick, West Allegheny SD

Donne, Elena Delle. Elle of the Ball.  Simon and Schuster, 2018. 978-1-534-41231-6. 16.99. 148 p. Gr. 3-5.

Seventh grader Elle feels like a freak. At 6 feet tall, she towers over her classmates, as well as many of her teachers. Luckily for Elle, she actually does like basketball, but her sudden growth spurt has left her feeling awkward on the court as well as at school. Her misery is compounded by the upcoming school cotillion, where Elle and her two large left feet will have to dance, with a boy, in front of the school and assembled parents. Can life get any more humiliating? Written by WNBA and Olympic gold medalist Donne, this apparently autobiographical book is entertaining, sure to be enjoyed by any student who ever felt out of place. However, Donne has difficulty  differentiating between her childhood and that of her fictional character, resulting in several annoying anachronisms. But it is likely students will either not catch these or not be bothered by them.

THOUGHTS:  A nice addition to middle grade collections, particularly where sports books with female leads will be welcomed.  

Realistic Fiction          Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD

Elem. – The Great Dictionary Caper, drawn together, Mommy’s Khimar

Sierra, Judy. The Great Dictionary Caper. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. 978-1-481-48004-8. Unpaged. $17.99. Gr. K-3.

When words in the dictionary get bored, they escape from the dictionary and have a little fun.  Onomatopoeias form a marching band and parade across the page; antonyms play hide and seek. Action verbs jump, bounce, run, and somersault across the page. Even palindromes get in on the action and have a family reunion. However, things begin to spiral out of control as words without rhymes feel left out, interjections begin interrupting, and conjunctions fail to hold things together. Ultimately, Noah Webster himself restores order by commanding the words to get back in the dictionary. A hilarious play on words and linguistic concepts, this book is both educational and fun, and it comes complete with a glossary of linguistic terms in the back.

THOUGHTS: This title is an elementary English teacher’s dream! It would serve as an excellent supplemental resource for teaching concepts like onomatopoeias, contractions, interjections, homophones, palindromes and more. It would be especially useful for visual learners struggling to grasp these concepts. Definitely a must-have for every elementary school English collection.

Picture Book          Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area SD

Lê, Minh. drawn together.  Disney- Hyperion, 2018. 978-1-484-76760-3. Pages 32. $17.90. Gr. K – up.

A kid and his grandfather spend time together, but don’t speak the same language. Their differences stand out through the food they eat (boy- hotdog; grandfather- asian noodles) and the TV grandfather watches. Their facial features express their feelings of unhappiness and boredom… until the boy gets out his markers and begins drawing. The grandfather’s face lights up, and he gets his own drawing utensils, a sketch book, ink, and brushes. The realization that they can communicate with each other is heartwarming. Things go well, and even when they hit a bump in the road, they don’t give up. Finally embracing and knowing each other, the story ends with the kid waving goodbye from the car holding one of grandfather’s brushes. The grandfather smiles back holding a marker aloft.

THOUGHTS: This is my new favorite book. The progression of the characters from unhappiness to complete communication, all without words, gives me goosebumps. Younger kids enjoy the story for what it is, the older ones point out symbolism, societal differences, and enjoy the comic like panels in the beginning and end.

Picture Book          Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School

Thompkins-Bigelow, Jamilah. Mommy’s Khimar. Salaam Reads, 2018. 978-1-534-40059-7. Pages 32. $17.99. Gr. Pre K – 1.

“Mommy’s Khimar” is told from the point of view of a small child in a loving family. Her mommy wears khimars during the day and when she goes out of the house. This head-covering symbolizes safety and love for the little girl. She loves going into her mother’s khimar closet, and when she is allowed to wear her favorite, her imagination overflows. She is a princess, a bird keeping her baby brother warm in his nest, a superhero! Her grandmother is not the same religion as her parents, but they love each other and are family. After the day is done and the khimars are put away, the girl imagines she is still wearing it while she falls asleep, smelling her mother’s scent and feeling safe and loved.

THOUGHTS: This book should be a must for any Preschool – Kindergarten library. It does the dual job of introducing children in a positive way to the Muslim religion as well as reaffirming any children who are part of that community. Children will relate to the world of pretend and wanting the safety and love of their parents.

Picture Book          Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School

Elem: No Biggy, Bark Park, Harriet Gets Carried Away, My Pet Wants a Pet, Monster and Mouse Go Camping, I Got a Chicken for My Birthday

Rubin, Elycia. No Biggy! A Story About Overcoming Everyday Obstacles. Rodale Kids, 2018. 978-1-63565-048-8. Unpaged. $16.00. Gr. PreK-2.  

I bought this book for my preschool-aged daughter and liked it so much that it’s now on my school shelves, too! Like any child, Kiki gets frustrated when things don’t go her way. Her toothpaste falls off her brush, it starts to rain when she’s playing outside, and she has a tough time schmearing her bagel. Kiki’s parents help her understand that frustration is a normal feeling and that when she feels like stomping her feet and crossing her arms, a deep breath and “No biggy!” will help her refocus. She uses her strategy well and even helps her parents with a “No biggy!” when family dog Pozey gets bubbles all over the bathroom. Bright colors and friendly-faced Kiki and Pozey will keep readers attention.

THOUGHTS: A great story for one-on-one sharing with any child who can use a little help managing her frustrating moments.  

Picture Book          Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD

Krisher, Trudy. Bark Park! Beach Lane Books, 2018. 978-1-4814-3075-3. Unpaged. $17.99. Gr. PreK-2.

Enjoy a day in the life of a park-going dog. Excitement abound as dogs of different sizes and breeds visit a dog park with their families to frolic, play together, and maybe get a little dirty. After a fun day, dogs return home for a much-needed drink and nap. This simple story told in short, rhyming verses is light-hearted enjoyment for all dog lovers. Brooke Boynton-Hughes’ illustrations are a perfect match for the text.

THOUGHTS: A loveable read for dog folks of all ages.

Picture Book          Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD

Sima, Jessie. Harriet Gets Carried Away. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. 978-1-4814-6911-1. Unpaged. $17.99. Gr. PreK-2.

Harriet, lover of costumes and full of freckles and imagination, dons a favorite penguin costume to visit the store with her dads for birthday party supplies. When she wanders into the frozen foods aisle she encounters some friendly penguins and follows them out of the store, into the park, and on a hot air balloon back to penguin territory. While she’s having a lovely time, Harriet realizes that she needs to get back to the store and enlists the help of an orca and some bird friends to help her return to the deli counter and meet her dads in time to get home for her party. Jessie Sima’s books are delightful, just like Harriet herself, and young readers and listeners will love travelling along on Harriet’s adventure.

THOUGHTS: Another great read aloud full of diversity and fun from Sima.

Picture Book          Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD

Broach, Elise. My Pet Wants a Pet. Henry Holt and Company, 2018. 978-1-250-10927-9. Unpaged. $16.99. Gr. PreK-2.

A young boy begs his mother for a pet and loves his new role as puppy caregiver. He and the puppy get along so well, in fact, that the puppy decides it would be nice to have a pet of his own. The puppy’s new kitten is adorable and fun, and of course their relationship prompts the kitten to decide that a pet of her own would be nice…and so goes the comedic loop of the story. When will it end? The young boy realizes his mother, unhappy to be running a small zoo, needs something of her own to love and care for because that will bring her happiness. He, of course, offers himself.

THOUGHTS: A sweet family story for animal lovers.

Picture Book          Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD

Underwood, Deborah. Monster and Mouse Go Camping. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018. 978-0-544-64832-6. 32 p. $17.99. Gr K-3.

When Mouse suggests going on a camping trip, her friend Monster isn’t so sure. Mouse describes all the fun they’ll have walking in the woods, sleeping in tents, and telling spooky stories, but only when Mouse mentions that there will be yummy food to eat does Monster decide to give camping a try. The pair load their wagon with sleeping bags, a tent, and a lamp before setting off on their adventure. Once they reach the woods, Mouse scampers ahead to check out a stream, and Monster eats the lantern for a snack. Later, when Mouse scouts out a promising trail, Monster snacks on the sleeping bags. And finally, when Mouse goes to claim the perfect spot at the top of a hill, Monster eats the tent. Only when they try to pitch camp do they realize all of their supplies are gone. Even though it’s dark, cold, and they’re hungry, the pair take heart when they spot a glow in the distance. They encounter a family gathered around a campfire telling spooky stories. The sight of a huge, furry monster sends them screaming for their car, leaving Mouse and Monster with a perfect campsite, complete with tents, a fire, and marshmallows for roasting. The bright digital illustrations pop against uncluttered backgrounds, and the characters convey a lot of emotion, particularly with their wide round eyes.

THOUGHTS: This outdoor adventure will be a hit with young readers, especially ones who have been on camping trips themselves. It will also be a perfect addition to monster-themed storytimes that feature friendly, not scary, monsters.

Picture Book          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

Gehl, Laura. I Got a Chicken for My Birthday. Carolrhoda Books, 2018: ISBN 978-1-512-43130-8. 32 p. $17.99. Gr K-3.

When Ana’s birthday present from Abuela Lola arrives, she is initially disappointed to see that the box contains a chicken. What she really wanted was tickets to the amusement park, but she decides to be optimistic about the unexpected gift. It soon becomes obvious, however, that Ana has received an unusual chicken. Her chicken doesn’t have time to eat, doesn’t have time to lay eggs, and presents her with a long shopping list for items such as steel girders, ball bearings, a winch, tiny hammers, and more. It’s clear the chicken has a plan, and after recruiting help from Ana’s dog, cat, hamster, and a few other animals, the chicken designs and builds an entire amusement park! Ana’s initial skepticism is replaced with awe as she exclaims that the chicken is a genius. (And maybe Abuela Lola isn’t so quirky after all!) Pen and ink illustrations boldly accented with textured computer details capture the lively, playful vibe of this story, and readers will have fun pouring over the illustrations, noting small details such as the hamster powering the ferris wheel and the chicken brainstorming its next construction project.

THOUGHTS: Since it showcases brainstorming, designing, and construction, this title could be a fun addition to STEM-themed storytimes, and as an extension activity, teachers could challenge students to design their own amusement park or ride.

Picture Book          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

Elem – Hey-Ho to Mars We’ll Go!, Old Hat, Dear Substitute, Sometimes You Fly, The Funniest Man in Baseball, Bolivar, The Boo-boos that Changed the World, The Two Mutch Sisters, Every Month Is a New Year, Pinocchio, Rodent Rascals

Lendroth, Susan. Hey-Ho to Mars We’ll Go!: A Space Age Version of Farmer in the Dell. Charlesbridge, 2018. 978-1-580-89744-0. Unpaged. $16.99. K-3.

Lendroth has written space age lyrics to the well-known children’s song “Farmer in the Dell” in this engaging text. The book tells the story of four children who are on an exploratory trip to the planet Mars. The text consists of four lines mimicking the cadence of the original song, and it chronicles their trip from Earth until they land and explore the red planet. On each page, the song lyrics are written in a large font size, and there is accompanying smaller font which gives factual information about the topic discussed. For instance, when the spacecraft lands, the author writes, “Lock helmets into place…” and then explains about the air quality on Mars and the necessity for special equipment.  The illustrations are done on a large scale and were created using a computer. The book design adds to the understanding of the text. The text is placed sideways when traveling in space and even upside down when talking about the lack of gravity in the spacecraft. In the back matter, the author has included information about what is needed for a mission to Mars, and it is contained in a drawing of a red planet.  

THOUGHTS: While not a first purchase, this book will make a great read aloud, and children will enjoy joining in the refrain “Hey-Ho to Mars, we’ll go…” Music teachers will enjoy using this variant in their units on vocal music.

629.45  Space Flight          Denise Medwick, West Allegheny SD

Gravett, Emily. Old Hat. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018: ISBN 978-1-534-40917-0. 24 p. $17.99. Gr K-3.

Harbet is a dog whose favorite hat is the one his Nana knitted when he was just a pup. It’s warm and keeps his ears toasty. He proudly wears it all around until his peers mock him, taunting “Old Hat!” Harbet tries to keep up with fashion trends, purchasing the latest hat styles. But, no sooner has he donned his new headwear than something more up-to-date hits the stores. From construction cones to sailing ships to cookware, Harbet always seems to be one beat behind. Finally, Harbet gives up and does something daring – something no one has done before: Harbet takes off his hat. When his peers see what Harbet has been hiding beneath his many caps, the tables are turned, and they are the ones racing to keep pace with him. In this whimsical story about finding the courage to march to your own drum, brightly colored pencil, watercolor, and acrylic illustrations pop against solid white pages, making the variety of hats Harbet tries even more visually stunning.

THOUGHTS: Young readers will enjoy examining Harbet’s many new hats, making this a perfect choice for a read-aloud. Teachers and librarians can extend the story, discussing the themes of peer pressure and also the idea of being yourself and doing what makes you happy.

Picture Book          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

Scanlon, Liz Garton, and Audrey Vernick. Dear Substitute. Disney Hyperion, 2018. 978-1-484-75022-3. 35 p. $17.99. Gr K-3.

Life in Room 102 is turned upside down when Mrs. Giordano calls in sick, and Miss Pelly shows up to substitute for the day. Miss Pelly mixes everything up: she mispronounces names during attendance, doesn’t collect the homework, skips library time, and doesn’t clean the turtle tank, even though it’s Tank Tuesday. Instead of reading from the chapter book they’ve started, Miss Pelly reads funny poems about crocodiles and underwear, and she laughs all the time. The day’s events are narrated by a brown-haired girl with two ponytails. Each double-page spread features an epistolary poem describing the day’s events from her perspective. By the end of the story, she’s changed her mind about Miss Pelly after realizing poetry isn’t so bad, and she comes to the conclusion that sometimes you’ve got to mix things up a little. Caldecott-winner Chris Raschka’s vibrant watercolor illustrations capture the range of emotions the narrator experiences throughout the day, and his loose, whimsical style perfectly communicates her changing feelings.

THOUGHTS: This book will be perfect to share with students before an anticipated absence, and its reassuring message that things will be alright even though the daily routine is different will resonate with young readers. This title could also be used in conjunction with poetry units as it celebrates epistolary poems as well as poetry in general.

Picture Book          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

Applegate, Katherine. Sometimes You Fly. Clarion Books, 2018: ISBN 978-0-547-63390-9. 40 p. $17.99. Gr K-3.

This text, composed of rhyming couplets, celebrates perseverance and resilience by reminding readers that oftentimes, the thrill of success is preceded by flops and mistakes. Each couplet begins by showing someone struggling with a new or difficult task such as baking a cake, learning to swim, trying to read, learning to drive, or studying for an exam. Page turns are used effectively to show the same person experiencing success with the task on the back side of the page. The idea that mistakes and challenges ultimately make our accomplishments even more memorable is underscored by lively ink and watercolor illustrations depicting a diverse array of children both succeeding and failing at their pursuits.

THOUGHTS: This title naturally lends itself to character trait lessons since it underscores the ideas that making mistakes is okay as long as you learn from them and use the experience to grow and persevere. It highlights the idea that nobody is perfect and celebrates that sometimes life’s greatest challenges can also lead to its sweetest moments.

Picture Book Biography          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County

Vernick, Audrey. The Funniest Man in Baseball: The True Story of Max Patkin. Clarion Books, 2018: ISBN 978-0-544-81377-9. 40 p. $17.99. Gr 2-4.

As a boy growing up in Philadelphia, Max Patkin dreamed of a career in professional baseball. His goal was to become a pitcher, but while playing in the Minor Leagues, an arm injury sidelined him. Although his pitching career was over, Max found another way to make his mark on the game: as a baseball clown. For five decades, and more than 4,000 games, Max entertained crowds of fans by goofing around on the field with players, dancing around the baselines, playing hopscotch in the dirt, and doing anything he could to coax a laugh from the crowd. This picture book biography introduces readers to baseball’s most memorable clown, and the lighthearted text and whimsical illustrations spotlight some of his best-loved comic routines.

THOUGHTS: This title could accompany lessons and discussions about perseverance, since Max Patkin didn’t let his arm injury end his baseball career: instead, he embraced the different direction his career took. This will also be popular with sports fans, particularly those interested in historical tidbits.

Picture Book Biography          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County

Rubin, Sean. Bolivar. Archaia, 2018. 978-1-68415-069-6. unpaged. $29.99. Grades 2-5.

Bolivar is the last dinosaur left alive anywhere! He doesn’t like attention, so he lives in New York City, where no one takes the time to notice much of anything. Only young Sybil knows that her next-door neighbor is a dinosaur (even if she can’t prove it … yet). Bolivar is perfectly happy to hide in plain sight, until a case of mistaken identity leads him to City Hall and then to the Natural History Museum to deliver a speech about the new dinosaur exhibit. Even busy New Yorkers notice the dinosaur at the podium, and the chase is on! Can Bolivar elude capture and return to his quiet life? Framed as Sybil’s assigned essay on a “person” in her neighborhood, Bolivar is a delightfully illustrated urban adventure. Sean Rubin’s crosshatched artwork rewards repeated readings as details emerge in action-packed cityscapes and expressive faces. Adult readers will especially appreciate the winks to Indiana Jones and Where’s Waldo.

THOUGHTS: This beautiful, heartfelt homage to childhood imagination (and the importance of slowing down to take in the world around us) will be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

Picture Book/Graphic Novel          Amy V. Pickett, Ridley SD

Wittenstein, Barry. Illustrated by Chris Hsu. The Boo-Boos that Changed the World: A True Story about an Accidental Invention.  Charlesbridge, 2018. 978-1-580-89745-7. $16.99. Grades K-3.

Wittenstein recounts the true story  of how Earle Dickson developed the now ubiquitous BandAid to help his accident prone wife, who seemed to have injured herself at home on a daily basis. Earle, as a buyer for the Johnson and Johnson company, was in a unique position to develop this product that has become an absolute necessity of life. This humorous picture book with charming illustrations cleverly points out that necessity is truly the mother of invention, but also shows the stops and starts on the way to Earle’s and the BandAid’s success. Includes  a timeline of the inventor’s life, a timeline of important medical discoveries and links to sites with more information on the product recognized and used the whole world over.

THOUGHTS: A humorous, nonfiction choice to add to your collection on inventions.

617.1 Medical Innovations          Nancy Summers, Abington SD

Brendler, Carol. Illustrated by Lisa Brown. The Two Mutch Sisters. Clarion Books. 2018. 978-0-544-43074-7. $17.99. Grades K-3.

Twin siblings, Violet and Ruby Mutch,  must absolutely have a copy of every collected item for each of them. Living together for their entire lives, the silly siblings have collected all sorts of strange objects including glockenspiels, gargoyles, snorkels, and spittoons. As the years pass, the sisters run out of room in their crowded house, and Violet decides to move out.

THOUGHTS: A lighthearted and humorous tale of how loved ones can stick together, even if everyone needs their own space.  

Picture Book          Nancy Summers, Abington SD

Singer, Marilyn, and Susan Roth. Every Month Is a New Year. New York: Lee & Low Books. 2018. 978-1-630-14162-5. $20.95. Unpaged. Grades 2-5.

New years start all the time, not just on January 1st. Whether school years or sports seasons, we have traditions that go with our calendars. The informative poetry book Every Month Is a New Year takes readers around the world as the months turn to show how people celebrate their new year traditions. Singer’s short poems capture the essence of the holiday through a child’s first person viewpoint. The traditions range from water battles to fire cleansing, from food celebrations to dancing, and several ways to cleanse their souls and start anew. The detailed fabric collage that Roth weaves adds color and imagination to the mix, and the format of a full calendar that reads like it should be hung on your wall helps set the book apart. Informative text about the calendar systems through history and further descriptions, pronunciation, and sources for each new year are included toward the end. And since every end is a new beginning, readers may just want to turn the calendar and start anew!

THOUGHTS: This book would be an excellent addition to a poetry collection, and the diversity of people and places helps open the eyes of readers to unfamiliar traditions. They may be left with more questions after reading the poem and the description, so further inquiry should be expected.

811 Poetry          Dustin Brackbill, State College Area SD

Morpurgo, Michael. Pinocchio: In His Own Words. Illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark. Harper Collins Children’s Books, 2018 (this edition). 266 p.  978-000835769-9 $17.99 Grades 3-6.

Pinocchio–that misunderstood puppet-boy who is somehow always compelled to choose fun over obedience–tells his story here, his way.  He’ll tell you about how poor Signor Gepetto crafted him for his sad wife, and how he should have gone to school but was repeatedly tempted away by other, more fun activities.  This is a long, winding tale of mishaps and misfortune, at times humorous and at times groan-worthy, as when Pinocchio says of himself, “I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, don’t do it, Pinocchio!…Well, I’m sorry to say I believed what I wanted to believe; I fell for it hook, line and sinker.  When I look back on it now, I can’t believe how stupid I was!” (82) or “I hate work. It’s hard. It’s difficult” (172). Pinocchio encounters a variety of creatures in his travels, including a Talking Cricket, a Lame Fox and Blind Cat (swindlers who much later prove repentant), his ‘dear sister,’ the Good Fairy with sea-blue hair (who acts as his conscience) and Lampwick, a boy who entices him to go to the Land of Toys (whereupon both boys become donkeys destined to work until death).   Pinocchio always intends to return home and make his poor mother and father happy again, but something always distracts him.  Only in one story does his nose grow as he lies–and the Good Fairy is there to help–with woodpeckers.  A moralistic story where nothing truly bad happens to a boy who behaves badly but is excruciatingly slowly learning kindness.  Finally, the story comes full circle and by the end, “I’m not quite such a ‘wooden-head’ as I was–or I hope I’m not. My Good Fairy still whispers to me from time to time, drops gentle hints to remind me that everyone matters, reminds me always to be kind” (266).   

THOUGHTS: For upper elementary, this could be a humorous read-aloud. It is certainly a more interesting telling of the original Pinocchio tale, accompanied by appealing illustrations.

Fantasy, Fairy Tale          Melissa Scott, Shenango Area SD

Munro, Roxie. Rodent Rascals. Holiday House, 2018. 978-0-823-43860-0. 32 p. $17.95. Grades 2-5.

This book provides the reader with a fascinating look into the world of the rodent.  In the introduction, Munro explains that these animals are the “largest order of mammals” and discusses how they are useful to humans. Drawings are done to actual size, so the entire rodent is not shown in all cases, like the capybara. Even so, Munro plays with the book design by showing the capybara’s back leg on one page followed by a drawing of its face on the next page.  One rodent is featured per one or two page spread, except for the smaller ones like the pygmy jerboa. The animals appear in order from smallest to largest in the book. The pictures are accompanied by text that gives interesting facts unique to that creature, like how a muskrat eats on a table-like pile of mud and how one rat has been trained to find minefields. The illustrations are done in India ink and colored acrylic ink and make even the notorious Norway rat seem appealing. The endpapers contain simple line drawings of every rodent discussed in the book. In the back matter, the reader can learn more about the physical description and habitat of the animal. The author lists her sources and presents a number of websites for more information. After reading Munro’s work, even those readers who cringe at the thought of rodents might find themselves looking at these mammals in a different light.

THOUGHTS: Children will enjoy reading this text for personal interest, especially since some of the animals are well-known pets, like the guinea pig and gerbil. It is unusual to see a book entirely about rodents, so elementary libraries will want to add this unique work to their collections.

599.35  Rodents          Denise Medwick, West Allegheny SD

Elem. – Strongheart, The Itchy Book, I Can Be Anything, Pet Pals (Series NF)

Fleming, Candace. Illustrated by Eric Rohmann. Strongheart: Wonder Dog of the Silver Screen. Schwartz & Wade Books, 2018. 978-1-101-93410-4. 245 p. $17.99. Grades 3+.

As a puppy, Etzel was plucked from his family and taken to a Berlin police kennel where he was transformed into a snarling, snapping guard dog. Far away, in the Hollywood Hills, film director Larry Trimble thinks the time is right to launch the career of a movie star dog. A worldwide search leads him to Etzel, and with each passing day “Strongheart” grows more trusting, playful, and affectionate. And from his very first on-screen appearance in 1921’s The Silent Call, Strongheart is a star! Magazine covers, endorsements, and blockbuster movies follow, but an apparent attack on a young fan jeopardizes Strongheart’s future. This fictional story is based on true events, and a brief author’s note clarifies “The Truth Behind This Tale.” Eric Rohmann’s black and white oil paint illustrations bring Strongheart’s adventures, unique characteristics, and “dog wisdom” to life on almost every page.

THOUGHTS: Strongheart is a top-notch choice for dog lovers, historical fiction fans, and budding film buffs. Today’s readers will fall in love with Strongheart just like movie audiences did in the 1920s!

Historical Fiction (1920s)          Amy V. Pickett, Ridley School District

Pham, LeUyen. The Itchy Book. Hyperion, 2018. 978-1-368-00564-7.  64 p. $9.99. K-3.

This latest entry into the Elephant and Piggie Like Reading! series is the story of some anthropomorphized dinosaurs who have a problem with itchy skin.  All they want to do is to scratch, but are cautioned against it by a dinosaur wearing glasses. He points to some words carved on a rock which state that “Dinosaurs do not scratch.”   As each dinosaur approaches the sign, the first dinosaur (of an unknown species) admonishes the others not to scratch because they are tough. The triceratops, pterodactyl, brachiosaurus, and even a Tyrannosaurus Rex still beg to be allowed to scratch.  The first dinosaur wants to show the others how tough he is, so he asks them to make him itchy, by tickling him with a feather, covering him with cut grass, sand and even “hair from his last haircut.” All of the dinosaurs, clearly experiencing a worsening itchy discomfort, reluctantly acknowledge their toughness.  Then a turtle standing near the rock, moves and reveals the final word- alone, which leads to a scratchfest. The reason for the rule becomes clear and the turtle, now alone, has no one to help him scratch his own itch. The message is about understanding that one can question a rule when it makes no sense and Pham has literally shown that rules are not always “written in stone.” Her comical illustrations will be appreciated by young readers and their facial illustrations are priceless.  

THOUGHTS:  School libraries will want to add this text to their collections.  When read aloud, this book will produce a lot of laughing and scratching, no doubt. Pham’s work is a great starting point to discuss the reason for rules.

Picture Book (Easy Reader)          Denise Medwick, West Allegheny School District

Dillon, Diane.  I Can Be Anything! : Don’t Tell Me I Can’t.  Blue Sky Press, 2018.  32 p. 978-1-338-16680-3. $17.99. Grades 1-4.

Zoe is a young girl who dreams of her future and what she will be when she grows up.  With each thought, a little voice plants a seed of doubt by pointing out her lack of skills or the risks of that career. The girl acknowledges that she “is not grown up yet” and may not be prepared to be a veterinarian, scientist, artist or a host of other professions right now, but that she will be someday.  Zoe explains that she can get ready for the future by reading “about all the things I can be.” In her own strong voice, she challenges the little voice by saying “Don’t tell me I can’t.” This book has a timely message in this era of career awareness initiatives. While the author states that you can have any career, she acknowledges that one must read and learn about that profession.  The other important theme is that one should not allow fear or discouraging thoughts to keep you from reaching your goals. Dillon’s illustrations are soft and muted and make for a dreamy atmosphere, which fits well with the story. An illustration appears on each page with the text below. The little voice’s statements are done in italics and in a reddish-brown color, which sets them apart. On the back cover are listed a number of careers.  One small quibble is the use of the word “fire girl” rather than firefighter, because this book has value for the universal child, male or female.

THOUGHTS: This book is a valuable addition to elementary collections and should be a first purchase. Counselors or teachers will find this useful for career awareness lessons. Even though the main character appears to be five or six years old, this story could easily be used with all elementary grade levels to introduce students to the world of possibilities and to give them some words of encouragement.

Easy Picture Book          Denise Medwick, West Allegheny School District

Jacobs, Pat.  Hamster Pals. Crabtree, 2018.  (Pet Pals series).  978-0-778-73560-1. 32 Pages.  $20.75. Grades  2-5.

Jacobs, Pat. Guinea Pig Pals. 978-0-778-73552-6.
Jacobs, Pat. Cat Pals. 978-0-778-73550-2.
Jacobs, Pat. Dog Pals. 978-0-778-73551-9.
Jacobs, Pat. Rabbit Pals.  978-0-778-73561-8.

This series on pets does indeed do what it claims on the front cover and provides the young reader with “everything you need to know about your best pal.”  Jacobs has packed a lot of useful information in these slim volumes. Readers learn about choosing and feeding a pet, creating a home, pet behavior and other topics.  In Hamster Pet Pals, children can read about how to safely give their pet a treat, grooming tips and how to keep it from escaping.   The information is given in a text box style in a large font size. The pets themselves speak to the reader in “Pet Talk.”  For instance, the guinea pig says, “Please feed me at the same time every day. I may not have a watch, but I know when it’s dinner time!”  There is a glossary and index in the back, as well as a quiz based on the text. Suggested readings and websites are also given. However, the PBS link is no longer active and the veterinarian site contained a commercial ad. The photographs are engaging and done on a large scale.  

THOUGHTS: Librarians should make room on their shelves for this pet series, especially if your 600 section needs some updating. Pet lovers everywhere will enjoy reading about their pets. It is unlikely these books will stay on the shelves for long. The texts on rabbits, dogs and cats were not seen by this reviewer.

636  Pets Nonfiction          Denise Medwick, West Allegheny School District

2017 Catch-up PreK-3 – The Too-Scary Story & Series NF – About Habitats



Murguia, Bethanie Deeney.  The Too-Scary Story.  Arthur A. Levine, 2017. 9780545732420. Unpaged. $16.99.  PreK-2.


In this charming picture book, two children request that their dad tell them a bedtime story.  Grace, the older sister, wants a scary story, while her brother seems less sure of this. Their father begins a tale about two young explorers who are walking through a forest with their dog on their way home. In the darkness, Walter, the young brother, is very worried, but cheers when the darkness is relieved by fireflies.  Next they hear a lot of breathing sounds that turn out to be sleeping animals and finally, the “evil shadow” they see is really their father sitting on the bed as he finishes the story. The illustrations are full bleed and done in watercolor, gouache pencil and tissue collage. The “scary” scenes are illustrated with dark colors, while the “non-scary” scenes use a lighter colored palette. The stuffed toys in the children’s bedroom appear in the forest as real animals.  Children will enjoy looking for the owl, which appears on each double page spread. THOUGHTS: Murguia’s text is a wonderful and reassuring bedtime story. It also serves as a great read aloud, especially around Halloween, when a non-holiday story is needed. An additional purchase for libraries that want more not “too-scary” stories for young readers.


Picture Book          Denise Medwick, West Allegheny School District


Sill, Cathryn.  Seashores.  Peachtree, 2017. 978-1-56145-968-1.  Unpaged. $16.95. K-3.     


Sill, Cathryn. Deserts. 978-1-56145-641-3
Sill, Cathryn. Forests. 978-1-56145-734-2
Sill, Cathryn. Grasslands. 978-1-56145-559-1
Sill, Cathryn. Mountains. 978-1-56145-469-3
Sill, Cathryn. Oceans. 978-1-56145-618-5
Sill, Cathryn. Polar Regions. 978-1-56145-968-1
Sill, Cathryn. Wetlands. 978-1-56145-432-7


Seashores is one book in a series of habitat books by Cathryn and John Sill.  In this text, the reader learns about seashore ecology around the world.  The author discusses the different types of beaches, the landforms surrounding the beach, the effect of tides and various animals that inhabit coastal areas, including some lesser known ones.  The text appears in a large font size on the left hand side of the book and is a single simple sentence. On the right side appear the muted watercolor illustrations, which are called plates. John Sill’s meticulous drawings could be displayed as wall art. More information about each plate is included in the back matter, which also contains a glossary and bibliography of books and active websites.  It might have been better to include the additional plate information in the body of the text itself, because now the reader must flip back and forth, especially if reading the book aloud. THOUGHTS: Despite this concern about book design, this text is a wonderful introductory resource for young children learning about coastal ecology. Teachers could use this as a read aloud or students could read this alone. Librarians needing books on habitats for primary grades may want to consider this series.  (The other books in this series were not available for review).


577.699, Seashore Ecology          Denise Medwick, West Allegheny School District