Elem. – Raccoon’s Perfect Snowman

Wish, Katia. Raccoon’s Perfect Snowman. Sleeping Bear Press, 2020. 978-1-534-11067-0. 32 p. $16.99. Grades K-3. 

Raccoon loves building snowmen, and he takes the job very seriously. He sketches his designs in the snow before building, and all winter long he practices. He uses only the cleanest, whitest snow, the roundest, most symmetrical snowballs, and the finest decorations. Raccoon becomes such an expert snowman builder that he knows his friends will want his help and advice. But, when they start building together, Raccoon’s friends have a challenging time because Raccoon uses all the best supplies himself. When the building is complete, Raccoon admires his most perfect snowman yet. Only after seeing his friends’ creations – a mish-mash of lumpy snowballs formed from pine needle-speckled snow – does he realize that while his snowman is perfect, he feels perfectly awful. Raccoon calls his friends together to build one final snowman. They let loose, working together and having fun while creating a gigantic perfectly imperfect snowman. Wish’s wintery watercolor illustrations perfectly complement the text, expanding this story of simple snowy day fun.

THOUGHTS: When Raccoon lets go of his perfectionistic ideals, he realizes how much fun it can be to work as part of a team. He demonstrates empathy and self-awareness when he realizes how his friends feel about their creations and how he made them feel when he used all the best supplies. This story will work well for wintery Morning Meetings or social-emotional lessons about friendship, feelings, and perfectionism.

Picture Book          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

Elem. – The One and Only Bob

Applegate, Katherine. The One and Only Bob. Harper Collins, 2020. 978-0-062-99131-7. $18.99. 352 p. Grades 3-6.

Taking center stage to tell his story, Bob’s voice is honest, “I’m no saint, okay?” and readers will delight in his humorous antics, “If we could talk to people, they’d get an earful.” When Bob wakes to a familiar bark, something in his memory is jogged. But he shrugs it off and goes about his day, looking forward to a visit with Ivan and Ruby. The weather forecast showed another hurricane is on the way, though, so this day won’t be like all of the others. When Bob is separated from his friends, he reverts back to his puppy survival instincts and experiences an adventure of his own. Fans of Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan will delight in this new installment that updates readers on much beloved characters Bob, Ivan, Ruby, and Julia.

THOUGHTS: A must have for elementary libraries, copies of this title will be in high demand. 

Adventure          Maryalice Bond, South Middleton SD

Elem. – Wild About Dads

Murray, Diana. Wild about Dads. Imprint, 2020. 978-1-250-31574-8. 32pp. $17.99. Grades K-2. 

Rhyming couplets pair with full-page, vibrant illustrations in this sweet tribute to dads of all kinds. This title’s opening spread features human dads and their children enjoying a day at the park. Subsequent pages feature dads from all over the animal kingdom interacting with their young. From boosting little ones up to grab berries and playing hide-and-seek, to cozying up for an afternoon nap, animal dads share all kinds of one-on-one time. The closing spread features the same human dads and children at the park, reminding readers that “There’s a lot that dads can do, the best of all is loving you!” The back endpapers feature an illustration of each animal highlighted in the story as well as a brief description of where the animal lives and what the father does as a caretaker. 

THOUGHTS: This book is perfect for read-alouds, especially ones centered around families or in celebration of Father’s Day. The text and illustrations will prompt discussions and comparisons between things humans dads do and things animal dads do to take care of their families. 

Picture Book          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

Elem. – I Don’t Like Rain

Dillard, Sarah. I Don’t Like Rain. Aladdin, 2020. Unpaged. 978-1-534-40678-0. $17.99. PreK-1.

Rabbit finds a pine cone and begins to play catch with his animal friends. When they notice dark clouds, Rabbit’s friends go inside because they do not like playing in the rain. Rabbit sadly returns to his house as the rain comes down. Then, he notices that Bird is having fun playing in a rain puddle and puts on a raincoat to join him.  The other animals also come outside to join in on the fun, which once again is put to a halt when the rain stops. But this time, they all enjoy what happens next. The colorful digital illustrations of the anthropomorphized animals were created by the author.

THOUGHTS: This picture book is a good choice for rainy day storytimes. It shows the value of being positive and making the most of a disappointing situation.

Picture Book          Denise Medwick, Retired, PSLA Member

Elem. – I’m Sticking With You

Prasadam-Halls, Smriti. I’m Sticking With You. Henry Holt, 2020. 978-1-250-61923-5. Unpaged. $18.99. Grades PreK-2.

Told in rhyming text, this is the story of two friends, Bear and Squirrel, who spend their day together, exploring, sharing a meal and playing. The story begins in Bear’s voice, as he explains how the pair is always together, even if one of them is grumpy or silly or things go wrong. Next Squirrel presents his point of view and after Bear breaks his favorite teacup, explains that sometimes he just wants to be alone. After Bear leaves disappointed, Squirrel quickly realizes that life is not as enjoyable without his friend. They reconcile and enjoy tea with the now mended teacup. The illustrations by Steve Small are done in pencil and watercolor. Both animals are anthropomorphized and are seen doing a variety of activities like riding a seesaw and taking a ride in a cab. The illustrator adds details which enhance the story, like the tea cup which has a heart painted on its side. When it breaks, the crack can be seen down the middle of the heart and when repaired, it is nearly invisible. When Bear speaks, the text is done in bold, while Squirrel’s words are in a light font.

THOUGHTS: This is an engaging story of friendship and how it sometimes has its ups and downs. This book is a good choice for reading aloud, especially when there are requests for stories in two voices. A solid choice for elementary collections.

Picture Book          Denise Medwick, Retired, PSLA Member

Elem. – The Worrysaurus

Bright, Rachel, and Chris Chatterson. The Worrysaurus. Orchard Books, 2020. 978-1-338-63408-2. 32 p. $17.99. Grades K – 2.

A beautiful day leads a small dinosaur to begin planning a wonderful picnic, because “Worrysaurus liked it when he knew what lay ahead.” But then the thoughts of worry and doubt creep in as he over-thinks his plans and begins to fret about hunger, thirst, storms, and other fears. Nothing has actually gone wrong, but the darkness is closing in, and the butterflies in his stomach are overtaking Worrysaurus. But then he remembers some coping skills from his mommy, including chasing away the butterflies, holding onto some happy things, and calming his busy mind. The illustrations from Chris Chatterson perfectly capture the anxiety of the dinosaur, and the gentle rhyming cadence to Rachel Bright’s words will help those who need to hear it. Letting those butterflies be free and enjoying the moment might just be the message that young readers need right now!

THOUGHTS: While not a perfect recipe for troubled young minds, this story certainly works as a discussion piece to aid families or classrooms to identify and cope with fears in their world. My advanced reader copy did not contain other resources or coping tools, but perhaps teachers or parents will have those readily available when sharing. A worthwhile purchase for emotional support collections.

Picture Book          Dustin Brackbill    State College Area SD

Elem. – Chick and Brain: Egg or Eyeball?

Bell, Cece. Chick and Brain: Egg or Eyeball? Candlewick Press, 2020. 978-1-536-20439-1. 70 p. $12.99. Grades K-3. 

When Brain makes an amazing discovery, he can’t wait to show his friend, Chick. But, upon seeing the object, the friends cannot agree about what it is. It’s small, white, and oval. Brain says it’s an eyeball. Chick says it’s an egg. Each friend loudly pleads his case, capturing the attention of their nearby friend Spot the dog and a sleeping cat. It’s only when they awaken another creature that the group discovers the object’s true identity once and for all. This second offering in the Chick and Brain series will have beginning readers laughing out loud at the friends’ silliness. Loose cartoon drawings in large graphic novel panels keep the story’s four action-packed chapters moving along quickly.

THOUGHTS: Recommend this to Elephant and Piggie fans. This book is made for read-alouds and will be perfect for storytime.

Picture Book          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

Elem. – Bears Make the Best Writing Buddies

Oliver, Carmen. Bears Make the Best Writing Buddies. Capstone Editions, 2020. 978-1-684-46081-6. 32 p. $17.95. Grades K-4. 

When Adelaide notices that her friend Theo is struggling during writing time, she decides to pass him a note of encouragement and enlists Bear to help Theo find his unique story. Bear is a comforting figure, full of tips about proper spacing and adding sensory details. Bear also helps Theo learn to “forage for new ideas” or take a break to regroup when writing isn’t easy. Leo learns about drafting and revision with Bear’s motto “rebuild, reimagine, rework.” By the end of the story, Theo is confidently writing with his classmates while Adelaide hints at a sequel. Brightly colored illustrations fill the pages with imaginary scenes of the trio fishing for new ideas, flying in hot air balloons, and hard at working writing. Diversity among characters is represented among the primary and secondary characters. Theo and teacher Mrs. Fitz-Pea are Black; Adelaide is white. Diversity is also depicted among their classmates with a two-page spread that shows children of various gender, ability and race holding up individualized heart artwork beneath the text “There’s nothing you can’t say when it comes from your heart. Because your voice is your voice – no two are the same.” This artwork is also beautifully replicated on the end pages.

THOUGHTS: This book is a thoughtful, positive introduction to the writing process for elementary students. Bear simultaneously empowers students to find, share and hone their individual writers’ voice while also modeling desirable writing buddy behavior. This book will make a fun engaging read aloud with plenty of opportunities to discuss writing with students.

808.02 Writing          Jackie Fulton, Mt. Lebanon SD
Picture Book

Elem. – Jack at Bat; Jack Goes West

Barnett, Mac, and Greg Pizzoli. Jack at Bat. Viking, 2020. 978-0-593-11382-0. Unpaged. $9.99. Grades K-2.
—. Jack Goes West. Viking, 2020. 978-0-593-11388-2. Unpaged. $9.99. Grades K-2.

Jack is a bunny with mixed behavior! Sometimes he is bad and selfish, and sometimes he is the hero. One thing is for sure: A Jack Book will be an unpredictable and fun beginning reader story! With clever words by Mac Barnett and emotive illustrations from Greg Pizzoli, readers will delight to visit and revisit this new series. In Jack Goes West, he and “The Lady” ride a train to a dude ranch… next to a bank. Some bandits, lassos, and mistaken identities ensue! Meanwhile, in Jack at Bat, The Ladies take on The Brats in a ballgame that sees Jack get yelled at, nap away the game, and chase down a snack. But can he hit the ball? With a readable layout, short sentences, and surprising plot twists, young readers are bound to become fans of Jack.

THOUGHTS: These are longer than some beginning readers, which provides a nice extended read aloud opportunity or encouragement for budding readers. Introducing this series will naturally draw students to discover the other fun and fascinating work of Barnett and Pizzoli. Recommended for K-2.

Picture Book          Dustin Brackbill, State College Area SD

Elem. – The President of the Jungle

Rodrigues, Andre with Larissa Ribeiro, Paula Desgualdo, and Pedro Markun. The President of the Jungle. Nancy Paulsen Books, 2020. 978-1-984-81474-6. 40 p. $17.99. Grades K-3. 

Lion has always been king of the jungle, but when he abuses his power by rerouting a river to create his own private swimming pool, the other animals decide it’s time for a change. Owl suggests becoming a democracy and holding an election where each animal has the chance to become a candidate and campaign with new leadership ideas. All jungle animals have the opportunity to vote and elect a president. Everyone agrees to the idea, and Monkey, Sloth, Snake, and Lion kick off their campaigns. They make posters, speak on tv, distribute pamphlets, debate issues, and hold rallies. On election day, each animal casts a secret ballot, and the first president is elected. This accessible title introduces young readers to the democratic process using straightforward language and easily understood descriptions. A glossary of election terms on the final page includes boldfaced words from the text such as campaign, debate, democracy, government, rally, and vote. Originally published in 2018 and translated from Portuguese, the book’s vibrant illustrations were created by mixing hundreds of paper cutouts with pencil and charcoal drawings and coloring everything digitally.

THOUGHTS: This lively jungle title spotlights the basic elements of democratic elections and will be a perfect fit for elementary classrooms looking for tie-ins to the 2020 presidential election. The text is geared towards the youngest readers, and the glossary includes child-friendly political definitions.

Picture Book          Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary School, Southern York County SD