Soukup, Ruth. How Big is Your Brave? ZonderKidz, 2020. $17.99. Unpaged. Grades PreK-2.
Zippy the bunny dreams of traveling to space one day but feels uncertain about trying Space Camp. With some gentle encouragement from her family, Zippy heads to Space Camp even though she’s scared. Mom tells her, “Being brave doesn’t mean you’re never scared…courage means taking an action, even when you feel afraid.” Zippy flourishes at camp, making friends and learning a lot. When an accident derails her plans for Launch Day, Zippy feels ready to give up. Dad reminds her that “You can choose to give up or choose to keep going. It’s all up to you.” When Launch Day arrives, Zippy’s Veggie Vrrrooom wins second place and a special award for most creative design. While the title phrase never features in the story, the message is one that all kids will understand in some way, whether it’s facing scary situations with courage or working through challenges.
THOUGHTS: Zippy’s friendly face and relatable story will win over readers.
Picture book Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD
Heim, Alastair. Quiet Down, Loud Town! Clarion Books, 2020. 978-1-328-95782-5. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K-2.
Quiet Down, Loud Town! follows an elephant who thinks the town around him is too loud, and he has no problem telling them that. As he goes through his day, the loudness of his environment keeps frustrating him until he finally snaps and yells, “Quiet down loud town!” However, the elephant learns that perhaps quiet isn’t what he needs either as he struggles to fall asleep, and then becomes the one being too loud. The illustrations are bright and colorful, with lots of added details to enjoy as the reader goes through the book.
THOUGHTS: This is an extremely fun book to read aloud with students, or for students to go through on their own. Highly recommended for an elementary school collection.
Picture Book Mary Hyson, Lehigh Valley Regional Charter Academy
Robert, Nadine. Elsie. Abrams, 2020. 978-1-419-74072-5. Unpaged. $16.99. Grades K-2.
On nice and sunny Sundays, the seven siblings in the Filpot bunny family go fishing. Elsie doesn’t quite fit in with her older siblings–she would rather stay at home than go fishing. She’s a unique personality with her own way of doing things. This can cause conflict with her siblings, who try to convince her to do things the “right” way. Elsie would rather walk along the brook when the rest of the family wants to to walk through the woods. When Elsie wants to bait her hook with a buttercup, her siblings (who prefer traditional bait) exclaim that she shouldn’t do it and it won’t work! When the family eats their lunch, Elsie wants to feed her sandwiches to the ducklings. But when Elsie catches a large fish with her buttercup bait, her siblings realize that Elsie’s ideas, though different from their own, have merit and should be respected and valued. The text is enhanced by the detailed tempera and watercolor illustrations of Maja Kastelic. Each bunny has a unique appearance and the woodland setting is filled with flora and fauna to engage the attention of the reader.
THOUGHTS: This delightful bunny tale would make an ideal read aloud choice and could easily be integrated into lessons on respecting others opinions and viewpoints, acceptance, individuality, and more. Highly recommended.
Picture Book Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD
Milway, Alex. Hotel Flamingo. Kane Miller, 2020. 978-1-684-64126-0. 192 p. $5.99. Grades 1-3.
Anna has her work cut out for her when she inherits the Hotel Flamingo from her great-aunt Mathilde. The once successful hotel is now a former shell of itself, run-down with only a few employees. Anna is determined to bring the hotel back to life and make it the best hotel on Animal Boulevard. Though Anna is a young girl, the rest of the characters populating this charming book are animals! Anna soon has a complete staff helping her to get the hotel up and running including T. Bear the doorman, Madame Le Pig (chef), Stella Giraffe (handywoman) and Squeak the mouse (bellboy), among others. Their goal–to make Hotel Flamingo the sunniest and most welcoming hotel in the area. Soon, a variety of guests arrive, including a family of cockroaches, a tortoise, and even flamingoes. Anna soon realizes that running a successful hotel catering to a menagerie of guests will require staff teamwork, creative thinking and a can-do spirit. Will Hotel Flamingo succeed?
THOUGHTS: This charming story is perfect for beginning chapter book readers who will no doubt appreciate both the heart and humor present throughout the plot. As the hotel staff work to restore Hotel Flamingo, characteristics such as teamwork, cooperation, and ingenuity are woven into the storyline. What really elevates this title is the inclusion of illustrations (drawn by the author) that help to bring the animals and their unique characteristics to life. Hotel Flamingo is the first volume in a four volume series–I can’t wait to read more about these characters!
Fantasy (Animal) Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD
Battersby, Katherine. Perfect Pigeons. Simon & Schuster, 2020. 978-1-534-45781-2. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K-2.
Look up! A flock of brightly colored pigeons is in the sky! According to members of the flock, they are perfect pigeons, because they are all “perfectly the same.” While the pigeons might certainly all look the same, it is quickly apparent to readers that one pigeon is different from the rest. He sports round red glasses and doesn’t like to participate in the same activities as the rest of the flock. For example, when the flock sleeps on a lamppost, he sleeps in a hammock. While the flock eats birdseed, he can be found enjoying popcorn. The flock soon grows frustrated with their fellow pigeon, challenging his go against the grain attitude and habits. But rather than give into peer pressure, the pigeon encourages the flock to pursue their own individual interests and hobbies (which they do). By the end of the story, the flock still feels that they are perfect pigeons, but they now feel that way because they are “are all perfectly unique!”
THOUGHTS: This charming story celebrates the importance of valuing the uniqueness of others. Readers will enjoy the humorous illustrations featuring large, colorful pigeons created in pencil, watercolor and digital media by author-illustrator Katherine Battersby. A worthwhile addition to libraries serving primary age readers.
Picture Book Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD
Carlain, Noe, and Herve Le Goff. Class Picture. Kane Miller EDC Publishing, 2020. 978-1-684-64112-3. Unpaged. $12.99. Grades K-2.
The full classroom photo may be a thing of the past, especially in this day and age, but the concept of gathering students to try and pose for a picture will always be a memorable moment. So, replace squirmy Kindergarten kids with beavers, bears, monkeys, snakes, elephants, and more for a real laugh of a book! With some repetitive wording and hilarious visual gags, each class of animals arrives for their moment with the brave and mostly patient photographer. Whether the hippos are bending the bench or the beavers are eating it, there are group and individual personalities that shine, along with some cameos from other animals to keep things interesting. Young readers will enjoy saying cheese to this colorful fun read along!
THOUGHTS: With a dozen animal sets captured in this book, several research or creative writing extensions are naturally available. From adding captions or speech bubbles to the class characters to looking up habitats and group names for each page, learners will find fun ways to keep coming back to this book. Recommended.
Picture Book Dustin Brackbill, State College Area SD
Corrigan, Sophie. Pugtato Finds a Thing. Zonderkidz. 2020. 978-0-310-76781-7. $17.99. Grades K-3.
Pugtato finds a thing while digging in his garden! But what is this thing? Pugtato has no idea, so he decides to go see his spuddies for help! All of his spuddies have good ideas as to what this thing could be, but none of the ideas seem to make sense! Some ideas are silly, some are scary, and some ideas make Pugtato nervous! Pugtato decides that even though he isn’t always the smartest spud around, he is the wisest when he follows his heart!
THOUGHTS: I loved this story! The puns with the animals and fruit/vegetables are absolutely adorable and great conversation pieces!
Picture Book Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD
Hudson, Katy. The Perfect Birthday Recipe. Capstone Editions, 2020. 978-1-684-46037-3. Unpaged. $17.95. Grades K-3.
Beaver carefully, thoughtfully, perfectly plans every project, and his birthday cake is no exception. With extreme care Beaver plans each precise detail. His firends are excited to help, but Beaver worries they may not read his recipe properly. When each friend ruins a different part of Beaver’s very ambitious recipe, he snaps. And Beaver isn’t very nice about his ruined birthday cake. Alone, he works long into the night until his perfect birthday cake is exactly like he planned. As he prepares to enjoy a slice, Beaver realizes he missed his birthday by trying to make everything perfect. Beaver’s friends come to the rescue and help him learn an important lesson; mistakes can be beautiful, and friends are an important part of life.
THOUGHTS: Children will enjoy this title which will make a great read aloud, especially near a birthday or for a Social Emotional Learning lesson.
Picture Book Maryalice Bond, South Middleton SD
Ferry, Beth. Fox & Rabbit: Make Believe. Amulet Books. 2020. 978-1-4197-4687-1. $12.99. Grades K-2.
The second adventure of Fox and Rabbit! Continuing where they left off, Fox and Rabbit make a new friend, Owl! Together, they use their imagination and make believe an amazing adventure! They explore jungles, save their friend Fred, and even get stuck in a giant muddy swamp! They enter a gumball bubble blowing contest, and even eat some delicious ice cream! Is there anything these two friends can’t do or overcome?
THOUGHTS: This book does carry over from the first, but it is written in a way where you can start this book independently from the first. The friendships made, the topics and fears they face, and even the silliness of their adventures are so sweet, making this a delightful read!
Graphic Novel Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD