Elem. – Big Dog, Little Dog

Rippin, Sally. Big Dog, Little Dog. Illustrated by Lucinda Gifford. Kane Miller Publishing, 2022. Unpaged. 978-1-684-64383-7. Grades K-3. $17.95.

With a great friend and a lot of attention, Big Dog enjoys a great life with his person. But sometimes the days can be long and lonely. One day while on a walk, Big Dog and his friend meet another person with a little dog. Then things begin to change. Little Dog and her person move in with Big Dog and his person, and Little Dog doesn’t seem to understand how anything works. Big Dog decides Little Dog needs to go, so he begins to sabotage Little Dog to show their people just how annoying Little Dog is. When Big Dog goes too far and is sent outside for the night, Big Dog realizes he and Little Dog may not be so different. Beautiful watercolor illustrations enhance this story of dealing with life’s changes. Children will adore the dogs and root for them to learn to like each other.

THOUGHTS: Big Dog, Little Dog is great for a lesson on how friends can have big differences. Hand this title to a child who is getting a new sibling or going through a change in family situation. Highly recommended for elementary collections. Note: This title originally was published in Australia in 2021.

Picture Book          Maryalice Bond, South Middleton SD

Elem. – No Bunnies Here!

Sauer, Tammi. No Bunnies Here! Illustrated by Ross Burach. Doubleday, 2022. Unpaged. 978-0-593-18135-5. Grades K-3. $17.99.

It is time for Bunnyville’s Hoppy Day Parade, and in “the land of a thousand bunnies” our narrator becomes quite nervous when he sees an excited wolf. Bunny immediately springs into action to prove to wolf how wrong he is by assuming there are bunnies in Bunnyville. By donning clever costumes, disguising bunny friends, and renaming Bunnyville, Bunny works hard to show Wolf that there are no bunnies here. Despite Bunny’s best efforts, the enthusiasm for the Bunnyville Hoppy Day Parade cannot be stopped. As Bunny tries one last time to get Wolf out of Bunnyville, he realizes Wolf may not be hungry for a bunny after all. Wolf may have an entirely different reason for coming to Bunnyville. If Bunny can learn to listen to Wolf, he may realize what Wolf’s purpose in coming to Bunnyville is. But can a predator and prey coexist? This sweet friendship story will show young readers not to judge a book – or a wolf – by its cover.

THOUGHTS: Readers will laugh out loud at Bunny’s hilarious antics as he tries to avoid the not so big bad wolf. Bold, colorful illustrations will enchant readers. Recommended for elementary collections.

Picture Book          Maryalice Bond, South Middleton SD

Elem. – I’m Not Scared, YOU’RE Scared

Meyers, Seth. I’m Not Scared, YOU’RE Scared! Illustrated by Rob Sayegh, Jr. Flamingo Books, 2022. Unpaged. 978-0-593-35237-3. Grades K-3. $18.99.

Despite his size, Bear is scared of just about everything, including his own reflection. Rabbit, on the other hand, likes to read scary stories. Though they have their differences, Bear and Rabbit are friends, and when Rabbit announces that they’re going on an adventure Bear suggests a book instead because “if anything goes wrong, we can just close the book.” Bear prepares for their adventure with a bike helmet, oven mitts, and bear repellent spray, but Rabbit assures him he’ll need none of those things. As Bear and Rabbit approach a small stream, the edge of the woods, a mountain, and a long rope bridge, Bear looks for ways to avoid his fears. At each obstacle, Rabbit asks, “Bear, are you scared?” and Bear replies “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” At the long, old, rickety bridge, Bear finally acknowledges his fears and heads home. Rabbit remains, determined to prove that Bear ‘s fears are over nothing. But when Rabbit gets into trouble, he’ll need his scared friend to come to his rescue. Will Bear be able to face his fears to help save his friend, or will Bear’s fears prevent him from helping Rabbit? Sayegh’s illustrations, made with digital brushes and scanned textures and photographs, bring the characters to life and highlight the emotions they’re feeling in the various settings.

THOUGHTS: This sweet story by comedian Seth Meyers will resonate with young readers who may have “irrational” fears. Use this title to talk about fear, courage, and being a supportive friend. Recommended for elementary collections.

Picture Book          Maryalice Bond, South Middleton SD

Elem. – Over, Bear! Under, Where?

Hedlund, Julie. Over, Bear! Under, Where? Illustrated by Michael Slack. Philomel Books, 2021. 978-0-593-20355-2. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K-3.

Over and Under are friends playing at the park and picnicking with their friend, Dog. When Bear appears, they all run away, but soon Bear overtakes the group. To get away from him, Over, Under, and Dog dig a hole and hide inside. The friends soon realize, though, Bear wasn’t trying to ruin their day; he just wanted to join in the fun. 

THOUGHTS: This is a MUST HAVE picture book for all elementary libraries and classrooms. Not only are Over and Under the characters in the book, but they are also prepositions and parts of compound words. Over, Bear! Under, Where? is the perfect introduction to these elements of English grammar while also providing a solid laugh at the word play throughout. 

Picture Book        Erin Bechdel, Beaver Area SD

Elem. – This is a Dog Book!

Henderson, Judith. This is a Dog Book! Julien Chung Ill. Kids Can Press, 2021. 978-1-525-30493-4. 40 p. $17.99. Grades PreK-2.

Bunny wants to be in this book, but it is a dog book, and bunny is not a dog. Bunny tries to convince the dogs that he is a dog by providing them with cookies and answering all of their dog questions. Bunny does everything the dogs ask of him except answer the “doo-doos” question which he successfully avoids until the end when he must pass the “sniff test”. But that still isn’t enough for all of the dogs. Finally, the big dog asks Bunny if he is a good friend. If he passes this test, Bunny might just make it into the dog book after all. 

THOUGHTS: This is a sweet story about acceptance and inclusion. The red shirt of Bunny against the black and white illustrations of the dogs highlight that he is indeed not a dog even though he can do all that the dogs do. This text is a great conversation starter for students to discuss inclusion and exclusion and how each makes one feel.  

Picture Book          Erin Bechdel, Beaver Area SD

Elem. – Ciao, Sandro!

Varni, Steven. Ciao, Sandro! Abrams, 2021. 978-1-419-74390-0. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K-2. 

Sandro is a small dog who accompanies his owner, Nicola, a Venetian gondolier, on his daily tours around the city. Sandro even dresses like a gondolier himself, with a striped shirt, red kerchief, and straw hat. Instead of joining Nicola on his tours, today Sandro disembarks the gondola and heads into Venice. He visits a series of friends, each of whom greet him by saying “Ciao, Sandro!” None of the individuals seem surprised to see Sandro. In fact, they almost seem to have been expecting him. Francesca the fruit seller shows Sandro some fruit; Avise, a friend of Nicola’s, reassures Sandro he hasn’t forgotten; and Giorgio the glassblower presents Sandro with a goblet and asks for his approval. When Sandro re-joins Nicola and they head home at the end of the day, it turns out that all Sandro’s visits were in preparation for a surprise birthday party for Nicola! Backmatter includes a glossary of the Italian words that are included in the text. 

THOUGHTS: Not only will readers enjoy guessing why Sandro spent the day purposefully visiting his friends, they will also gain an appreciation for the Italian city of Venice. On his journey Sandro passes through many well known landmarks, which are depicted in Luciano Lozano’s watercolor pencil, ink, and digital illustrations. Say “Ciao, Sandro!” and consider adding this title to libraries serving younger elementary readers.

Picture Book          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – The Not-So-Tiny Tales of Simon Seahorse (Series Fiction)

Reef, Cora. The Not-So-Tiny Tales of Simon Seahorse. Little Simon, 2021. $17.99 ea. 118 p. Grades K-3. 

Simon Says. 978-1-665-90368-4.
I Spy…a Shark! 978-1-665-90371-4.
Don’t Pop the Bubble Ball! 978-1-665-90374-5.

This new chapter book series for elementary readers features ocean dwelling protagonist Simon Seahorse. Simon lives with his family (Dad, Mom, and 11 brothers and sisters) near the ocean town of Coral Grove. When not attending Coral Grove Elementary, he enjoys hanging out with his best friend Olive Octopus, telling stories and going on adventures. In Simon Says, Simon takes one of his treasured possessions, a lucky pearl, with him to school for “sea and tell.” Naturally, being a storyteller, he enjoys embellishing the story of his pearl a bit when it’s his turn. After he arrives home from school, he realizes that the pearl has gone missing! Together with his friend Olive, and some help from Mr. Green, the turtle trolley, he goes on a journey to Shipwreck Station (aka the ocean’s lost and found) in the hopes of locating his pearl. In I Spy…a Shark!, Simon and his friends are afraid of sharks (they’re worried about being eaten). So, when Simon and Olive spy a shark while working on a school project in Coral Jungle, they are understandably frightened. But Zelda the shark doesn’t want to eat them; she is there to pick a bouquet of coral for her mother’s birthday. Simon and Olive help her choose the best coral for her bouquet and in return she invites them to Shark Point to attend her mother’s birthday party. As a result, they have another amazing story to tell their classmates. The text in each volume is accompanied by digital B&W illustrations on each page.

THOUGHTS: This early chapter series is sure to be popular with readers. Though Simon is a seahorse, many of the situations he finds himself in will be relatable to elementary students. After all, who hasn’t panicked when they think they have lost a treasured possession? Or realized that the preconceived ideas they had about someone were incorrect? 

Early Chapter Book          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – Moon Pops

Baek, Heena. Moon Pops. Owlkids, 2021. 978-1-771-47429-0. Unpaged $19.95. Grades PreK-K. 

In Korean folklore, the full moon is associated with a rabbit pounding items with a mortar and pestle. Author and illustrator Heena Baek puts a unique spin on this folklore in her story Moon Pops (translated from the original Korean by Jieun Kiaer). One hot night, in a city populated by animals, the residents of an apartment building attempt to sleep and escape the heat. When a steady dripping noise is heard, Granny (a wolf) discovers that the moon is melting! She runs outside and catches the moon drops with her bucket. Back in her apartment, she ponders what to do with the moon drops, when the idea of making cool, refreshing moon pops (ice pops made with moon drops). When a power outage hits the building (due to too many folks running their air conditioning), Granny distributes her refreshing moon pops to her neighbors, who are refreshed and cooled by the icy treats. Later, a knock is heard at Granny’s door–it is a pair of rabbits, dejected by the loss of their now melted moon home. Thankfully, Granny has another idea up her sleeve that might just result in the restoration of the moon. The story is illustrated with photographs of mixed media 3D dioramas that give the setting and characters depth and make excellent use of the elements of light and shadow. Of special note are the moon pops themselves, which emanate a glowing light reminiscent of the moon. 

THOUGHTS: This title easily could be incorporated into units on folklore, Korea, or animal stories. After reading the story, students will want to enjoy an icy treat themselves–why not go out and enjoy popsicles as a class or create your own as a class project. Highly recommended. 

Picture Book          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – Farm Crimes! The Moo-sterious Disappearance of Cow

Dumais, Sandra. Farm Crimes! The Moo-sterious Disappearance of Cow. Owlkids, 2021. 978-1-771-47442-9. Unpaged. $18.95. Grades 1-3. 

It’s just an average day on the farm until the animals realize that Cow is missing in this delightful graphic novel. Based on limited evidence, the barnyard concludes that she has been kidnapped. There’s only one thing to do–summon neighborhood detective, the goat Inspector Billiam Van Hoof. Upon his arrival at the scene, Inspector Van Hoof begins to question the animals and search for clues. When he discovers flattened crops in the shape of a circle and witnesses who saw Cow in a shiny outfit the day before, Inspector Van Hoof decides that Cow was kidnapped by aliens! The rest of the barnyard is not so convinced–many have other theories of what may have transpired. When Cow eventually reappears, the real truth about her disappearance is revealed (spoiler alert: aliens were not involved). Observant readers will enjoy the comic illustrations, which are filled with various jokes and fun details. While this title is the second book in the Farm Crimes! series, it can be read as a standalone. 

THOUGHTS: Sure, Inspector Van Hoof may not be the the world’s best detective (despite the fact that he advertises himself as the “world’s #1 goat detective”), but the reader won’t care. They’ll be too busy laughing out loud as Van Hoof gets distracted while on his way to the barnyard and then once on the case, jumps to some pretty wild conclusions. This title will be a popular addition to elementary graphic novel collections.

Graphic Novel          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – Cat Dog

Fox, Mem and Mark Teague. Cat Dog. Beach Lane Books, 2021. 978-1-416-98688-1. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades PreK-1.

A dog is taking a nap on the couch. A cat is chasing a mouse. The cat wants the dog’s help, but he is asleep. The mouse gets away from the cat. The dog finally wakes up. The mouse comes out of his hole, and ….

THOUGHTS: The story ends there with the reader trying to figure out what happened between the cat, the dog, and the mouse. This is a beautifully illustrated story, simple in words and color that connects the reader directly to the story by asking questions. The interactive text makes the reader another character in the room with the dog, the cat, and the mouse.  This is a great story to teach story sequencing and predictions. It’s also a lot of fun for read aloud.

Picture Book        Erin Bechdel, Beaver Area SD