Elem. – Thanks a Ton!

Moyle, Sabrina. Thanks a Ton! Abrams Appleseed, 2020. 978-1-419-74334-4. Unpaged. $16.99. Grades K-3.

Brightly colored digital illustrations with neon accents bring this book of gratitude to life. A young elephant donning blue overalls celebrates big and small moments for which he (or she) is thankful. Simple gestures like cheering up someone, making someone smile, giving a hug, and saying please will help children recognize that kindness and good manners can make a big difference in one’s day. Gifts big and small show this elephant’s gratitude, but children will laugh out loud when the little elephant presents a pair of super underwear.

THOUGHTS: Teachers will enjoy reading this silly rhyming text aloud with their students. It will be a great addition to any elementary Social Emotional Learning lesson that celebrates kindness, manners, and gratitude.

Picture Book          Maryalice Bond, South Middleton SD

Elem. – The Perfect Birthday Recipe

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

Elem. – Fox & Rabbit: Make Believe

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

Elem. – Fox & Rabbit

Ferry, Beth. Fox & Rabbit. Amulet Books. 2020. 978-1-4197-4077-0. $16.99. Grades K-2.

Fox and Rabbit are best friends. Fox is afraid of heights but likes trying new things. Rabbit is always prepared…but is afraid of everything else! These two friends embark on several adventures, from going to the fair and overcoming Fox’s fear of heights to winning a new friend. They go to the beach, where Fox helps Rabbit swim. They even find a treasure map and go to find a good surprise, not a zinger! Read along to join in on their fun adventure!

THOUGHTS: This is a really sweet beginner graphic novel. The story shares moments of friendship, overcoming fears, and learning new things!

Graphic Novel                                    Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

Elem. – The Bear Must Go On

Petty, Dev. The Bear Must Go On. Philomel Books. 2020. 978-1-984-83747-9. $17.99. Gr. K-3.

Four friends decide to spend their spring day putting on a show! What a wonderful idea! They need costumes, music, tickets, and everything else to make the greatest show possible! Bear is happy to help, as long as he does everything behind the scenes, for Bear is too shy. Bear takes notes, LOTS of notes, and helps create all of the costumes, decorations, and anything else that may be needed. All is going well until the friends realize they forgot something… to create a show! But remember, the show must go on!

THOUGHTS: This is a cute book that talks about how overcoming your fears can be a beautiful thing!

Picture Book          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

Elem. – Mistletoe

Hills, Tad. Mistletoe. Schwartz & Wade Books, 2020. 978-0-593-17442-5. $17.99. Unpaged. Grades PreK-1. 

“Mistletoe” falls in with my favorite themes for holiday stories: friendship, homemade gifts, and kindness. Mistletoe the mouse loves chilly mornings, knitting, and her pal Norwell. Norwell the elephant loves cozy fires, decorating for Christmas, and his pal Mistletoe. Mistletoe tries to convince Norwell that strolling through the snow and catching snowflakes on your tongue is a delightful way to spend the day, but Norwell seems cold just looking outside.  The solution for these friends? A thoughtful friend, some quick knitting needles, and an extra-extra-extra large elephant sized snowsuit. In typical Tad Hills fashion, the story is warm and enjoyable just like the illustrations.

THOUGHTS: Fans of Hills’s Rocket or Duck and Goose will love Mistletoe the mouse, but any young reader with a dash of Christmas spirit will enjoy this sweet story.

Picture Book          Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD

Elem. – The One and Only Ivan: Draw Me a Story

Ferry, Beth, and Gonzalo Kenny. The One and Only Ivan: Draw Me a Story. Disney Press, 2020. 978-1-368-06024-0. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K-2.

The fictional world of Ivan is growing quite nicely lately, with a captivating sequel as well as a movie to describe the amazing true story of The One and Only Ivan. Now comes a sweet picture book to bring the power of art and stories to connect friends and family. In Draw Me a Story, Ruby the baby elephant learns about life from Ivan’s observations of people and then through his pictures. She wants to learn to draw, and gets advice about drawing from the heart and feelings over what she sees. Choosing the right colors and finding similar features helps connect the two different species. Then Ruby wants a whole story. Making a full story from pictures is not really Ivan’s style, so he takes a creative mathematical approach to show how this menagerie of animals has become a family. The warm and wonderful drawings from Kenny and the sparse but meaningful text from Ferry help make this a great read aloud or bedtime story for the animal lovers and loved ones in your library.

THOUGHTS: Definitely a great introduction for younger readers and an art extension for those who are already fans of Ivan. This naturally works with an art activity and could extend to a discussion of who defines a family for the students, including all kinds of loved ones in the mix! Recommended.

Picture Book          Dustin Brackbill, State College Area SD

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