Elem. – River; Truman; What Kind of Car Does a T. Rex Drive; The Panda Problem; Hats are Not for Cats; Mini Rabbit is Not Lost; Girls with Guts; Superbuns; A Computer Called Katherine; Bilal Cooks Daal

Cooper, Elisha. River. Orchard Books, 2019. 978-1-338-31226-3. Unpaged. $18.99. Grades 2-5.

“Humans are bound to water….We are connected by water, more connected than we know.” Elisha Cooper ends her author’s notes with these words, connected to a picture of a family discussing the trip. At the start of the story readers see the same scene, and in between is one woman’s solo canoe journey down the Hudson River. It becomes a 300 mile testament to this statement by Elisha Cooper. When the woman leaves her home and family one morning and turns to wave back to them, readers are none the wiser to what lay ahead, but I suspect that she knows! Ahead are various wild animals, river obstacles, weather challenges, and people and places both expected and unbelievable. Taking on the Hudson and ever moving onward, Cooper gives us short, poetic observations accompanying gorgeous detailed water colors. Readers will empathize and connect with the woman’s journey as she sees beauty and faces solitude. The pacing of the story is ideal, lulling readers along the current and then rapidly increasing around the next turn. By the end of the journey and the reunion of her family at the Sandy Hook Lighthouse, the connection between humans, the environment, and the river flows through us all.

THOUGHTS: This river experience may not be something that many kids can experience, but I think they will appreciate it and pause often to consider her journey. They can follow the map, make predictions, and ask questions as they read – maybe by journaling and sketching themselves! Cooper’s other works would make for an extended author study and insight into researching and writing.

Picture Book          Dustin Brackbill, State College Area SD

Reidy, Jean, and Lucy Ruth Cummins. Truman. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2019. 978-1-534-41664-2. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K-2.

The life of a sweet pet tortoise named Truman is pretty chill most days. The city down below rumbles on while Truman and Sarah stayed quietly above together. Then one day, Sarah preps a backpack, leaves extra snacks for Truman, and gets on the southbound bus. Truman waits as patiently as can be, until it is time for action so that he can reunite with Sarah. His journey seems impossible, and the perfect, colorful illustrations by Lucy Ruth Cummins give perspective to his challenges. Young readers will be surprised at what happens next and what secret lives their pets may have when they are off at school!!

THOUGHTS: As the owner of both a land turtle and water turtle who have escaped and gone on adventures, this tender story hits some sentimental notes! Pair this with other pet stories, such as Memoirs of a Goldfish, to let young readers see point of view and perspective before trying to write their own narrative pet tales!

Picture Book          Dustin Brackbill, State College Area SD

Lee, Mark. What Kind of Car Does a T. Rex Drive? G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2019. 978-1-524-74123-5. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K-2.

Uncle Otto owns a car lot and is surprised when a number of dinosaurs come shopping for a car. One by one, each dinosaur looks for a car that will suit him or her. Stegosaurus finds an off-the road vehicle so that he can find some plants in the forest. Pterodactyl buys a convertible, so he can feel the breeze as he drives to the ocean to find some fish to eat. Triceratops purchases a delivery van, so she can get in through the back doors. Uncle Otto and the children are concerned when T. Rex appears and is not pleased with the options. Finally, the children find the answer- a monster truck! Brian Riggs’s humorous illustrations are done in brush and ink and colored digitally. The whimsically drawn dinosaurs appear on a large scale and take up most of the space on each two page spread.

THOUGHTS: This text makes for a great read aloud. Hand this one to those children who can’t get enough of dinosaurs. A good choice for elementary collections.

Easy          Denise Medwick, Retired, West Allegheny SD

Underwood, Deborah. The Panda Problem. Dial Books for Young Readers. 2019. 978-0-735-22850-4. $17.99. Grades K-2.

A simple story read by a simple narrator about a panda who has a problem. Except… he doesn’t have a problem. In fact, he is perfectly fine! But… if the panda is perfectly fine, how can the narrator read a story? Stories have to have problems, after all, that is what makes a story a story! So the panda decides to help by creating a problem… after a problem… after a problem! Panda soon realized that he does not have imaginary problems, but now he has real problems and needs the narrator to read the story and get him out of the problem! Read to discover what trouble the panda is getting himself into.

THOUGHTS: A cute read with dialect between the narrator and the main character of the story. A great piece to read aloud with two readers, each acting out the part of the character or narrator.

Picture Book          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

Rayner, Jacqueline K. Hats are Not for Cats. Clarion Books. 2019. 978-1-328-96719-0. $17.99. Grades K-2

Did you know that hats are not for cats? Not any kind of hat. Funny, serious, large, or small, cats are not supposed to wear hats. That is what dog tells cat at least. Do you think that will stop cat (and cat’s friends) from listening? It makes you wonder what dog thinks when he sees that these cats are all wearing hats. Maybe cats can wear hats, but dogs cannot. Do you think cats should be able to wear hats? Read through this story to discover your answer!

THOUGHTS: A simple read with beautiful illustrations of cat and dog having a conversation about the issue of cats wearing hats. A read that many beginning readers would be able to pick up and read independently.

Picture Book           Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD


Bond, John. Mini Rabbit is Not Lost. Neal Porter Books. 2019. 978-0-823-44358-1. $18.99. Grades K-2

Mini Rabbit LOVES cake! While baking a cake with Mother Rabbit, they discover that there are no berries left for the cake! Mini Rabbit decides to go out to find berries but does not realize that there are berries just below his house! Mini Rabbit travels on a marvelous journey to find berries, but ends up getting lost, even if he won’t admit it. What will it take to get Mini Rabbit back home? Perhaps the smell of something delicious…

THOUGHTS: A hysterical read of a Mini Rabbit going out on a journey. This story is fantastic when read with different voices, especially for a young, hyper Mini Rabbit. A must read for students!

Picture Book          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD



Gonzales, Debbie. Girls with Guts! The Road to Breaking Barriers and Bashing Records. Charlesbridge, 2019. 978-1-580-89747-1. 32 p. $16.99. Grades 3-6. 

Today, girls are free to compete in any sport they wish to pursue. Historically, this was not the case; however, and this book chronicles the history of female participation in organized athletics from ancient times to today. In Ancient Greece, females were punished for merely watching the Olympic Games. And, during the first modern Olympics in 1896, women were not allowed to compete in any events. It took athletes like basketball player Senda Berenson Abbot, swimmer Gertrude Ederle, tennis star Althea Gibson, swimmer Donna de Varona, and others to break down barriers and help level the athletic field for women. In addition to highlighting groundbreaking female athletes, this title also spotlights the women who were instrumental in campaigning for and drafting Title IX, which mandates equal treatment for competitive girls. A timeline at the back of the book chronicles milestones in the history of women’s athletics. 

THOUGHTS: This title fills a void in many library collections by exploring the history of competitive athletics for women. It also provides introductory biographical information about ground-breaking female athletes and congresswomen who fought for Title IX legislation. Vibrant acrylic paintings depict women engaged in all kinds of athletic endeavors, and both white and non-white women are included. An Author’s Note on the book’s final page explores what it truly means to “play like a girl” and discusses the state of women’s professional athletics today.

796.082 Athletic & Outdoor Sports & Games          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

Kredensor, Diane. Superbuns! Kindness is Her Superpower. Aladdin, 2019. 978-1-481-49068-9. 40 p. $17.99. Grades K-2. 

As Superbuns and her older sister, Blossom, make their way through the city to granny’s house, Superbuns stops several times to perform random acts of kindness. She waters plants, compliments friends, feeds pets, and blows up balloons. Blossom, who is a bit of a know-it-all, repeatedly reminds Superbuns that kind is kind, but it is not a superpower. It’s only when the sisters have a surprise run-in with a fox that Blossom realizes the true power of being kind and the effect it has both on the recipient and the bestower. 

THOUGHTS: This sweet story about the power of kindness is geared toward the youngest readers, and it will be a great fit for kindergarten and first grade classrooms. It will also work for morning meetings and could be used in conjunction with guidance lessons about what kindness looks like. The vibrantly colored cartoon illustrations will draw in young readers, and comic fans will relate to Superbuns’s fascination with superheroes. 

Picture Book          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

Slade, Suzanne. A Computer Called Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Helped Put America on the Moon. Little, Brown and Company, 2019. 978-0-316-43517-8. 32 p. $18.99. Grades K-3. 

Numbers and counting were always important parts of Katherine’s life, even when she was a young girl. At school, math came easily to her, and she skipped first and fifth grade, eventually entering college when she was fifteen. At West Virginia State, Katherine excelled in all the math classes she took, but her favorite was advanced geometry where she studied curving parabolas. Katherine believed women could have any job they wanted, and she set her sights on a mathematics job at a Virginia research center. There, she worked as a “computer,” performing advanced calculations to support airplane engineers. Katherine stood out from the other women at the facility because of her knack for asking intelligent questions, and soon, she was invited to join a team working to send the first American astronaut into space. When Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon, his Apollo 11 ship followed a flight path designed and approved by Katherine. 

THOUGHTS: This age-appropriate book will be a perfect fit for elementary STEM units, particularly ones focusing on female pioneers in the fields of math and science. Beautiful ink and watercolor illustrations have complex mathematical equations in the backgrounds, symbolizing how numbers were always on Katherine’s mind. Backmatter features primary source materials, including Katherine’s notes and calculations for the Apollo landing as well as a timeline of Katherine’s life. 

510 Mathematics          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

Saeed, Aisha. Bilal Cooks Daal. Salaam Reads, 2019. 978-1-534-41810-3. 32 p. $17.99. Grades K-3.

When six-year-old Bilal’s father, Abu, calls him in from playing to help with dinner preparations, Bilal’s friends question what kind of meal must be prepared so early in the day. Bilal explains that his father is cooking daal. He describes the nutty, creamy Pakistani dish to them and invites his friends over to assist with preparations. Together, the children measure and combine the ingredients, and Abu heats everything in a large pot. While it simmers, the children return to their play. As they run, swim, hike, and skip pebbles, they wonder if the food is ready yet, but Bilal reminds his friends that the daal takes time to cook. When Abu finally calls everyone in for supper, Bilal is worried that his friends won’t like the daal. He watches his friends’ reactions carefully, but they all agree: the daal is delicious! An Author’s Note at the end of the book describes different kinds of daal and the way it is traditionally eaten as well as a recipe for cooking the daal referenced in the story. 

THOUGHTS: This story is a celebration of food, friendship, and culture, and the process of cooking the daal reminds readers that good things take time. Readers from multicultural families will relate to Bilal’s anxiety about his friends trying a traditional dish from his family’s homeland, and the story may prompt discussions about other favorite cultural foods. Lively digital illustrations depict a diverse group of children who are eager to learn about their friend’s heritage. 

Picture Book          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

Elem. – The Adventures of Riley; Kitten Construction Company; Carl and the Meaning of Life; The Donkey Egg; Ninita’s Big World; The Hideout; The Lost Book; How Is Maple Syrup Made; Trains; Born to Ride; O Captain, My Captain; Thomas Jefferson and the Mammoth Hunt; ResQ and the Baby Orangutan

First, Devra, and Ryan Huddle, Illustrator. The Adventures of Riley, the Museum Dog. Muddy Boots, 2019. 978-1-630-76360-2. 37 p. $16.95. Grades K-2.

Riley is a working dog whose job is sniffing out pests (namely insects and mice) at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. He meets Wiley, a tiny moth with a big appetite for ancient treasures and priceless paintings. Riley pursues Wiley throughout the museum, passing many influential works of art along the way. When Riley finally catches up with the little moth, he suggests that she live outside in the Japanese garden. That way, they can play together outdoors on nice days and admire the art inside the museum on rainy days … and a beautiful friendship is formed!

THOUGHTS: This charming picture book doubles as a kid-friendly virtual tour of the MFA, and best of all Riley is real (and even cuter than his illustrated alter ego)! It connects to further exploration of museums, art, service dogs, and the art of compromise. Check out the guide to Artwork at the end of the book to learn more about the specific works featured in The Adventures of Riley, and read up on Riley’s story at https://www.mfa.org/about/riley-the-museum-dog

Picture Book          Amy V. Pickett, Ridley SD

Green, John Patrick. Kitten Construction Company: A Bridge Too Fur. First Second, 2019. 978-1-626-72831-8. 70 p. $17.99. Grades 1-4.

Marmalade and her team, House Kittens Construction, have just completed Mewburg Stadium and are looking for their next project. Designing a new bridge to replace Mewburg’s old one is outside Marmalade’s comfort zone as an architect, but that makes it an exciting new challenge! The mayor greenlights the project, and Marmalade is ready to begin catstruction when she remembers … all that water. Falling behind schedule, she must contemplate the unthinkable: hiring Carl Barks and his Demo Doggos (who conveniently love water)! Can Marmalade swallow her pride, save her company, and prevent a construction catastrophe? The House Kittens and the Demo Doggos will have to work paw-in-paw to finish the Mewburg Bridge successfully!

THOUGHTS: With plenty of puns referencing Marmalade’s fear of water, keeping the project “afloat,” and dogs staying on the ball, A Bridge Too Fur rewards both read-alouds and re-readings. The first book in the series tipped its hat to equality in the workplace, and this installment promotes cooperation, teamwork, and giving others a fair shake. A final page on how to draw Marmalade and her hardhat provides a perfect extension activity. Another ultra-cute addition to elementary graphic novel shelves!

Graphic Novel          Amy V. Pickett, Ridley SD

Freedman, Deborah. Carl and the Meaning of Life. Viking, 2019. 978-0-451-47498-8. 44 p. $17.99. Grades K-3. 

Carl is an earthworm who spends all his time underground burrowing and tunneling and turning dirt into soft soil. He is content to do his work until one day when a field mouse asks him why he does what he does. Carl does not know how to reply, so he stops his work and begins seeking an answer. He talks with a rabbit, a fox, a squirrel, and many other woodland animals, but they each only know what their own purpose is – they cannot say why he does what he does. As Carl grows increasingly frustrated and continues seeking an answer, the earth around him changes. The soil is no longer fluffy, and nothing can thrive in the hard, packed earth. Animals move away, and soon Carl is alone. Only when a ground beetle complains that he cannot find any grubs does Carl realize his true purpose. He returns to munching, digesting, and tunneling through the dirt, and the soil turns rich once more. Plants grow, animals return, and the woodlands become a vibrant habitat once again, all thanks to Carl. Loose, full-page pencil and watercolor illustrations capture the delicate balance between all living things, and readers will enjoy scanning the pages, trying to see how many forest creatures they can find. An author’s note at the end of the story reminds readers that every animal has its place in the world, and everything in our ecosystem is connected. 

THOUGHTS: This title will prompt discussions about how every person, plant, and animal on the planet is connected, and all living things rely on one another for survival. It also celebrates the idea that even the smallest creatures have important roles to play. This will shine during an Earth Day storytime, and it will also fit well with units about soil or invertebrates. 

Picture Book          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

Stevens, Janet, and Susan Stevens Crummel. The Donkey Egg. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019. 978-0-547-32767-9. 32 p. $17.99. Grades K-3. 

Bear and Hare, first introduced in the Caldecott-winning Tops and Bottoms, are back in this traditional trickster tale. This time, fast-talking Fox is the trickster. He knows how rundown Bear’s farm is and how little motivation Bear has to fix it up, so he sells him a $20 donkey egg, promising once the egg hatches, Bear will have a donkey to help with all the work. Readers will immediately recognize the donkey egg as a watermelon, but Bear is slow on the uptake. He takes his new parenting responsibilities very seriously, working hard to keep the egg warm, safe, and happy. Hare tries to explain to Bear that donkeys do not come from eggs, but Bear is unconvinced and continues sitting on the egg, waiting for it to hatch. Minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months pass before Bear accidentally falls asleep and the egg rolls away, smacking into a tree and revealing its true identity. Instead of feeling taken advantage of, however, Bear and Hare make the best of the situation and hatch a plan to get a real donkey once and for all. Janet Stevens’ mixed media illustrations brim with personality, from Bear’s untied oxfords and checkered blanket to Hare’s vibrant carrot-patterned button-down. Her exaggerated style capitalizes on the silliness of the story, and students will enjoy looking for details, like Hare’s rival Tortoise, in the artwork.  

THOUGHTS: Throughout the text are several “Did You Know?” spotlight boxes that help readers understand how much time is passing as Bear is waiting for his egg to hatch. Facts like “1 hour = 60 minutes = 3,600 seconds” are accompanied by trivia, such as “you blink your eye over 1,000 times in an hour!” These boxes will make a nice connection to STEM storytimes and to math units. Pair this with Tops and Bottoms and the Anansi the Spider stories Janet Stevens illustrated for a well-rounded unit of trickster tales. 

Picture Book          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

Marsh, Sarah Glenn. Ninita’s Big World: The True Story of a Deaf Pygmy Marmoset. Clarion Books, 2019. Unpaged. 978-1-328-77001-1. $17.00. Grades K-3. 

Marsh has written an engaging nonfiction account of a pygmy marmoset who was rescued by the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation after she was abandoned by her parents due to her deafness. The author describes the little monkey’s life before the rescue as lonely and that Ninita, whose name means “little girl” in Spanish, did not know how to take care of herself because of her disability. After being taken in by the organization, the marmoset was given the best of care and enjoyed being brushed by a toothbrush, eating yogurt and whipped cream, and exploring her environment like other curious monkeys. Eventually Ninita is paired with another pygmy marmoset named Mr. Big, who becomes her companion and fellow explorer. Coleman’s digital full bleed illustrations depict the animal’s range of emotions throughout the story. The marmoset’s face is very expressive, as we see the sadness on her face when she was lonely, her delight in being groomed by the toothbrush and her contentment at finding a companion. The back matter includes facts about the marmoset and the Foundation’s work.

THOUGHTS: This narrative will make for a great read aloud, but children will also enjoy reading the story of this adorable monkey on their own. The art alone make this a surefire winner. This work is a worthwhile addition to any elementary collection.

599.84 Tamarins and Marmosets          Denise Medwick, Retired, West Allegheny SD

Mattiangeli, Susanna. The Hideout. Abrams Books for Young Readers. 2019. 978-1-419-73416-8. $16.99. Grades K-3.

Hannah was being called, but she was nowhere to be found. For Hannah, it was too late to turn back now. She could live anywhere, do anything… even wear a raccoon hat if she wanted! So, she decided to make herself a hideout. She had everything she needed, including the Odd Furry Creature. She decided to stay and live with the Odd Furry Creature, and they could take care of each other. They could do whatever they wanted together in the quiet of the hideout. But Hannah wondered, was anyone looking for her? Should she venture back out? Deciding, Hannah held the hand of the Odd Furry Monster, and took a step out…

THOUGHTS: A delightful picture book with a twist of an ending! Students will love imagining what it would be like to have their own secret hideout and what the Odd Furry Monster is and what it looks like.

Picture Book          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

Surnaite, Margarita. The Lost Book. Margaret K. McElderry Books. 2019. 978-1-534-43818-7. $17.99. Grades K-3.

All of the rabbits loved books where Henry lived. Everywhere he went, rabbits seemed to be reading. Henry could not quite figure it out. Why read about an adventure when he could GO on an adventure? Henry thought this until he came across the Lost Book. It wasn’t a rabbit book, so Henry decided to see where it came from. The creatures he found in this new place did not seem to care about the Lost Book. It wasn’t until a little creature helped Henry, that Henry was able to give the Lost Book back, all the while finding a little bit of himself.

THOUGHTS: A cute picture book about the enjoyment of reading and how sometimes you just need to find that missing piece of the puzzle.

Picture Book          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

Hansen, Grace. How Is Maple Syrup Made? Abdo Kids, 2019. 978-1-532-18195-5. $19.95 ea. $119.70 set of 6. Grades K-3.

—. How Is a Firework Made? 978-1-5321-8191-7
—. How Is a Pencil Made? 978-1-5321-8192-4
—. How is Cotton Candy Made? 978-1-5321-8193-1
—. How is Honey Made? 978-1-5321-8194-8
—. How is Root Beer Made? 978-1-5321-8196-2

This easy read explains to young students what maple syrup is and how it is made! This book takes students step by step through the maple syrup making process, including where it comes from, how farmers or collectors obtain the sap, and what the process looks once the sap is collected. Proper terminology is incorporated and explained both in the text and in the glossary. Real photographs provide students with visual images to help explain the text and show the maple syrup making process.

THOUGHTS: Students will be engaged and informed as to how maple syrup is made. A great addition for students who may not have maple trees around or any location in which maple syrup is made.

664 Food          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

Meister, Cari. Trains. Pebble. 2019. 978-1-977-10685-8. $20.99 ea. $125.94 set of 6. Grades PreK-2.

—. Airplanes. 978-1-977-10249-2
—. Boats and Ships. 978-1-977-10250-8
—. Buses. 978-1-977-10681-0
—. Cars. 978-1-977-10248-5
—. Trucks. 978-1-977-10247-8

This easy read for young students shows a variety of trains and their components. With large photographs and easy to see and read text, Trains provides a visual that is informative and up to date with the most recent trains around the world. Readers will be able to see components of the trains through large labels and arrows pointing at different parts of the train. From fast moving trains to monorails at amusement parks, this is a great book for young train lovers.

THOUGHTS: A great, easy read book about trains for young readers who just can’t get enough!

385 Trains          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

Theule, Larissa.  Born to Ride: A Story about Bicycle Face. Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2019. Unpaged.  978-1-419-73412-0. Grades 2-5. $17.99.

Louisa Belinda Bellflower is a young girl who wants to learn how to ride a bicycle. However, this is the 1890s, and women and girls are not supposed to ride bicycles for fear that they would develop “bicycle face,” a condition that leads to bulging eyes and “scrunched up faces” according to popular belief. Louisa is determined to ride, so she puts on her brother’s short pants and keeps trying until she is successful. When her mother learns of Louisa’s adventure, she sews herself a pair of pants and rides her husband’s bicycle with her daughter. This story of the late 19th century bicycle craze is juxtaposed on another important story from that era- the women’s suffragist movement. This book discusses this effort not so much through the text, but through Garrity-Riley’s illustrations. In the scenes where Louisa is practicing riding, the reader sees a suffragette meeting at her home, where a diverse group of people, including a man, are busy making signs about the right to vote. Later the illustrator includes a picture of the town where women are holding these signs. To show the effect of change, the illustrator has a drawing of only boys and men riding bicycles at the beginning of the story, while this same illustration at the end shows women and girls on bikes, while a voting meeting is taking place at the gazebo. The back matter includes information on bicycles and women’s suffrage. In this work of historical fiction, the author deftly shows that the bicycle craze forged a path toward the right for vote for women.

THOUGHTS: This is an interesting take on a women’s rights issue and is a great choice to read during Women’s History Month or in a social studies unit discussing these topics.

Easy Fiction, Historical         Denise Medwick, Retired, West Allegheny SD

Burleigh, Robert, and Sterling Hundley. O Captain, My Captain: Walt Whitman, Abraham Lincoln, and the Civil War. Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2019. 978-1-419-73358-1. 64 pages. $19.99. Grades 3-6.

The famous historical poem “O Captain, My Captain” is Walt Whitman’s tragic ode to the fallen President Lincoln at the end of the Civil War. However, the focus of this book by Robert Burleigh appropriately reflects on the events and time that drew Whitman to liken Lincoln to a ship captain. Looking much like an old sea captain himself, Walt served during the bloody war as a nurse, compatriot, and witness. Providing relief to the wounded and hope to the troops brought a new perspective to Whitman’s writing. Burleigh uses short observations mixed with direct quotes to narrate; meanwhile, Sterling Hundley provides enhanced full page watercolors to set the mood and reality of the wartime era. With valuable endpages about each man (who never actually met!) and the full famous poem, “O Captain, My Captain” is fearful trip that many young history buffs may never forget.

THOUGHTS: Though this doesn’t count as a biography or a poetry book, it would hopefully lead readers to explore both for more about Whitman and Lincoln’s fascinating lives. The text was also honest in the fact that neither man was perfect and held beliefs of the time toward slavery and equality, while also pushing these ideals forward. In some small group settings, this would make for an excellent conversation starter or opinion writing piece.

973 American History          Dustin Brackbill    State College Area SD

Clickard, Carrie, and Nancy Carpenter. Thomas Jefferson and the Mammoth Hunt: The True Story of the Quest for American’s Biggest Bones. Simon & Shuster Books for Young Readers, 2019. 978-1-481-44268-8. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades 2-5.

Most folks know that Thomas Jefferson was a man of many skills and talents and a patriot who was passionate about this new country of America. But his ardor went much deeper, including scientific pursuits using fossils to demonstrate the valuable resources and animals which existed in the New World and were waiting to be discovered. What follows is part inquiry, expedition, problem solving, and grandstanding as Jefferson and the French scientist banter across the Atlantic. Clickard’s poetic form paired with Carpenter’s lively illustrations provides entertainment and drives the debate with humor and passion. The author’s notes and primary sources pages help flesh out the full story, and interested readers might be on the hunt for other unusual presidential stories.

Thanks – I forgot to go back in to add that. Here is the extra thoughts part:

THOUGHTS: The Who’s Who list at the end would make a good starting point for further connections to the era. I recommend reading George Washington’s Teeth by Deborah Chandra and Ben Franklin’s Big Splash by Barb Rosenstock (both are past PA Young Reader’s Choice nominees) as connected read alouds. Discuss the phrase “necessity is the mother of all invention (or discovery!)” as part of the mini-unit!

973 American History          Dustin Brackbill    State College Area SD

Pell, Eva. ResQ and the Baby Orangutan. Tumblehome Books, 2019. 978-1-943-43148-9. 142 pages. $13.95. Grades 3-6.

When lives of baby orangutans are at stake, turn to the ResQ for help! ResQ is an endangered animal rescue organization, lead by a passionate scientist named Ariella and assisted by her talented grandchildren Weaton and Stowe. The current mission involves heading to Borneo in search of captured orangutan babies before poachers harm or sell them. There is plenty of danger to navigate for Weaton, an inventor of amazing futuristic tech devices, and Stowe, a naturalist and athlete. As they journey, we read excerpts of Stowe’s log to learn the natural and cultural history of the area and grapple with the environmental consequences for deforestation versus conservation. With each new wrinkle and danger, the cousins need all of their skills to get out alive and complete the mission! This new series by Eva Pell will encourage inquiry and open imagination as science and technology mesh with mystery and adventure, saving one animal at a time!

THOUGHTS: This new series is from a local author with high qualifications. Eva Pell is a Retired Undersecretary for Science at the Smithsonian Institution as well as Emeritus Sr. Vice President and Dean of the Graduate School, Penn State University. I am excited to have her into my school to work with students and families on this book! There are STEAM connections throughout the book, and ample writing and discussion opportunities that could enhance the story experience.

Adventure Fiction          Dustin Brackbill    State College Area SD

Elementary Picture Books – Frogs; Cat; Freckleface Strawberry


Bishop,Nic.Frogs. New York: Scholastic, 2015. 978-0-5456-0570-0. 31p. $8.99. Gr.K-2.

This is the latest from award winning photographer and biologist Nic Bishop.He introduces facts about frog habitats, bodies, and life cycles. He includes a picture index and glossary. THOUGHTS: The pictures do reinforce the text and assist all beginning readers, especially the visual learner.

Frogs    Caroline Romano, Wallenpaupack Area



Underwood, Deborah. Here Comes Valentine Cat. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2016. 978-0-525-42915-9. Unpaged. $16.99. Gr. K-3.

Deborah Underwood’s delightfully spunky Cat is dreading “mushy” Valentine’s Day. The narrator suggests that Cat send a Valentine to a friend, but he can’t think of anyone…until the new dog next door howls a hello over the fence. Cat is unsure about making friends with a dog, but he’s especially confused when bones and balls start flying over the fence and hit Cat on the head. He considers sending an angry Valentine until he gets one from Dog. It turns out that Dog is trying to be friends by sending gifts over the fence, so Cat decides to befriend the adorable Dachshund next door. As always, the narrator communicates with Cat through a series of exchanges in which the narrator talks and Cat answers with comedic signs and facial expressions. THOUGHTS: Kids will enjoy reading about Cat any day of the year, not just Valentine’s Day.

Underwood’s newest Cat offering is just as enjoyable as the first three (Here Comes Santa Cat, Here Comes the Easter Cat, Here Comes Tooth Fairy Cat). Claudia Rueda’s illustrations contain a lot of white space that allows readers to focus on Cat and his funny faces and ideas. Search the blog to read a review of Here Comes Tooth Fairy Cat.

Picture Book; Easy Fiction      Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools




Moore, Julianne. Lunch, or WHAT’S THAT? New York: Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2015. 978-0-385-39192-4. 32 p. $12.99. Gr. K-3.

Freckleface Strawberry and her friend Windy Pants Patrick love to eat, but they do not love to eat cafeteria food. One day, Freckleface Strawberry and Windy Pants Patrick get into the lunch line, and she gets some green noodles for lunch. “What’s that?” her friends ask. “I don’t know!” she responds, but bravely tries some and realizes that she likes it. THOUGHTS: Simple sentences with lots of repetition will help early readers enjoy reading about darling Freckleface Strawberry and friends.

This story is one of several written by actress Julianne Moore about Freckleface Strawberry. These easy readers feature bright illustrations by LeUyen Pham that highlight the main character’s beautiful red hair and freckles. These stories are popular with both boys and girls as Windy Pants Patrick features prominently in the stories, as well.

Easy Fiction; Picture Book      Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools

New Picture Books – How to Grow a Friend; Over in the Wetlands


Gillingham, Sara. How to Grow a Friend. New York: Random House, 2015. 978-0-385-37669-3. 32 p. $16.99. Gr. PreK-2.

A simple, sweet story that compares growing a plant with building a friendship. Friendships, along with plants, need “water…warm sunshine…and space to bloom.” Some steps are difficult, like when “…a friend bugs you…To grow a friend, chase the bugs away together!” The story reminds readers that new friends can appear at unexpected times “…and there is always room for one more.” Young readers will enjoy Gillingham’s illustrations which are colorful and full of patterns that create visual interest. THOUGHTS: A solid choice for preschool and early elementary readers on a universal topic.

Easy Fiction; Picture Book           Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools




Rose, Caroline Starr. Over in the Wetlands: A Hurricane-on-the-Bayou Story. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2015. 978-0-449-81016-3. 34 p. $17.00. Gr. K-3.

The animals who call the Louisiana wetlands home are preparing for a hurricane. “Gentle as a whisper too soft to hear, a faint breeze hints that a storm draws near.” An alligator mother carries her babies to safety in their den and bird fish for a last meal before the storm. Rose’s lovely rhyming text builds the storm from beginning to peak to end and showcases how wetlands animals survive the storm. Fish and turtles find deeper water, egrets hide in cattails, and the storm rages. Finally, “…winds ease to gentle breaths. The hurricane yawns, the hurricane rests.” Storm’s end finds the wetlands landscape changed with downed live oaks, and the animals slowly resume normal life. Endpapers include an author’s note on the wetlands environment and notes on the animals featured in the story. THOUGHTS: This story portrays a major event from a unique perspective and will have students asking questions.

Rose’s rhyming text works extremely well for this story. She does not follow the same rhyme scheme or pattern from page to page so the rhyming doesn’t feel childlike or primary in nature. Rob Dunlavey’s mixed media illustrations feel are and earthy, perfect for a story about animals on the bayou. This is a great choice for schools (even in Pennsylvania, far off from the bayou).

Easy Fiction; Picture Book            Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools


Animals All Around…Owl Diaries; Geronimo Stilton; The Bear Ate Your Sandwich; The Bus Ride


Elliott, Rebecca.  Owl Diaries:  Eva’s Treetop Festival.  New York:  Scholastic, 2015.  978-0-545-68362-3.  $4.99.  Gr. 1-3.

Eva Wingdale is an owl who loves drawing, going to school, and her new diary.  On the first day of spring, the owlet offers to organize the first ever Treetop Owlementary Bloomtastic Festival.  With the event only seven days away, Eva’s not sure she can get everything done in time, so she asks for help from her fellow classmates.  Eva’s Treetop Festival, as well as the other books in this series, is written in diary format with speech bubbles.  Each chapter includes lively and bright colored illustrations.  THOUGHTS:  This is a great choice for those readers who are too old for picture books, but too young for a more advanced chapter book.

Fantasy (Easy Chapter Book)      Anastasia Hanneken, School Lane Charter School




Stilton, Geronimo.  Back in Time:  The Second Journey Through Time.  New York:  Scholastic, 2015.  978-0-545-74618-2.  $14.99. Gr. 3-6.

In this installment of the Geronimo Stilton series, everyone’s favorite mouse is offered a chance to travel back in time with Professor Paws von Volt in his time machine.  Geronimo travels through time and visits Ancient Rome, the great Mayan Empire, and the Palace of Versailles.  Geronimo Stilton is one of the most requested series in my library, and it’s easy to see why.  This book is filled with bright and vibrant illustrations, a great storyline, and additional information to expand on the various nonfiction topics.  THOUGHTS: Geronimo Stilton is an especially  good choice for those reluctant readers and students who enjoy graphic novels.  This book is recommended for any children’s or elementary school library.

Fantasy; Historical Fiction           Anastasia Hanneken, School Lane Charter School




DuBuc, Marianne. The Bus Ride. Tonowanda, NY: Kids Can Press, 2015 (English translation). unpaged. $15.95. Gr Pre-K – 1.

A trip through the woods to Grandmother’s house never looked so fun, especially when the granddaughter travels on an animal filled bus. Full of clever characters who come and go from the interior view of the bus, the girl’s trip is quick and entertaining. For a simple example, watch how the sloth or the fox interact with others. The sparse first person text makes it easy for readers to participate, but there are subtle gaps in the story between the pages which invite speculation and prediction and closer rereading. The Bus Ride is a charming trip in many ways. THOUGHTS: There really are a lot of ELA terms that classrooms could seek from this book. There are behavior lessons as well, such as sharing and not stealing, but apparently talking to animal strangers is accepted! Readers who check in her basket are left wondering if this girl has a familiar fairy tale reference, which makes the story even more delightful!

Easy Fiction/Picture Book   Dustin Brackbill, Mount Nittany Elementary




Sarcone-Roach, Julia. The Bear Ate Your Sandwich. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 2015. 34 unnumbered pages. $16.99. Grades K-3.

The title of this colorful picture book implies a simple open and shut case, but there is a creative story between the pages. The unreliable narrator describes the cheerful misadventure of a bear who wanders beyond his forest and ends up downtown. He is mostly unnoticed until he stumbles upon a tasty sandwich, gets caught, and escapes back home. Except the witnesses may know more, even if they aren’t telling. The acrylic illustrations and sparse text make this a sneaky success for young readers.  THOUGHTS: This book would be great as an intro to a writing prompt or a good suggestion for readers who love Jon Klassen books. The use of an “unreliable narrator” is a growing trend in YA and adult lit, but there is delight in letting young readers play with the story this way.

Easy Fiction/Picture Book   Dustin Brackbill, Mount Nittany Elementary

New Holiday Picture Books


Buehner, Caralyn. Merry Christmas Mr. Mouse. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015. 978-0-8037-4010-5. Unpaged. $17.99. Gr. K-3.

Mr. Mouse and his family are new to their apartment under the kitchen stove when Christmas time arrives. The people in their home string lights on an evergreen tree, gather with friends and family, and celebrate His birth many years ago. Mr. Mouse and his wife like the idea that “…Christmas means joy, and love,” and decide to celebrate Christmas with their seventeen children. They borrow bits of this and that to make their own tree and gifts, and Mr. Mouse shares the story of the first Christmas night. They also get a surprise visit from Santa! The whole family is filled with love and cheer on their first Christmas in nook number twenty-four. THOUGHTS: This story nicely incorporates the origins of Christmas, a visit from Santa, and the joy of the season in one small package.

Easy Fiction/Picture Book     Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools

Carolyn and Mark Buehner, creators of Snowmen at Night and Snowmen at Christmas, created another festive winner with Mr. Mouse and his family. The story is an enjoyable combination of holiday elements as seen through the eyes of tiny creatures unaware of the Christmas season. Mark Buehner’s illustrations are the best part of the book. The back flap shows photographs of models that he created for Mr. Mouse’s nook. Illustrations show a fireplace made of a chili powder can with a tiny candle for a flame and pretty matchbooks hung as art on the walls. The dust jacket also has pictures of objects hidden in the illustrations. Children will delight in looking at all the details while searching for the hidden pictures.



Cocca-Leffler, Maryann. A Homemade Together Christmas. New York: Albert Whitman & Co, 2015. 978-0-8075-3366-6. 32 p. $16.99. Gr. K-3.

Luca has a problem. His family decided to have a homemade Christmas, but he can’t decide on a homemade gift for his family. Mom, Dad, and sister Rosie are all hard at work on their gifts, but Luca’s many attempts all seem to fall short. On Christmas Eve, Mom gently reminds him that “…the best part of Christmas is spending time together.” Luca suddenly has a homemade gift idea for his family that will bring joy for an entire year, starting on Christmas Day. THOUGHTS: This family of pigs will bring joy to many families around the holidays in this simple but sweet story.

Easy Fiction/Picture Book  Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools

This is my favorite new Christmas book in 2015. Maryann Cocca-Leffler’s colorful illustrations pop on white backgrounds and Luca and his family are a refreshing throwback to simpler, old-fashioned holidays. This story might inspire your children and students to think of their own homemade gifts.


Easy Fiction – Here Comes the Tooth Fairy Cat; Marilyn’s Monster


Underwood, Deborah. Here Comes the Tooth Fairy Cat. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015. 978-0-525-42774-2. Unpaged. $16.99. Gr. K-3.

Deborah Underwood’s delightfully spunky Cat is back and missing a tooth. In true Cat fashion, he tries to use some creative thinking and trick the Tooth Fairy into leaving him more money. The Tooth Fairy is too smart for Cat, though, and instead convinces Cat to help with a few deliveries…and to work with a partner. Cat and partner work together successfully, and Cat gets a major surprise when he finds out that his partner is the Tooth Fairy in disguise! As always, the narrator communicates with Cat through a series of exchanges in which the narrator talks and Cat answers with comedic signs and facial expressions.  THOUGHTS:  My students love these books (Here Comes Santa Cat, Here Comes the Easter Cat), and they are constantly checked out. Chaudia Rueda’s illustrations pair perfectly with Underwood’s text to make giggle-worthy stories that are loved year round. This would be a great gift for a child who just lost their first tooth.

Easy Fiction        Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementaries




Knudsen, Michelle. Marilyn’s Monster. Somerville: Candlewick Press, 2015. 978-0-7636-6011-6. 36p. $15.99. Gr. K-3.

Why doesn’t Marilyn have a monster? Most of the kids in class have monsters, and Marilyn wants a monster, too. But you have to wait until your monster finds you, and Marilyn’s just doesn’t seem to have her address. She tries “to be the kind of girl no monster could resist”, but it still doesn’t happen. Marilyn goes from hopeful to frustrated and grumpy. Finally, she decides to seek out her own monster. She packs some peanut butter and banana sandwiches and gets going. After searching high and low, Marilyn finds her monster stuck in a tree. He tells her that he was lost and got scared. Good thing Marilyn went looking! She and her monster share her sandwiches and fly home, already the best of friends.

This book reminds me of The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santaat. When Marilyn’s monster doesn’t appear, she takes charge and finds him herself. The story speaks of going after what you want even when people tell you otherwise. Marilyn’s emotional range is believable and delightfully illustrated by Matt Phelan. Phelan’s monsters are colorful, quirky, and often pair nicely with their child friends. Meet Marilyn and her monster—you won’t be disappointed.

Easy Fiction          Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementaries