Elementary NF – A New School Year; Thunder Underground

Derby, Sally. A New School Year: Stories in Six Voices. Charlesbridge, 2017. 9781-58089-730-3. $16.99. 48 p. Gr. K-3.

Six children, in grades K-5, anticipate the first day of school. Each child has unique concerns and fears for the coming school year, from insecurity to dealing with a male teacher (“Teachers at my school aren’t called Mr.”) to worrying about hearing aids and feeling racially isolated. Each child voices their fears, concerns, and experiences in bright, evocative poems. The story is divided into four snapshots: “The Night Before”, “In the Morning”, “At School”, and “After School”. Throughout the day, each child’s anxieties are allayed, resulting in positive experiences across the board. Illustrations by Mike Song add to the book. A diverse set of characters, both students and teachers, add to the impact of the volume.  THOUGHTS:  A perfect read-aloud for the beginning of school, or as an introduction to poetry.

Poetry       Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD


Yolen, Jane. Thunder Underground. Wordsong, 2017. 978-1-59078-936-0. 32pp. $17.95. Gr K-3.

This poetry collection encourages young readers to explore the world beneath their feet. From tunneling insects to speeding subways, there’s a whole hidden world below the ground. The poems broadly feature many different underground activities, such as basement treasure hunting, archaeological digging, and spelunking. Brightly colored spreads also feature burrowing moles, bubbling magma pools, and slowly expanding tree roots. There’s plenty to savor in this title’s rich mixed media illustrations, and the pictures extend many of the poems. Observant readers will enjoy spotting tiny ants, dinosaur bones, and buried treasure, and they will enjoy searching for the tiny mole and rabbit that accompany the main characters on many of their underground adventures.  THOUGHTS: Featuring more than 20 underground-themed poems, this poetry collection will pair well with nonfiction titles spotlighting underground creatures such as worms, prairie dogs, or ants. It can also supplement fiction titles as well, such as Denise Fleming’s Underground.

Poetry      Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

Easy Readers – Princess Cora; Good for Nothing Button

Schlitz, Laura Amy. Princess Cora and the Crocodile. Candlewick Press, 2017. 978-0-7636-4822-0. $16.99. 74 p. Gr. 1-3.

Immediately upon her birth, Princess Cora’s parents, the King and Queen, began educating their daughter to one day assume the crown. Cora is subjected to thrice-daily baths, a tedious exercise regime and hours reading boring books on how to run a kingdom.  Neither her nanny nor her parents will listen to any of Cora’s objections to her daily routine. Even her request for a dog is soundly denied (dogs are dirty and time-consuming). Frustrated and at her wit’s end, Cora writes a letter to her fairy godmother asking for a pet. Due to her lack of specificity, and apparently the godmother’s wicked sense of humor, Cora is shocked to find she has been sent a crocodile. The crocodile smiles and tries to assure Cora he can eat everyone who annoys her. Cora tries to convince the crocodile that she does not wish him to eat her parents; she just wants a day off. So the crocodile dresses as Cora and takes her place, with predictably hilarious results. Beautiful illustrations throughout by Brian Floca add to the charm of the book. THOUGHTS:  A delightful story sure to charm beginning readers, and one no doubt appreciated by any child who feels over-scheduled.   

Easy Reader; Fiction       Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD


Harper, Charise Mericle.  The Good for Nothing Button! Hyperion Books for Children, 2017. 9781484726464. Unpaged. $9.99. Gr. K-2.

In this latest book in the Elephant and Piggie Like Reading! series, we meet three birds who are examining a red button that appears to have no function.  Yellow Bird declares that this button does nothing when pressed, but Blue Bird and Red Bird want to test it out for themselves.  Blue Bird feels a sense of surprise when he presses it, so states that the button does indeed do something.  Yellow Bird does not have the same experience and says that she actually feels sad.  The experimentation continues with Yellow Bird, who begins to feel angry, but the trio comes to realize that the button makes them seem funny.  This is a silly story, but one that will hold the interest of children and make them laugh out loud.  Yellow Bird shares some characteristics of Mo Willems’ Pigeon, such as his tendency to become upset easily.  Elephant and Piggie are seen reading this book on the endpapers and title page. They introduce the story and encourage us to read it as they are doing. Pigeon is harder to find, but appears on the back cover.  Harper’s illustrations of the birds are whimsical and are done in the cartoon style of Willems’ drawings.   Thoughts:  This is a must-have for all elementary collections.  Emerging readers will enjoy the story as they develop their fluency skills.  Librarians will need to decide if they will place these with Willems’ other books or classify them by the author’s name.  The other two books in this series, The Cookie Fiasco and We are Growing!, are by different authors.

Early Chapter        Denise Medwick, West Allegheny SD