Picture Books – The Road Home; Smoot; T. Veg; Windows

Cotton, Katie.   The Road Home.  Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2017. 9781419723742. Unpaged. $15.95. Gr. K-2.

In this poetic and comforting tale, animals prepare for winter.  Each pair of animals has a goal in mind. The mouse builds a nest underground, and the bird and her chick fly off to a warmer climate.   On their journey, the rabbit and her kit find themselves in an alarming situation. They are being pursued by a wolf and cub who feel hunger or that “burning thing that settles like a stone.”  The author describes the rabbits’ fear as they try to outrun their predator. The reader is reassured to see that the pair have escaped the hungry wolves and have found safety in their leafy home as night falls. As spring arrives, all the animals return to the meadow, having survived the harsh winter. The illustrator Sarah Jacoby has chosen watercolors in a soft and muted color palette, which helps set the mood of the story.  Her engaging drawings take us through the seasons, as the tale begins in late summer and ends in spring. Most of the illustrations are full bleed and are done over a two-page spread. In the drawing of the fall leaves being blown about, one can almost feel and hear the wind. The winter landscape looks bleak and cold, with a blanket of snow topped by thorny bushes. The message here is that whenever parent and child are together, that place is home, no matter how difficult the road was to get there.  THOUGHTS: This lyrical story works well in winter-themed storytimes and would make a wonderful bedtime story.  Children will enjoy looking at the sweet drawings of the animals. A worthy selection for elementary collections.

Picture Book            Denise Medwick, West Allegheny SD

 

Cuevas, Michelle and Sydney Smith. Smoot: A Rebellious Shadow. Dial Books. 2017. 978-0-525-42969-2. $17.99. Unpaged. Gr. K-2.

A shadow’s job is typically to obediently follow you around, but “if life is a book, then Smoot the Shadow has been reading the same yawn-colored page for the last seven and a half years.” One day, Smoot has the chance to live out his dreams and wishes when he comes unstuck from his boy. As Smoot continues his journey, other shadows find courage and try their own fantasies. Smoot worries that this could get out of hand, so the rebellious shadow takes matters into his own shadowy hand, all within the curious eye of his boy. Will they find a connection? Sydney Smith’s gentle wwatercolorswith inky shadows make for an interesting contrast, and Michelle Cuevas keeps her text lyrical and well paced. The shadow of Smoot may just encourage more dreaming and action for other children who are stuck in a rut.  THOUGHTS: Smoot would make for a fun twist for science lessons or the old groundhog stories that primary teachers use every year.

Picture Book     Dustin Brackbill, State College Area SD

 

Prasadam-Halls, Smriti. T. Veg. Abrams Books, 2017. 978-1-4197-2494-7.  $16.95. Unpaged. Gr. K-2.

Poor Reginald the T. Rex just doesn’t fit in with his jungle friends. He is great at roaring and stomping, but come dinner time, he opts for carrot cake over steak. He attempts to convince his family and friends to try grapes, greens, avocado pie and smoothies, but they insist that a T. Rex should just eat meat, meat, meat. Eventually, the poor little dino, tired of being teased and tormented, packs his bag and runs away, looking to hang out with like-minded herbivores instead. But that proves to be challenging for a variety of reasons, leaving Reg frustrated and alone. However, his friends and family are missing him, too, and when Reg saves the clan from disaster, they finally appreciate the benefits of eating their fruits and veggies. The story is related in rollicking rhyme, and the palate of the  bold illustrations bring to mind carrots, peas and eggplant. THOUGHTS: A cute book to underscore the freedom to be different, or to encourage healthy eating.   

Picture Book     Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD

 

Denos, Julia. Windows. Candlewick, 2017. 978-0-7636-9035-9. $15.99. Unpaged. PreK – 1.

Evening begins to fall and a young boy heads out into his neighborhood, taking his small dog for a walk. As the pair amble past homes and businesses, the boy notices the variety of activities taking place in the windows, eventually returning home to a familiar, welcoming warmth. The detailed illustrations will invite children to closely examine each page and each window to see what is happening.  THOUGHTS: Beautifully illustrated, this is a lovely book for one-on-one reading.  

Picture Book     Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor School District

Picture Books – William’s Winter Nap; Back to School Bigfoot; Groundhug Day; 100 Things I Love…

Ashman, Linda. William’s Winter Nap. Disney Hyperion, 2017. 978-148472282-4. Unpaged. $17.99. Gr. PreK-2.

On a cold winter night, a boy name William is ready to settle into his warm, cozy bed when he is awakened by a tapping on the window.  It turns out to be a chipmunk who is seeking shelter from the cold, so William makes room in his bed for the chipmunk, and the two settle in. Before long, they are awakened by a porcupine knocking at the door.  The porcupine is also looking for a warm place to spend the night, so William and the chipmunk make room for the porcupine before going back to sleep.  This trend continues until the bed fills up, at which point an extremely large animal shows up at the door.  The group must decide if they can make enough room or if they are going to turn the animal away.  Beautiful illustrations and well-paced rhymes make this an endearing choice for young readers. THOUGHTS: Although this book may not have any obvious curricular connections, it could definitely serve as an introduction to many relevant topics.  For instance, because the last line reads “I’ll see you in the warm spring light,” it could be used to introduce the concept of hibernation.  Also, it would be a great discussion starter for emphasizing the importance of hospitality and generosity towards others.  Lastly, this would be a great title to read aloud and encourage young children to make predictions based on context clues.  Will they let the last animal in?  Why or why not?  If so, how will they make room?  A very delightful and engaging selection that is definitely a solid purchase for most libraries.

Picture Book      Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area SD

 

Berger, Samantha and Martha Brockenbrough. Back to School with Bigfoot. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2017. 9780545859738. Unpaged. $16.99. Gr. PreK-2.

Berger and Brockenbrough have teamed up to create an amusing version of the back-to-school story. Told in first person by Bigfoot himself, the book tells the story of Bigfoot preparing for a new school year. He has a lot of worries, such as whether he can stand still for a class picture or find clothes that fit.  Just when he has made up his mind that he should not go back, he begins thinking about all that he might miss, like a school field trip and his friends.  Bigfoot happily returns and in his haste, he breaks through the front door.  The book design helps make this book a great read aloud, as some words are highlighted in a larger font and beg to be emphasized.  Dave Pressler’s illustrations are over the top funny and the drawing of Bigfoot’s family at the graduation ceremony is priceless. Children will ask for this book to be read again and again.  THOUGHTS:  This work is a great addition to elementary libraries for their back-to-school collections.

Picture Book         Denise Medwick, West Allegheny School District

 

Pace, Anne Marie. Groundhug Day. Disney Book Group, 2017. 9781484753569. $17.99. 32p. Gr. PreK-2.

Moose wants to plan a Valentine’s Day party with his friends. The problem is that one of his friends is Groundhog. Moose, Squirrel, Porcupine, and Rabbit are worried that if Groundhog sees his shadow on Groundhog Day he’ll go back to sleep for six more weeks and miss the big Valentine’s Day party. They all come up with a different idea on how they can stop Groundhog from seeing his shadow and spend all night arguing about it. Because they never get to enact one of their ideas, Groundhog sees his shadow and hurriedly goes back into his house. It turns out Groundhog is afraid of shadows, but with his friends’ help, he sees all the ways shadows can be fun. Unfortunately, he still won’t make it to the big party since it isn’t warm enough for him above ground yet. His friends understand as he goes back home to hibernate for another six weeks – and comes back out just in time for St. Patrick’s Day! But now Bunny is missing! THOUGHTS: This picture book is a nice Groundhog’s Day addition to your library for the illustrations alone, but the story will also be appreciated by young readers. And there’s a clever ending that involves the final picture of Bunny on the last page (he is painting Easter Eggs).

Picture Book      Bridget Fox, Central Bucks SD

 

Schwartz, Amy. 100 Things I Love to Do with You. Abrams Appleseed, 2017. 9781419722882. $16.95. 40p. Gr. PreK-1.

100 Things I Love to Do with You is literally a picture book filled with simple illustrations of one-hundred activities that young readers can do with their parents/guardians or friends.  THOUGHTS: This is a book that contains activities like make mud pies, help the sun rise, hop like bunnies. I can imagine an adult asking the child to act out some of the activities as they go through the book (although they can’t all be acted out). Some pages have only one activity listed with a big illustration and some pages have, two, three, or four activities on each page. The illustrations were average.

Picture Book    Bridget Fox, Central Bucks SD