Elem. – Two Dogs

Falconer, Ian. Two Dogs. Michael DiCapua Books, 2022. 978-0-062-95447-3. Unpaged. $18.99. Grades PreK-1.

Ian Falconer of Olivia fame returns with another silly bit of fun, this time featuring dogs not pigs. Percy and Augie are two dachshunds who have been with their family since puppyhood. The family played with them a lot as puppies, but once the children were old enough to go to school and the parents went to work, the pair found themselves alone and bored. Of course, they would follow the usual indoor routines of most dogs, like chasing each other, playing with a ball and barking at squirrels. Even some unusual behaviors are not enough to amuse them, and the pooches decide they have to go outside. After figuring out how to open the lock, the dachshunds proceed to have a grand old time in the yard. They swim in the pool, play on the swings, roll in some unpleasant raccoon droppings and “water” the flowers. Then they spot a tiny hole in the lawn and cannot resist enlarging it. Suddenly the pair hear the approach of the family car, and Augie and Percy “hightail” it back inside. Will the canine duo come up with a clever way to avoid being blamed for the giant hole? Falconer has created humorous artwork that shows the animals with all their doggy characteristics, but with a slight human touch, as he did with Olivia.

THOUGHTS: This laugh out loud picture book is sure to be a hit with young readers who will ask for it to be read again and again. Highly recommended for all elementary collections.

Picture Book           Denise Medwick, Retired, PSLA Member

Elem. – Animal Jokes

King, Joe. Animal Jokes. Abdo Books. 2022. 978-1-098-20916-2. $20.95. Grades PreK-1.

What is black and white, and looks like a penguin? Well, a penguin of course! This hilarious joke book is full of animal jokes young children will love! These age-appropriate, polite, yet hilarious jokes are sure to make you smile and laugh! Complete with beautiful animal photographs, bold colors, cute clipart, and simple ‘texting language,’ this book is sure to make you lol!

THOUGHTS: A refreshing simple joke book for kids! The photographs are gorgeous, and the jokes are sure to make you giggle!

818.602 Humor          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

Elem./MG – Oh, Sal

Henkes, Kevin. Oh, Sal. Greenwillow Books, 2022. 978-0-063-24492-4. $16.99. 144 p. Grades 3-6.

Kevin Henkes fans will remember the character of Sal, the little sister in  The Year of Billy Miller and Billy Miller Makes a Wish. Sal can be a  pesky little sister, but she is sweet and funny. She has a big imagination and a penchant for collecting items that are precious to her. In this lovely story about the Miller family, a new baby has arrived on Christmas. Sal is four and is very much feeling abandoned by her parents as they fuss over the infant. A holiday visit from Papa’s brother, Uncle Jake, leaves Sal angry and confused. She doesn’t like that Uncle Jake calls her “Salamander” and the new baby is boring and cries all the time. Sal’s parents have been so busy they haven’t even picked a name for the new baby. As if all of this wasn’t enough to handle, Sal’s favorite new pair of underwear, (from a set adorned with a different flower on each pair) goes missing. It was a gift from Santa and cannot be replaced, yet the grown ups are all too busy to help Sal find them. This amusing story takes place over the course of twenty-four hours and is full of big four-year-old emotions, family situations, and gentle humor.

THOUGHTS: This delightful book is absolutely pitch-perfect. The Miller Family Stories are filled with honest familial circumstances that young children relate to, but are never condescending or preachy. This book can stand on its own, but is a wonderful glimpse into the beloved Miller family from a new perspective. This book is scheduled to be released on September 27, 2022.

Realistic Fiction          Anne McKernan, Council Rock SD

Elem. – Sir Ladybug

Tabor, Corey R. Sir Ladybug. Balzer + Bray, 2022. 978-0-063-06906-0. $12.99.  68 p. Grades PK-3.

This epic insect tale is constructed as an early-reader graphic novel. In four chapters, an introduction, two interludes, and an epilogue, readers will be delighted with the antics of Sir Ladybug, his Herald, Pell (an anxious pill bug), and his Trusty Squire, Sterling (a gamer snail with a penchant for cake). The three friends are on an epic quest to save a yellow caterpillar from the dreaded monster, Chickadee. Though initially tempted to hide in Sterling’s shell to avoid being eaten, the friends devise an amusing plan to befriend their nemesis. Delightful and bright comic illustrations highlight the action, which is packed with non-stop humor.

THOUGHTS: At first glance this early-reader graphic novel is pure fun. Silliness abounds in both the text and illustrations. New readers and graphic novel enthusiasts will be completely amused. Dig a little deeper, and it is clear the book is also cleverly teaching literary vocabulary and structure. A fabulous read aloud or independent reading selection.

Early Reader          Anne McKernan, Council Rock SD
Graphic Novel

Elem. – Pugs Cause Traffic Jams

McGrath, Jennifer. Pugs Cause Traffic Jams. Kids Can Press, 2022. 978-1-5253-0340-1. Unpaged. $18.99. Grades K-2

Pugs Cause Traffic Jams is a funny picture book that shows how pugs are not the same as other dogs, as they can cause traffic jams! When the book starts and our main character is looking for her pug Kirby, we are getting a look into all the chaos that Kirby is causing while she is hunting for him. The conversations the main character is having with the other characters in the book are set in a different font, so the reader will easily be able to tell. The illustrations are enjoyable and add to the overall charm of the book.

THOUGHTS: This is a cute book and would make a wonderful addition to any elementary school collection.

Picture Book          Mary McEndree, Lehigh Valley Regional Charter Academy

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

YA – Kind of Sort of Fine

Hall, Spencer. Kind of Sort of Fine. Atheneum, 2021. 978-1-534-48298-2. 276  p. $18.99. Grades 9-12.

Senior Hayley Mills is a straight-A student in her advanced classes and a star athlete on the tennis team. Or at least she was. Last year she had a mental breakdown in front of her high school and, thanks to some onlookers, it became a viral video. Now, at the start of what is supposed to be the best year of her life, Hayley’s parents and teachers want her to make some changes to ensure the breakdown doesn’t happen again. As a result, she ends up in a TV Production class instead of one of her advanced placement courses. In TV Production, she meets Lewis Holbrook. A long-time member of the TV Production crew, Lewis is looking to be his best self in 12th grade. This means getting in better shape and finally drumming up the courage to ask out his crush. When Hayley and Lewis are paired up in class, they decide to make documentaries about the little known talents of their fellow classmates. Together, the two of them get to know their classmates’ identities more deeply than ever. What they didn’t expect, however, was to discover new things about themselves along the way.

THOUGHTS: Hall’s first novel is a humorous, coming-of-age story in which high school students (and those who have experienced high school) can relate. Told in alternating chapters between Hayley and Lewis, each point of view brings senior year anxiety into sharp focus but in different ways. This book would be a solid choice for high school libraries.

Realistic Fiction          Danielle Corrao, Manheim Central 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

MG – Muddle School

Whamond, Dave. Muddle School. Kids Can Press, 2021. 978-1-525-30486-6. $15.99. 144 p. Grades 5-8.

This semi-autobiographical graphic novel follows Dave, a self-proclaimed nerd, through an eventful year of his “Muddle School” journey. Dave’s school experiences swing from the lowest lows, including getting pushed into mud by bullies on the first day of school, to the highest highs, as he kisses his crush at the end-of-the-year dance. He and his lab partner Chad even design a time machine for the science fair, which Daniel tries to use to go back and redo his disastrous first few months of typical middle school blunders. Throughout the book, Dave learns that being authentic, standing up for others and taking risks are the best ways to survive Muddle School.

THOUGHTS: The illustrations, jokes and silly situations that appear in this book are a wonderful glimpse into the mind of a middle school boy. Dave shows true fondness for his family, hates bullies but feels helpless against them, and uses his love of drawing to help himself process his feelings; everything feels authentic, if a little sanitized, to the school experiences of teen and tween-agers today. In the brief back-matter pages, it is delightful to find out that many of the things the author includes in the story actually happened! Many middle school students will be able to relate to this book and find humor and comfort in the life of another awkward boy just trying to make his way through Muddle School.

Graphic Novel          Erin Faulkner, Cumberland Valley SD

Elem. – Return of the Underwear Dragon

Rothman, Scott. Return of the Underwear Dragon. Random House Studio, 2021. 978-0-593-11992-1. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K-2.

In this sequel to Attack of the Underwear Dragon (2020), Sir Cole has determined that the Underwear Dragon only tried to destroy the kingdom because he was unable to read the signs instructing him not to. Therefore, Sir Cole makes it his mission to teach the Underwear Dragon how to read. It is a difficult process, and both parties get so frustrated they want to give up. However, that’s when Claire comes along with her fire extinguisher, which she uses to put out the dragon’s flames of frustration. Sir Cole selects another book that the Underwear Dragon finds more interesting, and together, the trio continues to work towards its goal. Portraying the value of both literacy and perseverance, this humorous book definitely will resonate with young kids who are just learning to read.

THOUGHTS: Although this was not necessarily my favorite book this year, I did appreciate the humor and subtle messages portrayed by the story. Give this book to fans of Attack of the Underwear Dragon (2020) and/or students just learning to read. 

Picture Book          Julie Ritter, PSLA Member