Elem. – The Animal Song

Howley, Jonty. The Animal Song. Random House Studio. 2023. 978-0-593-38146-5. $18.99. Grades PreK-3.

A bear, crocodile, and a weasel. What do they have in common? They love music and are in a band together! From spring to fall, these animals play music for their forest friends. When winter hits and their forest friends go to sleep, they don’t have anyone to play for, and they aren’t ready to go to sleep! This musical animal band moves and continues playing through the winter, until finally, everyone is ready to sleep!

THOUGHTS: A fun musical story with a fun rhythm to read. The back of the book contains the lyrics and musical score for The Animal Song, allowing musical readers to play and sing along!

Picture Book

Elem. – Mud!

Bailey, Annie. Mud! Illustrated by Jen Corace. Abrams Appleseed, 2022. 978-1-419-75097-7. 36p. $17.99. Grades PK-2.

Annie Bailey entices young readers to join two siblings as they romp and rhyme their way through a day of outdoor play in… Mud!  Full of imagination and mischief, this book explores mud building, mud cooking, mud fights, and plain mucking about… followed by clean-up time (and maybe a little more mud). Jen Corace’s gouache, pencil, and ink illustrations reflect the book’s spirit of play and adventure, and Annie Bailey’s use of onomatopoeia reflects the muddy world she has created for her characters to explore.

THOUGHTS: This book is pure fun and outdoor exploration… and a welcome reminder that readers can still have fun outdoors even on a soggy spring day (as long as their caretakers tolerate the mess!). Readers will enjoy the word play on the pages with both rhyme and onomatopoeia and the joy the artist portrays adds to the fun. A welcome addition to libraries looking to promote outdoor play or add to their spring collections.  

Picture Book          Hannah J. Thomas, Central Bucks SD

Elem. – Jazz for Lunch!

Dapier, Jarrett. Jazz for Lunch! Atheneum Books for Young Readers. 978-1-534-45408-8. 40 p. $17.99. Grades K-3.

Built on the foundations of jazz music and creative cooking, this rhyming story vividly depicts the power both music and food have to bring people together. A young boy and his aunt set out to have lunch at a jazz club where his aunt is a regular. In the club, the sounds from the kitchen mix with the sounds from the stage, creating a vibrant, animated atmosphere. But, the club is so crowded that the boy and his aunt can’t get close enough to see the performers or place an order. They leave early, stop by a produce stand, and the next day, they cook up their own jazzy lunch at home. Each dish is inspired by jazz greats, including Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole, John Coltrane, and Ella Fitzgerald. End papers feature brief biographies of 20 jazz greats mentioned in the story as well one of their album titles. The lively digital illustrations capture the movement and the emotions the food and the music inspire.

THOUGHTS: Share this title with music teachers who can make curricular connections with the featured jazz musicians and the music vocabulary sprinkled in the text. Music and ELA teachers will also appreciate the use of onomatopoeia as the boy and his aunt cook up their feast. This exuberant book captures the joy of coming together to enjoy great food and great music.

Picture Book          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD