Elem. – Bike & Trike

Verdick, Elizabeth, and Brian Biggs. Bike & Trike. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020. 978-1-534-41517-1. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K-2.

Switching to a “big kid bike” is a rite of passage for children, but what about the emotions that the vehicles go through?? Bike is new and shiny and ready to roll, while still having lots to learn. Trike is trusty and experienced, though a bit beat up and too small. When the two first meet in anthropomorphic fashion, they go through some initial reactions. Then a race challenge brings out further emotions, and eventually a Bike & Trike find mutual respect and come to a satisfying conclusion. Verdick and Biggs have hit on an emotional ride that will have reader’s ready to hop on and enjoy!

THOUGHTS: As a social emotional discussion book, there is plenty to unpack here. However, it is just as useful as an entertaining read for bike lovers. Perhaps my favorite extension would be a writing lesson to imagine what stories the rest of the things in any child’s garage (or basement or closet…) might tell if they could share and grow like Bike & Trike.

Picture Book          Dustin Brackbill    State College Area SD

Elem. – The Weather’s Bet

Young, Ed. The Weather’s Bet. Philomel Books, 2020. 978-0-525-51382-7. Unpaged. $18.99. Grades K-2.

The Wind and the Sun may be a familiar Aesop fable to many adults but a new puzzle for young readers. Ed Young has recreated the fable into The Weather’s Bet with his usual collage and mixed media. We see a young shepherd with a red cap who becomes the unknowing target of a bet between the wind, rain, and sun above. While wind and rain seek to use forceful methods of persuasion, the sun patiently waits for its gentle warmth to win out. Young brings in an environmental note in the forward and introduces several Chinese pictograms to symbolize the competing weather. It’s a good bet that children will appreciate and discuss this fabled work with fresh voice and vision.

THOUGHTS: The story length is ideal for a short storytime, and can easily be compared with other fables and versions of the story. The moral is not overt, so a discussion with classes would be recommended. Recommended for K-2.

398 Folklore          Dustin Brackbill, State College Area SD

Elem. – Paper Planes

Helmore, Jim. Paper Planes. Peachtree Publishing Company, 2020. 978-1-682-63161-4. 32 p. $17.99. Grades K-3. 

Best friends Ben and Mia love flying planes together. In the fall, their planes soar with the migrating geese, and in the spring, the friends climb tall hills and watch their planes glide to the bottom. When Ben receives news that his family is moving away, the pair wonder how to keep their friendship alive. In a fit of loneliness and anger, Mia smashes her plane to the ground, splintering it into pieces. Later that night, Mia dreams of flying in a life-size version of the plane as a huge gust of wind lifts her into the air. She soars through the sky with the geese until she spots another plane up ahead. It’s Ben, and together, the friends swoop and soar through the night skies. The next morning, a package from Ben arrives. Inside the box is a plane Ben started building. Over the next few weeks, as Mia adds her own finishing touches to the plane, she realizes that she and Ben can still share their love of planes, even from a distance. Just because he lives far away doesn’t mean their friendship has to end. Colorful painted illustrations capture the love between these two friends and the loneliness they feel when they are apart.

THOUGHTS:  This quiet story will work well for morning meetings, and it gently addresses the range of emotions students might feel when a friend moves away. It could also be used for discussions about other people who may be separated from us.

Picture Book          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

Elem. – The Girl and the Dinosaur

Hughes, Hollie. The Girl and the Dinosaur. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2020. 978-1-547-60322-0. 32 p. $17.99. Grades K-3.

In a town by the sea, Marianne spends her days digging for dinosaurs on the sandy beach. Nearby fisherfolk worry that the solitary girl should try to find friends instead of bones. But Marianne’s persistence pays off when bone by bone, she assembles a skeleton she dubs ‘Bony.’ As evening falls, Marianne leaves Bony on the beach, promising to return the next day. Before falling asleep, she wishes for the bones to come to life, and under the bright stars, her wish comes true. A longneck dinosaur flies through the sky, picks up Marianne, and she rides on its back as they begin an evening of adventures. From swimming in the ocean to visiting an enchanted forest filled with fairies, unicorns, and giants, it’s definitely a night to remember. Finally, the pair ascend a tall mountain and rise into the clouds, visiting an island populated by other children and their dinosaur friends. Readers will be enchanted by this world filled with gentle dinosaurs and other magical creatures. Watercolor, pencil, and collage illustrations in muted tones perfectly mirror the imagination and fantasy of the rhyming text.

THOUGHTS: This fanciful  story will be popular with dinosaur lovers, particularly girls. Marianne is a confident and imaginative protagonist who is up for any adventure the evening has in store.

Picture Book          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

Tags: Picture book. Dinosaur fiction. Friendship. Stories in rhyme.

Elem. – Sunny

Krampien, Celia. Sunny. Roaring Brook Press, 2020. 978-1-250-31660-8. 36 p. $17.99. Grades K-3.

Attitude is everything, and your outlook can make even the dreariest of circumstances appear in a different light. When it’s raining outside and everyone else’s spirits are down, Sunny believes it’s the perfect day to use her big yellow umbrella. She splashes happily to school until a gust of wind lifts her up and carries her above her seaside town and out over the ocean. Most people would agree blowing over an ocean during a storm is terrible, but Sunny enjoys watching the tumbling waves. The story progresses in this vein, with Sunny looking on the bright side of every obstacle she encounters, and ultimately relying on the help of some new friends to get her back where she needs to be. Bold illustrations, featuring a palette of primarily teal and yellow, are perfectly in sync with the nautical vibe of the story.

THOUGHTS: This book will be a natural fit for morning meetings focusing on the benefits of a positive outlook, and it will also prompt discussions about what to do and what you can control when a situation is looking bleak.

Picture Book          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

Tags: Emotions and Feelings. Optimism. Weather fiction.

Elem. – Packs: Strength in Numbers

Salyer, Hannah. Packs: Strength in Numbers. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020. 978-1-328-57788-7. 44 p. $17.99. Grades K-3. 

This nonfiction title celebrates togetherness in the animal kingdom, highlighting many forms of animal cooperation. From packs and herds to huddles and pods, the author shows how animals are better together. Spotlighting animals who are at risk of losing their homes due to climate change, poaching, or habitat loss, each spread includes three descriptive sentences sharing how animals cooperate for the benefit of the group. The spread about bees explains how some of the swarm buzzes from flower to flower, while others stay home tending to the hive and making honey. Together, they work. Additional pages spotlight information about ants, bats, lions, fish, wildebeest, frogs, coral, flamingos, and mongooses. The final page features groups of humans enjoying a variety of outdoor activities, again underlining the idea that people need each other too. The cut paper, gouache, acrylic paint, and colored pencil illustrations were finished digitally and are the true stars of this book. Each full-bleed double-page spread features a single animal as well as a large group of the same animal. Seeing so many of the same creatures together in large groups echos the idea of strength in numbers and solidifies the refrain that together we are better than we are individually. An Author’s Note encourages readers to learn more about the threatened animals featured in this book by reading and researching how every creature plays an important role in our planet’s survival. The final page includes full names and diagrams of each animal included in the book.

THOUGHTS: This first-purchase title will be a beautiful addition to elementary library collections. Students will pour over the illustrations while also gleaning knowledge about cooperation in the animal kingdom.

591.5 Animal Behavior          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

Elem. – One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey

Cole, Henry. One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey. Scholastic Press, 2020. 978-1-338-35997-8. 48 p. $18.99. Grades K-3. 

This wordless book takes readers on one paper bag’s journey from the forest, through a lifetime of different uses, and ultimately back to the forest. Opening spreads depict woods full of trees, and readers watch as one tree is chopped down, loaded onto a truck, and delivered to a sawmill. The tree is turned into a paper bag, and it’s journey continues when a small boy and his father use the bag to carry a flashlight home from the store. The bag is used over and over again through the years to carry lunches, sheet music, tools, snacks, an engagement ring, flower petals, toy blocks, and seashells. The bag passes through generations until it is ultimately used to plant a tiny evergreen tree. Even though this story doesn’t include any words, there is plenty to discuss and infer. Illustrations were created with an ink pen, and the only spot color is the brown paper bag and the red hearts that accumulate on the bag throughout the story. Thoughtful readers will pore over the illustrations, noting details such as woodland creatures, newspaper headlines, and family portraits. An Author’s Note at the end of the book shares this story’s inspiration and offers perspective about the importance of reusing and recycling.

Thoughts: This is sure to become an Earth Day classic, prompting discussions about what other seemingly disposable items people may creatively use more than once.

Picture Book          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

Elem. – Tiny Bird: A Hummingbird’s Amazing Journey

Burleigh, Robert. Tiny Bird: A Hummingbird’s Amazing Journey. Christy Ottaviano Books: Henry Holt and Company. 2020. 978-1-627-79369-8. $18.99. Grades K-4.

Behold, a tiny bird, no bigger than a quarter. This tiny bird takes its last drink at an orange flower, manages to bite one last bug, before it begins it’s difficult journey to it’s winter home. The bird faces many obstacles: hawks, storms, and anything in between. Some hummingbirds never complete the journey, including the 24 hour flight across the raging sea. Will this tiny bird make it to it’s winter home? We hope so!

THOUGHTS: This book is filled with tons of information about hummingbirds. In addition to the great information provided, the book is illustrated with beautiful colors, showing the beauty of nature and this tiny bird.

Picture Book          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

Elem. – Facts vs Opinions vs Robots

Rex, Michael. Facts vs Opinions vs Robots. Nancy Paulsen Books, 2020. 978-1-984-81626-9. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K-2.

Robots are the perfect way to teach kids about facts and opinions! Micheal Rex has created a new book using colorful robots! One of these may be true, and one is my opinion, and I bet you are savvy enough to know which is which – hopefully because an educator or librarian guided you! This very creative story is entertaining to read and goes thoughtfully through the process of identifying facts and opinions and then giving example scenarios to determine how to handle the differences. Just as importantly, young students learn what to do when not enough information is available to sort fact or opinion. The dialogue with the reader and listeners is authentic, fun, and practical- just like robots – in my humble opinion!

THOUGHTS: This was my favorite Zoom read aloud during the spring, as it was interactive, fun, and instructional all at once. There are ample extensions that you can make with classes, and it would be valuable to reread at several points during the year. Highly recommended title for K-2 collections.

Picture Book          Dustin Brackbill, State College Area SD

A book all about facts, opinions, and robots! Take an adventure together to learn about the difference between facts and opinions with our robot friends. A fact is something that can be proven true or false, while an opinion is something that we feel or believe! Sometimes in order to learn new information, we need more information! Together we can learn about facts and opinions and help our robot friends learn, too!

THOUGHTS: I absolutely love this book! This is a great learning tool for teachers to discuss the difference between facts and opinion.

121 Fact/Opinion          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

Elem. – Almost Time

Schmidt, Gary D., and Elizabeth Stickney. Almost Time. Clarion Books, 2020. 978-0-544-78581-6. $19.99. Grades K-2.

Ethan is disappointed when there is no maple syrup for his pancakes. He asks his dad if the sap is running yet. His dad tells him not yet, but when it is warmer. Unfortunately the next day, it is not warmer. When Ethan has his cornbread with no syrup, he asks again, is it time to tap the trees? His dad replies, when the nights are shorter… but the nights are not yet shorter. When Ethan’s tooth becomes loose, his dad tells him that when his tooth comes out, it will be time to make maple syrup. Now Ethan has to wait for two things! Is it almost time to make maple syrup!?

THOUGHTS: A picture book all about being patient, with the joy of something sweet thrown in! A delightful picture book.

Picture Book          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD