Elem. – A Thousand Glass Flowers

Turk, Evan. A Thousand Glass Flowers. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2020. Unpaged. 978-1-534-41034-3. $17.99. Grades K-2

This nonfiction biography tells the story of Marietta Barovier who came from a family of glassblowers, and her journey to becoming the first woman given permission to open her own furnace in Venice. The story begins with her as a small girl watching her father create glass until he allows her to try, and her passion for glassmaking grows from there. The end of the book contains an author’s note, which really adds to the story as there is not much known of her, because glassblowing was a male dominated industry. Marietta is credited with creating the rosetta bead, which was used as a currency!

THOUGHTS: This is a wonderfully illustrated biography that will introduce readers to Marietta Barovier and the world of glassblowing.

Biography          Mary Hyson, Lehigh Valley Regional Charter Academy 

 

Elem. – Leif and the Fall

Grant, Allison Sweet and Adam Grant. Leif and the Fall. Dial Books for Young Readers, 2020. Unpaged. 978-1-984-81549-1. $17.99. Grades K-2.

It is autumn and Leif the Leaf is worried about falling from his tree. He confesses to his friend Laurel that the fall might cause him to “bump my head” or “skin my knee.” The other leaves tell him that falling is inevitable, but Laurel suggests that Leif should think of a way to slowly lower himself as he falls. So the pair work together to invent various devices, such as a kite made of bark and moss, a parachute out of a spider web and a swing made of vines. All of these ideas fail. Then an unplanned gust of wind blows Leif and Laurel off the tree, and they have the good luck to fall on the soft cushion of the failed experiments. Liddiard’s illustrations are done with a combination of digital collage and mixed media, creating drawings that balance the whimsical appearance of the leaves with images of actual moss. This book is very similar to Wade’s The Very Last Leaf. Both are about the fear of falling, but Wade’s text deals more with facing fears and perfectionism, while the Grants’ focus is on solving problems with creative ideas and to keep on trying. However, the message in this story is a little confusing since it was actually fate and luck that caused Leif to be successful in the end.

THOUGHTS: This book is a good choice for autumn themed storytimes. It would be also useful for guidance counselors for lessons on perseverance and in the classroom for lessons on problem solving and creativity.

Picture Book          Denise Medwick, Retired, PSLA Member

Elem. – The Perfect Shelter

Welsh, Clare Helen. The Perfect Shelter. Kane Miller, 2020. 978-1-68464-050-8. Unpaged. $14.99. Grades K-3.

The Perfect Shelter follows two sisters who are trying to make the perfect shelter outside; however, something is wrong. One sister is sick, and the other sister has to deal with the consequences of her sister being sick and not being able to build the perfect shelter with her. As the story progresses, the sisters decide to build a shelter inside because “it’s the perfect place to build a shelter.” The illustrations show the progression of the older sister’s sickness, as well as how the family handles and deals with it. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful.

THOUGHTS: I loved how the ending of this book doesn’t promise a happy ending, merely that the family will just be together. This book could be a great conversation starter for a child who is dealing with someone in their family having an illness, or if they personally have an illness. The family is drawn as being interracial, which I also loved that representation.

Picture Book          Mary Hyson, Lehigh Valley Regional Charter Academy

Elem. – Quiet Down, Loud Town!

Heim, Alastair. Quiet Down, Loud Town! Clarion Books, 2020. 978-1-328-95782-5. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K-2.

Quiet Down, Loud Town! follows an elephant who thinks the town around him is too loud, and he has no problem telling them that. As he goes through his day, the loudness of his environment keeps frustrating him until he finally snaps and yells, “Quiet down loud town!” However, the elephant learns that perhaps quiet isn’t what he needs either as he struggles to fall asleep, and then becomes the one being too loud. The illustrations are bright and colorful, with lots of added details to enjoy as the reader goes through the book.

THOUGHTS: This is an extremely fun book to read aloud with students, or for students to go through on their own. Highly recommended for an elementary school collection.

Picture Book            Mary Hyson, Lehigh Valley Regional Charter Academy

Elem. – Don’t Feed the Coos!

Stutzman, Jonathan. Don’t Feed the Coos! Henry Holt, 2020. 978-1-250-30318-9. Unpaged. $17.99. PreK-2.

When a young girl feeds some pigeons (or coos) in the park, she soon discovers that she cannot escape them. They follow her everywhere! Even worse, they poo all over everything. She tries desperately to make them leave, but nothing works. Just as she has accepted her fate as their caretaker, she finally discovers a solution to her problem. An amusing story accompanied by cartoon-like illustrations, this title would be an extremely entertaining read aloud for young children.

THOUGHTS: I read this title with my preschooler, and she got a big kick out of it. The illustrations are very reminiscent of Mo Willems’ pigeon books, so it would be an excellent choice for Willems fans. In fact, my daughter actually asked me to get some more pigeon books from the library after we read this title. This is definitely a worthy addition to any collection serving young children.

Picture Book          Julie Ritter, PSLA Member

Elem. – Talking Is Not My Thing

Robbins, Rose. Talking Is Not My Thing. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2020. 978-0-802-85549-7. Unpaged. $16.99. Grades K-2.

Talking Is Not My Thing follows a brother and sister, the sister being nonverbal; however, there are thought bubbles so you can see her thoughts even though she doesn’t have any dialogue. The sister mentions that she tries to speak; however, “the words don’t’ come out right”; as well as showing her being overwhelmed by too much noise and wishing she could turn her ears off. Near the end of the book, the sister can’t find her stuffed bunny, so she runs outside to get it causing her brother to follow her in the dark with a flashlight.

THOUGHTS: This book does an excellent job of showing how nonverbal children communicate with the world around them as well as each other.

Picture Book           Mary Hyson, Lehigh Valley Regional Charter Academy

Elem. – Astrid Lindgren (Little People, Big Dreams)

Sanchez Vegara, Maria Isabel. Astrid Lindgren. (Little People, Big Dreams). Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2020. 978-0-711-25217-2. $15.99 ea. $912.26 set of 66. Unpaged. Grades K-3. 

Astrid Lindgren grew up on a farm in Sweden with her parents and siblings having an idyllic childhood. When she learned to read, however, her world changed and opened up beyond her small farm in Sweden. The book follows Astrid as she grows up and gets married and has children of her own.  Karin, Astrid’s daughter, asked for a story about a girl she had named Pippi Longstocking, and Astrid’s career as an author began! At the end of the book, there is a timeline of Astrid Lindgren’s life including pictures from her life, and more information about Astrid’s life.

THOUGHTS: This is a great introductory biography that is a must have for an elementary school collection, especially with the wide range of biographies to pick from in the series.

Biography          Mary Hyson, Lehigh Valley Regional Charter Academy

Elem. – I Am Every Good Thing

Barnes, Derrick. I Am Every Good Thing. Nancy Paulson Books, 2020. 978-0-525-51877-8. 32p. $17.99. Grades K-3.

I Am Every Good Thing is a poem that talks about the resilience, challenge, and beauty of being a child. It demonstrates children doing different activities such as making snowballs, riding a skateboard, swimming, and many other activities that children might do throughout their life. The narrator of this book adds to the feeling of “I can do anything I set my mind to” which is carried over with the illustrations. The illustrations done by Gordon James showcase the poetry beautifully and contribute to the feeling the narrator gives throughout the poem.

THOUGHTS: This is a beautiful book that is a vital addition to every school library collection.

Picture Book          Mary Hyson, Lehigh Valley Regional Charter Academy

Elem. – In a Garden

McCanna, Tim. In a Garden. Ill. Aimée Sicuro. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020. 978-1-5344-1797-7. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades PreK-2.

Through rhyming verses and vivid watercolor illustrations, In a Garden explores how things grow. From seeds being planted to sunlight and rain nurturing the plants, readers see all of the various aspects of natural growth both in a garden and in those who nurture and care for the garden. McCanna identifies a variety of flowers and vegetables that grow in gardens, while also describing the duties of the various insects that help the garden grow. The four seasons establish how things grow unseen, and also establish the life cycle with insects laying eggs and a woman, pregnant in the beginning, holding a baby when spring returns after winter.

THOUGHTS: This is a gorgeous picture book. Sicuro’s watercolors represent each aspect of the natural world beautifully, while McCanna’s words are playful and representative of the life cycle. Many readers will see themselves in this text because the garden is in a city, and the humans are representative of the diversity in a city. This picture book is a great introduction to the life cycle, gardening, and caring for the natural world. It would pair well with growing a school garden or just planting a seed that students can take home and grow.

Picture Book        Erin Bechdel, Beaver Area SD

Elem. – Tiny T. Rex and the Very Dark Dark

Stutzman, Jonathan. Tiny T. Rex and the Very Dark Dark. Ill. Jay Fleck. Chronicle Books, 2020. 978-1-4521-7034-3. Unpaged. $15.99. Gr. PreK-1.

Tiny T. Rex and his best friend, Pointy, are ready for their first campout.  There’s just one problem; both are afraid of the dark. Inside the dark isn’t quite so dark, but outside the dark is DARK! Together, Rex and Pointy devise a plan to keep them safe from the Grumbles, Nom-bies, and Crawly-creeps that lurk in the dark. But, when their plan doesn’t go quite right, Rex and Pointy learn to open their eyes and see the light in their fear of the dark.

THOUGHTS: This second installment in the Tiny T. Rex series shares a common fear amongst children: fear of the dark. Through make-believe creatures, Rex and Pointy confront their fear and learn to be brave in the face of fear. The illustrations represent the dark well through dark backgrounds and bright characters, pjs (Pointy’s are specially made to cover his spikes), and various items when the friends are outside, and bright, light images when they are indoors devising their plan. The theme of working together to confront fear is prominent but not overshadowing of the actual fear children face in the dark. This is a great story to help children face their fears.

*Jonathan Stutzman is a PA author who lives in Palymra.

Picture Book        Erin Bechdel, Beaver Area SD