Picture Books – Duck, Duck, Porcupine; School’s First Day…; Chicken Lily; We are Growing

Yoon, Salina. Duck, Duck, Porcupine! New York: Bloomsbury, 2016. 978-1-61963-723-8. 64pp. $9.99. Gr K-2.

This easy-reader title contains three short stories: A Perfect Day for a Picnic, I Think I Forgot Something, and The Campout. Each story features Big Duck, her brother Little Duck, and their friend Porcupine. The stories unfold through the back-and-forth dialogue between Big Duck and Porcupine. Little Duck doesn’t speak words yet, but his actions show that he is sometimes more aware of his surroundings than either of his friends. For example, in the first story, the friends prepare for a picnic. Big Duck and Porcupine are so busy gathering supplies that they don’t notice a huge cloud creeping across the sky. Little Duck has been watching the sky closely, though, and when a downpour begins, he is the one who is prepared with an umbrella. Yoon’s bright digitally-colored illustrations stand out against the story’s uncluttered backgrounds, and her heavy outlining further set off her characters.  THOUGHTS: Fans of Elephant and Piggie books will love reading about this trio and their many adventures. This title will also work well as a read-aloud or as a reader’s theatre production since all the text is already in speech bubbles.

Picture Book     Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary, Southern York County


Rex, Adam. School’s First Day of School. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2016. 978-1-59643-964-1. 32pp. $15.44. Gr K-3.

As a newly built school, Frederick Douglass Elementary isn’t sure what to expect at the beginning of a new school year. It’s been just the school and the janitor all summer, but when the children arrive, everything changes. There’s noisy lockers, splashing water fountains, and spilled nose milk. There’s also brightly colored drawings, lessons about shapes, and new friends to meet. Rex’s gentle text is perfect for reassuring nervous school newcomers, and students will relate to the school’s worries about the unknown. They will also connect to the many familiar activities depicted in illustrator Christian Robinson’s vibrant pictures: exploring the playground with friends, sitting in a circle on the classroom carpet, and filing out of the building during a fire drill.  THOUGHTS: Robinson’s lively illustrations feature a diverse student body, and readers will enjoy pouring over the students’ many activities. This title makes a perfect first-day-of-school read aloud, and it will fast-become a beginning-of-the-year staple.

Picture Book     Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary, Southern York County


Mortensen, Lori. Chicken Lily. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2016. 978-1-62779-120-5. Unpaged. $16.99. Gr. K-3.

Chicken Lily is great at many things, but being brave isn’t one of them. She’s cautious and doesn’t like to take chances. Lily’s friends ride their bikes without training wheels, try new foods, and are even excited for the class Grand-Slam Poetry Jam, so they can get up on stage in front of an audience and read their poems. Lily? “Just thinking about reciting a poem in front of everyone sent shivers down her tail feathers.” Luckily, Lily’s friends encourage her to write a poem anyway, and she finds the courage to read it onstage…only to find out that it’s not so bad. Lily may be a chicken, but not all of the time. Lily’s story is certainly not the first about a timid child, but the way Lily’s friends and teacher encourage her is wonderful and worth a read. Adult will appreciate the subtle chicken humor. THOUGHTS: Many children could see a bit of themselves in Chicken Lily, and hopefully will find their own “plucky” spirit like Lily does. Crittenden’s cute cartoon illustrates pair nicely with the story.

Picture Book     Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools


Keller, Laurie. We Are Growing! New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 2016. 978-1-48472-635-8. 49pp. $9.99. Gr. K-2.

Elephant and Piggie introduce and conclude this zany easy reader, the first in their new series called Elephant & Piggie Like Reading!  Several blades of grass are growing and each declares that he or she is the tallest, curliest, crunchiest, etc. Walt, the last blade of grass, doesn’t have a clue about what he is until the blades of grass are all given haircuts from a lawnmower, and then Walt, rake in hand, realizes that he’s the neatest! This story is simple and giggle inducing. Speech bubbles highlight the ongoing dialogue that is full of repetition and (mostly) appropriate words for beginning readers. Bright illustrations also help with context clues for tough words. THOUGHTS: Winner of the Theodore Seuss Giesel Award for 2017, We Are Growing! will be a hit with Elephant & Piggie fans or any young reader who likes a good laugh.

Picture book    Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools

Picture Books – Peep & Egg; Little Green Truck; Cat Nap; Let Me Finish

Gehl, Laura. Peep and Egg: I’m Not Hatching. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2016.   978-0-374-30121-7.  32 pp. $16.99. Gr. Pre-K-2.

Peep wants Egg to hatch so that they can have fun together!  But Egg is NOT hatching!  It is too scary out there in the big world! Peep persists and continues to remind Egg of all of the fun things that they could do if she would just hatch; watch the sunrise; ride the sheep; splash in puddles. But Egg continues to say “I’m not hatching,” after each. This cute, highly graphic yet sweet picture book will have kids repeating Egg’s refusal with you and cheering when she ultimately doesn’t want to be left behind.  THOUGHTS:  This is a fun book that gently introduces the topic of fears and how to overcome them.  It is perfect for a younger crowd who will get into the repetition of repeating, “I’m not hatching!”  Students can even create a group story and choose another creature to try to convince to come out ( a turtle;  a hibernating bear; a tadpole) and give excuses and then a solution for how to finally get them to decide to come out!

Picture Book     Donna Fernandez, Calvary Christian Academy


Schotter, Roni. Go, Little Green Truck! New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2016. 978-0-374-30070-8. 32pp. $16.99. Gr. K-2.

Little Green Truck is the Farmer’s faithful helper.  Then one day, he is replaced by a Big Blue truck that is new and can haul bigger loads.  Little Green truck is forgotten and sad.  Then one day, the farmer’s daughter remembers how gently Little Green took them to town and what a nice small size he is for the narrow lanes at the Farmer’s Market.  So begins Little Green Truck’s transformation.  He is washed and painted.  The little girl paints happy flowers and fruit on his sides.  His engine is replaced with one that runs on corn and soy oil from their vegetables, and just like that Little Green gets a new life!  Little Green is used to haul all of the vegetables, pies, and preserves to the farmers market because he has a gentler ride and a fun new look that all of the customers love. This sweet transformation and repurposing tale is beautifully illustrated by Julia Kuo.  THOUGHTS:  This tale can be used to illustrate how we can repurpose and reuse things that might have otherwise gone into a landfill.  It also might be used to illustrate how we all have a unique purpose.  I loved how Little Green got a hybrid soy oil engine!  This might be a fun way to introduce alternative fuels to the younger set as well!

Picture Book     Donna Fernandez, Calvary Christian Academy


Yuly, Toni. Cat Nap. New York: Macmillan, 2016. 978-1-250-05458-6. 32 pp. $16.99. Gr. Pre-K-1.

Cat just wants to sleep.  But Kitten just wants to play.  So Cat thinks up a clever way to get some quiet time, a game of Hide and Seek! Except Kitten is very good at finding Cat.  Too good!  Readers join Kitten in the search to find Cat. Finally exhausted, Cat decides to just go take a nap and finds a surprise waiting in his bed.  THOUGHTS:  This bold graphic tale of Cat and Kitten will delight young readers and perhaps make a good going to bed (or naptime) story.

Picture Book     Donna Fernandez, Calvary Christian Academy


Le, Minh. Let Me Finish. New York: Hyperion, 2016. 978-1-4847-2173-5. 32pp. $16.99. Gr.  K-2.

The young boy has just gotten settled with his new book.  He is excited and anxious to get started.  Then, out of the tree, pop some birds who spoil the plot and tell the ending of the book.  Discouraged, the boy heads back to find another book that he wanted to read.  He sneaks off and finds a quiet spot, but again the animals spoil the book.  Why can’t they just let him finish?!? This hilarious romp to avoid the spoilers and finish the book he wants to read is a problem that many readers can relate to. The action packed illustrations are colorful and full of emotion.   Will he avoid hearing the ending?  Or should he really have listened?  THOUGHTS:  This is a great discussion starter for why students should not be “spoilers” – those who tell the ending of a book or movie and ruin it for others.  It also might be a fun way to talk about where students go to read and not be interrupted.

Picture Book     Donna Fernandez, Calvary Christian Academy

Picture Books – How Kate Warne…; For the Right to Learn; Two Friends…

Van Steenwyk, Elizabeth. How Kate Warne Saved President Lincoln. Chicago: Albert Whitman and Company, 2016. 978-0-8075-4117-3. 32pp. $16.99. Gr. 2-4.

This historical picture book highlights the career of Kate Warne, America’s first female detective. In 1856, Warne arrived in detective Allan Pinkerton’s office looking for a job. Although Pinkerton had never before considered hiring a woman, Warne convinced him that a female would be able to obtain information in ways men couldn’t. She spent her career attending society parties disguised as a wealthy socialite or sometimes as a fortune teller. Warne earned the trust of both men and women and then used the information she gained to help crack some of the nation’s biggest cases. Her most important assignment involved exposing a plot to assassinate president-elect Abraham Lincoln on the way to his inauguration. Disguised as a wealthy southern woman, Warne infiltrated a group called the Golden Circle and verified the details of the plot against Lincoln. Her information was used to develop a plan that allowed a disguised Lincoln to secretly switch trains under the cover of darkness and arrive in Washington DC unharmed.  THOUGHTS: This title provides a fascinating look at how one woman shattered gender stereotypes and bravely left her mark on a formerly male-dominated profession. The story is told with enough suspense and intrigue to hold readers’ attention, and it will be a welcome addition to women’s history month celebrations and to Civil War units.

Picture Book     Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary, Southern York County



Langston-George, Rebecca. For the Right to Learn. North Mankato, MN: Capstone, 2016.     978-1-4914-6071-9. 40 pp. $16.99. Gr. 3-6.

In a small village in Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai attended school.  Her father was a teacher and felt that all children, even girls, should have the right to learn.  This was not the case everywhere in Pakistan.  In many places in that country, only boys were educated.  As the Taliban rose in power, they also condemned girls being educated.  The Taliban threatened the school leaders, including Malala’s father, to stop allowing girls to come to school. Later, those who opposed the Taliban were bombed as warnings to others.  Malala secretly began to blog about her experiences with a reporter from the BBC.  Finally, a Taliban fighter boarded the school bus and shot Malala for her outspoken stance on education for all girls in Pakistan.  She recovered and gave a speech before the United Nations that propelled her to international fame.  She later won a Nobel Peace Prize for her courageous fight for the right to learn.  This vividly illustrated book is powerful and compelling.  The message that Malala shared is clear and precise.  The incident of the shooting is simply illustrated with a book and three small drops of blood on top of it.  While upsetting, students will be inspired by her persistence and perhaps encouraged to appreciate the gift of education that all children in America may take for granted.  THOUGHTS:  This book is a wonderful addition to a unit on children in the Middle East, human rights, or even an inspiration to students to find something that they are passionate about and act to make a change.

Picture Book Biography     Donna Fernandez, Calvary Christian Academy



Robbins, Dean. Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. New York: Orchard Books, 2016. 978-0-545-39996-8. 32pp. $17.99. Gr. K-4.

On a snowy afternoon, Susan B. Anthony is setting her table for tea. Two cups, two saucers, two slices of cake. She welcomes her friend Frederick Douglass, and the two sip tea by the fireplace, talking about their ideas for equal rights. This book centers on the real-life friendship these two activists shared and highlights similarities in their campaigns for women’s rights and African American rights. Robbins uses parallel text, repeating the lines, “The right to live free. The right to vote. Some people had rights, while others had none. Why shouldn’t he have them too?” as he describes each crusader’s fight. A brief author’s note provides additional background information about both Anthony and Douglass, and a bibliography offers suggestions for further reading. Mixed media illustrations feature paint, collage, and colored pencil. Swirling cursive script highlighting ideas Anthony and Douglass championed is woven into many spreads, adding to the book’s vintage feel. Overall, this is an age-appropriate introduction to two civil rights contemporaries who respected each other’s ideas and admired each other’s resolve to fight for a better future.  THOUGHTS:  This is a valuable addition to social studies units about equal rights or women’s suffrage. It could also be used to supplement a Civil War unit on emancipation or in celebration of Black History Month.

Picture Book    Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary, Southern York County

Picture Books – Annabelle at the South Pole; Mousequerade Ball; Cookie Fiasco; Pigs & a Blanket

Alley, R.W. Annabelle at the South Pole. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. 978-0547907048. Unpaged. $14.99. Gr. K-3.

This book is the final book in R.W. Alley’s seasonally themed quartet about four siblings and their imaginative adventures. Annabelle just wants to read her nonfiction book about the South Pole, but her brothers and sister insist on bringing her into their play. She escapes outside to find she is in the arctic and a giant snow monster is heading straight for her! Thinking fast she defeats the snow giant, but takes pity on it and puts it back together again. The abominable snow giant is grateful and carries Annabelle to her desired destination only to find the Wizard (from Mitchell on the Moon) is already there and threatening to melt the South Pole! Annabelle saves the day by grabbing the piping hot cauldron and drinking its contents (which turn out to be chocolate). The last scene is half real life, half imagination as the reader sees Annabelle and her siblings drinking hot chocolate on the front porch, while a penguin peeks out from behind the lamppost. The illustrations are bright and vivid; perfect for bringing young imagination to life.  THOUGHTS: Each book in this series is fine as a stand-alone, but if you read the whole series you get to know the children and recognize recurring elements. I enjoyed Annabelle’s bravery and also the fact that she just wanted to read (when she’s not having adventures in the snow, of course)!

Picture Book     Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School



Mortensen, Lori. Mousequerade Ball. New York: Bloomsbury, 2016. 978-1-6196-3422-0. 32pp. $16.99. Gr K-3.

In this colorful counting book, mice are preparing for the evening’s main event: a Mousequerade Ball! The story opens with one mouse lighting the fire and progresses until ten mouse ladies fan themselves and gasp, “Cat!” when an unexpected visitor crashes the party. The story then counts down from ten back to one as all the mice scamper away and scramble into hiding places. One brave final mouse realizes the Cat has only come to dance, and the pair waltz around the great hall together. Betsy Lewin’s bright watercolor illustrations are the perfect match for this whimsical story.  THOUGHTS:  Hand this title to kindergarten teachers who are focusing on numbers and counting. The large, boldly-colored illustrations will be perfect for storytime sharing.

Picture Book      Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary, Southern York County



Santat, Dan. The Cookie Fiasco. New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 2016. 978-148-4726365. 50 pp. $9.99. Gr. K -2.  

Hippo, Croc and the Squirrel want to share their cookies, but how will they share them fairly?  So begins the funny adventures that subtly introduce division and fractions to the reader.  With an introduction by Mo Willems beloved Elephant and Piggy, this new series of books entitled “Elephant and Piggy Like Reading” will bring fans of Gerald and Piggy to a new set of crazy fun antics.  With the word bubbles and colorful graphics by Caldecott award winning author and illustrator, Dan Santat, the layout will attract from the beginning.  The fun and silly humor will keep kids coming back for more.  And hey, they will even learn a new vocabulary word to wow their teachers and parents. FIASCO!  THOUGHTS:  This book is a great addition to a unit or introduction to division and fractions for the early learner.  It is a fun and rather “sneaky” way to get students to divide.

Picture Book     Donna Fernandez, Calvary Christian Academy



Burks, James. Pigs and a Blanket. New York: Hyperion, 2016. 978-1-4847-2523-8. 32 pp. $16.99. Gr. Pre-K-1

Henry and Henrietta pig love their green blankie.  They love how it feels.  They love how it smells.  They plan on it.  They play under it.  Then one day, half a blanket just isn’t enough.  They both want it ALL!  In an argument , the blanket gets ripped.  Now brother and sister each have half.  But, they realize that they are missing something even more important.  Each other.  This sweet, highly graphic picture book by James Burks deals with the dilemma of sharing and getting along with siblings in a way that many children will relate to.  The fun illustrations and universal theme of a blankie will help most children find common ground to realize that being together is more important than the things they own.  THOUGHTS:  This is a great addition to an early learning class unit on sharing or getting along.  Students could problem solve with Henry and Henrietta for ways that they could have resolved their dilemma without ripping the blankie.

Picture Book      Donna Fernandez, Calvary Christian Academy

New Elementary – When Green Becomes Tomatoes; Little Red


Fogliano, Julie. When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2016. 978-1-59643-852-1. 56pp. $18.99. Gr K-4.

This collection of free verse seasonal poetry begins on March 20 with the vernal equinox and continues through the year, celebrating the small moments each new season brings. From welcoming spring’s first flowers to tasting summer’s sweet berries to pulling out autumn’s first sweater, young readers will relate to many of the everyday seasonal pastimes the children in this story experience. The book’s beautiful gouache and pencil illustrations feature diverse children engaging in timeless activities such as picking flowers in a field, eating sandwiches at the beach, stargazing, jumping in leaf piles, building snowmen, and reading by the fire. The poems are formatted like journal entries, and each poem begins with the date so readers can easily track the passing seasons.  THOUGHTS: This title will be a valuable addition to poetry collections. The conversational tone and relatable illustrations will hook young readers, and teachers will be able to use this as a journal-writing resource.

Poetry Picture Book      Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary, Southern York County



Woollvin, Bethan. Little Red. Atlanta: Peachtree Publishers, 2016. 978-1-56145-917-9. 28pp. $16.95. Gr K-3.

Girl power is at the core of debut picture book author and illustrator Bethan Woollvin’s retelling of the classic Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale. Many details ring true from previous versions of the story: Little Red takes a basket of cakes to her sick grandmother; she meets a wolf along the way, and the wolf runs ahead to grandma’s house, eats her, and poses as grandma instead. In this retelling, however, Little Red is not fooled by the wolf’s poor disguise. When she spots the wolf in grandma’s bed, she makes a plan before going inside. Bringing along an ax that was stuck in a stump outside grandma’s door, Little Red takes care of the wolf herself. She then returns home not in her red cape but wearing a new wolf-skin and sporting a smile for the first time in the story. The text in this book is sparse, but the bold gouache illustrations pack quite a punch thanks to the tight palette of only red, black, white, and gray. THOUGHTS:  Some oversized illustrations bleed across the book’s gutter, further heightening their impact. No blood appears in this story, and Woollvin only hints at the wolf’s fate by showing an extreme close-up of Little Red’s eyes shifted in the wolf’s direction; it is up to readers to fill in the blanks.  

Picture Book     Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary, Southern York County

I’m looking forward to sharing this title with my third-grade teachers later this spring when they study their fairy tale unit. It will be a great title to compare and contrast against the original version.

NF Picture Books – The Hole Story; Brave Like Me; How This Book was Made


Miller, Pat. The Hole Story of the Doughnut. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. 978-544-31961-5. Unpaged. $17.99. Gr. K-3.

Captain Hanson Crockett Gregory lived a full life as a ship’s captain, mining engineer, and family man, but that’s not the “hole” story of his life…he’s also credited as inventor of the doughnut! This might seem like an unlikely combination, but it was Gregory’s young years working as a cook’s assistant on the ship Ivanhoe that gave him the chance opportunity to invent a new breakfast pastry. Gregory fried up a batch of the ship’s normal breakfast. “They were sweet and crisp—at least around the edges. Their raw centers, heavy with grease, made them drop like cannonballs in the stomach. Sailors called them sinkers” (Miller). Struck by inspiration, Gregory grabbed the lid from a pepper can and put a hole in the center of each pastry. When they emerged from the hot lard, doughnuts were born! Although Gregory went on to become a respected ship’s captain, even earning a medal for bravery from Queen Isabella II for saving the lives of seven Spanish sailors, he’s most known for his delicious invention. While readers learn the true story, “…sailors like their stories bold” (Miller). The book details several of the legends around Gregory’s creation. It also includes an author’s note, timeline, and selected bibliography. Illustrator Vincent X. Kirsch takes the doughnut concept to a new level, including colorful doughnut patterned endpapers, cover art with Captain Gregory peeking through a doughnut life preserver, and back cover art showing an octopus holding a doughnut with each tentacle. The illustrations are beautifully colored, evoke an old-fashioned marine setting, and are full of funny details that readers will enjoy spotting. In addition, each two-page spread actually features one illustration which has been made into a mock doughnut. THOUGHTS: An interesting, visually-appealing addition for most collections.

641.8; Doughnut History     Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools



Kerley, Barbara. Brave Like Me. Washington, DC: National Geographic, 2016. 978-1-4263-2360-7. Unpaged. $17.99. Gr. K-3.

When a parent is serving in the military and away from home, the family left behind has to face the challenges and emotions that remains. In Brave Like Me, the reader can see a wide variety of families on both sides of that relationship. The text is short but honest and straightforward. There will be times that they struggle, and moments that they feel joy. The best part should be the reassurance that they are not alone. The full color photographs that live up to National Geographic standards help reinforce the variety and viewpoints. With support pages at the end for dealing with separation, caregiver notes, and descriptions of those who serve, all children can read and appreciate the sacrifice that takes place all over the world every day.  THOUGHTS: There have been plenty of fiction books about losing parents and military service, and there are plenty of military books in my collection about the vehicles and branches, but this book fills a super important niche of how it really feels to have a serviceman or woman away from their family. It does not, however, cover how to handle the death of a soldier as a family, or the impact of the returning soldier with PTSD. Those would also be brave new books to add to a collection.

Nonfiction Picture Book     Dustin Brackbill, State College Area


Barnett, Mac, and Adam Rex. How This Book Was Made: Based on a True Story. Los Angeles: Disney Hyperion, 2016. 978-142315220-0. Unpaged. $17.99. Gr. K-4.

I have tried many times to explain the process of how a book is made and which roles it takes to get published. This book makes those conversations irrelevant and unnecessary. Mac and Adam are a quirky, hilarious team (see their work in Guess Again or Chloe and the Lion) who bring truthiness and humor to the writing process. Hear Mac explain his editing process, then wait for that pesky illustrator, and finally get through the printing and publishing; all so he can show us How This Book Was Made! The journey is more than just point A to point B, as tigers, pirates, astronauts, fish and more help to affect the story, and ultimately the most important character to the book may be… YOU (the reader!)! Enjoy and discuss and try explaining what’s truth from fiction in this unusual adventure.  THOUGHTS: This would also make a great book to study book design and the relationship between text and pictures. The tiger skin on the inside cover and the red map marks are two interesting examples. There is much to look at for multiple readings, though some are more relevant to adults than kids. I like this genre of books about books, and Mac & Adam meet the meta at just the right moment.

Nonfiction Picture Book    Dustin Brackbill, State College Area

Picture Books – Before I Leave; The Squiggly Story; The Christmas Boot


Bagley, Jessixa. Before I Leave. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2016. 978-1-62672-040-4. $17.99 PreK-2nd Grade.

By the author of Boats for Papa comes another gentle book to help children. Little hedgehog’s family is moving away, but she doesn’t want to leave her best friend. Refusing to go doesn’t work, so her friend tries to help her pack. Instead of concentration on their task, these two friends end up doing all their favorite things. When little hedgehog moves into her new house and goes to unpack she discovers pictures and letters from her anteater best friend. THOUGHTS: A heart-warming way to express to children that change does not mean the end of friendships.

Picture Book       Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School



Larsen, Andrew. A Squiggly Story. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press, 2016. 978-1-77138-016-4. Unpaged. $16.95. Gr. PreK-2.

A young boy wants to write a story, but he doesn’t know many words.  After receiving some encouragement from his sister, he begins by writing down letters and shapes that he does know, and before long, he has crafted a creative tale in which he and his sister are playing soccer on the beach.  When he shares his story with his class for show-and-tell, they suggest several creative endings for the story, but the protagonist has his own ending in mind.  Graphic novel-like illustrations, complete with speech bubbles and boxes on some pages, add to the book’s accessibility and appeal.  THOUGHTS: This playful tale is a great resource for young students learning about the parts of a story (beginning, middle, and end) and anyone looking for strategies for overcoming writer’s block.  It can also encourage brainstorming and creative thinking, as students can be prompted to come up with endings of their own for the boy’s story.  The varied skin colors of the children in the protagonist’s class give this book a multicultural dimension.

Picture Book     Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area High School



Wheeler, Lisa. The Christmas Boot. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2016. 978-0-8037-4134-8. Unpaged. $17.99. Gr. K-3.

Hannah, an old woman who lives in a cabin in the woods, is gathering firewood when she spots a single boot laying in the snow. When she puts it on to warm her cold foot, it magically becomes a perfect fit for her, and she takes it home where she wishes for its mate. The next morning, she finds a pair of boots next to her bed, and later on she wishes for a pair of warm mittens and a fancy house and feast. She loves the boots and mittens but feels that the house doesn’t quite “fit” the way she’d hoped. Santa comes calling, looking for his missing boot, and Hannah offers it up at once, saying that it doesn’t belong to her anyway. Immediately the other boot, mittens, and house are no more. Santa offers Hannah whatever she truly desires. She replies that she really wants someone to talk to but warm boots and mittens would be fine. Suddenly, Hannah is rewarded with fine new boots and mittens…and a small puppy hiding in one of the boots, ready to be Hannah’s new friend. THOUGHTS: A beautiful story of gratitude and kindness that works well for the holidays and is highlighted by Jerry Pinkney’s gorgeous illustrations.

Picture book Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools

Picture Books – I Used to be Afraid; Christmas Wish; Click, Clack Surprise!; Goodbye Summer…


Seeger, Laura Vaccaro. I Used To Be Afraid. New York: Roaring Brook, 2016. 978-1-59643-631-2. $17.99. Gr. PreK-1st.

Laura Vaccaro Seeger touches on a topic that is common throughout childhood: finding ways to overcome fear. This can be a big deal to kids. The main character goes from scary animals (like spiders) to larger, more abstract fears like being alone or moving. Using bold images and creative cut-outs, Seeger gives examples of how not to be afraid. A humorous ending about brothers will make readers smile. Perfect for the youngest audience, for whom hearing unexplained noises in the dark is a daily occurrence.  Thoughts: This book is perfect for PreKindergarten and Kindergarten! I use it as a fun read aloud, and recommend it to parents who are struggling with fearful children.

Picture Book       Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School



Yoon, Salina. Penguin’s Christmas Wish. New York: Bloomsbury, 2016. 978-1-68119-155-3. Unpaged. $14.95. Gr. PreK-2.

Penguin and his family are ready to celebrate Christmas, but when Pumpkin longs for a Christmas tree, Penguin decides to lead his family into the forest to find an old friend. They find Pinecone, now a beautiful evergreen tree (read Penguin and Pinecone, 2012), and decorate him with ornaments and presents under the tree. That night they all dream of something different while a blizzard rages in the forest and takes away all the decorations and ornaments. While they are disappointed, Grandpa reminds them that celebrating Christmas is “…about being with the ones you love.” They make the best of the day and all their wishes come true when Penguin makes them perfect gifts from sticks and twigs. Penguin’s wish doesn’t come true until the end of the story when the sun melts the snow and the family discovers that the blizzard spread the ornaments and gifts throughout the forest so they can celebrate with new forest friends. THOUGHTS: Salina Yoon’s sweet Penguin is sure to delight fans of the series or new readers in this simple holiday tale.

Picture book      Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools



Cronin, Doreen and Betsy Lewin. Click, Clack, Surprise! New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2016. 978-1-4814-7031-5. 32pp. $17.99. Gr K-3.

In the latest addition to the Click, Clack, Moo series, it’s Little Duck’s first birthday, and the whole farm is preparing for the celebration. Little Duck has never gotten ready for a party, though, and she doesn’t know quite what to do. So, she tries copying everyone else! She takes a long, hot bubble bath like Duck, shears her feathers like the sheep, licks herself like the cat, takes a dust bath like the chickens, and takes a mud bath like the pigs. By the time she ends up at her party, she’s wet, has spiky feathers, and is covered in dust and mud; it’s truly a birthday surprise for everyone! Betsy Lewin’s loose pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations perfectly capture the lighthearted spirit of the day, and young readers will enjoy seeing their favorite farm animals- and Farmer Brown too – getting ready for the party. This is a fun addition for elementary collections. THOUGHTS: This book will be a hit where other titles in the series are popular. It will also be useful as a read-aloud to complement a unit about farms and farm animals.

Picture Book      Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary, Southern York County



Pak, Kenard. Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2016. 978-1-62779-415-2. 32pp. $15.34. Gr K-3.

This gentle nature story perfectly captures the transition from summer to autumn. One late summer morning, a girl leaves her house and begins walking through the forest to town. On her way, she greets the trees, animals, insects, flowers, and wind she encounters. Each time, her greeting is returned, and information about the changing season is shared. For example, when she calls, “Hello, beavers. Hello, chipmunks,” they reply, “Hello! We have no time to play because we’re making cozy nests and dens. It will be cold soon, and we want to get ready.” As she walks, the little girl is accompanied by a giant Great Dane, a blue jay, and a butterfly, and readers will enjoy spotting them on each double-page spread. On each spread, the vibrant watercolor and pencil illustrations perfectly capture the transition between seasons. As the story progresses, the colors slowly transition from mostly greens to browns, reds, and burnt oranges. Careful readers will notice subtle details in the illustrations such as animals tucking into their burrows, leaves changing color, and the girl distributing a fistful of wildflowers she’s plucked along her walk. This is a book that warrants repeated readings to fully appreciate all the subtle details. THOUGHTS: This title is a perfect addition to fall-themed story times. My kindergarten teachers were excited to add it to their units about autumn and how animals prepare for winter.

Picture Book      Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary, Southern York County

New for Elementary – When Spring Comes; Dino Friends; Miss Mary Reporting


Henkes, Kevin. When Spring Comes. New York: Greenwillow Books, 2016. 978-0-06233-139-7. 32p. $17.99. Gr K-2.

Through spare verse and vibrant illustrations, this book celebrates all the small changes that occur as winter melts into spring. Opening pages describe trees blossoming, eggs hatching, and gardens sprouting. Additional pages depict children blowing bubbles in grassy meadows, stomping through mud puddles, flying kites, and riding bikes. Sharp-eyed readers will also notice all the animals that emerge in spring: kittens, ladybugs, butterflies, worms, bees, and rabbits. THOUGHTS:  The large font size and full-bleed acrylic illustrations draw readers in, and literary devices such as repetition and alliteration add to the cheerful mood.

Picture Book   Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary School, Southern York County

This book is perfect for discussing information about changing seasons with the youngest readers, and I plan to share it with my kindergarten teachers. It will be a great conversation starter as students listen to the story, view the illustrations, and share seasonal changes they’ve noticed as well. Kevin Henkes fans will not be disappointed.



Yolen, Jane. How Do Dinosaurs Stay Friends? New York: The Blue Sky Press, 2016. 978-0-545-82934-2. 32pp. $16.99. Gr K-2.

The tenth title in Jane Yolen and Mark Teague’s How Do Dinosaurs… series explores what makes friendships strong. The rhyming text unfolds in a large, easy-to-read font, and young readers are asked whether behaviors such as destroying a friend’s toys, pushing each other, screaming, and tattling to teachers are acceptable. Then, healthy, friendly behaviors are modeled, such as writing apology notes, sharing toys, and taking turns when playing together. The message that even though friends may sometimes fight, there’s always a way to make things right shines through clearly. THOUGHTS:  Young readers will love watching their favorite prehistoric creatures in familiar scenarios, and this book will be useful as a conversation starter about how to make and keep friends. Thanks to their large trim size and vibrant illustrations, the other titles in this series are popular with my kindergarten students, and I anticipate this one being a winner as well.

Picture Book   Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary, Southern York County



Macy, Sue. Miss Mary Reporting: The True Story of Sportswriter Mary Garber. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016. 978-1-4814-0120-3. $17.99. Gr. 1-4.

Mary, a tomboy who loved all sports, was looked down on for playing tackle football with the boys and writing a sports newspaper for her grandparents rather than a nice letter. When she graduated from college, Mary wanted to write for the newspaper. The only job a female reporter could get was writing about social events and fashionable parties. Mary persevered and World War II afforded her the opportunity to fill in as a sports writer. Still, though, she faced many barriers and prejudices; at some games she wasn’t allowed to sit in the Press Box. Citing Jackie Robinson as a role model, Mary didn’t let the fact that she wasn’t allowed in the locker rooms deter her. She became known for the quality and positivity of her writing. Readers, coaches and athletes came to know and respect her. For over fifty years Mary Gaber reported on sports, and made history doing it. THOUGHTS: I loved this book. Its powerful story of a pioneering woman breaking into a male-dominated field is complemented by surprisingly striking illustrations.

Biography Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School

Picture Books – My Favorite Pets: by Gus W.; Rules of the House; Diana’s White House Garden


Birdsall, Jeanne. My Favorite Pets: by Gus W. for Ms. Smolinski’s Class. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016. 978-0-385-75570-2. Unpaged. $16.99. Gr. K-3.

Gus would rather read comics and write in his sheep diary than do homework which is why the assignment about “My Favorite Pet” is perfect for him. Cleverly, the entire book, minus a page at the beginning and end, is Gus’ school report. The report, written in Gus’ handwriting, shares the silly ways Gus interacts with the family’s flock of sheep. Despite the failed attempts at skateboard training and tree climbing lessons, Gus still has a preference for lambs over his little brother. This humorous picture book will make adults and kids alike smile, embellished by illustrations from award-winning Harry Bliss.  THOUGHTS: This book is very amusing. It teaches facts about sheep, the plural of sheep is still sheep, and the crazy things this kid thinks up will make readers laugh. The clever use of the red “s” in the title shows itself to be the teacher’s corrections.

Picture Book   Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School



Barnett, Mac and Matt Myers. Rules of the House. Los Angeles: Disney Hyperion, 2016. 978-142318516-1. 44 pp. $17.99. Gr K-2.

“Follow the Rules: Brush your teeth. Make your bed. And never EVER open the red door.” For a rule follower like Ian, this is all reasonable; alas, his older sister feels otherwise. She starts ignoring the rules on the sign in the vacation cabin, and things go really wrong when she dares to open the red door. Suddenly the offended objects come alive for vengeance! Should there be a rule that says, “Always save your sister from being eaten by monsters,” and are there times when a lie might be ok? Mac Barnett continues to build a repertoire of odd, humorous tales to engage young readers and capture their imaginations. Matt Myers plays along with emotional and colorful illustrations that bring the children’s decisions and consequences to life in eerie and startling fashion.  THOUGHTS: I see many discussions about rules, actions and consequences, and sibling relationships through this entertaining read. Mac’s work is ideal for read alouds, and his sense of humor hits the right notes with adults as well as kids.

Picture Book; Fantasy    Dustin Brackbill, State College Area School District



Carbone, Elisa. Diana’s White House Garden. New York: Viking, 2016. 978-0-670-01649-5. Unpaged. $17.99. Gr. 1-3.

Diana Hopkins was a ten-year-old girl who lived in a very big house… The White House! Her father was chief advisor to President Roosevelt during war-time. Diana had fun being a kid and playing with the Roosevelts’ dog. But, she felt it was important for her to help with the war. She tried several different tactics, all getting her more frowns than smiles. One day, as she was playing with a bear named “Uncle Teddy” on President Roosevelt’s desk she knew something the president said would be the perfect job for her! He suggested that all Americans turn their lawns into gardens to grow food, that way the food in the grocery stores could be sent to soldiers. Diana was so excited!  Armed with a pair of overalls and a lot of sun, Diana was ready to change the world.  THOUGHTS: This is a delightful book about how children can be inspirations. It is based on the true story of Diana Hopkins who inspired citizens around the country to grow their own gardens during war-time. Diana has to overcome obstacles in finding the right way to help (including sticking a White House guest in the bottom with a pin!) and even having to start her garden a second time because of rabbits. She preservers and in the end is set forth in the media as an example of patriotism. I love the Author and Illustrator’s Notes at the back with a photograph!

Picture Book    Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School