Biography, Books and Library, Read Your World

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Aldamuy Denise

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Back of Book:
An inspiring picture book biography of storyteller, puppeteer, and New York City’s first Puerto Rican librarian, who championed bilingual literature.
When she came to America in 1921, Pura Belpré carried the cuentos folklóricos of her Puerto Rican homeland. Finding a new home at the New York Public Library as a bilingual assistant, she turned her popular retellings into libros and spread story seeds across the land. Today, these seeds have grown into a lush landscape as generations of children and storytellers continue to share her tales and celebrate Pura’s legacy.
My Review:
I received a copy of this book from author Anika Aldamuy Denise in exchange for an honest review.
This exquisite and well-researched picture book biography tells the story of Pura Belpré New Yorks first Puerto Rican librarian. Pura realized that the stories of her youth were not in the libraries. So she began to share her tales with the children of her library. The narrative is engaging and informative. Readers become swept up into Pura’s life and the powerful gift that she gave to others. The illustrations are radiant and filled with detail and colors. I felt as if I was sitting with Pura in her library soaking up her amazing tales. The back of the book has a beautiful author note as well as a collection of information including a Selected Bibliography as well as stories of Pura mentioned in this book. Anika Aldamuy Denise and Paola Escobar have created a masterpiece biography about one woman who lived to share her passion with others and left a legacy for everyone else.
Ages 6 and up
40 Pages

Friendship, Skills Children Learn

How Do You Do? by Larissa Theule

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Back of Book:
Water Buffalo and Crane’s field is dry, empty, and hot–so hot that they can barely think of anything else. Every day is the same . . .
Until one day, they hear something new.
“How do you do?”
When Goat dances into their lives, Water Buffalo and Crane can’t help but join in. Suddenly their field doesn’t seem dry, empty, and hot at all. Even after Goat dances away, their world is no longer so small.
My Review:
I received a copy of this book from Bloomsbury publishing in exchange for an honest review.
The story follows Water Buffalo and a Crane as they as they go through life bored and hot. Until one day everything changes. When Goat enters their lives, their perspective changes. Goat brings fun and spontaneity to their days. Suddenly Water Buffalo and Crane are no longer hot or bored because they are to busy having fun. The story has a beautiful message of how life can change if you are willing to broaden your horizons and say hi to someone new. The illustrations are bright and show all the animals in an animated light. I think this is a great book to share in classrooms for social and emotional learning. It teaches readers that they should not be afraid to meet new people.
Ages 5 and up
40 Pages

Read Your World

Think of It Like This! ByDeirdre Pecchioni Cummings

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Molly loves her favorite dress. But one day when she twirls too fast and falls on the cement, Molly’s dress tears and goes right in the trash. Molly is so sad-until her mother comes to the rescue and teaches her a valuable lesson. When Billy rides his bike to the store to buy chocolate, he is very disappointed and mad when he realizes the store is closed. Billy must close his eyes and think things through before he loses his cool. Carrie always cries and stomps her feet when she does not get her way. But when she discovers she is losing all her friends, Carrie must change her ways. Think of it Like This! is the inspiring and educational tale of three children’s challenges and subsequent life lessons as they become mindful of their triggers, develop a plan, and make the best of what life has given them.
My Review:
I am excited to be a reviewer for  Multicultural Children’s Book DayIt is on January 25th and is a day dedicated to sharing diverse stories with readers. I was thrilled to receive several books from author Deirdre Pecchioni Cummings.

“Think of it Like This” is a wonderful story that allows readers to see positive examples on ways that they can deal with difficult issues. Each child in the story has something unexpected come up in their life. The text beautifully shows readers that everyone has bad days, but its how they choose to react that matters. The illustrations by Erika Busse are a great mix of diverse characters that allow readers to see themselves in the story. This is a perfect book for the classroom to use to teach social and emotional learning. My students loved hearing this story. It led us to a fantastic writing assignment about how they can deal with disappointment. I highly recommend this story.
Ages 5 and up
44 Pages

 

Biography, Black History Month, Civil Rights, Uncategorized

Brave Ballerina: The Story of Janet Collins By Michelle Meadows

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Back of Book:
Janet Collins wanted to be a ballerina in the 1930s and 40s, a time when racial segregation was widespread in the United States. Janet pursued dance with a passion, despite being rejected from discriminatory dance schools. When she was accepted into the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo as a teenager on the condition that she paint her skin white for performances, Janet refused. She continued to go after her dreams, never compromising her values along the way. From her early childhood lessons to the height of her success as the first African American prima ballerina in the Metropolitan Opera, this is the story of a remarkable pioneer.
My Review:
I received a copy of this book from author Michelle Meadows in exchange for an honest review.
I love this beautiful biography that tells readers of the perseverance that Janet Collins had. Readers are drawn into the life of Janet from her childhood to her success on stage. The story follows Janet as she struggles through prejudice, and expectations to rise up and become the first African American ballerina. The lyrical text is whimsical and draws readers into the magic of the ballet. The illustrations by Ebony Glenn are nothing short of stunning. Each page captures the different movements of the dancers in perfect light and detail. Brave Ballerina will inspire everyone who readers it to fight for what they believe in. A must-have for all classroom libraries.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

Read Your World

The Piñata That the Farm Maiden Hung By Samantha R. Vamos

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Back of Book:
A young girl sets out on errands for the day, and while she’s gone, the farm maiden prepares a piñata from scratch with help from a boy, horse, goose, cat, sheep, and farmer. After they all fall asleep in the afternoon sun, they must scramble to finish preparations in time–just as the girl arrives back to her surprise party. Key English words change to Spanish as the cumulative verse builds to the celebratory ending. With the familiarity of “The House That Jack Built,” the tale cleverly incorporates Spanish words, adding a new one in place of the English word from the previous page. This book makes learning the language easy and fun. Back matter includes a glossary, definitions, and directions for making a piñata at home.

My Review:
I was thrilled to receive a copy of this book from author Samantha Vamos in exchange for an honest review.
This is a lovely story that captures the fun and excitement of making a pinata. The story follows a farm maiden as she creates a pinata with some help from a boy and some fun animals. The text is written in a scheme that builds upon itself. It is similar to the story “This is the House that Jack Built” Each page adds another aspect to the creation of the pinata. The story is told with a mix of English and Spanish words including the famous pinata song. The illustrations by Sebastia Serra are nothing short of beautiful! The details and bright color draw readers into the culture and tradition of making pinatas. The back of the book has directions for readers to create their own pinata. There is also a glossary of Spanish words and their definitions. Samantha has crafted a beautiful diverse picture book that shows readers that when everyone works together fun can always be had. A perfect addition to any classroom or school library.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

Black History Month

Meet Miss Fancy by Irene Latham

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Back of Book: Frank has always been obsessed with elephants. He loves their hosepipe trunks, tree stump feet, and swish-swish tails. So when Miss Fancy, the elephant, retires from the circus and moves two blocks from his house to Avondale Park, he’s over the moon! Frank really wants to pet her. But Avondale Park is just for white people, so Frank is not allowed to see Miss Fancy. Frank is heartbroken but he doesn’t give up: instead, he makes a plan! Frank writes to the City Council so his church can host a picnic in the park, and he can finally meet Miss Fancy. All of his neighbors sign the letter, but when some protest, the picnic is canceled and Frank is heartbroken all over again. Then Miss Fancy escapes the zoo, and it’s up to Frank to find her before she gets hurt.
My Review:
I received a copy of this book from author Irene Latham in exchange for an honest review.
This is a truly captivating story based on true events when Miss Fancy came to live in Alabama. The story is set in the era of the Jim Crow Laws and shows readers the extension of segregation. Frank loves elephants and his biggest wish is to pet one. When Miss Fancy comes to town, Frank believes that if he works hard enough he may get to have his wish.
His wish is guaranteed in a unique that makes for a fantastic ending to a satisfying read. I love that this book focuses on the history of what segregation was, but also showed the determination of people who refused to give up hope. The illustrations are beautiful and draw a reader into Franks biggest wish. The back of the book had more information about the real Miss Fancy. A beautiful story about preservice and always chasing your dreams.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages and up

Biography, Music

Elvis Is King! By Jonah Winter

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Back of Book:
Here’s the perfect book for anyone who wants to introduce rock ‘n’ roll and its king to the child in their lives. In single- page “chapters” with titles like “The First Cheeseburger Ever Eaten by Elvis” and “Shazam! A Blond Boy Turns into a Black-Haired Teenager,” readers can follow key moments in Presley’s life, from his birth on the wrong side of the railroad tracks in the Deep South, to playing his first guitar in grade school, to being so nervous during a performance as a teenager that he starts shaking . . . and changes the world!
My Review:
I received a copy of this book from author Jonah Winter in exchange for an honest review.
I was so excited to see that a new picture book was coming out about the King of Rock and Roll. Jonah Winter has beautifully captured the life of Elvis and his rise to fame. There were several tidbits of information that I had never heard before. I love that the book is broken up into headings. It allows readers to clearly see Elvis life progress from childhood to following his dreams and making it to stardom. The illustrations are unique in that they are claymation. The details jump off the page at readers! The back of the book has information about Elvis that allows readers to learn even more about the talented singer and performer. A must have for any music history unit or any study about influential people who changed aspects in history.
Ages 6 and up
40 Pages

Biography, Black History Month

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad By Ellen Levine

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Back of Book:
Henry Brown doesn’t know how old he is. Nobody keeps records of slaves’ birthdays. All the time he dreams about freedom, but that dream seems farther away than ever when he is torn from his family and put to work in a warehouse. Henry grows up and marries, but he is again devastated when his family is sold at the slave market. Then one day, as he lifts a crate at the warehouse, he knows exactly what he must do: He will mail himself to the North. After an arduous journey in the crate, Henry finally has a birthday — his first day of freedom.
My Review:
I was amazed at this unique story about a man who literally mailed himself to freedom. It is a fascinating look at the risk Henry took to gain the freedom he so badly desired. The text follows Henry’s life from childhood to adulthood and paints readers a picture of how Henry continues to find joy throughout his circumstances. The illustrations are a mix of breathtaking and haunting! The back of the book gives more information about Henry Box Brown. I love sharing this book in my class during Black History Month. It is a fascinating tale of preservice and strength.
40 Pages
Ages 5 and up

Animals

Pipsqueaks, Slowpokes, and Stinkers: Celebrating Animal Underdogs By Melissa Stewart

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Back of Book:
Puny? Poky? Clumsy? Shy? A lighthearted look at the surprising traits that help some animals survive.
Written with a lively, playful voice, Pipsqueaks, Slowpokes, and Stinkers introduces young readers to a variety of “animal underdogs” and explains how characteristics that might seem like weaknesses are critical for finding food and staying safe in an eat-or-be-eaten world.
My Review:
Children love books about animals and my students are no exception. They love reading anything that has to do with wild animals. Pipsqueaks, Slowpokes, and Stinkers is a terrific look at some lesser-known animal populations. I was surprised to learn about several new animals that I had never heard of. I loved that the text describes the different ways that these animals use adaption to survive. I also love the verity of animals in this book. Melissa Stewart chose a mixture of small and large animals as well as smelly and camouflaged animals. Stephanie Laberis created detailed and colorful illustrations that open readers eyes to unknown and unique animals. The back of the book gives readers more information about the animals mentioned in the book. A perfect book for any animal unit or animal lover.
Ages 6 and up
32 Pages

Black History Month, History

Follow Me Down to Nicodemus Town: Based on the History of the African American Pioneer Settlement by A. LaFaye

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Back of Book:
When Dede sees a notice offering land to black people in Kansas, her family decides to give up their life of sharecropping to become homesteading pioneers in the Midwest. Inspired by the true story of Nicodemus, Kansas, a town founded in the late 1870s by Exodusters—former slaves leaving the Jim Crow South in search of a new beginning—this fictional story follows Dede and her parents as they set out to stake and secure a claim, finally allowing them to have a home to call their own.
My Review:
I received a copy of this book from author A. LaFaye in exchange for an honest review. I am a huge fan of historical nonfiction picture books! I love sharing them in my classroom and giving my students a glimpse into the past. Follow Me Down to Nicodemus Town is a terrific look at a time period that is not often shared in Kidlit. The story follows Dede and her family as they work to create a better life for themselves in a state called Kansas. I love that Dede and her family form relationships with the Native Americans that already lived there. It shows readers an important piece of history that is often overlooked. A. LaFaye beautifully told the story of one family’s fight to have a better life. Nicole Tadgell’s illustrations are soft and detailed. The back of the book has more information about The Exodusters who mase their way to free land. This is a must-have addition to any Post Civil War or Black History Month unit.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages