Read Your World

Sulwe By Lupita Nyong’o

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Back of Book:
Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.
My Review:
Salwe is an absolutely stunning lyrical picture that focuses on the importance of self-love and acceptance. Sulwe feels alone because her skin is a different color than the rest of her family. She tries everything she can think to lighten the color of her skin. When nothing works she feels defeated and alone. I loved the message from her mother about the fact that beauty comes from the mind. The book has a lovely fable about the day and night weaved within the pages that show Salwe the importance of loving who she is. The illustrations by Vashti Harrison are nothing short of breathtaking! Her use of light and dark colors have an almost magical quality to them.
Lupita Nyong’o wrote a truly uplighting story that should be in every child’s library. She tackled the concept of colorism in a gentle manner that allows readers to see their own beauty and love who they are. I am excited to have this book in my classroom library and share Sulwe with my students.
Ages 5 and up
48 Pages 

Skills Children Learn, Winter

Just So Willow By Sara Shacter

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Back of Book:
Willow is a polar bear who likes things just so. She even irons her underwear and tidies her teacher! So when a storm covers her backyard in a smooth blanket of snow, she’s determined to keep it that way—in spite of all the other kids creating a lumpy, bumpy mess. Will Willow realize that being particular is making her miss out on all the fun?
My Review:
I was sent a copy of this picture book from Sterling Children’s Books in exchange for an honest review.
I love the message in this endearing story about allowing things to not always be perfect. Every year my classroom has a child who struggles with being a perfectionist. It is always hard for me to see them struggle with wanting things just so. I was so excited to share “Just So Willow” in my classroom. Willow is a young polar bear who loves to have things in perfect order. When show falls, Willow wants it to stay pristine and clean. In order to accomplish her goal, she makes a plan to stop her neighbors. In doing so, Willow realizes how much fun she can have not following the rules.  I loved using this book in my classroom to talk about social and emotional learning. It showed my students the value of having fun and not worrying about keeping everything perfect. The illustrations by Stephanie Laberis are colorful and charming. Willow’s facial expressions are spot on to match her emotions. A perfect book for readers of all ages.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

Fire Prevention, Safety, Uncategorized

Flash, the Little Fire Engine By Pam Calvert

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Back of Book:
It’s Flash’s first day on the job as a little fire engine—and it’s going to be a busy one! But Flash is ready to jump into action and save the day. The only problem is, every time Flash tries to pitch in, he is either too little or too late to help out. What if no one needs him? When a fire erupts in the middle of town, it looks like Flash might be the only one available to help. Does he have what it takes to save the day?
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Two Lions Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
Flash is a little fire engine who is ready to fight fires and save the day. The only problem is that he always gets there a little too late to help out. I discuss fire prevention in my classroom every year and this is a perfection addition to my fire unit. The text is well written and kept even my wiggliest littles engaged the entire time. The use of figurative language throughout the text added another layer to the story.   My students loved learning about how fires are put out at airports, large buildings, and the forest. I loved the message that more matter how small everybody has an important job that they can do. The illustrations by Jen Taylor are bright and engaging. I loved the expressions on Flash’s face as he showed excitement, sadness, and joy. A perfect book to share with fire engine enthusiasts.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

 

Winter

When the Snow Is Deeper Than My Boots Are Tall By Jean Reidy

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Back of Book:
As the snow climbs over a boy’s toes, ankles, shins, and boots, there’s more and more fun to be had―snowmen, sledding, snow angels, and, finally, a cup of hot cocoa by a warm fire.
My Review:
I was sent a copy of this picture book from Henry Holt and Company in exchange for an honest review.
This charming story follows a young boy as he wakes up to find the first snowfall of the season. He is excited and immediately prepares for a fun day playing in the snow. The text is written in a fantastic rhyming scheme and rich in figurative language. The illustrations by Joey Chou are vibrant and whimsical.  They beautifully capture the boys’ adventures as he explores his winter wonderland. This is a perfect story to share with younger audiences about the joy of a snow day.
Ages 4 and up
32 Pages

Books and Library

This Is Not That Kind of Book By Christopher Healy

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Back of Book:
This clever alphabet book… Wait, that’s not right. This original fairy tale… Nope. Mystery? Joke book? Superhero story? Pirate adventure? This delightful mash-up features every kind of character found in the picture-book universe–all in one book. Just when the reader is convinced the story is going in one direction, it spins off in another.
My Review:
I was sent a copy of this picture book from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.
This story is the perfect example of never judging a book by its cover or title. The book follows several characters from different genres as they work together to try to figure out what type of book they are in. The text will have readers laughing out loud as they  follow the confused characters throughout the story. The speech bubbles allow readers to follow the characters throughout the story.  I loved the message of friendship and inclusion that is presented within the text. The story shows readers that people with different ideas can still be friends. The illustrations by Ben Mantle are fun and colorful. This is a fantastic story to use as a read-aloud in the classroom. It is also a great introduction to the different classifications of books.
Ages 5 and up
40 Pages

Growth Mindset

A Day So Gray By Marie Lamba

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Back of Book:
Once you start to notice, colors and reasons for gratitude are everywhere, and that changes everything! Celebrate the hues and comforts of a cozy winter day as a discontented girl at first notices only dull grays and browns in a snowy landscape but is coaxed by her friend to look more closely. Soon she finds orange berries, blue water, purple shadows, and more. Warm friendship and a fresh way of seeing things transform a snow-covered landscape from bleak to beautiful!
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Clarion Books in exchange for an honest review.
Mindfulness is such an important concept to teach children. It allows them to focus on the small things and enjoy the beauty in every day. Marie Lamba wrote a lovely lyrical story that follows two friends as they find common ground on a cold winter day. The first girl introduced in the story sees winter as a sad and dreary time. Unfazed, her friend shows her the beauty in the tiny details of the season. The end of the story shows the friends coming together and enjoying their friendship. The illustrations by Alea Marley are enchanting and paint readers a beautiful winter wonderland. The hues that she used perfectly complement the text and draw readers into the story. This is a lovely story to share with readers of all ages during the winter season.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

Science, Space, STEM

Red Rover: Curiosity on Mars By Richard Ho

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Back of Book:
Mars has a visitor It likes to roam…observe…measure and collect. It explores the red landscape crossing plains, climbing hills,
and tracing the bottoms of craters―in search of water
and life. It is not the first to visit Mars. It will not be the last. But it might be the most curious.
My Review
I received a copy of this picture book from Roaring Brook Press in exchange for an honest review.
The planet Mars still holds many mysteries about the condition of the planet.” Red Rover Curiosity On Mars” makes readers feel like they are on the planet roaming around with Red Rover. The book shows readers the different jobs that Curiosity has including tracing, measuring, and collecting parts of craters. The story also tells readers about the different guests that came before Curiosity. The whimsical text by Richard Ho is written from the perspective of the planet and draws readers deeper into the world of Mars. I loved the figurative language that he used throughout the story. The illustrations by Katherine Roy are nothing short of breathtaking.! She brought the planet and Curiosity to life.   The back of the book is filled with amazing extras including the anatomy of Curiosity, and extra information about the rover. There is also extra information about previous probes and satellites that were sent to Mars before Curiosity. Finally, there is a page that discusses Mars at a glance. This is a wonderful story to share with readers of all ages. My students were amazed by the fact that a new rover is set to visit Mars in 2020. This is a must-have for all elementary classroom,  and school libraries.
Ages 6 and up
44 Pages

Adoption, Halloween

Moldilocks and the Three Scares: A Zombie Tale By Lynne Marie

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Back of Book:
Papa Scare (a monster), Mama Scare (a mummy), and Baby Scare (a vampire) live in a haunted house where they eat finger sandwiches and alpha-bat soup. One night, they go out to walk their dog (a bloodhound, of course) to let their soup cool down. While they’re away, in walks the zombie Moldilocks, looking for food, a chair, and a bed that’s just right.
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Sterling Books Press in exchange for an honest review.
Holloween this upon us, since I have younger students I am always on the lookout for stories that are more silly than scary This is a perfect combination of fractured fairy tale and spooky fun. The story follows the classic Goldielocks and the Three Bears story but with a Halloween twist. While the three scares are out for a walk to let their soup cool, Moldilocks comes across their haunted house. the story follows the classic tale with a wonderful twist at the end. I love stories that promote adoption and welcoming new members into a family. The text is filled with clever puns that will make kids laugh out loud. The illustrations by David Rodriguez Lorenzo are full of expression and detail. A great story to read during the Halloween season.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages 

Bedtime, Hanukkah

Goodnight Bubbala By Sheryl Haft

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Back of Book:
This zesty parody of one of America’s favorite picture books offers a very different bedtime routine: one that is full of family exuberance and love. Instead of whispers of “hush,” this bedtime includes dancing and kvelling, and of course, noshing—because this little bunny is a Jewish bunny, and this joyous book celebrates the Jewish values of cherishing your loved ones, expressing gratitude, and being generous.
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Penguin Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
I was thrilled to see another story published with an emphasis on the Yiddish language.  This language is slowly disappearing and I love how Sherly Haft is bringing it back to life.  She has taken the theme of Goodnight Moon and beautifully retold it using Yiddish words. The story a young bunny as he says goodnight to all the fun aspects of a Hanukkah celebration. Readers young and old will be swept away with the whimsical flow of the words. The illustrations by Jill Weber are sweet and full of detail. The back of the book has a Yiddish to English Glossary, as well as a note from the author and a recipe for latkes. This is a perfect story to share with readers during the Hanukkah season.
Ages 4 and up
32 Pages

Music

Double Bass Blues By Andrea J. Loney

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Back of Book:
Nic is an aspiring musician whose life spans two different worlds–his suburban school where he wows his friends in orchestra, and the busy city streets of his home where he’s jostled by the crowd. Nic makes his way home from a busy day at school with a double bass on his back, the symphony of his surroundings in his heart, and a sweet surprise for the reader at the end of his journey. This is a sweet, melodious picture book about how dedication, music, and family can overcome any obstacle.
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from author Andrea J. Loney in exchange for an honest review.
This almost wordless picture book is a stunning tribute to the impact of music. Readers follow a young boy named Nic as he makes his way throughout his day using music as his guide. The end of the story shows the older generation teaching the younger generation how to appreciate music.  The sparse text is rich in Onomatopoeia and feeling. The illustrations by Rudy Gutierrez are vibrant splashes of color that capture the essence of Nic and his love of playing the fiddle. This is a stunningly lyrical story that shows how music can tie the community together.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages