Friendship

Zola’s Elephant By Randall de Sève

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Back of Book:

When Zola moves into the neighborhood, her new next-door neighbor is too shy to go over and introduce herself. Plus, Zola already has a friend to play with—an elephant!
What we imagine is not always true, as the little girl discovers. Luckily, she also discovers that being brave can lead to new friendships—and even richer imaginary worlds—in this heartwarming book about friendship, moving, and the power of imagination.
My Review:
I received a copy of this book from author Randall de Seve in exchange for an honest review.
Zola’s Elephant is a wonderful story that shows readers the beauty of imagination and the importance of having the courage to meet new people. The story follows a young girl as she shares her apprehension about meeting her new neighbor Zola. The girl convinces herself that Zola has a has a much more exciting life then she does that includes an elephant. In reality, Zola is lonely and needs a new friend. The illustrations are whimsical and nothing short of stunning! The end of the book has a sweet ending that encourages readers to get to know new friends. This is a perfect tale to share in the classroom when a new student joins the class.
Ages 5 and up
40 Pages

Biography, History

No Small Potatoes: Junius G. Groves and His Kingdom in Kansas By Tonya Bolden

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Back of Book:
Junius G. Groves came from humble beginnings in the Bluegrass State. Born in Kentucky into slavery, freedom came when he was still a young man and he intended to make a name for himself. Along with thousands of other African Americans who migrated from the South, Junius walked west and stopped in Kansas. Working for a pittance on a small potato farm was no reason to feel sorry for himself, especially when he’s made foreman. But Junius did dream of owning his own farm, so he did the next best thing. He rented the land and worked hard! As he built his empire, he also built a family, and he built them both on tons and tons and tons of potatoes. He never quit working hard, even as the naysayers doubted him, and soon he was declared Potato King of the World and had five hundred acres and a castle to call his own.
My Review:
I received a copy of this book from author Tonya Bolden in exchange for an honest review.
Before reading this story, I had never heard about Junius G. Groves. I was amazed at the strength and determination that Junius throughout his life! Even though he was born a slave, Junius never stopped striving for better things. The story follows his lifespan and shows readers how Junius broke barriers and showed people what he was made of. The illustrations by Don Tate are detailed and stunning. The back of the book has a glossary and a timeline. This is a perfect book for book reports or history projects.
Ages 5 and up
40 Pages

Thanksgiving

How to Catch a TurkeyBy Adam Wallace

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Back of Book:
Thanksgiving time is here again, but there’s a turkey on the run!
Can you catch this tricky bird before the school play has begun?
My Review:
How To Catch a Turkey is another fun addition to Adams fun and popular How to Catch Series. This book follows a turkey as he attempts to flee a Thanksgiving play. My students loved hearing about the crazy antics that happen to the turkey as he tries to flee the play. The turkey travels through all areas of the school including the library, the playground, and the cafeteria. The first person narrative of the turkey allows readers to see a different perspective of how the turkey felt being chased around the school. The rhyming scheme allows for a fun read-aloud that creates a great deal of laughter. The illustrations are full of bright colors and fun detail. My students loved this book and have asked to read it several times since we got it in my Scholastic order.
Ages 5 and up
40 Pages

History

Before She was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome

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Back of Book:
We know her today as Harriet Tubman, but in her lifetime she was called by many names. As General Tubman, she was a Union spy. As Moses, she led hundreds to freedom on the Underground Railroad. As Minty, she was a slave whose spirit could not be broken. As Araminta, she was a young girl whose father showed her the stars and the first steps on the path to freedom. An evocative poem and stunning watercolors come together to honor a woman of humble origins whose courage and compassion make her a larger than life hero.
My Review:
I love sharing stories about strong women with my students! Harriet Tubman is one of my favorite historical figures to share in class. Her strength and bravery allowed hundreds of people to fight for freedom. Before She Was Harriet is a detailed and stunning look at the life of Harriet. I love that the book starts at the end of her life and goes backwards to her childhood. It gives readers a unique perspective as to where Harriet and how she became the woman she was. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful. The colors are bright and show the emotion in each step of her journey.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

Bugs and Insects

The Honeybee by Kirsten Hall

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Back of Book:
With zooming, vibrant verse by Kirsten Hall and buzzy, beautiful illustrations by Isabelle Arsenault, this celebration of the critically important honeybee is a honey-sweet treasure of a picture book.
My Review:
I love finding engaging and informational nonfiction picture books that I can share with my students. The Honeybee by Kirsten Hall is a fantastic look at the life and job of a honeybee. The rhyming scheme allows readers to follow along and enjoy the story. I loved that the book follows the bee through all the seasons. It shows readers the many aspects of bees work through each season. The book also captures the beauty and mystery of the dance that bees do to draw others to the nectar. The illustrations are soft and whimsical. The back of the book has a wonderful note from the author as well as several facts about bees. I think this is should be in every elementary library and classroom.
Ages 5 and up
48 Pages

Growth Mindset, Skills Children Learn

Even Superheroes Make Mistakes by Shelly Becker

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Back of Book:
Even superheroes sometimes slip up and err. And when that happens, do they say, “It’s not FAIR?” or give up in despair? NO! “Ashamed Superheroes who goofed up somehow . . . First STOP . . . then CONSIDER what’s best to do now.” Whether they’ve nabbed the wrong guy by mistake or bashed into a planet while zooming through space, all superheroes ‘fess up their mess-up, get on with their day, and keep on saving the world in the most super way!
I received a copy of this picture book from Sterling Book Publishers in exchange for an honest review.
I was so excited to see another story in Shelly Beckers superhero series. My students loved her first book and were just as excited to read another story about these hard working superheroes. This story is a perfect read aloud for a growth mindset project. It shares several examples of how superheroes mess up or fall short in what they are trying to accomplish. There are great reminders within the pages of how blaming others for your mistakes is never a good idea. The rhyming scheme allows the story to flow and lets readers follow along. The illustrations by Eda Kaban are full of color and detail. My students enjoyed this book very much and so did I. It is a perfect addition to any growth mindset unit!
Ages 5 and up
40 Pages

 

Animals

How Do You Take a Bath? by Kate McMullan

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Back of Book:
Follow elephants, pigs, monkeys, hippos, and more in this charming rhyming picture book from veteran author Kate McMullan. How does a pig take a bath? It sinks in the mud! What about a chicken? It thrashes about in dust! And a cat? Why, it licks itself clean, of course! Sydney Hanson’s adorable illustrations toggle neatly between animals in nature grooming themselves and humorous depictions of children attempting the animals’ bathing tactics.
My Review:
I received a copy of this book from Alfred A. Knopf in exchange for an honest review.
I a completely in love with this charming story about the different ways that animals take baths. Author Kate McCullan chose several different types of animals and gave readers a variety of different animals to show readers the unique ways that animals bathe. The simple rhyming text is perfect for beginning readers. I love at Kate compared the animal’s way of bathing to how we bathe. This simple concept allows readers to compare and contrast the animals and themselves. The illustrations from Sydney Hanson are nothing short of enduring. The colors are soft and draw a readers eye to the adorable antics on each page. This is a perfect book to cuddle up with before bedtime and enjoy the giggles.
Ages 4 and up
32 Pages

Christmas

If You Ever Want to Bring a Pirate to Meet Santa, Don’t! (Magnolia Says DON’T!) By Elise Parsley

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Back of Book:
If your dad says you’re going to meet a bearded guy with a red suit and a bag full of treasures…he is not talking about meeting a pirate! But Magnolia has already invited the misbehaving swashbuckler to jump in line to meet Santa. So what if pirates are on the Naughty List? She’ll just teach this one to change his scurvy ways–no plundering or sword-fighting or plank-walking allowed! Plus, Santa is happy to hear everyone’s wish list. Right?
I received a copy of this book from author Elise Parsley in exchange for an honest review.
I was so excited to see that Elise wrote a Christmas addition to her very fun DONT series. The ever-entertaining Magnolia is back to share her experience of meeting Santa with a pirate in tow. As usual, what Magnolia means for good, turns into a complicated and entertaining escapade. Magnolia tries her best to teach the naughty pirate manners and the harder she tries the more problems occur! Readers will laugh out loud with the different things that Magnolia and the pirate get involved in. Adults reading this will be able to relate to the challenge of waiting in line and attempting to get children to smile for a photo with Santa. The illustrations are the familiar whimsical images that are apart of Magnolias story. This is a fantastically fun read aloud and perfect for the Christmas season.
Ages 5 and up
40 Pages

Black History Month, Cyblis Awards 2018, History

Young, Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present

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Back of Book:
Meet 52 icons of color from the past and present in this celebration of inspirational achievement—a collection of stories about changemakers to encourage, inspire and empower the next generation of changemakers. Jamia Wilson has carefully curated this range of black icons and the book is stylishly brought together by Andrea Pippins’ colorful and celebratory illustrations.. All children deserve to see themselves represented positively in the books they read. Highlighting the talent and contributions of black leaders and changemakers from around the world, readers of all backgrounds will be empowered to discover what they too can achieve. Strong, courageous, talented and diverse, these extraordinary men and women’s achievements will inspire a new generation to chase their dream… whatever it may be.
My Review:
I was excited to read this book as a part of the Cybils Awards. It is a fantastic look at 52 African Americans who have made an impact on the world around them. It is an excellent resource to teach children about some of the bold, brave, and gifted men and women who have stood for equality and honor. I loved that the text covers heroes from our past like Harriet Tubman, but also discusses people who are making an impact now like Simone Biles. I appreciated the welcome note from the author and illustrator in the front of the book. I can tell that they put a great deal of thought and research into the men and women in this book. I can see using this book in class as an opening to many discussions involving, race, equality, history, and activism. The illustrations are appealing and vibrant. A great addition to any school library or classroom. I also see it as a great book for Black History Month.
Ages 8 and up
64 Pages

Hanukkah

Meet the Latkes By Alan Silberberg

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Lucy Latke’s family is just like yours or mine. Except that they’re potato pancakes. And also, they are completely clueless. After lighting the menorah and gobbling the gelt, Grandpa Latke tells everyone the Hanukkah story, complete with mighty Mega Bees who use a giant dreidel to fight against the evil alien potatoes from Planet Chhh. It’s up to the Latke family dog to set the record straight.
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from author Alan Silberberg in exchange for an honest review.
I love the idea of a family of latkes telling readers the story of Hanukkah. This book is a completely fun, and very informational picture book about the reason Hanukkah is celebrated. I love the details that are in this book like the difference between Chanukah and Hanukkah. I also loved the amusing way that Grandpa tells the story of the Maccabee’s. The illustrations show the latkas as a fun family grumpy teenager and all The story of the Macca-bees is a humorous twist that will make readers laugh out loud. The back of the book has a very helpful glossary that allows readers to understand the different aspects of Hunakkah. A perfect addition to any holiday unit.
Ages 5 and up
36 Pages

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