Black History Month

Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt By Deborah Hopkinson

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Back of Book:
Clara, a slave, and seamstress on Home Plantation dreams of freedom—not just for herself, but for her family and friends. When she overhears a conversation about the Underground Railroad, she has a flash of inspiration. Using scraps of cloth from her work in the Big House and scraps of information gathered from other slaves, she fashions a map that the master would never even recognize.
My Review:
Anytime I read a story written by Deborah Hopkinson I am amazed by the depth and beauty of her stories. Sweet Clara and the Freedom is no exception. Readers will get swept away as they follow Clara on her journey to freedom. The story shows readers the creative ways that slaves would use to flee to a new land. I can see using in this book in a verity of different ways. It is an excellent introduction to the Underground Railroad. The illustrations by James Ransome capture the beauty and strength of the characters in the story. A must read story for all ages.
Ages 5 and up
40 Pages

Friendship, Sharks

Misunderstood Shark: Friends Don’t Eat Friends by Ame Dyckman

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Back of Book:
This hilarious follow-up to Misunderstood Shark by New York Times bestselling duo Ame Dyckman and Scott Magoon tackles what it really means to be a good friend. Bob is already irate that Shark has eaten him, but when Shark doesn’t admit to eating him, Bob is so mad he declares that the ocean isn’t big enough for both of them! Friends Don’t Eat Friends is exploding with over-the-top humor and awesome marine facts! For example, when Shark overdoses on Finilla Ice Cream after fighting with Bob, we learn that shark teeth are coated with fluoride. Lucky for Shark, he can’t get cavities! Join Shark and the gang for another story and find out if Shark learns his lesson about friendship, or if he really is just misunderstood — again!
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from author Amy Dyckman in exchange for an honest review.
I loved the first book in the Misunderstood Shark Series and the second book does not disappoint. Bob and Shark are back with a new story that gives fun facts about sharks while also giving readers a positive message about friendship. The text is written with a mix of speech bubbles and regular text. I loved that Amy continued her tongue in cheek humor that made her first book so fun. Readers will laugh as sharks misguided actions cause him to accidentally eat his friend. The end of the story shows readers a positive conflict resolution and how important apologies are in friendship. The illustrations are bright and colorful. This is a must-have for elementary classrooms.
Ages 5 and up
48 Pages

Dinosaurs

What If You Had T. Rex Teeth? And Other Dinosaur Parts by Sandra Markle

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Back of Book:
What if you woke up one morning and you had sprouted a dinosaur body part overnight? What If You Had T. rex Teeth? — the next imaginative book in the What If You Had series — explores what would happen if you looked in the mirror and saw that you had become part dino! From a Velociraptor’s sharp sickle-tipped toes to a T. rex’s giant curved teeth, and from the body armor of an Ankylosaurus to the long neck of a Brachiosaurus — discover what it would be like if you had one of these wild dinosaur parts! Readers will also learn what makes a dinosaur a dinosaur and why they aren’t still around today.
My Review:
Sandra Markle has created another fantastically fun story in What If You Had series. In this book, Markle explains several different dinosaurs and the things that make them unique. each page has the name of the dinosaur broken down so that readers have the correct pronunciation. The facts are interesting and easy for readers to understand. The illustrations are the bright, familiar images that readers have come to love. This is a great nonfiction text that shows readers the unique and fun facts about dinosaurs.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

Biography, Black History Month, Civil Rights

Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Dee Romito

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Back of Book:
Georgia Gilmore was a cook at the National Lunch Company in Montgomery, Alabama. When the bus boycotts broke out in Montgomery after Rosa Parks was arrested, Georgia knew just what to do. She organized a group of women who cooked and baked to fund-raise for gas and cars to help sustain the boycott. Called the Club from Nowhere, Georgia was the only person who knew who baked and bought the food, and she said the money came from “nowhere” to anyone who asked. When Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested for his role in the boycott, Georgia testified on his behalf, and her home became a meeting place for civil rights leaders.
My Review:
I was amazed that I had never heard about Georgia Gilmore. Like many people, I am very familiar with Rosa Parks but never heard about the movement behind this bus boycott. Pies from Nowhere tells readers about the determination and strength of the people that were behind the scenes in history. Georgia Gilmore used what she was good at to raise money for the boycott. The text is engaging and puts readers in the story. The illustrations are detailed and rich in color. The back of the book has authors note that shares more about Georgia and her secret work. The book also has a recipe for her delicious pound cake. This is a must read for any Civil Rights unit or National Women’s Month unit. A stunning look at one of America’s unsung heroes.
Ages 6 and up
40 Pages

Career Day, Friendship

Dress Like a Girl by Patricia Toht

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Back of Book:
In these beautifully illustrated pages, a diverse cast of slumber party participants considers the most time-honored traditions for how to dress. If a lady should wear white in summertime, then how about donning a spacesuit? If team colors are apropos at sporting events, why not wear helmets and play ball?
Instilling the idea that the best way to dress like a girl is the way that makes you feel most like YOU!
My Review:
I was sent a copy of this book from author Patricia Toht in exchange for an honest review.
This is such a beautiful and relevant story for today’s generation of little girls. It encourages girls to be whoever they would like to be. I love that the beginning of the story mentions that the world will try to tell girls that there are rules that must be addressed as to what you should wear. From the beginning, this book shows readers that it is okay to be an individual in what they wear and what they want to do. The rhyming scheme is fun and keeps readers engaged. The illustrations showcase a diverse group of girls all learning and playing together. The colors are bright and show the girls in a variety of areas dressing up as doctors, adventures, scientists and more. This is a perfect book to read in classrooms or at home. It allows readers to see that girls can be strong and fierce in everything they do.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

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