Love in the Library by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month – May 1 – 31, 2022

Love in the Library

Maggie Tokuda-Hall, Author

Yas Imamura, Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Historical Fiction, Feb. 8, 2022

Themes; Japanese Americans, Relocation camps, Library, World War II, Love, Hope

Suitable for ages: 6-9

Opening: “Tama did not like the desert. She brushed the dust from her eyes as she walked to the library. The barbed wire fences and guard towers cast long shadows over her path. She always did her best not to look at the guards.”

Book Jacket Synopsis:

“The miracle is in us. As long as we believe in change, in beauty, in hope.”

Tama works in the library at the Minidoka incarceration camp, where she is imprisoned because she is Japanese American.  Life in the Idaho camp is relentless and getting through each day is hard. Tama prefers to escape into her books, with their stories of honor and adventure. 

But every day, George is there, too — with a smile, yet another stack of books, and his comforting presence. It is George who helps Tama understand that she isn’t alone, and in that realization, hope if found.

Based on the experience of author Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s own grandparents, who met in Minidoka during World War II, this is a wrenching and beautiful tale of two people who find each other during a time of extreme darkness, and the family born out of their love. 

Why I like Love in the Library:

Love in the Library is an inspiring book for young readers who are introduced to one of America’s darkest periods in history — the internment of Japanese American families living on the West Coast. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, children and babies, shared single rooms in these prison camps. This is an important story to tell because of the fear that pervaded our country during World War II and the social injustices that occurred.

The material is age-appropriate, very factual and allows for a lot of discussion. The lovely gouache and watercolor illustrations will give children a peek into the stark and dreary camps and offer a glimpse of hope.

Even though this is based on the true story, the author helps readers understand how important it is to hope and dream, even under the worst circumstances. It is difficult for Tama to leave college life, but she finds a way to cope by working in the library. It is a place she can escape to and find books that lift her spirit. They are a constant companion, as is the daily visitor, George, who checks out stacks of books. They fall in love in a prison camp where people feel less than human and show their deep inner strength during a challenging time.   

Resources: Make sure you read the Author’s Note at the end of the story. There is a picture of Tama and George Tokuda. This book is a timely read for students today with so much pain and suffering going on in the world around them. It will lead to many interesting discussions. Ask children what helps them cope when they face a difficult situations? Make a list. 

Maggie Tokuda-Hall is Tama and George’s granddaughter, Wendy and Richard’s daughter, and Mikka’s sister. She’s the author of the Parents’ Choice Gold Award-winning picture book Also an Octopus; the YA novel, The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea; and the graphic novel Squad. She lives in Oakland, California, with her son, husband, and dog.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Review copy provided by Candlewick Press, in exchange for a review.

 

The View from the Very Best Place in Town by Meera Trehan

The View from the Very Best House in Town

Meera Trehan, Author

Walker Books US, Fiction, Feb. 8, 2022

Suitable for ages: 8-12

Themes:  Autisim spectrum, Diversity, Friendship, Mansion, Classism, Mystery, 

Book Jacket Synopsis:

Part thriller, part friendship story, part real estate listing, this witty and inventive debut explores the nature of friendship and home.

Sam and Asha. Asha and Sam. Their friendship is so long established, they take it for granted. Just as Asha takes for granted that Donnybrooke, the mansion that sits on the highest hill in Coreville, is the best house in town.

But when Sam is accepted into snobbish Castleton Academy as an autistic “Miracle Boy,” he leaves Asha, who is also autistic, to navigate middle school alone. He also leaves her wondering if she can take anything for granted anymore. Because soon Sam is spending time with Prestyn, Asha’s nemesis, whose family owns Donnybrooke and, since a housewarming party gone wrong, has forbidden Asha to set foot inside.

Who is Asha without Sam? And who will she be when it becomes clear that Prestyn’s interest in her friend isn’t so friendly?

Told from the points of view of Asha, Sam, and Donnybrooke itself, this suspenseful and highly original debut explores issues of ableism and classism as it delves into the mysteries of what makes a person a friend and a house a home.

Why I like The View from the Very Best House in Town:

Meera Trehan has penned a compelling and suspenseful story that involves vivid characters a a fast-paced plot. It is told from three different viewpoints — Asha, Sam and Donnebrooke, (the mansion) — that provide valuable insight into the story. Trehan’s storytelling is captivating and her beautiful writing will draw readers into the story.

Asha and Sam are memorable characters and have been best friends since they were young. They are on the autism spectrum, each with their own gifts. Asha is of East Indian heritage. She loves architecture and is enthralled with the quirky features of Doneybrooke, the mansion that overlooks the town. Sam is obsessed with killing monsters in his favorite Househaunt game. They compliment one another, making his attendance at Castleton Academy hard for the twosome. Prestyn lives at Donneybrooke and attends Castleton, where she befriends Sam for the wrong reasons — to hurt Asha. Prestyn is mean and scary. She manipulates Sam with dangerous psychological games, making this story a real thriller.

Donneybrooke views itself in a class of it’s own — a mansion like no other. It is boastful and filled with pride, but over time it softens and only wants to be a home that is loved and cared for by it’s owners. Donneybrook likes Asha best because she appreciates its unique beauty. There is a lot of growth in the characters, as each forges a path forward, including Donneybrooke. The book would be a great read aloud at home or school. There are many themes to think about and discuss.

Meera Trehan grew up in Virginia, just outside Washington, DC. After attending the University of Virginia and Stanford Law School, she practiced law for over a decade before turning to creative writing. She lives in Maryland with her family. The View from the Very Best House in Town is her debut novel.

Meera Trehan grew up in Virginia, just outside Washington, DC. After attending the University of Virginia and Stanford Law School., she practiced law for over a decade before turning to creative writing. She lives in Maryland with her family.  The View form the Very Best House in Town is her debut novel.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy provided by Walker Books in exchange for a review. 

Saying Goodbye to Barkley by Devon Sillett

Saying Goodbye to Barkley

Devon Sillett, Author

Nicky Johnston, Ilustrator

EK Books, Fiction, 2020/Translated into Spanish 2021

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Pet, Death, Feelings, Grief, Sharing memories, Rescue animals

Opening: Super Olivia and her amazing sidekick Barkley did everything together. Good deeds. Sniffing out clues. Catching the bad guys!

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Olivia and her dog Barkley are inseparable. He’s her first sidekick, her partner in crime-fighting. When Barkley dies Olivia is heartbroken. Olivia realizes however that Barkley would want her to share her love with a new pet. She hatches a plan to adopt a dog in need of a home. So Spud — who is very different from Barkley — joins the family. Olivia learns that loves comes in all shapes, sizes and personalities. Spud may be a hopeless sidekick, but the niche she carves in Olivia’s heart will be entirely and uniquely her own.

Why I like Saying Goodbye to Barkley:

Devon Sillett’s Saying Goodbye to Barkley is a sensitive, uplifting and heartwarming first book about death. Both children and adults will relate to the love and unbreakable bond between Barkley and his owner, Olivia. Sillett’s storytelling is compelling and her pacing keeps readers fully engaged.

Losing a pet to death may be a child’s first experience with loss and grief. Saying Goodbye to Barkley acknowledges Olivia’s feelings of sadness when she loses her best crime-fighting partner. She’s too sad to eat and sleep. She dreads waking up because her best friend isn’t snuggling by her side. 

Olivia takes her time to work through her grief and share her feelings of loss. She holds tight to her memories and realizes that Barkley wouldn’t want her to stop doing good deeds. That’s when she comes up with a plan to adopt a from the rescue shelter — not her mother’s idea — but Olivia’s. A signal to readers that Olivia is healing and ready to move on.  After all, Barkley loved rescuing people. Now it’s Olivia’s turn to rescue a dog.

Nicky Johnston’s colorful, large illustrations compliment the story showing Olivia’s journey through sadness to joy. Make sure you check out the end papers for a sweet surprise.

Resources/Activities: This is an opportunity for the children and family to share their feelings of loss and their joyful memories of their beloved pet. Encourage kids share their favorite memories of their pet, collect pictures of their pet and make a collage, draw pictures, and make a memory box. 

Devon Sillett is a former radio producer, turned writer and reviewer. She is the author of The Scaredy Book, The Leaky Book and Tabitha and the Raincloud.  Born in the US, Devon now lives in Australia. She loves books so much so that she got married in a library! Currently she teaches in the writing department at the University of Canberra, where she is also a PhD student, researching children’s picture books. If she isn’t writing or reading, you’ll find her playing with Legos or hide-an-seek with her two sons.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Review copy provided by EK Books in exchange for a review. 

 

Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke

Anna Hibiscus 

Atinuke, Author

Lauren Tobia, Illustrator

Candlewick Press edition, Fiction, Apr. 12, 2022

Suitable for ages: 6-9

Themes: Africa, Nigeria, Family, Traditions, Economics, Class, Poverty, Vacations 

Publisher’s Synopsis:

From acclaimed Nigerian storyteller Atinuke, the first in a series of chapter books set in contemporary West Africa introduces a little girl who has enchanted young readers.

Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa, amazing Africa, with her mother and father, her twin baby brothers (Double and Trouble), and lots of extended family in a big white house with a beautiful garden in a compound in a city. Anna is never lonely—there are always cousins to play and fight with, aunties and uncles laughing and shouting, and parents and grandparents close by.

Readers will happily follow as she goes on a seaside vacation, helps plan a party for Auntie Comfort from Canada (will she remember her Nigerian ways?), learns firsthand what it’s really like to be a child selling oranges outside the gate, and longs to see sweet snow.

Nigerian storyteller Atinuke’s debut book for children and its sequels, with their charming (and abundant) gray-scale drawings by Lauren Tobia, are newly published in the US by Candlewick Press, joining other celebrated Atinuke stories in captivating young readers.

What to I like about Anna Hibiscus:

Such a delightful and entertaining chapter book that contains four individual stories about Anna and her family and their life in West Africa. Children will be happily introduced to Anna’s very large Nigerian family, their traditions, economics and the differences between classes in an age-appropriate way. Pen and ink illustrations wonderfully compliment the stories. 

Children in North America don’t live in extended families. They will be intrigued to learn how important family is to Anna’s family. There are many aunties who work together to shop, prepare food, care for the children, uncles who work, and grandparents who are wise. No matter how noisy and rambunctious, family is everything!

Anna learns that first hand in the very first story when she goes on seaside vacation with her parents (Canadian mother, African father) and her two brothers. It’s boring. It’s a lot of work for her mother. And Anna’s is run ragged babysitting her twin brothers, Double and Trouble. The arrangement isn’t working and soon the entire extended family members begin to arrive at the cottage. And then the fun begins.

I am pleased that Candlewick is now publishing the Anna Hibiscus series of books in the US. Anna is such a spunky and curious character with a big heart. She will take young readers on a journey through Nigeria where they will learn about how other children live.  

Atinuke was born in Nigeria and spent her childhood in both Afria and the UK. She works as a traditional oral storyteller in schools and theaters all over the world. Atinuke is the author of many children’s book, including the Anna Hibiscus series, the No. 1 Car Spotter series, Too Small Tola, Africa, Amazing Africa: Country by Country, and Catch that Chicken. Atinuke lives on a mountain overlooking the sea in West Wales.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy provided by Candlewick Press in exchange for a review.

 

Someone Builds the Dream by Lisa Wheeler

Someone Builds the Dream

Lisa Wheeler, Author

Loren Long, Illustrator

Dial Books for Young Readers, Fiction, March 23,2021

Suitable for ages: 5-8

Themes:   Dreamers, Skilled trade workers, Technicians, Builders, Teamwork, Diversity  

Opening: “All across this great big world, jobs are getting done / by many hand in many lands. It takes much more than ONE.”

Book Jacket Synopsis:

A house, a bridge, an amusement park all start as an idea, a sketch, a plan. But what happens next? Someone needs to work the saws and pound the nails. Someone has to build each dream.

This joyous and profound book is an exploration of all the work that happens after someone dreams big — about the skilled laborers who turn a thought into a glorious final product (such as this very book!)

Why I like Someone Builds the Dream:

This is an excellent book to show children how many skilled men and women are involved in the vision, planning, and building of structures around the world. Each job is important. There are architects, engineers, artists, scientists, and designers who create the vision or dream. But then there are the skilled construction workers (builders, electricians, plumbers, machine operators and drivers) who must execute the plans and bring them to life — bridges, theme parks, buildings, houses, and ecological wind farms. 

What a wonderful way to introduce the concept of teamwork to children. And each worker’s job is just as important as any other job.  Many kids will see their parents in these very important jobs and feel pride in their accomplishments. 

The text is snappy. The illustrations are colorful, inviting and detailed as a diverse group work together to bring the visions to life. Kids will enjoy pouring over every double page spread. I hope the author and illustrator team up to do more books like this one, because the possibilities are endless.  They may inspire a new generation of workers.  

Resources: This is a great classroom book. Ask kids if there are jobs shown that their parents or other family members do?  Is there a job they like to do. Ask them to think about the bicycles they ride, the baseball and mitt they play with, the clothing,  and shoes and boots they wear. Remember someone made them. Have them draw a picture of a job they might like to do. It reminds me that my grandfather made ice cream at a dairy. My grandmother designed clothing and was a seamstress.  Our son is a truck driver, Our grandsons are engineers. 

Lisa Wheeler grew up in a family of steel workers and welders, and through this book she hopes that readers will share her deep respect for the nature of labor. She is the author of many beloved picture books, including Jazz Baby (A Geisel Honor Book), Farmer Dale’s Red Pickup Truck, and the Christmas Boot (a Golden Kite Award winner). She lives near Detroit, Michigan. 

Loren Long called upon his love of 1930s WPA murals in the painting of this book. One of the most admired children’s book illustrators working today, he has collaborated with many authors, including President Barack Obama, Matt de la Pena, Frank McCourt, and Angela Johnson. His bestselling Otis the Tractor series is in development as an animated TV show. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Reviewed from a library copy.

 

Tiger Honor by Yoon Ha Lee

Tiger Honor (A Thousand Worlds Novel)

Yoon Ha Lee

Rick Riordan Presents / Disney Hyperion, Fiction, Jan. 4, 2022

Suitable for ages: 8-12

Pages: 248

Themes: Families, Loyalty, Honor, Space adventure, Korean Mythology, Shapeshifting, Magic, Ghosts, Fantasy, Science fiction

Book Jacket Synopsis:

Sebin is a young tiger spirit from the Juhwang Clan who wants nothing more than to join the Thousand Worlds Space Forces and, like their uncle Hwan, captain a battle cruiser someday.  But when Sebin’s acceptance letter finally arrives, it’s accompanied by the shocking news that Hwan has been declared a traitor. Apparently the captain abandoned his duty in order to steal a magical artifact, the Dragon Pearl, and his whereabouts are still unknown. Sebin hopes to help clear their hero’s name and restore honor to the clan.

Nothing goes according to plan, however. As soon as 13-year-old Sebin arrives for orientation, they are met by a special investigator named Yi and Yi’s assistant, a girl named Min. Yi informs Sebin that they must immediately report to the ship Haetae and await further instructions. Sebin finds this highly unusual, but soon all protocol is forgotten when there’s an explosion on the ship, the crew is knocked out, and the communication system goes down. It’s up to Sebin, three other cadets, and Yi and Min to determine who is sabotaging the battle cruiser. When Sebin is suddenly accused of collaborating with the enemy, the cadet realizes that the most dangerous for of all is … Min.

Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents Yoon Ha Lee’s companion to the best-selling and award-winning DRAGON PEARL, another space opera inspired by Korean mythology, this time told from the point of view of a nonbinary tiger spirit.

Why I like Tiger Honor:

Tiger Honor is a riveting, high-adventure sequel to Yoon Ha Lee’s Dragon Pearl.  This is her second Rick Riordan Presents novel and another “space opera meets Korean mythology.” It is crafted out of Korean mythological themes. The mythology is never fully explained in this compelling story, because it is the foundation for the world and characters. The world-building is seamless.

The stakes are high in Tiger Honor, when an explosion leaves the new cadets in charge of the battle cruiser and trying to figure out who’s their enemy. But much more sinister things are happening behind the scenes. So Sebin’s first day on the ship starts of with an explosion that injures the captain and crew, and the new cadets are left to fend for themselves. 

Sebin is a nonbinary tiger spirit eager to join the Space Forces like his Uncle Hwan. He can change from his human form into his native tiger shape. He has a keen sense of smell and heightened hearing. Sebin has integrity because he’s grown up in a strong and strict Tiger clan that emphasizes rules, loyalty, honesty and grooms true warriors in martial arts. Min is a courageous character who is a fox spirit with heightened senses and clever charms that distract and manipulate people. Sebin and Min don’t trust each other, but are both dedicated to figuring out who sabotaged the battle cruiser. I enjoyed not completely guessing the ending and won’t give away any spoilers.

Lee handles gender neutral variances as an accepted fact of life. Cadets in the Thousand World’s Space Force wear pronoun pins that tell them how to address each other. Many of the characters in Tiger Honor are nonbinary.  Lee also addresses racism through the tension between the supernatural beings, like ghosts, foxes, and tigers. 

There is a mystery surrounding former general Hwan’s betrayal of the Space Forces in Dragon Pearl, and his scheming and treacherous activities in Tiger Honor, that will keep readers engaged. I was disappointed that more of the story from Dragon Pearl wasn’t shared with readers in Tiger Honor, which is it’s own story. I had to read the end chapters of the first book to remind myself of the details. 

I recommend Tiger Honor to lovers of science fiction, fantasy mythology and space adventures. It will transport you to a world far beyond your imagination.  I’m sure there will be another sequel!

Yoon Ha Lee is a Korean American who grew up in both Texas and South Korea, learning folktales of wily foxes, shapeshifting tigers and benevolent dragons. Lee was inspired to about tigers and foxes in space because everything is better in space. Lee is the author of NYT bestseller Dragon Pearl and is also the author of the adult book Phoenix Extravagant and Machineries of Empire trilogy: Ninefox Gambit, Raven Stratagem, and Revenant Gun. Visit him at this website or on Twitter @deuceofgears,

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Reviewed by a library copy.

 

My Big Book of Outdoors by Tim Hopgood

My Big Book of Outdoors

Tim Hopgood, Author and Illustrator

Candlewick Studio, Nonfiction, Mar. 29, 2022

Pages: 128

Suitable for ages: 7-9

Themes: Nature, Seasons, Earth Day

Opening: “Sunlight and warmth / Bulbs in bloom / Rain showers / New shoots growing / Birds nesting / Trees in blossom/ SPRING”

Book Jacket Synopsis:

Discover the joy out outdoors in this richly illustrated treasury that celebrates the wonders of nature.

From the vibrant colors of flowers in bloom to poems about dandelions and raindrops, this bright and beautiful collection is jam-packed with amazing things to see and do outdoors.

Depicting the splendor of the four seasons, the gorgeous book is the perfect introduction to nature in all its glory.

Why I love My Big Book of Outdoors:

Tim Hopgood’s My Big Book of Outdoors is oversized, with powerful words blending with dazzling mixed media illustrations. Make sure you check out the gorgeous end papers.  Children will love poring over all of the vibrant details. The layout is beautiful and begins with a list of signs of each season, starting with Spring. If there is a book that will nudge your nature-loving children outdoors to explore, this book will do just that!

Although the book is designated for children ages 7 to 9 years, it is definitely a book that young children will enjoy. In fact, I believe this book will grow with your child. It can be read as a picture book to introduce them to seasons. And it can be used by older children who will enjoy the more detailed information about birds, insects, butterflies, flowers, migration, tracking animals, stargazing and following the phases of the moon. The book includes many clever seasonal activities that will delight kids — like making a bird nest out of melted chocolate and shredded wheat; making a bug hotel for beetles; making a leaf mobile with fall leaves; baking apples; and making a weather station out of pine cones.

Hopgood dedicates his book to “everyone who stayed indoors in 2020.” His wants to invites readers to step outside and take a really good look at the world around them and celebrate each and every wonder. His book is a treasure trove of information and is written with elegance and sensitivity about the important role nature plays in our lives. This is a perfect gift book for every season and would be a welcomed addition to any home or school library. It also is an excellent Earth Day book.

Activities: Take a walk around your backyard and look for bird nests, daffodils, and blossoms on trees, Listen to the bird songs in the early morning hours. My Big Book of Outdoors is full of activities for each season.  Have fun!

Tim Hopgood is an award-winning illustrator and author of books for children including the international best-seller What a Wonderful World, the hugely successful Wow! Said the Owl (recently adapted for the stage by Little Angel Theatre, London), and the award-winning Fabulous Frogs written by Martin Jenkins. His books have been translated into over twenty different languages.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Review copy provided by Candlewick Studio in exchange for a review.

 

 

Book Buddies: Marco Polo Brave Explorer by Cynthia Lord

Book Buddie: Marco Polo Brave Explorer

Cynthia Lord, Author

Stephanie Graegin, Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Fiction, Mar. 29, 2022

Suitable for ages; 6-9

Themes: Library, Borrowing books, Repurposing toys, Friendship, Bravery

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Marco Polo is a small felt mouse who used to be a Christmas ornament on Anne the Librarian’s tree. But now he’s one of the Book Buddies, toys that can be checked out just like books. Marco  Polo may be small, but he’s also a brave explorer looking for adventure — if only someone would check him out of the library.

Seth is a boy who visits the library with his dad and younger brother. He wishes he could be a little more brave especially when he goes on his first sleepover. But maybe a small explorer like Marco Polo is just the kid of friend he needs.

From Newbery Honor winner Cynthia Lord and celebrated artist Stephanie Graegin, here is the second title in a heartwarming series about a group of friendly toys at the library and the children who borrow them.

Why I like this Marco Polo Brave Explorer:

Children will be captivated by Cynthia Lord’s heartwarming Book Buddies chapter book series.  Marco Polo Brave Explorer is the second book, preceded by Ivy Lost and Found. It is the first series I’ve seen that pairs friendly toys with children who may need them to work through a difficult time. I love the idea that the toys are repurposed and given a chance to be loved again by more children. Such a great idea to check out a toy along with a book from a library.

The story is narrated in third person. Seth has been invited to Ben’s birthday party and sleepover and he’s not feeling very brave. What if he hears funny noises or wants to go home?  He doesn’t dare take his worn rabbit. Ben may think he’s silly or childish. Seth goes to the library to pick out a book and listen to the story time. The children are invited to find a book buddy and Seth spots tiny Marco Polo,  Anne the Librarian thinks Marco Polo is perfect for Seth and says that “brave explorers have big adventures.” And Marco Polo does have a big adventure when the Ben’s cat takes him off Seth’s pillow. He’ll have a big story to tell!  

The short chapters will engage children, as will Graegin’s lovely pen and ink illustrations on nearly every page. I look forward to more Book Buddy adventures with new borrowers. 

Cynthia Lord is the author of award-winning middle grade fiction titles such as the Newbery Honor Book Rules, and most recently Because of the Rabbit. She is also the author of Shelter Pet Squad chapter book series and the Book Buddies series. She lives in Maine.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy provided by Candlewick in exchange for a review.

 

Bunny Finds Easter by Laura Sassi

Bunny Finds Easter

Laura Sassi, Author

Ela Jarzabek, Illustrator

Zonderkidz, Feb. 1, 3022

Suitable for ages: 0-4

Themes: Bunny, Animals, Easter, Holidays, Rhyme, Board Book,

Opening: “Bunny wakes, / Hip hip hooray! / Let’s celebrate! / It’s Easter Day?”

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Easter is for coloring eggs, wearing a lovely bonnet, joining in an egg hunt, and attending church with family! But the most important thing about this holiest of seasons is to celebrate and focus on Jesus. Children will be introduced to the meaning of Easter through colorful illustrations and playful rhymes.

Why I like Bunny Finds Easter

Laura Sassi’s charming board book introduces Bunny and young readers to their very first Easter. The rhyming text is sweet and shows Bunny’s excitement and curiosity about this special day.  She experiences all of the traditions of celebrating and preparing for this big day,  This is a lovely book that will help parents start a meaningful conversation about a most important day for Christians. It’s also a fun way for parents to talk about their experiences of Easter as children and share family traditions. Encourage little ones to ask questions.

Ela Jarzabek’s colorful and cheerful illustrations compliment the text and will add to reader’s anticipation of coloring eggs, dressing up in new clothes, participating in an egg hunt in the church lawn with a diverse group other woodland friends and worshiping and singing together at church.  This is a perfect gift book for small hands and for Easter baskets. I’m sending my copy to my two-year-old granddaughter.

Resources: Each page will offer different activities parents and children can do together, like coloring eggs and setting up your own egg hunt in your yard or in the house. I always hosted an Easter egg hunt for the entire neighborhood in our front yard. Take a walk around your yard. Easter also signals the birth of baby animals and birds, buds appearing on trees and the appearance of flowers. 

Laura Sassi has a passion for telling stories in prose and rhyme. She is the author of six books for children including the best-selling Goodnight Ark, which was a 2015 Christian Book Award Finalist; Goodnight, Manger; Diva Delores and the Opera House Mouse, which won First Honor Book for the 2019 Best in Rhyme Award and is a 2021-2022 Iowa Goldfinch Award Nominee; Love Is Kind, which was a 2020 Anna Dewdney Read Together Award Honor Book; Little Ewe: The Story of One Lost Sheep. She writes daily from her home in New Jersey and finds special joy in sharing her love of reading and writing with the next generation at school visits and other book events.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*I won a copy of Bunny Finds Easter in a book giveaway on Susanna Leonard Hill’s wonderful website

Out of My Heart by Sharon Draper

Out of My Heart

Sharon M. Draper, Author

Atheneum/A Caitlyn Diouhy Book, Fiction, Nov. 9, 2021

Pages: 352

Suitable for ages: 10 and up

Themes: Cerebral palsy, Summer camp, Differently abled kids, Self-confidence, Emotions, Social themes, Friendships

Book Jacket Synopsis

Melody, the huge-hearted heroine of Out of My Mind, is a year older, and a year braver. And now with her Medi-talker, she feels nothing’s out of her reach, not even summer camp. There have to be camps for differently-abled kids like her, and she’s going to sleuth one out. A place where she can trek through a forest, fly on a zip line, and even ride on a horse! A place where she can make her own decisions, do things herself, and maybe maybe maybe, finally make a true friend. 

By the light of flickering campfires and the power of thunderstorms, through the terror of unexpected creatures in cabins and the first sparkle of a crush, Melody’s about to discover how brave and strong she really is. 

What I love about Out of My Heart:

Sharon Draper has hit a sweet spot in her sequel, Out of My Heart.  Melody Brooks has found her voice, expresses her feelings, shows her humorous side and has outwitted some serious bullies in the past year. Now she wants some independence to see what she can do. Topping her list — she wants to be with others who understand her, feel like she’s part of a group and develop some friendships.  

When Melody decides she wants to go to a summer camp for girls and boys who are differently abled, she is catapulted into some exciting new adventures that challenge her to find out more of who she is and what she can do. She has set on the sidelines of life watching others, now it’s time for Melody to fly. She courageously learns to fly on a zip line, swim, ride in a boat, paint a mural, participate in races, break some camp rules (her best day ever), and attends the best campfires every night. She sees some really cool wheelchairs and devices. And has a first crush.   

Another bonus to camp, there are no helicopter parents hovering over her every move. Just one young counselor assigned to each camper to help ease her needs. Melody likes her counselor, Trinity, and the three other memorable girls: Karyn (spina bifida), Athena (Down syndrome), and Jocelyn (maybe autism spectrum). Towards the end of the week the four girls ask for their own space — without counselors — where they can chat, giggle and really become friends. Melody gives them each a friendship bracelet.    

Melody can’t walk, talk, and use her hands and fingers like most people. Yet she is smart, strong-willed, and determined. I was surprised to read a few disappointed reviewers, who wanted to connect with her hurt and pain, as they did in Out of My Mind. As someone who suffered a brain injury years ago and had to learn to walk, talk and use my hands again, I wanted to see Melody move forward and find out what was possible for her without anyone adding limitations. That’s why I am so thrilled with Melody’s real spunk to learn about herself and take some risks.   

And there are some important things I believe Melody would want you to remember from Out of My Mind when meeting or working with a child who is differently abled. Don’t talk about them as if they are invisible. Don’t assume that they are brain-damaged and aren’t intelligent. Always assume they can hear or understand you even if they can’t communicate. Look directly into their eyes and talk to them as if they understand you. Treat them with respect and dignity. Don’ talk in a loud voice, talk normally. Don’t look away if you feel awkward. Smile and say hello. Be friendly.

There is no feeling sorry for Melody Brooks in Out of My Heart. Hooray for Melody! Let’s hope Sharon Draper has it in her heart to carry Melody’s journey forward in a future sequel. Melody is not finished!  Melody’s story belongs in every middle school classroom as a new generation of kids will want to read and discuss her story.

Sharon M. Draper has written more than thirty books, including the New York Times bestsellers Out of My Mind, Blended, and Stella by Starlight and Coretta Scott King Award winners Copper Sun and Forge by Fire. When she’s not busy creating, she’s walking on the beach with her children and grandchildren, paying piano, and ballroom dancing. She lives in Florida. Visit this award-winning author, educator, speaker, poet and National Teacher of the Year at her online wbsite.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Reviewed from a library copy.