The First Notes: The Story of DO, RE, MI by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton

The First Notes: The Story of Do, Re, Mi

Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton, Authors

Chiara Fedele, Illustrator

Little, Brown, Fiction, Nov. 1, 2022

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Guido d’Arezzo, Music, Musical notation, Monk, History

Opening: “A thousand years ago, in the small community of Pomposa, Italy, a boy named Guido was sent to a monastery to begin his schooling. In those days, a monastery was considered the best place to receive an education. The monks who lived and taught there were studious and wise.”

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Imagine a time very long ago, when music couldn’t be written or read and could only be learned from live performances. A monk named Guido d’Arezzo dreamed of finding a way to write music as words are written in books, so that people far and wide could read and learn melodies. With creativity, passion, and perseverance, one humble man invented a way to share music across the world.

Beloved musical icon Julia Andrews and bestselling author Emma Walton Hamilton introduce readers to the remarkable true tale of the first notes — Do, Re, Mi Fa, Sol, La, and Ti — enhanced with lush illustrations, fascinating historical facts and an exuberant visual celebration of the classic song “Do-Re-Mi.”

What I love about The First Notes;

The First Notes: The Story of Do, Re,Mi  is a pitch-perfect collaboration for Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton. It is a joyful and charming book for both children and adults. The text is lyrical with rich imagery and is supported by Chiara Fedele’s breathtaking watercolor and gonauache illustrations, which are lush and colorful. And take a good look at the gorgeous book cover of Guido.

Guido was a curious student who studied Latin, astronomy and mathematics. But his real love was music and he wanted to learn everything he could so he could teach others . He was one of those unique souls who heard music around him — in the chanting voices of the monks, in the clip-clop of donkey hooves, and in every aspect of nature.. A century ago, music was passed down by listening, memorizing and practicing. One day he made an important discovery. The other monks thought he was foolish. You’ll have to read the story to find out about his creative process to write a musical scale that others could read.

How much we take for granted. I was a serious pianist and sang in choirs years ago. I studied musical theory and history, but I never thought about the origins of musical notation and who actually created the scales. Of course someone had to create a musical scale, and it was an 11th century Italian monk, who was somewhat a revolutionary. 

Guido’s moving story belongs in school libraries as part of a musical curriculum. It is perfect for children who are learning to read music, sing in choirs and play instruments. Adults who love music and enjoy picture book biographies will find this book a gem, as well as fans of The Sound of Music.The ending will have readers singing the Rodgers and Hammerstein song, “Do-Re-Mi.” The First Notes is a perfect gift book.

There is a note from the authors to the reader at the start of the book. The end of the book has A Note About the Song Do-Re-Mi, a Glossary, A Day in Guido’s Life at Pomposa Abbey, The Guidonian Hand, and A Historical Note that reveals exactly what is known about Guido’s life.

Resources: Sing the song “Do-Re-Mi” with children. Show them a simple musical scale and name the notes. 

Julie Andrews’s legendary career encompasses the Broadway and London stages, as well as multiple films, television shows, album releases, concert tours, directing assignments, and the world of children’s publishing. In 2000 the title of Dame Commander of the British Empire was bestowed upon her by Queen Elizabeth II for lifetime achievements in the arts and humanities. Her many other honors include a Kennedy Center honor in the fall of 2001. She was married to film director Blake Edwards for forty-one years, and the couple have five children, ten grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Emma Walton Hamilton is an award-winning writer, producer and arts educator. Together with her mother, Julie Andrews, she has written over thirty books for children and young adults, including the New York Times bestselling Very Fairy Princess series. Emma is on the faculty of Stony Brook University’s MFA in Creative Writing, where she serves as director of the Children’s Lit Fellows and the Young Artists and Writers Project..

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 purchased copy..

The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito – Multicultural Children’s Book Day #ReadYourWorld

Today is Multicultural Children’s Book Day – Jan. 26, 2021

Official hashtag: #ReadYourWorld 

 Learn more about this special day at the end of my review.

The Sound of Silence

Katrina Goldsaito, Author

Julia Kuo, Illustrator

Little, Brown, Fiction, 2016

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Sounds, Listening, Silence,  City, Tokyo, Multicultural 

Opening “Little Yoshio wiggled with anticipation. Three…Two…One! He threw open the front door.”

Puslibsher’s Synopsis

“Do you have a favorite sound?” little Yoshio asks. The koto musician answers, “The most beautiful sound is the sound of ma, of silence.”

But Yoshio lives in Tokyo, Japan: a griant, noisy, busy city. He hears shoes squishing through puddles, trains whooshing, cars beeping, and families laughing. A koto plays notes that are twangy and twinkinling; they tickled Yoshio’s ears!  Tokyo is like a symphony hall!

Where is silence?

Join Yoshio on his journey through the hustle and bustle of the city to find the most beautiful sound of all. 

Why I like The Sound of Silence: 

Katrina Goldsaito’s The Sound of Silence will transport readers to another place, where one needs sound in order to appreciate silence. The text is inspirational and very lyrical for both children and adults. The illustrations are rich and lively. This is a beautiful book for the family library.

I love the concept silence presented as “ma” by the koto player, with no further explanation. It can be heard in many different ways. When I attend the philharmonic, I love the moment of total silence that I hear as the last note is played just before the audience breaks into applause. For me that is a “ma” moment.

For Yoshio, he embarks upon a journey to listen more closely for sound. There is too much noise in his school classroom. When recess arrives, he visits a bamboo grove at the edge of the playground, but the wind is blowing and creates a beautiful sound, but it isn’t the silence he’s seeking. Silence seems so illusive, even at night when his family is asleep. There are noises. His journey contineus and he finds it in an unlikely place. No spoilers.

Resources:  Make sure you read the author’s afterwaord about the Japanese concept of ma. There are some exercises that Goldsaito’s father taught her as a child to listen to individual sounds around her, that would be fun to use with children. And like Yoshio, children can also discuss list their favorite sounds  and sounds that may feel disruptive, like a horn blasting. There are many ways to use this beautiful book.

Katrina Goldsaito’s favorite sound is the sound of bare  feet on tatami mats. In Tokyo, she worked as an on-camera TV journalist and producer for NHK-World, and has written for National Geographic, The Christian Sicence Monitor, NPA, and The Japan Times. She lives near Golden Gate Pak with her husband and son, and spends her days eating avocados and working on her first YA novel. You can visit her at katrinagoldsaito.com.

*Reviewed gifted by the author in exchange for a review.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2023 (1/26/22) is in its 10th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those books into the hands of young readers and educators.

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Still This Love Goes On by Buffy Sainte- Marie and Julie Flett

Still This Love Goes On

Buffy Sainte-Marie, Author and Songwriter

Julie Flett, Illustrator

Greystone Kids, Poetry, September 22, 2022

Pages: 40

Suitable for ages: 3-7 years

A New York Times / New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Book of 2022

NAMED A BEST PICTURE BOOK OF THE YEAR: Kirkus Reviews, Globe and Mail, and Chicago Public Library

Themes: Indigenous people,  Nature, Seasons, Family, Community, Traditions, Song

Opening: “Sat beside a beaver dam and watched the winter grow. Ice was hard with little tracks appearing on the snow.”

Publisher’s Synopsis:

With breathtaking lyrics by internationally renowned Cree singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie and stunning images by award-winning Cree-Métis author and illustrator Julie Flett, this picture book, based on the same name, is a love letter celebrating seasons, place, Indigenous traditions and community. At the hear of the heart of the picture book is a gentle message about missing our loves ones and promise of seeing each other again. 

It is a song of hope   Of power and place and change and time. Of summer flowers turning tields to sun, and hearts filled with drumbeats. Read it. Sing it. Share it.

Why I love Still This Love Goes On:

I am always searching for beautiful books that represent the Indigenous and Native American cultures for children. It mention sweetgrass, morning, cranes, horses, buffalo, drums, jingle dresses and starlit nights, which highlight the relationship between the people and their culture. This book is a gem.

Julie Flett’s two-page spreads will mesmerize children as they pour over her beautiful pastels. I love that there is so much space in each spread, which gives the artist the time to work her magic with readers. The cover is beautiful!

Resources: There is sheet music of Buffy Sainte Marie’s beloved song at the end.  And make sure your read both Buffy and Julies about messages to readers about the inspiration behind the music and the artwork for this very happy book. If you are American or Canadian, read books about the indigenous people in your area. Enjoy indigenous artwork. And celebrate Indigenous People’s Day Oct. 9, 2023 or Native American Month in November 2023. 

Buffy Sainte-Marie is a world-renowned and Academy Award-winning Cree singer–songwriter, activist, educator, and visual artist. She has made her voice heard through her music, establishing herself among the ranks of songwriter greats. . Her other books for kids include Hey Little Rockabyeillustrated by Ben Hodson, and Tâpwê and the Magic Hat

Julie Flett is a Cree–Métis author, illustrator, and artist who has received numerous awards for her books, including two Governor General’s Awards and the American Indian Library Association Award. Her work has been reviewed widely, including in the New York Times, the Globe and Mail, and Publishers Weekly. Her books Birdsong and We All Playalso published by Greystone Kids, earned multiple starred reviews and appeared on many best of the year lists.

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 book.

 

All Through the Night: Important Jobs that Get Done at Night By Polly Faber

All Through the Night: Important Jobs that Get Done at Night 

Polly Faber, Author

Harriet Hobday, Illustrator

Nosy Crow, Fiction, Nov. 1, 2022

Suitable for ages: 2-5

Themes: Jobs, Night, Workers, Parents

Opening: “It’s getting dark, I’ve had my dinner. I’ve brushed my teeth and put on my pajamas. But my mom’s just had her breakfast. She’s brushed her hair and put on her coat….She’s got an important job to do.”

Publisher’s Synopsis:

As the sun sets, a little girl gets ready for bed. Meanwhile her mom is putting on her coat and preparing to go to work.

But she’s not alone. Workers all across the city are getting ready for a busy night. Nurses and doctors are helping people who are sick, delivery workers are unloading groceries, band members are playing music, and journalists are drafting stories. And these are just some of the people who keep things running and prepared all through the night.

Why I like this book:

Make sure you check out the beautiful cover!  Polly Faber’s text is spare and lively. Harriet Hobday’s colorful  and  bold  illustrations are so lively! Readers will have fun examining each page!  It is a perfect read aloud.

This book will appeal to so many children who have a parent, sibling, grandparent or other family member who work at night, whether it is a second or third shift. They will feel pride in knowing their family member is doing an important job to run the city  and prepare for the next work day. Some work in healthcare, entertainment, cleaning, restaurants/supermarkets, transportation, bakeries. law enforcement and fire departments.. Yes kids may miss them, but they will feel proud that their mom or dad does a very important job to keep the city running, healthy and safe.

As a young reporter, I always enjoyed writing a Christmas Eve story of people who would worked while Santa was making his journey around the world — at night time. I remember what it was like at night to put the morning newspaper to bed near midnight and wait for the first pages to arrive to proof read. Yes we used typewriters and the presses had led type. Guess I’m dating myself! 

Resources: Great classroom read. Encourage children to draw a picture of the job their parent, family member or neighbor does at night. It would be fun to make a big  list of all the jobs that must be done at night. Many are suggested in this book, but there are so many more. Think outside the box.

Polly Faber is the author of Building a Home and Through the North Pole Snow. She is also a children’s book blogger and volunteer reading helper. She lives with her husband, sons, and cats in London, where she has her own tiny free library right outside her house.

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 honest review.

To Change a Planet by Christina Soontornvat

To Change a Planet

Christina Soontornvat, Author

Rahele Jomepour Bell, Illustrator

Scholastic Press, Nonfiction, Aug. 2,  2022

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Earth science, Climate change, Activism, Making a difference

Opening: “Our planet. Big, tough, dependable. Our planet has spun through eons of time. Mere moments ago, we arrived.”

Publisher’s Synopsis:

A clarion call to protect our planet, our only home.

One person. Small, quiet,

insignificant.

But when one person,

and one person,

and one person

become many,

they can change

a planet.

Spare, poetic text and breathtaking pictures invite readers on a stirring journey that gently illuminates the causes of climate change as well as how our individual and collective actions can make the world better.

Meticulously researched and brimming with hope and hands-on solutions that will edify and empower even the youngest readers. To Change a Planet is a loving ode to our only home and vital for every child, classroom, and family.

Why I love To Change a Planet:

To Change a Planet is an extraordinary introductory picture book about climate change and caring for our planet. Christina Soontorvat’s text is short and lyrical, but its powerful message will speak to the hearts of children in a hopeful and meaningful manner. There is so much beauty in this book.  Rahele Jomepour Bell’s eye-popping gouache illustrations are rich in detail and draw readers into the story. Beautiful collaborative work between the author and illustrator.  

I’m impressed with Soontorvat’s research for her informative book. As a result, children of all ages will enjoy this gem. She includes a little bit of earth history and science in her text, as well as a call to action. My favorite books to share are those that encourage children to make a difference in their world. Older children will want to read “More About Climate Change” in the double-spread at the end of the book. This is book is a beautiful addition to your home or school library, as it can be used in so many ways. 

Resources: The best place to start talking about climate change is at home. Use the information in the book to look at how you and your family can conserve energy and become more environmentally-friendly. At school there are many suggestions about getting involved from writing letters to your city council or legislators to talking with with neighbors and participating in marches..   

Christina Soontornvat began this book during a time when she was searching for hope. “As I wrote, I realized that the mechanism behind climate change — many small things coming together to make a big impact — also gives us a framework, for how we can work together to help  our planet. Hope is the first step in problem-solving, and I am hopeful we can change our future for the better.” Christina is a two-time Newbery Award honoree of A Wish in the Dark and All Thirteen, which also won the Kirkus Prize and Sibert Award. A former science educator, she holds a BS in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in science and education. Christina lives in Austin, Texas, with her family. Learn more at her website: http://www.soontornvat.com.

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. 

 

Mommy’s Hometown by Hope Lim

Mommy’s Hometown

Hope Lim, Author

Jaime Kim, Illustrator

Candlewick Press,  Fiction, Apr. 12, 2022

Suitable for ages: 3-7

Themes: Parent and child, Family relationship, Memories, Hometown, Change, Multicultural 

Opening: “At night, Mommy would tell me about where she grew up.”

Publisher’s Synopsis:

This gentle, contemplative picture book about family origins invites us to ponder the meaning of home. A young boy loves listening to his mother describe the magical place where she grew up. The stories are filled with friends who splash in the river surrounded ny tall mountains. Mommy’s stories have let the boy visit her homeland in his thoughts and dreams, and now he’s old enough to travel with her to see and experience it .

However, when mother and son arrive, the town is not at all like he has imagined. There are tall skyscrapers in front of the mountains and people everywhere. The boy feels like an outsider—until they visit the river where his mother used to play, When they dip their toes into the river, the little boy feels the same joy his mother did when she used to play there. Even though Mommy’s hometown has changed, the spirit has stayed the same and the happiness from memories new and old remain.

Sensitively pitched to a child’s-eye view, this vivid story honors the immigrant experience and the timeless bond between parent and child, past and present.

Why I like Mommy’s Hometown:

Hope Lin has written a endearing story about the bond between a boy and his mother, and their first visit to her South Korean  hometown. His mother has shared so many fond memories that he has difficulty reconciling all the changes around him. It’s not what he imagined.  Lin’s text is lyrical and gentle and is beautifully captured in Jamie Kim’s warm and inviting illustrations. Cozy and inviting cover.

What a perfect book to talk about the past and present and the effects of change. The boy’s mother’s lived in a village that now is a huge bustling city with a lot of concrete, steel and people. Where are the mountains and rivers? Where are the houses and the red sky at dusk? There are so many ways to use this book in a classroom.

Resources: Children love to hear their parents share their experiences of growing up,. Take your child to visit your old home or neighborhood. Show them the schools you attended, your favorite ice cream store, climbing tree and park. Show them your favorite quiet spots.  Talk about how it used to be and compare it to how it is now.  Talk about how everything changes and ask children about the things that have changed in their lives.  For example, kids will remember their first three-wheeler and their graduation to a bigger bike they ride now. Change can be good. Help them make a list of all the changes they have seen in their lives.

Hope Lim is a children’s book author with a BA in English literature as well as an MA in conference interpretation. She is the author of I Am a Bird. Mommy’s Hometown was inspired by the changes she noticed to her own home town while visiting with her son and husband. Born and raised in South Korea, Hope Lim now lives with her family in San Francisco.

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 the publisher in exchange for a review.

 

A Very Mercy Christmas by Kate Dicamillo

A Very Mercy Christmas

Kate DiCamillo, Author

Chris Van Dusen, Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Fiction,  Sep. 27, 2022

Suitable for ages: 3-7

Themes: Holidays, Caroling, Kindness, Friendship

Opening: “Stella Endicott felt joyful. She felt like something miraculous might happen. She wanted to sing.”

Book Jacket Synopsis:

When Stella Endicott gets the sudden idea to go caroling, she has a little trouble getting anyone to join her. Her brother, Frank, is not good at spontaneity. The Watstons are very involved in a precarious baking endeavor. Eugenia Linclon declines, a bit rudely, to accompany the singing on her accordion. And Horace Broom is too busy studying planetary movement.

Will Stella need to sing by herself, accompanied only by the cacophonous contributions of the pig, the cat, and the horse she pick up along the way? Or might there be a gentle miracle in store?

Why I love A Very Mercy Christmas:

This is a delightful holiday story for fans of  Kate DiCamillo’s early reader books the Tales from Deckawoo Drive. It will put  readers in the mood for the holidays. It is full of holiday joy, friendship, kindness compassion and a little bit of silliness. 

Stella is filled with the Christmas spirit and wants to go caroling, but her friends and neighbors aren’t interested or are too busy.  So her animal friends, Mercy the Pig, General Washington the cat and Maybelline the horse follow her.  Not deterred, Stella  begins singing “Joy to the World” by herself as she walks down the street. That’s when something magical happens. This heartwarming story  doesn’t have a strong religious tone — just Stella wanting to share the joy she feels bubbling up inside her. 

Chris Van Dusen’s eye-popping and colorful illustrations will delight readers. He really captures the holiday spirit, the rosy cheeks, the gorgeous winter scenery, a starry night, and the unique personalities of each character/ Readers will see their favorites in full-color. A must read for DiCamillo’s fans. There is a special surprise at the end of the book.

Resources: Go caroling, but make sure you have friends and an adult to join you. Make your own holiday cards for friends. Or gift your neighbors some cookies you helped bake. Offer to do a chore for a senior neighbor. Spread the cheer of the holidays.

Kate DiCamillo is the beloved author of many books for young readers. Her books Flora & Ulysses and The Tale of Despereaux both received Newberry Medals. A former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, she lives in Minneapolis. Visit Mercy Watson for more about Mercy, and don’t miss a Piglet Named Mercy!

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 the publisher in exchange for a review.

Listen: How Evelyn Glennie, a Deaf Girl, Changed Percussion by Shannon Stocker

Listen: How Evelyn Glennie, a Deaf Girl, Changed Percussion

Shannon Stocker, Author

Devon Holzwarth, Illustrator

Dial Books for Young Readers, Biography, Apr. 12, 2022

Suitable for ages: 4–8

Themes: Music, Deafness, Listening, Feeling, Resilience,  Percussion, Biography

Opening: “This is a story of music. Of obstacles. Of strnegth and hard work. Of all you can accomplish when you dream. If you only . . . listen.“usPublisher’s Synopsis:

A gorgeous and empowering picture book biography about Evelyn Glennie, a deaf woman, who became the first full-time solo percussionist in the world.

“No. You can’t,” people said.
But Evelyn knew she could. She had found her own way to listen.

From the moment Evelyn Glennie heard her first note, music held her heart. She played the piano by ear at age eight, and the clarinet by age ten. But soon, the nerves in her ears began to deteriorate, and Evelyn was told that, as a deaf girl, she could never be a musician. What sounds Evelyn couldn’t hear with her ears, though, she could feel resonate through her body as if she, herself, were a drum. And the music she created was extraordinary. Evelyn Glennie had learned how to listen in a new way. And soon, the world was listening too.

Why I like this book:

This inspiring biography about Evelyn Glennie will have a special impact on readers — especially those who are differently abled. How often children are told “no, you can’t do that.”  And something within them says, “watch me.” Shannon Stocker’s story will find a home in the hearts of many children. The text is lyrical and Devon Holzwarth’s vibrant and lively illustrations capture the essence of the movement Evelyn feels when the vibrations move through her body. Excellent collaboration between the author and illustrator. 

I really enjoyed the special relationship Evelyn had with her teacher, Ron Forbes, who encouraged her to feel the music in her own way. For Evelyn it was feeling the vibration in her heart and her entire body. My favorite scene is when Forbes encourages her to remove her hearing aids (not a likely thing to do) and feel the vibrations. She also takes off her shoes. She discovers that without her aids, the vibrations move through every part of her. And she finds her own way of listening and making music. She eventually ends up studying at the Royal Academy of Music. In later years, Evelyn Glennie became the first full-time solo percussionist in the world. 

This book spoke to me because I have a daughter who is hearing impaired. She began wearing hearing aids at age 4.  It opened the world to her. And, one of the things she loved was music and movement. We let her take piano lessons and play the violin in the middle and high school. She has a lovely singing voice and sang in a choir, but always positioned herself a certain way and stood by someone with a strong voice. She learned to adapt in her own way. 

Make sure you check out the Author’s Note at the end of the book, as you will learn about the author and her own journey with music. She spoke many times to Evelyn and shares her wisdom for young readers. To learn more about Evelyn, visit her website.

Resources: What a great classroom book. It would be fun to have a teacher to bring in some drums and other instruments, especially if there is a music department. Have children take off their shoes, touch the walls and feel the vibrations that are created.  

Shannon Stocker is a writer and musician who has always danced to the beat of her own drum. She is the author of the picture book Can U Save the Day? and the 21st Century Junior Library:  Together We Can: Pandemic early reader series. Shannon lives with her husband, Greg, and her children, Cassidy and Tye, in Louisville, Kentucky. Learn more about her at her website.

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.

The Superpower Sisterhood – Perfect Picture Book Friday

The Superpower Sisterhood

Jenna Bush Hager & Barbara Pierce Bush, Authors

Cyndi Wojciechowski, Illustrator

Little Brown Books for Young Readers, Fiction, Apr. 19, 2022

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Friendship, Sisters, Cooperation, Talents, Working together, Diversity

Opening: “I’ve lived here my whole life. Just me, Mom and Dad, and our closest  neighbors: the Millers, the Díazes, the Franks, and the Rosas.”

Book Jacket Synopsis:

Emma has been lonely all her life growing up in a neighborhood with no other kids—until the day two sets of sisters move to her street! The girls immediately form a club, only to discover that something mysterious is going on. They’ve each always had special talents, but when they work together, it’s almost like their skills become…superpowers. Now the sisterhood is ready to help their neighborhood thrive, as long as they can keep the spooky Ms. Wigglestoot from discovering their secret. Or maybe there’s a way these super sisters can help their archnemesis too….

From former first daughters Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush, authors of the #1 New York Times bestselling Sisters FirstThe Superpower Sisterhood makes it clear that with sisters by your side, life is pretty exciting. And anything is possible!

Why I like The Superpower Sisterhood:

The Superpower Sisterhood is a beautiful and inspiring tribute to the power of girls combining their talents and using them to help their neighbors and community. And if you are an only child, you can find sisters in the friendships you make in your neighborhood, with cousins, and at school. Cyndi Wojciechowski’s spirited pastel illustrations really make this story sing. And look at the powerful cover!

For Emma, who narrates the story, choosing her sisters is powerful because each of her new friends has a special ability to offer — the knowledge of math and design, art, writing, dance and music — and together they can accomplish anything. They build a club house, fix a neighbor’s potty, build planters for Mrs. Rosa’s roses, and choreograph “an epic flash mob” that even the neighbors join in. These diverse and memorable characters demonstrate that friendship is not limited to any one kind of person — even the mysterious Ms. Wigglestoot. 

Make sure you check out the message from the Bush sisters at they end of the book to discover the inspiration behind their story. It will surprise readers. And they also include a page of photographs of Emma and her friends and other things they do together. The Superpower Sisterhood is a perfect read in classrooms and is a special gift book.

Resources: Encourage children students to draw a picture of the girls they consider their “sisters.” It can be a blood sister or girlfriends doing their favorite activity or helping someone.

Jenna Bush Hager is the cohost of the fourth hour of the TODAY show with Hoda Kotb and the founder of the TODAY book club Read with Jenna. She is an editor-at-large for Southern Living magazine. She is the coauthor of the #1 New York Times bestselling Ana’s Story and two children’s books that she wrote with her mother, Laura—Our Great Big Backyard and Read All About It—as well as the #1 New York Times bestsellers Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life written with her sister, Barbara, in both adult and children’s editions. She lives with her husband and three children in New York City.

Barbara Pierce Bush is the board chair and cofounder of Global Heal Corps, an organization that has mobilized more than one thousand young leaders who take an innovative approach to solving some of the world’s biggest global health challenges. She is the coauthor of the #New York Times bestsellers Sisters First and Sister First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life and recently graduated with her master degree from Harvard University.

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.

 

 

 

Makana is a Gift by Janet Lucy

Makana is a Gift

 Makana es un Regalo/ Bilingual version

Janet Lucy, Author

Alexis Cantu, Illustrator

Seven Seas Press, Nonfiction, Jun. 13, 2022

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Sea turtles, Marine life, Oceans, Pollution, Plastics, Purpose, Identity

Opening: “The Sun glistened on the water like gold glitter, where a little green seat turtle was basking on the surface of the warm turquoise water of Turtle Cove.”

Publisher’s Synopsis:

One bright morning a little green sea turtle basks on the surface of Turtle Cove, where he arrived the night before. He hatched from a nest on a shore hundreds of miles away, and has spent the first six years of his life swimming through the ocean. Here in Turtle Cove he meets the inhabitants—a wise elder turtle, Kato, and other sea creatures. He admires the unique features of an octopus and starfish, and wishes he could swim with a school of fish. He observes the gulls and terns flying freely overhead, and begins to question his identity.

Makana is a Gift is the story of a young sea turtle’s quest to understand his unique purpose, who and why he is, while waiting to be given his name. One morning while hungry for breakfast, he mistakes a plastic bag for a jellyfish, takes a bite as many sea turtles do, and must seek help to survive this too common, life-threatening experience.

In the end, he understands that all creatures are needed to help and care for each other; he too has a unique and essential purpose; that life is a gift, and so is he. In Hawaiian, Makana means gift, and thus he receives his name.

Why I like Makana is a Gift

Janet Lucy’s storytelling is magical. Her prose has a gentle rhythm that reminds one of the lapping waves. Packed with fascinating facts, beautiful watercolor illustrations and a lovely theme about identity and finding your purpose, Makana’s journey will fuel curious young minds and inspire the next generation of nature lovers. It will definitely appeal to children who have a passion for learning about marine wildlife and a special interest in ocean creatures and all things hidden beneath the sea.  

Children will learn about how a mother sea turtle makes a nest in the sand and lays around 100 eggs the size of ping pong balls.  The sun warms the sand as the little turtles develop in about two months. Once they begin to hatch, they crawl to the ocean, hoping they won’t meet predators along the way. If they reach the water, they will be on their own.

Sea turtles and marine life need protection from the plastic bags and straws that they mistake for food, as Makana discovers. It is important for children to learn how vulnerable sea turtles and marine life can be to the plastics carelessly dumped into the oceans by humans.

Makana means gift in the lovely Hawaiian language and is such a beautiful and fitting title for Lucy’s book. It is a reminder that nature (and life) is a gift and needs to be cherished and protected by all of us. I highly recommend Makana is a Gift for school libraries.  

Resources:  There is a Discussion & Activities Guide, links to Resources, and a list of  Books and Documentaries at the end of the story. Encourage children to draw or paint a sea turtle and the other marine life Makana meets in the ocean. If you live near a beach, plan a day to clean up the plastics you see before they reach the ocean.

Janet Lucy, MA, is the award-winning author of Mermaid Dreams/Suenos de Sirena, multi-award winning The Three Sunflowers/Lost Tres Girasoles , and co-author of Moon Mother, Moon Daughter – Myths and Rituals that Celebrate a Girl’s Coming of Age. Janet is the Director of Women’s Creative Network in Santa Barbara, California, where she is a teacher and consultant, facilitates women’s writing groups and leads international retreats. She can often be found in or near the water. Visit Janet Lucy at her website.

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 the author in exchange for a review.