Zonia’s Rain Forest by Juana Martinez-Neal

Zonia’s Rain Forest

Juana Martinez-Neal, Author and Illustrator

Candlewick, Fiction, Mar. 30, 2021

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Amazon rain forest, Indigenous people, Wildlife, Nature, Environmental dangers

Opening: “Zonia lives with those she loves in the rain forest, where it is always green and full of life.”

Synopsis:

Zonia’s home is the Peruvian rain forest. It is her backyard and her front yard, her neighborhood and her playground. Every morning, it calls to her. Every morning, she answers: hello to the sloth family, greetings to the giant anteater, a run with the speedy jaguar…

One morning, the rain forest calls to Zonia in a different voice, a troubled voice. This is the story of that morning.

Why I like this book:

Zonia’s Rain Forest is a visual feast for the eyes and spirit. It carries a beautiful message that nature must be cherished and cared for. It is the perfect opening for discussion with children about the environment and the role the rain forests play in protecting our planet.

Zonia, is an Asháninka girl, who lives in the rain forest and loves to explore its many wonders.  Each morning, this joyful child dances and sings her way through the forest greeting all of her friends and cultivating goodness. Children will love following the Blue Morph butterfly that accompanies Zonia on her journey of transformation.  One morning she discovers that a patch of the forest has become victim to deforestation. It frightens her but she knows she must find a way to protect her home.

Juana Martinez-Neal’s book is a treasure. Her illustrations are exquisite and are created with acrylic colored pencil, pastel, ink and linocuts and woodcuts printed on handmade banana bark paper. The result is breathtaking and an important choice for Zonia’s story. She beautifully captures the lush green rain forest abundant with life. Zonia wears a cheerful yellow tunic, which accents her brown-skin and showcases her happy, sunny nature. Just look at that cover!

Zonia and her people are learning to live in harmony with their surroundings. But the rest of world is impatient and wants to develop the Amazon rain forest. Make sure you read the backmatter about The Asháninka People, with a population more than 73,000, A Few Facts about the Amazon, and Threats to the Amazon. The planet and their way of life is being threatened by greed and it impacts everyone.

Resources:  This is a perfect Earth Day read! Talk about the rain forest with your children or students. Encourage them to draw pictures of their favorite wildlife in the story. Encourage kids to get involved in projects for Earth Day, April 22. There are very simple things that can be done, like planting a tree in a home or school yard.

Juana Martinez-Neal is the Peruvian born daughter and granddaughter of painters. Her debut as an author-illustrator, Alma and How She Got Her Name, was awarded a a Caldecott Honor and was published in Spanish as Alma y cómo obtuvo su nombre. She also illustrated La Princesa and the Pea by Susan Middleton Elya, for which she won a Pura Belpré Illustrator Award, Babymoon by Hayley Barrett, and Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard, which won a Robert E. Sibert Medal. Juana Martinez-Neal lives in Arizona with her family. Visit her online 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 Candlewick Press in exchange for a review.

Don’t Call Me Fuzzybutt! by Robin Newman

Don’t Call Me Fuzzybutt!

Robin Newman, Author

Susan Batori, Illustrator

Sleeping Bear Press, Fiction, Mar. 15, 2021

Suitable for ages: 5-8

Themes: Bear, Woodpecker, Forest animals, Interpersonal relationships, Name-calling, Gossip, Humor

Opening: “Bear needed a lot of sleep. Two hundred and forty-three and a half days, to be precise. Anything less and he turned grizzly.”

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Bear is tired. The weather is getting cool and he’s ready for a nice long nap–he’s got earmuffs and a brand-new door to keep out the noise, plus a pair of fluffy bunny slippers. Meanwhile, real estate mogul Woodpecker finds his recent homes…missing. And he follows the trail of debris right to Bear’s new front door. When he “tap tap taps” to talk to Bear about it, the two engage in a feisty exchange of name-calling and gossip with the rest of their forest neighbors. Can they patch it up–literally–before Bear loses too much sleep?

Why I like this book:

Robin Newman’s Don’t Call Me Fuzzybutt!” is an irresistibly funny picture book.  Rich with Newman’s hilarious text and Susan Batori’s lively and expressive illustrations, Bear’s story shows children how hurtful name-calling can be and how important it is to compromise and apologize. Woodpecker’s exuberance plays off Bear’s grumpiness.  At the height of their confrontation, large illustrations brilliantly show Bear and Woodpecker’s anger — nose to beak!  The humor is spot-on and children will ROAR with laughter!

Newman has a distinct and clever voice as an author. She uses kid-pleasing sounds (GROWL SNARL, ROAR, PECK, PEST), repetition, witty wordplay and fun reiterations of butt.  Newman hit a home run with Don’t Call Me Fuzzybutt!  It’s her best picture book yet! Don’t Call Me Fuzzybutt! is an entertaining read-aloud for home or in the classroom. Make sure you watch the trailer below!

Resources: Engage children in a discussion about name-calling, using Bear and Woodpecker as examples. Ask kids if they’ve  ever called someone a name? Have they ever been called a name? How did it make them feel — mad, hurt, bullied, or surprised? Help children make a list of what they can do to stop name-calling. Encourage kids to draw a picture of their favorite scene in Don’t Call Me Fuzzybutt!

Robin Newman was raised in New York City and Paris where she was a practicing attorney and legal editor, but she now prefers to write about witches, mice, pigs, peacocks, bears and woodpeckers. She is the author of the popular chapter books Griswold and Wilcox Mystery series, and picture books No Peacocks! and Hilde Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep. She lives in New York with her husband, son, goldfish, and two spoiled English Cocker Spaniels, and one French Bulldog. Visit 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.

*Review copy provided by the author is exchange for a review.

The Boy and the Gorilla by Jackie Azua Kramer

 

The Boy and the Gorilla

Jackie Azúa Kramer, Author

Cindy Derby, Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Fiction, Oct. 13, 2020

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Loss, Grief, Hurt, Loneliness, Anger, Imaginary friend

Publisher’s Synopsis:

On the day of his mother’s funeral, a young boy conjures the very visitor he needs to see: a gorilla. Wise and gentle, the gorilla stays on to answer the heart-heavy questions the boy hesitates to ask his father: Where did his mother go? Will she come back home? Will we all die? Yet with the gorilla’s friendship, the boy slowly begins to discover moments of comfort in tending flowers, playing catch, flying a kite, climbing trees and walking along the beach. Most of all, the gorilla knows that it helps to simply talk about the loss—especially with those who share your grief and who may feel alone, too.

Author Jackie Azúa Kramer’s quietly thoughtful text and illustrator Cindy Derby’s beautiful impressionistic artwork depict how this tender relationship leads the boy to open up to his father and find a path forward. Told entirely in dialogue, this direct and deeply affecting picture book will inspire conversations about grief, empathy, and healing beyond the final hope-filled scene.

This profoundly moving tale about a grieving boy and an imaginary gorilla makes real the power of talking about loss.

Why I like this book:

A deeply sensitive story about a grieving boy who asks his imaginary gorilla friend questions about his mother’s death. The  gorilla is reassuring and helps the boy deal with big emotions. Grief is tricky and the gorilla’s presence makes it possible for the boy to approach his grieving father. Together they begin to share memories and start the healing process.

The first four pages of the story are wordless, allowing Cindy Derby to set the somber tone of the boy’s grief with her moving and breathtaking watercolors. The opening pages are intimate and contemplative. Jackie Azúa Kramer’s simple text and Derby’s artwork don’t hurry you along — they provide time and space to study what’s happening and gives children the opportunity to ask questions.  As the story progresses, the artwork appears more luminous and hopeful.

This is a timely book and beautiful book during this time of COVID. It is a book that would be a wonderful gift to families dealing with loss.

Resources: The book alone is a wonderful resource for families.  It opens the doors for families to work at healing together. Encourage your child to make a memory box filled with things that remind them of the person they miss.

Jackie Azúa Kramer is the author of The Green Umbrella and If You Want to Fall Asleep.  She was previously an actress, singer, and school counselor. She lives with her family on Long Island, New York.

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 in exchange for a review.

Band Together by Chloe Douglass

Band Together

Chloe Douglass, Author and Illustrator

Magination Press, Fiction, Sep. 8, 2020

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Animals, Band, Making Friends, Social anxiety, Self-esteem, Courage

Opening: “Duck lived by himself. Most days Duck fished, ate lunch, combed the beach, made tea by himself…” 

Book Jacket Synopsis:

Duck is a solo act. He loves the peace and solitude of his beachside home, strumming his ukulele beneath the stars. After helping stranded band players, Bear, Fox, and Seagull, fix their broken-down tour van, he has tons of fun playing songs and hanging out with his new friends.

Maybe he could ask The Band if they want to play with him again. But why would they want to be friends with Duck?

When Seagull gets sick, it looks like the concert will get cancelled. Or will Duck drum up the courage and accept Bear’s invitation to join The Band? Will Duck help his new friends out?

Why I like this book:

Chloe Douglass has written an engaging book for children who are shy about making new friends and suffer social anxiety.  Some may wonder if they are good enough. Sometimes it may be easier to do things by yourself and not risk being rejected. It may be the safer path, but a lonely one as Duck discovers. Once Duck meets Bear, Fox and Seagull and gets a taste of what it’s like to have friends, he has to find the courage inside himself to take the next step. When they ask him to join the band and play in their concert, Duck says no. But then he remembers the fun he had. Just maybe…

Douglass’s illustrations are delightful! There is a double spread in the middle of the book free of words. Douglass shows Duck deep in thought and her warm illustrations support the moment of Duck’s deep contemplation. You can almost hear Duck thinking out loud. Encourage children to fill in his thoughts with their words because they will know what he’s feeling.

Make sure you check out the fun endpapers because Douglass has illustrated a multitude of singers as animals – Justin Beaver, Alpaca Morrissette, Amy Winegrouse and many others.

Resources: This book is a wonderful resource for home and school. Ask kids if they ever feel like Duck. Encourage them to talk about what makes them anxious about social settings and making new friends. Ask them what would help them to step outside of his comfort zone?  Help them make a list of the things they may try. After all, they don’t want to miss out on the  fun.

Chloe Douglass works in her home studio to create illustrations, character designs, and story ideas. She graduated from Kingston University with and MA Illustration degree. She lives in Tooting, London. Visit 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 copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a review.

The Elephant’s New Shoe by Laurel Neme

The Elephant’s New Shoe: A True Rescue Story

Laurel Neme, Author

Ariel Landy, Illustrator

Orchard Books, Nonfiction, Oct. 6, 2020

Suitable for ages: 4-7 years

Themes: Elephant, Animals, Injury, Rescue center, Prosthetics, Cambodia

Opening: “Animal rescuer Nick Marx peered at the injured elephant. He and Dr. Thy had been called by a patrol team to inspect a tiny male elephant found wandering alone. His name was Chhouk.”

Sysnopsis:

When Chhouk, an Asian elephant calf, was found he was alone, underweight and had a severe foot injury. Conservationist Nick Marx at the Wildlife Alliance rescued the baby elephant. With help from the Cambodian Forestry Administration, the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics, and an elephant named Lucky, Nick nursed Chhouk back to health and worked with a team to make him an artificial foot.

Will Chhouk’s new show allow the young elephant to walk again?

Why I like this book:

Laurel Neme’s true rescue of a young elephant will melt the hearts of young children and adult animal lovers alike.  It is a perfect way to introduce children to wildlife that are injured and traumatized, and the loving rescue teams that commit themselves to providing expert care.

Neme’s book is a compassionate and well-crafted story about the relationship between Nick and Chhouk. From the moment Nick discovers the frightened and hurt baby elephant he calms him with his soothing voice, sleeps with him through the night, feeds him bananas and slowly gains his trust. From that point forward, Chhouk and Nick become best friends and with the help of his team, they are able to bring the baby to the rescue center to care for his missing and infected foot. Once the stub heals, Nick works with the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics to make a prosthetic foot or boot for Chhouk. Through trial and error, the team finally designs a flexible, padded, durable boot that works.  As Chhouk grows, he requires a new boot every six months. The school remains his “fairy godmother.”

Children will enjoy learning that elephants have feelings like people do. Chhouk misses his mother and family, who are the center of his world. “He has no elephant love.” Fortunately an eight-year-old elephant named, Lucky, nestles Chhouk under her belly. Once Chhouk has his new boot he’s able to go on walks with Lucky, explore the forest and become part of the elephant community. Today Chhouk is a teenager and remains at the rescue center.

Ariel Landy’s warm and emotive illustrations beautifully document Chhouk’s journey.  At times they are playful and show Chhouk’s joy when he’s able to walk. And they capture the loving bond between Nick and Chhouk.

Video of Chhouk and Nick Marx, Wildlife Alliance

Resources: Make sure you check out the facts included in the book about Asian and African elephants, the number of muscles in their trunks, their form of communication, and how much they eat. There is also an Author’s Note at the very end about Chhouk today along with photographs of his progress. Visit elephants at a local zoo. Check to see if there are any refuge centers near you that help injured animals. Learn more about the Wildlife Alliance website and their efforts to save elephants, tigers, gibbons, and other animals in Cambodia. For children over 8, there is a book I reviewed recently, Bionic Beasts by Jolene Gutiérrez, about a variety of animals and birds receiving artificial flippers, legs and beaks.

Laurel Neme always dreamed of helping animals. At first, she wanted to be a veterinarian like Dr. Doolittle or a scientist like Jane Goodall, but later chose to help animals in her own way — by telling their stories. She lives in Vermont with her husband, son, and super-smart German shepherd, who is learning to do the laundry. Learn more about Neme by visit 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 book.

Mouse’s Night Before Christmas by Tracey Corderoy

Mouse’s Night Before Christmas

Tracey Corderoy, Author

Sarah Massinni, Illustrator

Candlewick, Fiction, Oct. 13, 2020

Suitable for ages: 2-5

Themes: Animals, Christmas, Friendship

Opening: ‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house / not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”

Publisher’s Synopsis:

It’s Christmas Eve and everyone is fast asleep — except for one lonely mouse who makes a Christmas wish. So when Santa arrives after getting lost in a blizzard, Mouse is there to show him and the reindeer the way. Together they embark on a magical sleigh ride, delivering presents all around town And the last present is just for Mouse: his wish to make a new friend to share Christmas Day with has finally come true!

Why I like this book:

What an endearing new take on the classic Christmas tale! It is magical and younger children will enjoy the rhyming text. When Santa gets lost, Mouse has fun helping Santa deliver gifts and stuffing stockings. When their work is completed, Mouse is sad. But Santa hands him a special gift with a map. Will his wish be granted?

I highly recommend this book if you are looking for a positive message without the bluster of many other holiday stories. It is a simple story about the friendship between two unlikely friends. It speaks to the true nature of Christmas.

Children will be captivated by Sarah Massini’s warm and cozy illustrations. Her attention to detail is exquisite,

Resources: Talk with your children about the many people (neighbors, family members, nursing home residents, homeless) who will be celebrating the holidays alone this year because of the pandemic. Is there some way they may brighten someone’s holidays by drawing a picture, sending a card, or delivering a tin of homemade cookies. Be creative because the holidays are about kindness, caring and friendship.

Tracey Corderoy is the author of the Hubble Bubble books, as well as Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam and The Boy and the Bear.  As a teacher with a passion for literature, she’s constantly coming up with ideas for stories. She lives in a valley in Gloucestershire, England, with her husband, two children, and an ever-increasing menagerie of cute but sometimes naughty pets.

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.

Bionic Beasts by Jolene Gutierrez

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Bionic Beasts: Saving Animal Lives with Artificial Flippers, Legs, and Beaks

Jolene Gutiérrez, Author

Millbrook Press, Nonfiction, Oct. 6, 2020

Suitable for Ages: 9-14

Themes: Animals, Injuries, Rescue, Veterinary Surgery, Prosthetics, Bionics, Designs and Technology

Opening: “Not long ago, a bird without a beak might have starved to death. An elephant without a foot would have hobbled painfully, permanently damaging her spine and remaining legs. Now animals like these are becoming bionic beasts, animals who have artificial body parts that help them move or function.”

Publisher’s Synopsis:

What happens when a young elephant steps on a buried land mine? What happens when a sea turtle’s flipper is injured by a predator? Thanks to recent advances in technology, we have new ways to design and build prosthetic body parts that can help these animals thrive.

Meet an Asian elephant named Mosha, a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle named Lola, a German Shepherd named Cassidy, a greylag goose named Vitória, and Pirate, a Berkshire-Tamworth pig. Each of these animals was struggling, but through a variety of techniques and technologies, humans created devices that enabled the animals to live and move more comfortably. Discover the stories of how veterinarians, doctors, and even students from around the world used 3D printing and other techniques to build bionic body parts for these amazing animals.

Why I like this book:

Jolene Gutiérrez’s Bionic Beasts is both engaging and heartwarming. It will appeal to animals lovers, budding scientists, engineers and innovators. She introduces readers to five animals from the United States, Canada, Brazil and India, who have been helped to lead more normal lives by veterinarians, scientists, prosthetists, orthotists, engineers and college students working with 3D printing. So much thoughtful research went into the writing of this extraordinary book. And I feel lucky to share it with you!

The book is beautifully designed and easy to read. Each chapter features a different animal. The flowing narrative draws readers into the center of the action by sharing information on each animal injury, the healing process, the impact on the animal’s body and the teams that work together to find solutions to make devices that will help, and the progress each animal makes. There are sidebars about the animal species, special surgeries. 3-D printing, and animal sanctuaries.  Gorgeous color photographs adorn every page chronicling the design stages from beginning to end, when the animal is swimming with its new fin, walking with a prosthetic leg, or feeding and preening its babies with a new beak.

Readers are also challenged with STEM activities for each animal.  For example, there are directions for students to experiment with different gelatins to design a flexible fin for the turtle or build a robotic hand to mimic how the elephant will bend its leg in a prosthetic leg. Jolene always asks the question, “can you improve upon the design?” After all, students from 8th grade to college, helped in developing the original designs.

Bionic Beasts is a wonderful resource for middle grade school libraries or for parents who homeschool.  It’s also a perfect Christmas gift. The material is age appropriate and can be read aloud to younger elementary students. There’s a teacher’s guide on Jolene’s website.

Jolene Gutiérrez has always loved animals. She grew up on a farm where she rode horses, bottle-fed calves, chased kittens, and raised tadpoles that grew into toads. She’s been a school librarian for 25 years and lives in Colorado with her husband, two teenage kids, three preteen dogs, and one prickly hedgehog. Learn more at Jolene’s website.

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

*Review copy won in a book giveaway by the author on Beth Anderson, Children’s Writer blog, in exchange for a review.

Why Am I by Colleen McCarthy-Evans

Why Am I

Colleen McCarthy-Evans, Author

Sarah Dietz, Illustrator

Seven Seas Press, Fiction, Aug. 31, 2020

Suitable for ages: 3 -103

Themes: Love, Respect, Humans, Animals, Nature, Life, Inspirational

Opening: “Why Am I / Said the Boy to the Sky / You bring us great joy / Said the Sky to the Boy”

Amazon Synopsis:

Come along on a journey through a dreamy day in our amazing world, starting in the dewy dawn and ending with a dance by the light of the full moon. We’ll meet charming characters and learn about their purpose and preciousness, through fun and playful rhythm and rhyme. This joyful book is a meditation that reminds us that every person, animal and thing in the world has special qualities we can appreciate, value and love about them. And we are all so much more than we believe we are. For ages 3 to 103.

Why I like this book:

Colleen McCarthy-Evans’s Why Am I, is a captivating ode to the wonder and mystery of our world. “Why Am I” is a universal question that children and adults like to ask and ponder. The lyrical narrative reminds readers that nature, animals and human beings have qualities that we all love, appreciate and respect — from the joy of a child to a kiss from a mother; from the sweetness of a honeybee to cheerful chirp of a bird; and from the motion of the ocean to our trust in the galaxy. The language is easy for little ones to understand and yet appropriate for older children and adults. Readers will learn to love and  respect themselves and the wonderful world they live in. This is a very timely picture book.

Why Am I is a perfect quiet time story that will encourage soul-searching conversations between children and parents.  The book is a perfect blend of gentle words and Sarah Dietz’s inspiring and beautiful illustrations, which will capture readers imaginations.

The Spanish edition of the book, Por Que Soy / Why Am I, was published on November 9.

Resources: Make sure you read the Author’s Note at the end. The author has also created two pages of Discussion/Activities  for parents and teachers to use to spark discussions. For example: Take a walk around your school or neighborhood and name a quality for each person, animal, tree, garden, and park that you see. There are so many ways to use this beautiful book.

Colleen McCarthy-Evans is an award-winning creator of books and board games for children and families.  She is the author of The Little Blue Dragon. She’s a co-founder and former Director of Operations of the Santa Barbara Charter School (est. 1993), whose mission is to teach Conflict Resolution along with Academics and the Arts. She lives in Santa Barbara, California with her husband and dogs, loves to practice and teach yoga, and enjoys being in and out of the garden with her two grown sons, extended family and friends.

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.

The Gift of Gerbert’s Feathers by Meaghann Weaver and Lori Wiener

The Gift of Gerbert’s Feathers

Meaghann Weaver and Lori Wiener, Authors

Mikki Butterley, Illustrator

Magination Press, Fiction, Feb. 4, 2020

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Geese, Migration, Serious illness, Death, Family, Love, Courage

Opening: “From the moment his eggshell cracked, and his bill first peeked out, everyone knew Gerbert was a special goose.”

Book Jacket Synopsis:

Gerbert is strong and brave young goose and has fun times with his family and friends, but he knows that one day soon, he won’t be able to keep up with them anymore.

No matter how much Gerbert eats, he barely gains weight. His neck is shorter, his bill smaller and his wings are shorter.  His family migrates every year, and each season he grows weaker. His feathers begin to fall out.

As Gerbert prepares for his final migration, his family rallies around him to make sure his days are filled with love and comfort, and he finds a way to show his flock that he will always be with them.

Why I like this book:

Meaghann Weaver and Lori Wiener have written a tender and sensitive story for children who have a serious illness, for children who have a sibling or other family members who are living with an illness. It is a comforting story about courage and love that can be used in many different situations, even if the family member isn’t facing death. It will also help parents talk about death in a gentle way.

Gerbert is a joyful, loving and courageous gosling. He splashes in the water and plays follow the leader with his siblings. No matter how small Gerbert is, he is determined to have fun.  With each season, he struggles to keep up when his family migrates. Finally, he begins to tire and spend more time in the nest. His family worries about the upcoming migration and know he may not make the journey. Gerbert worries his family will feel sad to leave him behind and will miss him.

Mikki Butterly’s delicate and beautiful illustrations of Canadian geese and their habitat, will evoke emotions. But they are also soothing and comforting.

Meaghann Weaver, MD, MPH, FAAP, is a pediatric oncologist and Chief of the Division of Palliative Care at the Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska. She works with a wonderful interdisciplinary Hand in Hand team which strives to foster the strengths and graces of children and families in the Heartland. Dr. Weaver’s favorite life moments are spent painting, dancing, cooking, and gardening with her amazing daughter, Bravery. Dr. Weaver dreams of one day returning to Africa with her family.

Lori Wiener, PhD, DCSW, is co-director of the Behavioral Science Core and Head of the Psychosocial Support and Research Program at the pediatric oncology branch of the National Cancer Institute. As both a clinician and behavioral scientist, Dr. Wiener has dedicated her career to applying what she has learned from her work with seriously ill children and their families to create new therapeutic, communication, and educational tools. She lives in Annapolis, Maryland with her family and several animals, including a pup named Tessa, a rescue cat named Tupelo, and a pond filled with goldfish, koi and noisy frogs. One of Dr. Wiener’s favorite pastimes is photographing the migration of snow geese.

Resources: There is no easy way to approach the discussion about a seriously ill child. But the authors have written a Note to Parents and Caregivers with sample discussion questions and a Kid’s Reading Guide for siblings who have a brother or sister with a serious illness. But, reading The Gift of Gerbert’s Feather is an important start. It is also a perfect book for hospital settings.  There is also a printable feather coloring sheet.

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.

The Case of the Bad Apples by Robin Newman

The Case of the Bad Apples (A Wilcox and Griswold Mystery)

Robin Newman, Author

Deborah Zemke, Illustrator

Creston Books, Fiction, Sep. 1, 2020

Suitable for ages: 5-11

Themes: Animals, Pigs, Farm, Mystery, Detectives, Crime, Bad apples

Opening: “Boys and girls, this case is about some bad apples on Ed’s farm.”

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Detective Wilcox and Captain Griswold are on the case again, trying to discover who poisoned the apples Porcini pigged out on. Was it Sweet Pea, the piglet next door; Herman the Rat; or Hot Dog the nosy pooch? Who had motive, means, and no alibi? Follow the clues and figure out who was behind Porcini’s terrible tummy ache.

Why I like this book:

Robin Newman has penned a spirited and comical third chapter book in The Wilcox and Griswold Mystery series. Wilcox and Griswold (Missing Food Investigators or MFI’s) are called daily to solve a food problem on Ed’s Farm. This time a troublemaker has left a gift basket of poisoned Granny Smith apples for Porcini to hog down. And he’s hog sick.

No one hits the sweet spot with food- and animal-based wordplay like Newman. PIG-DIC-U-LOUS! She’s a master and her food-related crimes are hilarious! She had me chuckling from page one with “Porcini  pigged out” on apples.  Rushing to the scene, the MFI’s get caught in heavy rush hour traffic. “There are road hogs, squealing, oinking, and grunting, but they finally let us pass. Typical road hogs. Typical indeed.”

Everyone is suspect on Ed’s Farm for the attempted “hamslaughter.” Sweet Pea, the piglet; Herman, the rat; Fowler, the owl; and Hot Dog, the nosy pooch, who Porcini claims regularly steals his food. Will Dr. Alberta Einswine, from Whole Hog Emergency Care, be able to help the detectives get to the rotten core of this mystery?

Don’t miss the fun details on every page: Porcini looking pretty green with his tummy ache, hoof prints left on the remaining apples, and other gathered evidence. And make sure you check out the endpapers for the detective details, case report, and evidence folder. Dr. Einswine’s report is not to be missed! And there is a recipe for Apple Pockets that kids can make at home, with supervision.

Deborah Zemke‘s colorful and expressive illustrations fill each page and contribute to the silliness of this perfect mystery about “who done it.” Another exceptional collaboration between the author and illustrator. Here’s hopping for more Wilcox and Griswold cases to solve.

Resources: Check out Robin Newman’s website. She has a wonder Teacher’s Guide to use with student that covers this puzzling mystery about who wanted to make pork chops out of Porcini. Wanna be detectives will delight in going through all of the steps of solving a crime.

Robin Newman was raised in New York City (a/k/a the Big Apple) and Paris where she was a practicing attorney and legal editor, but she now prefers to write about witches, mice, pigs, and peacocks. She lives
in New York with her husband, son, two English Cocker Spaniels, and one French Bulldog. Visit her at her website.

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

*Review copy provided by the author in exchange for a review.