Read Aloud of the Day!

May 2020

An essential element in reading aloud is what you choose to read. Not everyone is familiar with children's literature, either classic or contemporary. These are read aloud titles which eliminates some books that are difficult to read aloud or, because of the subject matter, are best read silently to oneself.

For more book recommendations, check out Jim Trelease's Read-Aloud Handbook, 8th Edition, of which I revised and updated and including a Giant Treasury of Great Read-Aloud Books with a multitude of new selections. 

BY ANGELA JOY         EKUA HOLMES    IL.          May 30
Grades 1-4
Roaring Book Press                 2020                  40 Pages

Watching the news about protests that are happening across the country in response to the unwarranted killing of George Floyd is prompting questions and raising concerns in children. How, as parents and educators, do we respond? Reading aloud a book may offer the opportunity to talk about race and culture. Black is a Rainbow Color by Minneapolis native, Angela Joy, is a powerful book as well as an excellent view of Black culture and history through the eyes of a child. The lyrical text begins, “Red is a rainbow color./Green sits next to blue./Yellow, orange, violet, indigo,/they are rainbow colors, too, but/my color is black . . . and there’s no BLACK in rainbows”. Black is the color of “braids in my best friend’s hair” and “the robe on Thurgood’s back” and so much more. An author’s note, Black is a Rainbow Color playlist, background on the numerous phrases and references within the text, poetry, and historical events complete the excellent back matter that extend this powerful book. Bright and colorful illustrations by Ekua Holmes are the perfect complement and add another dimension. If you have other books that you recommend, please let me know.

Gooney Bird Greene

BY LOIS LOWRY                                           May 29

Grades 1-4
HMH Books for Young Readers    2015     128 pages

I just reread this hilarious short chapter book, which was the first in a six book series by Lois Lowry, and was reminded how much kids enjoyed it. Gooney Bird Greene definitely marches to the beat of her own drummer. When she arrives at Watertower Elementary School, the other children are intrigued by this new second grader’s unusual clothing choices, hairstyles, and even lunch. Gooney Bird is also an animated storyteller and entertains the other children with stories that are interesting and “absolutely true”. Many parents and teachers like what Gooney Bird teaches about writing—always have a good beginning, middle, and end. Gooney Bird Greene is smart, mature, kind, and in charge at all times—or at least she wants to be. This is a great series to read aloud to kids in grades first through fifth as it offers a little something for everyone. Gooney Bird wins over her classmates and teacher, and she’ll win over listeners and readers too! Gooney Bird Greene series is my #FridayFavorite this week!

You Can Do It, Noisy Nora

BY ROSEMARY WELLS                      May 28

Grades PreSchool-1

Viking Books               2020           32 pages

Noisy Nora has become a favorite character of young readers everywhere. This time, Nora is determined to learn to play a song on the violin after hearing a neighbor playing, Clair de lune. Even though her parents try to convince her that maybe the banjo or the xylophone might be a better choice, Nora “wanted what she wanted, and she dug her heels in.” With a twang, screech, squeak, and shriek, Nora practices the violin every day, to the chagrin of her parents, siblings, and pet cockatoo. Nora is determined to learn the song by her target date of September 1. Why? You’ll need to read the book to discover why Nora persevered in an attempt to reach her goal. Nora is feisty and strong-willed, but her heart is in the right place in this humorous, heartwarming picture book by author and illustrator, Rosemary Wells. Wells’s text is coupled with her charming watercolor illustrations that are always delightful and capture the attention of young listeners and readers.

Lift

BY MINH LE        DAN SANTAT    IL.    May 27

Grades K-3
Disney-Hyperion        2020            56 pages

Iris loves to push the elevator buttons in her apartment building. It always cheers her up. That is until one day when her parents allow her brother to push the buttons. When she discovers a mysterious new button that is hers alone, she is magically transported to other worlds. But should she share these marvelous new adventures with her little brother? Author Minh Lê’s dynamic storytelling is the perfect complement to Dan Santat’s comic style, cinematic illustrations. This book works well as a read aloud because both reader and listener can elevate their imagination to immerse themselves in this visually, delightful story.

Stepping Stones

BY LUCY KNISLEY                      May 26

Grades 4-7

Random House Graphic        2020       218 pages

Graphic novels are often overlooked for reading aloud. What makes most graphic novels enjoyable is the dialogue between characters and Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley is no different. This realistic story for middle grades focuses on Jen who is experiencing a lot of changes in her life. First of all, her parents are divorced, Jen and her mother are moving from the city to live on a farm, and her mom’s new boyfriend, Walter, not only has a wry sense of humor, he also has two daughters who are going to spend the weekends at the farm. Jen is terrific at drawing and making signs, but not so great at math. To make matters worse, Walter’s daughter Andy is a know-it-all. Humor and tween angst make this an engaging and relatable story drawn from Knisley own childhood experiences. Try this one out as a read aloud or as a reader’s theater with you and your child assuming the voices of different characters.

Thinker: My Puppy Poet and Me

BY ELOISE GREENFIELD  EHSAN ABDOLLAHI  IL. 
Grades 1-3                     May 25

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky          2019         32 pages

Today is a good day to share an entertaining story, told through poetry, about Jace and his dog, who is a poet. The puppy doesn’t want a cute name so Jace decides that Thinker is the perfect moniker for a dog who thinks and speaks poetry. While the premise might sound a little far-fetched, the various poems of Thinker and Jace offer a delightful story of the twosome. Jace doesn’t want people to know that Thinker can speak, but Pets’ Day at school evolves in not only Thinker reciting poetry but also the other animals showing off their own special talents. Eloise Greenfield uses free verse, rap, and haiku that are perfect for reading aloud. Collage illustrations by Ehsan Abdollahi are the right complement to the poems and exudes the personalities of Jace and Thinker as well as all who encounter the poetic pals. Thinker’s Rap is the perfect ending to this well-crafted title. Good websites for poetry as well as recommended books are poetryfoundation.org/learn/children and Sylvia Vardell's poetryforchildren.blogspot.com

Dear Hank Williams

BY KIMBERLY WILLIS HOLT               May 22
Grades 3-5
Henry Holt and Co.           2015         220 pages                    

For the #FridayFavorite this week, I turned to an author whose books are always awesome to read aloud—Kimberly Willis Holt. While there are many of her books I could choose such as National Book Award winner, When Zachary Beaver Came to Town or My Louisiana Sky, I decided to share Dear Hank Williams. It’s the first day of school and Tate P. Ellerbee’s teacher tells the class that this year they will be writing to a pen pal. Tate decides immediately that she is going to write to country singer Hank Williams who she listens to regularly on the radio. This beautifully crafted chapter book is written in letters to Hank Williams as Tate shares stories about her family, a sudden tragedy, and learning how to persevere and move on. The characters are both vivid and poignant and listeners will be drawn to their stories as well. There’s also a few unexpected twists and turns that attest to the power of Holt’s storytelling ability. This is one read aloud that you won’t want to put down and even at the conclusion of the last letter, the characters will continue to resonate with you.

Charlie & Mouse Outdoors

BY LAUREL SNYDER      EMILY HUGHES  IL.        May 21

Grades k-2

Chronicle Books          2020             37 pages

This is the fourth book in the Charlie & Mouse series for emergent readers about two brothers in realistic and relatable situations. This time Charlie, Mouse and their parents embark on a camping trip. When the trip becomes boring, Charlie begins to make up a story. Later, when they are frightened, they scramble into the tent and think about the least threatening animal—kittens. And when evening falls, the family roast marshmallows and begin one more story about a happy family. These are enjoyable books for reading aloud as they introduce engaging characters through brief chapters and cartoon illustrations. There’s something about young children reading a chapter book that make them believe they are now “real” readers. So share one or all four books in the series and be sure to keep them accessible so children can pick them up and try them on for size as they continue on the path of reading development.

Otis and Will Discover the Deep:
The Record-Setting Dive of the Bathysphere

BY BARB ROSENSTOCK        KATHERINE ROY   IL.      May 20

Grades 1-5

Little Brown Books for Young Readers      2018      48 pages

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to listen to author Barb Rosenstock read aloud this wonderful nonfiction book with great enthusiasm on Instagram’s #TrueStuffTuesdays. Otis Barton and Will Beebe had very different childhoods but both were interested in biology and the technology that would enable them to dive deep into the ocean. After pestering Will for months, he finally agreed to meet with Otis and a partnership was formed. What emerged was the design and creation of a spherical deep-sea vessel called the Bathysphere. On June 6, 1930, Otis and Will crawled inside the hollow metal ball and were lowered deeper and deeper into the ocean. They knew that any tiny leak or a single spark would result in their demise. The story has repetitive phrasing to engage children while the suspense of diving deeper and deeper will keep listeners riveted. Katherine Roy also shared her process for creating the illustrations, which are fabulous! This intriguing spine-tingling story of two pioneers who furthered our knowledge of the ocean depths is sure to be a winning read aloud for kids and adults.

Green on Green

BY DIANNE WHITE        FELICITA SALA   IL.      May 19

Grades K-2
Beach Lane Books        2020        48 pages

Green on Green by Dianne White uses poetic language to explore the changing seasons. Green is a constant in spring, summer, fall, and winter—lemonade, rain and breeze are yellow on green while the turquoise water, sun and shade offer blue on green. Color is such a part of nature and is exhibited in trees, fruits, animals, and even what we wear. Hearing the poetry in this book will invite listeners to carefully examine the illustrations to see the various colors. Children will probably notice the mother is going to have a baby as her stomach grows rounder as the months pass. Lyrical language begs to be read aloud and this book has a calming, gentle flow to it. Not only are the seasons celebrated as well as family and community. Don’t miss the endpapers containing illustrations of trees throughout the year. This is a book that you’ll want to share again and again.

One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey

.BY HENRY COLE                                          May 18

Grades K-5
Scholastic Press            2020             48 pages

The #ReadAloudoftheDay is One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey by Henry Cole which is a visually striking wordless picture book. Wordless picture books are highly interactive as they assist in developing language, enhancing thinking skills, noting cause-and-effect, determining main ideas, and making predictions. Reading aloud a wordless book to a child offers an opportunity to slow down and appreciate the unfolding of a story—a narrative that you and your child create. One Little Bag begins by showing a tree growing in the forest, being cut down and transported to a mill, and finally being processed into a small brown paper bag. The bag is soon in the hands of a young boy who carries his lunch in it on the first day of school and subsequent days following. Readers then follow the journey of the bag that is reused as a transporter of objects, keeper of memories, and connection to family members. In this age of disposable, one use items, this book shares how one little brown paper bag can have a profound effect on its owner as well as the environment.

Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher
and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball

BY JOHN COY        JOHN MORSE   IL.           May 15

Grades 2-5   
Carolrhoda Books             2020             32 pages

Over the past few weeks I have been featuring some of my favorite books on Friday. Today’s selection is Hoop Genius by John Coy. This entertaining and informative picture book not only honors the inventor of basketball, James Naismith, but also has relevance for parents and teachers who at times may struggle with rowdy children and students. In December 1891, Naismith, a physical education teacher in Springfield, Massachusetts needed to find an indoor game that would channel the energy of his rambunctious and impatient male students. With two peach baskets, a soccer ball, and rules tacked to a bulletin board, the boys were captivated by the new game. Over the holiday break, the boys taught the game to friends and soon the popularity of basketball was unmistakable. By 1936, basketball became an Olympic sport with Naismith being honored during the opening ceremonies. Naismith is also known for establishing the basketball program at the University of Kansas (my husband attended KU which means that college basketball consumes us from December to April—until this year). Joe Morse’s illustrations capture the frustration of Naismith and the exhilaration of the game he created. Author John Coy includes additional information about Naismith in the excellent back matter. This is a good choice to read aloud to boys and girls as basketball courts begin to reopen and warm weather invites outdoor games.

Hello Neighbor: The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers

BY MATTHEW CORDELL                              May 13

Grades K-3
Holiday House          2020                   40 pages

I learned so much about Mister Rogers after watching the documentary about him and seeing the movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood starring Tom Hanks. There have been several recent picture books published about Mister Rogers but I have to admit this one by Caldecott Medalist, Matthew Cordell, is my favorite. Cordell’s color palette (with the easy-to-spot signature red cardigan) perfectly suits the tone of the book in telling about Fred Rogers’ early life and what influenced his desire to offer programming that demonstrated respect for children’s ability to address challenging topics. Archival photographs offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood while a note from Cordell shares his inspiration and admiration for both the man and the show. In reading aloud this lovely picture book biography, you’ll want to slow down and savor both text and illustrations. Hello Neighbor!: The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers reminds us that empathy, compassion, and kindness are qualities that matter.

Exquisite: The Poetry & Life of Gwendolyn Brooks

BY SUZANNE SLADE          COZBI CABRERA                     May 12
Grades 2-5
Abrams Books                     2020                 48 pages

The picture book biography of the Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Gwendolyn Brooks, celebrates her life and poetry. Even though her family had little money to spare, they did have a bookcase that was filled with books of poetry. By time she was seven, Gwendolyn was writing poems about the world she observed around her. When she was 11 years old, several of her poems were printed in a newspaper and magazine. Even the Great Depression could not dampen Gwendolyn’s passion for poetry. As an adult with a family, she still found time to take a poetry class at night and was motivated to created unique poems about her South Side Chicago neighborhood. Finally, Gwendolyn published her first book and then her second one received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry—the first Black person to receive this prestigious award. This introduction into the life of this exquisite poet will inspire readers to create poetry about their own lives.

The Keeper of Wild Words

BY BROOKE SMITH      MADELINE KLOEPPER   IL.      May 11
Grades 1-3
Chronicle Books        2020        62 pages

One of the many reasons for reading aloud to children is to enhance and increase their vocabulary. There are thousands of words that children encounter in picture books that they may not hear in daily conversations. The Keeper of Wild Words honors that belief in this lovely story about a grandmother who asks her granddaughter to be the keeper of her favorite words such as buttercup, dandelion, monarch, starling, and willow. The two embark on a nature walk where they “collect” the words and observe and celebrate what they represent. The “wild words” are written in larger font on the pages to emphasize them. At the conclusion of the book is a large envelope so children can collect their own wild words. If you remove the dust jacket, the hard casing of the book resembles a notebook. Nature, the environment, and a loving relationship in addition to “wild words” make this an engaging story to read aloud.

They All Saw a Cat

BY BRENDAN WENZEL               May 8

Grades Preschool-3

Chronicle Books      2016      44 pages

On Fridays, I thought it would be fun to revisit some favorite read alouds. This week I have selected They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel. At first glance, this Caldecott Honor recipient seems like a decidedly simple book about a child and various animals who all saw a cat. The repetitive refrains of “The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws . . .” and “They all saw a cat” encourage children to engage in the reading aloud of the book while the illustrations offer various viewpoints of how the cat is seen. For example, a child, dog, and mice see the cat by how they interact with it. The worm sees the cat through the vibrations it makes while it walks. Near the end, the cat is made up of all the different ways it has been seen until finally the cat sees its own reflection in the water “and imagine what it saw?” The illustrations immediately capture kids’ attention and invite them back to revisit the book again and again. What more could you hope for in a read aloud? I had the pleasure of monitoring a panel where Brendan spoke and he is as engaging as his art. I have included a photo of the book he signed for me. If you don’t know this book, seek it out. If you do, time to revisit it.

Connect the Dots

BY KEITH CALABRESE        May 7

Grades 4-7

Scholastic      2020      240 pages

I became a fan of author Keith Calabrese with his first middle grade novel, A Drop of Hope. His newest book uses some of the same storytelling devices to weave together well-developed characters and an engaging plot. Sixth graders, Oliver and Frankie embark on a new school year with some trepidation. There’s the bully who steals lunches, a rather weird new girl (Matilda), and a bizarre school alumnus. In addition, a cardamom shortage occurs, a mysterious stranger comes to town, and a lot of random incidents seem to happen that might just be connected. Imagine the odds! That’s exactly what Oliver, Frankie, and Matilda seek to discover when these “coincidences” don’t add up. Connect the Dots poses a mystery of sorts and moves along at a pace that retains listeners’ attention while offering something to think and talk about. In addition, there are interesting and likeable characters along with humorous and realistic dialogue. This book was published on May 5, so when you have an opportunity to share it with kids, I would love to know what they think.

Ducks!

BY DEBORAH UNDERWOOD     T.L. McBETH    ILLUS.

Grades Pre-school-1              May 6

Scholastic Books           2020        40 pages

Kids enjoy visual storytelling and Ducks! by Deborah Underwood is humorous and of course, eye-catching and engaging. Duck is fascinated by a butterfly and wanders away from the pond and the rest of the flock. Where did they go? Duck needs to go in search of them and in the process discovers all sorts of sights and sounds—but alas, “No Ducks”. The repetitive phrasing of “Ducks?” and “No Ducks” will have young children joining in on the fun. Illustrations by T. L. McBeth utilize expansive white space to draw attention to the Duck and all that is encountered. Don’t forget to peek under the dust jacket for an added illustration as well as a map of where Duck searched for his fellow feathered friends

A Letter to My Teacher

BY DEBORAH HOPKINSON    NANCY CARPENTER,   ILLUS.

Grades K-3                May 5 

Schwartz & Wade         2017           40 pages 

Today is Teacher Appreciation Day! Even though schools are closed, teachers have not stopped teaching and caring about their students. This lovely read aloud is written by a student (and later we discover, now a teacher herself) as a thank you note to her teacher. As a second grader, the child preferred to be running or jumping as opposed to learning and listening. However, the observant teacher realizes that the girl isn’t trying to cause problems, but rather is struggling with reading. Kids know, especially these days, how important their teacher is and sometimes it’s good to remind teachers that they are valued and appreciated.

#ReadAloudHandbook    #ReadToYourKids

With a Little Help from My Friends

BY JOHN LENNON & PAUL McCARTNEY    HENRY COLE, ILLUS.

Grades K-3                    May 4

Simon & Schuster               2019              40 pages

#ReadDaily

“I get by with a little help from my friends . . . “ is certainly true right now. This celebrated Beatles song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney takes on a different perspective with evocative illustrations by Henry Cole. Two girls are the very best of friends. Then one day, one of them has to move away leaving a void in both of their lives. But they remain connected through a variety of means until they can be together again. Share the book and the music and enjoy being together.

How to Steal a Dog and Wonderland and Wish

BY BARBARA O'CONNOR                       May 1

Grades 3-7

This first day of May is a perfect time to share a few favorite chapter book read alouds by Barbara O’Connor. Of course, they all happen to be about a kid and a dog. In How to Steal a Dog, Georgina Hayes thinks she has found a solution to assist her family’s financial dilemma. Unfortunately, even the best laid plans can go awry. Eleven-year-old Charlie Reese has made the same secret wish every day since 4th grade. Will her Wish come true when she goes to live with a family she barely knows while making an unlikely friend with a neighbor boy? Wonderland shares the story of Mavis Jeeter who wants to live in one place long enough to have a real best friend. Mavis thinks that Rose Tully might fit the bill. A dog also features prominently in this tale of loss, kindness, and friendship. All three books tug at the heartstrings while delivering stories of hope, resilience, and the power of relationships.

Trio of "Rollicking Read-Alouds"!

BY LAURA MURRAY, TRACEY HECHT, AND BRENDAN WENZEL

On Friday, Nov. 15, I am presenting a session on Rollicking Read Alouds at the American Association of School Librarians in Louisville, KY. I will be joined by Laura Murray, Tracey Hecht, and Brendan Wenzel. Laura has a picture book series of "Gingerbread Man" books that provide rhyming, rollicking fun. Tracey's "Nocturnals" books are good for middle-grade readers and reading aloud because of the interesting characters and lots of dialogue that engages listeners. And of course, Brendan Wenzel's picture books are artistically stunning. Not sure if A Stone Sat Still would be considered a "rollicking read aloud" but it is definitely a must for reading aloud and discussing with kids.

Feed Your Mind: A Story of August Wilson

BY JEN BRYANT; CANNADAY CHAPMAN ILLUS.

Grades 1-4 

Abrams Books for Young Readers 2019    48 pages 

 

This week, my undergraduate children's literature class is exploring picture book biographies. I think some of the best biographies are published in this format. One author that does an amazing job in writing about the life of individuals is Jen Bryant. Whether the focus is on artists such as Georgia O'Keefe or Horace Pippin, word wizard Peter Mark Roget, or poet William Carlos Williams, each one is unique in how the information is presented. One week from today, Jen's newest book, Feed Your Mind: A Story of August Wilson, will be available. I can't wait to read this newest gem by Jen.

Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks

BY JASON REYNOLDS 

Grades 5 and up 

Atheneum, 2019    194 pages

Jason Reynolds is a masterful storyteller and Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks doesn’t disappoint. Ten short stories, featuring characters in middle school, are cleverly woven together in both humorous and poignant ways. But all of them are sure to engage kids. Each chapter averages around 15 pages (perfect for reading aloud) and tackles a topic not far removed from experiences kids encounter in middle grades. And these topics will definitely prompt discussion starting with the first chapter on boogers and others focusing on bullying, parental illness, and homophobia. I haven’t had an opportunity to share this with kids but would love to hear about their reactions if you have some to share.

I Wonder

By KARI ANNE HOLT    KENARD PAK   ILLUS.
Grades Preschool-2
Random House Books for Young Readers    2019    40 pages                      

Questions such as, "I wonder if sandwiches get made when you bite them?" or "Do windmills ever get tired?" or "I wonder if books read us, too?" will certainly prompt other questions and motivate kids to conduct their own inquiry into the world around them. K.A. Holt's whimsical questions are accompanied by Kenard Pak's captivating illustrations in this engaging wonder-ful picture book.

Hands Up!

By BREANNA J. McDANIEL    SHANE W. EVANS  ILLUS.
Grades Preschool-3
Dial Books    2019    32 pages

I'm always on the lookout for books that lend themselves to interactive read alouds. Hands Up by Breanna J. McDaniel is perfect for preschool and kindergarten storytimes. Kids will quickly pick up on the repetitive phrase, “Hands Up” and will join in the fun.  Vibrant and colorful illustrations by Shane W. Evans make excellent use of lines to prompt raising hands up high.

Bear Came Along

By RICHARD T. MORRIS    LEUYEN PHAM  ILLUS.
Grades: Preschool-3
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers    2019    40 pages 

"Once there was a river that flowed night and day, but it didn't know it was a river until Bear Came Along". And soon more animals join bear and a grand adventure is had by all. Richard T. Morris's, Bear Came Along, contains a humorous storyline filled with expressive vocabulary such as curious, content, and excited. LeUyen Pham's illustrations are eye-catching and depict each character's emotions as they embark on an adventure that is literally filled with twists and turns. Be sure to remove the dust jacket, view the endpapers, and read the author and illustrator notes at the end.

Child of the Dream: A Memoir of 1963

BY SHARON ROBINSON

Grades 4-8 

Scholastic, 2019 234 pages

At the recent International Literacy Association Conference in New Orleans, I had the pleasure of hearing Sharon Robinson speak about her new book Child of the Dream: A Memoir of 1963. This is a compelling book in which she talks about her thirteen-year-old self and the impact of one of the most important years of the Civil Rights Movement. That year saw the Children’s March in 1963, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in which four young girls were killed. Photos of Sharon and her family (which of course includes baseball legend, Jackie Robinson) are included. Two picture books that could accompany the reading of this book include Let the Children March written by Monica Clark-Robinson and A Place to Land: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Speech that Inspired a Nation by Barry Wittenstein with stunning illustrations by Jerry Pinkney.

If I Built a School

BY CHRIS VAN DUSEN

Grades K-3

Dial, 2019  32 pages

If I Built A School by Chris Van Dusen is perfect for reading aloud. Van Dusen uses rhyming couplets that flow easily and aren’t forced by including words just to create a rhyme. The illustrations have a unique and eye-catching retro look that is Van Dusen’s trademark style. Imaginations will soar with the thought of hover desks with bumpers, a robo-chef named Pete who mixes up tasty, and unique lunches, and a playground with a zip line and water for tubing. Teachers would love this school as well where a stylus can be used to write in the air, hologram guests both past and present can visit the classroom, and specialty buses can dive underwater and blast off the ground. This is the third in Van Dusen’s series which includes If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012). Kids will be motivated and excited to think about all the other things or places that could be built.

       

The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation

BY SHANNON HALE AND DEAN HALE; LEUYEN PHAM, ILLUS.

Grades K-3                                                  

Atheneum, 2017; e-book, audiobook  96 pages
 

This is book four in the popular Princess in Black series. Our heroine, Princess Magnolia, is exhausted. She has been battling monsters for the fourteenth time in one week. When the masked Goat Avenger suggests she take a vacation, the Princess decides to ride her bicycle to the seashore. When a sea monster begins terrorizing the beach, the Princess in Black knows she needs to spring into action. Dual storylines of Princess Magnolia and

the Goat Avenger keep the pace exciting. Illustrations by LeUyen Pham add to the fun. Other books in the series: The Princess in Black; The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party; The Princess in Black and the Hungry Bunny Horde; The Princess in Black and the Mysterious Playdate; The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare; and The Princess in Black Takes a Holiday.

Dean Hale, Shannon Hale, Marie LeJeune, Cyndi Giorgis at the International Literacy Association Conference in New Orleans, October, 2019

Marie LeJeune and Cyndi Giorgis preparing for their presentation with Dean and Shannon Hale at ILA by dressing as Princess in Black. 
"Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Smash!"

A Drop of Hope

BY KEITH CALABRESE

Grades 3–8                                                                                                             

Scholastic, 2019; e-book  320 pages

 

A well. A wish. And a little drop of hope. These three things are expertly woven together in this engaging and thought-provoking read-aloud. The town of Cliffs Donnelly is facing tough times and a few miracles would help its residents. Sixth grader Ernest Wilmette is small in stature, but large with optimism. His classmates, Ryan Hardy and Lizzy MacComber, are not quite as positive in their outlook given their family and personal challenges.  And then there’s bully Tommy Bricks who is feared by all.

At the center of the story is Thompkins Well where, legend has it, a miracle took place generations ago when a significant wish was granted. When Ernest and Ryan discover a hidden tunnel that leads to the bottom of the well, they also unwittingly hear the wishes of people—some whose voices they recognize and others that are unfamiliar. Ernest decides they should find a way to make the wishes come true despite Ryan’s skepticism. Couple Ernest’s genuine wish-granting intent with his task of cleaning his late grandfather’s attic and somehow wishes do come true. Told through various characters’ perspectives, this novel is storytelling at its finest. 

 

Related books: Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly; The Dreamer by Pam Muñoz Ryan; Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo; and Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech.

Dandy

 

BY AME DYCKMAN; CHARLES SANTOSO, ILLUS.

Grades Preschool-2 Little Brown, 2019 40 pages

Daddy takes pride in his perfect lawn. But then he spies a dandelion. Before he is able to get his clippers to remove it, his daughter, Sweetie, has claimed it and named it Charlotte. Every attempt to remove the weed is unsuccessful because Sweetie doesn’t stray far away from it. Finally, daddy has his chance when Sweetie leaves for swim lessons. As he makes his approach toward the dandelion, he spies a picture Sweetie has drawn of Charlotte and daddy. Unfortunately, his clippers drop and damage Charlotte. The illustrations on the next few pages are hilarious as daddy and his neighbros try to revive the damaged dandelion. If you are looking for a charming book about fathers and daughers, this one will do the trick. Related books: Dad By My Side by Soosh; and My Dad Thinks He’s Funny by Katrina Germein.