Read Aloud of the Day!

February 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. 

Freedom Bird 

BY JERDINE NOLEN      JAMES RANSOME  ILLUS.

Grades 2-5                                        Febreuary 29

Simon & Schuster    2020    32 pages

#BlackHistoryMonth

#ReadAloudHandbook

Freedom Bird: A Tale of Hope and Courage by Jerdine Nolen is the perfect way to end #BlackHistoryMonth as the #ReadAloudoftheDay. In this companion book to Jerdine Nolan’s Big Jabe and Thunder Rose, brother and sister Millicent and John are slaves on Simon Plenty’s plantation. Their parents have both been sold leaving the siblings alone to toil in the fields from sunup to sundown. However, the stories their parents told them of flights to freedom sustained them. When a magnificent bird flies overhead one day, the overseer takes aim with a “cruel edged leather” and the bird falls at Millicent’s feet. Unwilling to leave the bird dying in the field, the two rush out under the light of the moon to retrieve it. Fortunately, the bird is still alive so Millicent and John nurse it back to good health. In the process, the bird transforms them, giving brother and sister the courage to set their plan into motion and escape to freedom. James Ransome’s stunning paintings offer a sense of both despair and hope in this story stemming from enslaved Africans and tales of the magic of flight to freedom.

Straw 

BY AMY HOUSE ROSENTHAL    SCOTT MAGOON  ILLUS.

Grades K-3                                         February 28

Disney/Hyperion      2019       48 pages  

This companion to Spoon and Chopsticks celebrates slowing down and savoring the moment. Straw likes to be the first at everything until one day he experiences something he has never felt before—BRAIN FREEZE! When one of his glassmates sees Straw is feeling down, he encourages him to come and play by blowing bubbles. As usual, Straw gets a little carried away in his rush to be first once again when he is reminded that, “Sometimes you just gotta stop and smell the milk shake!” The humorous and witty text will definitely grab kids’ attention while the digital cartoon illustrations are “strawesome.” Enjoy #SkiptheStrawDay by reading aloud this silly story.

#ReadAloudtoKids

High Five

BY ADAM RUBIN    DANIEL SALMIERI  ILLUS.

Grades 1-4                              February 27

Dial Books    2019    64 pages

Interactive read alouds are always so much fun and High Five is definitely interactive. Are you ready to compete in the annual high five contest? If so, you need to get your hands loose and limber and make sure you know the right position. Your opponents are some of the finest fivers in the animal kingdom from Gigantic the Bear, to Shifty the Lizard, to finally, Octopus Jones. The rhyming text is both fun and goofy while the opportunity to high five the book and each other will keep kids begging to have this one read aloud again and again. So, get ready for a full contact smack attack!!

Honeybee

BY CANDACE FLEMING    ERIC ROHMAN  ILLUS.

Grades 1-5                                  February 26

Holiday House      2020      40 pages

Thurgood

BY JONAH WINTER    BRYAN COLLIER  ILLUS.

Grades 1-5                                 February 25

Schwarz & Wade    2019    40 pages

#BlackHistoryMonth

#PictureBook

#SupremeCourt

This stirring picture book of Thurgood Marshall details the life of a powerful lawyer, advocate for justice, and eventual Supreme Court Justice. Growing up, Thurgood’s father took him to court to observe trials and then later at home, the two would debate what they heard, the news of the day, or anything where they could back up their points with evidence. After being denied entrance into the University of Maryland law school, Marshall attended Howard University. Years later, one of his first cases would be to challenge the University of Maryland as to whether a black student could be refused equal treatment under the 14th Amendment. He won. He went on to win many major cases dealing with injustice including Brown v. Board of Education which made it illegal to separate black and white children into different schools. Marshall’s ascent to serving in the highest court in the U.S. came after years of being treated unfairly but also winning numerous cases focused on discriminatory laws against black Americans. Bryan Collier’s collage illustrations are as powerful as Jonah Winter’s text in paying tribute to this trailblazer who proved that separate is not equal.

Carl and the Meaning of Life 

BY DEBORAH FREEDMAN            February 24

Grades K-3
Viking    2019    48 pages

Carl the earthworm happily spends his days underground, “. . . always moving, burrowing, tunneling, digesting dead leaves, feasting and casting, turning hard dirt into fluffy soil.” That is until one day field mouse asks him, “Why do you do that?” Carl realizes he doesn’t know the answer so he seeks out other animals of the forest to determine if they know. Just as the industrious earthworm becomes discouraged that he’ll never find out, he encounters a sad little ground beetle who cannot find any grubs because the dirt is too hard. Suddenly Carl understands his purpose and commences to turning the hard dirt into rich soil. This is a wonderful story to show how everything is connected and all creatures contribute and make a difference in the world. Take a peek under the book jacket to find Carl hard at work.

#ReadingAloud

Going Down Home with Daddy

#CaldecottHonorBook

BY KELLY STARLING LYONS    DANIEL MINTER   ILLUS.

Grades 1-4                                 February 23

Peachtree    2019    32 pages

The #ReadAloudoftheDay is this 2020 Caldecott Honor book that celebrates family history and traditions. It’s reunion morning and Lil Alan’s sister and parents pack up the car and drive to Granny’s house. Soon they are joined by grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. As part of the reunion, family members pay tribute to Lil Alan’s great-grandmother through poetry, songs, and stories. But what does Lil Alan have to share? The striking illustrations created in acrylic wash draw the reader in through color, pattern, and design. This is a great book to share during Black History Month or anytime in the year.

The Book Hog

BY GREG PIZZOLI                               February 22

Grades PreS-2

Disney/Hyperion    2019    48 pages

Saturday seems like a perfect day to read aloud The Book Hog and make a visit to your local library. The Book Hog loved books. He loved everything about them—the way they smelled, the way the pages felt in his hooves, and the way pictures captured his interest. Everywhere he went, the Book Hog collected books. Only one problem; he doesn’t know how to read! One day while he was out scouring the neighborhood for more books, he was lured into the library by the smell of books. Miss Olive, the librarian, offered to read a book with the Book Hog. Motivated by the power of hearing a story, the Book Hog soon learned to read on his own. The cartoon style illustrations by Greg Pizzoli will capture listeners’ attention along with this delightful story about books and reading.

#GeiselAwardWinner

Birdsong

BY JULIE FLETT                             February 21

Grades 1-4

Greystone    2019    496 pages​

Katherena and her mother move from their home in the city by the sea to a small town. The girl feels isolated and alone until she visits her elderly neighbor, Agnes. The two immediately bond over their love of art and nature and an intergenerational friendship blossoms. When Agnes becomes bedridden, Katherena tacks her drawings of birds around the bedroom until her new friend says, “it’s like a poem for her heart.” Julie Flett’s warm color palette and textured images exude a sense of kind-heartedness and connection to nature. This is a lovely story to read aloud to children and discuss how friendship defies age and background. A glossary and pronunciation guide to Cree-Métis words appears on the copyright page.

Heading 2

By and By: Charles Albert Tindley the Father of Gospel Music

BY CAROLE BOSTON WEATHERFORD      BRYAN COLLIER    ILLUS.

Grades 1-5                                                  February 20

Atheneum    2020    48 pages

Even though Charles Tindley was born free, he still worked the fields alongside those who sang spirituals. Inspired to learn to read the Bible himself, he studied late into the night using whatever scraps of newspapers he could find. Always fueled by his faith, Tindley became a preacher and eventually deemed the father of American gospel music. The Civil Rights anthem, “We Shall Overcome” stemmed from one of his hymns. Carole Boston Weatherford’s lilting verse is enhanced by Bryan Collier’s resplendent collage illustrations. This stirring picture book is a celebration of the man who became known as the “people’s pastor.”

#ReadAloudDaily

The Perfectly Perfect Wish

BY LISA MANTCHEV    JESSICA COURTNEY-TICKLE  ILLUS.

Grades K-3                                 February 19

Simon & Schuster          2020        32 pages

As we continue with National Random Acts of Kindness Week, The Perfectly Perfect Wish by Lisa Mantchev fits the ideal. As she waits for the school bus, a girl finds a token that states, “No wishing for more wishes.” She understands immediately that only one wish will be granted. What to wish for? A blue ribbon at a horse show? A trip to Japan? Real ballerina pointe shoes? There are so many possibilities so the girl begins asking others what their one wish would be and discovers wishes very different from her own. She also realizes how fortunate she is to have pets, a home, and a daddy who returns each evening from his job. Her wishes are ones that she needs to earn so she decides to fulfill the dreams of other people. Illustrations by Jessica Courtney-Tickle perfectly captures the earnestness of the girl in trying to determine one wish and the celebration of those whose wishes are granted

Stella Diaz Never Gives Up

BY ANGELA DOMINGUEZ           February 18

Grades 2-5    Roaring Brook     196 pages

Stella Díaz envisions herself as the next Sylvia Earle or Jacques Cousteau in wanting to save the ocean. After a surprise trip to Mexico with her family, Stella discovers her love for marine animals as well as the water. When she is accepted to attend the Shedd Aquarium summer camp, the plucky protagonist quickly learns that it’s not just the animals that need saving but that pollution is harming them and the environment. However, Stella realizes she cannot save the ocean by herself, so she enlists the help of fellow camp attendees and friends. Not only is this an enjoyable read aloud, it also has lots of science connections. Kids will be empowered to do their part in reducing pollution and saving the ocean.

The Thank You Letter

BY JANE CABRERA        February 17

Grades PreS-2

Holiday House      2019      34 pages

It’s National Random Acts of Kindness Day! What better picture book to read to young children than Jane Cabrera’s The Thank You Letter. Grace’s wish list for her birthday includes things such as a puppy, robot, sparkly shoes, magic wings and lots and lots of chocolates. She receives most of her desired gifts (or a variation such as a toy puppy instead of a real one) and begins writing thank you notes. She doesn’t stop with those giving presents, but branches out to the lady in the thrift store, her favorite teacher, and even to the blue sky. Grace then writes thank you notes to people all over town who receive them with smiles. When Grace comes home from school one afternoon, her new bedroom tent is filled with love notes to her. Writing thank you letters seems to be a lost art but this sweet story demonstrates that often what you give is also what you may receive—gratitude, thankfulness, and love.

Where Lily Isn't

BY JULIE PASCHKIS    MARGARET CHODOS-IRVINE    ILLUS.

Grades K-3                                               February 16

Holt      2020      32 pages

Losing a pet is difficult. We lost our beloved Sergio in December. But the memories of all the things we did together lives on just as they do for the character in this heart-tugging story about a girl missing her dog, Lily. Lily isn’t there to bark at the mailman or isn’t jumping up and jiggling when it’s time to go outside. Lily isn’t waiting for the girl to come home from school or to bark hello and lick her hand. However, Lily does live on in the girl’s heart and that’s “where she always will be.” Whether a child has experienced the loss of a pet or not, this lovely story is filled with both sadness as well as hope.

The Power of Her Pen

BY LESA CLINE-RANSOME    JOHN PARRA ILLUS.

Grades 1-5               February 15

Simon & Schuster    2020    48 pages

Growing up, Ethel Payne enjoyed hearing stories told by her parents and grandfathers. She also liked visiting the public library on Saturdays. All of this led to writing her own stories. After taking writing classes at a community college, Ethel tackled writing about issues related to unjust laws and discrimination against blacks. In 1951, Ethel became a reporter for the Chicago Defender and later a journalist assigned to a White House press pass, earning her the title, “First Lady of the Black Press”. Over the years Ethel wrote about equal pay, housing, education and other stories of importance to the black community that mainstream media refused to publish. Lesa Cline-Ransome’s informative text tells the story of this groundbreaking journalist while John Parra’s stylized acrylic illustrations couples portraits of Ethel alongside images of the time.

#LoveReading #NCTE  #ReadAloudHandbook

My Heart

#ValentineReadAloud

BY CORINNA LUYKEN                      FEBRUARY 14

Grades K-5

Dial    2019    32 pages

In honor of Valentine’s Day, this read aloud is an ode to love and self-acceptance. Poetic text describes the heart in many ways: “My heart is a window / my heart is a slide. / My heart can be closed / or opened up wide”. Metaphorical descriptions offer children ways to think about their heart a little differently including “I get to decide.” The water-based ink and pencil illustrations offer shades of yellow and gray. Be sure to peek under the book jacket and pause to explore the endpapers and title page. What makes this a heart-filled read aloud for children K-5 is because it will prompt thought and discussion about emotions as well as metaphors.

A is for Elizabeth

BY RACHEL VAIL    PAIGE KEISER  ILLUS.               February 13

Grades K-2

 Feiwell & Friends   2019    124 pages

Rachel Vail’s newest series features Elizabeth, a spunky second grader in Class 2B. As the school year begins, Elizabeth is thrilled to have homework. She is less excited when her teacher Ms. Patel tells the students to make a name poster. Elizabeth feels this is unfair because she has a longer name than her classmates. She’s also unhappy because the posters will be hung in alphabetical order and Anna always gets to be first. However, Elizabeth decides to take the advice to be creative to a new level. In the second book in the series, Big Mouth Elizabeth, our protagonist is one of only two students in the class who still have baby teeth. The situations are those students in K-2 can relate to while the humorous dialogue will keep them engaged. Two more books in the series are set for publication in May 2020. Series books are great for reading aloud because they often lead kids to reading independently.    #ReadAloudoftheDay

The Old Truck

BY JARRETT PUMPHREY    JEROME PUMPHREY  ILLUS.

Grades PreS-2                                       February 12

Norton    2020    48 pages

There’s something special about an old truck that serves generations. On a small farm, a sturdy pickup works hard to help the family accomplish everyday chores. But the truck becomes “weary and tired” and always getting older until the day it is essentially put out to pasture. The family’s daughter sees the truck much differently in daily life and in her dreams. Years later, she repairs and restores the old truck and soon it is busy helping her on her own farm. Retro illustrations add to the feel of the story of memories created both past and present. And don’t forget to remove the book jacket to see the embossed image of the truck. 

An awesome interview with Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey was conducted by NPR. Give a listen or read the transcript about the process of creating this lovely story and art.  https://www.npr.org/2020/02/09/801206134/ever-wonder-about-that-old-truck-2-brothers-wrote-its-backstory

I Remember: Poems & Pictures of Heritage

BY LEE BENNETT HOPKINS                       February 11

Grades 4-up

Lee & Low    2019    56 pages

The poems contained in this picture book anthology celebrate who we are and how we identify ourselves. Our inherited traditions, beliefs, values, and achievements become an essential part of us. A variety of poets including Janet Wong, Naomi Shihab Nye, Kwame Alexander, Margarita Engle and Douglas Florian offer memorable childhood moments—both joyous and poignant. Each poem is accompanied by an illustration by equally talented artists. Poetry begs to be read aloud and these poems would be perfect in upper elementary through high school.       #ReadAloudoftheDay

Overground Railroad

BY LESA CLINE-RANSOME  JAMES RANSOME ILLUS.

Grades 1-5                             February 10

Holiday House    2020    360 pages

Many children have learned about the Underground Railroad but few are probably familiar with the Overground Railroad. Lesa Cline-Ransome uses poetic text to share the perspective of a young girl and her family who leave the life as a sharecropper behind during the Great Migration. As the family boards the train, they have to sit in the “colored” section. That is until they cross the line that divides “black from white / north from south / wrong from right”. They are anxious to arrive in New York City to begin their new life. James Ransome’s watercolor and collage illustrations follow the family on their journey as each stop brings them closer to freedom and opportunity. Don’t miss the endpapers and book cover!

Queen of Physics 

BY TERESA ROBESON  REBECCA HUANG  ILLUS.

Grades 1-6                                           February 9

Sterling    2019    48 pages

Born in China in the early 1900s, Wu Chien Shiung’s parents believed that girls should attend school just the same as boys. As her schooling continued, Chien Shiung read extensively and discovered a passion for physics. After arriving in the U.S., she became well-known for her understanding of beta decay. Scientific terms and concepts within the text and featured in the glossary elevate this story of perseverance and accomplishment. This excellent picture book biography received the 2020 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Picture Book

#QueenofPhysics   #ReadAloudHandbook

My Papi Has a Motorcycle

BY ISABEL QUINTERO    ZEKE PENA  ILLUS.

Grades 1-4                                   February 8

Kokila / Penguin      2019    40 pages    

Daisy has learned words such as carburetor and cariño, drill and dedication, from her hardworking father. But it’s riding on the back of his motorcycle that brings her the most joy. Filled with descriptive words and phrases (along with a little Spanish sprinkled throughout), this loving tribute to father and community offers an opportunity to examine point of view and style of text. This lovely story by Isabel Quintero and illustrated by Zeke Peña is a 2020 Pura Belpré Honor book recipient.

Chirp

BY KATE MESSNER                    February 7

Grades 4-6

Bloomsbury      2020      240 pages

The summer after 7th grade, Mia and her family move to Vermont to assist Gram in selling her cricket farm. However, Gram has no intention of selling and believes that someone is trying to sabotage her business. Mia and her friends try to investigate what is really going on. Readers also know that Mia is keeping a secret that affected her dreams of going to the Olympics as a gymnast. This multi-layered story deftly weaves together intrigue, friendship, and courage along with interesting insight into cricket consumption. Kate Messner tackles tough topics in her middle grade novels that prompt connections and discussion.

Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum

BY MEGHAN MCCARTHY                       February 6

Grades K-2
Simon & Schuster    2010    40 pages

It’s Bubble Gum Day! Who invented bubble gum? It was actually an accountant named Walter Diemer who, in the late 1920s, decided to play with different mixtures until he finally found one that popped! This entertaining and informative picture book biography shares the history of gum as well as the trial-and-error process Diemer used in creating a gum that bubbled. Meghan McCarthy’s engaging prose is just right for reading aloud while the cartoon illustrations will capture the attention of listeners. You’ll think a little differently about this sweet treat next time it goes Pop! The back matter contains additional information about Diemer as well as facts and resources about bubble gum.     #BubbleGumDay

Jim Trelease's Read-Aloud Handbook

It’s #WorldReadAloudDay. Reading aloud a book to a child is one of the most important gifts we can give. Today only, tell me about your favorite book to read aloud and why and I’ll enter your name to win a copy of the 8th edition of Jim Trelease’s Read-Aloud Handbook as well as the set of books you see pictured here. Or visit my Twitter page @cyndigiorgis and enter to win a set of picture books along with The Read-Aloud Handbook.   #ReadAloudHandbook

BY JIM TRELEASE & CYNDI GIORGIS            February 5

For Everyone and Grades of all ages

Penguin Books      2019    384 pages

Frindle

BY ANDREW CLEMENTS           February 4

Grades 2-4

Simon & Schuster      1996        110 pages

Frindle, by the late Andrew Clements, has been a favorite book to read aloud for many years. This is an engaging, humorous story about a fifth grade boy who invents a new word, Frindle, as the name for a pen. This of course riles his teacher. Soon, the word takes off and not only are the kids in Nick’s school using it, but also kids and others across the country. I have to confess that the ending still gets me a little teary-eyed. If you haven’t read it in a while, you might want to pick it up and share it with your child or class. Enjoy!  #WorldReadAloudDay #ChildrensBookRecommendation

Miss Rumphius

BARBARA COONEY                                     February 3     

Grades K-4    

Viking    1982    32 pages

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney has been my go to read aloud for years. Little Alice’s grandfather tells her there is something important she must do in her life, “You must do something to make the world more beautiful”. On the book jacket it states that this story was “drawn from the imagination and from the heart”. I’ve always believed that the “message” of a book is what resonates with the reader/listener. There is much to connect with in this story for both the adult reading it aloud and the child who is receiving it. #WorldReadAloudDay #RecommendedReadAloud

Rain Makes Applesauce

JULIAN SCHEER    MARVIN BILECK  ILLUS.                                       February 2

Grades Pre-K to 1

Holiday House    1964/2019    32 pages

“The stars are made of lemon juice and rain makes applesauce.” So begins this silly talk read aloud favorite, first published in 1964. This beloved classic has been remastered to bring back the rich, vivid details that earned it a Caldecott Honor Award. Nonsense verse and detailed images have entertained children at bedtime and inspired creative writing in the classroom. An introduction by Caldecott Medalist, Jerry Pinkney offers insight into how this book impacted him as an artist. This 2019 reissue of this lively read aloud begs to be introduced to a new generation of listeners. 

#ReadAloudoftheDay #WorldReadAloudDay

In anticipation and celebration of #WorldReadAloud Day on February 5, I wanted to share a few of my favorite books for reading aloud. Who can resist a chapter book that begins, “I come from a family with a lot of dead people.” This humorous, poignant book is filled with life notices, letters, helpful tips, and even a recipe for Mrs. Elling’s Chicken and Potato Chip Casserole, all written by 10-year-old Comfort Snowberger. Comfort’s family runs the town funeral home which offers her a unique perspective on life and death. She would prefer spending time with her dog Dismay than having to take care of her sniveling, whining, unpredictable cousin Peach. This book grabs listeners right away and keeps them wanting to know more about Comfort and her many predicaments. It also lends itself to various forms of writing including narrative. Life is full of surprises and so is this engaging book by Deborah Wiles. #ReadAloudHandbook

Each Little Bird that Sings

BY DEBORAH WILES                 February 1
Grades 3-8 

Harcourt  2005    247 pages

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.

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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.