One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey by Henry Cole, illustrated by Henry Cole. 2020. Micron Ink Pens. Published by Scholastic Press.
Brief summary: This story without words is illustrated in black and white with the color brown emphasizing the bag as it begins as a tree log being chipped, rolled, and made into a paper bag. Young readers follow a boy and his bag. The bag has a heart added and used as a lunch bag and continues in the growing milestones of the boy gathering more hearts inscriptions as it ages three generations.
Comments: Wow. That is certainly one well-made paper bag. Students could talk about all of the uses they could have with a paper bag. Ask why this bag was saved and reused.
Zero Local: Next Stop: Kindness by Ethan Murrow and Vita Murrow. 2020. Largescale graphite drawings are taken from photos, actors, and handmade sets in a studio. Published by Candlewick Press.
Brief summary: An artist rides on the train drawing while a young girl watches. Upon leaving the train, the artist gives the thank-you drawing to the engineer. This happens a few more times delighting the recipients. The young girl is on a train where there is some scuffling. Upon leaving, the child gives them origami gifts she made to show them a little love. This gesture unites them just like it did when the artist the little girl watched earlier in the story.
Comments: This story without words in black and white colors accents the characters with yellow who are trying to show kindness despite tension on the train. When the kindness is shared, the recipient turns yellow. Inspired by a true story.
Bones in the White House: Thomas Jefferson’s Mammoth by Candice Ransom; illustrated by Jamey Christoph. 2020. Ink drawings and colored digitally. Published by Doubleday Books for Young Readers.
Brief summary: Young readers will learn how Thomas Jefferson, often called the Father of American Paleontology, kept records of the fossils found in Virginia and his discoveries of mammoths(mastodons) fossils. Others shared their finds with him during his presidency of the United States of American when he was also the president of the American Philosophical Society. He kept his interest and curiosity and found out more about the giants that once roamed the earth. In 1801, an entire mammoth was put together causing an increase of people to become interested in learning more about fossils.
Comments: I had no idea that Thomas Jefferson contributed so much to paleontology! A great addition to any elementary library. I think it is beneficial to have books like these showing the interests of famous people that not everyone knows.
Sections in the back: Jefferson in History, Mammoth or Mastodon?, and What Happened to Charles Willson Peale’s “Mammoth”?.
Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe by Vivian Kirkfield; illustrated by Alleanna Harris. 2020. Published by Little Bee Books.
Brief summary: Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe had a lot more in common than people may have thought at a first glance of the two friends sitting together. Both had hopes, dreams, and the wish of what could happen. Ella was making herself famous through her beautiful singing voice and style. Marilyn was starring in Hollywood movies that were making her famous from her good looks and smile. They both experienced prejudices that were preventing them from furthering their careers.
Marilyn wanted to be taken more seriously than the roles she was being cast based on her physical appearance. She was given a script that would require her to sing. She listened to Ella’s records and was able to find a way to sing from the great jazz musician’s influence. Marilyn’s new movie was a success, so she wanted to thank Ella in real life. Marilyn was able to talk with her idol in person. They became friends. Marilyn was able to help Ella with her career by attending the singer’s performances and bringing the press in to see the talented Ella FitzGerald.
Comments: Had no idea these two were friends! The Author’s Note continues and fills in the story of the two friends with their backgrounds. Both were judged by their appearances. Marylin was able to help Ella stand up to racial discrimination. Beautiful story. Love the photo in the back of them together. You can see in their faces how much they liked each other.
The back pages also have Primary Sources and Secondary Sources.
The Three Billy Goats Buenos by Susan Middleton Elya; illustrated by Miguel Ordonez. 2020. Published by Penguin Books.
Brief summary: This is a retelling of the classic fairy tale, Three Billy Goats Gruff, and is infused with rhyming Spanish words. Young readers will be delighted by the alternative ending for the troll when they learn why the troll is so grumpy.
Comments: Glossary with punctuation is located at the front of the story. A funny read aloud.
A Whale of a Mistake by Ioana Hobai; illustrated by Ioana Hobai. 2020. Ink, watercolor, and acrylic. Published by Page Street Kids.
Brief summary: A young girl makes a whale of a mistake and is taken out to sea by it. She tries to get the whale to leave her alone, but the mistake takes her further out into the ocean until she finally accepts it. She notices how amazing the stars are out in the quiet ocean while continuing to ride on the back of the whale. Upon reflection, she begins to wonder if those stars are mistakes too. She begins to see how large the universe is and realizes she is not so big and can change her perspective. As she begins to feel that she can move on, the whale becomes smaller and takes her back to the shore where the young girl can stand on solid ground again.
Comments: Love how this book could be read to a child who has made a mistake, admits it, and is encouraged to move on instead of wallowing. Great metaphor. Wordplay. A superb addition to any guidance counselor’s or teacher’s collection to be used to help students recover from a mistake upon reflection.
I think this could be a school assembly read-aloud to discuss mistakes and how to move on after admitting to them.
Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina Lea Lyon and A. LaFaye; illustrated by Jessica Gibson(foreword by Sylvia Townsend). 2020. Digital illustrations using Photoshop CC and a Wacom Cintiq drawing tablet. Published by HarperCollins.
Brief summary: A young Sylvia, always full of music and dance, visits a bookmobile where the kind librarian helps Sylvia by supplying her with ballet instruction books whenever the young girl visits. Sylvia absorbs these and dances ballet steps wherever she goes. Her dance fever spreads to other girls in her neighborhood where she shares her new steps with them.
Years past of self-teaching. A dance audition with Alexandra Sawicka lands the teenage dancer a scholarship to dance school. Sylvia Townsend later creates her own dance company.
Comments: I just love the fact that it was a librarian who also helped this little girl’s dream simply by finding her ballet books whenever she visited the bookmobile.
A delightful and inspirational story. Grit.
Poverty and segregation during 1950s America are lightly incorporated into the story.
“A Note from Lea Lyon” section in the back gives a brief bio background of the famous ballerina. “A Brief History of the Bookmobile” and “Bookmobiles Through the Decades” are in the back.
Winged Wonders: Solving the Monarch Migration Mystery by Meeg Pincus; illustrated by Yas Imamura. 2020. Published by Sleeping Bear Press.
Brief summary: For hundreds of years, people in Canada, The United States, and Mexico wondered where the monarch butterflies flew from and to during their migration. This book tells the story of the butterfly’s migration and how scientists, teachers, and students in 1976 worked together to solve the mystery.
Comments: Great book to introduce migration, insects, stages of a butterfly, and scientific method. Several nonfiction text features.
Straw by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; illustrated by Scott Magoon. 2020. Digital tools used for illustrations. Published by Hyperion
Brief summary: Straw has a large family of all sizes and shapes and friends from the kitchen. He likes to be first to finish drinking anything until one day when he starts to guzzle an icy drink that gives him a brain freeze. A curly straw helps him discover that everything isn’t a race and to be more mindful and appreciative of the world around him.
Comments: I will never look at utensils the same. End pages are decorated with utensils. Title page has a box of paper straws. Great series to use for personification units.
Last of the series.
Ruth Objects: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Doreen Rappaport; illustrated by Eric Velasquez. 2020. Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers .
Brief summary: Young readers learn about Judge Ginsburg’s amazing life story from when she was a young girl going to the library for books to read, to a young woman becoming a lawyer, and to an older woman being appointed to serve on the Untied State Supreme Court.
Comments: Some of Judge Ginsburg’s most famous quotes are peppered throughout the book in large letters and quotation marks. The back has an Important Dates, Author’s Note, Illustrator’s Note, Selected Bibliography, and other sections.
I always enjoy the narrative nonfiction pictures books by Doreen Rappaport. The only critique I have is that I would like to have seen some photos of Ruth Ginsburg in the back section.
One of the Big Words Book series