Blue Floats Away by Travis Jonker

Blue Floats Away by Travis Jonker; illustrated by Grant Snider. 2021. Cut paper, colored pencil, and white ink. Published by Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Brief summary: Blue unexpectedly breaks lose from his parents and floats away from the North Pole. The iceberg yells to his parents that he’ll be right back. For days he floats not seeing anything until he comes across some beautiful things in the ocean. Blue learns about wind and ocean currents hoping they will help him return to his family.

Blue suddenly starts to get smaller and smaller until he changes into water and then evaporates into gas and travels in the air as a cloud. He makes new friends and sees more beautiful things as he floats in the wind. He begins to get colder and larger until he sees his parents again in the North Pole and snows down upon them.

Comments: Cute book about the water cycle. Illustrated by Grant Snider who is an orthodontist by day. You may have seen his insightful comics on social media or his website Incidental Comics.

There is an Author’s Note in the back.

Keeping the City Going by Brian Floca

Keeping the City Going by Brian Floca; illustrated by Brian Floca. 2021. Watercolor, ink, acrylic, and gouache. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Brief summary: People in New York City during the COVID pandemic stay inside and look out their windows and watch those who are outside still working to keep the city functioning and safe for everyone.

Comments: Love to see a picture book thanking those who really never had the option to stay home from work. The essential works are thanked and praised for their important work to keep everything as close to normal as possible as one can in a pandemic by providing food, supplies, medical care and more.

I enjoyed stopping and looking at the detail put into the illustrations.

The back end pages has an “Author’s Note”.

Your Mama by NoNieqa Ramos

Your Mama by NoNieqa Ramos; illustrated by Jacqueline Alcantara. 2021. Markers, pastels, Procreate, and Adobe Photoshop. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

Brief summary: Young readers will read about this daughter and mother relationship through positive “your mama…” jokes; opposite of the well known “yo mama” jokes of put downs.

“Your mama so sweet, she could be a bakery”.

Comments: Written with a mix of Spanish words and current slang all woven in a fun lyrical style.

What a refreshing and clever book to build mamas up with positive traits! Great idea. The words and illustrations have a whimsical and infectious spirit. Illustrated banners. Detailed two paged illustrations.

I look forward to another of NoNieqa Ramos’s picture books being released this September 2021 titled Hair Story.

To be released in September 2021

Drop: An Adventure Through the Water Cycle by Emily Kate Moon

Drop: An Adventure Through the Water Cycle by Emily Kate Moon; illustrated by Emily Kate Moon. 2021. India ink and marker layered in Photoshop. Published by Dial Books for Young Readers.

Brief summary: Dot has lived on earth for about 4,5000,000,000 years and has seen and traveled all over the world. She has been in the ocean and up in the sky with her friends gathering to make clouds that turn electric. She goes back down to the earth as rain. She has also been hail and snow. There are times she lands on mountains or freezes and lands on a glacier for a long time. Sometimes she lands on a tree and slides down into the ground to the roots. She is never sure what her new adventure will be nor what form.

Comments: Cute personification of a rain drop goes through the water cycle in a fun and entertaining way for young readers. Interesting little facts for young readers.

Over the Shop by JonArno Lawson

Over the Shop by JonArno Lawson, illustrated by Qin Leng. 2021. Ink and watercolor. Published by Candlewick Press.

Brief summary: A little girl living with her grandparent work together in a little shop below. They need to rent a rundown apartment above their business. Several people come to look but are unable to do the work needed to make it livable. One day, a young couple come and roll up their sleeves to make it a home. The couple also help the grandparent make improvements with the store below. The before and after are rewarding to all.

There is a subplot of the young girl trying to befriend an alley cat. Will she tame this wild thing?

Comments: This is a wordless story/story without words. I love these because they allow the young reader to create the words inside their own head. I taught an entire unit on story without words picture books and had students share their words of the illustrations. This was one of their favorite units as well as mine.

Chase the Moon, Tiny Turtle: A Hatchling’s Daring Race to the Sea by Kelly Jordan

Chase the Moon, Tiny Turtle; A Hatchling’s Daring Race to the Sea by Kelly Jordan; illustrated by Sally Walker. 2021. Printmaking, digital and traditional materials. Published by Page Street Kids.

Brief summary: Loggerhead hatchlings break from their shells and travel to the ocean with the guide of the moon’s reflection on the ocean. It is a perilous journey with predators all around them. When they do reach the ocean, they continue swimming until they can find large seaweed patches to grow in.

Comments: The story is in rhyme. Could be shared in elementary baby animal, ocean, survival, or moon units of study. Predators eating some of the hatchlings along the way are only hinted.

Back pages have “From Next to Sea: A Hatchling’s Journey” and “Be a Hatchling Helper” sections.

For a read aloud by the author on Facebook Watch via Vroman’s Bookstore, click here.

Butterfly for a King by Susan L. Roth

Butterfly for a King by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore. 2021. Paper and fabric collage. Published by Lee & Low Books Inc..

Brief summary: Lava blasting from the Pacific Ocean creates Hawaii and its islands. There is a butterfly that only lives in Hawaii. King Hamehameha is born the same year the Halley’s Comet is seen in 1758. He battles the other chiefs and is able to bring all of the islands under one rule. This butterfly is named after him–Kamehameha Butterfly.

The butterfly is named as the state’s insect although its population is dwindling. The state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources works with the University of Hawaii to study the butterfly to increase its population. This is called the Pulelehua(Hawaiian word for butterfly) Project. The scientists need to learn more about this butterfly and ask the citizens to help collect data. With the help of many, the citizens are able to successfully increase the butterflies’ population.

Comments: There are two story lines in this book: 1)The primary story is told in a large font at the top of the pages. 2)The nonfiction narrative story is at the bottom with smaller text.

The afterword is very informative with photos. The back pages include “Illustrator’s Note and “Authors’ Sources”

I think this would be a book that could be shared with the primary spring butterfly unit as well as extinction prevention.

Butterfly for a King book trailer
Tea Time Talk with Cindy Trumbore and Susan L. Roth

Try It!: How Frieda Caplan Changed the Way We Eat by Mara Rockliff

Try It!: How Frieda Caplan Changed the Way We Eat by Mara Rockliff; illustrated by Giselle Potter. 2021. Watercolor. Published by Beach Lane Books.

Brief summary: Frieda Caplan worked at the 7th Street Produce Market in sales. She introduced new fruits and vegetables to people by giving them samples and often including recipes to use with the new food. She is awarded with the Produce Marketer of the Year in 1979. She created her own produce company in 1962. Her two granddaughters now own Frieda’s Inc. after their grandmother passed in 2020 at the age of 96.

Comments: Frieda’s story of being open to trying different food helped introduce new food not typical in an American home. She is most know for kiwi. Interesting to find out she never learned to cook.

Check out Frieda’s Specialty Produce.

Bracelets for Bina’s Brothers by Rajani LaRocca

Bracelets for Bina’s Brothers by Rajani LaRocca; illustrated by Chaaya Prabhat. 2021. Illustrations done in digital media. Published by Charlesbridge.

Brief summary: Bina separately asks each of her three brothers what colors they like and dislike so she can secretly make them bracelets for Raksha Banhan instead of buying them in a store. Bina and her mother visit a bead store where the girl picks out beads and special charms. She makes bead patterns with the help of her dog, Tara, but can’t remember at first what colors each brother likes and dislikes. Not giving up, she finally finds success and gives each brother a bracelet to keep them safe for the year. They each give her a gift in return and promise to take care of her.

Comments: What a touching Hindu holiday celebrating the brother/sister bond. I love that this book taught me about Raksha Bandhan, and that it is usually in August.

The illustrations are colorful and large enough for a read-aloud.

If chatting about 80’s music & yummy sweets feels like your everyday vibe join Rajani LaRocca for a peek at her 2 newest books!

And a Cat From Carmel Market by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

And a Cat From Carmel Market by Alyssa Satin Capucilli; illustrated by Rotem Teplow. 2021. Published by KAR-BEN Publishing.

Brief summary: Bubbe goes shopping outside in Carmel Market for her Shabbat meal. She fills her cart with a challah, white candles, and chicken soup and continues gathering her items from the market including a few cats. The cats begin to loudly meow and misbehave during the dinner. Can Bubbe make them all behave and get along?

Comments: I did not know that Carmel Market(Shuk HaCarmel) is actually a real market in Tel Aviv, Israel until after I read this picture books. Looks like a fun place to visit.

Single and two paged illustrations.

There is a “Some Words to Know” section in the back.

“The Carmel Market in Tel Aviv is the best place to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, so it’s no surprise that the nearby restaurants are some of the best in the city. Join us on a fabulous tour of the best foodie haunts.”