Squeak! by Laura McGee Kvasnosky; illustrated by Kate Harvey McGee. 2019. First painted the black layer in gouache resist and then painted the color digitally in Photoshop. Published by Philomel Books.
Brief summary: Early in a forest’s morning, the breeze of the wind went past a mouse’s ear causing him to *squeak*! That *squeak!* floated to a chipmunk causing him to chatter in the branches of a pine tree. A pine cone falls into the river below making a *splash!* in the water. All of the creatures in the forest’s habitat experience the result of the wind’s first touch of the mouse’s ear resulting and ending with the mouse again.
Comments: Fun way to learn about the sounds of the forest. This book could be read to introduce a hearing unit and a forest habitat. This also could be an onomatopoeia introduction book.
Little Libraries, Big Heroes by Miranda Paul; illustrated by John Parra. 2019. Acrylic paint on illustration board. Published by Clarion Books.
Brief summary: In 2009, Todd Bol cut up an old door and made a small box resembling a tiny one room school house. He filled it with books and set it on his lawn with a sign…free books. Rick Brooks, a friend of Todd’s, suggested that they could make hundreds of these for people to place throughout the country. After awhile, the idea took off. Each Little Free Library has a number to keep track of all of them. People around the world heard about the idea and liked it. Soon Todd and Rick In 2011, the organization became an official nonprofit.
“Take a Book; Share a Book”
Back pages have these sections: Author’s Note, More About Little Free Libraries, More About the People and Events in This Book, and To Learn More.
Go here for their website and see if a registered Little Free Library is near you: https://littlefreelibrary.org/
The Night Library by David Zeltser and Raul Colón. 2019. Published by Random House.
Brief summary: A young boy receives a book on the eve of his eighth birthday and is not pleased. He goes to bed only to wake up in the night by purring of a white lion sitting in the snow outside his window . The boy goes outside and is greeted by Fortitude who gives him a ride through the moonlit city to the New York Public Library where he takes the boy inside the empty building. Familiar books move about the library making different shapes. Patience, another white library lion, joins them as the boy remembers his grandpa reading several of the books to him. Patience decides that it is time the boy returned home as Fortitude goes back onto his place in front of the library turning into a statue again.
Comments: Author’s Note in the back tells about the lion statues that were planned by Edward Clark Potter with the Piccirilli brothers carving them from pink Tennessee marble. After several earlier names, they were later named by a New York City Mayor, Fiorello LaGuardia, during the Great Depression to help people remember important virtues to get through hard times. Patience and Fortitude stuck.
The NYP Library’s slogan is “Read Between the Lions”.
As a school librarian, I would read this book to students during National Library Week being sure to pair it with the photos of the lions outside of the library.
For more information about the lions: https://www.nypl.org/help/about-nypl/library-lions
Hey, Water by Antoinette Portis; illustrated by Antoinette Portis. 2019. Brush and sumi ink; digitally colored. Published by Neal Porter Books.
Brief summary: A girl shares all about the water that is around her and how it is not always the same in the way it looks or feels.
Comments: This would be a good, simple book to read when doing the water cycle in primary grades. All three water forms are examined with a more detailed section of “Water Forms” in the back pages. A diagram of the water cycle and a “Conserving Water” section are included.
I think by reading this as an introduction to the water cycle would help the students see the three forms of water in their world by how the young girl examines them in the book.
A Stone Sat Still by Brendan Wenzel; illustrated by Brendan Wenzel. 2019. Variety of media such as cut paper, colored pencil, oil pastels, marker, and the computer. Published by Chronicle Books.
Brief summary: A stone is examined as being something different to many creatures of the forest. It has many functions even when it is later totally submerged under the water. It sits still throughout.
Comments: Loved how this would help children see different perspectives and meanings for one object that stays stationed.
Large two-paged layouts that students in the back could also see if sharing with a group.
I would pair this with Brendan Wenzel’s earlier book, They All Saw a Cat.
I would refer to this story whenever there is a difference of opinion about something to demonstrate how we can have different perspectives to the same event.
You Are My Friend by Aimee Reid; illustrated by Matt Phelan. 2019. Pencil and watercolor. Published by Abrams Books.
Brief summary: Fred Rogers was sick as a young child and unable to make friends, so he created puppets instead to share his feelings with and talk to about life. He learned to express his emotions on the piano too. His mother told him to look for people who are helping whenever they left the house to help calm her son. He enjoyed visiting his grandfather in the country. Grandpa McFeely told his grandson that he loved him just the way he was. This stayed with Fred as he went to college majoring in music. He later worked for the country’s first public television station, WQED. Years later, he produced Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood developing his own scripts, music and puppet voices.
Comments: This is a brief biography of Mr. Rogers’ life. It reveals how he came up with some of his ideas for the show such as his neighborhood of puppets and his philosophy on life.
This book’s back pages have a section about Mr. Rogers’ life.
I would share this book to emphasize kindness, community helpers, and feelings.
Spencer’s New Pet by Jessie Sima; illustrated by Jessie Sima. 2019. Illustrations rendered in Adobe Photoshop. Published Simon and Schuster.
Brief summary: A boy and his pet balloon dog do everything together being very careful to avoid any sharp objects. The inevitable does happen, but it’s afterwards that is surprising.
Comments: The colors used for this book are black, gray, white, and red. The beginning end pages are the 3-2-1- movie countdown. The book is divided into thirds and done in the silent movie frame style. This is a story without words.
Wordless stories are one of my favorite genres. I would share the book with the students in total silence explaining that the words are happening in our minds as I turn the pages. When the book ends, we then would go page-by-page taking turns of how the story unraveled.
For older students, I would show the book again using an ELMO this time up on the screen while they wrote the story. We would share with a neighbor.
The Last Peach by Gus Gordon; illustrated by Gus Gordon. 2019. Published by Roaring Brook Press.
Brief summary: Two bugs are sitting on a leaf in the peach tree admiring the last peach of the year and discuss how they should eat it. Another bug comes along and wonders if the peach is rotten inside. The two continue to discuss the pros and cons of eating the peach and decide it is too beautiful to eat.
Comments: This whimsical book would work well as a reader’s theater selection. Each character has a different colored font to make it easier for young readers to keep track. I like that the end pages have pictures of peaches instead of just plain white paper.
Butterflies on the First Day of School by Annie Silvestro; illustrated by Dream Chen. 2019. Published by Sterling Children’s Books.
Brief summary: Rosie excitedly prepares for the first day of school. When the day arrives, she has a stomachache and tells her parents that maybe she should stay home. “”You must have butterflies in your belly,” said her mother, hugging her tight”. The bus pulls up and Rosie sits next to a girl named Violet. A butterfly comes out of Rosie’s mouth as they make friends. As Rosie goes through her day and keeps getting a random bellyache, butterflies comes out when she shares or plays.
At recess, Rosie kindly goes over to Isabella who is rubbing her stomach now and asks if the girl would like to play. A few butterflies come out of Isabella’s mouth. Upon coming home, Rosie shares her first day with her mother and a last butterfly flies from her mother this time.
Comments: End pages have large flowers in the front and large butterflies in the back. I always love when the ends are decorated with anything but those stark white pages.
I would share this with an anxious first day student in primary school. Great book for a school counselor to have on hand too.
The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes and Vanessa Brantley-Newton. 2019. Hand drawn; colored using Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter. Published by Nancy Paulsen Books.
Brief summary: It is the first day of kindergarten for a young boy. He brushes his teeth, dresses himself, and eats breakfast with his family. He is ready to be the king of kindergarten as his carriage arrives to take him to the fortress. He meets his teacher and finds his own seat while getting to know new friends. He learns and plays with imagination throughout the day and can’t wait to go back the next day.
Comments: Royalty jargon and analogies throughout the book. This is a positive story to build a child’s self-esteem a bit before going to the first day.
The illustration are with bright colors and with happy faces. There are many two-paged layouts.
It may be necessary to remind the young reader(s) that there are other kings and queens attending kindergarten class that day too.