Just Like a Mama by Alice Faye Duncan; illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow. 2020. Watercolor, gouache, colored pencil and gel pen. Published by Simon & Schuster.
Brief summary: Carol lives with Mama Rose who is just like a mama. In the absence of Carol’s biological parents, Mama Rose takes care of Carol by feeding her, teaching her how to ride a bike, and disciplines her when she decides not to follow the rules. Mama Rose loves Carol just like a mama.
Comments: “A Note From the Author” is in the back.
Are Your Starts Like My Stars? by Leslie Helakoski; illustrated by Heidi Woodward Sheffield. 2020. Published by Sterling Children’s Books.
Brief summary: Children from around the world wonder if their everyday neighborhood colors are the same as other children in the world.
Comments: I would share this book at the end of the kindergarten color unit to summarize the colors and to think about how color may have different or similar perspectives to someone else in the world.
My Best Friend by Julie Fogliano & Jillian Tamaki. 2020. Digitally rendered illustrations. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
Brief summary: Two young girls become best friends instantly. They laugh, dance, and play in harmony. They share a funny and silly day together before being picked up by their parents. They will learn each other’s names tomorrow.
Comments: Such a sweet and beautiful book about friendship. Great read aloud for primary grades.
All of the words are in small caps. The illustration colors are green, brown, black, and white.
Be You! by Peter H. Reynolds; illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. 2020. Published by Orchard Bools.
Brief summary: An inspirational book encouraging young readers to be themselves as they grow up. They will experience ups and downs. Remembering the character traits listed (with examples) will help a young reader be the best YOU.
Comments: This would be an awesome read aloud during a first day school assembly. The character traits discussed could be good reminders throughout the year as the students grow a year together.
The BEST version of you should be emphasized.
Humpty Dumpty Lived Near a Wall by Derek Hughees; illustrated by Nathan Christopher. 2020. Published by Penguin Workshop
Brief summary: Humpty Dumpty has no fun at all working all day with no time to play. He decides to build a ladder to look over the wall. While sitting on the top looking onto the other side, something happens to him. The king and the townspeople find broken shells at the foot of the wall and conclude the worst has occurred to the egg. Or has it?
Comments: This fractured nursery rhyme based on the Mother Goose nursery rhyme, is told in clever rhyme The color scheme of the illustrations is black and with great detail and layers. I found myself looking through the book again to catch all that I missed in the pictures.
Although young readers would enjoy this remaking of a classic nursery rhyme, I believe it would be better suited for the older elementary students to fully understand the retelling.
When Numbers Met Letters by Lois Barr; illustrated by Stephanie Laberis. 2020. Adobe Photoshop CC. Published by Holiday House.
Brief summary: Children in a classroom who are playing with the numbers and letters line up and go outside. Number 1 introduces itself to the Letter A. Other numbers and letters contribute to the conversation comparing how they are alike and different, always trying to one up each other. This accelerates until there is a war between the letters and the numbers. Suddenly, there is a loud “STOP!” by a different group who demonstrate how they can exist together in harmony.
Comments: Primary students will be able to see and understand the likes and differences of the two groups. Large and bright illustrations with speech bubbles.
I Found a Kitty! by Troy Cummings; illustrated by Troy Cummings. 2020. Published by Random House Books for Young Readers.
Brief summary: Arfy is having a great time playing and sniffing outside when he comes across a homeless kitten in a drainpipe. He writes several letters to those in the neighbor he believes will be able to give Scamper a good home. Each time, they write back to Arfy after Scamper has been there for a small time but without success. Finally, Arfy finds Scamper the perfect home.
Comments: This would be a book to read when introducing letter writing for young readers.
Suggestions are in the back for ways readers can help a homeless pet.
When My Brother Gets Home by Tom Lichtenheld; illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. 2020. Pencil, watercolor and colored pencil on Mi-Teintes paper. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers.
Brief summary: A preschooler excitedly shares all of the wonderful adventures and playing she and her brother will do once he returns from school.
Comments: Super sweet book about a little girl waiting to play with her older brother. If only they could always stay like that…
Nesting by Henry Cole; illustrated by Henry Cole. 2020. Micron pens and acrylic paints. Published by Katherine Tegen Books.
Brief summary: Young readers learn about two robins making a nest in an apple tree. The mother robin lays four eggs and keeps them warm until they hatch. Now, both robins must take turns feeding their babies despite a storm and a snake. When the hatchlings have grown and have feathers, they leave the nest, learn to feed themselves, and grow fat for the winter months.
Comments: Robin blue end pages. Illustrations are done with black pen and blue acrylics.
This book would go well with the spring unit of study.
Author’s Note in the back with more robin facts.
The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver by Gene Barretta; illustrated by Frank Morrison. 2020. Oil on illustration board. Published by Katherine Tegen Books.
Brief summary: This narrative biography begins in 1874 with a young ten year old George Carver watering his plants in his secret Missourian garden. Through George’s love of botany and nature around him, he learns of the benefits of those plants and shares this knowledge with others. He attends Iowa Agricultural College. Booker T. Washington hires George to teach the people about agriculture. He began experimenting with new crops to replace cotton, because that crop was destroying the land. He discovers peanuts do well in the South. Carver travels and educates people about how to farm better and the many beneficial uses of peanuts.
Comments: Wow! I had no idea that there are 300 uses for peanuts. The book did not list any of those, so I’ll have to do some research. Maybe that would be a good topic for students to research and share.
Timeline, bibliography, and further reading sections are in the back.
Beautiful and inspirational illustrations. The cover caught my eye.