Bodega Cat by Louie Chin; illustrated by Louie Chin. 2019. Published by POW!
Brief summary: Chip, the bodega’s ginger cat, explains what it is like to be the boss of a bodega that stays open 24/7. All of the Matos family members help run the little corner grocery store by stocking and displaying the merchandise that the neighborhood would like to buy. Chip explains the day-to-day routine of the shop.
Chip also tells about Ja-Young, who is the cat boss of the bodega across the street which has different merchandise. The two cats and families eat together.
Comments: I learned that bodega is Spanish for grocery store. This story reminded me of a bodega in our country neighborhood that we called the Little Store. It also had a mixture of goods unique to the neighborhood such as live bait, freshly butchered livestock, and local bake goods. It had the only gas for miles too.
I recommend this book for teachers to use during their commerce unit. Other units: Wants and Needs. People in the community. Careers.
Pluto Gets the Call by Adam Rex; illustrated by Laurie Keller. 2019. Traditional, digital, and galactic media. Published by Beach Lane Books.
Brief summary: Pluto receives a phone call from Earth scientists telling him he is no longer considered a planet. Pluto goes across the solar system introducing the young reader to the various REAL planets and sharing interesting facts about them as they all talk back and forth. Pluto decides to go to the sun and tells him what happened. The sun consoles Pluto while summarizing what each planet is known for the most and how special he is even if no longer a planet.
Comments: Hilarious. The title captured my attention. Speech bubbles. Solar system puns. Large and bright illustrations. I love Laurie Keller’s illustrations! There is a “solar system fun facts” and “a note from the author” in the back. Fun book to share when doing planet units. One of my favorites for the 2019 year.
The Cool Bean by Jory John; illustrated by Pete Oswald. 2019. Scanned watercolor textures and digital paint. Published by Harper Collins.
Brief summary: A bean admires his friends who are now cool beans. Everything they do is cool, and he wishes he was as cool. No matter how much he tries to match their coolness, he fails in comparison and begins to lose his self-esteem. One day, he drops his lunch in the cafeteria and was amazed that one of the cool beans helped him clean it up. He continues to have other mishaps and is helped by the cool beans. He regains his self-confidence and realizes that coolness isn’t about how one looks but about helping others.
Comments: The illustrations are hilarious. The story’s morale would appeal to young readers. Several bean puns.
These are a few others by this author/illustrator duo with funny life lessons to share:
Coming out in February 2020:
Birdsong by Julie Flett; illustrated by Julie Flett. 2019. Pastel and pencil(composited digitally). Published by Greystone Kids.
Brief summary: Young Katherena and her mother move from their city house by the sea to the country. In the summer, Katherena is encouraged by her mother to meet their neighbor, Agnes and the elderly woman’s dog, Ôhô. Agnes encourages the young girl to draw. Over the seasons, they develop an intergenerational friendship and share each other’s passion of art. Agnes’s daughter visits her mother and welcomes the little girl to join her to sit at the old woman’s death bed until it is time to say goodbye.
Comments: This is such a nice and gentle story of a friendship between two artists. The ending when Katherena sits at Agnes’s side after covering the bedroom walls with her drawings of birds to give the elderly woman a beautiful sendoff is so touching.
I recommend this book for school counselors to have in their collections for students who may be experiencing death of a love one.
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.