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
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.
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.
Rocket Says Look Up! by Nathan Bryan; illustrated by Dapo Adeola. 2019. Published by Random House.
Brief summary: A young girl’s enthusiasm of seeing a meteor shower that night spreads to others in the neighborhood. As night comes, Rocket(named after a rocket that was shot into space the day she was born) goes to the park with her brother who is always looking down on his phone. He turns his phone off and looks up to see the meteor shower dart across the sky. The two share the moment with each other while drinking hot chocolate.
Comments: I thought this would be a good book of introduction for the primary students about the sky. The Farmers Almanac site has a schedule of meteor showers. Wouldn’t it be fun to send home a note in December or winter break for the students to think of each other while looking up at the sky for a scheduled meteor shower on Dec. 13/14 or Dec. 22?
Unicorn Day by Diana Murray; illustrated by Luke Flowers. 2019. Sketched and painted in Photoshop. Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky.
Brief summary: There is a big unicorn party celebrating Unicorn Day where there are only three rules to follow: show off your horn, fluff up your hair, and have fun. All the unicorns are dancing and singing and having fun in ways that one would think a unicorn would. Cupcakes and glitter are everywhere. In the middle of all of the celebrating, one of the party attendees turns out to be a fake. The party momentarily stops until the unicorns decide what to do.
Comments: I can imagine this book going out so much in a library that multiple copies will be needed. The illustrations are large and colorful. The end pages are covered in cupcakes. A very silly and frivolous book.
What a fun book to read on April 9th–Unicorn Day.
Sign Off by Stephen Savage; illustrated by Stephen Savage. 2019. Published by Beach Lane Books.
Brief summary: This is a wordless book that takes the reader around town looking at street signs when someone is looking and then what happens when no one is around. The figures go off the signs and end up together to create another day of living on the signs.
Comments: So clever. I will never be able to look at a road sign in the same way after reading this book! The illustrations are of two page layouts with large, bold colored illustrations. There is a note on the copyright page explaining that the signs in the book(many we see in our neighborhoods) were mainly created by Cook and Shanosky Associates(graphic artists).
I would use this book at the beginning of the school year and talk about the signs we see around the school. Why do we need these signs? Students could create their own signs on paper or online.
My Heart by Corinna Luyken; illustrated by Corinna Luyken. 2019. Water-based inks and pencil. Published by Dial Books for Young Readers.
Brief summary: A young child shares in lyrical prose how her heart feels differently in various instances. Sometimes, it feels open; sometimes closed. No matter how it is on a certain day, she accepts it with love.
Comments: The simple wording has complex meanings that could spark a conversation of how one feels on various days or in certain situations. I would use this as a read aloud when someone’s feelings are hurt or having a bad day. This book gave several visual examples of the emotions one may have which I believe a child could relate to and figure out what is being felt.
This book’s theme explores how to accept how your heart if feeling and to remember it can be different tomorrow.
There are only three colors used: yellow, black, and white.