Brief summary: A young boy overhears a grownup comparing feelings to weather and how both change. The boy concludes that crying is like the rain. He shares the different perspectives people have about crying and then relates how the weather can become imbalanced. He learns how feelings can be expressed and mindfully shared with others.
Comments: This book could be shared with students and young ones to help them be aware of the difference types of crying and how people may feel differently about the emotions that go with it.
Sections in the back are: Crying Really is Like the Rain, Weather Reports: A Mindfulness Game, Go to Deeper, and Words Have Power.
It should be noted that the author is a counselor and founder of Mindful Kids.
The Bookstore Catby Cylin Busby; illustrated by Charles Santoso. 2020. Adobe Photoshop. Published by Balzer & Bray.
Brief summary: This adorable bookstore’s ginger cat is described using various adjectives about his life in a bookstore. Young readers will have fun learning about this cute cat’s story.
Comments: This book could be used in so many ways. First, as a book to be read for entertainment. Second, a great book to use for teaching adjectives for an English language lesson
Third, this may be a good book to use in music class too. There is a note from Cylin Busby on the front pages explaining that this story was inspired by a Victorian parlor game that she played with her family as a child. Players sit in a circle clap a rhythm while taking turns finishing the sentence. “The minster’s cat is an (adjective) cat.” The next person has to say an adjective describing the cat with the next letter of the alphabet.
Your Name is a Songby Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow; illustrated by Luisa Uribe. 2020. Published by The Innovation Press.
Brief summary: A girl has a bad first day because no one could say her name correctly. On the walk home from school, her mother explains to her daughter that names can be said like songs. She sings various names so her little girl hears them. The mother taps out the rhythm of a name as well as emphasizing where the accent goes by tapping it louder than the others. Soon, the girl becomes confident with her name and can’t wait to go back to school to share her song.
When it is time for Ms. Anderson to do the roll call, the teacher stalls trying to make sure she says the girl’s name correctly. The little girl takes the opportunity to teach her teacher and fellow classmates the song of each of their names before saying her own: Kora-Jalimuso. Soon each child sings her name back to her. “KO-rah DJAAAA-lee-MOOOO-so
Comments: This is the book I would have read to my students at the beginning of the school year when we were getting to know each other if I weren’t already retired. What a great opening to share each other’s names like Kora-Jalimuso did!
I always appreciated it when the ESL teacher gave each of us “special” teachers a list of new students including how their names were phonetically said. Many students had a hard time at first saying my name correctly until I made a poster with my name with the phonetics underneath and two red photos of Ferraris.
Sticks and Stones by Patricia Polacco; illustrated by Patricia Polacco. 2020. Two and six B pencils and acetone markers. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Younger Readers.
Brief summary: Trish is going to spend a year of junior high with her father in Michigan instead of with her mother in California. Unfortunately, she breaks out with a red rash all over her face on her first day and is given the name “Cootie” by one of the bullies. As the school year progresses, she befriends two kind and gifted students the bullies have nicknamed “Sissy Boy” who is a remarkable dancer and “Her Ugliness” who is a talented artist. They become best friends and conquer the cruel remarks together.
Comments: It was wonderful to read the author’s letter in the back telling the young readers how the three friends in the story are actually real friends and have prospered with their gifts despite the unkind words of Billy.
The Barnabus Project by the Fan Brothers. 2020. Graphite and colored digitally. Published by Penguin Random House.
Brief summary: Barnabus is a combo of a mouse and an elephant. He lives in a secret lab underneath the Perfect Pets store. Barnabus is one of many failed projects living in bell jars dreaming of the world above thanks to the descriptions of it by a cockroach named Pip. One day Green Rubber Suits come down poking and talking about each creature in a bell jar while putting red stamps on all of the jars…FAIL. Before, they had no idea they were failed lab projects until Pip tells them that they indeed are and that there are better versions of themselves above. The creatures are going to be recycled. Barnabus decides he wants to go up now and see that wonderful world the cockroach tells everyone. All the creatures decide to join Barnabus and their adventures begin with figuring out how to get above. What will they discover?
Comments: I love the imagination and creativity of this book. The Perfect Pets Store is hilarious. Young readers can empathize with the failed projects and the desire of the creatures wanting to escape to live freely in a new world.
The Fan Brothers never fail to share a unique and creative story.
On Account of the Gum by Adam Rex; illustrated by Adam Rex. 2020. Illustrated with Photoshop. Published by Chronicle Books.
Brief summary: A young girl wakes up with gum in her hair. Her father tries to remove it but gets the scissors stuck in the gum. Her father and sister go on the computer and find some websites that say butter could get the gum out, but the butter gets stuck as well. Pretty soon, various family members offer their advance only getting more and more things stuck in her hair. The fire department ends up coming to help, and the story continues getting crazier and funnier.
Comments: Students will love this accumulative tale with hilarious illustrations.
The Camping Trip by Jennifer K. Mann; illustrated by Jennifer K. Mann. 2020. Pencil on tracing paper and then digitally collaged and painted. Published by Candlewick Press.
Brief summary: Ernestine excitedly goes camping for the first time ever with her Aunt Jackie and Cousin Samantha. She excitedly packs her clothes ready for the long drive to the country. The girls decide to put up their own tent. Ernestine learns that it is not like making a fort at home. After getting sweaty, the two girls go the pond to fish where Ernestine is afraid the fish will bit her, but Samantha confirms that they do not.
It is time for all three to take a hike and have a picnic. The girls discover the Nature around them. They have a campfire in the evening when they learn to make smores before going to bed. It is very dark and Ernestine wants to talk to her father, but there is no reception.
After a good night sleep, Ernestine is able to really enjoy the rest of the camping.
Comments: Some of the story is in comic book blocks. Cute story of two cousins enjoying camping.
Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses; illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin. 2020. Jimmy Patterson Books; Little, Brown and Company.
Brief summary: A young girl and her guitar-toting father adventure into the countryside to get her mother at the farmer’s market before all three head to the fairgrounds where they sing together on stage.
Comments: Beautifully illustrated!
Note: Keep in mind that this book’s interpretation of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses has a different storyline. The song was about Axl Rose’s girlfriend, Erin Everly. Before I knew the original story behind the song, I always thought it was talking about a parent’s love for his child just like the illustrations do in this picture book.
Ellie’s Dragon by Bob Graham; illustrated by Bob Graham. 2020. Watercolor and ink. Published by Candlewick Press.
Brief summary: Ellie finds a baby dragon and calls him Scratch. She makes a bed for him. When she asks her mother for some matches for him to eat, her mother can only see an empty matchbox and cotton balls. Ellie places Scratch in her dollhouse and cares for him by feeding him hot related foods. She takes him to preschool and shares him with everyone. When she attends kindergarten, she forgets to take him to school with her and misses Scratch’s first flight. As Ellie grows older, she spends less time with her dragon, missing his growing and important days until one day, he leaves. Once in a while, Ellie thinks she sees him. Does Scratch really exist?
Comments: Love the end pages that begin and end the story. So much better than blank white ones. Clever way of explaining how we outgrow things as we get older.
Brief summary: May is dropped off by her mother at her Gong Gong’s to babysit. May is concerned, because she does not speak any Chinese nor does her grandfather speak any English. After falling asleep while watching TV, Gong Gong wakes up and puts on his coat. May goes along as they walk down the street and is introduced to various merchants and friends in her Gong Gong’s neighborhood. May thinks they are going to eat and is disappointed when they only have tea. They continue to the fish market and park. With a growling stomach and feeling grouching because she is feeling ignored, May has a temper tantrum yelling she is hungry. This causes all of the pigeons to fly up with one pooping on her. Gong Gong cleans her up and tries to calm his granddaughter.
They go sit by the fountain and eat pork buns. May hugs the stuffed monkey that her Gong Gong secretly bought for her in one of the stores they visited earlier. She did not know he was paying attention to her. They slowly go back down the street to Gong Gong’s home where May’s mother picks her up and learns a little about their day together.
Comments: What a sweet story of how a language barrier did not prevent Gong Gong and his granddaughter from forming a bond. Cute story to share for Grandparents’ Day on September 21, 2021.