Brief summary: Frieda Caplan worked at the 7th Street Produce Market in sales. She introduced new fruits and vegetables to people by giving them samples and often including recipes to use with the new food. She is awarded with the Produce Marketer of the Year in 1979. She created her own produce company in 1962. Her two granddaughters now own Frieda’s Inc. after their grandmother passed in 2020 at the age of 96.
Comments: Frieda’s story of being open to trying different food helped introduce new food not typical in an American home. She is most know for kiwi. Interesting to find out she never learned to cook.
Bracelets for Bina’s Brothers by Rajani LaRocca; illustrated by Chaaya Prabhat. 2021. Illustrations done in digital media. Published by Charlesbridge.
Brief summary: Bina separately asks each of her three brothers what colors they like and dislike so she can secretly make them bracelets for Raksha Banhan instead of buying them in a store. Bina and her mother visit a bead store where the girl picks out beads and special charms. She makes bead patterns with the help of her dog, Tara, but can’t remember at first what colors each brother likes and dislikes. Not giving up, she finally finds success and gives each brother a bracelet to keep them safe for the year. They each give her a gift in return and promise to take care of her.
Comments: What a touching Hindu holiday celebrating the brother/sister bond. I love that this book taught me about Raksha Bandhan, and that it is usually in August.
The illustrations are colorful and large enough for a read-aloud.
I Dream of Popo by Livia Blackburne; illustrated by Julia Kuo. 2021. Published by Roaring Brook Press.
Brief summary: A young girl and her family immigrate from Taiwan to America leaving their Popo behind. The granddaughter remembers walking in the park with Popo and receiving a red envelope on New Year’s day. She remembers looking where San Diego is located on the globe and compares it to how far the young girl will travel from Tawain.
The young girl make friends with a wide variety of children from various cultures and learns to speak English. She video chats with her Popo and tells her that she misses the dumplings. She goes to visit her grandmother and notices how home has changed including her Popo. She returns back to America concerned about how her Popo will look the next time she visits.
Comments: Popo’s death is gently alluded at the end of the book. The author and illustrator share their Taiwanese heritage and how this book means something special to them. There is also a list of words used in the book with a Chinese pronunciation guide.
The Rock From the Sky by Jon Klassen; illustrated by Jon Klassen. 2021. Water color and digitally created illustrations. Published by Candlewick Press.
Brief summary: Turtle enjoys standing on his favorite spot when Armadillo comes along and asks what he is doing. After Turtle explains, Armadillo says that he is getting a bad feeling in Turtle’s spot and encourages his friend to try HIS favorite spot. Turtle declines. Armadillo leaves. Snake comes along and stands with Armadillo at his spot and begins talking with his pal. Turtle is unable to hear them and begins to move away from his favorite spot and closer to Armadillo’s; escaping just in time.
Young readers will enjoy reading more about these three(and an alien) in these connected funny short stories.
Comments: Jon Klassen writes the funniest picture books with laugh-out-loud story lines. I always look forward to reading his latest.
Young readers will enjoy the suspense of the impending doom of the rock falling from the sky. Will it land on one of the characters? Predictions could be shared after each story. Expect a lot of giggles.
Ten Beautiful Thingsby Molly Beth Griffin; illustrated by Maribel Lechuga. 2021. Photoshop and Clip Studio Paint with watercolor textures in traditional mediums. Published by Charlesbridge.
Brief summary: Lily is in the back seat driving with her Gram to Iowa where she will now live. The young girl tries to fold up the map while her Gram suggest they find ten beautiful things on the their long car ride. LIly does not see anything beautiful until the sun rises over the horizon. Number 1. They continue to play this game throughout the journey slowly filling Lily’s empty heart with beautiful things.
Comments: I was thinking of so many activities this book could go with in an elementary school setting. I would share this book with young readers to help them look for positive things around them when things are not so great. Keeping in mind that “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” may need to be explained before sharing this as a read-aloud. I would then have students/children share what is beautiful to them in the room, in their home, in their school, and so on. Great way to lead to positive thinking.
A Sled for Gaboby Emma Otheguy; illustrated by Ana Ramirez Gonzalez. 2021. Illustrations were created digitally. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
Brief summary: Gabo wakes to a snow covered world and children playing outside on a sled. He wants to go out and join them but he does not have wool socks to keep his feet warm or boots to keep them waterproofed. He just moved from a hot climate and has not played in the snow before now. Mami comes up with substitutes of several layers of cotton socks and plastic bags tied over his shoes.
Gabo goes next door to ask Senor Ramos if he has a sled he could borrow. He does not but his granddaughter, Isa, is visiting and encourages Gabo to play since they are the same age. Gabo is too shy and goes to play with Misifu, a cat.
Gabo’s tia arrives with a plastic cafeteria tray for him to use as a sled. Isa comes over now and they slide up and down the snowy hill until dusk when they go inside and share dulce de leche together.
Comments: Such a sweet story about a shy boy who learned to adapt and have fun while making a new friend. Gabo is bilingual and can speak to many neighbors and is one of those people who can play with animals as well as other kids. Gabo is able to adjust to a new habitat and culture, intertwining both worlds.
*Although this book was released in early January, I did not receive it from the public library until March. I still want to share this even though the season has passed, as I think it is a touching and important story that teaches how to stay positive and move forward.
Rectangle Time by Pamela Paul; illustrated by Becky Cameron. 2021. Published by Philomel Books.
Brief summary: A thoughtful cat enjoys rectangle time with his boy and father and helps in any way he can to make it superb. He always sits in someone’s lap and scratches his face on the rectangle. Soon, he notices that there are two voices at rectangle time and decides to add his. As time goes by, he hears that rectangle time is now silent and only with the boy. The cat decides he will break the quietness.
Years pass. The cat sees how rectangle time is now with two again, but they are sitting in silence at opposite sides of the room. The cat pokes the boy to let him know he is still contributing with this special ritual. The cat believes it is an accident when the boy removes his helpful paw.
More time passes and the cat concludes the boy is not enjoying his rectangle time by himself on his bed, so the supportive cat sits on the rectangle. He gets dumped on the floor and realizes it was not an accident. The caring cat decides to re-position himself. Will this persistent feline ever find the right way again to share rectangle time?
Comments: Whenever we have story time in elementary school, we call it “circle time” when the children would gather around in sort of a circle and listen/participate with a read aloud. “Rectangle time” is such a cute name showing that story time is through the cat’s perspective and how it changes over the years as the boy grows older.
Definitely a good choice for library media specialists and teachers to share.
I Talk Like a Riverby Jordan Scoot; illustrated by Sydney Smith. 2020. Watercolor, ink and gouache. Published by Neal Porter Books.
Brief summary: A young boy wakes up and notices all of the words around him as he gets ready to go to school where he does not have a good day. His father picks him up after school noticing that his son is having a bad speech day. He takes the boy to the river where they walk in silence along the bank. His father hugs him and says, “See how that water moves? That’s how you speak.”
The boy looks at the river and sees how the water in the river goes slowly, quickly, bubbling, and in many other ways. He realizes how the river can go smoothly at times and also choppy just like how he sometimes speaks. He is able to understand the stuttering simile and goes to school the next day sharing with the class about his favorite place in the world…the river.
Comments: Speech teachers! Here is a superb book for you to share with a student who stutters. Lovely simile that could help students understand how they speak as well as their classmates’.
Touching explanation in the back from the author sharing his stuttering speech as a child and how he wrote this book based on his own life.
Brief summary: Questions about flowers are answered with beautiful illustrations and clear informative text. The many labeled diagrams, dialog bubbles, and mixture of fonts and sizes make the picture book easy to read and understand. Young readers will learn about the flower’s seed, root, and blossom.
Comments: This is a nonfiction picture book fully illustrated from the top to the bottom of the page. The end pages are decorated with a variety of flowers. There is a “Sources” page in the back.
This is the launch of a new nonfiction picture book series. You may recognize Ignotofsky’s unique style in her Women in Series Collection.
Peter Easter Frogby Erin Dealey; illustrated by G. Brian Karas. 2021. Mixed media. Published by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books.
Brief summary: Peter Easter Frog hops along the forest’s trail placing colored eggs in the grass and runs into a turtle with her Easter hat on. He invites her along his journey and comes across a cow. She joins the frog and turtle as they pass out more eggs and collect a dog and chipmunk to join them. They come across the Easter Bunny who is not happy with them doing his job. Peter Easter Frog gives the Easter Bunny an egg; the first time anyone ever gave the rabbit one. He decides they could all help him deliver the colored eggs.
Comments: This is sweet book with nice pastel illustrations.
This book reminds me of the Easter song we sang in elementary school (“Here Comes Peter Cottontail”) probably because the first line in the book and in the song are very similar. Here is one version of the song: