Bodega Cat by Louie Chin

Bodega CatBodega 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.

Follow That Bee!: A First Book of Bees in the City by Scot Ritchie; illustrated by Scot Ritchie

Follow That BeeFollow That Bee!: A First Book of Bees in the City by Scot Ritchie; illustrated by Scot Ritchie. 2019. Artwork is done digitally. Published by Kids Can Press.

Brief Summary: Mr. Cardinal keeps beehives in his backyard in the city. He invites Martin and his friends over to the backyard where they learn what bees need to thrive. They help plant a variety of flowers that bees like and learn how pollinators move pollen around. The children learn about how natural honeycomb  is made and the ones Mr. Cardinal has in his yard.  One of the children gets stung by a bee and is shown how to take out the barbed stinger. They are told what happens to the bee.  The students are shown how to wear protective gear and smoke the bees to get the honey to sell at the farmer’s market.

Comments: Great bee basics with many nonfiction text features such as a map, labeled diagrams, bold words, and pictures with captions. The back of the book includes directions of how to make a bee bath and a “words to know” section.

The narrative was on the left side with  two paged layouts.

I thought it was funny how calm the child was when Mr. Cardinal took the stinger out of foot. I’m sure young readers will share about their experiences with bee stings.

Little Ree by Ree Drummond

Little ReeLittle Ree by Ree Drummond; illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers. 2017. Pen, ink, and watercolors. Published by Harper Collins.

Brief summary: City Girl Ree is excited about her family moving to the country  and living with her grandparents. She notices how different the air smells, can see all the land to the horizon, and realizes  how the pond  reminds her of a swimming pool. As she is getting settled on her first day, her little brother, Mikey, and cat, Pitcher, discover mud. She does not join them, but instead, goes inside to her new bedroom to unpack adding little touches to make it feel like home. At night, she hears different sounds than in the city. She awakens very early. Her grandfather teaches her how to ride her new horse, Pepper, which Lee finds to be harder to do than expected as they manage a herd of cows. She returns to the big ranch house and has a large breakfast which includes pancakes. Lee’s so tired that she falls asleep at the table but wakes up in time to meet all of her cousins at a barbecue. Little Ree realizes she is  overdressed.  They do not care and have fun playing with her. Little Ree believes she could become a country girl after all.

Comments: Author Ree Drummond shares her experiences of becoming a country woman and how it changed her life. There is a pancake recipe in the back. I would recommend this book to be shared with a city and country living unit of study. This is the first of a new series. I really enjoyed her earlier picture books series with Charlie the Ranch Dog.  You may also know Ree Drummond as The Pioneer Woman from My Food Network.

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(I may receive a small commission for purchases made with links in this post through the Amazon Affiliate Program.  Books in this picture book blog are not sent to me in exchange for a review, but instead, are checked out from a public library).

Graduation Day by Piotr Parda

Graduation Day

Graduation Day by Piotr Parda; illustrated by Piotr  Parda. 2017. Watercolor, monoprint. Published by Ripple Grove Press.

Brief summary: First scene. There is a student dressed in a graduation gown and mortar looking out of a school window smiling. The wordless story continues with the setting through a bird’s view of a city block all in gray with a school yard in the center. Closer look. There are cracks all over the school building and concrete grounds. Next is a large graduation day banner. Then we see where the plot begins. The student is a victim of a group of children jeering at her, and one shoots a sunflower seed through a straw hitting her in the neck. She picks up the seed. They all go to the graduation ceremony, hear the speech, and  throw their hats in the air. Kids are happy and go home with family members.

She walks alone down the school’s gray halls to her locker one last time where there is a jar full of sunflower seeds revealing to the reader just what type of life this young lady endured. She takes the jar and goes about the empty school grounds planting sunflower seeds in the cracks creating a beautiful bright yellow space.

Comments: Wow. So many words and emotions for a story without words. Not the usual happiness on someone’s graduation day.  This is a story of a person who has been bullied many times made evident of all the sunflower seeds collected in her locker’s jar. She was able to take that hate and meanness and loneliness to create the only bright color in the book…a sunflower garden.  This is a resonating story without words that is not a preachy bullying message of “do not bully; it’s wrong.”  This is about a victim who, despite it all, is able to create hope and beauty where there must have been a lot of heartache. The symbolism of the sunflowers can be understood by even  younger readers.

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(I may get a commission for purchases made through links in this post through the Amazon Affiliate Program.  Books reviewed were checked out of the public library and not sent to me free for review).

Tony by Ed Galing


Tony by Ed Galing; illustrated by Erin E. Stead. 2017. Gomuban monoprinting and pencil. Published by Roaring Brook Press.

Brief summary: In Ed Galing’s poem, a boy tells all about Tony, a gentle white horse he sees each morning during a time when dairy products were delivered to one’s door.

Comments:  I imagined this little boy waking up each school day and seeing and hearing Tony walking through the neighborhood. This short and gentle poem is illustrated with soft pencils. There are shadings of grays and greens with yellow colors added towards the end of the book representing dawn.  Illustrator Erin E. Stead did a superb job of creating the illustrations with the same spirit and touching gentleness of the poem. This is a beautiful tribute to a neighborhood working horse. One can imagine how seeing this equine friend every morning impacted the child.

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(I may get a commission for purchases made through links in this post through the Amazon Affiliate Program.  Books reviewed were checked out of the public library and not sent to me free for review).

Noisy Night by Mac Barnett

Noisy NIght

Noisy Night by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Brian Biggs. 2017. Published by Roaring Brook Press.

Brief summary: The front end pages show a young boy sleeping in a dark room. Next, the title page shows him awake looking up to the ceiling, “What is going LA LA LA above my head?” Each page introduces a new apartment level and night activity along with an onomatopoeia as the story  continuously ascends to the very top floor  where a little old man yells down  for everyone to go to bed. The back end pages show the old man sleeping in a dark room.

Comments: This is a fun and silly book teaching onomatopoeia. Students will enjoy mimicking the sounds.

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(I may get a commission for purchases made through links in this post through the Amazon Affiliate Program.  Books reviewed were checked out of the public library and not sent to me free for review).