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.
Patricia Polacco’s stories never fail to delight.
Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina Lea Lyon and A. LaFaye; illustrated by Jessica Gibson(foreword by Sylvia Townsend). 2020. Digital illustrations using Photoshop CC and a Wacom Cintiq drawing tablet. Published by HarperCollins.
Brief summary: A young Sylvia, always full of music and dance, visits a bookmobile where the kind librarian helps Sylvia by supplying her with ballet instruction books whenever the young girl visits. Sylvia absorbs these and dances ballet steps wherever she goes. Her dance fever spreads to other girls in her neighborhood where she shares her new steps with them.
Years past of self-teaching. A dance audition with Alexandra Sawicka lands the teenage dancer a scholarship to dance school. Sylvia Townsend later creates her own dance company.
Comments: I just love the fact that it was a librarian who also helped this little girl’s dream simply by finding her ballet books whenever she visited the bookmobile.
A delightful and inspirational story. Grit.
Poverty and segregation during 1950s America are lightly incorporated into the story.
“A Note from Lea Lyon” section in the back gives a brief bio background of the famous ballerina. “A Brief History of the Bookmobile” and “Bookmobiles Through the Decades” are in the back.
Winter Dance by Marion Dane Bauer; illustrated by Richard Jones. 2017.Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Brief summary: A beautiful fox sees that winter is coming and asks the forest animals what to do. He learns that the woolly caterpillar will wrap itself in a chrysalis. The turtle tells him to bury himself in the mud. The fox continues asking the forest animals and realizes that he cannot do what they do. He comes across another fox as the snow begins to fall and learns what foxes do.
Comments: This is a beautiful, softly illustrated story that explains how the forest prepares for winter. This is a great addition for those season book collections teachers request.