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.
If Winter Comes, Tell It I’m Not Here by Simona Ciraolo; illustrated by Simona Ciraolo. 2020. Pencil and watercolor. Published by Candlewick Press.
Brief summary: A young boy shares how much he loves swimming and only ice-cream can get him out of the water. His older sister warns him to make the most of it, as summer is going to end. He asks what happens after summer, and his sister tells him a dark tale about how fall will come and then winter. He decides there is nothing he can do about it and just has to wait for it to happen. When fall and winter do arrive, they are like his sister said but all in a positive way in which he enjoys the changing of the seasons.
Comments: What a great story to share about the coming of the fall and winter seasons and what happens. Students can see some of the negative and positive traits.
The Couch Potato by Jory John; illustrated by Pete Oswald. 2020. Scanned watercolor textures and digital paint. Published by HarperCollins.
Brief summary: A couch potato shares how wonderful his life is by sitting on the couch all day watching everything on a collection of screens. He can spend time with his friends via live-stream, play video games, and enjoy his favorite games all the while eating, drinking, and being comfortable without leaving his couch. One day, the delivery of a video camera arrives. When Couch Potato plugs in the new device, all of the lights go out.
He decides to open up the drapes and go outside with his dog, Tater, for awhile. He enjoys the fresh air, the birds singing, and the feel of sitting next to a tree while watching the sunset. When he gets home, the power is back on. He begins wondering what he has been missing always sitting on the couch and vows to go out more. Soon, Couch Potato regularly goes outside to play and be with his friends on new adventures. He learns to balance both worlds.
Comments: What a hilarious story to help children learn to balance THEIR online time and outside world time. No lecturing. The humor will appeal to young readers. The illustrations are large and colorful.
This book would be a great addition to any young person’s collection but also could be used as an introduction to a media literacy unit on balancing online time via in-person time.
I’ll never look at a potato quite the same way.
Cat Ladies by Susi Schaefer; illustrated by Susi Schaefer. 2020. Digitally created with applied hand-panted textures. Published by Abrams.
Brief summary: Princess has four ladies and has trained them well. They are cute and cuddly, and everything is under control, just the way Princess likes it. One day, a stray appears on Princess’s spot on the couch. Princess tries to retrain her ladies with the new stray but finds it tiresome. She decides to find a new cozy spot to sleep but ends up getting stuck. The new stray appears and helps release the cat. Princess decides the little girl is trainable after all and would fit right in with the family.
Comments: This is a fun and whimsical story told through the eyes of a cat owning humans.
Straw by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; illustrated by Scott Magoon. 2020. Digital tools used for illustrations. Published by Hyperion
Brief summary: Straw has a large family of all sizes and shapes and friends from the kitchen. He likes to be first to finish drinking anything until one day when he starts to guzzle an icy drink that gives him a brain freeze. A curly straw helps him discover that everything isn’t a race and to be more mindful and appreciative of the world around him.
Comments: I will never look at utensils the same. End pages are decorated with utensils. Title page has a box of paper straws. Great series to use for personification units.
Last of the series.
Humpty Dumpty Lived Near a Wall by Derek Hughees; illustrated by Nathan Christopher. 2020. Published by Penguin Workshop
Brief summary: Humpty Dumpty has no fun at all working all day with no time to play. He decides to build a ladder to look over the wall. While sitting on the top looking onto the other side, something happens to him. The king and the townspeople find broken shells at the foot of the wall and conclude the worst has occurred to the egg. Or has it?
Comments: This fractured nursery rhyme based on the Mother Goose nursery rhyme, is told in clever rhyme The color scheme of the illustrations is black and with great detail and layers. I found myself looking through the book again to catch all that I missed in the pictures.
Although young readers would enjoy this remaking of a classic nursery rhyme, I believe it would be better suited for the older elementary students to fully understand the retelling.
When Numbers Met Letters by Lois Barr; illustrated by Stephanie Laberis. 2020. Adobe Photoshop CC. Published by Holiday House.
Brief summary: Children in a classroom who are playing with the numbers and letters line up and go outside. Number 1 introduces itself to the Letter A. Other numbers and letters contribute to the conversation comparing how they are alike and different, always trying to one up each other. This accelerates until there is a war between the letters and the numbers. Suddenly, there is a loud “STOP!” by a different group who demonstrate how they can exist together in harmony.
Comments: Primary students will be able to see and understand the likes and differences of the two groups. Large and bright illustrations with speech bubbles.
I Found a Kitty! by Troy Cummings; illustrated by Troy Cummings. 2020. Published by Random House Books for Young Readers.
Brief summary: Arfy is having a great time playing and sniffing outside when he comes across a homeless kitten in a drainpipe. He writes several letters to those in the neighbor he believes will be able to give Scamper a good home. Each time, they write back to Arfy after Scamper has been there for a small time but without success. Finally, Arfy finds Scamper the perfect home.
Comments: This would be a book to read when introducing letter writing for young readers.
Suggestions are in the back for ways readers can help a homeless pet.
The Great Eggscape! by Jory John; illustrated by Pete Oswald(interior illustrations by Saba Joshaghani based on the artwork of Pete Oswald). 2020. Pencil sketches scanned and painted in Adobe Photoshop. Published by HarperCollins.
Brief summary: Shel, the egg, wonders where all of the other eggs go inside the store on the weekends while he enjoys hanging out in the carton reading in peace and solitude. The great eggscapes are usually short with everyone returning by lunch. Concerned that no one has returned yet, Shel decides to leave the carton and search for his friends that he finds camouflaged to look like various items in the store. Shel realizes he may like to play with others from time to time as well as being by himself.
Comments: I LOVE these hilarious books with duo John and Oswald! Great sense of humor and puns.
This is a clever wink to Easter eggs in regards to how the eggs are all decked out in various colors and decorations and are hidden(and found) in the store similar to an Easter egg hunt.
I’ll never look at my carton of eggs in the refrigerator quite the same.
Note: Stickers are included with this book that a younger reader could use to decorate Easter eggs.
Pluto Gets the Call by Adam Rex; illustrated by Laurie Keller. 2019. Traditional, digital, and galactic media. Published by Beach Lane Books.
Brief summary: Pluto receives a phone call from Earth scientists telling him he is no longer considered a planet. Pluto goes across the solar system introducing the young reader to the various REAL planets and sharing interesting facts about them as they all talk back and forth. Pluto decides to go to the sun and tells him what happened. The sun consoles Pluto while summarizing what each planet is known for the most and how special he is even if no longer a planet.
Comments: Hilarious. The title captured my attention. Speech bubbles. Solar system puns. Large and bright illustrations. I love Laurie Keller’s illustrations! There is a “solar system fun facts” and “a note from the author” in the back. Fun book to share when doing planet units. One of my favorites for the 2019 year.