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.
The Cool Bean by Jory John; illustrated by Pete Oswald. 2019. Scanned watercolor textures and digital paint. Published by Harper Collins.
Brief summary: A bean admires his friends who are now cool beans. Everything they do is cool, and he wishes he was as cool. No matter how much he tries to match their coolness, he fails in comparison and begins to lose his self-esteem. One day, he drops his lunch in the cafeteria and was amazed that one of the cool beans helped him clean it up. He continues to have other mishaps and is helped by the cool beans. He regains his self-confidence and realizes that coolness isn’t about how one looks but about helping others.
Comments: The illustrations are hilarious. The story’s morale would appeal to young readers. Several bean puns.
These are a few others by this author/illustrator duo with funny life lessons to share:
Coming out in February 2020:
The Last Peach by Gus Gordon; illustrated by Gus Gordon. 2019. Published by Roaring Brook Press.
Brief summary: Two bugs are sitting on a leaf in the peach tree admiring the last peach of the year and discuss how they should eat it. Another bug comes along and wonders if the peach is rotten inside. The two continue to discuss the pros and cons of eating the peach and decide it is too beautiful to eat.
Comments: This whimsical book would work well as a reader’s theater selection. Each character has a different colored font to make it easier for young readers to keep track. I like that the end pages have pictures of peaches instead of just plain white paper.
Square by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Jon Klassen; 2018. Digitally and with watercolor and graphite. Published by Candlewick Press.
Brief summary: Square goes into his secret den every day and pushes out a square of rock and piles it with the other squares. One day Circle rolls by and compliments Square for his wonderful sculpture that looks like the artist. Could Square sculpture one of Circle? He works all night in the rain. Will Circle be pleased with his results?
Comments: Second of the shape trilogy of Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. Young readers will be amused by the sense of humor in Square as they were in Triangle. The illustrations are blacks, grays, and browns.