A New Dayby Brad Meltzer; illustrated by Dan Santat. 2021. Watercolor, color pencil, crayon and digitally in Adobe Photoshop. Published by Dial Books.
Brief summary: Sunday does not want to be a day anymore. The other days are surprised. They decide to put up posters to get a new day. Tryouts are full of a variety of new day ideas–Dog Day, Fun Day, Caturday, and many more. A young girl comes up with the best day. Can you guess what it is?
Comments: These hilarious fully colored illustrations are on all of the pages…even the end pages. (I always appreciate illustrations on the end pages instead of just white!) Many speech bubbles. A graphic novel vibe at times. A fun book to share. I would suggest sharing with intermediate elementary students in order for them to get all of the humor.
I am Not a Dog Toy by Ethan T. Berlin; illustrated by Jared Chapman. 2021. Published by Random House.
Brief summary: A little girl on her birthday opens a large yellow box where a talkative teddy bear pops out pledging that they are going to be best friends. She tosses him into the dog’s water bowl, waking the sleeping dog who excitedly goes over to the soaked bear. The dog is very pleased with his new toy and tells the bear how much fun they are going to have together. The bear tells him that he is not a dog’s toy but a kids’ toy. The dog picks him up in his mouth and runs throughout the house playing with him and having the most fun ever. The bear tells him again that he is not a dog’s toy and sees that the little girl is coming into her room where he believes she will rescue him from the dog. Instead, she tosses him into the wedge between her bed and the wall where all of the other toys ended up that she did not like.
The dog tells the teddy bear that he would never treat him like that. “I am a kids’ toy!” the bear exclaims again and tries to get the little girl to play with him but sadly without success. He realizes that the dog is the one who will treat him right and love him. “I am a dog toy, and it is glorious!”
Comments: This could be used in a perspective unit of how others may perceive something differently. There could be a discussion of what is the point of view the bear has of himself, how the dog views him, and how the little girl sees him. There could even be a discussion of friendship and how it needs to be reciprocated.
How to Catch a Clover Thiefby Elise Parsley; illustrated by Elise Parsley. 2021. Digitally drawn, painted in Adobe Photoshop. Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
Brief summary: A wild boar named Roy is waiting for his clover patch to bloom. He warns his gopher neighbor, Jarvis, to not steal his clover. Jarvis assures him that he would never steal the yummy white blossoms and gives Roy a clover recipe book to read while the boar waits. Roy decides to go out and get some of the ingredients for a recipe and discovers upon his return that his clover patch is smaller.
Jarvis visits Roy the next day and asks what is the matter. Roy points out that there is a clover thief! Roy explains that he needs to stand guard of his clover and tells the gopher to go away. The gopher offers him a campsite book to help Roy stay there and guard. The wild boar reads the book and starts to put up a tent and build a campfire only to discover that his clover patch is smaller again.
Jarvis continues to give Roy various books while the clover patch gets smaller and smaller. Roy decides he is going to the library to get a book to figure out how to catch the clover thief. Will his invention work?
Comments: Young readers will enjoy the secret and mystery of who is the clover thief. Laugh out loud fun!
I like how the character reads to find answers and eventually, goes to the library to find the perfect book to catch the thief.
Moose, Goose, and Mouse by Mordicai Gerstein; illustrated by Jeff Mack. 2021 Ink, pencil and watercolor on paper and digital collage. Published by Holiday House.
Brief summary: Moose, Goose, and Mouse live in a wet, old, and cold house with mold. They take a train to look for a nicer home. They are in the caboose when it becomes loose going backwards up and down hills. It derails and crashes into a large palm tree by the sea. Will they find a new house?
Summary: Beautiful and heartfelt story in the back page of how this book was created. Jeff Mack and Mordicai met with four other author friends every month for about ten years to talk about their books. Jeff and Mordicai develop a work relationship. And, I’ll stop there, so I do not spoil how and why the book was created.
Rhyming book. Fun and hilarious read aloud for little ones.
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.
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 Potatoby 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.
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.
Strawby 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.
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.