Almost Time by Gary D. Schmidt & Elizabeth Stickney

Almost TimeAlmost Time by Gary D. Schmidt & Elizabeth Stickney; illustrated by G. Brian Karas. 2020. Pencil and digital color. Published by Clarion Books.

Brief summary: Ethan asks his father if it is sap running time yet after sitting down to eat pancakes that have applesauce instead of maple syrup. The week after, Ethan’s dad makes him corn bread but still no syrup. He keeps asking his father when it will be time. Each Sunday, Ethan gets another answer. The days finally warm up with more sunlight. It’s maple syrup season! Ethan helps his father boil the syrup and pour the thickened liquid into bottles. Pancakes with syrup at last.

Comments: Young readers can relate to looking forward to having pancakes with syrup for breakfast but keep getting everything else instead.

I would include this book in the how things are made unit.

The maple syrup season is when the days are around 40* and the nights are below freezing which are usually between mid February to mid March.



The Sad Little Fact by Jonah Winter

The Sad Little FactThe Sad Little Fact by Jonah Winter; illustrated by Pete Oswald. 2019. Digitally illustrated using gouache watercolor textures. Published by Schwartz and Wade.

Brief summary: A sad little fact is laughed at and ridiculed. The Authorities(with a capital “A”) demand that the sad little fact admits that it is NOT a fact. It refuses to lie which angers the Authorities,  so they throw it into a locked box buried in the ground with other facts. While underground, the Authorities create a factory of lies calling them facts. These lies pretending to be facts cause the skies to darken. The fact finders  come along demanding to know where the facts are buried. The fact finders start to dig and find the box of true facts. They release them, and the facts chase away the darkness of the world.

Comments: What a great parable to share before teaching media literacy! For all ages, including adults.

I cheered for the fact finders!

The little facts are cute  fuzzy circles with large eyes and skinny stick arms and legs.

Source: Open Society Foundation at :

Oh No! Look What the Cat Dragged In by Joy H. Davidson

Oh No! Look What the Cat Dragged In!Oh, No! Look What the Cat Dragged In by Joy H. Davidson; illustrated by Jenny Cooper. 2020. Published by Salariya.

Brief summary: Two grandchildren wake each day of the week to find Grandma’s black cat bringing in various things through the cat door causing all sorts of chaos.

Comments: This is a fun read-aloud with hilarious rhyming situations and large colorful illustrations.

O is for Ohio by Kelley Clark

O is for OhioO is for Ohio by Kelley Clark; illustrated by James Balkovek. 2019. Published by Outskirts Press.

Brief summary: Readers go through the alphabet learning about some of Ohio’s unique local history, animals, and people.

Comments: This book could be read for primary and secondary students, as it is set up with larger fonts for young readers and smaller fonts  for older ones with more detailed features.

I learned some things about Ohio I did not know earlier such as “P” is for Paczki donuts.

This is not a narrative nonfiction picture book, but I included it in my reviews. I think it would be a good addition to have in a school, classroom, or personal library.


Be a Maker by Katey Howes; illustrated by Elizabet Vukovic

Be a MakerBe a Maker by Katey Howes; illustrated by Elizabet Vukovic. 2019. Watercolor, gouache, colored pencils, and Adobe Photoshop. Published by Carolrhoda Books.

Brief summary:  A young girl wakes up wondering what she will make today using objects in her room until she goes outside in her spaceship and  befriends a boy who also starts to make things with her throughout the day.

Comments: The span of the book is one day with the two children making messes, noise, art, a spaceship, a friend, lunch and so on as the day moves.  What a great book to get young readers using their imaginations with materials around them.

Give Me Back My Bones! by Kim Norman; illustrated by Bob Kolar

Give Me Back My Bones!Give Me Back My Bones! by Kim Norman; illustrated by Bob Kolar. 2019. Digitally created. Published by Candlewick Press.

Brief summary: A skeleton at the bottom of the ocean slowly finds and puts himself back together again with the help of the the sea creatures

Comments: The internal rhyming and rhythm of this book are funny with silly wordplay young readers will find delightful to repeat. I would share this read-aloud book when starting the skeleton system in primary school.

The front end pages have the skeleton disassembled with the bones labeled, while the back end pages are of a pirate skeleton assembled with the bones labeled. Two paged layouts throughout.

Moon!: Earth’s Best Friend by Stacy McAnulty

Moon!: Earth's Best FriendMoon!: Earth’s Best Friend by Stacy McAnulty; illustrated by Stevie Lewis. 2019. Colored pencils and digital tools. Published by Henry Holt and Co.

Brief summary: Moon tells the story of the friendship she has with Earth. She is Earth’s best friend and only satellite. Moon tells all about how she orbits the earth, smiling the whole time and never showing her back to her BFF. Moon explains how some earthlings have walked on her and left their footprints. Earth’s friends are her’s too.

Comments: Superb beginning book about the moon, how it rotates, tides, gravity, myths and so on. Definite must for any library collection.

Back pages have interesting facts about the moon. Illustrations are large and often two-fold.

This story is told through the moon’s perspective.

Personification of the moon and earth.

Others in the Our Universe series by Stacy McAnulty:

Earth!: My First 4.54 Billion Years      Sun! One in a Billion




The Kindness Book by Todd Parr

The Kindness BookThe Kindness Book by Todd Parr; illustrated by Todd Parr. 2019. Drawing tablet using iMac and Adobe Photoshop. Published by Little, Brown and Company.

Brief summary: Readers are given examples of acts of kindness to others and encouraging young readers to be kind to themselves.

Comments: THIS is the book I would first read to young readers about kindness. It gives examples of ways to be kind that children will understand and can actually do.

Full of bright large illustrations that are characteristic to Todd Parr’s style

The Book Hog by Greg Pizzoli; illustrated by Greg Pizzoli

The Book HogThe Book Hog by Greg Pizzoli; illustrated by Greg Pizzoli. Published by Disney Hyperion.

Brief summary: The book hog loved the smell of books, buying them, and being surrounded by them. However, he could not read. One day as he was taking a walk, he came across a building that SMELLED like books. He went inside to find thousands of books. Miss Olive, a children’s librarian, offered to read a book with him.  Over time, he learned to read  and love books for their stories as well as how they felt(and smelled!).

Comments: Adorable story to read to primary young readers. The illustrations are mainly orange, pink, and green. The end pages are tiny pink and green dots.

If I was still a school librarian(and not retired), I would read this book the first day kindergartners came to visit the school library and then open up a conversation to see if any of my students ever visited a public library explaining that they now have another type of library they can visit each week.


The Cool Bean by Jory John

The Cool BeanThe 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:

The Bad Seed                                     The Good Egg

Coming out in February 2020:

The Good Egg Presents The Great Eggscape