Hello, Neighbor!: The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers by Matthew Cordell

helloneighborHello, Neighbor!: The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers by Matthew Cordell; illustrated by Matthew Cordell. 2020. Pen and ink with watercolor. Published by Neal Porter Books.

Brief summary: Readers learn about Mr. Roger as a talented boy who was shy and sometimes bullied. He grows up and has many jobs such as a minister, musician, and children’s television host. Young readers will learn how Mister Roger’s Neighborhood was developed.

Comments: This narrative nonfiction biography shows the gentle nature of Mr. Rogers and how The Neighborhood helped children viewers learn to be themselves. There are many wonderful and detailed watercolor illustrations.

The back pages had sections: About Fred Rogers, Visual Glossary, Mister Rogers and Me, and more. I appreciate the photos of in the back. 

Be sure to check out this awesome KidLitTV interview with Matthew Cordell and his writing of Hello, Neighbor!


A Quiet Girl by Peter Carnavas

A Quiet Girl by Peter Carnavas; illustrated by Peter Carnavas. 2020. Ink and watercolor. Published by Pajama Press.

Brief summary: Mary is a quiet girl while observing the world around herself. When it is time for Mary to share, no one can hear her voice. When she tries to speak louder and still nobody hears her, Mary becomes quiet again. No one missed her at the beginning, but then began to frantically look around the house and neighborhood yelling, “MARY!” very loudly. Was Mary there the entire time? How will they see her again?

Comments: This is a book I would share at the beginning of the school year, before vacation, or after a holiday break when the students are very exited and consumed with themselves. I think the story would help them to stop and notice quieter people and things around them they are overlooking.

Mindfulness often needs to be taught.

Violet Shrink by Christine Baldacchino

violetshrinkViolet Shrink by Christine Baldacchino, illustrated by Carmen Mok. 2020. Gouache, color pencil, and graphite pencil. Published by Groundwood Books.

Brief summary: Violet prefers to spend time by herself. Her father tries to help his daughter come out of her shell and socialize by having them go to various parties. He always changes the name of the gathering, so Violet is not sure they are parties. They go to a reception, a function, a potluck, a bash, and many more. Her father helps Violet recognize the positive things of going to a party and does not push her to join the fun. He lets her experience them the way she can.

Comments: I like that the father does not force Violet to be someone she is not but at the time points out all of the fun things there are at parties. I commend the author to write about an anxiety and demonstrate how the father allowed his daughter to talk to him about it without judgement.

I’d like to see more mental health picture books like this that are not gimmicky or with an obvious message. I think others with introversion will be able to relate to Violet.

Cat Ladies by Susi Schaefer

Cat LadiesCat 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.

Hike by Pete Oswald

HikeHike by Pete Oswald; illustrated by Pete Oswald. 2020. Illustrations are digitally created. Published by Candlewick Press.

Brief summary: A father and his child wake up early and go on a hike into the wilderness enjoying the wilderness they encounter along the way. They stop for lunch and afterward, plant a tree being sure to take a selfie together by it to add to their photo album.

Comments: This story without words moves quickly and cab appeal to all children. The storyline is simple and beautiful to see the father sharing his love of Mother Nature with his child as well as encouraging the youngster to overcome small challenges along the trail.

I always know if it is a book that Pete Oswald creates, it’s going to be a good one. 

When the Babies Came to Stay by Christine McDonnell

WhenthebabiescametostayWhen the Babies Came to Stay by Christine McDonnell; illustrated by Jeanette Bradley. 2020. Digitally illustrated using Procreate for iPad. Published by Penguin Random House.

Brief summary: Four babies with notes asking for someone to take care of them mysteriously appear on an island  The librarian decides to take them after everyone gave reasons that they could not. She shortens the names of the babies to A, B, C, and D and gives them her last name, Book. Several of the islanders help raise the babies.

When the babies become older and attended school, they began to have many questions about where they came from in which the librarian did not have a definite answer and emphasized that they should focus more on where they were going.

Comments: I thought it was funny that the librarian lived above the library. I often felt that would be a perfect place for any librarian and children to live.

Dandelion’s Dream by Yoko Tanaka

DandelionsdreamDandelion’s Dream by Yoko Tanaka; illustrated by Yoko Tanaka. 2020. Charcoal and digitally colored. Published by Candlewick Press.

Brief summary: Dandelion leaves the meadow of yellow flowers and rides on a train where she continues her journey on the back of a sheep. She keeps traveling until she reaches the city. Dandelion watches a film about airplanes which encourages  her dream to ride on a real one. Dandelion changes  which allows her to fly to the moon.

Comments: Dandelion is a flower that has four paws, a tail, and a lion’s head. I’ll probably see  this character every time I come across a dandelion growing in my yard.

This picture book is a story without words.

Outside In by Deborah Underwood

outside inOutside In by Deborah Underwood; illustrated by Cindy Derby. 2020. Watercolor with powdered graphite on cold press paper; dried flower stems and thread soaked in ink were used form some of the lines. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers.

Brief summary: A young girl plays outside and misses Nature when she is inside. When she is inside, the girl sees and feels Outside through the sunshine rays warming the house, the cotton clothing she wears, and the chair that once was a tree.

Young readers will also notice how Outside is inside in many ways.

Comments: I liked how the story compared how Mother Nature is inside our houses. I think that young readers may not be aware of that and adults may forget. A friendship.

I though the word play was keen. We usually say “inside out”.

Outside is with a capital “O” throughout the story to signify a friend with a proper name and perhaps, to signify how we always capitalize Mother Nature in the same way.

At the Pond by Geraldo Valerio

At the Pond

At the Pond by Geraldo Valério; illustrated by Geraldo Valério. 2020. Graphite pencil, color pencil, acrylic paint, latex pain, color markers, and a little bit of gouache paint. Published by Groundwood Books.

Brief summary: A boy walks his dog on a chain leash in the woods to the pond of swans.  The boy rides on the back of one of the swans. The pond is full of birds and other animals with beautiful flowers growing on the shore.

The boy takes off the dog’s leash so it could play with the butterflies. The little boy puts it around the neck of the swan instead which causes the pond to turn gray and all of the swans to fly away.

The boy takes off the chain and drops it into the pond which brings all of the colors and animals back to the pond.

Comments: A simple but excellent story without words for children to learn about the respect and empathy of Mother Nature’s animals.  Using the bright colors to symbolize happiness and the black and white section to equal imprisonment and unhappiness helps readers understand the story.