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.
Brief summary: A young girl notices the different type of eyes she and her group of friends have and is aware that hers “kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea”. Her Asian eyes are like her mother’s as they laugh together. The girl then notices that her Amah’s eyes are like hers and just like her mother’s. The girl knows her Amah’s eyes when she tells stories of long ago. Mei-Mei, her younger sister, has eyes just like they do. She notices her little sister’s eyes when they play.
The young girl realizes that her eyes are like her ancestors’ and now.
Comments: The young girl experiences self awareness of her eyes and her family’s.
Beautiful yellow flowers on the end pages. Large bright illustrations. Beautiful.
The metaphor of her eyes kissing in the corners is ssssoooo precious!
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.
My Creepy Valentineby Arthur Howard; illustrated by Arthur Howard. Oct. 2020. Mixed media. Published by Beach Lane Books.
Brief summary: Mitzi loves all of the holidays except Valentine’s Day. Witches like creepy stuff while Valentine’s Day is lovey. She has never made a valentine until she meets Spencer who can spurt milk out of his nose during lunch and wiggle his ears while hanging upside down at recess. Mitzi tries coming up with a perfect poem to give to him. She and her cat, Hoodwink, jump on her broom and secretly deliver it. Spencer does not respond the next day which causes her to be depressed. Will she cheer up? Will she ever receive a Valentine?
Comments: Cute story of finding someone who likes you just as much as you like them.
Brief summary: Mama and Papa Duck go on a walk with their ten ducklings in tow. As the parents continue walking down the road, the last duckling in line stops and quacks with a farm animal. Soon, Mama and Papa duck realize that all of their babies are gone. They go to find them and somehow end up with an extra.
Comments: An adorable counting backwards book of ducks. Fun read aloud with young readers.
Brief summary: Khalil lives in the upper level of an apartment with his family while Mr. Hagerty lives alone in the level underneath. Mr. Hagerty loves to work in his garden, and Khalil enjoys looking for bugs, rocks, and reading his library books in the back yard. The elderly man helps the young boy read some of the more difficult words in the books. The young boy helps the elderly man remember some of the words now forgotten.
They both start digging in the yard one hot day hoping to find treasures. Disappointed, they go inside where Mr. Hagerty offers him chocolate cake and milk while deciding to go out again tomorrow. The two both secretly plan to give the other a treasure to find in the morning.
A friendship begins.
Comments: What a lovely story of an inter-generational friendship.
The Bookstore Catby Cylin Busby; illustrated by Charles Santoso. 2020. Adobe Photoshop. Published by Balzer & Bray.
Brief summary: This adorable bookstore’s ginger cat is described using various adjectives about his life in a bookstore. Young readers will have fun learning about this cute cat’s story.
Comments: This book could be used in so many ways. First, as a book to be read for entertainment. Second, a great book to use for teaching adjectives for an English language lesson
Third, this may be a good book to use in music class too. There is a note from Cylin Busby on the front pages explaining that this story was inspired by a Victorian parlor game that she played with her family as a child. Players sit in a circle clap a rhythm while taking turns finishing the sentence. “The minster’s cat is an (adjective) cat.” The next person has to say an adjective describing the cat with the next letter of the alphabet.
Your Name is a Songby Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow; illustrated by Luisa Uribe. 2020. Published by The Innovation Press.
Brief summary: A girl has a bad first day because no one could say her name correctly. On the walk home from school, her mother explains to her daughter that names can be said like songs. She sings various names so her little girl hears them. The mother taps out the rhythm of a name as well as emphasizing where the accent goes by tapping it louder than the others. Soon, the girl becomes confident with her name and can’t wait to go back to school to share her song.
When it is time for Ms. Anderson to do the roll call, the teacher stalls trying to make sure she says the girl’s name correctly. The little girl takes the opportunity to teach her teacher and fellow classmates the song of each of their names before saying her own: Kora-Jalimuso. Soon each child sings her name back to her. “KO-rah DJAAAA-lee-MOOOO-so
Comments: This is the book I would have read to my students at the beginning of the school year when we were getting to know each other if I weren’t already retired. What a great opening to share each other’s names like Kora-Jalimuso did!
I always appreciated it when the ESL teacher gave each of us “special” teachers a list of new students including how their names were phonetically said. Many students had a hard time at first saying my name correctly until I made a poster with my name with the phonetics underneath and two red photos of Ferraris.
Sticks and Stones by Patricia Polacco; illustrated by Patricia Polacco. 2020. Two and six B pencils and acetone markers. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Younger Readers.
Brief summary: Trish is going to spend a year of junior high with her father in Michigan instead of with her mother in California. Unfortunately, she breaks out with a red rash all over her face on her first day and is given the name “Cootie” by one of the bullies. As the school year progresses, she befriends two kind and gifted students the bullies have nicknamed “Sissy Boy” who is a remarkable dancer and “Her Ugliness” who is a talented artist. They become best friends and conquer the cruel remarks together.
Comments: It was wonderful to read the author’s letter in the back telling the young readers how the three friends in the story are actually real friends and have prospered with their gifts despite the unkind words of Billy.