Published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2013, pp. 32.
Rosie may seem quiet and shy during the day, but at night, hidden away up in her attic, she's a brilliant inventor of gizmos and gadgets who dreams of becoming a great engineer. Then her great-great-aunt Rose (Rosie the Riveter) comes for a visit and mentions her one unfinished goal: to fly. So Rosie sets to work building a contraption to make her aunt's dream come true. But when her contraption doesn't fly but rather hovers for a moment and then crashes, Rosie deems the invention a failure. On the contrary, Aunt Rose inisists that Rosie's contraption was a raging success. You can only truly fail, she explains, if you quit. Great story to encourage creative thinking and perseverance.
Published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2013, pp. 32.
Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party . . . until, that is, a new kid comes to class.
When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when Brian and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine. This gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish. The illustrations are excellent and advance the theme as Brian starts out in black and white and slowly gains color as the story progresses.
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2013, pp. 40.
Here is another winner from the creators of Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type. In this wacky Christmas tale, Farmer Brown is getting the old farmstead ready for the holiday when he hears the sounds of Santa's imminent arrival outside. Or so he thinks. It's really Duck, who gets the notion that he will deliver a few gifts just like Santa does. If Santa used a zipline from a telephone pole, that is. But the kooky fowl soon finds himself stuck in the chimney and in need of rescue. Will the other animals rescue him before the arrival of the Big Guy in the red suit?
Published by Atheneum, 2015.
This book has absolutely nothing to do with Halloween and yet it perfectly captures the spirit of late October, when the light drains away and the dark starts to settle in earlier and earlier. Laszlo may be afraid of the dark, but the dark is not afraid of Laszlo. Laszlo never visits the dark in the basement, where it lives. And he tries to avoid having the dark visit him by using his trusty flashlight and steadfast night light. But one night... the dark comes to his room. And things are never the same again. Great for introducing the concept of suspense. Or just instilling dread in your youngest listeners! A 2016 Monarch Award nominee.
Published by Hachette, 2013.
Very funny sequel to The Day the Crayons Quit. This time Duncan's crayons are marooned at various places around his house: under the sofa cushion, locked in the basement, stuck in the dryer with a sock. They send in their rescue pleas through a series of post cards, hoping Duncan will find them and return them to their beloved crayon box. This team has produced another great read aloud with fabulous illustrations, including vintage postcards.
Published by Philomel Books, 2015. Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers.
In this clever read-aloud with great illustrations, a watermelon-loving crocodile discovers, to his great dismay, that he has swallowed a seed. From there, his imagination (and old crocodile-wives' tales) take over. Here's a knowing picture book for anyone who has ever swallowed a seed of any kind -- and that's everyone, right? A 2016 Illinois Monarch Children's Choice Award nominee.
Hyperion Books, 2013 (illustrated by author)
A lovely book for a winter read aloud: beautifully told and illustrated and informative about the animals that live under the snow (and some that live over it) in the winter time. Have you heard of the "subnivean zone?" I hadn't - until I read this book. It's the network of tiny open spaces and tunnels between the snowpack and the ground. An extensive author's note at the end give more information about each featured animal. All in all, a charming story and a great read for sparking an academic conversation about the "secret kingdom under the snow."
Published by Chronicle Books, 2011.
If you built a house, what rooms would you include? Well, a kitchen and a living room and a bedroom and a bathroom, of course. But have you ever considered a Fish Tank Room where you can swim with the fish? Or a Flying Room, where you can turn off gravity by flipping a switch? Van Dusen has and he inspires his readers to imagine their own architectural fantasies. This was an immediate hit with my primary students, who ooohed and aaahed over the author's creations and then were eager to describe their own. Bright, bold illustrations and rhyming text meld into a colossal fun house of imagination. An Illinois Monarch Award nominee for 2014-15.
Published by Dial Books for Young Readers, 2012.
Everybody has a story, even the letters of the alphabet. And those 26 stories are featured in this delightful addition to the extensive alphabet bookshelf. From an Astronaut who's afraid of heights, to a Bridge that ends up burned between friends, to a Cup stuck in a cupboard and longing for freedom, Once Upon an Alphabet trips crazily and creatively from A through Z. From the clever text to the gentle, old-school, ink and paper illustrations, this will entertain kids and adults and could provide a springboard for young writers to come up with their own unique tales of the alphabet.
Published by Philomel, 2014. 112 pp.
A legend exists that Abe Lincoln haunts the White House, a tale that supposedly arose when the pets of the subsequent occupants of the presidential mansion refused to set paw in his bedroom. Lane Smith plays a riff off that legend and takes it to higher ground in this delightful story. A young girl separated from her class on a tour of the White House encounters a ghostly and, of course, melancholy Lincoln wandering the halls. He's very concerned about the state of the nation for which he made the ultimate sacrifice. So, trying to cheer him up, she takes him on a whirlwind tour of the country to show the great strides we have made since his untimely death. Lincoln had a recurring dream that he was on a ship sailing to an indistinct place and he often had this dream before momentous occasions. Smith alludes to this in his lovely final illustration. A lovely read for elementary grades.
Published by Roaring Brook Press, 2012.
Joanne Zienty is a school librarian, teacher, reader, writer and published author who firmly believes there are so many good books and not enough time to read them!