Saturday, August 1, 2015

This Librarian's Quick Picks: First Grade Dropout

First Grade Dropout
by Audrey Vernick
illustrations by Matthew Cordell
Clarion Books (July 7, 2015)
Picture Book


Everyone laughs when a boy does something embarrassing in class. He considers his options: magic, time travel, disguise. Or maybe he can just quit school. . . . 

Why You'll Love It:
  •  Readers will sympathize with this first grader as he describes being laughed at by a “big marching band“ of classmates (including his best friend!) after he accidentally calls his teacher “Mommy.“
  • From the opening lines, the narrator’s voice stands out (“I’ve been lots of things. Hungry. Four years old. Crazy-bored. Soaking wet.“) and makes for an amusing read. For example, after he decides he has no choice but to drop out of school, he says, “It’ll be fine. I’ll stay at home for a bunch of years, no big deal, work on my jump shot, and maybe when I’m a teenager, I’ll get a job.“
  • The story concludes in an entertaining and satisfying way: at soccer (the first grader is ready to drop out of that, too), his best friend, Tyler, doesn’t remember—or care about—the narrator’s mistake earlier in the day. And then Tyler makes his own verbal faux pas, providing some gentle and valuable perspective.

Who Should Read It:

Great for K-grade 2.

What Else You Should Read: 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Woodpecker Wham!

Woodpecker Wham!
by April Pulley Sayre
illustrated by Steve Jenkins
Henry Holt (May 12, 2015)
Informational Picture Book


Enter woodpecker world and get a bird's eye view of everyday life: hiding from hawks, feeding hungry chicks, and drilling holes to build homes. Woodpeckers are nature's home builders, creating holes that many other animals live in when the woodpeckers move on.

Why You'll Love It:
  •  As well as being a great scientific text, the language lends itself naturally to a lesson on onomatopoeia or action words. “Wedge it. Sledge it. / Wham by wham. / Clear those chips. / SLAM, SLAM, SLAM!”
  •  Six pages of additional information about woodpeckers add new and interesting details about anatomy, behaviors, and the ways in which people can observe and protect these birds.
  • Jenkins' signature cut-and-torn-paper illustrations are vibrant and colorful; a perfect match for the bouncing text.
  • Although the text is spare, don't be fooled: Youngsters will learn lots here. Readers learn how these birds forage, build shelter and nests, avoid predators, and instruct their young, among other topics. 

Who Should Read It:

Great for PreK - grade 3.

What Else You Should Read: 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Super Hockey Infographics

Super Hockey Infographics
by Jeff Savage
illustrations by Vic Kulihin
Lerner (Jan. 1, 2015)


A collection of infographics that provides facts and statistics about hockey. 

Why You'll Love It:
  • The visuals are dynamic and eye-catching, incorporating motifs of pucks, sticks, and players throughout.
  • Each theme-specific spread includes one or two paragraphs of clear, descriptive text and plenty of easy-to-read facts and figures. For example, sports fans will be interested in the “Count Me In“ spread, which charts a steady increase in the number of people to “hit the ice each year“ since 1990–1991, when USA Hockey’s statistics first became available. An inset graph highlights the six states where participation grew the most between the 2010–2011 and 2011–2012 seasons (Hawaii had 71.4 percent growth!).
  • One of the most interesting infographics, “The Price to Play,“ contrasts the 2013 costs of hockey gear to the prices of equipment for baseball, basketball, and soccer (hockey skates cost $200, almost twice as much as basketball shoes and five times more expensive than both soccer and baseball shoes).
Who Should Read It:

Great for grades 3-5.

What Else You Should Read:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Books By Theme: Superpowers!

"Putting the right book in the right kid's hands is kind of like giving that kid superpowers."
 ~ Cecil Castelucci 

by Michael Chabon; illustrated by Jake Parker

Awesome Man can shoot positronic rays out of his eyeballs, fly as straight asan arrow, and hug mutant Jell-O! Even villains like Professor Von Evil and the Flaming Eyeball are no match for this caped crusader. But Awesome Man also has a secret. . . . Can you guess what it is?

by Yuyi Morales

Lucha Libre champion Nino has no trouble fending off monstrous opponents, but when his little sisters awaken from their naps, he is in for a no-holds-barred wrestling match that will truly test his skills.

by Jerdine Nolen; illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Unusual from the day she is born, Thunder Rose performs all sorts of amazing feats, including building metal structures, taming a stampeding herd of steers, capturing a gang of rustlers, and turning aside a tornado. 


by John Rocco

Every super hero gets his powers from somewhere. The young hero of this book, Rocco, thinks his abilities come from his shock of red hair, and the longer it gets, the stronger he becomes. He even has a posse of super friends with wild hair of their own. Our hero is unstoppable--until the day he's dragged to the super evil villain's lair and robbed of his powers. How will he face his friends? Will he ever regain his super hero-ness? A girl who has been watching all along offers the gang a chance to save the day and get their groove back.

by Michael Rosen; illustrated by Katherine McEwen 

Tune in as a father reads his children a bedtime story about the exploits of two villains, Filth and Vacuum, and their wicked plan to suck all the money out of the banks and cover everything with muck and slime. Who is strong enough to save the world? Not Steel Man, nor Flying Through the Air Very Fast Man, nor even Incredible Big Strong Green Man. It may just be a job for clever young Brad Forty, who transforms himself into . . . Extremely Boring Man! His superpower is making people fall asleep — but will it work on the children listening to this story?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

This Librarian's Quick Picks: The Octopus Scientists

The Octopus Scientists: Exploring the Mind of a Mollusk
by Sy Mongomery
illustrations by Keith Ellenbogen
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (May 26, 2015)
Narrative Nonfiction


Explores the octopus, discussing how it changes colors, how their behavior can reveal the health of the worlds oceans, and more, as well as the work of scientists to learn more about it. 
Why You'll Love It:
  • The text includes tantalizing tidbits and facts. For example, did you know that an octopus can “pour” itself through a hole the size of a thimble, drill through seashells with its tongue, squirt ink, and paralyze its prey with venom?
  • The photographs are stunning and engaging, making the reader feel they're right there with the colorful marine life.
  • Author Montgomery doesn't sugarcoat the very hands-on research process involved in writing this book. She describes how physically uncomfortable some of the experiences were and how sometimes long hours of research can yield little results.  
Who Should Read It:

Great for grades 5-up...and here's an interview with author Sy Montgomery featured on Time for Kids.

What Else You Should Read: 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Gingerbread For Liberty!

Gingerbread For Liberty!: How a German Baker Helped Win the American Revolution
by Mara Rockliff
illustrations by Vincent X. Kirsch
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Jan. 27, 2015)
Informational Picture Book


A picture book biography about a forgotten hero of the American Revolution who rose to the occasion and served his country, not with muskets or canons, but with gingerbread!

Why You'll Love It:
  • Rockliff’s dialogue-laden text is accessible, even humorous at times.
  • Author Rockliff includes a recipe for gingergread at the end of the book, offering options for different skill levels.
  •  Kirsch pays careful attention to mirror the narrative in his book design and illustration. The interior art is made up of layered paper cut outs in primary colors, with white edging that mimics traditional gingerbread decoration.

Who Should Read It:

Great for grades 2-5...or any grade that specifically studies the American Revolution.

What Else You Should Read: