Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A Big Mooncake for Little Star - a review


A Big Mooncake for Little Star
Little Brown, 2018

Here is an excerpt from my starred review of A Big Mooncake for Little Star.  You can read my entire review in the August, 2018 issue of School Library Journal.

Little Star’s mother admonishes her not to eat the giant mooncake, but Little Star has her own ideas. “Yum!”
The relationship between Little Star and her mother offers a message of empowerment and reassurance. Lin’s loving homage to the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is sure to become a bedtime favorite.



Source: School Library Journal. Jul2018, Vol. 64 Issue 7, p45-45.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Good Rosie! a review


Good Rosie!
by Kate DiCamillo
Illustrated by Harry Bliss
Candlewick, 2018
The genre of comic book styled stories in the children's picture book section has been the almost exclusive milieu of Toon Books, one of my favorite imprints.  While Good Rosie! is not completely comic book style, it certainly brings something new to the class.  Other than the obvious star power—Kate DiCamillo is a Newbery medalist and former National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, and Harry Bliss is a New Yorker cover artist and picture book artist for best-selling books such as Diary of a Worm, Good Rosie! is a fresh mashup of comic book, graphic novel, easy reader, and chapter book.

In sections called "parts," (I love Part Six's title best, "Part Six: Somebody Does Something"), DiCamillo tells a story of a lonely dog named Rosie, and her older, balding owner, who both find companionship at the dog park.  She writes, as always with heart.  After we learn that Rosie feels lonely when looking at her reflection in her food bowl, we are reminded of her feelings later in the story,

That cloud does look like a dog! Rosie wags her tail. "Hello,  hello!" she shouts.
[the image contains a lettered "Woof, woof!]

The dog cloud does not answer her. Rosie feels lonely in an empty-silver-bowl sort of way.
Rosie's owner is kind and gentle, walking with a cane and trench coat, vulnerable against the elements of weather and terrain.  Rosie reflects his gentle personality.  They are as sweet a pair as Mr. Putter and Tabby, both in word and picture.  The man's words appear in classic comic book word bubbles,
 Isn't this great? Look at all these dogs. 
Panels are framed in black against white gutters.  The text is a simple black typeface, allowing the images to enhance the story. Rosie is a sweet brown and white terrier.  Her new found friends are a Saint Bernard named Maurice and what looks to be a long-haired chihuahua named Fifi.  They are full of expression and frolic against a backdrop of lush green grass, and blue cloud-filled skies.

A charming book for reading alone or reading aloud.


Good Rosie! extras:


My copy of Good Rosie! was provided by the publisher.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Happy Labor Day!

If you are one of the many U.S. workers enjoying a day off with pay today, please take time to remember the sacrifices of union leaders and members who struggled to make your work life better and better-paying.

Have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day!

Photo source: U.S. Department of Labor
Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
There are many great nonfiction children's books for studying the impact of women on the labor movement. Two of my favorites are:







Image and quotation source: United States Department of Labor

Friday, August 31, 2018

The Bookshop Girl - a review


The Bookshop Girl
by Syliva Bishop
Illustrated by Poly Bernatene
Peachtree, 2018

The Bookshop Girl is a little English mystery that features books, bookshops and a young girl named Property Jones with a very unlikely secret—despite growing up in the family’s book store, Property can't read, although she does manage to keep herself busy,
Property served tea and cake to anyone who wanted to sit in an armchair and read awhile, and she kept the shop smart and tidy.  Or she tried to. It didn’t help that everything in the shop was falling apart.

Netty was at the counter, Michael was hovering by the dictionaries, and Property had put the kettle on.  The White Hart opened at nine o’clock sharp.  (If you are thinking, But the White Hart is the wrong sort of name for a bookshop, then you are quite right, but also quite impatient.  I was going to explain.  The bookshop used to be the White Hart pub, and it had a very beautiful picture of a white stag hanging outside.  When Netty bought the pub and filled it with books, she couldn’t see any good reason to change the name when there such a nice sign already there.)

When the Jones family enters a contest and wins the magnificent Montgomery Book Emporium in London, mystery begins when a silent man arrives at the bookshop,

He was mostly made of a long, gray coat, with a long, gray face perched on top and shabby shoes underneath.

The bookshop crowd
poured around him live a river around a stone.

Who was this strange man and what did he want with their new bookshop?  It will take Property’s unique powers of observation to figure it out!

The Bookshop Girl is an illustrated novel for ages 8-12, and features just the sort of humor and asides that I recall appreciating at an early age. The premise of the mystery is unique and instructive, and the peculiar workings of the fanciful Montgomery Book Emporium will read like a dream-come-true.

Extras for The Bookshop Girl:


Look for The Bookshop Girl on a shelf near you in October.
My copy was provided by the publisher at my request.

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Bat Can Bat - a review

The Bat Can Bat: A True Book of Homonyms
By Gene Barretta
Christy Ottaviano, 2018

Below is my review of The Bat Can Bat as is appeared in School Library Journal.


BARRETTA, Gene. illus. by Gene Barretta. 40p. Holt/Christy Ottaviano Bks. Feb. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805099461.
Gr 2-4–Sports and animals are perennially popular, and Baretta uses them as the common denominator in this collection of illustrated homonyms. It begins with the easily understood “The bat can bat!” featuring a bat playing baseball, then progresses to more difficult examples. The font is simple, in black or white, depending on the background color of the full-bleed illustrations. The homonyms are printed in capital letters. The use of horizontal and vertical spreads is helpful in explaining the finer points of homonyms. One of the vertical illustrations features a two-tiered, high diving board—the top deck hosts an angry, red-faced rhino who is throwing a fit over the fit of his ridiculously tiny swimsuit. For comic relief, on the lower diving deck, a young girl casts a nervous glance upwards. A “Note to the Reader” includes useful definitions of homonyms, homophones, and homographs. VERDICT More concept book than storybook, this is a fundamental purchase for school libraries and public libraries with heavy educator usage.

See a preview of The Bat Can Bat at the Macmillan Publishers site.

School Library Journal. Feb2018, Vol. 64 Issue 2, p54-56. 2p.
Copyright © 2018 School Library Journal, the property of Media Source, Inc.  Reprinted here with permission.


My copy of The Bat Can Bat was provided by School Library Journal.

A Big Mooncake for Little Star - a review

A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin Little Brown , 2018 Here is an excerpt from my starred review of A Big Mooncake for L...