Summer Reading – Part One

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It’s that time of year!  Here are my selections for new readers….

The list includes fiction and poetry and a selection of nonfiction books. These are books for children who are becoming more fluent readers, have longer attention spans, and may be ready to begin a series. Kids this age also have the memory to appreciate a story that is read aloud over several days. You can start a Magic Tree House book and finish it the next day!  In the next post, I will list the middle grade titles.

Cam Jansen books by David Adler

Splash, Anna Hibuscus! by Atinuke

“Anna Hibuscus, at an African beach with her extended biracial family, “wants to splash in the dancing waves.” But her father is chatting down by the fishing boats, the older kids want to compare smartphones or play soccer, and her redheaded mother is busy braiding her sister’s hair. The sight of Anna Hibiscus enjoying the water all by herself finally persuades the whole clan to join her. Though the details of place are specific, family and surf are global pleasures, Atinuke reminds us.” (New York Times, November 10, 2013)

Violet Mackerel’s Possible Friend by Anna Branford

“Violet Mackerel is worried. Her family has moved to a new house, and she is hoping for a friendly girl to live next door, but she worries that her clothes, hand-me-downs from her older sister, might not be impressive enough. And when Violet does meet a new girl named Rose who lives next door, she worries that her homemade birthday present won’t be special enough. The fifth installment in this early chapter book series is as whimsical and honest as ever. Young readers will delight in the enthusiasm that Violet and Rose devote to their playdates and the attention to detail that they give to the teeny, tiny notes that they pass back and forth through the small knothole in the fence bordering their houses…Fans of Junie B. Jones, Clementine, and Amber Brown will happily add Violet to their reading shelves as well.” (School Library Journal)

The Stories Julian Tells/The Stories Huey Tells by Ann Cameron

Is My Friend at Home: Pueblo Fireside Tales by John Bierhorst

The Miniature World of Marvin and James by Elise Broach

“The boy-and-beetle friendship first introduced in Broach’s charming novel Masterpiece is now the cornerstone of an illustrated chapter-book series. James is a boy, and Marvin is a beetle, but with the help of Marvin’s drawing skills, they find a way to communicate. James’ mom worries that her son’s best friend is an insect, but tiny Marvin has the opposite worry—that James will find human friends who supplant him….This winsome series debut is both a sweet story of cross-species friendship and a sobering new way to look at pencil sharpeners.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Flat Stanley/Invisible Stanley by Jeff Brown

Water Sings Blue by Kate Coombs

Twenty-three poems and evocative watercolor paintings pay tribute to the wonders of the ocean world.

The Trouble with Chickens: A J.J. Tully Mystery by Doreen Cronin

“With its sharp wit and suspenseful mystery, Cronin’s foray into the crowded chapter-book field is a crowd pleaser. Retired search-and-rescue dog J.J. Tully is enjoying the simple life on a farm when his world is turned upside down by an annoying hen, Moosh, and her two equally obnoxious chicks, Dirt and Sugar, who hound him to help locate Poppy and Sweetie….Cronin’s tongue-in-cheek humor spills forward as the detective story unfolds, while the whodunit will keep readers guessing until the ending…reluctant and nonreluctant readers will savor this quick read of a mystery and eagerly await the next case for J.J. Tully to crack.” (School Library Journal)

Chicken Squad by Doreen Cronin

“Those cheeky chicks are back—this time in a series all their own. Fresh on the heels of their adventures in The Trouble with Chickens (2011) and The Legend of Diamond Lil (2012) Dirt, Sugar, Sweetie, and Poppy must now contend with a cowardly squirrel named Tail and a “big and scary” something that has landed in the backyard. Using deductive reasoning and some strangely creative camouflage, the chickens hatch a plan to investigate the mysterious object….Kids who enjoyed the first two books in the “J.J. Tully Mysteries” series will be delighted that the four intrepid chicks take center stage in this laugh-out-loud new chapter book series.” (School Library Journal)

Deep in the Sahara by Kelly Cunnane

“Lalla, growing up in Muslim West Africa, yearns to wear a malafa like her mother and sister, who wrap themselves from head to toe in swirling, gorgeous textiles. But it is only when Lalla understands the malfa’s deeper purpose – to bring her closer to God – that she is allowed to wear one. This lovely-to-look-at book, illustrated by a noted Iranian artist, offers a perspective that is sometimes forgotten in the debate over traditional Muslim dress.” (New York Times Book Review, November 10, 2013)

The Herd Boy by Niki Daly

“A day in the life and dreams of a young South African herding boy. Daly provides an opportunity to witness an everyday existence most likely very different from the one led by readers. Malusi is a Xhosa herder. Daly sketches his day, from his porridge breakfast to taking the sheep and goats out to graze, a little play with his friend, gathering dung to fertilize the garden, a dangerous encounter with a baboon and then home again. There is an elemental rhythm to the story, and the artwork is striking, the colors a mottle of landscape greens and browns, picked out by vivid wildflowers….” (Kirkus Reviews)

Front Porch Tales and North Country Whoppers by Tomie dePaola

“These laugh-out-loud stories from New Hampshire and Vermont are set during the four season of the year.  In his appealing dialect, the narrator tells little-known tales, while interspersed throughout are comic-style episodes featuring an unsuspecting tourist who tries to get more information from the locals.”  (New York Public Library, 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing)

Bink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee

2011 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Winner

American Library Association Notable Children’s Book

In three humorous interconnected stories, Gollie, a self-confident girl who lives in a fashionable, contemporary house, and Bink, her rumpled but lovable, impish friend, are adventure-seeking companions, each with her own strong will….Elementary listeners and readers will have no trouble relating to the two friends’ antics and the bond they share.” (School Library Journal)

Dog Days by Karen English

“English returns to Carver Elementary, the setting of her Nikka and Deja books, in this strong kickoff to her Carver Chronicles series. This time, the protagonist is new student Gavin, whose cool-kid potential (namely his basketball and skateboard skills) is undermined by his family. His parents don’t allow him to play “overly violent” video games, and his older sister, Danielle, calls him mortifying nicknames like Gavmeister. Both of these horrors are revealed when Gavin’s new friend, Richard, comes over, a visit that ends with the boys accidentally breaking Danielle’s prized snow globe. In order to pay back his sister, Gavin earns money by walking his great-aunt Myrtle’s cranky and extremely accessorized Pomeranian, Carlotta. English captures Gavin’s realistic frustrations on the home front and the social nuances of elementary school life as he struggles to fit in without compromising himself….” (Publishers Weekly)

Sharing the Seasons: A Book of Poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins

Zoo’s Who by Douglas Florian

“Florian’s most recent book of poems with his lovely illustrations.  “As always, Florian’s work manages to be clever, witty and appealing.  It’s easy enough for children to understand, but is so inventive adults won’t tire of reading and re-reading.”  (BookPage)

Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream by Jenny Han

“In the tradition of Judy Moody and Clementine comes Clara Lee. Clara is a typical third-grader who neatly combines her Korean and American sides. Her warm, supportive family includes a grandfather who is always there for her, especially when she decides to pursue her dream of being Little Miss Apple Pie, riding in the float in her town’s apple festival. In a plot that will resonate with kids, Clara is scared when she dreams her grandfather dies, but Grandfather tells her that in Korean tradition that means good luck is coming. And sure enough, Clara’s luck does take a turn for the better, with a newfound ability in gym class, a surprise present in her desk, and the courage (almost) to write the speech that could be her ticket to the apple festival….A realistic group of characters, both adults and children, and true-to-life situations will make this illustrated chapter book a favorite.” (Booklist)

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes

“Billy Miller’s second-grade year is quietly spectacular in a wonderfully ordinary way. Billy’s year begins with his worry over the lump on his head, a souvenir of a dramatic summer fall onto concrete: Will he be up to the challenges his new teacher promises in her letter to students? Quickly overshadowing that worry, however, is a diplomatic crisis over whether he has somehow offended Ms. Silver on the first day of school. Four sections–Teacher, Father, Sister and Mother–offer different and essential focal points for Billy’s life, allowing both him and readers to explore several varieties of creative endeavor, small adventures, and, especially, both challenges and successful problem-solving….sweetly low-key and totally accessible.” (Kirkus)

Guinea Dog by Patrick Jennings

“Fifth-grader Rufus’s only wish is to get a dog, but his work-at-home dad objects. He lists numerous reasons, including that dogs lick people’s faces, chase cars, and eat dead things. Rufus’s mom brings home a guinea pig instead in an attempt to fulfill her son’s desire for a pet. To his surprise, the guinea pig, which he names Fido, acts like a dog. She obeys his commands and chews his dad’s shoes….Early chapter-book readers will enjoy this humorous tale.” (School Library Journal)

King for a Day by Rukhsana Khan

“Spring has arrived in Lahore, Pakistan, and the celebration of Basant ushers it in with an annual kite-flying contest. Young Malik plans to win the self-proclaimed title of “king of Basant” by capturing and/or setting free more kites than anyone else. He puts all his faith in his small handmade kite, Falcon, and enters the competition. Thus ensues the story of how Malik, who, incidentally, is in a wheelchair, sits on his balcony and, with assistance from his sister and brother, wins the coveted designation and defeats the bully next door….The breezy conditions are evident in the soaring kites, billowing curtains, and Malik’s sister’s clothing. An author’s note gives a historical view of the spring festival and its traditions in the ancient city.” (starred review, School Library Journal)

Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine

2008 Caldecott Honor Book

“While many students know about the Underground Railroad, few have heard of Henry “Box” Brown, “the man who mailed himself to freedom.” Ellen Levine’s Henry’sFreedom Box is a fictional account of the true story of Brown’s inventive escape to Philadelphia in a wooden crate. Born into slavery, Brown never knew his birthday, but on March 30, 1849, he finally declared one—his first day of freedom. Kadir Nelson’s handsome illustrations inspired by antique lithographs effectively convey the drama with feeling.” (School Library Journal)

Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems by Patrick Lewis and Doug Florian

“Limitless possibilities for future car designs are imagined in a collection of free-wheeling verses. Everything from food items to animals to bathtubs and more are the inspirations for these strange vehicles. A paper car can be shredded if it breaks down, a bathtub car keeps you clean as you go, and a hot-dog car can be eaten at the end of the ride….But Lewis and Florian are both masters at creating lighthearted, fun-filled, breezy poems, and they do not disappoint in this joint venture….Young readers will almost certainly be inspired to create their own wacky cars.” (Kirkus)

Lulu and the Duck in the Park by Hilary McKay

“A warmhearted beginning to a new chapter-book series delights from the first few sentences. “Lulu was famous for animals. Her famousness for animals was known throughout the whole neighborhood.” So it begins, revealing its bouncy language and its theme, illustrated by a cheery image of Lulu with bunnies at her feet, a parrot on her shoulder and a mouse in her hair….Utterly winning.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Judy Moody books by Megan McDonald

(There are many books in the series)

Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid by Megan McDonald

“The pesky little brother in McDonald’s popular Judy Moody series gets his own book and tells his own story here. Little is the word for James (“Stink”) Moody; he’s short, the shortest kid in his second-grade class. Is he shrinking? Judy is his bossy older sister, but he learns to handle her. For Presidents’ Day, Stink’s hero is not big tall Lincoln but another James, James Madison, the shortest president ever. The narrative is fun and laced with puns–from Mt. Trashmore to “newt in shining armor,” and it’s peppered with black-and-white illustrations, including comics, reflecting Stink’s triumphant fantasies. (Booklist)

Busing Brewster by Richard Michelson

“One fall, two African-American brothers learn that they will be bused to a predominantly white school. While Bryan complains (“Ain’t no Negroes at Central”), Mama reassures first-grader Brewster that they will benefit from the new school’s fine facilities, such as a well-stocked library. Mama says that with such advantages, Brewster might even be president someday. However, angry whites gather at the school in protest, creating chaos inside and out. Brewster, Bryan, and others are sent to the library for detention in the melee. There they find a friendly librarian who encourages them to dream. The book effectively captures both the promises and the challenges of school integration in the 1970s. …The text also stays true to its historical period, using the word “Negro” instead of “African American.” This provides an opportunity for adults to explain how and why language evolves as society changes…” (School Library Journal)

Aesop’s Fables retold by Beverley Naidoo

“Nowadays I think that Aesop was African.” Naidoo’s introduction to these 16 retellings ponders the unresolved question of Aesop’s actual origins and speculates rather convincingly for the possibility of Africa….Naidoo and Grobler are a good pair of storytellers. His homely animals, energy, and humorous details convey the stories with great fun and will be widely enjoyed for independent reading, reading aloud, and telling.” (School Library Journal)

Magic Tree House books by Mary Pope Osborne

(Too many to list!)

Clementine by Sara Pennypacker

“Clementine, a not-so-common third grader, knows her way around the principal’s office as well as she does the art-supply closet. Daily rituals take on a different view when seen from her eyes. She’s constantly being told that she needs to pay attention, but to her mind she is paying attention and making astute observations. Whether looking out the window during the Pledge of Allegiance at the janitor locked in an embrace with the lunch lady or dealing with a pesky pigeon problem at her apartment building, her concentration is always focused. Clementine goes to great lengths to be friends with fourth-grade neighbor, Margaret, but more times than not, both girls end up in trouble. Humorous scenarios tumble together, blending picturesque dialogue with a fresh perspective as only the unique Clementine can offer…A delightful addition to any beginning chapter-book collection.”  (School Library Journal)

Libby of High Hopes by Elise Primavera

“It takes a while, but high hopes finally pay off for a horse-loving girl. When 10-year-old Libby accidentally-on-purpose lets her dog run loose, she discovers a run-down stable next door, complete with a beautiful but somewhat neglected mare named Princess. Predictably enchanted, Libby goes home to beg for riding lessons–less predictably, her older sister gets the lessons instead….A solid choice for horse lovers ready to move past early chapter books.” (Kirkus)

Tales for Very Picky Eaters by Josh Schneider

“In acclaimed author Josh Schneider’s Theodor Seuss Geisel Award-winning book Tales for Very Picky Eaters, James’ dad has to get creative to convince him to eat healthy foods. Given broccoli, James wants to know what else he can have. So his father offers tasty alternatives such as gum prechewed by children with very clean teeth and dirt walked on by cooks wearing the finest French boots. His father even has helpful suggestions for alternatives to eggs, lasagna, milk, and oatmeal—and soon, James realizes that healthy foods aren’t so bad, after all. “Eager and picky eaters alike will enjoy the wordplay and outrageous situations, which create humor from a familiar source of family tension.” (Booklist)

Kingdom of Wrenly/Book One: The Lost Stone by Jordan Quinn

“A lonely prince gains a friend for a quest to find a missing jewel. Prince Lucas of Wrenly has everything a boy could possibly want—except a friend. His father has forbidden him to play with the village children for reasons of propriety. Adventure-seeking Lucas acquires peasant clothes to masquerade as a commoner and make friends, but he is caught out. His mother, the queen, persuades the king to allow him one friend: Clara, the daughter of her personal dressmaker….The charming, medieval-flavored illustrations set the fairy-tale scene and take up enough page space that new and reluctant readers won’t be overwhelmed by text. A gentle adventure that sets the stage for future quests.” (Kirkus)

Behold the Bold Umprellaphant by Jack Prelutsky

“Prelutsky is one of the best word crafters in the business, and this collection does not disappoint. Each entry is about a creature that is part animal and part inanimate object. For instance, the Alarmadillos have alarm clocks for bodies, and the Ballpoint Penguins can write with their beaks. The poems are full of fun and wit, with wordplay and meter that never miss a beat. The whimsical illustrations use cut-print media, old-fashioned print images, and a variety of paper textures to create a rich visual treat well suited to the poetry. The detail in the mixed-media pictures makes this a good choice for individual or lap reading, but the poetry begs to be read aloud. This is definitely a do not miss poetry pick.”   School Library Journal, starred review)

The Great Cake Mystery by Alexander McCall Smith

“How did Precious Ramotswe, the detective in the bestselling The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, get her start? McCall Smith has penned the story of Precious’ very first case, taken on when she was just a schoolgirl….The stunning artwork in this chapter book has the look of woodcuts and old-time three-color separation illustration. It extends the story, immersing readers in the village life of Botswana….One case where an adaptation from an adult book is as much fun to read as the original.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith

“Without enough tin jingles to make her dress sing, how can Jenna be a jingle dancer just like Grandma Wolfe at the next powwow? She borrows one row from Great-aunt Sis, whose aching legs keep her from dancing; another from Mrs. Scott, who sells fry bread; one from Cousin Elizabeth, whose work keeps her away from the festivities; and a fourth row from Grandma, who helps Jenna sew the jingles to her dress, assemble her regalia, and practice her bounce-steps. When the big day arrives, the girl feels proud to represent these four women and carry on their tradition….Seeing Jenna as both a modern girl in the suburban homes of her intertribal community and as one of many traditionally costumed participants at the powwow will give some readers a new view of a contemporary Native American way of life….” (School Library Journal)

The Akimbo series by Alexander McCall Smith

“The author of the adult The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency mystery series originally published these delightful children’s stories in Great Britain in the early 1990s. His short, illustrated chapter-book adventures will transport American readers to the plains of Africa where Akimbo lives with his parents on a Kenyan game reserve. His father works as a park ranger, and, on occasion, Akimbo is allowed to accompany him while he works….The African setting, dramatic full-page pencil illustrations, and the animal facts woven into the stories are sure to capture young readers. (School Library Journal)

EllRay Jakes Is Not a Chicken! By Sally Warner

“EllRay Jakes is the smallest kid in his third-grade class and one of the few African Americans in his school. His most recent progress report says his behavior is in need of improvement, but, according to EllRay, it is only because he likes to make everyone laugh. His parents decide that if he can last a whole week without getting into trouble, they will take him to Disneyland. Should be easy, right? Unfortunately, EllRay is being picked on by two of his classmates, Jared and Stanley, and he does not know why. He is torn between standing up for himself and not attracting attention, which might jeopardize his trip….Reluctant readers will find the language engaging, and most children will find the story line amusing.” (School Library Journal)

Nasreddine by Odile Weulersse

“Loosely based on the Middle Eastern Folk hero Nadreddine Hodja, in this retelling young Nasreddine learns that, instead of always listening to the advice of others, it is better for one to ‘decide if what you are hearing is wise, or if it’s only silly and hurtful.’ Humorous, earth-toned watercolor illustrations effectively use line, white space, and pacing to offer an authentic Middle Eastern setting.” (School Library Journal)

The Elephant’s Friend and Other Tales from Ancient India retold by Marcia Williams

“Whimsical, illustrated retellings of eight folktales… By breaking the plots down into comic booklike panels and relying on the symbols of sequential art, Williams makes these potentially unfamiliar tales accessible and fun for young readers… Matching the comic-book format, a sly thread of humor consistently runs through these tales… An enchanting addition to any folktale collection.” (School Library Journal)

Nonfiction

The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-      

New Colors by Chris Barton

This artful blending of biography and applied science sheds light on the serendipitous invention that turned two siblings intrigued with fluorescence into successful businessmen. The black-and-white cartoon art slowly gives way to bursts of neon color.” (School Library Journal)

On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne

“A boy rides a bicycle down a dusty road, but in his mind he envisions himself traveling at a speed beyond imagining, on a beam of light. This brilliant mind will one day offer up some of the most revolutionary ideas ever conceived. Travel along with Einstein on a journey full of curiosity. laughter, and scientific discovery.” (ABA, Best Books for Children)

City Fish, Country Fish by Mary Cerullo

“With this fascinating book Cerullo and Rotman broaden the horizons of children while engendering a love and understanding of the sea. Their grasp of the oceans’ complexity and their ability to distill and convey it to younger readers are special skills endowed only to talented educators. Rotman’s dramatic images lure the reader, inciting curiosity and a lifetime of appreciation, seeding the next generation of conservationists and policymakers.”  (Susan McElhinney, Photo Editor, Ranger Rick Magazine)

Coral Reefs by Jason Chin

Using a fantasy framework similar to that in Redwoods, Chin offers a colorful and inventive introduction to coral reefs.

Florence Nightingale by Demi

“Demi wields her gifts to celebrate Florence Nightingale, who transformed the care of the sick and injured….characteristically beautiful illustrations nevertheless provide a pull-no-punches appreciation of the Lady with the Lamp.” (starred review, Kirkus)

Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman by Nikki Grimes

“A decidedly unique tone…well-conceived, well-executed, handsomely illustrated, fictionalized account of the life of the first black female licensed pilot in the world.”  (School Library Journal, starred review)

Bon Appetit!: The Delicious Life of Julia Child by Jessie Hartland

“A homey biography introduces children to Julia Child. Julia Child’s imposing but unglamorous figure and rumbly voiced television presence charmed cooks and eaters alike, even as her cookbooks changed kitchen dynamics in many American households….While these stories may be familiar to adult readers, they are here perfectly pitched to introduce the determined woman who became synonymous with French cooking in America.” (Kirkus)

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Story of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman

“An exuberant and admiring portrait introduces the odd, marvelously nerdy, way cool Hungarian-born itinerant mathematical genius….Pham’s illustrator’s note invites young readers to go page by page to learn about the kinds of numbers that captivated Erdos and to meet him among his cherished mathematicians. Social learners and budding math lovers alike will find something awesome about this exceptional man.” (Kirkus)

Sophie Scott Goes South by Alison Lester

“A fictionalized personal narrative, based on the author’s own journey, that chronicles a little girl’s expedition to Antarctica. Sophie’s father is the captain of the Aurora Australis, an icebreaker that travels to Mawson Station to deliver supplies and transport scientists and other researchers. On this last trip before winter makes the sea impassable, 9-year-old Sophie is invited along. In diary format, she explores the giant red ship and keeps a sharp eye out for penguins, seals, whales and, of course, icebergs….A novel approach that may seem cluttered at times but packs in plenty of facts, history and interesting tidbits and is told from a welcome, fresh perspective.” (Kirkus)

National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry compiled by J. Patrick Lewis

Named one of the Best Children’s Books of 2012 by Kirkus Reviews and one of the top Children’s Books of 2012 by the New York Public Library.

“Add a little natural wonder to your poetry shelves. Because if we’re talking about the best possible compliment to your eyes and ears alike, few have as many perks and grand moments as this.” (School Library Journal starred review)

Jet Plane: How It Works by David Macaulay

“Beginning, fluent readers with an interest in aviation will treasure this title. Simple narration explains the sights, sounds, and mechanics of a flight from a passenger’s perspective. Readers are invited to look for his suitcase (marked with a red arrow) going up the loading ramp, “notice the cockpit,” and look through the window to view the runway and the flaps on the wing. Simple yet detailed drawings explain how the wings provide lift for the plane and change its direction and that the force of air through the engine provides thrust to carry the plane through space. One spread depicts the function of radar by day and night. The beautifully colored illustrations beg for repeated viewings and a larger trim size, but the narrow lines of text in an early-reader format will help children feel comfortable with the information and new terms introduced. Whether this is shelved in nonfiction or beginning-reader collections, it will find an appreciative audience.” (School Library Journal)

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire Nivola

“Readers lucky enough to dive into the unknown world of the renowned oceanographer will discover how a child’s curiosity grew into a passion to explore and protect “the blue heart of the planet.” Born in 1935, Earle grew up in rural New Jersey, where the woods, ponds, and wildlife captured her interest and imagination; she “was a biologist and a botanist long before she even knew what those words meant.” When the family moved to Florida in 1947, with the Gulf of Mexico practically in her backyard, she “lost her heart to the water.” Roaming the ocean floor in an aqua suit, codesigning a one-person spherical bubble, and plunging 13,000 feet in a Japanese submersible did not satisfy Earle’s oceanic wanderlust. In 1970 she realized her dream to “live” underwater; she spent two weeks 50 feet below the surface, observing the daily habits of sea creatures day and night. Detailed watercolor illustrations offer readers a unique perspective of the sea and its inhabitants…..” (School Library Journal)

Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman by Mark Tyler Nobleman

“Though rich in thrilling big breaks and cultural touchstones, comic-book history appears most often in books for adults.  This book brings the young men behind the Man of Steel to a picture-book audience. Along with a compressed account of the partnership between nerdy high-school outcasts Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, Nobleman includes insights about superheroes’ cultural significance and the chord struck by Superman—a “hero who would always come home” even as World War II loomed on the horizon….Any kid who has scribbled caped crusaders in the margins of homework will find Shuster and Siegel’s accomplishment of interest; this robust treatment does their story justice.” (starred review, Booklist)

To Dare Mighty Things: The Life of Theodore Roosevelt by Doreen Rappaport

“Theodore Roosevelt’s big ideas and big personality come together in this splendid picture-book biography. Most readers won’t know who Roosevelt is, but they will be drawn into the book by the laughing portrait on the otherwise wordless cover. Once inside, they will be hooked by Rappaport’s portrait of young “Teedie,” a sickly child who is nonetheless high-spirited and curious about everything. And he is determined to do as his father insists: make over his body so that it is as strong as his mind…..overall this is a terrific introduction to one of America’s most energetic and far-sighted presidents.” (starred review, Booklist)

Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Susan Roth

“Puerto Rico’s native parrots were facing extinction in 1967. The persistence of scientists enabled the colorful fowl to make a slow but triumphant return. Intertwined with the birds’ plight are descriptions of the island’s human history and diaspora. Roth’s vibrant paper collage illustrations give life to the rainforest setting and enhance the tone of hopefulness in this environmental story.” (School Library Journal)

Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet

“Sweet tells the story of the puppeteer responsible for the creation of those now-famous gigantic balloons that are emblematic of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade….Rich in detail, the gouache, collage, and mixed-media illustrations are a stand-out, capturing the charm of the period and the awe-inspiring balloons. This one should float off the shelves.” (School Library Journal)

Henry Aaron’s Dream by Matt Tavares

“This picture book pays homage to Aaron’s strength of character and determination to play major league baseball. In 1940s Mobile, AL, young Aaron dreamed of playing though ballparks posted “Whites Only” signs and his father warned him, “Ain’t no colored ballplayers.” Then Mobile opened a “Colored Only” ball field, and, in 1947, Aaron learned that Jackie Robinson would play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. After high school, Aaron joined a Negro League team, the Indianapolis Clowns. It was apparent that his talents would take him to the major leagues…Well-written text and brilliantly composed art highlight the poignancy and triumph in Aaron’s story. This rousing tribute should resonate with a wide audience.” (School Library Journal)

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