I love connecting young readers with incredible books. Here I review/recommend books I feel meet my criteria of being exceptional.  To request a review please visit my contact page. Visit me on Goodreads!

∗∗∗∗∗ A Map into the World – by Kao Kalia Yang – Gently told tale of Paj Ntaub, a young Hmong girl, and her journey of becoming a big sister while experiencing the death of an elderly neighbor. End papers in the Paj Ntaub (story cloth technique) depict rural life in the family’s homeland in southeast Asia, enhancing the theme of migration. Yes, Paj Ntaub is both the girl’s name and the name of the traditional cloth, emphasizing the connection between this child and her heritage. Beautiful pastel/watercolor illustrations contribute to the tone of this reassuring story.  A great follow-up activity would be chalk drawing on the playground, or in these stay at home times out on the driveway. An excellent resource to introduce children ages 5 to 9 to mortality, the circle of life and immigration.  

∗∗∗∗∗Stella Endicott and the Anything- is- Possible Poem –  by Kate DiCamillo features Stella Suzanne Endicott (sadly with only one “z”).  Our star character has a “curious and courageous” attitude and “anything can happen, anything at all” excitement about life. These joyous qualities see her through a challenging day ending to young reader’s satisfaction with a friendship Stella never anticipated.  A few unpleasant characters join the mix, but they are overshadowed by guest appearances by neighborhood favorites Mercy Watson and Baby Lincoln. A lexical plethora (What! Yes a  slew of high level vocabulary – ) awaits  fans and newcomers to this newest addition to the  Tales From Deckawoo Drive series. But have no fear of the challenging language, the story flows smoothly with enough context to carry the reading of this tale without interference. Children ages 6 through 9  would enjoy building the Deckawoo Drive community with covered boxes for buildings and making stick puppets to retell and create their own tales of this interesting village.  Thank you Candlewick Press and for providing the opportunity for me to review the ARC of this book. 

∗∗∗∗∗A Big Mooncake for Little Star – by Grace Lin – Dramatic black space with flashes of stardust bring this magical tale of the waxing and waning of the moon to life. The children ages 4 – 8 I’ve shared this delight with have been mesmerized by the images. Following the little girl into bed in the sky, watching her nibble on the moon and sprinkle bits through the universe makes this an enticing journey. The loving conclusion is totally satisfying.  As a tie in, the children ages 5 through 8 I shared this book with enjoyed drawing with chalk on black paper in the style of this book. And now let’s bake a Mooncake! 

∗∗∗∗∗The Rabbit Listened – by Cori Doerrfeld  – I shared this book with 20 groups of children ages 5 to 8 and every one of them related to every emotion on every page. Spare images helped listeners focus on the different ways a variety of animals wanted to help our frustrated character. When the rabbit simply listened there was a sigh of relief throughout the audience. Sophisticated discussions allowed my little friends to share moments of their lives this book reminded them of. This tale would make a beautiful simple play children could participate in. Or little paper puppets could easily be made by or for children to retell the story. A wonderful choice for social emotional learning.

∗∗∗∗∗  Going Down Home with Daddyby Kelly Starling Lyons  –  Elegantly paced, elegantly illustrated multi-generational tale of family reunion “down home” in America’s south. Well developed characters bring us to the annual reunion of this geographically distant but emotionally close family event. The dilemma of “Lil Al” and his gift to his great-grandma enable young readers to come along with the story. Children would enjoy interviewing grandmas and grandpas about what life was like in the olden days.  Easy to do now even during times of distance learning.  An excellent resource in this time of Black Lives Matter, opening the door for discussion with children grades 1 through 4.

∗∗∗∗∗Drawn Together – by Minh LiDynamic, vibrant illustrations combine with this story of a young boy spending time with his grandfather, neither of whom can speak the other’s language. The text is spare, causing the reader to focus on the illustrations. This is where the magic lives in this story; the illustrations help us feel the despair of the characters when trying to connect and share their joy when a common interest was discovered, drawing! The author’s mission encouraging us to look for points of connection with those whose language we don’t understand comes across well. Children I shared this book with enjoyed drawing and coloring giant dragons to decorate the library. Pantomime acting in pairs was great fun as the children tried to guess what each other was saying. This was a powerful way for my English speakers to experience the feelings of their non-English speaking classmates. A wonderful book to share and booktalk with children ages 5 through 8.
∗∗∗∗∗How to Build a Story . . . Or, the Big What If by Frances O’Roark Dowell –How to Build a Story . . . Or, the Big What If by Frances O’Roark DowellComprehensive, engaging  guide for anyone ages 8 and up on the craft of writing. The author’s chatty voice adds to the fun of writing for the sake of writing. A great resource for classrooms, writing programs English teachers and anyone who has ever felt “I can’t write, it’s too hard!”  Why add this book to your collection of writing craft resources? I anticipate this being kept within reach by anyone who values their written word and needs a motivating push to stay the course. 







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