Explaining Away the Spooky

Grace, the main character in Ella Bailey’s No Such Thing*, is a clever young girl who explains away anything that might be perceived as spooky. Without hesitation and with great confidence, she identifies the culprit when objects go missing or are moved around.

No Such Thing is the perfect book for young kids who enjoy uncovering mysteries. Not to mention the amazing vocabulary! From savy sleuth to  presumed, suspected and pilfered, this book is great for word work with young readers. Using context clues and sentence structure to help determine the meaning of unfamiliar words.

No Such Thing is a wonderful read for kids ages 3-7. The illustrations are colorful and engaging. Ella Bailey invites the reader to revisit the pages, jam packed with realistic details, to find the ghosts on each!

Click here to purchase a copy of No Such Thing (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of No Such Thing in exchange for my honest review.

 

 

Halloween is Coming!

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Peek-a-Boooo! Is an adorable lift the flap picture book that is perfect for getting kids into the Halloween spirit. This is a silly rather than scary read that is great for young children. Marie Torres Cimarusti’s text is simple and fun. Stephanie Peterson’s illustrations are large scale.  Kids will enjoy pulling each character’s hands away from his/her face to reveal a classic Halloween figure.

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What’s in the Witch’s Kitchen?  by Nick Sharratt is a clever take on a life the flap picture book. Take a closer look into the witch’s kitchen. Open the flap in one direction, find something ordinary and possibly delightful. Open the flap in the other direction to reveal something spooky and undesirable. This book is bound to leave young readers giggling.

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“We’re not all the same. Thank goodness we’re not.”

Nancy Tillman’s newest book You’re All Kinds of Wonderful is another magical, empowering picture book for young children that teaches an important lesson. Written in beautiful couplets, the story celebrates differences and the fact that we are not, in fact, all the same.

You’re All Kinds of Wonderful digs deeper than more picture books that explore differences, focusing on our different personalities and abilities as individuals. The story embraces the idiom of “bells and whistles” and says that when we are born, we’re each supplied with our own bells and whistles to set us apart. The bells are what we do best, but for some people it takes practice to make those bells ring. Sometimes figuring out what that bell is takes patience, other times getting good at ringing it does.

You’re All Kinds of Wonderful teaches the reader that not only are we all good at something, that the journey of uncovering what that something is can sometimes be long and challenging but to stick with it because in the end it’ll be worth it.

The powerful impact of this story reaches readers of all ages as it beautifully promotes resilience and perseverance. You’re All Kinds of Wonderful is a must have in any home or school library. As a classroom teacher, books like You’re All Kinds of Wonderful are invaluable in that they open up the dialogue for celebrating what makes us unique individuals.

Click here to purchase a copy of this book.

*I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest and open review.

 

The Perfect Escape

Little Elliot and Mouse are back for another fun adventure in Little Elliot: Fall Friends. Little Elliot and Mouse usually love the hustle and bustle of city living, but sometimes it feels too much. They decide that they need a break and decide to take a break to recharge. Fall Friends perfectly portrays the need to escape big city living from time to time, a feeling that ALL New Yorkers can relate to.

The two friends board a bus and in no time they are transported to a beautiful and serene countryside. The contrast between the city scenes and these scenes in nature, which is captured in such a stunning way visually is astounding.

Little Elliot and Mouse spend some time enjoying the fresh air together but quietly. They eventually decide to play hide and seek. Little Elliot picks the perfect hiding spot. In fact, he worries it’s too good.

Will Little Elliot and Mouse find their way back to one another? You’ll never guess how!

Mike Curato’s illustrations and text perfectly convey the stark contrast between city life and the vast expansiveness of the countryside. The characters are small in comparison to their surroundings in both settings, but the feeling is completely different in each. Apart from the storyline, the illustrations are a celebration of fall, with the beautiful foliage and fall activities including apple picking.

Click here to purchase a copy of Little Elliot: Fall Friends (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest and open review.

 

Picture Books About Peace

September 21 is International Peace Day. It is a day for people across the world to come together to explore how we can achieve peace for all. One day is not nearly enough to engage in this important conversation. Peace is a topic that should be introduced from a young age and revisited constantly in order to help us move our thinking and actions forward.

There are some wonderful picture books that explore the concept of peace, including Karen Katz’s Can You Say Peace? and Todd Parr’s The Peace Book. 

Can You Say Peace? is a simple picture book but powerful. It begins, “Today is Peace Day all around the world” and features children from many different places saying peace in their languages. The illustrations are beautiful and colorful, giving a sense of what each country is like. The illustration of the child is large-scale and sweet, allowing the reader to understand the humanity of that person.

Karen Katz wraps up the book by pointing out that all children, regardless of where they live, want the same thing, to be kids and to feel safe. This amazing picture book is accessible for very young kids. You can invite them to create their own version these pages for their own home countries, especially if they are not represented.

The Peace Book by Todd Parr is provides another great entry point into a conversation with young ones about what peace looks like in their lives. The different contexts he provides are easily relatable and introduce subtle differences among people. For example, peace is reading different types of books and listening to different types of music.

Todd Parr’s book features diverse characters, who wear different types of clothing and have different bright colored faces, characteristic of all his books. The Peace Book is yet another one of his books to successfully introduce multiculturalism and celebrate diversity in a way that is accessibly for young kids.

Both Can You Say Peace? and The Peace Book are perfect for kids ages 3-6.

Click here to purchase copies of Can You Say Peace? and The Peace Book (affiliate links).

A Happy Merry Birthday to You!

When’s My Birthday? by Julie Fogliano perfectly captures a child’s excitement for her birthday. It begins in an almost breathless way with, “when’s my birthday?/ where’s my birthday?/ how many days until my birthday?” The tone of urgency unique to a young child spills across the pages, too excited to even utilize proper capitalization!

This book explores the idea of being patient and having to wait for a fun event or celebration. In a way it reminds me of Kevin Henkes’ Waiting.

At first the narrator wonders when her birthday is, from specific date to season. Then she continues to wonder about the different activities, the menu and the guest list. The process of planning the party is not that different from my own train of thought when I am tasked with planning an event.

Illustrated by Christian Robinson, one of my all time favorite illustrators. His illustrations include beautiful collage work, combining photographs and painting with thick, expressive brush strokes.

The repetition of the text and the topic of birthdays, will make this a delightful addition to any home library as well as the perfect birthday or even pre-birthday gift.

Click here to purchase a copy of When’s My Birthday? (affiliate link)

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest and open review.

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King by Ben Hatke is an adventure filled retelling of the childhood classic Jack and the Beanstalk. Jack’s little sister Maddy was carried into another realm by an ogre. Jack and his friend Lilly bravely follow them through a portal into an unknown world of magic and terrifying creatures.

Though they begin the journey together, Jack and Lilly are quickly separated. Jack must choose whether to follow Lilly or to continue his pursuit of the ogre that kidnapped Maddy. The reader follows both characters through their parallel stories in their quest to save Maddy and themselves.

The character Lilly was a personal favorite as I read Mighty Jack and the Goblin King. It quickly becomes apparent that Jack is an impulsive and brave character, and if the two stayed together, Lilly would be the more cautious sidekick. The decision to separate the duo allowed Lilly to evolve as a character and to shine in an unexpected way. She is clever and emerges a leader.

Left to his own devices, Jack learns to be less of an act now, think later kind of character. He is protective of his sister Maddy who is on the Autism spectrum.

Ben Hatke skillfully blends adventure and fantasy in this second installment of an awesome graphic novel series. He continues to tackle important social issues including diverse family structure as well as different abilities.

Click here to purchase a copy of Mighty Jack and the Goblin King (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest and open review.

First Day of School Jitters

School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex is a wonderful first day of school picture book read aloud for lower elementary school grades. The main character is Frederick Douglass Elementary School, a newly built school building that is experiencing first day jitters.

The school learns, through a conversation with the janitor, that children will soon be arriving and begins to feel nervous. Though the school observes all the students and their different interactions, it pays closest attention to one young girl in particular. A little girl with freckles who has to be carried into the school building by her mom. The school’s feelings are hurt when the children say they don’t like school or that they don’t want to be there.


The day goes on and slowly the different characters begin to relax and even have fun, including the school. At the end of the day when everyone has left except for the janitor, the school asks him to invite the children back the next day.

School’s First Day of School is the perfect book to read to young ones to get them ready for the first day of school. It captures and normalizes the nervousness that all kids, and even school staff and teachers experience each year as they prepare for the first day of school.

Click here to purchase a copy of School’s First Day of School (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest and open review.

 

A Powerful Picture Book About Standing Up for What’s Right

The Secret of Black Rock by Joe Todd-Stanton is a wonderful picture book about curiosity and exploration. Erin Pike lives with her mom and dog in a big fishing town. Erin yearns to go out to see but it’s just too dangerous, especially the legend of Black Rock. Erin is a brave girl and all the warnings and cautionary tales do not diminish her desire to venture out to sea.

Erin devises the perfect plan to stowaway on her mom’s boat. Things don’t go exactly as she planned and Erin ends up in a very dangerous situation. Just then Black Rock wakes up and lends a helping hand. It is then that Erin realizes that Black Rock is not dangerous, it was in fact a very misunderstood creature. People fear Black Rock because they don’t understand it. In reality, Black Rock provides shelter for many different sea creatures.

 

Erin returns home to help reveal the truth about Black Rock, but the grown ups are so lost in their own misconceptions, they don’t take the time to listen to her. They are intent on viewing the creature as an enemy. Will Erin be able to change the way they see Black Rock?


The Secret of Black Rock is the perfect picture book for teaching kids to stand up for what they believe in and to advocate for others. It takes a girl with curiosity and courage to see something or someone for what it really is, rather than for what everyone else has told her it is. The diverse family structure portrayed is an added bonus along with the subtle yet impactful environmental message.

Click here to purchase a copy of The Secret of Black Rock (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest and open review.

A Stunning Take on a Norse Myth

Joe Todd-Stanton’s Brownstone’s Mythical Collection: Arthur and the Golden Rope is a remarkable blend between a graphic novel and a picture book. Here is the tale of young Arthur who joins forces with the Norse god Thor to take down Fenrir, a huge wolf who has terrorized his town and extinguished the great fire.

Though Arthur has had many adventures, the other townsfolk consider him a nuisance and doubt his ability to actually help them.

Instead of letting their harsh words get to him, Arthur decides to go find the god of storms.

It turns out that all of his previous adventures and experience collecting strange objects works in his favor. Arthur does not allow anyone or anything to get in his way, and when all seems hopeless conducts research and gets creative. A great lesson and skill for readers of all ages!

Arthur and the Golden Rope is an action-packed book with wonderful illustrations to accompany the text. The illustrations depict an ancient Viking land with magical objects and mythical dangers. It teaches that even the unlikeliest of characters can be the hero.

Click here to purchase a copy of Brownstone’s Mythical Collection: Arthur and the Golden Rope.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.