On the blog:
- A list of my top 10 underrated middle-grade titles
Poetic text by Joyce Sidman and phenomenal illustrations by Beth Krommes capture the quiet magic of a snow day. This is one I want to read again–one quick read through wasn’t nearly enough to reveal its many beauties.
A very powerful story about a Syrian family of refugees, featuring the stone art of Syrian artist Nizar Badr. Badr’s art is surprisingly tender and emotional, and Margriet Ruurs writes a story worthy of it. I appreciate the choice to create a dual-language text in English and Arabic. A necessary book.
I tried, I really did. But rhyme almost never works for me. I also discovered something new about myself from reading this book: toads creep me out big time. And this book is FULL of them. This is the worst mini-review ever, isn’t it? Those who aren’t creeped out by toads and who appreciate rhyme find this book charming. There.
Rachel Isadora’s I Hear a Pickle presents the five senses for very young readers. The text is simple, the illustrations charming. Many typical scenes from childhood are featured, so readers will certainly recognize themselves somewhere in this book.
Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Library is another rhyming story, so you all know I struggled with the text. But I will say it’s clever and fun, especially the illustrations. The dragons themselves are a delight (several different ones visit the library and cause mayhem), and I especially appreciated the care that was taken to present such a diverse cast of characters. The librarian is brown, children of every color visit this library, and one scene even features a child in a wheelchair! It was so refreshing to read a picture book where every child would be able to quite literally see themselves somewhere in the text.
A Hat for Mrs. Goldman: A Story about Knitting and Love was perhaps my favorite read of the week. It’s the story of the friendship between Sophia and her neighbor, Mrs. Goldman, who knits hats for everyone. Mrs. Goldman is so generous she literally gives away her own hat to help someone who is cold. Sophia decides that someone needs to make a hat for Mrs. Goldman, but she herself abandoned knitting in favor of making pom-poms. Still, for Mrs. Goldman, Sophia is ready to try again, so she struggles to relearn how to knit. There is a powerful message here about empathy, love, and commitment, handled with subtlety by both author and illustrator. (As a little bonus, there are also instructions in the back for making a hat and pom-poms!)
Barbara McClintock’s Emma and Julia Love Ballet will be a huge hit with ballet-loving readers. The story takes us through a day in the lives of Emma, a little girl who loves ballet, and Julia, a professional dancer. Their worlds intersect when Emma attends a performance and meets Julia. The illustrations are so detailed and precise.
Another gorgeous picture book by Ben Hatke. There’s a fun story of friendship and adventure here, but the real star is the art.
Strong, poetic text by Kate Hoefler and moody illustrations by Jonathan Bean showcase the work and feelings of modern-day cowboys, men and women who work cattle and ranch. This is a sensitive and gentle book that manages to be both informative and thoughtful.