Archive for April 30, 2015


Written by Claire Saxby
Illustrated by Graham Byrne

Is that emu startled by you or are you startled by the emu? Either way, the cover of this wonderful new book is definitely an invitation to explore. The fantastic illustrations continue throughout the text, giving a real feel for the forests and grasslands and for the curiosity of the large bird. He is so devoted to the eggs he often loses a great deal of weight, refusing to leave the nest. He must guard the eggs from lizards called goannas. The chicks hatch after eight weeks and are partially protected by camouflaged markings. The father shows the chicks how to hunt for food, keeps them safe, and keeps them warm at night. Dingos might take the chicks. Adult emus could run away and kick predators. Emus move in a zigzag pattern to confuse eagles and other predators.

This heartwarming story of parental concern will make kids love the large birds and cheer for their survival. They will see that, despite the differences, denizens of Australia are not so different from animals everywhere. This would be great as a read aloud to discuss the emu’s life or as independent reading for literacy and further study.

Buy on Amazon

  • EmuTitle: Emu
  • Author: Claire Saxby
  • Illustrator: Graham Byrne
  • Published: Candelwick Press, 2015
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: K to 3
  • Genre: Nonfiction, nature, science, Australia
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-7479-3
  • Extras: About emus, index

Yard Sale

Written by Eve Bunting
Illustrated by Lauren Castillo

Moving anyone?

It happens a lot today and sometimes kids just don’t know what to make of it all. Especially when downsizing is part of the move.

Eve Bunting knows just how it looks and feels to a young child. So does Lauren Castillo, as proven by the realistic and detail filled illustrations.   It is hard to see your toys, and especially your bike sold and carried away.

Callie’s parents try their best to make the new apartment and its fold-out bed look exciting, but it really doesn’t make anything easier on yard sale day. Especially when some grownup, trying to be funny or cute, asks Callie if she is for sale, too.  What a devastating thing to say to any child.  Of course, she runs right to her Mom and Dad to ask about being for sale.

This reality makes everything else in the front yard meaningless. This small family realizes that who you have is much more important that what you have in your life.

Teachers, librarians, and parents of children preparing for a move will find repeated readings of this story to be helpful discussion starters. It will help everyone to explore the emotions involved with selling favorite items as well as moving to a new house.

Core curriculum standards for first grade readers as well as second grade readers can be fulfilled for the literacy skills of dialogue, picture clues, main idea, and supporting details.

Eve Bunting has written over 250 books for children and this is a great addition to the ones already in every school or public library.

Buy on Amazon

  • Yard SaleTitle:  Yard Sale
  • Author: Eve Bunting
  • Illustrator: Lauren Castillo
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-6542-5
  • Genre: fiction, picture book
  • Grade level: PreK to 2

Maya & Filippo Visit San Francisco

Written by Alinka Rutkowska
Illustrated by Konrad Checinksi

Great new addition to the Maya and Filippo series.

Arriving on a cruise ship, Maya and Filippo set off to explore San Francisco with their mother. Their time is limited, so they try to plan their sightseeing in advance. Mother lists the most famous features of San Francisco for them to consider. Of course, the children have completely different ideas of what would be fun. They try to go to Alcatraz but find all the tickets sold out for that day. A cable car takes them up and down the hills. Their picnic in Yerba Buena Gardens is cut short by rain, a common occurrence in the city. So they have lunch in a café on Union Square. At Fisherman’s Warf and Pier 39, they watch the sea lions play. Feeling bad that they didn’t have time to go to the Golden Gate Bridge, they board the ship and realize the ship will pass directly under the bridge.

The illustrations are very colorful and convey the delight of exploring new territory.

Second grade readers will increase their literacy skills and comprehension through the adventures. They will learn about the geography and history of San Francisco. The author even includes a quiz to be sure the reader has learned something. Readers will also learns that compromise is a good way to be sure everyone has a great time.

Buy on Amazon

  • Maya-Filippo-San-FranciscoTitle: Maya & Filippo Visit San Francisco
  • Author: Alinka Rutkowska
  • Illustrator: Konrad Checinski
  • Published: 2015
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
  • Grade Level: K to 2
  • Genre: Fiction, social studies, travel, compromise
  • ISBN: 978-1506126715

Sona and the Wedding Game

Written by Kashmira Sheth
Illustrated Yoshiki Jaeggi

Weddings are events surrounded by mystery for young children. We look forward to the excitement and fun, but sometimes feel a little left out. In this story, we learn how one tradition within the Eastern Indian community deals with that feeling. This is, after all, the first wedding Sona has ever attended.

The young sister of the bride is given the task of stealing the groom’s shoes during the ceremony. This seems like an odd task until you realize he will take his shoes off for the ceremony. If she is able to steal his shoes then he must bargain with her to get them back. This seems like a lovely tradition intended to help bring the siblings of the new family together.

Sona is nervous, of course. She can’t think of any way to steal his shoes during the ceremony for a long time. But, in the end, she is successful. Readers will wonder what she will want to bargain with the groom for to get his shoes back, some will already know what she wants.

Included in this story of tradition, is the painting of hands and the application of kumkum on the forehead of the groom for good luck. Parts of the wedding ceremony itself are included such as praying to Lord Ganesh and having the priest tie together the sashes of the bride and groom.

The illustrations of traditional clothing, garlands and surroundings are stunning. The watercolors are bright and authentic.  It is a truly beautiful book.

Teachers, librarians and parents of elementary children will enjoy this look into the wedding traditions of East Indian Americans. Second grade and third grade classrooms can fulfill the core curriculum standards for literacy, art, culture, history, and traditions by using this beautiful book. There are also several vocabulary words introduced in the text that would be familiar to some children of East Indian descent, although the author’s note is quick to say that India is a large country and not all the traditions are kept the same in every region.

Still, this is a beautiful look into a world we may not all have visited yet.

Buy on Amazon

  • SonaTitle: Sona and the Wedding Game
  • Author: Kashmira Sheth
  • Illustrator: Yoshiki Jaeggi
  • Publisher:  Peachtree, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 973-1-56145-735-9
  • Genre: Fiction – East Indian Customs, Weddings, East Indian Americans
  • Grade level: PreK to 4
  • Extras: Author’s Note further describes the wedding traditions and tells a little bit about how they are changing over time.