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Mrs. McBee Leaves Room 3

Written by Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan
Illustrated by Grace Zong

            Saying good-bye to a favorite teacher is a hard thing to do. Especially, is she is not coming back to the school at all next year.

            Each child has a special job in this story of packing up the classroom on the last day. While most of them see each other being busy, they are not able to see William drawing his pictures until almost the end of the story. But he becomes a hero when they realize his pictures help them remember all the great times they had during the year.

            Teachers and librarians can use this book as they prepare for the end of the school year and especially, when a teacher is retiring or just moving on to another career.

            The illustrations are great fun and very realistic in showing children at work with tongues sticking out and smiles on their faces. This will become a favorite.

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  • Title:  Mrs. McBee Leaves Room 3
  • Author:  Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan
  • Illustrator:  Grace Zong
  • Publisher:  Peachtree, 2017
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format:  Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-1-56145-944-5
  • Genre: Picture Book
  • Grade level:  K to 3

Martina & Chrissie: The Greatest Rivalry in the History of Sports

Written by Phil Bildner
Illustrated by Brett Helquist

If you have any interest in sports, or if you have some fondness for the 1970s, or even if you like stories about strong women, you really need to read this book.

In 1971, a new female tennis player, Chris Evert, appeared on the scene, quietly winning a lot of matches. In 1973, Chrissie and Martina Navratilova played for the first time, with Chrissie dominating the match. They became good friends, however. Martina gradually built up her game until she became the dominant player. Over the next several years, Chrissie and Martina played each other eighty times in tournaments. Martina won forty three of the matches. They made each other better players and were always the best of friends in spite of coaches and others wanting them to be at each other’s throats.

The lively and realistic painted illustrations give the reader the feeling of being there. Kids can see the determination and effort required to play.

Their rivalry gives a lot of lessons about friendship and what a good rivalry can do for you. The reader can also learn about this period in history, when the iron curtain was still a consideration. 

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  • Title: Martina & Chrissie: The Greatest Rivalry in the History of Sports
  • Author: Phil Bildner
  • Illustrator: Brett Helquist
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
  • Grade Level: 2 to 5
  • Genre: Picture book, History, Sports
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-7308-6
  • Extras: Martina and Chrissie though the Years (timeline) and Sources

The Hawk of the Castle: A Story of Medieval Falconry

Written by Danna Smith
Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

            Falconry has enjoyed a long history of legends and stories alike. This stunningly beautiful tale is told in verse from the viewpoint of a young girl hunting with father and their hawk. The story is told sequentially during the day, throughout a hunt and concludes with putting the hawk to bed in its mew at day’s end.

            The spectacular acrylic gouache illustrations bring alive medieval castle life amid authentic panoramas of European countryside. All views of the hawk, as well as of its prey are so realistic as to make the reader think it is a photograph. Upon reading the detailed illustrator’s note it all makes sense as, Ibatoulline, was raised by a falconer father and totally understands this topic. The hawk appears to be gliding right across the cover of the book.

            On each page a nonfiction text box clearly explains details of falconry using the proper terms. All nonfiction text is presented in italics, which helps young readers distinguish it from the fictional tale. Teachers, librarians and parents will commend the publisher for this important design feature.

      Curriculum standards can be met in the areas of literature, geography, history, animal life and the arts well into middle school.  While the book is also a beautiful read aloud for kindergarten or grade one. Teachers of grade two or grade three will use it in teaching about falconry as an ancient hunting sport, as an introduction to the study of medieval times or as a science book about falcons.  It is a story children and adults will want to read again and again. It is highly recommended for all school and public libraries.

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  • Title:  The Hawk of the Castle: A Story of Medieval Falconry
  • Author:  Danna Smith
  • Illustrator:  Bagram Ibatoulline
  • Publisher:  Candlewick, 2017
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format:  Hardcover, 40 pages
  • ISBN:  978-0-7636-7992-7
  • Genre: Picture Book/Nonfiction Connection
  • Grade level:  PreK to 3
  • Extras: Index, Related Readings List, Related Internet sites, detailed illustrator note.

King and Kayla and the Case of the Missing Dog Treats

Written by Dori Hillestad Butler
Illustrated by Nancy Myers

In this cute story for younger readers, King the dog feels he’s being unjustly accused of stealing dog treats.

King’s owner, Kayla is making peanut butter dog treats, but not for King. She is making them for her friend Jillian’s new puppy. The reader watches as Kayla mixes the yummy ingredients, rolls out the dough, cuts the shapes, and bakes the bone-shaped treats. While the treats cool, King plays with the puppy. When they return to the kitchen, they find several treats missing. Also, King senses a smelly intruder. The new puppy can’t be the thief. Jillian’s little brother can’t be the thief. King knows he’s not the thief. Who can it be?

Action-filled illustrations add to the fun and to the solution of the crime.

In addition to the practice kids will get with the simple language in this great little book, they will get to practice their reasoning and deductive skills.  

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  • Missing Dog TreatsTitle: King and Kayla and the Case of the Missing Dog Treats         
  • Author: Dori Hillestad Butler
  • Illustrator: Nancy Myers
  • Published: Peachtree Publishers, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 48 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 3
  • Genre: Early Reader, Mystery
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-877-6

There’s a Bug on My Book!

Written and Illustrated by John Himmelman

So much to learn and see just from the immediate world around us. Just going outside and sitting still yields a wealth of information. A beetle might land on your book before it decides to fly away. A snake might slither across on its way to who knows where. A grasshopper lands and takes off. A spider might need to be encouraged to slide off the page. A slug might eventually find its way back off the page. Pillbugs are fun to watch roll into balls. They will also need to be slid off the book. A tree frog would probably hold onto an upside down book. Ants will also need to help to leave and to avoid the frog. The snake comes back for a frog snack.

Action packed illustrations add to the fun with apparently crumpled pages and slug slime trails.

In the Explore More sections, kids will learn more about all the creatures they’ve just seen.  Parents and teachers will learn more about how to help kids use this book.

Many activities will grow out of this book. In fact, the book itself is an activity.

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  • Theres a Bug on My BookTitle: Patrick and the President         
  • Author/Illustrator: John Himmelman
  • Published: Dawn Publications, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 2
  • Genre: Nature, Nonfiction
  • ISBN: 978-1-58469-588-2
  • Extras: Explore More for Kids and for Parents and Teachers

Lesser Spotted Animals: The Coolest Creatures You’ve Never Heard Of

Written and Illustrated by Martin Brown

 Delightful drawings of lesser known animals like the black-footed ferret, the hirola, and the sand cat make this entertaining book a true delight. Besides the great expressions and thoughtful speech bubbles, the narration in this book is conversational rather than a list of data. Although each double-paged spread has a data box insert for the always necessary information about size, diet, habitat.

Librarians, teachers and parents ought to read this book aloud, “Shhh! Stay still. You’re in the Jungle. The eerie, steaming, inky-black of an Indonesian jungle at night.” What a totally enchanting way to introduce a “stealthy stalker of Southeast Asian treetops “, the Banded Linsang.  This is one science book that will have your audience spell-bound part of the time and giggling the rest.

Curriculum standards will be met in science, geography, literature while the art teacher could have a blast working with these animals.

Full color pages and cartoon-like maps involve the reader in every page. With just the right amount of text, white space and various sized illustration, it is spot on for the intended audience.  Every elementary and public library NEEDS a copy of this volume.

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  • Lesser AnimalsTitle:  Lesser Spotted Animals: The Coolest Creatures You’ve Never Heard Of
  • Author/Illustrator:  Martin Brown
  • Publisher:  Scholastic, 2017
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format:  Hardcover, 66 pages
  • ISBN:  978-1-338-08934-9
  • Genre: Nonfiction
  • Grade level: 2 to 5
  • Extras: Glossary

Great, Now We’ve Got Barbarians!

Written by Jason Carter Eaton
Illustrated by Mark Fearing

If you don’t clean your room, there’s a good chance you will get some kind of infestation but what if that infestation involves barbarians? Seems pretty extreme, huh?  And what do you have to do to get rid of them?

The main character in this raucously fun book is not bothered by the ants or flies or mice his sloppiness bring, but when Vlad the Barbarian shows up, it’s a different story. Vlad brings with him Törr and a bunch of other guys in horned helmets. And they eat all the cheese curls. They snore and belch and snarl, too. They use Mom’s makeup for war paint. The only answer is to take away their fun. Be careful not to cause any more havoc. Something else may show up.

The expressions of the rest of the family, including the cat, are priceless, as are the details of the mess the boy and his barbarians create.

Second graders may be able to read this independently, though much younger kids will get a kick out the humor.

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  • Title: The Tree: Great, Now We’ve Got Barbarians!
  • Author: Jason Carter Eaton
  • Illustrator: Mark Fearing
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 3
  • Genre: Picture book, Humor
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-6827-3

Prince Ribbit

Written by Jonathan Emmett
Illustrated by Poly Bernatene

Full of twists and turns, this cute new fairy tale pulls in elements from the classic frog prince without copying. When two of three princesses embrace the original frog prince story as fact, the third princess tries to convince them that you can’t believe everything you read. Instead, they adopt a talking frog and try to kiss and pamper him into princehood. He lives a life of luxury but remains a frog. A surprise ending should delight any reader.

The illustrator deftly complements the text with a sassy curly-headed redhead, clever and expressive frog and dog, a lush backgrounds, and a cast of other characters.

Parents and teachers will want to read this aloud and talk about all the other ways this story and the original one could end. Kids could learn a lot about literature and about ways in which we gather facts. This book is sure to become a bedtime favorite.

 

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  • Title: Prince Ribbit
  • Author: Jonathan Emmett
  • Illustrator: Poly Bernatene
  • Published: Peachtree Publishers, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 3
  • Genre: Picture book, Fantasy, Humor
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-761-8

Our Very Own Dog

Written by Amanda McCardie
Illustrated by Salvatore Rubbino

This semi-instructional picture book follows the story of a lively addition to a loving family. Sophie, the Jack Russell terrier, was adopted from a shelter by the narrator’s family. She made friends with some family members and readily accepted her new toys and collar. It took a little longer for her to warm to Dad, but food was a powerful incentive. She learned several commands and made some doggie friends. She enjoyed playing and also getting into trouble. Sophie was a dog to be proud of.

Rubbino’s detailed illustrations show exactly how to treat and train your dog. They are often humorous, with everyone getting a belly rub or Sophie trying to figure out why the daughter is in the bathtub.

Along with the heartwarming story, numerous sidebars give tips on caring for a new dog. That makes this the perfect read aloud so kids and adults can discuss the reasons for advice such as “Most dogs like to be petted by their owners, but many don’t like to be touched by strangers. Always ask the owner before you touch a dog.” Kids may want to keep referring back to the text as their own dog settles in.

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  • Title: Our Very Own Dog       
  • Author: Amanda McCardie
  • Illustrator: Salvatore Rubbino
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 2
  • Genre: Picture book, Animals, Adoption
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-8948-3
  • Extras: A Few Useful Books About Dogs

The Princess and the Frogs

Written by Veronica Bartles
Illustrated by Sara Palacios

In her premier picture book, Bartles presents a delightful twist on the princess-kisses-a-frog fairy tale. Princess Cassandra is as pampered as a princess can be. She has hundreds of dresses and thousands of books, but she has no pet to match her favorite dress. The Royal Pet Keeper sets out to find her the perfect pet. He searches high and low until he happens upon the perfect green frog. Cassandra is elated. She and the frog jump and play all day. When she kisses the frog good night, he turns into a prince. Unacceptable. She has the same result with frog after frog until the palace is overrun with princes. Cassandra finds one prince who only wanted to be a frog. Perfect. One more kiss turns him back to a frog.

Charming illustrations enhance and expand the story as written. Frogs slide down bannisters with Cassandra, share sodas with her, and jump rope. Princes slide down bannisters, hang from chandeliers, and use dresses for kite tails.

This is most fun as a read aloud so kids can guess about the next parts of the story. It’s fun looking for what makes each frog and each prince unique.

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  • the-princess-and-the-frogsTitle: The Princess and the Frogs                         
  • Author: Veronica Bartles
  • Illustrator: Sara Palacios
  • Published: Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins Publishers, 2016
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 3
  • Genre: Picture Book, Fairy Tale
  • ISBN: 978-0-06-236591-0
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