The Crayon Man

  • Title: The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons
  • Author: Natascha Biebow
  • Illustrator: Steven Salerno
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication year: 2019
  • Brief Summary: From Houghton Mifflin-“Celebrating the inventor of the Crayola crayon! This gloriously illustrated picture book biography tells the inspiring story of Edwin Binney, the inventor of one of the world’s most beloved toys.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library –I found this lesson guide on Library Lessons With Books that uses this book as a learning tool about inventions. The activity they state to do is have children in groups and ask them to brainstorm an invention for an everyday problem.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it –I really liked that there is a step by step guide on how Crayola Crayons are made today, a brief biography of the real Edwin Binney, and a bibliography list.

A New Kind of Wild

  • Title: A New Kind of Wild
  • Author: Zara Gonzalez Hoang
  • Illustrator: Zara Gonzalez Hoang
  • Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Random House
  • Publication year: 2020
  • Brief Summary: From Penguin Random House-“For Ren, home is his grandmother’s little house, and the lush forest that surrounds it. Home is a place of magic and wonder, filled with all the fantastical friends that Ren dreams up. Home is where his imagination can run wild. For Ava, home is a brick and cement city, where there’s always something to do or see or hear. Home is a place bursting with life, where people bustle in and out like a big parade. Home is where Ava is never lonely because there’s always someone to share in her adventures. When Ren moves to Ava’s city, he feels lost without his wild. How will he ever feel at home in a place with no green and no magic, where everything is exactly what it seems? Of course, not everything in the city is what meets the eye, and as Ren discovers, nothing makes you feel at home quite like a friend. Inspired by the stories her father told her about moving from Puerto Rico to New York as a child, Zara González Hoang’s author-illustrator debut is an imaginative exploration of the true meaning of ‘home.'”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – I think this is another great book for children to see that the imagination can help you acclimate to a new environment and connect you with friends. I think this book is great for children because a lot of children move to new locations and feel lost, and in this book they can see their situation reflected. I found this lesson plan from Read Across America that encourages children to use their own imagination and asks discussion questions about the book.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – I really thought Hoang’s illustrations did a great job of showing imaginative thoughts. My favorite illustration is at the end of the book after Ava has shown Ren all the different ways he can expand his imagination in the city, and they reach the top of the roof and he can finally see what Ava has been trying to get him to see.

The Night Is Yours

  • Title: The Night Is Yours
  • Author: Abul-Razak Zachariah
  • Illustrator: Keturah A. Bobo
  • Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Random House
  • Publication year: 2019
  • Brief Summary: From Penguin Random House-“This lyrical text, narrated to a young girl named Amani by her father, follows her as she plays an evening game of hide-and-seek with friends at her apartment complex. The moon’s glow helps Amani find the last hidden child, and seems almost like a partner to her in her game, as well as a spotlight pointing out her beauty and strength. This is a gorgeous bedtime read-aloud about joy and family love and community, and most of all about feeling great in your own skin.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – I did find this activity PDF from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, but this really more for parents than for teachers. However, as I have mentioned in many of my previous posts, I like that this book is a diverse book that just shows many diverse families interacting in an everyday activity-their children playing together. I do not know whether there is any particular curriculum this could fit into so maybe this is a book better suited for a public library.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – Bobo’s illustrations in my opinion are not stunning. I think the real gem of this book is the words by Zachariah. I did think the choice to make this a narrated second-person point of view was interesting and could get children thinking on writing in other point of views.

Dancing Hands

  • Title: Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln
  • Author: Margarite Engle
  • Illustrator: Rafael Lopez
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
  • Publication year: 2019
  • Brief Summary: From Simon & Schuster-“As a little girl, Teresa Carreño loved to let her hands dance across the beautiful keys of the piano. If she felt sad, music cheered her up, and when she was happy, the piano helped her share that joy. Soon she was writing her own songs and performing in grand cathedrals. Then a revolution in Venezuela forced her family to flee to the United States. Teresa felt lonely in this unfamiliar place, where few of the people she met spoke Spanish. Worst of all, there was fighting in her new home, too—the Civil War. Still, Teresa kept playing, and soon she grew famous as the talented Piano Girl who could play anything from a folk song to a sonata. So famous, in fact, that President Abraham Lincoln wanted her to play at the White House! Yet with the country torn apart by war, could Teresa’s music bring comfort to those who needed it most?”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – Because this is a moment in the life of a real person, and the historical context is The Civil War, this could be taught in a variety of ways. Perhaps students could read about the real Teresa Carreño before or after reading this book. Perhaps students could read about Abraham Lincoln and about his life the moment Teresa met him. I found this lesson plan from Atheneum Books that has an extensive discussion guide and activities to do with students.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – I was interested to read this book after the group presentation on illustrator Rafael Lopez. Like many of the books I have picked out with him as the illustrator, I am stunned by his colorful, whimsical illustrations. Particularly in this book, where as Teresa plays, the music is personified as waves of color, tropical birds and flowers soaring around her. I think that is a beautiful interpretation as many people (adults and children) imagine music in many ways.

Hey, Water!

  • Title: Hey, Water!
  • Author: Antoinette Portis
  • Illustrator: Antoinette Portis
  • Publisher: Neal Porter Books/Holiday House
  • Publication year: 2019
  • Brief Summary: From Holiday House-“Join a young girl as she explores her surroundings and sees that water is everywhere. But water doesn’t always look the same, it doesn’t always feel the same, and it shows up in lots of different shapes. Water can be a lake, it can be steam, it can be a tear, or it can even be a snowman. As the girl discovers water in nature, in weather, in her home, and even inside her own body, water comes to life, and kids will find excitement and joy in water and its many forms.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – I think this book could be used to teach children about the water cycle, about the different forms of water, and even geographically, where we can find water on the earth. So I think this would be ideal for young children in elementary school. This lesson plan from Library Lessons With Books suggests this activity: forming groups after reading to designing a water conservation campaign, perhaps creating posters with art based on Portis’s illustrations. So in this way, this book could be used for multiple teachers/multiple disciplines.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it –Portis’s illustrations are fast-paced; there is some level of action going on with each page flip, which I believe would keep a child’s interest. I liked that Portis subtly indicates each body of water with text that is next to the illustration, but does not overpower it, in fact, there is white space enough around the word and illustration that it does not look clumped together. I think was a great choice by the editor. I also want to note that our professor wrote this article about Hey, Water! for The Horn Book that you should read if you (as a teacher/librarian) are considering this book. Portis includes a brief note on water forms, the water cycle, and how to conserve water at the end of this book. I think this is a candidate for me for my Best 50 list.

You Matter

  • Title: You Matter
  • Author: Christian Robinson
  • Illustrator: Christian Robinson
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
  • Publication year: 2020
  • Brief Summary: From Simon & Schuster-“In this full, bright, and beautiful picture book, many different perspectives around the world are deftly and empathetically explored—from a pair of bird-watchers to the pigeons they’re feeding. Young readers will be drawn into the luminous illustrations inviting them to engage with the world in a new way and see how everyone is connected, and that everyone matters.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – While we did this illustrator for our group project, I myself did not get to check out the book until now. I watched this read aloud by Robinson himself (This was in partnership with PBS Kids) to see the book and the illustrations for the presentation. I found this lesson plan from the website Pepelet Broadening Minds that suggests having children give their thoughts about the cover, discussion before reading, and then after Robinson reads the work (they also used the same video).
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – As with many of Robinson’s works that I covered for this project, I think his illustrations are what make the book. The illustrations for this book include diverse characters, and I think what is unique about this book is that there is no one protagonist but many characters who we see with each turn of the page.

The Invisible Boy

  • Title: The Invisible Boy
  • Author: Trudy Ludwig
  • Illustrator: Patrice Barton
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books
  • Publication year: 2013
  • Brief Summary: From Penguin Random House-“A simple act of kindness can transform an invisible boy into a friend…Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody in class ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party . . . until, that is, a new kid comes to class. When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when Brian and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library –I think this book, while not necessarily falling under a certain curriculum, could be used for social emotional learning. I found this lesson plan at the website Highland Literacy that is very extensive.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it –I like that there is an exhaustive list of activities/questions to ask students at the back of the book, and recommended books for adults and children. I liked Barton’s choice to make Brian transparent when he is alone/lonely, and colorful when Justin starts to become his friend.

Crying is Like the Rain

  • Title: Crying is Like the Rain: A Story of Mindfulness and Feelings
  • Author: Heather Hawk Feinberg
  • Illustrator: Chamisa Kellogg
  • Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers
  • Publication year: 2020
  • Brief Summary: From Tilbury-“Is it possible we’ve misunderstood crying all along? That’s the discovery one big sister sets out to share with her little brother as they walk to school and get caught in a storm. Along the way they explore sadness, loneliness, fear, frustration, anger and more, through gentle metaphor. Their journey examines our tears revealing how they begin, why they happen, and what to do with them. Throughout the book, the message received is that we are safe in our emotional experiences and that feelings, like the weather, come and go. This is an empowering story about navigating and understanding our feelings as a healthy, important, and very natural part of our lives.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library –I found this teacher’s guide from Tilbury that gives discussion questions before the reading and then after. I think this book would be great for elementary school students.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it –I liked the illustrations which goes through the cycles of a rainstorm and ends with a beautiful illustration of our protagonist running toward the sunlight. There is a great author’s note at the end, and a mindfulness exercise for children to do.

When the Storm Comes

  • Title: When the Storm Comes
  • Author: Linda Ashman
  • Illustrator: Taeeun Yoo
  • Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House
  • Publication year: 2020
  • Brief Summary: From Penguin Random House-“When stormy skies threaten, people stock up on supplies, bring in their outside toys, and check the news for updates. And during the storm, if the power goes out, they can play games and tell stories by candlelight. But what do animals do? They watch and listen, look for a cozy den or some other sheltered spot, and hunker down to wait. After the storm, while the people are cleaning up their yards, making repairs, and checking on the neighbors, the animals emerge from their hiding places and shake off the rain. And everyone is happy to be out in the sunshine again, grateful for better weather and the company of friends.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library –I think this book could be used in a science class, while children are learning about the weather, storms, and how to prepare in case of an emergency.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it –What I do really like about this picture book is the diversity present. We see different families preparing and hiding for the storm. I think my favorite set of illustrations is the two-page spread at the end that shows the whole neighborhood banning together to clean up and get things back to normal.

Blue Sky White Stars

  • Title: Blue Sky White Stars
  • Author: Sarvinder Naberhaus
  • Illustrator: Kadir Nelson
  • Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Random House
  • Publication year: 2017
  • Brief Summary: From Penguin Random House-“Wonderfully spare, deceptively simple verses pair with richly evocative paintings to celebrate the iconic imagery of our nation, beginning with the American flag. Each spread, sumptuously illustrated by award-winning artist Kadir Nelson, depicts a stirring tableau, from the view of the Statue of Library at Ellis Island to civil rights marchers shoulder to shoulder, to a spacecraft at Cape Canaveral blasting off.  This book is an ode to America then and now, from sea to shining sea.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – There are so many ways to use this book in the classroom or library. This could be used for a history class, and English class, or a government class. I found this instructional guide from the website TeachersFirst that has helpful activities and questions to ask students after reading this book. I also think this article from The Horn Book which eloquently says everything I wish I could say.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it –I was interested in reading this book for myself and covering it after hearing the group presentation on Nelson. I love Nelson’s impactful illustrations in this book, I think they are profound. I think this should be on my Best 50 list.