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.

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.

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.

Max and the Tag-Along Moon

  • Title: Max and the Tag-Along Moon
  • Author: Floyd Cooper
  • Illustrator: Floyd Cooper
  • Publisher: Puffin Books, a division of Penguin Random House
  • Publication year: 2013
  • Brief Summary: From Penguin Random House-“Max loves his grandpa. When they must say good-bye after a visit, Grandpa promises Max that the moon at Grandpa’s house is the same moon that will follow him all the way home. On that swervy-curvy car ride back to his house, Max watches as the moon tags along. But when the sky darkens and the moon disappears behind clouds, he worries that it didn’t follow him home after all. Where did the moon go—and what about Grandpa’s promise?”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – As I just discussed for Daniel’s Good Day and several others, this is another book that could celebrate Black Joy, and a book that every child can relate to as we have all wondered at the moon. This guide from the website Reading to Kids has questions to ask children before and after the reading, and new vocabulary words for children to learn.  
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – I think I like the illustrations in this book more than in Cooper’s other work, The Ring Bearer because I like that the moon has become its own character and its shadows are felt through each page turn.

Daniel Finds a Poem

  • Title: Daniel Finds a Poem
  • Author: Micha Archer
  • Illustrator: Micha Archer
  • Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House
  • Publication year: 2016
  • Brief Summary: From Penguin Random House-“What is poetry? Is it glistening morning dew? Spider thinks so. Is it crisp leaves crunching? That’s what Squirrel says. Could it be a cool pond, sun-warmed sand, or moonlight on the grass? Maybe poetry is all of these things, as it is something special for everyone—you just have to take the time to really look and listen. The magical thing is that poetry is in everyone, and Daniel is on his way to discovering a poem of his own after spending time with his animal friends. What is poetry? If you look and listen, it’s all around you!”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – I found this guide from Library Lessons With Books that invites children to watch Archer read this book aloud and then draw their own definition of poetry.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – I think pairing this book with the other book, Daniel’s Good Day would give children plenty of lessons.

The Ring Bearer

  • Title: The Ring Bearer
  • Author: Floyd Cooper
  • Illustrator: Floyd Cooper
  • Publisher: Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House
  • Publication year: 2017
  • Brief Summary: From Penguin Random House-“Jackson’s mama is getting married, and he gets to be the ring bearer. But Jackson is worried . . . What if he trips? Or walks too slowly? Or drops the rings? And what about his new stepsister, Sophie? She’s supposed to be the flower girl, but Jackson’s not sure she’s taking her job as seriously as she should. In a celebration of blended families, this heartwarming story, stunningly illustrated by the award-winning Floyd Cooper, is a perfect gift for any child who’s nervous to walk down the aisle at a wedding, and shows kids that they can handle life’s big changes.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – I think this could be used in a preschool through 1st grade setting simply for diverse children to see themselves in an everyday setting (thinking of the Black Joy movement). This book also explores blended families and the anxiety that comes before a family has meshed.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it– I really liked the muted, sepia toned colors in this book because it allowed for the characters to really stand out from their backgrounds.

Violet the Pilot

  • Title: Violet the Pilot: Her Inventions Will Take Her Sky-High
  • Author: Steve Breen
  • Illustrator: Steve Breen
  • Publisher: Puffin Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House
  • Publication year: 2008
  • Brief Summary: From Penguin Random House-“By the time she’s two years old, Violet Van Winkle can engineer nearly any appliance in the house. And by eight she’s building elaborate flying machines from scratch—mind-boggling contraptions such as the Tubbubbler, the Bicycopter, and the Wing-a-ma-jig. The kids at school tease her, but they have no idea what she’s capable of. Maybe she could earn their respect by winning the blue ribbon in the upcoming Air Show. Or maybe something even better will happen—something involving her best-ever invention, a Boy Scout troop in peril, and even the mayor himself!”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – I found activities from this website Reading to Kids, that suggests some discussion questions like, “Who is Orville named after?” “Have you ever invented something” and “Why is it not nice to laugh at people who do things differently than you?
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – I enjoyed that this book showed a female main character who is interested in creating and engineering, showing other little girls that they to can create and that doing mechanical work is not only for boys.