Beyond the Ice and Snow: A Review of The Barren Grounds

51ptXY7Wl5L._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_The Barren Grounds
Written by David A. Robertson
Published by Penguin Random House Canada
Available September 8, 2020
Ages 8-12

Morgan’s latest foster family isn’t so bad, even Eli, the new foster kid is okay. He’s indigenous, like her, but he never raises his voice or gets angry like Morgan. In fact, he hasn’t said much since he arrived at the foster home in Winnipeg, and he stays quiet at their middle school, too. The only thing he does is draw in his giant artist notebook. But at least Eli shows her his drawings—they’re layered and mysterious and incredible. But when one of his drawings opens up a portal in their attic, the children find themselves transported to Misewa. There they meet creatures, like Ochek, a talking fisher, who introduce them to traditional ways to survive. The community of Misewa, Ochek explains, has been locked in a forever winter following an encounter with a duplicitous man. The community is struggling, and soon food supplies will run out. As conditions worsen, the children and Ochek set off to save Misewa from perpetual ice.

Author David A. Robertson connects Morgan, and the reader, with her Cree heritage, blending difficult truths about First Nations history with middle-grade fantasy. Morgan and Eli, like so many other First Nations children, have been separated from their biological parents and placed in the foster care system. Morgan’s struggles and mistrust of her foster parents come with good reason; she’s been neglected and discarded before. Despite this trauma, Morgan is able to connect with Ochek and Eli. And as her trust in them grows, so do her snappy comebacks. Robertson’s depiction of Morgan’s emotional and cultural journey is compelling, with occasional humorous outbursts. Whether it’s her skepticism with new friends or with her white foster mom’s cringeworthy cross-cultural attempts to make her feel at home, Morgan’s reactions are captivating. Readers do not uncover the whole mystery behind Morgan’s and Eli’s backgrounds, but there will be plenty of opportunities to learn more: The Barren Grounds is Book 1 of Robertson’s Misewa Saga.

Prankenstein Strikes Again: A Review of Judy Moody and Friends: Prank You Very Much

Prank You Very Much cover

Judy Moody and Friends: Prank You Very Much
Megan McDonald, illustrated by Erwin Madrid
Candlewick
Ages 4-6
Published March 10, 2020

It’s time for the Summer Science Showdown. Stink is ready to wow the crowd with his mad scientist skills and save tomato plants everywhere from the dreaded dodders! As always, his older sister Judy (aka Prankenstein) has mischief in mind, with plans to trick Stink with the results of his own experiment. Even when unwittingly aided by Mom, Judy’s prank falls flat. It seems the master prankster can’t make her little brother believe he grew tomatoes overnight, for more than a minute anyway.

This is the 12th installment in the spin-off series for newly independent readers, each of which showcases one of the original series regulars in their own silly adventure. The themes of school projects and brother/sister dynamics are spot-on for the publisher’s target age group (4-6 year-olds). But the long text blocks and some tricky vocabulary are advanced for the group and might be a better fit for 6-8 year-olds. Madrid’s vividly colored and detailed digital illustrations (influenced by the original series illustrator Peter H. Reynolds) will offer some help with decoding for new readers wanting a challenge.

Butler Bookshelf

Don’t we all wish we could frolic in the ocean right now? Channel your dreams and dive into Lily Murray’s Beneath the Waves, with illustrations created entirely from hand pressed plants by Helen Ahpornsiri. For more great reads, check out the list below!

Where’s My Turtle?
Written by Barbara Bottner and illustrated by Brooke Boynton Hughes
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers
Available now!

The Infamous Ratsos Camp Out
Written by Kara LaReau and illustrated by Matt Myers
Published by Candlewick
Available now!

Who’s Hiding on the Savanna?
Illustrated by Katharine McEwan
Published by Nosy Crow
Available now!

Beneath the Waves
Written by Lilly Murray and illustrated by Helen Ahpornsiri
Published by Big Picture Press
Available now!

I thought I saw a… Monkey!
Illustrated by Lydia Nichols
Published by Templar
Available now!

Into the Tall, Tall Grass
Written by Loriel Ryon
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Available now!

 

 

Beloved Book Events – Now Virtual!

Instead of cancelling, many of our favorite events are going virtual! If you’ve ever wanted to go to an event like BookCon or the Bronx Book Festival, here’s your chance. Check out the list below for some exciting events, including opportunities for continuing education credit.

BookExpo Online
Dates: May 26-May 28
Schedule: Check out online sessions schedule here. Most events will take via Facebook Live, with more details on the individual session pages.
Cost: Free
About: Normally in person, 2020’s BookExpo will now be online! The first day will feature a full slate of education sessions geared toward libraries and librarians; later sessions feature the event’s popular Adult and Children’s Book Breakfasts (now converted to dinners!) where literary giants and celebrity authors gather in conversation. Also on the schedule are the beloved BookExpo Buzz sessions (Adult, YA, and Middle Grade), where they’ll explore the breakout titles slated to become bestsellers.

School Library Journal Day of Dialog
Dates: May 27
Schedule: Available here with more details upon registration
Cost: Free with registration
Important to note: Certificates of completion will be provided to submit for CE credits. Upon completion of a course/session, attendees will receive a certificate of completion that will include the # of continuing education hours.
About: More than 40 authors and publishers will participate in this Day of Dialog, talking about the latest and most exciting forthcoming titles for children, tweens, and teens, ranging from picture books and nonfiction to graphic novels and YA. There will be a virtual exhibit hall to network with leading publishers, enjoy additional author chats, and download digital galleys as well as other free resources and giveaways.

BookConline (virtual BookCon)
Dates: May 30-31
Schedule: Online sessions schedule available here, many of which will take place via Facebook Live
Cost: Free
About: BookConline will feature sessions throughout each day with different authors and publishers to give participants a front-row look at debut books and behind-the-scenes peeks at favorite titles. Most events will be run through BookCon’s Facebook page, including trivia and ARC giveaways.

Bronx Book Festival 2020
Dates: June 6
Schedule: Forthcoming, speakers and panelists available here
Cost: Free with registration
About: The Bronx Book Festival, curated by The Bronx is Reading, will be online this year. The festival aims to promote literacy and foster a love of reading among children, teens, and adults. The festival will cover a wide range of topics relevant to the Bronx community through panels, workshops, and more with award-winning and bestselling authors, illustrators, and creators. Join keynote speakers Jason Reynolds and Gabby Rivera for this event that spotlights the local book community.

Eid Mubarak: A review of Once Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices

Once Upon an Eid cover

Once Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices
Edited by S.K Ali and Aisha Saeed
Amulet/Abrams
May 5, 2020
Grades 3-7

Celebration, joy, family, traditions—Once Upon an Eid is a powerful collection of short stories from a group of the most talented voices in literature for young people. And the stories are as interesting and diverse as the writers they come from, with portraits of plenty and scarcity, heartache and love, prose, verse, and even a compact graphic story.

Editors S.K. Ali and Aisha Saeed have succeeded in curating an engaging collection for middle-grade readers (but accessible for older readers as well) that both celebrates the traditions of the two Eid holidays (Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha) and respects how those traditions differ by culture, community, and family. The cast of characters is a well-drawn assortment of young people and families learning, growing, and celebrating their faith in a way that appears as a reminiscence for those that celebrate and a welcoming window into the celebration for those that don’t.

 

Butler Bookshelf

We’re eager to read Nelly Buchet’s picture book Cat Dog Dog: The Story of a Blended Family, with charming illustrations by Andrea Zuill. It’s about what happens when families come together–all the messiness and the joys. For more great reads, check out this week’s Butler Bookshelf below!

The Water Bears
Written by Kim Baker
Published by Wendy Lamb Books
Available now!

Cat Dog Dog: The Story of a Blended Family
Written by Nelly Buchet and illustrated by Andrea Zuill
Published by Schwartz & Wade
Available now!

A Girl in Three Parts
Written by Suzanne Daniel
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Dirt Cheap
Written and illustrated by Mark Hoffman
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Available now!

The Lucky Ones
Written by Liz Lawson
Published by Delacorte Press
Available now!

Bedtime Bonnet
Written by Nancy Redd and illustrated by Nneka Myers
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers
Available now!

The More The Merrier? A Review of Alya and the Three Cats

51YQcMBalhL._SX388_BO1,204,203,200_Alya and the Three Cats
Written by Amina Hachimi Alaoui, illustrated by Maya Fidawi, and translation by Mehdi Retnani
Published by CrackBoom! Books
Available June 16, 2020

Minouche, Pasha, and Amir have the perfect, lovely life. They are three cats who live a pet-filled life with Maryam and Sami. But one day, Maryam’s belly begins to grow, and soon there is a new addition to the family. What will the cats do with the arrival of a new baby?

This darling picture book by Amina Hachimi Alauoi is filled with specificity: in the personalities of cat trio and the particularities of their worries and adjustment to life with a newborn. These specifics are matched by Maya Fidawi’s intricate illustrations, which have soft and appealing cats as well as beautiful textiles and architecture. The author and illustrator depict the fear and unknown that can accompany a new sibling: parental time can be focused elsewhere, there are new sounds and people afoot, and unexpected changes can disrupt routines. This delightful read reassures even the most fretful mind, “to love is to share.”