Dreamers: A review of Of Walden Pond: Henry David Thoreau, Frederic Tudor, and the Pond Between

Of Walden Pond: Henry David Thoreau, Frederic Tudor, and the Pond Between
Lesa Cline-Ransome
Illustrated by Ashley Benham-Yazdani
Holiday House
November 15, 2022
Age 6-9

Set in the majestic winter wilderness of Concord, Massachusetts, two men with different dreams set them in motion at Walden Pond. Henry David Thoreau, “oddball, tax dodger, nature lover, dreamer,” builds a cabin and lives off the land to experience nature and write of its beauty (pg. 6). Frederic Tudor, “bankrupt, disgrace, good for nothing, dreamer,” comes to Walden as an entrepreneur to harvest the winter ice and make his fortune (pg. 7).

Lisa Cline-Ransome crafts a snapshot of their intersecting time on the pond and how it influenced their unique legacies. Mimicking the seasonal organization of Thoreau’s Walden, she follows them through a year that sees their arrival at the pond and follows their experiences, writing and harvesting and transporting ice to the other side of the world. Her study in contrasts follows the naturalist as he observes the seemingly unnatural process of sending ice to one of the hottest places on the planet. Pencil and watercolor illustrations beautifully capture the tranquility of the rural setting and the simplicity of Thoreau’s existence juxtaposed against the industrious activities of Tudor and his team. A mostly cool color palette in the Walden scenes sits in contrast to the warm, dusty scenes in Calcutta, before circling back to a last frosty winter scene on the pond. Spare text and minimal punctuation sketch a rough timeline that is enhanced by both the detailed illustrations and very specific Author’s Note full of biographical information on the men from before and after their 1846 encounter.

A poetic look at a lovely setting that inspired the legacies of two extraordinary 19th century dreamers.

The Circle of Life: A Review of This Is the Sun

This Is the Sun

This Is the Sun
Elizabeth Everett
Illustrated by Evelline Andrya
Science Naturally
October 2022
Ages 4-7

A vibrant geometric sun shines its rays on the undulating earth below. Thus begins this brilliant and bouncy circle of life story told as a cumulative tale to the rhythm of “The House That Jack Built.” Moving from the sun, to the tree, to the flower, and so on Everett walks readers though the tale with simple text, easily digestible by preschool story times or early independent readers. Lush, full-color, digital collage illustrations complement the spare text. With text to the left of the spread and full-page illustrations to the right, Andrya layers in each new element of the story and introduces a seek-and-find component. Can you find the bug, on the leaf, on the tree? The text and art are both reminiscent of Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar. This familiar format, combined with the cadence of a well-known nursery rhyme, lends the nonfiction text to story time in a way most NF does not. Adding to its utility, the book will be available in both English and Spanish, with teacher resources available on the publisher’s website after publication.

This deceptively simple story elegantly introduces the complex topic of our interdependent ecosystem and helps young readers see their place in it.

Butler Bookshelf

Designed to motivate girls to learn more about the field of botany and see how one person’s creativity and determination can change the world, Science Wide Open: Women in Botany, written by Mary Wissinger and illustrated by Danielle Pioli, has been peer-reviewed by an extensive team of scientists, science educators, and parents. The highlighted women hail from all over the world, span from the 16th Century to the present day, and include Waheenee, Ynés Mexía, Dr. Janaki Ammal, Elizabeth Coleman White, Loredana Marcello, and Wangari Maathai.

Check it out, along with the other titles we are featuring below!

Curve & Flow: The Elegant Vision of L.A. Architect Paul R. Williams
Written by Andrea J. Loney and Illustrated by Keith Mallett
Published by Alfred A. Knopfs
Available this September 27th!

Dinosaur Atlas: A Journey Through Time to the Prehistoric World,
Written by Tom Jackson and Illustrated by Maggie Li
Published by QEB Publishing
Available now!

Illumibugs
Written by Carnovsky and Illustrated by Barbara Taylor
Published by Wide Eyed Editions
Available today!

Memories and Life Lessons from the Magic Tree House
Written by Osborne, Mary Pope
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers
Available now!

Science Wide Open: Women in Botany
Written by Mary Wissinger and Illustrated by Danielle Pioli
Published by Science Naturally
Available this September!

This is the Sun
Written by Elizabeth Everett and Illustrated by Evelline Andrya
Published by Science Naturally
Available this October!

Paving the Way For Future Generations: A Review of Bessie the Motorcycle Queen

Bessie the Motorcycle Queen
Charles R. Smith, Jr.
Illustrated by Charlot Kristensen
Scholastic Inc. / Orchard Books
September 20, 2022
Ages 6 to 8

Through rhyming verse, Bessie the Motorcycle Queen tells the story of little-known adventurer, Bessie Stringfield. A Black motorcyclist, she was known for her spontaneous, cross-country motorcycle rides, flair for the dramatic, and ability to cruise easily past her white, male competitors. Fighting against conditions in the Jim Crow-era South, Bessie was often forced to sleep under the stars when motels rejected her, was chased by Klan members, and cheated out of her race winnings. The impulsive, determined, and highly skilled Bessie gives author Charles Smith, Jr. plenty of tales for an action-packed ride. His verse maintains a quick pace and fun tone, despite some heavy content, even if some lines are a bit clunky. The sherbet-flavored color palette, laid over the modern digital paintings, immediately places the story in the 1920s. Elements like her wheat penny, which she flipped to decide her next location, add to the period details and her legend. The rough, lineless illustrations feel cartoon-like and energetic, with Bessie and her motorcycle significantly more detailed than everything else, keeping the reader’s eyes always on her. The backmatter includes an author’s note explaining his discovery of Bessie’s story, and the inspiration he found in her bravery, as well as a bibliography with books and online articles for additional reading on Bessie.

With races, car chases, and daring motorcycle stunts, this tall tale of an overlooked historical figure shines a spotlight on her bravery and spirit in a story of empowerment.

Bedtime for Creatures Great and Small: A Review of Sleep

Sleep cover art

Sleep
Barbara Herkert
Illustrated by Daniel Long
Albert Whitman & Co.
October 1, 2022
Ages 4-8

Humans require less sleep as they grow older. Grey whales float on the water’s surface to breathe while they sleep. Most mammals and birds exhibit signs of REM sleep, which means they may dream like humans. All living things with a nervous system need sleep, from dogs to insects to sharks to us; sleep specifics just depend on the type of animal and its habitat. Sleep, written by Barbara Herkert and illustrated by Daniel Long, dives deep into the world of slumber with detailed facts about sleep patterns, cycles, and the differences between sleep needs and experiences in humans and animals.

Filled with a lush color scheme and vivid images, the book resonates calm, perfect for this topic of sleep and making it a relaxing bedtime read. Each image is digitally illustrated, in a similar style to mixed media collages, but shaded to bring out depth and textures, which brings each animal to life. Long’s images are vibrant, but simply detailed, keeping them from distracting from the information provided on each page. Sedate pacing prevents the fact-heavy text from overwhelming readers. With a background in biology and fine arts, Barbara Herkert provides facts in a tone filled with admiration for the natural world that complements the extraordinary details she provides. The author also includes a glossary and additional resources as backmatter for those who would like to continue researching the world of sleep. Working through interesting information on humans and animals, the book takes young readers on a mind-opening adventure into the world of sleep and the extraordinary world we live in.


Butler Bookshelf

In The Tower of Life by Chana Stiefel and illustrated by Susan Gal, after Yaffa Eliach has to escape the Nazis during WW2, her hometown is destroyed. President Jimmy Carter reaches out to Yaffa and asks her to help build a holocaust memorial. She decides to make the memorial out of found photographs instead of bricks; it becomes what will be called the Tower of Life.

Check it out, along with the other titles we are featuring below!

Catalina Incognito: Off-Key
Written by Jennifer Torres and Illustrated by Gladys Jose
Published by Aladdin
Available Today!

Freestyle
Written by Illustrated by Gale Galligan
Published by Graphix
Available October 18th!

I am Ruby Bridges
Written by Ruby Bridges and Illustrated by Nikkolas Smith
Published by Orchard books
Available September 6th!

Monsters Play… Counting!
Written and Illustrated by Flavia Z. Drago
Published by Orchard books
Available Now!

This is Our Place
Written by Vitor Martins
Published by Push
Available November 1st!

The Tower of Life: How Yaffa Eliach Rebuilt Her Town in Stories and Photographs
Written by Chana Stiefel and Illustrated by Susan Gal
Published by Scholastic Press
Available October 4th!

Fact or Fiction: A Review of What the Fact?: Finding the Truth in All the Noise

What the Fact?: Finding the Truth in All the Noise 
Dr. Seema Yasmin 
Simon & Schuster for Young Readers
September 20, 2022 
Ages 12 and up 

In What the Fact?, Dr. Seema Yasmin reveals how people interact with trillions of bytes of data every second and, depending on if it’s fact or fiction, can spark a viral information outbreak leading to fear or hatred. By using a virus as a metaphor for the spread of false information, Yasmin states why people fall for false information and biases, how news sources have changed over decades, and how social media has become the biggest influence on minds, both young and old. From beginning to end, Yasmin encourages readers to be freethinkers and be suspicious of information received from social media, social circles, or any supposedly credible source. 

Throughout the book, the author uses a humorous but down-to-earth tone that encourages readers to keep reading and provides small sidebars that give brain breaks between the chunks of information. Using graphs, pictures, and historical references all backed up by a thorough list of sources in the appendix, the novel is helpfully organized by topic, such as COVID-19, historical events, and governmental issues. Yasmin’s vast experience in fact-based fields—she attended medical school at Cambridge University, worked as a disease detective for the US government and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize—has her well-versed in sorting through the noise for the facts beneath. Technical terminology is explained in a way that educates readers on how it is being used and defined, making it easy to follow along. Yasmin, very early in the book, states that this book is just a magnifying glass into how beliefs, thoughts, ideas, actions, etc. are influenced by approximately “1,099,511,627,776,000” (pg. 2) bytes processed and stored in the brain and that this is not a book that is going to tell readers how to think. This information-rich book describes the exhaustion and confusion of being aware of all information, yet bolsters all types of readers to gain skills in critical thinking, media, and digital literacy so they can thoughtfully navigate the information-rich world we live in. 

Butler Bookshelf

Written by Kristen Bell & Benjamin Hart and illustrated by Daniel Wiseman, The World Needs More Purple Schools is the sequel to The World Needs More Purple People, teaching kids how to celebrate their individuality while also being part of a group! Follow Penny and her friends as they take the lessons they learned in the original and move them to the classroom!

Check it out along with the other titles we are featuring below!

The Clackity
Written by Lora Senf
Published by Athenium
Available Now!

Crimson Twill: Witch in the City
Written by Kallie George and Illustrated by Birgitta Sif
Published by Candlewick Press
Available July 12th!

The Little Bear
Written and Illustrated by Nicola Killen
Published by Simon and Schuster Books For Young Readers
Available Now!

Mum, Me, and the Mulberry Tree
Written by Tanya Rosie and Illustrated by Chuck Groenink
Published by Candlewick Press
Available July 19th!

One Hundred Saturdays: Stella Levi and the Search for a Lost World
Written by Micheal Frank and Illustrated by Maira Kalman
Published by Avid Reader Press
Available September 6th!

The World Needs More Purple Schools
Written by Kristen Bell & Benjamin Hart and Illustrated by Daniel Wiseman
Published by Random House Children’s Books 
Available Now!

Butler Bookshelf

My Name Is Jason. Mine Too. Our Story. Our Way. by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin is the shared memoir of two great creators and best friends who happen to have the same name. Follow their story of meeting in New York and becoming the artists they are today.

Check it out along with the other titles we are featuring below!

Bad Things Happen Here
Written by Rebecca Barrow
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Brooks
Available Today!

Jigsaw: Mystery in the Mail
Written and Illustrated by Bob Graham
Published by Candlewick Press
Available July 12th!

Leila: The Perfect Witch
Written and Illustrated by Flavia Z. Drago
Published by Candlewick Press
Available July 12th!

McTavish on the Move
Written by Meg Rosoff
Published by Candlewick Press
Available July 12th!

My Name Is Jason. Mine Too. Our Story. Our Way.
Written by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin
Published by Atheneum Books For Young Readers
Available Today!

The Other Side of the River
Written by Alda P. Dobbs
Published by Sourcebooks Young Readers
Available September 6th!

Butler Bookshelf

Hope Is an Arrow by Cory McCarthy and Illustrated by Ekua Holmes is a biography of poet Kahlil Gibran, the Lebanese refugee who escaped religious conflict, made it to Boston, and became the 3rd best-selling poet of all time.

Check it out along with the other titles we are featuring below!

The Fog Catcher’s Daughter
Written by Marianne McShane and Illustrated by Alan Marks
Published by Candlewick Press
Available June 28th!

Frog Vs. Toad
Written and Illustrated by Ben Mantle
Published by Candlewick Press
Available Now!

Hope Is an Arrow: The Story of Lebanese American Poet Kahlil Gibran
Written by Cory McCarthy and Illustrated by Ekua Holmes
Published by Candlewick Press
Available Now!

Impossible Moon
Written by Breanna McDaniel and Illustrated by Tonya Engel
Published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Available Today!

Lupe Lopez: Rock Star Rules!
Written by e.E. Charlton-Truillo & PatZietlow Miller and Illustrated by Joe Cepeda
Published by Candlewick Press
Available June 28th!

Nervous Nigel
Written and Illustrated by Bethany Christou
Published by Templar Books
Available Now!