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

Leopold the goat has the gift of being able to match readers with their perfect book at his bookstore. But when a goat comes in and begins to eat the books, Leopold must find the book this hungry goat would rather read before the whole collection is gone!

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

Books Aren’t for Eating
Written by Carlie Sorosiak and Illustrated by Manu Montoya
Published by Walker Books
Available today!

The Circles in the Sky
Written and Illustrated by Karl James Mountford
Published by Candlewick Studio
Available September 27th!

Granny and Bean
Written by Karen Hesse and Illustrated by Charlotte Voake
Published by Candlewick Press
Available September 27th!

I’m a Unicorn
Written and Illustrated by Helen Yoon
Published by Candlewick Press
Available today!

The Lodge that Beaver Built
Written by Randi Sonenshine and Illustrated by Anne Hunter
Published by Candlewick Press
Available September 27th!

What are Words Really? 
Written by Alexi Lubomirski and Illustrated by Carlos Aponte
Published by Candlewick Press
Available September 27th!

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.

Favorites: 2022 Back to School Picture Books

New shoes, new school supplies, and maybe new anxieties—back to school season is here! Whether you’re sending off the kids from your home, home library, or welcoming them into your classrooms, these 2022 picture books are full of reassurance (and sometimes silliness) to help with a smooth transition into the norms and routines of the school year.

KINDergarten cover art

KINDergarten: where kindness matters every day
Written by Vera Ahiyya
Illustrated by Joey Chou
Penguin/Random House Studio
June 2022
Age 4-8Leo is nervous about kindergarten, especially his new teacher’s request that the class contribute ideas to kindness pledge. Leo prefers quiet. What if he can’t figure out what to say? As Leo meets his classmates, and hears their ideas about kindness, he realizes his actions can speak just as loudly as their words. Vibrant colors and geometric illustrations lend a joyful tone to this reminder about all the ways we can show kindness to others.

Purple School cover art

The World Needs More Purple Schools
Written by Kristen Bell and Benjamin Hart
Illustrated by Daniel Wiseman
Penguin/Random House Children’s Books
June 2022
Age 3-7

Penny Purple and her friends are back and bringing their plans for a more curious, respectful, and cooperative world to their classroom—and yours. Bright and joyful illustrations combine with silliness galore to explore Penny’s school community and everything the students and teachers do as good citizens and friends. 

Everything in Its Place cover art

Everything in Its Place: A Story of Books and Belonging
Witten by Pauline David-Sax
Illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow
Penguin/Doubleday
July 2022
Age 3-7

An introverted young book-lover finds solace (and an escape from recess) by volunteering in the school library. Forced to face a week of recess on her own, an all-female motorcycle group inspires her to take a risk on opening up in order to find a like-minded friend. A mix of blue pencil drawings, watercolor, and collage are brilliantly combined to bring the girl’s interests, experiences, and imagination together in one cohesive and lovely ode to books and belonging.

Hurry, Little Tortoise cover art

Hurry, Little Tortoise, Time for School!
Written by Carrie Finison
Illustrated by Erin Kraan
Penguin/Random House Studio
July 2022
Age 3-7

Little Tortoise is determined to be on time for her first day of school. Passed by classmate after classmate, her dedication turns to despair when she’s knocked on her shell. A rescue by her teacher, Mr. Sloth, gives just the pick me up she needs to build confidence and get to class right on time. A sweet tale of perseverance to illustrate that moving at your own pace doesn’t diminish your place in the crowd.

This is a School cover art

This is a School
Written by John Schu
Illustrated by Veronica Miller Jamison
Candlewick
March 2022
Age 3-7

Through simple text and lively art, this diverse and vibrant school community comes to life and introduces young students to the rhythms and learning within. Identifying locations, experiences, and emotions tied to the school day and beyond, Schu gently welcomes readers to the world of school. Differences in culture, ability, skill, and social-emotional experience are celebrated in vignettes exploring all the school building and school community might offer and what community members have to offer in return.

Butler Bookshelf


In the urban fantasy novel The Whispering Dark, Delaney Meyers-Petrov is a Deaf college student with a peculiar connection to the afterlife. When she’s offered a spot at an elite university program that trains students to slip between parallel worlds, she’s excited for an opportunity to prove herself and show others that she isn’t as fragile as they think.

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

Haven: A Small Cat’s Big Adventure
Written by Megan Wagner Lloyd
Published by Candlewick Press
Available August 16th!

I Was Born for This
Written by Alice Oseman
Published by Scholastic Press
Available October 18th!

Something About Grandma
Written and Illustrated by Tania de Regil
Published by Candlewick Press
Available August 9th!

A Synagogue Just Like Home
Written by Alice Blumenthal McGinty and Illustrated by Laurel Molk
Published by Candlewick Press
Available August 9th!

The Whispering Dark
Written by Kelly Andrew
Published by Scholastic Press
Available October 18th!

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!

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

In Whose Bones Are Those? by Chihiro Takeuchi readers are invited to guess what animal is made up by the scattered stylized bones spread across bright pages. Showing how skeletons of animals from hippos, to snakes, to lions, fit together and all their little parts.

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

Bee
Written and Illustrated by Charlotte Voake
Published by Candlewick Press
Available June 7th!

Happy Owl-oween!
Written by Laura Gehl and Illustrated by Lydia Nichols
Published by Abrams Appleseed
Available July 12th!

I Believe in Me
Written and Illustrated by Emma Dodd
Published by Templar Books
Available June 7th!

Miguel’s Community Garden
Written by JaNay Brown-Wood and Illustrated by Samara Hardy
Published by Peachtree
Available Now!

Poppy’s House
Written by Karla Courtney and Illustrated by Madeline Kloepper
Published by Walker Books
Available June 7th!

Whose Bones Are Those?
Written and Illustrated by Chihiro Takeuchi
Published by Candlewick Studio
Available June 7th!

Butler Bookshelf

This week on the Butler Bookshelf we are featuring recent and coming soon titles! Enter the magical world of the Salazars, firebreathing chipmunks, grumpy unicorns, and chupacabras need rescuing! This fun and funny family adventure by Zoraida Cordova pits the Salazar family versus terrible monster hunters who will stop at nothing to destroy magic.

Check it out along with the other titles below!

At the Pond
Written by David Elliot and Illustrated by Amy Schimler-Safford
Published by Candlewick Press
Available May 24th!

City of Magic
Written by Avi
Published by Scholastic Press
Available June 28th!

Girls Who Green the World: Thirty-Four Rebel Women Out to Save Our Planet
Written by Diana Kapp and Illustrated by Ana Jaren
Published by Delacorte Press
Available Now!

Mako & Tiger: Two Not-So-Friendly Sharks
Written by Scott Rothman and Illustrated by Mika Song
Published by Random House Studio
Available Now!

Meet Me in Mumbai
Written by Sabina Khan
Published by Push
Available August 2nd!

Valentina Salazar is Not a Monster Hunter
Written by Zoraida Cordova
Published by Scholastic Press
Available June 28th!