November 2017 Picture Book Roundup

As usual, my monthly round up of reviews for complimentary titles provided to me by publishers or publicists! All finished copies have been donated to my school library and any advance copies were passed along to Kid Lit Exchange. And of course, all opinions are my own.

Not Yet Published

Wide-Awake BearWide-Awake Bear by Pat Zietlow Miller
(Harper Collins ~ January 2, 2018)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a very sweet addition to any elementary library or classroom’s collection on seasons or hibernation. The illustrations are soft and cuddly and the wording is repetitious and great for a read aloud setting. I can’t wait to share this in a kindergarten story time!

Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and YouBe a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You by Carole Boston Weatherford
(Bloomsbury ~ January 2, 2018)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Required purchase for school libraries! This picture book is a fabulous testament to Dr. King’s character and legacy, giving examples of how children can “Be a King” through different actions that spread kindness and build a better world. Examples include statements such as:
“Know that bigotry hurts. Remember how you felt when treated unfairly” and “Break the chains of ignorance. Learn as much as you can.”

Page spreads have only 3 lines of text, but with such a powerful message, this title can be used in classrooms of all ages with differing levels of discussion. It would also be a fabulous title to have on home bookshelves to read as a family and discuss character and doing the right thing.

On Shelves Now

Bear and ChickenBear and Chicken by Jannie Ho
(Running Press ~ November 14, 2017)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a new bedtime story favorite for my 6 year old daughter! The story is just dark enough to be a little shocking, but no worries, there is a sweet ending. The vivid and super cute illustrations make it even better, and I really adore the different sizes and fonts for the words BEAR and CHICKEN. Little design elements like this heighten the reading experience and provide great guidance for children as they attempt to read along.

I can’t wait to share this at school – I guarantee that kids will predict that the bear is making chicken soup and we can have great discussions about predictions and clues. Highly recommend this one for read alouds in elementary grades – even my 5th graders will enjoy the humor and suspense!

The Boy and the WhaleThe Boy and the Whale by Mordicai Gerstein
(Roaring Brook ~ November 21, 2017)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A beautiful story that has dual messages ~ one about a fishing family’s way of life and the conflict that has with nature, and one about a boy going against his father’s wishes to do what he knows in his heart is the right thing. This story has so many topics for use in discussion with children, and the artwork is vibrant and often dominates the page spreads.

Highly recommend for school libraries – I would use this in read alouds for grades 2 or 3 and up due to the darker subject matter, but in a one-on-one setting or with much time for discussion this is definitely appropriate down to kindergarten. Recommended for up through middle school classrooms as the potential discussions of moral issues are so plentiful.

Coyote TalesCoyote Tales by Thomas King
(Groundwood Books ~ October 1, 2017)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These trickster tales are perfect for read alouds and the included black and white illustrations help bring the stories to life. I plan to use this book for read alouds in my 4th grade library classes to introduce the genre and paired with TRICKSTER: Native American Tales (A Graphic Collection) by Matt Dembicki from Fulcrum Books.

You Hold Me UpYou Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith
(Orca Books ~ October 31, 2017)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beautiful picture book about building relationships and supporting those around us. I plan to read it aloud to my 4K classes.

Waltz of the SnowflakesWaltz of the Snowflakes by Elly MacKay
(Running Press ~ October 17, 2017)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This wordless picture book was another bedtime story hit for my daughter! It was especially appropriate given that this is her first year getting to attend the annual Christmas Symphony and ballet show that all the “big” girl cousins get to go to in December. We loved looking at the depictions of The Nutcracker and talking about what is happening – it’s a perfect introduction to this story for young children.

The pictures are lovely and clearly convey the story, setting readers up for either a satisfying solo experience or a rich shared read ~ I narrated this one for my daughter. I can’t wait to share it with students as well!

Aliens Get the Sniffles Too! Ahhh-Choo!Aliens Get the Sniffles Too! Ahhh-Choo! by Katy S. Duffield
(Candlewick Press ~ November 7, 2017)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A great addition to my school library’s collection of books about being sick! I definitely appreciate the humor and outer space references throughout the story, although some of these may need to be explained to younger listeners. The illustrations are in a very simple and soft style that would definitely be soothing to a kiddo at home looking at this book on a sick day.

The 12 Sleighs of ChristmasThe 12 Sleighs of Christmas by Sherri Duskey Rinker
(Chronicle Books ~ October 24, 2017)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Definitely a holiday title for the most dedicated vehicle fans, this is a rather wordy and technical picture book that would probably do best as a one-on-one or small group read. There are a lot of small text features and picture details that kiddos who love vehicles would like to dig into up-close, and the wording is a bit clunky for a large group read aloud. If you have a Christmas-celebrating motorhead kiddo in your life, this might be a great present!

Touch the EarthTouch the Earth by Julian Lennon
(Sky Pony ~ April 11, 2017)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A cute interactive story that takes readers on a trip around the earth discovering ways to help with environmental problems. I like the push buttons and the potential for discussion. Would work for a read aloud, but I see this one working best in a one-on-one or small group setting. Simple illustrations.

Family Poems for Every Day of the Week: Poemas Familiares Para Cada Dia de la SemanaFamily Poems for Every Day of the Week: Poemas Familiares Para Cada Dia de la Semana by Francisco X. Alarcón
(Lee & Low ~ October 15, 2017)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a solid addition to any elementary library poetry collection. The side-by-side English and Spanish versions of the poems are much appreciated. The content of the poems goes much beyond the days of the week and touch on family, holidays, and culture. The illustrations are vivid and the page structure is varied throughout the book.

Here We Are: Notes For Living On Planet EarthHere We Are: Notes For Living On Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers
(Penguin Young Readers ~ November 2017)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Add this to your shopping list for any new babies being born, or for holiday/birthday presents for the littlest ones in your life! This is a beautiful piece of art that is a message to our little citizens about the mysterious world that they live in and how to understand and take care of it. It’s equally for grown-ups, though, and has surprisingly deep messages woven throughout the simple narrative. All of the important things about life and the world are distilled in this sparse text and gorgeously illustrated volume.

As a school librarian, I think this is a great one to share with younger classes in a storytime setting, but I see it being enjoyed most fully in a one-on-one lap or bedtime snuggle session. The illustrations are so detailed that children will be able to pore over them independently for ages.

Little Iffy Learns to FlyLittle Iffy Learns to Fly by Aaron Zenz
(Two Lions ~ October 17, 2017)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A cute picture book for the younger set about overcoming fears. Not one I would use for a library read aloud except perhaps for 4K.

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