Last Stop On Market Street by Matt De La Peña

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Originally published in: 2015

What it’s about: A young boy and his grandma taking the bus through their city.

What made me pick it up: I actually got a few pages into this a year or so ago but didn’t get to finish it. When I saw it available in our Overdrive collection I checked it out.

My favorite things: This has vibrant illustrations and a powerful message of community. I liked the grandmother’s openness to all the people around them and how that rubbed off on her grandson. It is a simple, beautiful story.

Who it’s great for: Littles who want things they can’t afford. Anyone who seeking a story of community. Readers who try to find beauty wherever they look.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this book on Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

If You Ever Want to Bring a Circus to the Library, Don’t! by Elise Parsley

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Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: A picture book about a child who promises to use her indoor voice and not make a mess if only she can bring her circus into the library.

What made me pick it up: I was looking for new books with faces on them for #bookfacefriday when I saw this and grabbed it off a cart to read because libraries.

My favorite things: This is hilarious! I totally understand the spunk of the main character and all of her sincere, if misguided, attempts to make a circus library friendly. Turns out the library isn’t the best place for a circus, but I loved the message of how reading stories is a good alternative. It also has vibrant illustrations.

Who it’s great for: Fans of libraries or circuses. Children who have great, if ill-advised, ideas.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this title at Amazon(affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

Sea Otter Heroes by Patricia Newman

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Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: Proof that otters are even more amazing than we thought (because they save ecosystems).

What made me pick it up: I don’t know if you know this yet, but I really, really like otters.

My favorite things: I appreciated how much scientific explanation was in this book. It was a little text heavy for a picture book but perfectly detailed for an older reader. It’s separated into chapters to make reading with your little one easier by breaking it up into segments. And of course, I’m always rooting for the otters. I’m so glad they are being protected so we can discover how beneficial it is to have them around.

Who it’s great for: Budding scientists. Otter lovers.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this book on Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus

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Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: The is a celebration of America, its diversity, and its flag.

What made me pick it up: I really like this illustrator, Kadir Nelson — he did Henry’s Freedom Box and If You Plant a Seed although I didn’t realize that until I got the book. It must have been reviewed well somewhere or sounded intriguing, so I placed a hold on it.

My favorite things: The illustrations are beautiful! Combined with the spare prose this is a powerful book. It really conveys the message of the American flag across history and throughout the vastness of the country, its people, and its customs. I enjoyed such a simple, yet positive, message.

Who it’s great for: Anyone who needs a small reminder of why America is great, especially when it might not feel that way. Readers who enjoy great illustrations and want to feel briefly that they are in an art gallery while reading a book.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this book on Amazon or in your local library.


 

Unbound by Ann E. Burg

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Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: A family who escaped slavery and their journey to join the colony of maroons in the middle of Virginia’s Great Dismal Swamp to live freely.

What made me pick it up: A coworker came down to tell me she was working on her book talk for it and I realized I had read the author’s previous work (Serafina’s Promise) and love a novel in verse so I took it from her when she offered and checked it out.

My favorite things: This book is powerful. The verse nature of the writing makes it go very quickly. The first-person narration helps bring to life the experience of slavery for Grace. As someone who once was a nine-year-old who had trouble keeping her thoughts in her head and not saying whatever she thought, it really brought home how that once had much worse consequences. I could relate to all of Grace’s emotions — especially guilt. Even though you are fairly certain of the outcome, it’s still an edge-of-your-seat read as Grace and her family flee for their lives.

Who it’s great for: Anyone who wants to learn more about a lesser known group of runaway slaves/slave settlement. Readers who want an emotional portrayal of the slavery and runaway experience.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Get this book on Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

Hazy Bloom and the Tomorrow Power by Jennifer Hamburg

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Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: Third grader Hazy starts having premonitions about what will happen the next day and the results of her trying to use those fuzzy visions to prevent (or maybe cause) catastrophe.

What made me pick it up: I saw it recommended a couple times by our children’s librarians for reader’s advisory requests. I looked into it and thought it might be something my soon-to-be third grade niece might like for Christmas so I placed a hold on it and read it as a gift preview.

My favorite things: This book is really fun. I like giving my niece books that contain characters that get up to high jinks but really only have good intentions. Previously I gifted her The Astounding Brocoolli Boy and this is similar in tone. I liked Hazy’s realistic relationships with siblings, parents, and friends. It nailed being a third grader and all the complications that can come with that. It also has a good acceptance of self and others story line. I look forward to future Hazy books.

Who it’s great for: Third graders. Kids who stumble and blunder their way through sometimes. Readers looking for tiny adventures.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find a copy of this book on Amazon or at your local library.


 

Miss Crandall’s School for Young Ladies and Little Misses of Color by Elizabeth Alexander and Marilyn Nelson

 

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Originally published in: 2007

What it’s about: Poems and biographical notes tell the story of the first school for African American girls in Connecticut and the challenges it faced.

What made me pick it up: It was reviewed by a friend on Goodreads and I had never heard of either the book or the story of Prudence Crandall and her school. Thankfully the library had a copy so I ordered it in.

My favorite things: This book is written in poems and they give powerful snippets of both Crandall’s and the students’ experiences and the backlash they faced trying to get an education. They are difficult experiences which can be hard to read about but the authors work to not only tell the story but also impress upon readers why the students thought getting an education was important enough to risk it. The poems are accompanied by lovely illustrations.

Who it’s great for: Those looking for stories of African American history outside the usual characters.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this book on Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.