So Many Smarts! by Michael Genhart

So Many Smarts!

Michael Genhart, PhD, Author

Holly Clifton-Brown, Illustrator

Magination Press, Fiction, Sep. 12, 2017

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Individuality, Smarts, Abilities, Differences, Social skills, Friendship

Opening: Did you know there’s more than one kind of Smart? In fact, there are many! Where do we start? No two people show their Smarts the same way. Each of us is different, and that’s A-Okay!

SynopsisSo Many Smarts! introduces kids to a variety of “smarts” and teaches them that there is more than one way to be smart. It encourages readers to look at their own combination of brain power and skills to determine how they might learn best, excel, and be themselves. Based on the theory of multiple intelligences, this book shows kids that all of the different skills they have require various types of smarts as well as how they can celebrate their differences.

Why I like this book:

Today I am singing the praises of Michael Genhart’s book. It wowed me! While reading, writing and  mathematics are important skills, there are other skills that make children smart. So Many Smarts inspires children to explore a variety of skills through a delightful array of animals who show them many ways to be smart. There is a bear detective following clues. A flamingo playing a ukulele. A pelican playing catch on an iceberg. A fox reading a book. An ape drawing a rocket. A rabbit band playing and dancing to music.

The book emphasizes how the animals are good at different things. Children will have fun identifying the skills that make them unique.  It encourages them to hone in on their own special capabilities and talents — their own special Smarts. This story will really resonate with children, parents and teachers.

Holly Clifton-Brown combines traditional painting, mixed media and collage with contemporary technique to create imaginative visual language. Genhart’s rhyming text flows nicely giving the bold illustrations time to tease children’s imaginations.

Favorite lines:

No one Smart is better than another.

Your own mix of Smarts will take you far, help you learn, do your best, and be who you are.

References: A Note to Parents, Caregivers, and Educators offers more information about the different smarts outlined in the book and ways to support children exploring their unique strengths. This is a perfect classroom book.

Michael Genhart PhD, is the author of Peanut Butter & Jellyous, Cake & I Scream!, Mac & Geeeez!, I See You, and Ouch Moments: When Words Are Used in Hurtful Ways.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

Playing with Osito – Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Multicultural Children’s Book Day – Jan. 27, 2018

Official Hashtag: #ReadYourWorld

Playing with Osito

Lisa Maria Burgess, Author

Susan L. Roth, Collages

Barranca Press, Fiction, March 8, 2018

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Bear, Animals, Bilingual, Multicultural, Seasons, Humor

Opening: “It was the end of autumn. The sky was blue, so I went outside to play… At the top of the mountain, I met a baby bear. Osito also wanted to play, but he was cold.”

Synopsis: Osito wants to play, but his fur is growing slowly and he’s got the shivers. The girl thinks covering this baby bear with honey and a coat of wildflowers is a good idea. So with a SCHLOP, schloooooooop, schluup, Osito is happy licking the sticky honey. Osito warms up and he and the girl play. But then they hear a BZZZZ…BZZ…BBBZZZ. The bees arrive and Osito makes a run for the creek!

Osito climbs out of the creek and shivers in the warm sun. So the girl plasters him with honey and rolls him in grass, because bees don’t like grass. But goats do! How will the girl help Osito get warm?

Why I like this book:

This captivating and humorous bilingual story is set in the mountains that traverse the US and Mexico. It is inspired by Lisa Maria Burgess’ childhood memories of playing in the Sierra Madre of Chihuahua. Each page shows both English and Spanish translations on one side and an illustration on the opposite page.

This baby bear has character. Children will cheer Osito as he tries to get warm and giggle at the girl’s amusing and clever attempts to help him. They will enjoy the witty  repetition and have fun guessing what kind of coat the girl will dream up next for Osito.  Each coat she creates for the bear represents the changing seasons of the year: spring flowers, summer grass, autumn leaves and winter snow.

Susan L. Roth’s spirited and brightly colored collage illustrations are exquisite and really make this story sing. She created Osito and much of the landscape with tree bark paper, which has been made in Mexico since precolonial times. Roth’s  illustrations are a unique mixed-media collage of a variety of natural textures that represent many of the items that would be found in the mountains, even the beautiful Lupine and Paintbrush flowers that grow there.

Resources: There are fun facts about the endangered species used in the story  bears, bees and goats, and special flowers and trees known in the Sierra Madre. Children will enjoy learning a bit of English or Spanish as they read the story.  For example a bear is called “los osos” and bees are called “las abejas” in Spanish.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2018 is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Their mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

Current Sponsors: MCBD 2018 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board.

2018 MCBD Medallion Sponsors

HONORARY: Children’s Book Council, Junior Library Guild

PLATINUM: Scholastic Book Clubs

GOLD: Audrey Press, Candlewick Press, Loving Lion Books, Second Story Press, Star Bright Books, Worldwide Buddies

SILVER: Capstone Publishing, Author Charlotte Riggle, Child’s Play USA, KidLit TV, Pack-n-Go Girls, Plum Street Press

BRONZE: Barefoot Books, Carole P. Roman, Charlesbridge Publishing, Dr. Crystal Bowe, Gokul! World, Green Kids Club, Gwen Jackson, Jacqueline Woodson, Juan J. Guerra, Language Lizard, Lee & Low Books, RhymeTime Storybooks, Sanya Whittaker Gragg, TimTimTom Books, WaterBrook & Multnomah, Wisdom Tales Press

2018 Author Sponsors
Honorary Author Sponsors: Author/Illustrator Aram Kim and Author/Illustrator Juana Medina

Author Janet Balletta, Author Susan Bernardo, Author Carmen Bernier-Grand, Author Tasheba Berry-McLaren and Space2Launch, Bollywood Groove Books, Author Anne Broyles, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Eugenia Chu, Author Lesa Cline-Ransome, Author Medeia Cohan and Shade 7 Publishing, Desi Babies, Author Dani Dixon and Tumble Creek Press, Author Judy Dodge Cummings, Author D.G. Driver, Author Nicole Fenner and Sister Girl Publishing, Debbi Michiko Florence, Author Josh Funk, Author Maria Gianferrari, Author Daphnie Glenn, Globe Smart Kids, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Author Quentin Holmes, Author Esther Iverem, Jennifer Joseph: Alphabet Oddities, Author Kizzie Jones, Author Faith L Justice , Author P.J. LaRue and MysticPrincesses.com, Author Karen Leggett Abouraya, Author Sylvia Liu, Author Sherri Maret, Author Melissa Martin Ph.D., Author Lesli Mitchell, Pinky Mukhi and We Are One, Author Miranda Paul, Author Carlotta Penn, Real Dads Read, Greg Ransom, Author Sandra L. Richards, RealMVPKids Author Andrea Scott, Alva Sachs and Three Wishes Publishing, Shelly Bean the Sports Queen, Author Sarah Stevenson, Author Gayle H. Swift Author Elsa Takaoka, Author Christine Taylor-Butler, Nicholette Thomas and MFL Publishing, Author Andrea Y. Wang, Author Jane Whittingham, Author Natasha Yim

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00pm.

Join the conversation and win one of 12-5 book bundles and one Grand Prize Book Bundle (12 books) that will be given away at the party! http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/twitter-party-great-conversations-fun-prizes-chance-readyourworld-1-27-18/

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/

*I received a review copy of Playing with Osito from Barranca Press. The opinions in this review are entirely my own.

Sled Dog School by Terry Lynn Johnson

Sled Dog School

Terry Lynn Johnson, Author

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fiction, Oct. 3, 2017

Suitable for Ages: 7-11

Pages: 208

Themes: Dog sledding,  Sled dogs, Training, Business enterprise, Friendship

Book Jacket Synopsis: Eleven-year-old Matt feels most comfortable working and playing with his rowdy team of dogs. So when he has to set up his own business to help out his math grade, Matt’s Sled Dog School is born! Teaching dog sledding … how “ruff” can it be?

But people, just like dogs, can be unpredictable. The kids who sign up for the classes have a lot to learn — and a little to teach Matt himself — about how to blaze new trails and build new friendships along the way.

Like Terry Lynn Johnson’s popular Ice Dogs, Sled Dog School is about finding your strengths, and your friends, and unleashing your passions.

Why I like this book:

Terry Lynn Johnson has written a pleasantly satisfying novel about a boy and his sled dogs. It is a coming-of-age story for Matt Misco, who is a natural with his dogs, but struggles with math at school. He also endures teasing at school about his family’s nontraditional lifestyle of living “off the land” in Michigan. Their home doesn’t have electricity.

When Matt has the opportunity to pull up his math grade with an extra-credit business project, he decides to open a sled dog school.  The project requires Matt to have three students and a math plan for his business. He knows he can handle the teaching, but can he handle the math?

The characters are diverse and memorable. Matt is passionate about dog sledding because he’s been running dogs  since he could walk. He’s a skilled musher who is enthusiastic about his sport and at ease with his dogs. Matt is intuitive and knows his dogs’ personalities, traits, strengths and weaknesses.  His first student, Tubbs, is uncoordinated but is a good sport. Tubbs brings his misbehaved dog, Flute, with the hopes of having Matt train him. Alex, an accomplished English dressage rider, joins the school. She’s smart and an overachiever. Alex bonds with Matt’s younger tag-along sister, Lily.

The plot is original and full of action. The school gets off with a rocky start as Matt assumes he simply needs to tell his students what to do and then have them follow with their own small team of dogs. Tubbs has a hard time staying on his sled and wipes. Alex is a quick learner. Matt begins to refine his teaching methods to meet his students strengths and weaknesses. They are an unlikely threesome until an incident occurs and they join together in a rescue effort that strengthens their friendship.

I enjoyed how the teacher encourages his students to use math lessons in the real world. I particularly like how Matt’s parents encourage him to do what he loves most and not follow the crowd. And I like the courage it takes for Matt to tell his mom about his struggle with math and ask for help. Sled Dog School is sure to be a winner for dog lovers.

Resources: Visit Terry Johnson’s website for information about dog sledding and a curriculum guide. She has a lot of dog sledding photographs to share. At the end of the book is a glossary of dog sledding terms.

Terry Lynn Johnson, author of the acclaimed Ice Dogs, writes adventures based on her own experiences in the wilds of northern Ontario. She has been dragged on her face by her dog team, been lost in the bush more than once, and even chased a bear with a chainsaw. She owned a team of eighteen sled dogs for many years and currently works as a conservation officer. Visit her at her website.

Greg Pattridge is the permanent host for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

Finn and Puss by Robert Vescio

Finn and Puss

Robert Vescio, Author

Melissa Mackie, Illustrator

EK Books, Fiction, Oct. 1, 2017

Suitable for Ages: 3-6

Themes: Animals, Lost cat, Loneliness, Friendship, Hope, Integrity

Opening: “This is Finn.  This is Puss”

Synopsis: Finn a young boy, is lonely. Puss, a cat, is lost. When the two meet on the street and Finn stoops down to scratch his ears, Finn isn’t lonely anymore.  Puss purrs and seems happy to be with Finn. When Finn sees a “Lost” picture of Puss taped to a building by the cat’s owners, he’s faced with a tough decision.  Will he do the right thing?

Why I like this book:

This is a sweet tale by Robert Vescio about a boy who finds a lost cat and makes a new friend. It explores the boy’s choices of ignoring the notice and keeping the cat, or doing the right thing and notifying the owner, who misses her cat. This is an important lesson children will face many times in their lives. It has difficult lessons about honesty and integrity. It is a good reason to start teaching this lesson to young children. There are heartwarming rewards when children learn to do the right thing.

Finn and Puss only has 80 words, so it is the perfect book for children learning to read independently on their own and for reluctant readers.

Melissa Mackie’s soft watercolor illustrations are expressive and really capture the dynamics of the story. I particularly like her use of white space because it symbolically sheds “light” on this story about building character.

Resources: This is an excellent discussion book for home and school. Ask children what they would do if were in Finn’s shoes? Would they want to keep the cat or return it to its sad owner. What would they do if found a toy that they knew belonged to a friend? What would they do if they saw a stranger drop money on the ground?

Robert Vescio is a full-time children’s author whose aim is to enthuse and inspire children to read and write and leave them bursting with imaginative ideas.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

The Wolf, the Duck and the Mouse

The Wolf, the Duck and the Mouse

Mac Barnett, Author

Jon Klassen, Illustrator

Candlewick, Fiction, Oct. 10, 2017

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Animals, Humor, Cooperation,

Opening: Early one morning, a mouse met a wolf, and he was quickly gobbled up.

Publisher Synopsis: When a woeful mouse is swallowed by a wolf, he quickly learns he is not alone: a duck has already set up digs, and, boy, has that duck got it figured out! Turns out it’s pretty nice in there, with delicious food and elegant table settings, courtesy of the wolf’s unchecked gluttony. And there’s something even better: no more fear of being eaten by a wolf! In fact, life is pretty good, until a hunter shows up. . . . With a nod to traditional fables and a wink to the reader, the award-winning Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen offer a tale of cooperation and creative cuisine that is sure to go down easy.

Why I like this story:

Have you ever wondered why wolves howl at the moon? Mac Barnett and John Klassen’s modern-day fable offers an answer in their quirky tale that is filled with dark and outrageous humor. The old-fashioned fairy tale language, “Oh woe is me,” and “Oh shame,” adds drama and charm to the storytelling.

Mouse meets Duck in the wolf’s belly and quickly discovers it is a home of sorts. Says Duck, “I live well! I may have been swallowed, but I have no intention of being eaten.” So the two create a kind of ruckus that make’s the wolf’s tummy ache and manage to get all the food and items they need to live high on the hog.  Readers will laugh out loud at their shenanigans and feel sorry for the gullible wolf.  When a hunter shoots at the wolf, the mouse and duck save the wolf’s life in a very unconventional way.

Klassen’s trademark sepia-toned mixed-media artwork perfectly suits Barnett’s story. There are a lot of details to explore both inside and outside of the wolf, and they add to the humor of the story. The expressive illustrations are priceless. Visit Mac Barnett’s website and Jon Klassen’s website to see illustrations from the book.

Mac Barnett is the author of three books illustrated by Jon Klassen: Extra Yarn, which won a Caldecott Honor and a Boston Globe–Horn Book Award; Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, which won a Caldecott Honor and an E. B. White Award; and Triangle. With Jory John, he is the co-author of the New York Times best-selling series The Terrible Two.

Jon Klassen is the author-illustrator of I Want My Hat Back, a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book; This Is Not My Hat, winner of the Caldecott Medal and the Kate Greenaway Medal; and We Found a Hat. He also illustrated two Caldecott Honor Books, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole and Extra Yarn, as well as Triangle, all written by Mac Barnett.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

Jingle Bells by Susan Jeffers

Jingle Bells

Susan Jeffers, Artist/Illustrator

Harper Collins Children’s Books, Fiction, Sep. 26, 2017

Suitable for Ages: 3-8

Themes: Sleigh Ride, Winter, Jingle Bells, Adventure, Ice Skating, Holiday Book

Opening: Jingle bells, jingle bells.

Synopsis: Ride along through a winter wonderland with a girl, a boy, and their pony — plus a mischievous dog! It’s a joyous adventure to Grandma’s house where a very special guest helps spread the yuletide cheer.

Why I like this story:

Artist Susan Jeffers’ takes children on an enchanted wintry journey set to lyrics of this beloved and joyful holiday song, Jingle Bells. Jeffers’ pastel illustrations are lavish and energetic. Each double-page spread captures the magnificent detail of the winter woodland scenes with romping furry critters, a playful dog bounding alongside the sleigh and a big adventure with a few bumps along the way. The ending is very clever.  This book is a lovely keepsake and gift.

Children will have fun searching for the many animals Jeffers has hidden among the trees and in the snowy bushes. There is a picture guide of the hidden winter critters at the end of the book.

Susan Jeffers, the Caldecott Honor and New York Times bestselling artist of The Nutcracker and The Twelve Days of Christmas. She won the ABBY Award from the American Booksellers Association and a Caldecott Honor from the American Library Association. Her work has been exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Norman Rockwell Museum. Her books have sold millions of copies and have been published around the world. Visit Jeffers at her website.

Resources: Take a walk outside in the fresh snow and identify animal footprints. Look for signs of their burrows.  Sing Jingle Bells. Go sledding.

Happy holidays everyone!

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City by Jodi Kendall

The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City

Jodi Kendall, Author

Harper Collins, Fiction, Oct. 3, 2017

Suitable for Ages: 8-11

Themes: Pigs, Animals, City Life, Gymnastics, Belonging, Family Relationships

Book Synopsis: Little pig. Big city. Lots of trouble. Josie Shilling feels invisible. Her family is too big, their cramped city house is too small, and her parents are always distracted.

Then, on Thanksgiving Day, her older brother, Tom, brings home a pink, squirmy bundle wrapped in an old football jersey — a piglet he rescued from a nearby farm. Her name is Hamlet.

The minute Josie holds Hamlet, she feels an instant connection. But there’s no room for Hamlet in the crowded Shilling household. And who ever heard of keeping a pig in the city? So it’s up to Josie to find her a forever home.

But taking care of Hamlet makes Josie feel special when she usually feels overlooked in a family with five children. And there’s something about Hamlet that reminds Josie of herself.

Why I like this book:

Move over Wilbur, Hamlet’s going to steal your heart. Jodi Kendall’s debut novel is a heartwarming and rollicking story about the unlikely bond between a girl and a piglet runt.  Her story is loosely based on her childhood experience of owning a pet pig and finding it a home.

Hamlet arrives in time to boost eleven-year-old Josie’s self-esteem and give her purpose. At home she feels unnoticed. At gymnastics Josie feels like a freakish giant when all she wants to be is a really great gymnast. Josie’s bond with Hamlet boosts her spirit and helps her find courage and determination.

Readers will enjoy hanging out with Josie, Hamlet and all the Shillings. There are her friends, Lucy from gymnastics, and the Three Stoops gang, who work together to create a plan for finding Hamlet a home. The clock is ticking, Hamlet is growing, and Josie and her friends have until New Year’s Day to find a home for Hamlet.

There is heart, connection, humor and unexpected plot twists. After all, Hamlet is a one smart pig who learns quickly to use a litter box, fetch a flying Frisbee, open the fridge door, and climb the bunk-bed ladder. Although this pig causes a lot of mayhem, he unites Josie’s family during some challenging times. Readers will cheer for Hamlet!  Verdict: It’s a winner!

Fans of this piglet story will be delighted to know that there will be a sequel in the fall of 2018. Visit Jodi Kendall on her website.

Resources:  The author has included a curriculum guide on her website for activities and classroom discussions.

Jodi Kendall grew up in the Midwest with her family of seven and their household of countless pets, including hamsters, ducks, dogs, rabbits, an iguana, and, yes . . . even a farm pig!  You can find Jodi typing away at home in New York City, where she’s still an animal lover at heart. Jodi holds an MFA from the University of Arizona and is an active member of SCBWI. Visit Jodi at her website.

Greg Pattridge is hosting Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Author Shannon Messenger has been on a whirlwind tour promoting her sixth book, Nightfall, in the Keeper of the Lost Cities series, which was released November 7. Thank you Greg for keeping the MMGM family together!

The Puppy’s Wish (A Wish Book) by Lori Evert

The Puppy’s Wish

Lori Evert, Author

Per Breiehagen, Photographer

Random House Books for Young Readers, Fiction, Sep. 12, 2017

Suitable for Ages: 2-5

Themes: Dogs, Woodland Animals, Norway, Friendship

Opening: Birki is sad today. He wishes he had a special talent like his friends.

Synopsis: Birki is Anja’s husky puppy.  He wishes he is special like his woodland friends. The swans fly and swim, a moose forages for food, fox camouflage themselves from predators, the sheep provide wool for Anja’s clothing, the cattle and goat provide milk, and the reindeer pulls Anja in a sleigh. But Birki is a furry ball of fluff who loves his mama and Anja. Perhaps his love and friendship are the best gifts of all.

Compliments of Per Breiehagen

Why I like this book:

Lori Evert and her photographer husband, Per Breiehagen, return with another wintry 18th century Nordic adventure with their daughter, Anja, and her puppy, Birki. This tale is their second board book, which is perfect for small hands. The text is simple with words that are familiar, appealing and create a positive experience for young children and preschoolers who are learning to read. The Puppy’s Wish is a visual treasure, perfect for reading aloud and sharing at bedtime.

Award-winning photographer Breiehagen captures the breathtaking and enchanting snow-covered landscapes, the arctic wildlife and the tender moments between Anja and Birki. This is another beautiful collaborative holiday offering by this husband-wife team, and their daughter Anja.

The Puppy’s Wish is the fifth Nordic treasure by the award-winning team of picture books The Christmas Wish, The Reindeer Wish, The Tiny Wish and The Brave Little Puppy (board book). This fun-loving board book is just in time for the holidays. The family hopes their books will inspire wonder, kindness, and a love for animals and nature. Visit their website.

Compliments of Per Breiehagen

Resources: Visit Random House Kids for more information about The Wish Books. Children can select their favorite photos from the books and send holiday e-cards to friends and family. They can download and print selected photographs from the books and make their own holiday cards and ornaments. There is a video and other special activities for children

LORI EVERT is the author of The New York Times bestseller The Christmas Wish, The Tiny Wish, The Reindeer Wish and The Brave Puppy. She and her family created The Wish books together. They split their time between Minnesota and Norway.

PER BREIEHAGEN is an award-winning, internationally acclaimed photographer from Norway. His credits include National Geographic, Audubon, and The New York Times Magazine. He created the images for The Wish Books with his daughter, Anja, and wife, Lori Evert.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

Wishtree

Katherine Applegate, Author

Feiwel & Friends, Fiction, Sep. 26, 2017

Suitable for Ages: 8-12

Themes: Trees, Wishes, Crows, Animals, Friendship, Tolerance

Opening: It’s hard to talk to trees. We’re not big on chitchat. That’s not to say we can’t do amazing things, things you’ll probably never do. Cradle downy owlets. Steady flimsy tree forts. Photosynthesize. But talk to people? Not so much.

Synopsis:

Red is an oak tree who is 216 rings old. Red is the neighborhood “wishtree.” Every May 1 people come from all over town to write their most private wishes on pieces of paper, cloth, and socks and tie them to Red’s branches. He holds their hopes and dreams in his limbs. Then, they whisper their wish. Red listens but never responds. It’s against the rules for a tree to speak to a human.

Along with her crow friend Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red’s hollows, this “wishtree” watches over the neighborhood. Red has seen a lot of change over 200 years.

When a Muslim family moves in, Red observes how Samar and her family are treated by neighbors. Not everyone is welcoming.  Nasty threats are carved on his trunk, eggs are thrown, and ugly words shouted from passing cars.  More than ever, Red wants to fulfill Samar’s wish to find a friend. When Red learns the property owner may have some plans for him, he breaks some rules and ask his friends for help.

Why I like this book:

Katherine Applegate’s heartwarming middle grade novel is magical and conveys a message that is relevant today. It also reminds us of our common humanity.

The story is narrated by Red, a red oak tree, with compassion, concern, wisdom, and a sense of humor; no easy task for an author. Red’s branches and hollows are home to a birds and a furry cast of comical characters (owls, raccoons, opossums, skunks, cats and a crow) who live to together in harmony — most of the time. Red and his residents communicate openly with each other, but not with humans. Once a year Red is a wishtree for the town. Red’s world is vibrant and harbors a secret that needs to be shared.

Wishtree is a quiet and thoughtful read aloud with the entire family or in the classroom. It has a strong plot that with themes the encourage readers think about diversity, inclusion, acceptance, kindness and the true nature of friendship. It is a delightful mix that will keep readers turning pages. The story has Common Core connections.

For the next few months Greg Pattridge will be hosting Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Thank you Greg for keeping MMGM active while author Shannon Messenger is on tour promoting her sixth book, Nightfall, in the Keeper of the Lost Cities series, which was released November 7.

Pizza Mouse by Miachael Garland — PPBF

Pizza Mouse

Michael Garland, Author and Illustrator

Holiday House, Fiction, Sep. 5, 2017

Series: I Like to Read

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Mice, City life, Food

Opening: No one likes mice.

Synopsis: Life is a challenge for a city mouse. There are daily dangers and he has to survive dogs, cats, owls, and people. But when the whiskered hero of this story uncovers one of the greatest treats New York City has to offer a forager―a discarded slice of pepperoni pizza―the danger is all worth it! Now it’s up to the tiny Pizza Mouse to get the gigantic slice safely home to his family.

Why I like this book:

Michael Garland has written and illustrated a humorous book with very simple text and an engaging plot for children learning to read on their own. This city mouse narrates his story with a little bit of attitude and a lot of determination. After all, he has a family depending upon him for dinner. Mouse’s expressions are priceless. Garland’s digital illustrations are very expressive and a visual feast for children — messy trash spilling out of the can, running from a man with a broom, and darting the myriad of feet in the subway station. This story is fun and full of action as Mouse scurries about the big city. Garland’s early reader is inspired by the viral “pizza Rate” YouTube video.

Garland has published other early reader books, Big and Little Are Best Friends, Fish Had a Wish, Car Goes Far, Tugboat, and Lost Dog, which are appealing and create a positive experience or kids in preschool and kindergarten. Visit Michael Garland at his website.

Resources: Visit the Holiday House website for flashcards and activities.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book on author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit her website.