Monday, October 28, 2019

Arabella and the Magic Pencil by Stephanie Ward and Shaney Hyde

Thanks to @kidlitexchange and EK Books for Kids for sharing Arabella and the Magic Pencil by Stephanie Ward and Shaney Hyde. All opinions are my own. 

It’s always tough to welcome a new sibling into the family, and unique book addresses the changes in a creative way. Arabella is used to being the center of her parents’ world, and gets one wish every year. She wishes for wonderful things, but not once does she wish for a little brother.

She gets one anyway. And he’s loud, and messes with Arabella’s stuff, and keeps bugging her. When Arabella wishes for a magic pencil that brings anything she draws to life, she realizes she could use it to erase her little brother. But should she?

This is a cute story with beautiful illustrations that sweep you right into Arabella’s vibrant world.  

Monday, October 21, 2019

Three Cheers for Kid McGear by Sherri Duskey Rinker and AG Ford

Thanks to @kidlitexchange and Chronicle Kids for sharing Three Cheers for Kid McGear by Sherri Duskey Rinker and AG Ford. All opinions are my own.

My son and I have loved all the construction site books so far, and he was so excited to see a new book with a new character! Kid McGear is small, and the other trucks don’t think she can help. Kid isn’t discouraged, just offers to work with them another day. But when there’s an emergency, Kid is the only one who can help.

Like the previous books in the series, this book has a good story, cute rhymes, and gorgeous illustrations. It’s a must-read!

Friday, October 18, 2019

Sorry I'm Late, I Didn't Want to Come by Jessica Pan

The summary of this book screamed that it was perfect for me.
What would happen if a shy introvert lived like a gregarious extrovert for one year? If she knowingly and willingly put herself in perilous social situations that she’d normally avoid at all costs? Jessica Pan is going to find out.
When she found herself jobless and friendless, sitting in the familiar Jess-shaped crease on her sofa, she couldn't help but wonder what life might have looked like if she had been a little more open to new experiences and new people, a little less attached to going home instead of going to the pub.
So, she made a vow: to push herself to live the life of an extrovert for a year. She wrote a list: improv, a solo holiday and... talking to strangers on the tube. She regretted it instantly.
Sorry I'm Late, I Didn't Want to Come follows Jess's hilarious and painful year of misadventures in extroverting, reporting back from the frontlines for all the introverts out there.
But is life actually better or easier for the extroverts? Or is it the nightmare Jess always thought it would be?
Spoiler alert: IT WAS. I want to be Jessica’s best friend but as a fellow shintrovert, I know we will never hang out. Twitter friendship it is.

Jess takes a year to set goals to push herself out of her comfort zone and try to become an extrovert. She tells a story in front of an audience for The Moth, she takes stand up and improv classes and performs at clubs, she goes to networking events and actually networks, she speaks to strangers. It all gave me small anxiety attacks (which made me feel alive!) and also had me laughing out loud in so many sections.

I loved relating so hard to this person and her year. It also reminded me of the year I pushed myself out of my comfort zone to go to grad school in DC, where I also spoke to strangers and took comedy classes. But here I am, shintrovert for life, reading as much as possible and living vicariously through those books.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Rabbit and the Motorbike by Kate Hoefler and Sarah Jacoby

Thanks to @kidlitexchange and Chronicle Kids for sharing Rabbit and the Motorbike by Kate Hoefler and Sarah Jacoby. All opinions are my own. 

This book is beautiful and touching. Rabbit has lived vicariously through his friend Dog, who travels extensively and brings stories home to share with Rabbit. When Dog no longer has stories to share, Rabbit’s world grows smaller. But Dog has left his motorbike to Rabbit, and though Rabbit is scared, he knows he wants to be as brave as Dog and get out to explore the world. 

Dog’s death is very delicately handled in this book, which makes it a great opportunity to gently talk with children about grief they have experienced without being obvious and making them feel like it’s being forced out of them. For children who haven’t yet experienced grief, the light handling of Rabbit’s gives a jumping off point to talk about death and loss. Deftly handled all around, which is a wonderful feat for a children’s book.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Reading Beauty by Deborah Underwood and Meg Hunt

Thanks to @kidlitexchange and Chronicle Kids for sharing Reading Beauty by Deborah Underwood and Meg Hunt. All opinions are my own. 

I love a good fairy tale retelling or fractured fairy tale, and this book delivers. Lex is a space princess who loves to read, but wakes up on her 15th birthday to find all her books missing! Her parents tell her that she was cursed at birth: she’d get a paper cut from a book and fall to sleep until her true love kisses her. They took away all her books to keep her safe. 

Lex takes things into her own hands and tracks down the fairy who cursed her. The solution to the curse AND to true love’s kids are both delightful twists that thankfully stay away from the “poor little princess” fairy tale. That, along with Lex being 15 years old, make this a picture book all ages can enjoy. I’m already thinking of ways to use it with my older elementary students for Picture Book Month in November. Check this out now so you can use it, too!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019


Happy book birthday to Maybe He Just Likes You by Barbara Dee - the book is out TODAY so you better get your copy! Thanks to the @kidlitexchange network and Simon Kids for the review copy of this book - all opinions are my own. 

With the #metoo movement pushing sexual harassment and consent into the spotlight, this book is the perfect way to introduce the topic to middle grade students. Mila is dealing with unwanted physical contact at school - behaviors her teachers brush off as "teasing" and her friends write off as "flirting". But Mila doesn't like it, and when she asks the boys to stop, they don't. She doesn't feel comfortable going to the male principal or male guidance counselor, who coaches all these boys on the basketball team. Since no one else will shield her from this harassment, Mila changes how she dresses and tries to never be alone in the hallways. The abuse continues, and Mila's other relationships suffer as a result. She doesn't know how to stop the harassment, but knows she can't take much more. Who can help? Who can she trust?

This book is too real, and sadly I'm sure every tween (and adult...) reading it will have had experiences similar to Mila's. The subject is wonderfully handled, with a practical resolution that will definitely stick in my mind in case I ever need to use it. I think this would be a great book club book for girls in 4th-8th grades, to give them a safe space to talk about things that have happened or might happen to them and an opportunity to understand what they should do about it.