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Best Back-to-School Books 2019 Part Three – A Roundup

 

BEST BACK-TO-SCHOOL BOOKS 2019

∼ A ROUNDUP ∼

PART THREE

 

Back-to-school free clipart of backpack

 

 

The Pigeon HAS to Go to School! coverTHE PIGEON HAS TO GO TO SCHOOL!
Written and illustrated by Mo Willems
(Hyperion Books for Children; $16.99, Ages 4-7) 

When I was the target age for a book like The Pigeon HAS to Go to School!, if I scraped my knee or bumped my head, my dad would examine the injury and say, “Oh no. We’re going to have to amputate!” It worked every time, turning my tears to belly laughs. Similarly, in this most recent addition to the popular series kicked off by Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Mo Willems tackles first day of school fears with Pigeon’s slightly subversive wit and my dad’s effective approach: identify the worst-case scenario and demonstrate how silly and ridiculous it is.

Pigeon hints he’s worried even before the title page, ordering the reader, “WAIT! Don’t read that title!” After all, why should Pigeon have to go to school? He already knows everything. Also, he’s not a morning person. And if he learns too much — his head might pop off! Looking and feeling very small on the page, he finally admits he’s scared. “The unknown stresses me out, dude.” What is he worried about? “Why does the alphabet have so many letters … Will FINGER PAINT stick to my feathers?” Or the one that really gets me: “What if the teacher doesn’t like pigeons?”

Like other books in the series, the illustrations are spare, with large blocks of pastel colors. All the words belong to Pigeon and are delivered in prominent speech bubbles in a large hand-lettered Courier-style font. There are opportunities for interaction; I can already picture my favorite two-year-old responding to Pigeon’s command, “Go on — ask me a question. Any question!” and then giggling proudly when the next page shows Pigeon is stumped. Pigeon eventually reasons out why school will be okay, but in a fun finish, he really feels it when he realizes how he’s going to get to school: a bright yellow … bus!

pigeonpresents.com

 

Take Your Pet to School Day coverTAKE YOUR PET TO SCHOOL DAY
Written by Linda Ashman
Illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman
(Random House BYR; $17.99, Ages 3-7)

“Enough!” says Mr. Paul. “It’s clear —

these animals should not be here.

Now, why would someone change this rule?

Pets do NOT belong in school!”

If the music teacher, the art teacher, the school librarian, and even the principal of Maple View School didn’t change the rule to allow pets in class, who did? Author Linda Ashman answers that question in Take Your Pet to School Day, but only after chronicling the rowdy behavior of the animal visitors. The lively, easy-to-read verse can be a fun way to start a conversation about why we need rules at school.

Suzanne Kaufman depicts both the human and animal populations at Maple View in colors that feel vibrant, soft, and warm at the same time. The illustrations are full of variety and detail. Kids will find children of every skin and hair color and enjoy inspecting their clothes in pastel solids and rainbow stripes, their high tops and cowboy boots and sneakers. The pets include the expected cat, dog, and bunny, as well as the unexpected: a turtle, a hedgehog, and even an entire ant farm. It’s an adventure just to find the hamster, who rolls somewhere new in its wheel on each page. I can’t recommend taking your pet horse to school, but I heartily recommend Take Your Pet to School Day.

 

I'm Trying to Love Math coverI’M TRYING TO LOVE MATH
Written and illustrated by Bethany Barton
(Viking Books for Young Readers; $17.99, Ages 4-8)

As someone who loves math and wants kids to love it, too, I approach I’m Trying to Love Math with caution. Is math going to get a bum rap in this book? The narrator starts off by saying, “If you ask me, math is not very lovable. I know I’m not alone here either. 4 in 10 Americans hate math.” Worried, I study the pie chart right beneath the dreaded “H” word. Sixty percent of the pie is a bright wash of green labeled “YAY MATH!” and adorned with hearts. Forty percent is lemon yellow with “BOO MATH!” above a broken heart. Meanwhile, an adorable purple alien pops up in the corner and asks, “Did you just use math to explain how much you don’t like it?”

What a relief! I can see we’re in good hands here. I’m Trying to Love Math provides a variety of awesome answers to the age-old question: “When will I ever use math in real life?” Baking cookies? Check. Making music? Check. Exploring Earth and other parts of the universe? Check and check. After fun illustrations of ice cream and ships and electric guitars and cash registers⁠—and a whole page of pi⁠—the narrator comes to the conclusion that “math is a part of so many things I already love … I guess I don’t need to try to love it at all. It turns out … I already do.” I recommend this book to all math lovers, especially the ones who think they are haters.

•Reviewed by Mary Malhotra
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Waiting is Not Easy! by Mo Willems

 

Waiting is Not Easy! (An Elephant & Piggie Book) 
Written and illustrated by Mo Willems
(Disney-Hyperion; $8.99, Ages 6-8)

 A 2015 Theodor Geisel Honor Book

WaitingisNotEasy-cvr.jpgMo Willems’ latest installment in the popular Elephant & Piggie series, Waiting is Not Easy!, is a short and sprightly story about friendship and patience.

Piggie tumbles up to her elephant friend Gerald, excited about a surprise she has for him later that day, but she will not reveal the surprise and says that Gerald will just have to wait. Poor Piggie literally gets bowled over by Gerald’s impatient groans as the hours slowly pass by, but Piggie is able to keep calm and composed while waiting for the surprise to arrive. After a day of waiting and waiting, Piggie’s surprise dazzles them both—it’s the night sky lit up with a blanket of stars, a sight that they can share together. Instantly, Gerald’s frustration fades away in the warmth of this stunning scene and in the presence of his thoughtful friend.

Willems rewards readers as always with his economy of words while never including a dull moment. Waiting is Not Easy! reminds new readers that patience is a virtue and good things come to those who wait, especially those just learning to read on their own!
– Reviewed by Krista Jefferies

 

 

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Hilary Taber’s Top Ten Kids’ Books Authors

Here’s a different kind of list to kick off 2014. Please read what reviewer and bookseller Hilary Taber has entitled her Author Shout Out for Good Reads With Ronna.
We always look forward to Hilary’s take on what’s selling in her store and can just picture her standing up on a stage, behind a podium, announcing all these wonderful winners.

The Top Ten Authors That I Most Admire,

Why You Should Know About Them,

& Why I’m Giving Them a Coveted Bookseller Award

UnknownWell, folks, I’ve officially read over 400 hundred children’s books! This has given me a real perspective on the craft of writing, and what makes an author someone whose books I will recommend without hesitation. I’ve gathered together my top ten authors, and the reasons why I am their fan for life. Certainly, personal taste has a lot to do with it, but so does a winning streak of books. In each of these excellent books the writing (and sometimes the art as well) speaks for itself in terms of excellence. Each author, in their own way, has hit their stride with every book they write. So, from board books to young adult, here are my top ten author shout outs. I only wish I had a lovely statue with a bookseller on top in gold to give to each of you, but hope this star will suffice.

Best Board Books and Pop Up Books:

Winner: Petr Horáček

CBA - Coveted Bookseller AwardHis latest book, Animal Opposites, was a wonderful collection. Each illustration was so finely done.  There is pairing not just animals, but also opposite characteristics such as quiet and loud. Each pop up element was so beautifully done, and so pleasing to the eye. His board books are colorful, eye catching, and beautifully drawn. In this author and artist’s work, beautiful art meets a lively story. Strawberries Are Red remains my very favorite. Petr, you rock, and your books are this bookseller’s dream come true for the two and up set!

 

For more information, please visit this website – www.petrhoracek.co.uk

Best Picture Books:

Winner: Mo Willems

CBA - Coveted Bookseller AwardCan we ever have too much of Mo Willems’ books? I think not. Every book is so full of humor that appeals to both adults and children. Willems books are always story time hits. Do you know how rare that is? It’s very rare that I am able to sell a book that is more guaranteed to bring a smile and a laugh to the entire family. My favorite books are in the Pigeon series, but the beginning reader series of Elephant and Piggy has earned a special place in my heart for being such fantastically engaging beginning reading. Thank you so much, Mo, for your humor. Thank you for sharing it with us, and by sharing it you make reading so much fun!

 

For more information, please visit this website – www.mowillems.com

Best Junior Fiction:

Winner: Kate DiCamillo

CBA - Coveted Bookseller AwardKate, how can I tell you how much your books mean to me, and to all the children to whom I’ve sold them? Your books are so full of hope at an age when children are just beginning to learn that the world needs their hope. I’ve never met a child who wasn’t just in love with your work. The care you put into each book makes it shine like stars in the night sky. When I read a book written by you, I admire the effort you put into each book, and also the love. God bless you, Kate! My favorite titles include Because of Winn-Dixie, and Kate’s latest book, Flora and Ulysses about a girl named Flora who discovers a new best friend in the form of a squirrel, named Ulysses who has super powers, can write poetry, and can type!

 

For more information, please visit this website – www.katedicamillo.com

 

Winner: Jeanne Birdsall

CBA - Coveted Bookseller AwardWill I ever tire of reading about the charming Penderwick family? I really don’t think so. Every book is filled with adventure, and the reassuring presence of family. I’ve loved seeing each character grow and change to become the person that they can most fully be. Plus, there’s Hound, the Penderwick’s dog! I adore Hound. Little Women comes to mind as a possible “ancestor” of the Penderwick series. I so appreciate that every child can recognize some part of themselves in each of the sisters in the family, just as you can in Little Women. There’s something for everyone here in this lovely series of the changing lives of this most eccentrically beloved family.  This is a family who affirms that the person you are is fantastic. This type of personal affirmation is present throughout the books. In fact, you should be free to be yourself!

For more information, please visit this website – www.jeannebirdsall.com

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Listen to What Lindy Says

Meet guest reviewer, Lindy Michaels, whose passion is to inspire young minds through children’s literature. Lindy owned L.A.’s first children’s bookshop, OF BOOKS AND SUCH (1972-1987) where she did storytelling, taught drama to children, had art and poetry contests and the like. According to Lindy, “It was truly a ‘land of enchantment.” She also spent years lecturing on realism in children’s literature at colleges in the state. For close to five years Lindy has worked for Barnes and Noble in the children’s section and does storytelling every Saturday at 10:30 a.m. where we first met. I think she might even be more gaga over kids’ books than me, if that’s possible!

Head over to BOOKSTAR, 12136 Ventura Blvd., Studio City 91604, (818) 505-9528, and remember to mark your calendars for Sept. 4th. Ted Jacobs has set children’s poetry to Celtic music, has two CDs out and he and his group will be doing a concert at BookStar on Sept. 4, during Lindy’s regular Sat. 10:30 am storytelling. “It’s going to be fabulous!!”

In today’s post she’s chosen to share some of her particular personal favorites:

LEONARDO THE TERRIBLE MONSTER
By
Mo Willems

Leo jkt FINAL 1/5Unfortunately, try as he might and much to his chagrin, Leonardo can’t seem to scare anyone. What’s a monster to do? Determined and after much research, he finally finds the perfect victim that he is sure he can “scare the tuna salad” out of. Sam!

In this utterly delightful Mo Willems’ picture book, Leonardo learns there just might be something more important than to follow what he believed to be his mission in life, which is not to be a terrible monster, after all, but to be a wonderful friend. A humorous and wonderful message for children ages three to six.

THE BEAR THAT WASN’T
By
Frank Tashlin

9781590173442_jpg_180x450_q85One lovely, early spring morning, the bear emerges from his cave after his winter’s hibernation. Imagine his surprise to find his forest gone and in it’s place, a huge factory. Even more of a surprise is when he’s told to “get to work!” by the factory’s Foreman, General Manager, numerous Vice Presidents and finally the factory President.

“But I’m a bear,” he tells them over and over again.
“No, you’re a silly man who wears a fur coat and needs a shave!” they tell him back.

Even the bears in the zoo and circus agree, otherwise, wouldn’t the bear be in a cage or riding a tricycle like them? And so, the bear, not completely convinced, does go to work in the factory… that is, until winter returns and he must question exactly who he is.

Originally published in 1946 and with the original, charming illustrations, this wonderful story still holds up, helping to teach young children to live the truth of who they really are.

ALICE THE FAIRY
By
David Shannon

0439490251_xlgAlice is a fairy, albeit, a temporary fairy, because, let’s be honest, her magical fairy skills are, well, lacking. “You have to pass a lot of tests to be a permanent fairy!” so complains Alice.

Oh, for sure, when she spills fruit juice on her white dress, she does turn it red (magic!) and when she gets on her daddy’s back, she does turn him into a horse! Hey, not too bad for a mere temporary fairy.

Just like Alice, young children can make their own fairy magic and like Alice, get a lot of giggles doing it.

This lesser known picture book by David Shannon, of NO, DAVID fame, is a total delight children will want to hear over and over again and parents will delight in reading it to them, over and over again.

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