Recently Read: Great Picture Books & Non-Fiction Titles!

It’s been a tad quiet on the Fab Book Reviews front lately…I had lofty goals for posting in June, somehow (why?!?) not counting on the fact that Summer Reading Club, school visits, and recent life craziness, etc., would really impact my reading and posting schedule! Ah well!

Here are some wonderful picture books and non-fiction children’s titles I’ve recently read and/or shared at storytimes. Some titles have been promoted during Summer Reading Club, though I may do another separate post just for those titles! I’ve starred the ones which I have used and were a big hit at one of my storytimes. I haven’t yet used Corinna Luyken’s The Book of Mistakes or Adam Lehrhaupt and Felicita Sala’s I Don’t Draw, I Color! at storytimes, but I highly, highly recommend taking a close look at both of these titles. Totally unique- an experience in storytelling and incredible visuals– just amazing work!

 

Shark Dog! by Ged Adamson*
Morris Mole by Dan Yaccarino*
You Don’t Want a Unicorn! by Ame Dyckman, illus. Liz Climo*
My Awesome Summer by P. Mantis by Paul Meisel*
Blue Whale Blues by Peter Carnavas*
Whose Poop Is That? by Darrin P. Lunde, illus. Kelsey Oseid*
Pink is for Blobfish: Discovering the World’s Perfectly Pink Animals (World of Weird Animals) by Jess Keating, illus. David DeGrand*
South by Daniel Duncan
Colette’s Lost Pet by Isabelle Arsenault
I Don’t Draw, I Color! by Adam Lehrhaupt, illus. Felicita Sala
The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken

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Picture Book Review: Shark Lady by Jess Keating & Marta Álvarez Miguéns

Review: Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating, illus. Marta Álvarez Miguéns
Source: ARC courtesy of Raincoast Books. Thank you!
Expected publication: June 6, 2017 by Sourcebooks
Book Description:

This is the story of a woman who dared to dive, defy, discover, and inspire. This is the story of Shark Lady.

Eugenie Clark fell in love with sharks from the first moment she saw them at the aquarium. She couldn’t imagine anything more exciting than studying these graceful creatures. But Eugenie quickly discovered that many people believed sharks to be ugly and scary-and they didn’t think women should be scientists.

Determined to prove them wrong, Eugenie devoted her life to learning about sharks. After earning several college degrees and making countless discoveries, Eugenie wrote herself into the history of science, earning the nickname Shark Lady.” Through her accomplishments, she taught the world that sharks were to be admired rather than feared and that women can do anything they set their minds to.

Canadian author and zoologist Jess Keating and artist Marta Álvarez Miguéns join forces to present the incredible story of fearless, trailblazing scientist, teacher, and marine conservationist Eugenie Clark. Known popularly around the world as Shark Lady– due to her incredible depth of face-to-face research with sharks!- Eugenie Clark’s life and work is fantastically, bouyantly, and respectfully brought to a younger generation of readers with the informational/non-fiction picture book Shark Lady.

Shark Lady begins with an introduction to a young Eugenie Clark visiting the aquarium, imagining what it might be like to swim with sharks and breath underwater with gills. From there, we see Clark’s booming interest in sea life; particularly with sharks who Clark believes to be beautiful- not ugly and scary as many think them to be. Keating and Miguéns take readers through turning moments in Clark’s education (and perseverance as a female in a male-dominated field), and to some of Clark’s staggering discoveries and research on sharks and sea life. The tremendous significance of Clark’s work in marine life and sharks might arguably be difficult to convey in a more restricted page count, however, Keating and Miguéns do a formidable job in introducing and emphasizing Clark’s remarkable life and work. Miguéns’s beautiful, vibrant, eye-catching illustrations work perfectly with Keating’s conversational, straightforward and informative storytelling: never overshadowing or taking over from the story but perfectly highlighting and drawing attention to key moments in Eugenie’s life and research. Reading Shark Lady, one major factor struck me and that is how particularly heartening and hopeful it is to see continued movement in publishing pictorial biographies of a much broader, richer, more inclusive scope of innovators, pioneers and leaders in various fields. Furthermore, I find it can sometimes be tricky to refer to a children’s book as inspirational or strictly educational- sometimes those words equate with tedious for kids- but Shark Lady and numerous other fantastic, well-thought out educational picture books as of late are truly awe-inspiring and educative in the most positive sense.

Overall, Shark Lady is an excellent read that attests to the importance of the informational picture book and of bringing biographies of significant- but perhaps not previously as focused upon- trailblazers to younger readers. Not only a terrific read to suggest to any shark or marine life enthusiastic (and there are a lot of those readers!), Shark Lady would also make for a great read aloud for any sea-life themed storytime; in all, a must-add to any non-fiction collection. A bonus: Shark Lady also includes ‘Shark Bites’ facts about sharks; an easy-to-follow Eugenie Clark timeline; as well as an Author’s Note and bibliography of further sources.

I received a copy of this title courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own.

Picture Book Review: This Is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe

Review: This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World by Matt Lamothe
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Raincoast Books. Thank you!
Publication: April 4, 2017 by Chronicle Books
Book Description:

Follow the real lives of seven kids from Italy, Japan, Iran, India, Peru, Uganda, and Russia for a single day! In Japan Kei plays Freeze Tag, while in Uganda Daphine likes to jump rope. But while the way they play may differ, the shared rhythm of their days—and this one world we all share—unites them. This genuine exchange provides a window into traditions that may be different from our own as well as a mirror reflecting our common experiences. Inspired by his own travels, Matt Lamothe transports readers across the globe and back with this luminous and thoughtful picture book.

 

An utterly engaging entry into the informational picture books genre, Matt Lamothe’s This Is How We Do It is a wonderful and illuminating look inside the daily routines of seven children (and their respective families) from countries around the world. From Uganda to Italy, Peru to Russia, This Is How We Do It is educational and all-around fascinating. Lamothe leads readers through his illustrative representations of components of daily life such as “This is who I live with” to “This is how I go to school” and “This is how I spell my name” and beyond. For every one of these components (and there are many!), Lamothe draws each of the seven featured children and their respective experiences. How the authors has encapsulated the representation of each child’s experience is quite marvelous. Readers might find themselves in moments of major surprise as they learn about how vast, or, in fact, how minor our different practices and habits actually are!

Picture books speaking to dissimilarities/commonalities of children around the world are not necessarily a new concept but Lamothe’s entry here is one I would absolutely recommend due its reflective, open nature and attention to detail. It is worth noting here as well that Lamothe acknowledges that these seven children cannot of course be “representative of their country or culture” (or of how family structures have changed)- but the author hopes that there can be learning, insight and surprise to be gained from reading his book. I receive increasing numbers of questions on the children’s reference desk on broader subjects such as empathy, compassion, cultural sensitivity and awareness: This Is How We Do It is one terrific, current, and insightful children’s book to have on hand to recommend. A special bonus: readers get to see some pictures of the children and families featured in the book in a ‘Meet the Families’ spread in the back pages of the book.

I received copies of this title courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest reviews All opinions and comments are my own.

Best of 2016: Picture Books (Part 2) & the Best of the Rest

The time has come, the Walrus said, to talk of…picture books!?!

Yes, picture books! This genre has been SO strong this year- whether the form of debuts, or published works from established authors and illustrators, I have been continuously surprised and delighted by my reading in this epic field. The titles on this list are ones that have either excelled as read alouds for my storytimes, ones that I have personally adored, or ones that I have feel have contributed something superb to the genre. Or perhaps all of the three factors combined!

You can check out Part 1 of my picks here.

In no particular order, here are my picks for Part 2:

 

You Belong Here by M.H. Clark, illus. Isabelle Arsenault
Everyone Is Yawning by Anita Bijsterbosch
This Is My Dollhouse by Giselle Potter
I’ll Wait, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony
My Dad Used to Be So Cool by Keith Negley

 

Penguin Problems by Jory John, illus. Lane Smith
Pug Meets Pig by Sue Lowell Gallion, illus. Joyce Wan
I Will Not Eat You by Adam Lehrhaupt, illus. Scott Magoon
There’s A Bear on My Chair by Ross Collins
Cat Knit by Jacob Grant

 

The Moon Inside by Sandra V. Feder, illus. Aimée Sicuro
First Snow by Bomi Park
Who What Where? by Oliver Tallec
Bunny Slopes by Claudia Rueda
If I Had a Gryphon by Vikki VanSickle, illus. Cale Atkinson

 

This Book Just Ate My Dog! by Richard Byrne
Wild by Emily Hughes
Dylan the Villain by K.G. Campbell
Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins
One Day, the End.: Short, Very Short, Shorter-Than-Ever Stories by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, illus. Fred Koehler

 

Lost. Found. by Marsha Diane Arnold, illus. Matthew Cordell
Quackers by Liz Wong
Secret Tree Fort by Brianne Farley
Ideas Are All Around by Philip C. Stead
Have You Seen Elephant? by David Barrow

 

And last, but definitely not least, the best of the rest. This includes board books, children’s non-fiction and others:

 

We Sang You Home by Richard Van Camp, illus. Julie Flett
Hamsters on the Go by Kass Reich
This Is Not a Book by Jean Jullien
We All Count: A Book of Cree Numbers by Julie Flett

 

Gryphons Aren’t So Great by James Sturm, Alexis Frederick-Frost & Andrew Arnold
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A BabyLit Fairies Primer by Jennifer Adams, illus. Alison Oliver
Miss Moon: Wise Words from a Dog Governess by Janet Hill
Out of the Woods by Rebecca Bond

 

Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox by Danielle Daniel
Sing a Season Song by Jane Yolen, illus. Lisel Jane Ashlock
Follow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Sea Turtles by Philippe Cousteau, Deborah Hopkinson, illus. Meilo So
The Blobfish Book by Jessica Olien

 

Note: Some titles appearing on this list may have been published in previous years; titles on this list are ones that I read in 2016. Some titles appearing on this list may also have been provided by publishers in exchange for honest reviews; this has no bearing on making this list. These are my personal selections.

Must Read Monday (53): Children’s lit and picture books!

somewriterIt’s been a number of weeks since the last one…so welcome back to another edition of Must Read Monday!

This feature is where I spotlight older, recent, or upcoming releases I am looking forward to. The lists will include all genres I like to read, everything from picture books to comics, children’s lit to adult fiction!

This weeks features a number of titles recently added to my must-read: everything from children’s non-fiction, picture books to middle grade lit!

 

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Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet
Publication: October 18, 2016 by HarperCollins

Like Magic by Elaine Vickers, illus. Sara Not
Publication: October 18, 2016 by HarperCollins

The Road to Ever After by Moira Young
Publication: October 25, 2016 by Doubleday Canada

Nothing But Trouble Jacqueline Davies
Publication: November 1, 2016 by Katherine Tegen Books

Don’t Call Me Choochie Pooh! by Sean Taylor, illus. Kate Hindley
Publication: February 1, 2016 by Walker Books

Mervin the Sloth Is About to Do the Best Thing in the World by Colleen A.F. Venable, illus. Ruth Chan
Publication: September 13, 2016 by Greenwillow

This is My Book by Mark Pett
Publication: September 6, 2016 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

A Greyhound, a Groundhog by Emily Jenkins, illus. Chris Appelhans
Expected publication: January 3, 2017 by Schwartz & Wade Books

XO, OX: A Love Story by Adam Rex, illus. Scott Campbell
Expected publication: January 3, 2017 by Roaring Brook Press

You Don’t Want a Unicorn! by Ame Dyckman, illus. Liz Climo
Expected publication: February 14, 2017 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

 

From Cover to Covet (1): Shadow, The Dark, The Insomniacs, Josephine & Ten Birds Meet a Monster

New feature time! I will be trying out a new series called ‘From Cover to Covet’, featuring…covers! There are so many gloriously designed, stunning, moving, unique, eye-catching covers I see in my library work and in my personal reading, and I want to give them (and their creators!) a little bookish love here.

These posts will show a mixture of newer and older titles, titles I’ve read, titles I haven’t, and everything from picture books to young adult lit, adult fiction to comics.

Here we go…
 


 

 

Picture Book Review: Out of the Woods by Rebecca Bond

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Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Raincoast Books. Thank you!
Publication: July 21 2015 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Verdict: Excellent
Book Description:

Antonio Willie Giroux lived in a hotel his mother ran on the edge of a lake. He loved to explore the woods and look for animals, but they always remained hidden away. One hot, dry summer, when Antonio was almost five, disaster struck: a fire rushed through the forest. Everyone ran to the lake-the only safe place in town-and stood knee-deep in water as they watched the fire. Then, slowly, animals emerged from their forest home and joined the people in the water…

Out of the Woods, a gorgeously written and illustrated picture book from Rebecca Bond, tells readers the true life story of Antonio Willie Giroux, and the events of one incredible, magical and harrowing summer in Ontario, 1914.  Author and illustrator Bond, the granddaughter of Giroux, has brought to life a wondrous and evocative story that can be treasured by readers young and old.

Restrained and refined in both text and colour palette, Giroux’s boyhood spent on Gowanda Lake reads as nostalgic yet matter-of-fact; the events that transpired during the infamous fire read as taut yet almost otherworldly. Something as consuming and potentially catastrophic as a forest fire is undoubtedly frightening, but Bond’s telling of her grandfather’s summer revolves around an incredible act of animals and people respecting each other in tragedy. Bond’s illustrations- especially those full spreads of the lake and surrounds during the fire, dripping in rich, burnt colours- are something to behold. A testament to just how important the oral tradition is, of passing down stories from generation to generation, Antonio Willie Giroux’s captivating story is one that I am very happy to now know.

Overall, I highly recommend Out of the Woods. This well-reviewed picture book is yet another fabulous addition into the growing genre of biographical/non-fiction picture books- a genre which I am becoming increasingly fond of. Rich with wonder and beauty as well as insight into a slice of Canadian history- of another time, of another place- there really is something for readers of all ages to be amazed by.

I received a copy of this book from Raincoast in exchange for an honest review.

Best Books of 2015, Part 1: Picture Books, Children’s Fiction & Graphic Novels

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Another year of reading is inching its way to an end! All around, I would say that it has been a pretty solid year of reads: from brilliant and moving picture books, to gems in young adult, children’s and adult fiction, there have been a number of winners.

In no particular order, here are my picks for best in picture books, children’s fiction, and children’s graphic novels:

Enormous Smallness: A Story of E.E. Cummings by Matthew Burgess, illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo
Hoot Owl: Master of Disguise by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Jean Jullien
The Specific Ocean by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Katty Maurey
Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Julie Morstad
Whimsy’s Heavy Things by Julie Kraulis
Bunnies!!! by Kevan Atteberry
Mr. Squirrel & the Moon by Sebastian Meschenmoser
A Fine Dessert by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Christian Robinson
Lenny & Lucy by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead
This Is Sadie by Sara O’Leary, illustrated by Julie Morstad
Bug in a Vacuum by Mélanie Watt
Night Animals by Gianna Marino
Emily’s Balloon by Komako Sakai
Some Things I’ve Lost by Cybele Young
The Cow Who Climbed a Tree by Gemma Merino
The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton
Orion and the Dark by Emma Yarlett
Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley
Tell Me What to Dream About by Giselle Potter
Pool by JiHyeon Lee
Black Dog by Levi Pinfold
The Memory Tree by Britta Teckentrup
Boats for Papa by Jessixa Bagley

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Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff
The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth (Book 1) by Judd Winick
We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
Little Robot by Ben Hatke
The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands
Something Wiki by Suzanne Sutherland
Beyond the Laughing Sky by Michelle Cuevas, pictures by Julie Morstad
The Unseen Guest (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #3) by Maryrose Wood
First Class Murder (Wells & Wong Mystery #3) by Robin Stevens
Unicorn on a Roll (Heavenly Nostrils #2) by Dana Simpson

 

*Some titles may not have been published in 2015; the books are titles I read over the last year. Some titles may have been gifted from publishers in exchange for honest reviews; this had no impact on placing in this list.

Picture Book Review: Swan by Laurel Snyder & Julie Morstad

SWAN9781452118901_350Review: Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova by Laurel Snyder, illus. Julie Morstad
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Raincoast Books. Thank you!
Expected publication: August 18, 2015 by Chronicle Books
Verdict: Excellent

Book Description:

The world is big.
Anna is small.
The snow is
everywhere
and all around.
But one night . . .

One night, her mother takes her to the ballet, and everything is changed. Anna finds a beauty inside herself that she cannot contain.

So begins the journey of a girl who will one day grow up to be the most famous prima ballerina of all time, inspiring legions of dancers after her: the brave, the generous, the transcendentally gifted Anna Pavlova.

There are times when you read a book and, upon finishing, you hold the book close to try and hold that feeling. You want to capture the words from the pages in a jar, like fireflies, and you want the world to be decorated with the illustrations you have just seen. Upon finishing Laurel Snyder and Julie Morstad’s glorious picture book Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova, I held the book close and experienced that exact run of sentiments.

Canadian illustrator/animator/designer Morstad, as ever, continues to amaze with her illustrations. Morstad’s work never reads as trying to impress or astonish with profusions of colour or scale and noise, but her drawings always light up and arrest the eye and heart. Snyder’s text here is just about flawless in its poetry and movement: in tandem with the rippling illustrations, Snyder’s words seem to float and dance across, around, and up and down the pages. This is the first of Laurel Snyder’s work that I have read, and having been so moved by her writing here, I am making it a plan to read her other children’s work.

Overall, I highly, highly recommend Swan. I cannot express enough just how beautiful, moving and full of life the words and drawings in this biographical picture book are. Readers who enjoy non-fiction or biographical picture books such as Enormous Smallness: A Story of E.E. Cummings or The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse might especially love this title. Moreover, readers (both young and old!) who adore the ballet, ballerinas, or have interest in Anna Pavlova’s incredible life and famous performances will undoubtedly be taken in with this stunning and quiet homage. We are now more than halfway through the year, and I think I can safely say that Swan will hold a place on my best of 2015 book lists.

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Image from Swan via Chronicle Books

I received a copy of this book from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own.

Must Read Monday (11): Swan, Leo & More Crayons!

Welcome to the eleventh edition of Must Read Monday! On Mondays I will spotlight current and/or upcoming releases I am looking forward to. The lists will include all genres I like to read, everything from picture books to comics, children’s lit to adult fiction!

SWAN18317569Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova by Laurel Snyder, illus. Julie Morstad
Expected publication: August 18, 2015 by Chronicle Books
As soon as I read, see or hear about anything coming out from artist/illustrator Julie Morstad, it goes on my immediate must-buy list. Her work is just that incredible. In Swan, Morstad has teamed up with popular children’s author Laurel Snyder (Bigger than a Bread Box, Penny Dreadful) for what is sure to be a spectacular biographical picture book on the life of prima ballerina and choreographer Anna Pavlova. I cannot wait to read this one!

The world is big.
Anna is small.
The snow is
everywhere
and all around.
But one night . . .One night, her mother takes her to the ballet, and everything is changed. Anna finds a beauty inside herself that she cannot contain. So begins the journey of a girl who will one day grow up to be the most famous prima ballerina of all time, inspiring legions of dancers after her: the brave, the generous, the transcendentally gifted Anna Pavlova.

 

LEO24905361Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett, illus. Christian Robinson
Expected publication: August 25, 2015 by Chronicle Books
Oh boy, this looks like a terrific one! We have: Mac Barnett, who authored Extra Yarn and Sam & Dave Dig a Hole; and Christian Robinson, who illustrated the critically acclaimed Last Stop on Market Street and Josephine. 

You would like being friends with Leo. He likes to draw, he makes delicious snacks, and most people can’t even see him. Because Leo is also a ghost. When a new family moves into his home and Leo’s efforts to welcome them are misunderstood, Leo decides it is time to leave and see the world. That is how he meets Jane, a kid with a tremendous imagination and an open position for a worthy knight. That is how Leo and Jane become friends. And that is when their adventures begin.

 

thedaytheCRAYONScamehome23310161The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt, illus. Oliver Jeffers
Expected publication: August 18, 2015 by Philomel Books
If you adore the work of Oliver Jeffers and witty, laugh-out-loud funny picture books and haven’t yet read The Day the Crayons Quitwell, what are you waiting for?! The Day the Crayons Came Home is the long-anticipated companion to the best-selling Crayons debut.

…Having soothed the hurt feelings of one group who threatened to quit, Duncan now faces a whole new group of crayons asking to be rescued. From Maroon Crayon, who was lost beneath the sofa cushions and then broken in two after Dad sat on him; to poor Turquoise, whose head is now stuck to one of Duncan’s stinky socks after they both ended up in the dryer together; to Pea Green, who knows darn well that no kid likes peas and who ran away—each and every crayon has a woeful tale to tell and a plea to be brought home to the crayon box.

If you’d like to join Must Read Monday, please do! Link up or leave a comment about what you’re looking forward to reading- I love to hear what other readers have on their radar!