Friday, July 16, 2021

LLAMA GLAMARAMA by Simon James Green.  Illus. by Garry Parsons.  New York: Orchard books, 2020.  32p.  ISBN 978-133873618-2 hc. $14.99      PreS - Gr. 2      E PIC

Larry lived with a conservative, rule-following herd of llamas that probably wouldn't approve of his dancin' feet.  He hid all clues of dancing from his friends, until they walked in on him one evening.  He dashed away, and came upon a glamarama where creatures could just be themselves and dance to their heart's content.  Larry loved it!  He returned to tell his friends, knowing that they would reject him, but got a pleasant surprise.  They didn't mind.  They all had secrets about themselves, and were relieved to know that each was accepted as they were.  Isn't that what we all want?  
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI  

Friday, July 9, 2021

WISHES by Muon Thi Van.  Illus. by Victo Ngai.  New York: Orchard Books, 2021.  32p.  ISBN: 978-133830589-0 hc. $18.99      Gr. 1-4      E PIC

Based on the author's own experiences, the story of leaving the only home she every knew unfolds.  The family packed up in the middle of the night, because it wasn't safe to live their country anymore.  They boarded a boat that was too small to sail the waves of a turbulent ocean, seeking refuge in a port where they wouldn't be persecuted because of their politics.  This particular story is about leaving Viet Nam for Hong Kong, but the refugee saga is the same; the journey is dangerous and secretive.  For most, it's the only way out of a repressive environment, so the story continues to play out over and over again.  It's a  sad story that ends with hope for the future.  Ngai's somber illistrations are outstanding, conveying the serious nature of the story, but adding stylistic twists that make a big impression on the reader.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, June 28, 2021

ATHENA: GODDESS OF WISDOM AND WAR by Imogen Greenberg. Illus. by Isabel Greenberg. New York:  Amulet Books, 2021. 96p. ISBN: 978-141974859-2 hc. $14.99     Gr. 3-8    JUV

This first book in the Tales of Great Goddesses series is a collection of epic stories, condensed into a graphic novel where the illustrations carry the same importance as the shortened text.  It’s a great way for readers to absorb a lot of information quickly, while sparking an interest in mythology.  Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, in full text, can wait until college.  After an introduction to some notable characters, the story begins with Athena’s miraculous birth, springing forth from the head of Zeus.  She then claims the city of Athens from her formidable uncle Poseidon, raises her nephew to be a king, has a weaving contest with Arachne, and summarizes her part in the Trojan War.  She proves to be intelligent and just, but can turn into a jealous and meddling adversary.  Overall, Athena ranks high on the list of Greek gods and goddesses.  Can’t wait to see more in this series.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, June 21, 2021

ARLO DRAWS AN OCTOPUS by Lori Mortensen. Illus by Rob Sayegh, Jr.  New York:  Abrams Books, 2021.  32p.  ISBN 978-1419742019 hc. $16.99     PreS - Gr. 1     E PIC

Inspired by something the readers don't know about, Arlo came home one day ready to draw an octopus.  He concentrated on each part of the octopus, but the completed drawing wasn't what he envisioned.  Feel discouraged, he bumped into an octopus who was drawing a picture of a boy.  As it turns out, Arlo and the octopus were more accepting of each other's drawings than their own.  What could possibly happen when they started drawing elephants together?  Sayegh's two-page illustrations stand out against a light background, leaving plenty of space for a few easy-to-read sentences on each spread. He makes Arlo's crayon drawings come to life.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, June 14, 2021

OH LOOK, A CAKE! by J.C. McKee.  New York: Clarion Books, 2021. 32p. ISBN 978-035838030-6 hc. $18.99     Gr. K-2     E PIC

When two jungle friends come upon a decorated birthday cake, their curiosity takes hold.  Sloth and Lemur start to speculate about whose cake it could be.  They wonder what elephant, tiger, and peacock would do with the cake, as well as python, rhinoceros and others.  Readers will be amused with the illustrations, especially imagining cutting the cake in pieces small enough to share with an army of ants.  Don't miss the surprise ending! 
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, June 7, 2021

BEFORE THEY WERE ARTISTS: Famous Illustrators as Kids by Elizabeth Haidle.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021.  64p.  ISBN: 978-132880154-8 hc. $17.99     Gr. 3-6     J 704

Learn about six notable illustrators who found fame by adding their artistic talents to children's books.  This graphic novel presents short biographies of  Wanda Gag, Maurice Sendak, and Tove Jansson, Jerry Pinkney, Yuyi Morales, and Hayao Miyazaki, all 20th century illustrators,  The graphic format of the book makes each story easy to follow for younger readers, but includes plenty of informational text to make the biographies quite comprehensive.  Of course, the bios are focused on what made the artists great, but gives extra information to give readers an impression of the people they were.  Look for a complete Bibliography and page of Source Notes on the final pages.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, May 31, 2021

ABOVE THE RIM: How Elgin Baylor Changed Basketball by Jen Bryant. Illus. by Frank Morrison. New York: Abrams Books, 2020. 40p. ISBN 978-1419741081 hc. $18.99    Gr. 2-5    j921

Elgin Baylor was born in 1934 and grew up in Washington, D.C., where he was banned from "whites only" parks and attended segregated schools.  His love of basketball was evident, as he perfected a jump shot that looked like he flew up to the hoop.  Elgin played for colleges in the Northwest before joining the Minneapolis Lakers (later the Los Angeles Lakers) in 1958.  When he traveled with the team, he was not allowed to stay with them in hotels and restaurants.  At the same time, the Civil Rights movement was awakening throughout the country.  Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Alabama and there were sit-ins at a lunch counter in Kansas.  Famous for his amazing basketball skills, Elgin refused to play until he was treated equally during travel games, making the National Basketball Association take a stand on equal treatment of players on their teams.  As a basketball hall-of-famer, Elgin continued to play for the Lakers until 1972 and went on to coach the New Orleans Jazz until 1979.  Morrison adds great visuals to the story with dramatic expressions on his elongated characters in rich colors.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI