Tuesday, March 29, 2016

THE WHEELS ON THE TUK TUK by Kabir Sehgal & Surishtha Sehgal.  Illus by Jess Golden. New York:  Beach Lane Books, 2016.  32p.   PreS - Gr. 1    E PIC

This version of "The Wheels on the Bus" is set in India, exposing readers to new vocabulary commonly used there.  As the title indicates, a tuk tuk is a bus. The bus driver is referred to as "wala" and the money used is a "rupee."  Several other terms such as "yogi" and "chai" are already assimilated into U.S.culture.  The new words fit into the familiar tune well, except for a couple that have to be practiced first to get the beat on the right word.  The illustrations are very large and take over each two-page spread using pastel watercolors in the background and bright tones for the people on the bus and everyone they meet.  Great for read-alouds, and for young readers to step briefly into Indian culture.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

THE NIGHT GARDENER by The Fan Brothers.  New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016. 32p. ISBN 978-1481439787 hc. $17.99    Gr. 1-3    E PIC

Eric and Terry Fan, artists and brothers, open the story wordlessly, letting the illustrations take readers down Grimloch Lane, a bleak neighborhood at best.  Grimloch Orphanage, home to a young boy named William, becomes host to a giant topiary owl that appears overnight.  Each day is followed by a new topiary animal on the lane which begins to attract people to the street; people full of excitement, with smiles on their faces.  After an especially lengthy celebration of the new sculptures William noticed a stranger with gardening tools.  "Under the light of a full moon, they worked deep into the night."  As summer turns to fall and winter and spring, the character of the neighborhood transforms, thanks to William and the night gardener.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

S IS FOR SLEEPNG BEAR DUNES: A NATIONAL LAKESHORE ALPHABET by Kathy-Jo Wargin. Illus. by Gjisbert van Frankenhuyzen.  Ann Arbor, MI: Sleeping Bear Press, 2015. 32p. ISBN 9781585369171 hc. $16.99    Gr. 2-5   JUV NF

Take a guided tour of the Sleeping Bear Dunes, near Traverse City in northern Michigan through Wargin's poems and informational text.  The poetry offers younger readers a quick trip through the pages, while the factual paragraphs in smaller text allow older readers to absorb more in-depth information.  Besides learning about the geography, the local culture, and the history of the area, readers are treated to a visual feast of van Frankenhuyzen's illustrations.  A resident of Michigan himself, van Frankenhuyzen accurately portrays the lakeshore experience in vivid oil paintings.  Every classroom in the Midwest will want this book in their libraries.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO BEAR SPOTTING by Michelle Robinson. Illus. by David Roberts.  New York:  Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2016. 32p.  ISBN 9781681190266 hc. $16.99  Gr. K-3  E PIC

In the unlikely event that readers might be taking a walk in bear country, the young narrator coaches us about the dangerous brown bear and the dangerous black bear and what to do if you meet one on your walk. After backing up slowly from a black bear and playing dead for a brown bear, our narrator decides to use pepper spray and finally, bubble gum.  She throws in a few scientific facts along with her ridiculous and creative advice, and makes it out of the forest in one piece.  The illustrations enhance the text with some silliness between the cartoon-like narrator and the very furry bears.  The pencil drawings on graph paper lead readers to think the story could be based on field notes from a memo book, but it turns into pure fun by the end of the tale.  
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

THE HONEST TRUTH by Dan Gemeinhart.  New York: Scholastic Press, 2015. 240p. ISBN 9780545665735 hc. $16.95    Gr. 4-6    JFIC

Twelve year-old Mark has cancer....again.  He's spent the last half of his life in treatment and can't bear to go through it again.  It's not that he wants to hurt his parents who only want to protect him, but prior treatments have not worked, and this might be his last chance to fulfill his dream of climbing Mt. Ranier before the cancer kills him.  He runs away with his dog, Beau, hidden in a duffle bag, and cleverly leaves behind several false leads to throw his parents and police off the trail of his intended destination.  Meanwhile, Jessie, who's been Mark's best friend since childhood, discovers a note that reveals Mark's destination.  She can't decide to keep his secret or bring him home safely by telling his parents. Her story and Mark's reveal two sides of a moral dilemma.  Mark is determined to travel through dangerous situations and tricky terrain to get to the mountain top, sometimes at the expense of his loyal canine companion.  Gemeinhart's frequent use of metaphors is effective, adding to the suspense that will keep readers turning pages to the very end.
~Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI