Tuesday, September 24, 2019

ISLANDBORN by Junot Diaz.  Illus. by Leo Espinosa.  New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2019. 48p.  ISBN 978-0735229860 hc. $17.99     Gr. K-3      E PIC

Lola's class assignment was to "draw a picture of the country you are originally from," which seemed appropriate in her class of first-generation immigrants in a large city.  Lola was from "the Island," but left with her mother as an infant.  She had no memories of her birthplace and nothing to draw.  She decided to talk to her neighbors - all from the same place in the Carribean.  The empanada merchant told Lola about the music, her older brother remembered drinking milk from the coconut, a classmate's mother remembered the colorful clothing and buildings, and her grandmother loved the island's sandy beaches. Lola's family left the island because a hurricane destroyed their home.  Without really saying so, the author infers that many other people left the island because of a repressive political regime.  Although the island is not specifically named, Espinosa leaves visual clues in the illustrations that lead to the island's identity as the Dominican Republic.  Back in class, Lola's teacher hung all the drawings on the wall and described them as windows looking at "one another's first homes."  Lola's drawing was missing from the wall, because she learned so much from the project that she drew a whole book of pictures about her first home.  This strikingly colorful book about social justice received the 2019 Pura Belpre Honor Illustrator Award, and will delight readers from all countries.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

WHAT IS INSIDE THIS BOX? by Drew Daywalt.  Illus. by Olivier Tallec.  New York:  Orchard Books, 2019. 45p. ISBN 978-133814386-7 hc. $9.99     Gr. K-2     E READER

Meet Monkey, who sports a red baseball hat, and Cake, a talking piece of cake with a red cherry on top.  These friends explore the parameters of relationships while they go about the everyday business of being youngsters.  Imaginations run wild when Monkey guards a large cardboard box that holds a magic cat inside.  However, the cat disappears when the box is opened.  As Cake questions the logic of how this magic works, he decides that his imagination could make this trick work with any animal - even a dinosaur.  The conversation is witty, and the concept is interesting - especially for developing brains that still view the world literally.  Adults will also enjoy these books.  Presently, there are two more books in this series, I LOST MY TOOTH! and THIS IS MY FORT!, just as entertaining as the first.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

WHEN SUE FOUND SUE: Sue Hendrickson Discovers Her T. Rex by Toni Buzzeo. Illus. by Diana Sudyka. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2019. 32p. ISBN 978-1419731631 hc. $17.99     Gr. 1-3    JNF 560.92

Buzzeo tells a straightforward story of a shy young girl who loved to discover things.  As a child, Sue Hendrickson found lost treasures by being observant and by reading books about the observations of others.  It only makes sense that a curious child from Munster, Indiana would visit the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and delight in the treasures found there in numerous exhibits.  As an adult, Sue became an underwater explorer and hunted for sunken treasure.  Later, she joined an archaeological dig in South Dakota, and was the first to spot the fossilized bones of a tyrannosaurus rex.  After photographing and recording and numbering every bone, as archeologists and paleontologists do, the dinosaur turned out to be one of the most complete T. Rex skeletons ever found.  The skeleton, also named Sue, is displayed at the Field Museum of Natural History to this very day.  Sudyka illustrated the second half of the story with contrasting layers of South Dakota rock in the background, but the spread on pages 27-28, showing what the bones looked like as they were unearthed, is the most striking of all.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

NUGGET & FANG GO TO SCHOOL by Tammi Sauer.  Illus. by Michael Slack.  New York: Clarion Books, 2019  32p.  ISBN 978-132854826-9 hc. $17.99    Gr. K-2    E PIC

The unlikely friendship of Fang (a shark) and Nugget (a minnow) continues when Nugget invites his friend to Mini Minnows Elementary School.  When the first day of school arrives, the uncertainty of a new environment overwhelmes Fang, but the calm logic of Nugget gives him confidence.  He has trouble with math, reading, science - and just about every subject, but finishes the day out anyway.  The teacher awards Fang a gold star(fish) for his effort, which puts a big smile on his face.  Most importantly, he has a great day because of his best friend, Nugget.  Find out how this fishy friendship began in NUGGET & FANG: FRIENDS FOREVER--OR SNACK TIME? (2013).
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI