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Sunday, January 31, 2021

AAALIGATOR! Written by Judith Henderson and illustrated by Andrea Stegmaier. Kids Can Press, 2020. $19.99 ages 4 and up


"It was a brilliant idea. The alligator
fell fast asleep, and the boy used his 
pocketknife to cut the twisty vine. Then
he ran home as fast as he could.

What fun this is! I have been asked to do a ZOOM read for a school in a couple of weeks. At this moment, this is sure to be one of the books I read for the kids there. I will just have to practise my 'alligator lullaby'. 

A young boy who lives on the outskirts of town and loves to walk in the woods near his home is surprised to find an alligator in his path one warm day. His first reaction is one of fear - just as anyone meeting an alligator would feel. It takes no time to realize the alligator is caught in a vine. The boy offers food, in case the alligator is hungry. One tuna fish sandwich will not fill the void. He runs home for more. The menu is varied and acceptable, but for the onion. Even the food bag is devoured. 

The next problem presented is how to get close enough to cut the vine. Might a lullaby do the trick? After a satisfying lunch, and some soothing music, the alligator succumbs to sleep. The boy cuts the vine, and quickly makes tracks away from the resting reptile. That night, the alligator shows up at his house. 

Together they share happy days; dancing, reading, riding, and bathing, . Then, the boy decides to take his new friend to town. Oh, dear! The townsfolk are terrified, resulting in the mayor making a proclamation against alligators. The boy explains that the alligator could play an important role in town life - he can eat up all of their leftovers. The townspeople see the wisdom of the argument, the mayor does not. It is left to the alligator itself to find ways to avoid the mayor's surveillance. When it becomes too big, the people in town work with the boy to tackle the problem. Huzzah! 

Andrea Stegmaier's pencil artwork is colored digitally. Her humor and poignancy add depth to the tale, while enhancing every scene. There is such joy in her images, and the extra details she creates to add further meaning to a well-told story. Readers will pore over every scene as they read this book repeatedly. 

Saturday, January 30, 2021

RSPB Birds, written by Miranda Krestovnickoff and illustrated by Angela Harding. Bloomsbury, Raincoast. 2020. $31.99 all ages



The tallest bird of prey, and surely one of 
the most unusual, is the secretary bird. A 
resident of Africa, it has a distinctive crest, 
very long tail and stands up to 1.2 m tall. 
It is capable of soaring flight, but spends 
most of its time walking on its long legs."  

I am always excited to read books about birds, because I know that many children and adults love to learn about them, too. Miranda Krestovnickoff is president of the RSPB and an avid birdwatcher. In this book, she presents some spectacular birds from all areas of the world. 

The table of contents will entice readers, and allow a close look at birds that are of particular interest. Chapters include birds of prey, seabirds, freshwater birds, flightless birds, tropical birds, tree dwellers, and passerines. That is where I started my reading as I had no idea what birds might belong here. Turns out they are 'perching birds' - the largest group of birds 'with over half of all known species falling into this category'. I did not recognize the moniker. I will remember it the next time I see it. 

Further chapters describe feathers, beaks and eyes, nests, migration, birdsong, extreme cold, and urban birds. Each double-page spread includes gorgeous print artwork from Angela Harding. This accomplished artist brings the birds described to life in images filled with color, movement, setting and wonder. 

"Arctic Terns

One of the most impressive migration journeys
is carried out by the Arctic tern. This incredible 
creature will fly further in its lifetime than any 
other bird, travelling an astonishing two to three
million km. This globe-trotter travels between its
Arctic breeding grounds and the Antarctic each 
year, and over the course of its life could travel 
roughly the equivalent of four round trips to the 

Enjoy the visit that follows with the author: 

Friday, January 29, 2021

Teatime Around the World, written by Denyse Waissbluth and illustrated by Chelsea O'Bryne. Greystone Kids. 2020. $22.95 ages 6 and up


"With berries 

Indigenous cultures in North America 
prepare tea from berries, plants, and 
and roots. These can be used to treat
fevers, colds, and sore backs, or even 
to help people sleep.

Those who know me know how much I love to drink tea. It is, for me, the perfect accompaniment to the book that I am reading at the time. A warm blanket, a comfy chair ... and I am set for a happy hour.

High tea parties trace back to Victorian times when people loved to sit and sip, eat dainty treats, and share the local gossip. Children love to have tea parties in celebration of birthdays with their stuffies, siblings and friends, imagining that they are sharing the custom of days so long ago. There remains a culture around tea; it is both a solitary pursuit and a time shared with others.  

Denyse Waissbluth was a student of tea culture in China. It is there that people began drinking tea thousands of years ago. She shares what she has learned in this lovely new picture book. By doing so, a younger audience is exposed to many cultures, many traditions, and excellent information. It taught me a lot about teas throughout the world. The trip around the world invites readers to observe tea culture from beaches in Argentina, tea ceremonies in Japan, with good friends in the Caribbean, hibiscus tea in South Sudan, and at many other stops along the way. Most tea times are shared with family and friends. 

The text is accompanied by warm and telling scenes created by Chelsea O'Byrne using mixed media. Each spread shows variety is setting and presentation. Young children will explore places and people of the world, while the explanations for the tea types and how they are prepared will hold the attention of older students and the adults who read this book. 

In back matter the author describes her own relationship with tea throughout her life in "My Tea Story". Because of her love for tea, she has connected with people around the world, and has learned much about their lives and cultures. Hospitality is at the heart of sharing a 'cuppa' with friends, family and new acquaintances. 

Looking for something new to do on these brisk winter days? Why not try a new tea ... and add a tasty treat?

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Say Her Name, written by Zetta Elliott and illustrated by Loveis Wise. Disney: Jump at the Sun. 2020. $24.99 ages 14 and up


"Black girl
you are more
than magic
you are a miracle
because we were never
meant to survive
not as human beings
yet despite their best efforts
to grind us down
still we rise
we strut
and defy the odds"

Zetta Elliott is such an admirable writer. She did not consider herself a poet. A writer, for sure. She rarely wrote poetry. When she was asked to help prepare high school students who were tasked with paying tribute to Gwendolyn Brooks, she found they had little knowledge of Ms. Brooks' work, or the work of other Black female poets. She set about sharing her favorite works as mentor texts for her students and herself. The poems written for this book are the result of that work. A poet she is! 

It is a very special tribute, covering numerous topics often unique to black women. It comes straight from the heart and is empowering in every way. The struggles are recognized as both personal and part of the systemic racism faced each and every day. Mentor poems from Lucille Clifton, Audre Lorde, Phyllis Wheatley, and Nikki Giovanni inspire her writing as do many known events. Each is acknowledged in the notes that follow this amazing collection.    

Reading these poems challenges those who share them. They demand attention, thoughtfulness, celebration, and anger. They ask us to remember, to discuss, to never ignore their clear message, and to act. Inspiration for the work is clearly stated in the notes, reminding readers that being silent is not a solution. 

The artwork is a bold accompaniment to the presented poems. It speaks to beauty, to strength, to the overwhelming responsibility given to all who read the words to take action, and to keep the memories alive. They are filled with emotions too numerous to name. The last poem is a gift to all who read this valuable collection:


May you have a resilient spirit, 
and a compassionate heart, 
the desire to heal,
and the will to forgive. 
May you never exhaust
your capacity for kindness.
May you always find peace
in your home and in your mind. 

May your eyes be awake
to the beauty all around you.
May your ears be tuned
to the varied songs of life. 
May your arms always be ready
to embrace those needing comfort, 
and may even the simplest blessings
fill your heart with gratitude."

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Donut Feed the Squirrels, by Mika Song. Random House Graphic. Penguin Random House. 2020. $17.99 ages 6 and up


"Now all we need is a 
getaway driver ... 

I want to help! 

Oh! Hi, Little Bee. 
Can you drive? 


We do need a getaway driver.

I can do it!

Norma and Belly have donuts on their mind after Norma burns the morning pancakes, leaving them with nothing delicious to eat. Out they go - and discover a food truck parked close to the forest! It only serves donuts! What deliciousness awaits ... 

Wanting to return home with donuts for themselves and their friends, they offer chestnuts in trade. The food truck owner is not impressed, spraying them with water in an effort to send them on their way. They are going to need Gramps and Little Bee to provide the help they need to steal the donuts they are craving. It takes a lot of work and a great deal of inventiveness to complete their mission. With determination and a brand-new donut flavor, they are able to appease the donut maker. 

Mika Song's characters are full of charm and abundant energy. The minimal dialogue is most enjoyable, humorous, and positively accessible. This is a terrific graphic novel for those new to the genre, and for dedicated fans.                                                                                

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Sugar in Milk, written by Thrity Umrigar and illustrated by Khoa Le. Running Press Kids, Hachette. 2020. $22.99 ages 5 and up


once lived a group of people
in the ancient land of Persia
who were forced to leave their home
and seek refuge elsewhere.

There are two stories told in one book about a girl and her aunt. The young girl has immigrated to the United States to live with relatives. Alone and lonely, she misses her family, her friends, her cat, and her home. While her aunt and uncle do their best to comfort her and help her adjust, she remains unhappy. 

On a walk one day, her aunt tells an age-old story of a group of Persian refugees who arrive in an Indian kingdom. They are to be turned away. The king feels his country has no room for them. Besides that, he can't understand a word they are saying. He goes to tell them. Neither understands what the other is saying. To help explain, he shows them a full glass of milk, signalling there is not room for more. The travellers are shocked. Their wise leader offers a solution - add a spoonful of sugar. The meaning is not lost on the king. He allows them to stay. 

The elegance of the artwork takes readers from the streets of present-day New York, to the teeming seas of the trip from Persia to the full beauty of India, and finally back to New York. The intricacy of the old story's ornate borders ensure that young readers will understand the concept of a story within a story. The change in New York's seasons from winter to spring promises renewal and hope. At the end of her aunt's telling tale, the child exhibits a change in perspective. Perhaps there are wonderful things to experience in her new home. 

I looked around me, stopped.
And then I took another step -
into the dazzling light of America.

 Nothing had changed.
And yet, everything had.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Raj's Rule (For the Bathroom at School), written by Lana Button and illustrated by Hatem Aly. Owlkids. $19.95 ages 4 and up


I quite unexpectedly 
broke my own rule.

I did it. I used it!
The bathroom at school!

Anxiety at school shows itself in many ways. For those kids who prefer to forgo trips to the bathroom, it can be excruciating. Raj is one of those kids. The choices he makes to ensure avoidance are many, and quite extreme:  no drinks at the water fountain, wash your hands quickly when needed, no water play in the classroom, no playing at recess, no juice with his lunch, and no laughter! 

When faced with an intense need for a bathroom break, he cautions his audience: 

"Keep your head down, with your knees in a knot, 
and sit like a statue that's stuck in one spot.

And, for sure ... NEVER SNEEZE! Readers can feel his desperation. When there are no options, Raj is surprised at the difference it makes to break his own rule. You never know which child in the classroom might be feeling as Raj does. Sharing this book at story time may offer the confidence needed to give it a try. 

The rhyming verses are conversational, and written in first person voice. Expressive artwork allows those who hear this story to see and acknowledge the emotions felt by the young boy. Perhaps it is the impetus needed for children to discuss some of the fears they experience while at school. 

Sunday, January 24, 2021

LIFT, written by Minh Le and illustrated by Dan Santat. Disney-Hyperion, Hachette. 2020. $23.49 ages 5 and up


"When we get back home, 
I just want to be alone. 
I wish I could be anywhere but here. 



Whenever Iris's family gets in the elevator in their building, it is her job to push the button that takes them from floor to floor. Her younger brother suddenly changes that by being quicker to the task than Iris is. She is ticked! Her parents think it's wonderful that her brother is showing independence. To add insult to injury, he does it again. Even angrier, Iris presses every button. 

A workman is called to repair the damage. He tosses the old call button in the trash. Iris is not about to leave it there. Once back home, she goes straight to her room. She needs to be alone after the day's many disappointments. Little does she know the power that call button has, when taped to a wall near her closet door! 

As she explores the incredible opportunities presented, the doorbell rings. Her parents welcome the babysitter, who has come equipped with games to play after dinner. The evening does not go well. Once she is tucked in for the night, Iris is left to quietly try the elevator button once more. What wonder awaits! 

They're back! Minh Le and Dan Santat return to collaborate on their second book. Full of emotion and energy, they tell a family story of the conflict that often arises between siblings. Iris's emotions are evident at every turn, and show through her dark, expressive eyes. Frustrated by the unexpected events, her imagination helps her escape. First to the jungle, then into outer space, she travels ... returning changed from those experiences. 

Spare text and fantastic artwork will have readers engrossed with each turn of the page. Amusing, and filled with light and excitement for each part of the adventure, Dan Santat does what he does best. 

From Minh: 

"So many kids and families are doing the important but difficult work of sheltering-in-place right now. So I hope the idea of a magic elevator button that lets you travel to fantastical places from the comfort of your own home will spark something in the imagination and make staying inside a little easier. Because I don't know about you, but I feel like we could ALL use a lift right now."                                                                                

Saturday, January 23, 2021

The Stray and the Strangers, written by Steven Heighton. Groundwood, 2020. $14.95 ages 8 and up


"Sometimes instead of water, they filled
her bowl with the best thing she had ever
tasted. Milch, the bearded man called 
it, and the young woman used a similar
sound, milk. While Kanella slurped it up, 
the man would crouch behind her.

Based on a true event, the author allows Kanella to narrate her own story. Kanella is a stray dog living on Lesvos, a Greek island, when refugees begin to make it a stop on their way to freedom from the oppression in their home countries. She is as wary of these new arrivals as they are of a stray, scrawny dog.  

A camp is set up as protection for the many arrivals, before they move on the next leg of their perilous journey. Many stay only a few days before moving on. Kanella becomes accustomed to the visitors to her home, and is soon friendly with the camp worker who offers water, food, and warmth. The kindness exhibited allows Kanella a sense of peace, and a chance to thrive and survive. 

As the people come and go, Kanella takes note of a little boy who stays. His parents are not with him. She has an awareness for the loneliness and fear the young boy is experiencing. He is alone as she has been. Soon, they are playing together, and eating meals provided by camp staff. When the boy has nightmares, Kanella offers comfort. They spend those nights in close contact. Their futures may be uncertain; for the time being, they can be together and appreciate what they have. Lives are changed for the better as the story comes to an end. 

Kids who read this exceptional story will surely feel the importance of understanding the plight of refugees running from untenable conditions. Seeing the tale through the eyes of a dog helps them realize the full impact of kindness and empathy for those whose lives are so very different from their own. In an afterword, the author shares that he met such a dog when he was volunteering at a refugee camp on Lesvos. He noted how special the dog was to the spirit of the camp, and the ways in which she helped those whose journey brought them to her island.  

Friday, January 22, 2021

Girl on a Motorcycle, written by Amy Novesky and illustrated by Julie Morstad. Viking, Penguin Random House. 2020. $23.99 ages 10 and up



The girl and her motorcycle take a jumbo jet 
from Paris to Montreal. Sometimes the only way
to cross an ocean is to fly. She sends a message
back home: I am alive. 
And then she fills her tank with gas, and she 
heads west. The open road is wide and shines
like leather. For days she rides, passing through 
towns like: Maniwaki, Michipicoten, Saskatoon.

This is the compelling and well-told story of Anne-France Dautheville, a female journalist who left Paris in 1973 to travel the world on her motorcycle. Her wanderings lasted for ten years, and the story of of her travels is presented in tight text and realistic detail. 

After carefully packing the supplies, clothing, and necessities for such a trip, she sets off. All alone, she experiences the freedom of making her way to Elsewhere. Despite some quiet concern about being on her own in a world that might prove dangerous, she listens to the call of the road. Canada is first; then Japan, India, Afghanistan, Turkey and part of Europe before returning to Paris. She spends her days traveling, her nights in campgrounds, and grooms herself in service station bathrooms. She meets many people who are astonished to see this young woman on her own, and on a motorcycle. 

There are obstacles; none keep her from pursuing her need for travel. She is helped along the way by many, especially other young women of the time. She visits places many people do not see, reveling in the travel and freedom. Despite setbacks, she discovers so much. 


*Tea is called chai.
*Chai is milky and sweet. 
*Drink it from a small clay cup.
*Smash the clay cup on the ground when 
you are done.

Her story is told in engaging and enlightening text. Julie Morstad provides exceptional artwork that gives context to all of Ms. Duatheville's experiences. The changing perspectives, the precise attention to the details of her travels, the colors, and the beauty of the many settings will captivate readers. It is a story of adventure, bravery, and a clear appreciation for the freedom of life on the road. 

End matter provides photos, and further information about Ms. Dautheville, and includes an author's note explaining her need to tell this amazing story.  

 "I want the world to be beautiful, and it is beautiful.
 I want people to be good, and they are good.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Find Fergus, written and illustrated by Mike Boldt. Doubleday Books, Penguin Random House. 2020. $23.99 ages 3 and up


"Fergus, that's much better! 
Wait, you're not done yet?
Okay, we'll find you. 




If you have ever played hide-and-seek with a two-year-old, you will know that all one has to do is to cover the face to be impossible to find. As that child gets a little older, the finding remains easy as the concept is a hard one to understand. Stand behind a lamp, and catching sight of that child is quickly accomplished.

That is about the age Fergus finds himself to be in this engaging and humorous book about a big brown bear learning the nuances of concealment. The speaker suggests that seeing Fergus in plain sight on the first page offers little opportunity for searching. Can Fergus find another place where he might be less conspicuous? A big bear behind a tree? We can see you!

What about a crowd, Fergus? Wait! What is a crowd? Well, more than three ... especially when the others are a fox and a duck. Not much of a challenge, is it? Another crowd - this one filled with rabbits, squirrels, and a fox? Nope. A big crowd of elephants? Nope ... too easy to spot a brown bear against their grey bodies. 

And so it goes. The speaker offers welcome hints. Fergus totally misinterprets the clues. Kids will love listening. I can hear the snickers and the advice they are willing to offer at every turn. The artwork is as much fun as the story. The gatefold, fuelled by counting down from ten to one offers Fergus his final chance to truly hide himself. Can he do it? Take some time to have a very close look. 

Finally, Fergus offers his list of things to go back and find on that fold-out page. What a hoot! 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Smart George, written and illustrated by Jules Feiffer. Harper, 2020. $22.99 ages 3 and up


"George said, "First, you have to walk me."
So she walked him. 
Then, George's mother said, "Three plus three
equals what, George?" 
ge said, "It's time for my nap." 

I have been reading Bark, George (Harper, 1999) for twenty years. I love it as much today as I did then. It has a valued place on our 'keeper' shelf and is read often when my granddaughters are here. 

Now, I can read them a new story about George. George is not keen to play a math game with his mother. Every question she poses is met with a new request from her son. First, it's food, then a walk, and then a needed nap. His snooze sparks a dream about trees and counting. The questions are now posed to him by a long line of trees, and a cat. George shows that he can add one tree and one tree to get the right answer. 

The trees are not ready to stop there. So, they keep asking their questions and trying to trick George into showing how 'smart' he is. He continues to offer excuses for not playing their game, just as he didn't want to play along with his mother. The trees cajole, managing to move George forward from to 1 to 5. Adding three more trees has George chasing his tail, then a cat. The cat gets involved, as do the pig, the cow, and even George's vet! 

"My vet?
I don't want a shot. 
I want my mother.

We all know you're smart, George.
Now show us you can add up to ten.

He does! After waking from his nap, he excitedly asks his mother to take him out for a walk so he can show her how all the trees add up. She reminds him that in the city they don't have many trees. No matter. George knows just what to do! 

Immediately recognizable to kids who know his first story, this is a book that they will want to hear. Jules Feiffer knows little kids and here he encourages them to try their hand at math, too. They won't be able to resist. Making each of the trees a different color is the perfect way to get his audience involved, and to keep them on track while adding independently.

I love the familiarity of the artwork, the speech balloons, and especially George! 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The Wrench, written and illustrated by Elise Gravel. Orca Book Publishers. 2020. $19.95 ages 4 and up


"I'm looking for a wrench," Bob said.
"A WRENCH? I've got THOUSANDS. of course! 
But a wrench? Really, how boring. I have something
much better for you. Why don't you buy this amazing
FRIDGE-HAT instead? It's perfect for keeping 
your head and your food cool all day long!"
"Nice," Bob said.

Have you been visiting Megamart since the lockdown? Or have you discovered, as so many others have, that our perceived need for the accumulation for 'stuff' is one thing that has changed since it's been harder to get out and 'shop'. Being at home certainly has people thinking seriously about just how much it is we really need. 

Elise Gravel's message to her young audience is a gentler way of pointing out what having too much looks like. She handles a touchy subject with humor and concern, while showing readers how what we have and want we want to have are two very different things. Bob sets out to find a wrench to fix his broken bike. He is sure he has one; a careful search does not solve his problem. Off he goes to buy a new one! 

Heading straight to Megamart, the home of ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING, should get him what he needs. As happens, he is agog at all there is to see, and then bamboozled by a forceful salesman. Instead of the wrench, Bob goes home with a FRIDGE-HAT, then MUSICAL PAJAMAS and finally a SCREAMING MACHINE! His friends are never impressed with the ridiculous purchases he has made, and repetitively remind him about the reason for his shopping. He has no wrench! 

With each new purchase now stored in a cupboard, Bob realizes he has no money left to purchase the one thing he knows he needs. A search through a very-full closet of unused junk occurs; guess what he finds. Tada! The bicycle is back in running order. Bob doesn't t need a wrench after all. 

Observant readers will get a kick out of seeing all of those unnecessary purchases that fall from the cupboard and bonk Bob on the head. They will be able to find them again when they have a close look at the endpapers. Gravel uses humor and a fun story to bring up an important lesson for parents and their kids. 

Monday, January 18, 2021

The Bear and the Moon, written by Matthew Burgess and illustrated by Caria Chien. Chronicle Books, Raincoast. 2020. $24.99 ages 3 and up

"When he walked, 
                           it walked. 

When he danced, 
                           it danced. 

And when dinnertime arrived, 
he tied the silver string to a stone.

Alone and full of curiosity, a young cub investigates a red, round sphere with a long string attached to it. In all attempts to capture it, the bear fails. When he tumbles and falls, the orb gets closer. The two play with wild abandon and keep good company together through days and nights. The bear is happy to introduce his new friend to every area of his forest home. 

The two are equally happy, doing what friends do. Bear is enchanted ... until the inconceivable happens. A tight hug brings a quick end to this new friendship. The bear is disconsolate, staring at the bits and pieces that litter the ground around him. Try though he might, nothing brings his friend back. The bear is quick to accept responsibility: 

"Bad bear, 
he thought. 

Bad, bad bear."

Too sad to eat, the bear crosses the creek, only to be surprised by the bright light of the full moon. Basked in moonglow and reassurance, the bear drifts off with loving memories of his round, red friend and their many escapades. 

Caria Chen's soft, mixed media art provides an absolutely gorgeous background for Matthew Burgess' stellar text. Emotions are real and evident in every lovely scene. What a perfect bedtime read for little ones. 

"Good bear. 

Kind bear. 

Don't worry, bear."                                                                    

Sunday, January 17, 2021

I Want to Sleep Under the Stars! by Mo Willems. Hyperion, Hachette. 2020. $16.99 ages 5 and up



What is wrong?
We want to encourage you.

I do not want to be encouraged. 
I want PEACE and QUIET!"

The UNLIMITED SQUIRRELS are back for their third book in the series. Again, there are stories within stories, plus jokes, information, and another quiz. The main story concerns Zoom Squirrel's desire to sleep under the stars. He will need help. So, he calls on five friends to come to his rescue and make it happen. 

Invitees are not sure how to help Zoom. Perhaps encouragement will do the trick. Zoom has a strong preference for far less noise. Maybe his pals need to change up the cheering. They separate into teams; one team cheers for PEACE, while the other whispers softly for QUIET. When all of the arguing subsides, it's too late. The stars have disappeared. Zoom is too tired to stay awake anyway. Fear not! His friends have a perfect solution. 

Following that, early readers continue to be fully entertained with 'a-corny' jokes, news about sleeping and stars, and a special 'tale end' message about friendship. Cartoon artwork and some photographs provide for visual literacy. Humor is a key ingredient in Mo Willems' work, and his zany characters will keep fans coming back. Front endpapers name them ... with one surprise. 

Mo Willems has the goods. He continues to do what he has done so well ... make books that encourage kids to spend their time reading. What more can anyone ask? 

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Imogene Comes Back! Written and illustrated by David Small. Alfred A. Knopf, Penguin Random House. 2020.$23.99 ages 4 and up


"Every day brought a new surprise. 
When the flowers needed watering, 
Mrs. Perkins asked Imogene to help.
"No hose," she said. "Use 
your nose!"

With her elephant's trunk, Imogene does just that! She sprinkles the lilies, the lavender, and other things as well. You may have met Imogene 35 years ago when David Small penned his first story about her. In that book, the morning wake-up revealed she had grown a large rack of antlers overnight. Daily life changed in a heartbeat. 

This new story offers a comeback. Young readers will be happy she heeds the call, and would be even happier were they now to have a chance to see that first book written so long ago. I love that the cover of this book echoes the ending of Imogene's Antlers. On to another adventure for this full-of-fun girl! 

Her life may not be like others, but she manages to roll with the punches and face each new day with 
confidence. How about sprouting a giraffe's long neck, an elephant's trunk, or a butterfly's wings? Her family is flabbergasted, even angry with all the changes. They never know what to expect. Nor does Imogene. She is unperturbed, even amused by each change. There is much she can do with what she's been given. Eventually, the changes stop. Or do they? 

Young children are remarkably perceptive when looking at picture books. David Small knows that; he fills his artwork with fabulous details that encourage close inspection at every turn. Attentive listeners will take note of the many small clues Mr. Small leaves for them. 

Friday, January 15, 2021

Hard-Boiled Bugs for Breakfast and Other Tasty Poems. Written by Jack Prelutsky with drawings by Ruth Chan. Harper, 2021. $23.99 ages 8 and up


"The Leaves Are Drifting

The leaves are drifting to the ground, 
I'm thoroughly ecstatic. 
They do that every single fall ... 
It's sort of autumn-atic.

My Nose

I'm happy that my nose is short,
and not twelve inches long, 
For then my nose would be a foot -
That would be very wrong."

Were it 1984, and were I teaching second grade (as I was then), and were this lively new book by Jack Prelutsky on my bookshelf at that time (impossible), the two poems that introduce this post would be the first poems of our day. Poetry was promised every single day of our year, and Jack Prelutsky was one of our favorite poets. 

Having reached 80 years of age, I am delighted to read that he still spends much of his time in schools reading poetry to children. His work is abundant. I have been collecting his books since I read There's A New Kid on the Block (Harper, 1984). It is shelved for my granddaughters' visit this summer, all things being well. For now, I will have to read to them on FaceTime. This collection of more than 100 poems will entertain and enchant those new to his work, and will be welcomed by fans of his earlier books. 

The topics are many, the humor abundant, and Mr. Prelutsky's capacity for always elevating language remains at the fore. I am ever impressed with his belief in his readers and their ability to listen and comprehend his eloquent and inventive wordplay. Shaped poems, a short selection of haiku, ingenious animal combinations, and the importance of life itself provide much to ponder. Ms. Chan adds comedic bursts and context for eagle-eyed listeners. 

"Above a Meadow

Above a meadow, sneezing bees 
Have sneezed and sneezed for hours. 
Those sneezing bees have allergies ... 
They're allergic to the flowers.

I Have a Gnu

I have a gnu that's not too new, 
It's older than before. 
It's obvious my gnu is not
A new gnu anymore. 

My gnu is less new every day, 
It's normal for a gnu.
And I have heard a rumor
That it's true for people, too.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

What About Worms, by Ryan T. Higgins. Hyperion Books for Children, Hachette. 2020. $12.99 ages 3 and up


"I am a tiger. 
I am BIG. 
I am BRAVE. 
And I am NOT 
afraid of anything ... 

... except worms."

There are many things this tiger likes. His confidence is indisputable. He loves flowers, apples, books; that is, if they have nothing to do with worms. Think about it ... flowers live in dirt and worms live in dirt; apples are a delicious snack, unless they house a worm; books are sometimes written about worms! What is a tiger to do? 

This tiger does not appreciate their sliminess, their constant moving about, or the fact that it's impossible to tell which end is which. EWWW! As the flower pot is dropped and broken, the apple chomped and discarded, and a new book he thinks must be about worms thrown aside, the tiger hastens away. 

That leaves the worms to express their fear of tigers. They also appreciate what the tiger has left behind, including a book about tigers. They are willing to read it to learn more ... 

"Oh, wow. 
I did not know
tigers are so BIG. 
I did not know 
tigers are so BRAVE.
I did not know tigers
are NOT afraid of 

They are soon off with offers of appreciative worm hugs ... if only they can catch tiger. 

Again, this is exactly the book that will inspire little ones to read. How could they resist? Full of humor, emotions, and perfect pacing, this book will have listeners clamoring to read it again! And then again! You know the drill. 

It is a brilliant addition to the Elephant and Piggie Love Reading series. There are six others. Please look for them!  

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

This is the Path the Wolf Took, written by Laura Farina and illustrated by Elina Ellis. Kids Can Press, 2020. $19.99 ages 4 and up


"This is the path the wolf took
through the woods. 
This is where he found a little pig
building a house of straw. 
When the pig saw the wolf, he ran 
inside and shut the door tight.

Her big brother is a willing reader; his little sister is not so keen on the turns his stories take. It begins with a little girl in a red cape, and a wolf boldly blocking the path to her grandma's house. Just as the wolf is about to enter that house, Sir Gabriel comes the rescue. His own worry about the ferocity of the wolf has him making changes to the telling. Mia is not pleased. She likes her father's version of the story; Gabriel wants nothing bad to happen. 

Mia's disappointment requires a change of pace. The new story has the same wolf, some pigs and a lot of huffing and puffing. Up rides Sir Gabriel to send that wolf back to where he came from. This, too, is not for Mia! Enter the dragon! Never fear ... Sir Gabriel is a dragon slayer. The dragon retreats allowing Gabriel to offer ice cream for everyone involved. Mia has had it! She wants no more of Gabe's stories. 

What can Gabriel do? Luckily, his love for his sister comes to the fore, and all characters find a happy ending. 

Elina Ellis's digital artwork matches the humorous tone of this fractured fairy tale, with a woodsy setting, needed pathways, and engaging, energetic characters. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Art is Life: The Life of Artist Keith Haring. Written by Tami Lewis Brown and illustrated by Keith Negley. Farrar Straus Giroux, Macmillan. Raincoast. 2020. $26.99 ages 6 and up


"As much as the teachers and students and 
everybody else loved Keith's lively art, they 
loved Keith - his enthusiasm and exuberance, 
his joy and jubilance - even more.

I recently watched a PBS American Masters documentary about Keith Haring: Street Art Boy. I was interested because I had just read two new books about the artist and had learned a lot. I had some knowledge of his art, none of his life. 

In this first book, I am impressed by the telling. Ms. Lewis Brown relates moments in Keith's life in an easy conversational tone that will appeal to younger readers. She talks about his early interest in doodling, and his commitment to a drawing life. As a young boy, he drew every day. Art surrounded him. 

As a teen, he was inspired by a Christo lecture. This connection with an artist who expressed himself in new and imaginary ways inspired Keith to put what was in his head onto the walls of his classroom at the School of Visual Arts. When done, he was surrounded by that art. Riding the subway provided new inspiration. Soon, and feeling people needed art around them, Keith began sketching on subway walls. 

"There were people who thought his pictures were
just scribbles. They said he was making a mess. 
Others thought his pictures were gorgeous.
They believed he was making masterpieces.

He painted, he built sculptures, he created art wherever he was. He opened a store in SoHo and sold his art to everyone who visited. He painted in places around the world, and inspired many. He died too young, but left a lasting legacy:

"... - pictures that make people smile and laugh and cry and think
drawings that buzz and whir and shout and whisper
paintings that look simple but help us understand
complicated ideas ...

An author's note tells more about the artist's short life. An illustrator's note explains the work done to properly honor an artistic hero. Finally, there are lists of resources for both kids and adults.                                                                                  

Monday, January 11, 2021

Becoming Muhammad Ali, by James Patterson and Kwame Alexander. Illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile. Little, Brown and Company, Hachette. 2020. $22.99 ages 10 and up


"This is what he said:

"I'd like for them to say, he took a few cups of love, 
he took one tablespoon of patience, one teaspoon of 
generosity, one pint of kindness. He took one quart 
of laughter, one pinch of concern, and then he mixed
willingness with happiness, he added lots of faith, and 
he stirred it up well. Then he spread it over a span of a 
lifetime, and he served it to each and every deserving 
person he met.

Novels in verse tell amazing stories in a way that makes them accessible to all readers. Choosing the right words at every turn takes remarkable talent. Anyone who reads this blog will be aware of my admiration for Kwame Alexander's ability to tell a compelling story, most often in poetic form. For this biography, he teams up with James Patterson to share Muhammad Ali's early life as Cassius Clay. 

They choose to tell about Clay's activism, boxing career, and family life in a series of 'rounds' which act as chapters that share the events that shaped his life from his first fight in 1958. In alternating voices, readers hear Cassius's friend Lucky (in prose) speak of Clay's life in Louisville, Ky, his family, his many experiences at school and in his community. Each of these experiences led to his success in the ring, and his drive to be what his grandfather told him he could be. 

"know who you are, Cassius.
And whose you are.
Know where you going
and where you from.

The other narration, in free verse, belongs to Cassius, who shows readers the drive he felt to be the best, his magnetic and winning personality, and his work ethic. Supported by his family in a segregated neighborhood, he felt the sting of racism every day. Both he and his brother had a dream for better things. They wanted to be like Joe Louis. It was as a young boxer that Cassius began to proved himself.  Not only did he fight with grit and passion, he had a gift for words. 

Alexander's poetry, Patterson's prose and the full-page, telling, black-and-white illustrations present a time in history when social mores often determined a life's path. This book celebrates being black: 

"I am from Sunday fried chicken and chocolate birthday cakes,
from Levy Brothers’ slacks and shiny white shoes,
from Cash and Bird,
from storytellers and good looks,
from don’t say you can’t till you try.

We are left to hope that the next chapter in this story will be told by the same team. 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

we will ROCK our CLASSMATES, written and illustrated by Ryan T. Higgins. Dsiney-Hyperion, Hachette. 2020. $22.99 ages 5 and up

"The next day at recess, 
Penelope sat alone 
on the bench.

She would not play hopscotch. 
I am a T. rex, 
not a hopscotcher.

Penelope T. Rex learned a powerful lesson in the first book about her ... dinosaurs don't eat their classmates. A very important lesson to learn for the sake of the children sharing that classroom. It is evident that Penelope is different from everyone else in her school, and she is feeling a bit saddened by her classmates' responses to her being there. 

They think they know her; Penelope wants them to recognize she is much more than what they see on the outside. She has accomplishments none of her friends at school recognize. She loves to read and draw. She has another very special interest ... rock and roll music. She would be delighted to share it with them.

Each and every student in the classroom has a talent. And, there's going to be a talent show. Penelope is apprehensive. Will she be successful? Can she show them? She decides to give it a try, and signs up and goes home with a happy heart. The first rehearsal does not go well. The following day brings no reprieve from her sadness. Penelope decides she cannot participate. 

Her dad offers perfect advice:

"Being a T. rex is only part of who you are. 
You, for instance, are kind and caring,
creative and adventurous, 
AND you can be anything you want to be.

How will the Talent Show go? 

Ryan Higgins knows kids and he knows how to inspire them to be themselves. That is evident in  thoughtful text, humorous dialogue, and the detailed and diverse images he creates to present his story. 

Attention to both front and back endpapers will certainly encourage follow-up discussion. Bravo! 

Saturday, January 9, 2021

FREE, written and illustrated by Sam Usher. Templar Books, Candlewick Press, Penguin Random House. 2019. $11.95 ages 3 and up


"So we put him
back outside,
and we thought,
that's that.

It was time for breakfast so we weighed the flour,
poured the milk, cracked the eggs, mixed it up ... 
... and flipped the pancakes. 

And I said, "Grandad!"

That Sam Usher! He so ably creates books that have a special relationship at the heart of them. Our family has his collection of seasonal books ... Rain, Sun, Storm, and Snow. Each of those books has a boy and his grandad as the main characters. In FREE, we meet up with them again, and find that they still delight in being together.

As you can see from the front cover of the book, birds are involved. The cover page is filled with sketches, books, and an artist's required supplies. Obviously, birds are of great importance to the child artist. The scene from his bedroom window introduces the premise for this story. He sits on his bed, surrounded by books, binoculars, and his favorite stuffed companions. A number of different birds are hovering around the bird feeder there. One of the birds comes in through the open window, landing woefully on the sill. 

Something has to be done! As he always is, Grandad is right there to help. The bird is placed in a cozy bed, and a book about birds is quickly located. The two work together to provide for the bird's needs. Soon it is ready to be put back outside where it belongs. The bird returns, and is fed berries for breakfast, not pancakes. Placed outside once more, it returns when the two have prepared their lunch. Outside it goes again, only to come back when their afternoon tea is ready. 

The boy wants to keep the bird; Grandad thinks freedom is the right move. Maybe they need to find its  home. They decide to look for an appropriate tree. That should do it! The bird is reunited with its friends. Those birds entertain the rescuers, and fly them safely home. What will tomorrow bring? 

The relationship between grandson and grandfather remains as special as it had been in previous books. Grandad pays constant, close attention to his beloved grandson, listening to what he has to say and honoring his feelings while also helping him understand the bird's need to be FREE. The art is detailed, and filled with their love for each other.  

Friday, January 8, 2021

Julia's House Moves On, written and illustrated by Ben Hatke. First Second, Raincoast. 2020. $24.99 ages 4 and up


"The ghost had faded, and 
the trolls just stared out the 
windows while reciting poems. 

Yes, it was time 
to move on."

In this second story about Julia and her house, children are invited to fall in love all over again with a girl who shares all she has with an interesting variety of well-drawn, fantastic creatures. The title page shows the precarious perch upon which her house sits ... a giant turtle. It is awake and neck-stretching, as it prepares to move forward. A tiny plant-covered critter is heading her way; Julia provides a warm welcome. Because the house is restless, it disconcerts all who are living there. 

Luckily, Julia has a plan. 

"Books were packed.
Boxes stacked.
She had a nice spot picked
out in the mountains.

But THEN ... "

As sometimes happens, her first plan goes awry, as does the next, and then the next. Action at every turn will have young readers holding their breath and wanting to see what is in store for Julia and her housemates. Ben Hatke does a super job of showing each new obstacle for the house and its inhabitants. A quick pace is set. Julia is always able to make her way through the troubles facing her. The creatures are expertly presented. Julia's dilemmas are quickly settled before moving on to the next hiccup in her plan. 
Sharing the two Julia stories together gives the audience a chance to see how sequels work, even in picture books. The first one begins this wonderful story of hope and kindness, and the second one brings it full circle when it shows the disparate creatures with their own plan for the future ... Julia included. 

What might happen next? No one can know. Fans will have to be patient to find out. 

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Pretty Tricky: The Sneaky Ways Plants Survive. Written by Etta Kaner and illustrated by Ashley Barron. Owlkids, 2020. $19.95 ages 8 and up


"The Roridula plant has a problem. 
Even though its sticky leaves catch 
insects easily, the plant can't eat 
them. That's because it doesn't 
produce the enzymes needed to 
digest them. So Roridula has 
assassin bugs do the digesting for
it. How? It invites the bugs to an 
all-you-can-eat buffet.

Wow! Plants are incredible at altering themselves in ways that help them defend, reproduce, and find the food needed to flourish. On double-page, beautifully illustrated spreads, Etta Kaner entices her audience with humorous and chatty descriptions of 19 plants that have made these changes. It's almost as if these plants can think for themselves, and we know that is not true. 

The table of contents indicates that the book is divided according to defense, reproduction, and finding food. The introduction encourages readers to think about plants in ways never before considered. In order to survive, they have adapted to fit their environment. The three chapters begin with a spread explaining what most plants must do to thrive. A turn of the page segues to those plants that don't fit a common description. Each plant presented is described clearly, with information for where it can be found and scientific explanations for why it happens. 

There is much to learn here, and it is presented in a way that will keep readers moving forward. Symbiosis and photosynthesis are part of the conversation, as well as describing the plant that led to the development of Velcro. The book's design is exemplary, and the collage artwork is remarkable. If using it in a classroom, sharing one plant each day would allow students to slowly consider the facts provided. 

Back matter explains how flowering plants make seeds, and how plants make food. An index, a glossary, and a list of selected resources are helpful.                                                                                

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Kits, Cubs, and Calves: An Arctic Summer. Written by Suzie Napayok-Short and illustrated by Tamara Campeau. Inhabit Media, Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2020. $17.95 ages 9 and up

"The little grey one swims toward the pod, 
stopping along the way to breathe. It seems
at times to have trouble moving forward. 
The mother beluga soon spots the calf, and 
after a moment she begins moving 
cautiously toward the little whale. She swims
around it, as if wondering why it's alone ...

Visiting her family in Nunavut has Akuluk excited for a boat ride with her aunt and uncle. He will take his boat into the Arctic Ocean, a powerful and beautiful place that will allow her to see the sights and sounds that are part of the spectacular environment. She knows she will see birds and animals: the polar bear, the Arctic fox, the Arctic tern, and the beluga whale. She could not be more fascinated. 

As they travel, her aunt and uncle teach her about the wildlife she is so happy to see. They explain ways in which these magnificent animals care for their young, and provide protection from other animals within the ocean ecosystem. They have much to teach, and she is happy to learn from them. The connection she makes with her family assure the visit is a highlight of the spring season. It helps her realize that she has a role to play in respecting the natural world that gives so much, and in protecting it to ensure its future. Life in any environment is dependent upon all who share it, and people have a huge role to play in maintaining and enriching it. 

Readers are sure to enjoy learning about the animals of the Arctic ocean, and to see them at work and play. It's the best time of all to see the new babies, and watch as they interact. Akuluk is most excited when they see a pod of beluga whales. As they watch, the whales provide care and acceptance for a young orphan, allowing it a space in their pod. 

Clear, colorful artwork matches the words and allows readers a chance to take a careful look at the Arctic landscape and the watery surroundings. It feels akin to being there. A glossary provides meaning and Inuktitut pronunciation for the unfamiliar words. This clear picture of life in an Arctic spring will be appreciated for all it has to offer.                                                                              

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Nasla's Dream, written by Cecile Roumiguiere and illustrated by Simone Rea. Princeton Architectural Press, Raincoast. 2020. $23.95 ages


"Nasla wants to sing, 
but at night, you do not sing. 
At night, you sleep.

But what if the yellow dot
grows and grows? What if 
it becomes big enough to 
swallow her whole?

It's hard growing up. Nasla is determined to show her independence by asking her father to remove the many 'stuffies' from their place on her bed to the top of the bureau in her bedroom. She will be fine without them now. Still, she is a bit concerned about the yellow eye that is peering down at her in the darkness of her nighttime bedroom. She wonders which of her old pals it is.

Nasla knows that bedtime is not the time for getting up to check it out, or for wanting to return to some of the comforts she has felt previously; it is time for sleeping. It is no surprise to discover she has a secret good-luck charm. Her old baby blamket provides the comfort she needs to sleep. 

She drifts off into a series disturbing dreams about her old toys. Should she be worried about that glowing spot she can see?  When the family cat jumps down and blinks its eye, Nasla is fully asleep and unaware. 

The author always brings her audience back to concerns Nasla is feeling about the yellow dot. Simone Rea cleverly matches the dream illustrations to Nasla's very real concerns. Kids do have fears in the night. This story allows that there is nothing to worry about when a familiar figure is the reason for concern. It does leave readers with a question: is Nasla old enough to give up on what helps her feel secure at bedtime?                                                                           

Monday, January 4, 2021

Lubaya's Quiet Roar, written by Marilyn Nelson and illustrated by Philemona Williamson. Dial, Penguin Random House. 2020. $23.99 ages 5 and p

"Lubaya hardly ever raises her hand, 
even when she knows the right answer.
She watches the hand-waving picked kids stand
in the light of classroom admiration.

Lubaya is an artist. She is also an introvert, and a dreamer. She doesn't mind not speaking up at school, even when she knows the answer. She is happy to play video games with her brother, until her own imagination carries her off to other thoughts and pursuits. She rarely pays attention to what is happening in school sports although she is a chosen team member. Lubaya is happy with her own company, and the art she creates on the backs of protest posters that belong to her parents. While her parents and brother are occupied with what's playing on their television set, Lubaya seeks solitude behind the family sofa. 

A startled cry one evening brings her out from that quiet spot to learn protests are happening once more. Her parents will need their old posters for the march. A surprise awaits. Lubaya's artwork becomes the focal point for marchers; her images of a dove with an olive branch, children's hands linked around the world, the Statue of Liberty, children of different races holding hands in play, and a family marching together for a cause offer an eloquent message to all who see them.  

Paintings created in oil paint and crayon are bold and filled with purpose. They show the diversity within families and communities and provide a bold backdrop for the story. 

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Grandmother School, written by Rina Singh and illustrated by Ellen Rooney. Orca Book Publishers, 2020. $19.95 ages 5 and up


"Her school is a one-room bamboo hut 
at the end of the mango grove. It has a 
thatched roof, and the mud floor is 
covered with mats for the grandmothers
to sit on. The door is decorated with
marigold garlands, and inside there is 
a big chalkboard."

The narrator for this book, based on a true story, is one very proud granddaughter. Excitement begins the day as she arrives to encourage her beloved aaji to hurry. Aaji doesn't like being tardy. Out the door they go. Their walk takes them her aaji's school, where all grandmothers in the village meet daily to learn to read, write and count. They are the only ones in the village unable to do so. 

Aaji first learns to spell her name ... a joyful accomplishment and only the beginning of the many successes she will know. The two often complete their homework together in the evening. When Aaji needs help, she has a willing tutor. Aaji works hard to learn, and even practices rhymes in her sleep. What pride the young girl feels, and what joy! 

Although Aaji has not been able to read until much later in her life, she has always been an accomplished storyteller, regaling her grandchildren with exciting and engaging tales of bravery and courage. She has a perfect ending for each story she tells them:

"One day I will read you this story 
from a book.

Energetic, multimedia illustrations by Ellen Rooney add to the emotional impact of this fine story. Cultural details provide further interest for young readers. An illustrated map of India shows readers where the Grandmother School is located, and an author's note explains how it came to be, and why it is of such importance to those women who have always been the backbone of village life. 


Saturday, January 2, 2021

The Library Bus, written by Bahram Rahman and illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard. Pajama Press, 2020. $21.95 ages 4 and up


"Mama starts the bus - Bwob - b -b- ...
- and they are off to a refugee 
camp beyond the mountains. The old 
city spreads out in front of them like 
the colorful embroidered scarfs in the 
Grand Bazaar. Tiny houses, dusty roads,
one hill after another, and then a ring of 
rugged mountains.

Hopeful stories impact each of us in these troubled times. Bahram Rahman grew up in Afghanistan and knows the struggles and stories of children living there. During visits to orphanages and refugee camps, he met children whose lives were made better by the efforts of others. Pari's mother is one of the people making a difference in the lives of young girls with little access to education or books. 

She drives a library bus - the only one in Kabul - from her home in Kabul to a village, then to a refugee camp, bringing books and a love of learning to the young girls who live there and are unable to attend school. It is the first time that Pari has been invited to accompany her mother, and she is pleased to be able to help. 

In the village the girls return borrowed books and choose new ones. Before moving on, Pari's mother helps them practice their English, through songs and counting.  The girls are keen learners and happily climb aboard for new books and new lessons. Once their work is done, the bus is on its way to the refugee camp. While Mama helps with book exchange, Mari is in charge of handing out new school supplies. Lessons begin and end. The bus heads for home. 

Mama reminds Mari that she will soon be attending school in the city, while the girls they have met today will only see the library bus once a week. There are no schools where they live. Mari is one of the lucky ones. At the end of the day, Mama expresses her thanks for the work Mari has done while on the bus. Mari tucks up in bed thinking about the next time they will go. 

Warm and inviting artwork, done in watercolor and digital media, allows readers a chance to appreciate both setting and characters. The author's note adds context for the telling, and an information box explains the need for camps to house refugees. 

Friday, January 1, 2021

Love Is Powerful, written by Heather Dean Brewer and illustrated by LeUyen Pham. Candlewick Press, Penguin Random House. 2020. $22.99 ages 5 and up


"Mari ran to the window and put her nose 
to the glass. Far below, people walked in 
different directions. Buses, cars, and 
taxis honked and grumbled down the 
busy street."

Mari is interested in what her mother is doing on her computer. Her mother explains that she is working on a 'message for the world.' As Mari looks out to see the many people marching past her building, she wonders about that message and how the world might hear it. Her mother explains it has to do with the power of love. They continue working on their signs, while people around the world are doing the same. 

This book about the 2017 Women's March was inspired when the author saw Mari perched atop her mother's shoulders as many thousands of people marched together to bring attention to the messages they wanted the world to see. Mari is not sure that a small, individual sign will make a difference, but she is more than happy to be a part of a crowd so meaningful. She raised her sign in hopes that people would see her 'Love is Powerful' contribution as important, too. Mari yelled her message with gusto, delighted that others were hearing and repeating it. 

"This time, when the crowd called back, 
Mari's message rumbled down the street
and echoed off the buildings. It was as loud
as breaking waves."

LeYuen Pham perfectly captures the positivity of the crowd as it marches, peacefully and powerfully, through busy urban streets with a common purpose. The colors are bold and appealing, the faces diverse and happy, and the messages are clear. 

This is a book sure to charm its young audience as it shows a city bound together by a common belief in love and equality.