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Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Mad For Ads; How Advertising Gets (and Stays) in Our Heads, written by Erica Fyvie and illustrated by Ian Turner. Kids Can Press, 2021. $18.99 ages 10 and up

"The human brain works like this. If you're shown 
random objects together, your brain will make a 
connection between them. You might not even be 
aware that you are doing it. Since so many people 
like puppies (or ice cream, beaches, kittens, sunshine -
you get the idea), advertisers sometimes try to cram 
them into their ads, even when it makes no sense at 

Sit and think about that. Better yet, really take note of advertisements on your computer, iPhone, television for a short period of time and see if that statement is true. Studies report that we see three thousand advertisements in a day! Those ads affect how we feel and how we think - and often we don't even appear to notice. 

This book introduces readers to the very complex business called advertising and marketing. The author begins with her own new products and then shows readers the many aspects of designing an advertising campaign to ensure its success in the marketplace. She talks about the goal of the plan, the audience she hopes to target, and the focus for making the plan work efficiently and effectively. 

Her target audience is "kids aged 8-12 with spending money", and she shows them how the development of a logo, a catchy expression, images, and why they absolutely need her product is of utmost importance. She also shows what advertisers do to assure purchase. Their tactics include selling items for one cent less than a round number ($3.99 is more appealing than $4.00), using each of the senses to be enticed by color and the emotions they activate, repetitive music, smell, touch and taste. It's quite amazing how it all works. 

"Some advertisers have gone a step further and created
actual edible billboards made of real food. Imagine 
signs made of cheese, cake, soda, salad, chocolate and 

A person's digital footprint is also explained, showing readers how information is collected on computers and cell phones. This allows advertisers to know who we are, where we are, and when we are browsing the web. I'm sure some of this information will be surprising to many adults. It is why it is so important for every person to know what we are putting out there about themselves. 

This book affords a terrific opportunity for readers to begin to understand the advertising game. Ms. Fyvie uses sidebars, a timeline, a welcome glossary, a bibliography, and accessible writing to ensure understanding. Ian Turner's illustrations have a huge impact by adding humor in opportune places, while also showing the real impact of the game of advertising.  Excellent! 

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Finding Home: The Journey of Immigrants and Refugees. Written by Jen Sookfong Lee and illustrated by Drew Shannon. Orca Book Publishers, 2021. $24.95 ages 10 and up


"Diversity can sometimes be difficult for 
people to understand, especially when 
immigration is new to that country or 
when large numbers of people from one 
particular country arrive over a short 
period of time. To some people, immigrants
represent unwelcome change. Newcomers 
bring with them different foods, languages, 
and customs, which may seem strange or 
scary. The fear of a country's personality 
changing because of immigration can 
sometimes result in racism ...

Ms. Lee knows her subject matter very well. The granddaughter of Chinese immigrants, she grew up in a diverse neighborhood and interacted with many different cultures. Of course that impacts the way she writes, and the subject of this book. 

"I learned, by watching my friends and their parents, that all of our families were the same at our core. We all wanted to live in a decent house, eat good food and go to good schools, and each parent wanted their children's lives to be happier and safer than their own." 

Human migration is a complicated matter. How are immigration policies developed and how do they influence where migrants find a home and safety? Why do people leave their home countries?  What does it mean to leave family and friends behind when moving away? The reasons are endless.

 There are four chapters: The History of Human Migration, Migration Today, Racism and Hardship, and finally, Life in a New Country. They help to answer these questions and others. Interspersed throughout are personal stories of people from different home countries, with different experiences of childhood, and what they are doing today. They face many challenges: language, education, affordable housing, employment, racism, even conflict within their own families. Their courage, their willingness to adapt to their new home, their joy at meeting new people and finding success in a new place is evident in their stories. 

The book features text boxes called Migration Facts and Moving On. So many impressive facts are shared: 

"Every year migrants travel 1.24 billion miles (2 billion kilometers) in the process of seeking asylum."

"Each day 44,000 people are forced to flee their homes because of war, violence, famine, and persecution."

"In 1907 an organization called the Asiatic Exclusion League, which opposed immigration from Asian countries, sparked a riot in Vancouver, British Columbia's Chinatown and Japantown, causing damage to Asian-owned businesses."

"Every year about 96,000 international students come to Canada to study." 

Also included is a section about immigrants and refugees who are well-known to many readers: MalalaYousafzai, K'naan, Albert Einstein, the Dalai Lama, Alek Wek, Mila Kunis, and Anish Kapoor.  

Well-designed, filled with archival and color photographs and welcome illustrations, and offering a table of contents, glossary and an index, this is an excellent example of the nonfiction provided by Orca Book Publishers. While filled with much information, it is very accessible for middle graders. The first- person narration makes the reading personal and very clear. It is important for children to know the stories of immigrants in order to be more understanding of their culture, and empathetic for their many journeys to find a better life here. 

Finding Home is the first book in the THINK series from Orca, which will also include Shelter and What Animals Want, upcoming this fall.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey, written and illustrated by Erin Entrada Kelly. Greenwillow, Harper. 2021. $21.00 ages 6 and up


"Jada rushes outside. Marisol follows her, but 
suddenly she doesn't feel like making movies
anymore. Jada hops onto booster branch and up 
she goes. The higher Jada climbs in Peppina, the 
less Marisol feels like playing. 

Marisol slows her pace across the yard. When 
she finally reaches Peppina, she looks up, and 
Jada looks down. Jada is perched on knobby 

Readers are immediately introduced to Peppina, the magnolia tree in Marisol's Louisiana back yard. Named by Marisol because she is of the belief that all important things should have a name, Peppina stands tall and proud without realising she poses a huge problem for Marisol. Her brother and her best friend love Peppina; her massive branches invite them to find comfort and peace above the ground. Above the ground is the difficulty Peppina presents for Marisol. Marisol is terrified of falling. There is no incentive for her to even try climbing. 

She wants to feel the same joy Jada feels when she is straddling a branch and looking around the neighborhood. Jada is happy to let Marisol know what she can see. Jada is the best kind of friend. She never tries to persuade Marisol to try something she fears. Marisol's overactive imagination often keeps her from doing what she wants to do. Always wondering 'what if?', she finds herself not willing to try anything that scares her. It doesn't stop the friends from having a good deal of fun and adventure. 

Might this be the year that Marisol finds enough courage to give climbing a try? 

Told in the third person, the story presents many events that most children will find familiar. The writing is often humorous and always heartfelt. Truth is spoken here. Short chapters and entertaining artwork ensure a enjoyable read for those looking for a chapter book they can tackle on their own.

Readers who have some fears of their own will find a kindred spirit in Marisol Rainey. Great news! This is the first book in a brand-new series.  

“That’s the thing about best friends,” Marisol notes. “They don’t care about all the things you can’t do.”

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Jabari Tries, written and illustrated by Gaia Cornwall. Candlewick Press, Penguin Random House. 2020. $22.99 ages 4 and up


"My machine will fly all the way across the yard!"
said Jabari. "It'll be easy - I don't need any help. "

Jabari built an excellent ramp. 
He put his flying machine at the very top. 

Whoosh, AROUND, up it went! 

His machine did not fly. 
"Maybe it's too heavy," said Jabari.

If you read Ms. Cornwall's first story about Jabari (Jabari Jumps, 2020), you will know that he wants to be successful. This time, he is determined that he will launch a flying machine. His dad and sister are impressed. He insists that he needs no help. His little sister would like to help; Jabari ignores her as he considers the many inventors, scientists, and engineers who have worked tirelessly to bring their many efforts to completion. He will follow in their footsteps. 

He assembles all that he thinks he needs to build the ramp for the launch. The planning is extensive, and the ramp is amazing. But ... no launch. His dad has an idea; perhaps he could use his little sister Nika as a partner. Their first attempt fails. Frustrated, Jabari sits to rest. His dad is supportive, and understanding. The siblings decide to try again. After much thought and hard work, they find the success that leads the two to consider yet another project.

A family story that encourages working together to solve problems and also taking time to regroup when things don't go right, this is another fine read aloud for young children. The scenes of construction and planning are effective. Colorful and emotional images help listeners understand the frustration, while also encouraging persistence and acceptance when help is needed.                                                                             

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Sakamoto's Swim Club: How a Teacher Led an Unlikely Team to Victory. Written by Julie Abery and illustrated by Chris Sasaki. Kids Can Press, 2021. $19.99 ages 6 and up


takes a stand, 
offering a 
guiding hand. 

He makes the case
for kids to train,
using ditch as 
swimming lane.

I love reading stories that are brand new to me. I thought that, with the Olympics coming up, I would share this little-known story today. Soichi Sakamoto is one more hero whose life's work should be shared when you are thinking about adding to your picture book biography collection. 

Soichi was an observant and caring science teacher living in 1930s Hawaii. As he looked out a school window, he noticed that the children of plantation workers were swimming in the drainage ditch that ran alongside. They swam; their parents worked. Whenever a policeman on horseback came near, the children would scatter. Soichi wanted to channel their enthusiasm into learning to swim. He asked for, and was given permission to teach the children. 

His science background led to an innovative training regime, and a great deal of success. When the sugar company built a pool and a park, the swim team had a perfect place for their training. Their coach needed them to agree to work hard for three years in preparation for the 1940 Olympics. That hard work led to exceptional success, and much entertainment for their fans. WWII intervened, and the games did not happen. His swimmers enlisted; their dream for winning at the Olympics died. Finally in London in 1948, team member Bill Smith won gold! What a feat for a ditch swimmer from Maui, and what an honor for the man who had worked so hard to train his team. 

Told in short, rhyming verse, and accompanied by telling digital artwork it makes for an excellent story to read aloud with young children. The illustrations are detailed and colorful, in keeping with the setting. An author's note is much appreciated, and a list of resources is helpful for those who want to know more about this dedicated coach and his incredible team. 

Friday, June 25, 2021

Lala's Words, written and illustrated by Gracey Zhang. Orchard, Scholastic. 2021. $25.99 ages 3 and up


"On the hottest day of summer, 
Lala's mother had enough. 

"No more, Lala! No more jibber-
jabber in dirt and grass! Today 
you are staying at home."

Lala cried and cried. Who 
would visit her little friends?

Lala may be a little girl, but she knows about the kindness of words. Her constant activity often exasperates her impatient mother. Lala loves being outside where she uses her energy to take care of the weeds and leaves that blossom in a nearby patch of dirt and concrete. Lala whispers words of love to the plants, carrying a pot of water to them every day. The water helps; the kind words work wonders. They are not the words she hears from her mother most days. 

"Stop playing with weeds and leaves! 
You're covered in dirt!" cried her mother."

Lala speaks encouragement at every turn. On the day her mother comes to the end of her patience, she makes Lala stay home - inside! From there, Lala whispers her love to her friends. What a surprise awaits the neighborhood the following morning! The surprise is not lost on her mother whose response brings the warmth and love Lala has so freely given to her dear friends. 

This debut picture book speaks volumes about the power to be found in love and kindness. The energetic artwork, done mostly in black-and-white but for the warmth of Lala's yellow dress and the vibrant greens of the plants, is inventive and full of feeling. 

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Too Small Tola, written by Atinuke and illustrated by Onyinye Iwu. Candlewick Press, Penguin Random House. 2021. $21.99 ages 6 and up


"Tola lives in a run-down block of 
apartments in the megacity of Lagos,
in the country of Nigeria.

Each of the three chapters about Tola begins with that sentence. Her adventures are chronicled with humor, humanity, and quiet wonder. As they unfold, readers are engaged in the daily life of her Nigerian community. 

She lives with her grandmother, her brother and her sister. Each member of the family is a force to be reckoned with; Moji, her sister, is a serious learner who works hard to be an A+ student. Dapo is an accomplished football player, who spends all his time working at his athletic skills and doing little else. Grandmommy is a strong-minded, independent woman. When Grandmommy says something, everybody listens. 

"Tola hurries to put the big shopping 
basket on her head. If Grandmommy 
is upset, soon everybody will be upset. 
Grandmommy passes on her moods 
faster than mosquitoes pass on malaria.

The first chapter relates a shopping trip that requires Tola to go with Grandmommy for two reasons: one is to beat the cheaters and count change as no one can do it faster than Tola can, and the other is to carry a market basket on her head to help bring their many purchases home. Everyone says Tola is 'too small' to do anything important. Tola proves that is not the case. In the second, she awakens to find there is no water in the apartment building (an often-occurring event) and she must help bring water from the well before she can go to school. It is not an easy task, and involves dealing with a bully. Finally, it is time to celebrate both Easter and Eid. When their tailor is hurt, it is up to Tola to help him by measuring all of his clients and then delivering his completed outfits in time for the celebrations. Tola proves that she is capable of all expectations, and size has nothing to do with it. 

An absolutely perfect book for kids making the transition to chapter books. Atinuke has proven time and again that she is a gifted writer and storyteller, attuned to the needs of her young readers. The grayscale illustrations provide a busy urban setting for the action, and a cast of appealing characters. 

I will wait patiently to meet up with Tola in the future. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Milo Imagines the World, written by Matt de la Pena and illustrated by Christian Robinson. G. P. Putnam's Sons, Penguin Random House. 2021. $24.99 ages 4 and up


"These monthly subway rides 
are never ending, and as usual, 
Milo is a shook-up soda. 
Excitement stacked on top of worry
on top of confusion
on top of love.
To keep himself from bursting, he studies
the faces around him and makes pictures of their lives.

In this collaboration that has produced three magnificent books for young readers, Milo is on the subway, surrounded by many others. Milo is anxious as he always is when he takes this monthly ride with his sister. Milo is an artist. He uses his time to take note of the people who are riding with them. He imagines (and draws) how his fellow passengers live their lives. 

"At a downtown local stop,
the whiskered man folds up
his crossword and hurries off
the train. 

Milo imagines him trudging
through brown mounds of slush.
It's a five-flight climb 
to his cluttered apartment, 
where he's greeted by mewing cats
and burrowing rats.

He imagines a young boy about his age as a prince in a castle with servants and scrumptious food. The action on the train is non-stop and Milo takes it all in, always thinking up a new story for each person he notices. When he puts his notebook away, he wonders what others imagine his life to be. Can they picture his life's events? 

The subway stops, the two cross the platform and head upstairs. He is startled to see his 'prince' has also gotten off at their stop. It makes him rethink some of his stories. He joins the line he and his sister share with many others as they wait to visit their incarcerated mother. The picture he gifts her on that special day is his hope for their future. 

Exceptional storytelling, honest and charming collage illustrations, and a heartfelt family story is resonant and memorable. 

What a team!                                                                                             

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Gone To The Woods: Surviving A Lost Childhood, written by Gary Paulsen. Farrar Straus Giroux, Macmillan. Raincoast. 2021. $24.50 ages 12 and up


"He'd seen books before. Of course. 
But never one that seemed so ...
so alive. Like it wanted to be his 
friend. Silly thought; how can a book 
be a friend? But the librarian had 
done the same thing, said follow me. 
Into this stack of books. 
And for the first time in his life he 
truly wanted to know this book, 
know what was in it, how it was, 
and what he had to do to know what
it was saying to him. Really wanted 
to know.

Gary Paulsen is a wonder. I have taken his advice to heart for many years: Read like a wolf eats! 

To say I have found myself in his books is not true; I have found characters to love, to admire, to never forget. I started reading his books in 1986 when Hatchet was published and continue to read as many as possible. Some I have read multiple times (Harris and Me, How Angel Peterson Got His Wings, Nightjohn, Sarny). I have recommended them to students, friends, non-readers, my own children. He has never disappointed me. I knew some of his story. 

Reading Gone to the Woods has been heartbreaking and hilarious, and definitely memorable. I will not forget what life was like for 'the boy' he describes in this moving memoir. Mr. Paulsen writes about himself with clarity, and explores some of the childhood experiences that led him to writing. His alcoholic, abusive parents made his early life a nightmare. Rescued by his grandmother, and sent to Minnesota to live with his aunt and uncle offers a love he has never known. The fact that he made the trip by himself, in the company of returning and injured WWII soldiers had an enduirng effect on him. 

While living in Minnesota, he learns about survival in the woods. When his mother shows up to take him to meet his father in the Philippines, his life is filled with the trauma of the unforgettable conditions there. They will haunt him throughout his life, and informs this honest account of some of his most difficult memories.   

This is his life story, and those who love his books will begin to understand where many of those stories originated. The return to North Dakota with his parents is unbearable, and he often runs away to the woods. There, he uses all he learned while living with Edy and Sig to keep himself safe, fed and happy. It is at this time he discovers the library, and a librarian who encourages him to find solace in books. She also provides a notebook and pencil, and the rest is his history. Would that his many fans could give thanks to that remarkable woman. She changes his life, as does his time in the military. There, he finds his voice and so begins his journey as a prolific, masterful storyteller. 

"But there's the other thing, 
the other way. You can see things, do things, learn things
on your own, and see if you can write them down to 
make mind-pictures for other people to see. To under
-stand. To know. To know you ... 
"Who?" Who would ever want to see his private 
word-pictures? Or understand him or know him - 
an ugly kid, with bad hair, old clothes, no money. Just 
nobody. A wrong kid in the wrong place with the wrong
people at the wrong time doing all the wrong things. Who 
would ever care about him and what he had to write?

Mr. Paulsen, you are a hero! 

Monday, June 21, 2021

Arnold The Super-ish Hero, written by Heather Tekavec and illustrated by Guillaume Perreault. Kids Can Press, 2021. $19.99 ages 5 and up


"He couldn't fly like Rocket
would have ... 

but when the bus stopped, Arnold
leaped off super fast and ... 

almost cleared the 
sidewalk puddle. 

Now, he had to find the crime."

Everyone knows there are superheroes in Arnold's family. Poor Arnold has not yet discovered if he has a superpower or not. He isn't strong, he doesn't fly, and he can't bounce off tall buildings. They are so capable and confident; Arnold is the guy who answers the phone for the family, and takes important messages. He knows he needs to be patient; he WILL figure it out. 

He can do things he thinks are quite unique; no one sees them as impressive. So, Arnold keeps answering the phone. When a call comes in for help, none of the superheroes answer his plea for assistance. Arnold realizes he must be the one in charge. Dusting off an old mask and cape as a disguise, Arnold is on his way! 

It is not an easy task for him to get to where he is needed. Along the way he stops to give aid to others in need of help; Arnold steps up every time. When he discovers the source of the emergency call, Arnold solves yet another dilemma. The child in crisis is very thankful. 

"That's her! You found her! 
You're my hero! 

As in ... 

Definitely super-ish!"

FINALLY! Arnold knows exactly what he is meant to be. But he'll keep it a secret for now. 

Digital graphic artwork by Guillaume Perreault ramps up the humor in this endearing tale of a dark horse member of a superfamily. Rereading is enhanced by all that readers missed seeing in the first go-round. 

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Hair Twins, written by Raakhee Mirchandani and illustrated by Holly Hatam. Little, Brown and Company, Hachette. 2021. $22.99 ages 4 and up

"Sometimes Papa 
braids my hair, 
making two
twists down the 
sides of my face. 

They remind me of the long, 
snowy-white braid my dadi
wears to parties.

This seems the perfect book for today ... Father's Day! 

The young Sikh girl who narrates this heartwarming story explains to readers how she and her dad take care of their hair. Both have long dark hair, in keeping with Sikh tradition. They begin their morning in the same way each day. Papa uses a bright pink comb to work through the waves in her hair, using coconut oil to smooth it. 

Her papa then prepares his own hair, with his young daughter providing assistance: a rubber band, and a beard brush (aka toothbrush). Some days her hair is braided. On hair twin days, he puts her hair in a bun on top of her head. He styles the joora every day for himself. After school, Papa takes her hair down and they do a freedom dance. 

Before they meet friends and family on Fridays, Papa prepares once more.

" ... Papa ties his patka, covering his bun.
Then he ties his turban, wrapping the fabric 
around his head. Sometimes he even lets me 
pick the color!

Digital illustrations are as warm as the text. Readers will make discoveries as they spend time carefully considering the colorful pages. Happiness and self-confidence are reflected in the expressions of both father and daughter. Diversity in hair styles and people reinforces the concept as the friends play in the park. 

The author includes a note about her family ... the inspiration for her storytelling. A picture of the two is included. 

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Outside, You Notice, written by Erin Alladin and illustrated by Andrea Blinick. Pajama Press, 2021. $22.95 ages 3 and up


"HOW after the rain
Everything smells greener 

Do you know what rain smells like?
The smell is partly made of oils
released by the plants. 

Some trees have so many leaves 
that the ground around the trunk
stays dry even during heavy rain.

Families who love the outdoors are going to be very pleased to share this celebratory book! Children have their eyes, ears and hearts open to what is happening in the world around them. No matter where they are, they take in the sights, smells, and sounds: in their own backyard, in the park, in the garden, in dirt piles, in the front yard, near a stream, in a garden center, at a nearby market. The places are endless. In each of those special places, there is much to notice and to learn. 

Each familiar setting begins with the senses. Additional facts are presented in small green text boxes. These facts are matched to the setting, shown in images of children and families enjoying the benefits of the outdoor environments they visit. Being outside has real health benefits for everyone, as many families are discovering while they spend more time together. 

On a family walk in the woods: 

"You notice that maple leaves 
are strong
And cast sharp shadows
But aspen leaves tremble 
So that bits of sunlight 
Dance in their shade 

and you learn:

"Plants are the only living things
on earth that can make their own 
food. Their leaves use sunlight, 
air, and water to make sugar.

Pine needles are a 
special kind of leaf. 

Most leaves are flat
because this lets them 
absorb lots of sunlight. 

The veins in leaves
transport water and food."

The enticing spreads are delicately created using pencil, gouache, collage and chalk pastels. The families are diverse, as are the settings. Young readers will see themselves in many of the warm scenes created to match the informative text. 

Now, get out there with your family and make your own observations! What wonders awaits ...                                                                                 


Friday, June 18, 2021

The Secret Fawn, written by Kallie George and illustrated by Elly MacKay. tundra, Penguin Random House. 2021. $21.99 ages 3 and up


"I missed the shooting stars 
because I go to bed too early. 

I missed picking the first apple
because I am too short. 

And now
I missed the deer.

Must everything be missed because of a child's age and size? The little one at the heart of this warm tale is like so many other young children. They miss out on the many adventures that others have because they are small - and young. Is that fair? 

As she recounts those events she has missed, and while her mother is busy, she slips outside to find the deer. Her mother watches her go. With a sugar lump in her pocket, she ventures into the surrounding woods. Quietly she walks, listening very carefully for any signs of movement. 

"Whish ... I hear something.
Is that the deer behind the apple trees?

No, it's just some leaves, 
dancing down. 

Flick! I see a flash of brown.
Is that the deer?

No, it's just our neighbor's dog, 
come to say hello. 
            Shhh, Nala."

Each small sound is met with the hope that she is finally going to come face to face with the deer.  A dog, a bird, a squirrel ... never the deer. She sits to wait. When she finally does see something, it is not the deer. Instead, it is an even more beautiful surprise. It is a secret she keeps, as she goes home to have morning pancakes with her mother. 

Elly MacKay created her amazing art using ink, paper and light. The natural world that surrounds the young narrator as she journeys beyond her own yard is enticing and filled with warmth. Single and double-page spreads, variety in perspective, and the earthy tones of the natural world are perfect for a small child seeking independence and discovery. 

My granddaughters (ages 5 and 7) have an abiding love for all animals, and are often captivated by the fawns they see in their own British Columbia backyard. They will have a great love for this book!                                                                            

Thursday, June 17, 2021

What the Kite Saw, written by Anne Laurel Carter and illustrated by Akin Duzakin. Groundwood, 2021. $18.95 ages 8 and up


"At home, I cut out a big star.
Mama asked what I was making. 
"A kite," I said. 

After supper I paced the room 
and told a story about everything
the kite might see as it flew above
our town.

This frightening first-person narrative tells a story of military occupation. The child and his family experience its horrors when his father and brother are taken from them. The family is forced to stay inside because of a decreed curfew. Their evening is wrought with fear, as would be expected. 

A one-hour reprieve is given the following day. The boy and his friends play in the park; his mother does the shopping for items needed. Their isolation goes on for days. Filling the time with drawing, storytelling, and hoping for their loved ones' return, they also listen to the sounds of gunfire, shouting, and chaos. 

During one of their curfew breaks, he shares a new idea with his friends. At home, he designs and builds a kite. He tells his mother and sister what the kite might see when it is ready to fly. Once launched, his kite and others fly freely until the soldiers shoot them down. He lets his go and his 'star' shines brightly above their city - until it disappears. 

Images created in soft pastel, with details in crayon and watercolor, are mostly bleak as is the story told. There are brief spots of color when the kites are built and flown, suggesting a small degree of hope for the future. Faces show the fear felt, and backgrounds show the devastation that military action has on their town. Each spread adds depth to the readers' understanding of the terror felt and freedom lost.                                                                         

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Something's Wrong! A Bear, A Hare, and Some Underwear, written by Jory John and illustrated by Erin Kraan. Farrar Strauss Giroux, Macmillan. Raincoast. 2021. $ 25.99 ages 4 and up


"Check me out. Just confidently
strolling through the forest
without a care in the world! 
Yep, I am the picture of calm. 
There's nothing on my mind
that's totally and completely 
worrying me and distracting me ... 


What a giggle for little ones! The loose-lipped bear who narrates the story has completed his many morning tasks and is headed out to the forest. He is quite sure that something has been forgotten. Attentive listeners will know right away what he's done; he has forgotten to remove his underwear! 

Off Jeff goes, talking constantly without giving his forest friends a chance to respond to his questions and observations. The friends defintely look askance at his attire, but say nothing. As soon as he moves on, they turn to the audience with a question. 


On he goes, constantly chattering to himself and all readers. 

"Just be cool, man. Play it cool. 
Just another day. Don't let them 
see you sweat. Um, why am I 
sweating so much?

Each new animal friend listens and allows him to leave without mentioning what's wrong. Ultimately, Anders, a rabbit friend, is brave enough to point out to Jeff what has been making him feel so self-conscious. Nothing embarrassing here, he assures. Anders takes the bear by the hand to walk him back home, with hopes of not seeing anyone else. Of course, that doesn't happen!  Anders' response to meeting a menagerie of forest friends proves what true friendship really is. It creates quite the chain reaction! 

 Debut illustrator Erin Kraan does a fabulous job of creating earth-toned moments of confusion, dread and friendly protection. Her forest environs provide a perfect landscape for the well-told and very humorous tale. Full of wide-eyed surprise and feelings of uncertainty, she matches the tone of Jory John's lively telling. I can't wait to read this out loud. 

What's not to like in a story about underwear?                                                                                 


Tuesday, June 15, 2021

ROAR - chestra: A Wild Story of Musical Words, written by Robert Heidbreder and illustrated by Dusan Petricic. Kids Can Press, 2021. $19.99 ages 4 and up



Gently gliding, 

         slipping, sliding."

As a person who loves music of all kinds, I have little understanding for musical terms or the making of music. So. opening this 'wild story' is exactly what I needed to read. I am sure music teachers will love it, as will their students. So much fun to learn new things every day ... and often by reading exceptional books. 

Dusan Petricic's opening illustration is triumphant. He fills the entire spread with the conductor and score (baton aloft), facing his very diverse orchestral members with a confident smile. The assembled group looks on with a hint of hesitancy. Young readers will love naming each animal, and are sure to take note of their worried demeanor. The conductor has no such concerns and launches into the first musical term ... ALLEGRO. 

The bow-tied animals move as quickly as possible in a scattered pattern across the spread: limbs leaping, legs racing, wings flapping speedily. On the following page, his baton slowly drops to ADAGIO. Those who know music will not be surprised to see sloths, turtles, starfish, koalas, snails, and seals making their way steadily across the page. And so it goes ... one musical term followed by the next.  

The conductor's movements are shown in a perfect rhythm, and with a hint at what he is expecting his orchestra to do. The spreads that show the animals responding are motion-filled, delightful, with just-right, descriptive wording. When the baton slips from the conductor's hand on FORTISSIMO, the audience is in for a perfect denouement! Finally ... PIANISSIMO.

A pronunciation guide for these gorgeous Italian words is added, as well as definitions. 


Monday, June 14, 2021

Poem in My Pocket, written by Chris Tougas and illustrated by Josee Bisaillon. Kids Can Press, 2021. $17.99 ages 4 and up


"Scribbled thoughts were scattered -
there were letters here and there. 
Mixed-up words were whipped about 
and mingled in midair. 

Big and little letters 
formed some super silly puns. 
Playful words made playful rhymes. 
Their fun had just begun!

This young lady is a writer with a pocketful of poetic words, until the pocket tears and the words fall out. In the wind, they blow hither and yon. Not only are the words scattered about; the letters within them scramble and the words become almost unrecognizable. Readers will have fun putting the letters in correct order. 

As they scatter, the words begin to find their way to making 'punny' connections that are a great deal of fun: Diner-mite, Souper Hero, Anything is Popsicle, Poultry in Motion, Squeeze the day ... 

The poet makes a valiant effort to capture them and finally manages to corral each one. Her work is cut out for her as she tries to reconstruct her original poem. Impossible it seems! Hard work is beginning to pay off when another wind whips them up all over again. Rain pours down, burying them in the wet ground. The poem in her pocket may be gone; the result of all the mayhem is quite magical. 

I love the way Chris Tougas celebrates language here, and shows his readers what is possible using only 26 letters, scrambled or not. The digital artwork is colorful, full of movement, and allows a clear look at the appealing wordplay. 

Sunday, June 13, 2021

City of Water, written by Andrea Curtis and illustrated by Katy Dockrill. Groundwood, 2021. $19.95 ages 9 and up

"As the world's population grows, pollution 
increases and our climate changes, access to 
clean water is becoming an urgent issue.The 
United Nations warns that by 2025 half the
world will be living in areas that have limited 
or poor-quality water.

But we can still change this for the better. 
We can start by learning more about where
water comes from, how it gets to our taps and 
where it goes when it disappears down the 

We can all pay lip service to water conservation on behalf of ourselves and the planet, but do we know all we need to know about how the water that impacts our lives is treated before it is tapped into our homes? What do we know about how plentiful it is, and if we are using it indiscriminately at a cost to our comfortable lives? 

Unless we set ourselves to learning all we need to know about the real importance of water, we might be part of the problem that is having more of an effect every year. With books like this one, the learning can ramp up in middle years classrooms. It is perfect fare for getting students interested in learning, and realizing that they can make a difference when they are well-informed. 

It is a winning nonfiction book that will certainly give readers the chance to learn what they haven't known up until now. It offers an informed and educational look at how water treatment works and how the water we all take for granted gets to us. It's a concept that many urban dwellers need to consider. Open the taps, flush the toilets, water the lawns, or have a shower when the day begins or ends. Pretty easy, isn't it? 

The endpapers effectively show the water cycle itself. The importance of water is immediately presented, and the fact that almost three-quarters of what is found on earth is in the oceans and undrinkable for us. Less than one percent is fresh and ready for us to drink. Worst of all, water is a limited resource. What we do with what we have is of utmost importance. 

Ms. Curtis follows up with a very comprehensive look at water treatment, and the way people consider water on a worldwide scale. Sharing this book with middle grade students will have an impact on them, and offer many opportunities for discussion and further study. Realistic artwork adds context, and fills in the spaces that surrounds the informative text. While much of the text is serious and thought-provoking, there are moments of humor in some of the fun facts also presented. 

The final two pages offer ways for readers to become water protectors, a glossary, and a list of further resources. It is an extremely useful and educational book for all middle grade classrooms, and it is the second in a series of books about the environment by Andrea Curtis, following up on A Forest in the City. 

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Scarlet's Tale, written by Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Jarvis. Disney-Hyperion, Hachette. 2020. $23.49 ages 4 and up

"But on Scarlet's 
first day of preschool, 
things got less great. 

Kids stared. 

Some grown-ups 
did, too. 

Scarlet didn't want 
her parents to leave. 

But they did. 
It was a hard day.

Scarlet is not like the other kids in her preschool; she was born with a beautiful fox tail. At home, it is no problem. Her parents love everything about her. As happens often when children enter their school years, the differences between them become evident and discussed. Her tail causes problems throughout the day, creating a touch of chaos when it wags. 

There are always those kids who take little note that one child is different from another. That is the case with Scarlet; she soon has two very good friends. Those friends make all the difference. Other children in the class, reluctant to spend any time with Scarlet, suddenly see that a wagging tail is both powerful and joyful. Classmates follow in Callie's and Josh's footsteps by jauntily wagging their own behinds. 

When Scarlet learns she is going to be a big sister, she can hardly wait for the new baby. Then, when he is born, she is first to count fingers, toes, eyes, and ... a surprise that will leave little ones incredulous! 

Soft textures are digitally painted to provide a sympathetic backdrop for this warm story. While Scarlet's wagging tail is a part of them, it is not the focus of attention. I would like to be the fly on the wall when this story is read aloud. I would love to hear responses from the children listening as there is much to think about here.  

Friday, June 11, 2021

Show Us Where You Live, Humpback, written by Beryl Young and illustrated by Sakika Kikuchi. Greystone Kids, 2021. $22.95 ages 4 and up


"Whack your fin! Thwap your fluke! 
You are loud! You're a wonder! 

I make smashes and splashes. 
Water tickles my nose. 
I blink my eyes and laugh.

Whales are the subject of much interest for young readers. As any school librarian will attest, whale books rarely make it back into circulation before they are checked out by another fan. Many who read this book will be surprised to find how much small children and their mothers have in common with a baby humpback calf and its mother. 

The young narrator compares the whales' watery world with the place she calls home; both offer a safe harbor for growth and learning. As every day brings new experiences, the two young ones grow and flourish under the care of a nurturing, proud mother. Both love the water, sending waves of water skyward as they paddle and splash. Watching the whale send bubbles through its blowhole high into the sky, the child uses her breath to blow out candles, blow dandelion seeds into the air, and use a soapy mix to make her own shimmering bubbles.

The comparison between their daily lives and actions holds great appeal. Reading it aloud with young children will spark conversations about connections they can make as well. Ms. Kikuchi chooses watercolors as the perfect medium for her stunning artwork. Using variety in perspective, she captures the beauty of the ocean dwellers in detailed, glowing images. The curious and attentive whale watcher is often shown on white space, allowing readers to focus on what the child is doing and learning.

Back matter provides further clear information about these amazing mammals that awe people worldwide with their grace and immense size.

"Humpbacks are wonderful whales. It's an 
unforgettable experience to watch them leap
powerfully into the air with their long flippers out
like wings.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

the little library, written by Margaret McNamara and illustrated by G. Brian Karas. schwartz & wade, Penguin Random House. 2021. $23.99 ages 4 and up

"Jake spent the next week 
reading more of the book. 
Still slowly. 

The more he read, the 
more curious he became 
about things made of wood.

This is the fifth time young readers have visited Mr. Tiffin and his classroom. It is a fine place to be. Now, we learn that their school library is also exceptional. Jake is leery about making that first visit. He is a slow reader whose self-confidence is shaken when Library Day rolls up. He would prefer to stay in the classroom. 

Librarian Beck is quick to set any fears to rest, promising to find books for each of the students to love. They are invited to explore the shelves while Librarian Beck gets to know them better. The children quickly find their favorite spots; Jake checks the construction of the bookshelves. Aha! Would a book about woodworking be just the ticket, Librarian Beck wonders? Jake immediately recognizes many of the tools that his gramps has in  his workshop. It's the perfect book for him. 

It takes time and attention for Jake to read the book. When Library Day rolls around again, Librarian Beck offers it for another week. The book sparks Jake's interest in all things made of wood. He checks it out again, along with other books chosen specifically for him be a caring, knowledgeable school librarian. 

A special gift to Librarian Beck at year's end is the perfect way to close this heartfelt book. What goes around comes around, when Librarian Beck does the same for Jake during summer vacation.                                                                                  

    Other books in the series include: how many seeds in a pumpkin?, the apple orchard riddle, a Poem in Your Pocket, and The Dinosaur Expert.                                                                           

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Where is the Dragon? Written and illustrated by Leo Timmers. Translation by James Brown. Gecko Press, Thomas Allen & Son. $23.95 ages 3 and up


"Knight One says, "Well, the king confided 
their spikes are thick and double-sided." 

"Ha ha, ho ho," says small Knight Three. 
"A bed of carrots won't hurt me.

The king is in a bad way! His nightly dreams have become nightmares. He is concerned for himself, and his people. of course. He wants his nightmare dragon slain. So, he calls on his three knights, and sends them off to find said dragon and make quick work of it. 

The three make their way into the forest, while admitting to each other that they have no idea what a dragon looks like. They have NEVER seen one! They do have a notion of what they are searching for as a dragon has been described to them. They know this: they scare the forest creatures, they have thick, double-sided spikes, they do not use their teeth to eat fruits and vegetables, their necks are long, and they have fiery breath. 

As they go, they keep what they have been told in mind. Shadows in the darkness certainly seem to match what they are looking for; every time they think they have found the dragon, a lit candle provides a very different scenario. Nothing to worry about at any of their stops! Their investigation comes to an end. 

"Knight Two says, "Dragons? No such thing.
Let's all go home and tell the king."

"Just as I thought," says small Knight Three.
"There's nothing here to frighten me."

Believing the dragon is merely a figment of their King's imagination, they return to the castle. Wait! Is that shadow behind them moving? 

Full of giggles, rhythmic language, refreshing dialogue, and quickly-dissolved fears, this is a book that begs for return visits. Pore over every spread to see just how talented Mr. Timmers is at using light and shadow. Don't miss it!                                                                               

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Room on our Rock, written by Kate and Jol Temple and illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton. Scholastic, 2018. $16.99 ages 4 and up


"There’s no room on our rock

So it’s ridiculous to say
There’s space for plenty more
Shoo! Go away!

Listeners are sure to be fascinated when this book is first read to them. It reads both forward and backward, with a message that resonates with the meaning of  'ours'. The spotted seals living on the rock are quick to challenge a different species of mother and baby newcomers with the selfish (and obviously untrue) notion that there is no room for them on 'our' rock. The family of two has been forced to find a new home after a major storm displaces them. 

Reading it front-to-back shows the seals on the rock offering no place of refuge for the pair that have nowhere to go. It is hard to understand, of course. When the story ends, and is told again reading back-to-front, the message changes to a story of welcome and support. The text is exactly the same; the intent is an about-face. Wonderful! 

Imagine how much fun children can have sharing and re-sharing this book. Engaging, and with a clear message, they will realize that there are 'two sides to every story'. The splendid watercolor artwork, filled with expressive characters and watery expanses, offer readers a feel for the freedom found in water as the new seals swim as close to the rock as they are allowed.                                                                              

Monday, June 7, 2021

Walking for Water: How One Boy Stood Up for Gender Equality. Written by Susan Hughes and illustrated by Nicole Miles. Kids Can Press, 2021. $18.99 ages 7 and up


"So when Victor and his sister had turned eight 
a few weeks ago, just at the start of the school 
year, Linesi began the daily walks for water, 
giving Mama more time for the farming. 
Watching Linesi strut around like she was all 
grown up, Victor had almost wished he got to 
collect the water. But not anymore.

Life in Malawi is different for boys than it is for girls. At 8 years old, Victor and Linesi say goodbye to their mother in the morning and race for the kachere tree where one goes one way and one goes the other. Victor goes to school, because that is what boys do in their village. Linesi, a girl, is tasked with walking for water for their family. Linesi is one of the women and girls whose job it is to bring fresh water home from the river five times each day. 

Victor's day is very different. At school, he is learning to speak English, and is happy with his teacher who reads to them and talks about important concepts. When Mr. Tambala discusses equality between males and females, he assigns homework. His students are asked to take note and see if boys and girls live their lives in the same way. Victor is quick to notice that while he has time to play and to get his schoolwork done, his sister spends her time doing family chores. 

Victor decides to make a difference by teaching his sister what he is learning at school. It is hard to easily explain it, and Linesi is too tired at the end of her busy day to take in what he is trying to teach. He has an idea for changing that, and has a talk with the family. It is decided that he and Linesi will share school and chores; they will take turns going to school and going for water. It isn't long until others in the village are following in their footsteps. Communities can, and do change. 

Illustrations are brightly colored with ever-changing perspectives that add context for readers. The children are happy, hopeful, and willing to see change as a good thing for all. Back matter includes an author’s note, resources, and a Chichewa-English glossary with pronunciations. I like the smaller format for this new entry in the Citizen Kid series. It is smaller, and easier for readers to handle.  

Sunday, June 6, 2021

A House for Every Bird, written by Megan Maynor and illustrated by Kaylani Juanita. Alfred A. Knopf, Penguin Random House. 2021. $23.99 ages 4 and up


"What are you doing, Blue Bird?
That house is not for you. 

Oh no, this is THE house 
for me. Orange is my color!
So bold! So bright! Full of 
light! Like me!

But you're blue. 

Only on the outside."

It seems there is no right way to draw a house for a bird, if you don't ask what they like. Our young artist discovers that fairly quickly when she designs the houses to match the birds in color and size. Therefore, she paints a red house for a red bird, a tall house for a tall bird, and so on. 

She is very proud of her work. Concern takes over when the blue bird likes the orange house. Orange is its favorite color, with its brightness and light. The orange bird likes the cool of blue ... it is chill, and that's what attracts her to it. Poor artist! She does her best to convince each bird to go back to the house she created just for them. Almost every bird has a different take on their new digs.

"Um, hi. I get worried in big 
spaces. I feel much better in 
this small house, where I can 
touch all the walls at once. 
Please don't yell at me.

So, the big bird moves into the small house and the small bird moves into the big house in order to accommodate a flock of cousins who love to sing together. Fair or not, that's the way they like it. They might have told her if she had asked them what type of house they liked. It's pretty simple, really. In the end, she makes another new discovery about her avian friends. 

Digital multi-media illustrations are expressive, and in keeping with a child's artistic style. The details are full of appeal, and offer a chance for young readers to take note of the humor and the personalities of the birds depicted. It is also important to see that, while there is some frustration on the artist's part for the birds' apparent refusal to accept what the artist has provided, there is also empathy for their feelings once they are shared.                                                                                

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Someone Builds The Dream, written by Lisa Wheeler and illustrated by Loren Long. Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin Random House. 2021. $25.99 ages 5 and up


"Someone has to pound the nails. 
Someone has to build the dream. 

To engineer a bridge takes skill.
Math and science fit the bill, 
and I-beams ordered from the mill. 

But ...

What would the world do without those amazing men and women who ensure that the jobs planned by architects, engineers, artists, scientists, designers, authors, and illustrators come to fruition? Well, the world would be in a bit of a mess, I would guess.

Every idea requires a host of workers to get the job done. From the original planning to all the people who will bring that plan to completion, all are honored in this book for the role they play. The list is long when considering the tradespeople who get their hands dirty and work endless hours to create what began in one person's mind concerning change in the world, whatever that change might be. 

Lucky we are to have the visionaries; luckier still to have those workers who know what to do with those ideas when building houses, skyscrapers, bridges - even this fine book. 

"An author thought up something new, 
the illustrator planned and drew, 
to make this book for kids like YOU! 

But ... 

Someone worked to set the text,
run the press, load the reams. 
Someone had to make THIS book! 
Someone had to build this dream.

This is a thoughtful look at the many people we call 'helpers'. They are trained to do the hard work as is shown in the lovely, detailed and telling artwork. Kids are sure to see here jobs that might attract their future interest, and to learn about the many people it takes to make our world a better place for all. It is a conversation starter, and a terrific book for reading aloud. Way to go, team!                                                                           

Friday, June 4, 2021

The Capybaras, written by Alfredo Soderguit. Translated by Elisa Amado. Greystone Kids, 2021. $22.95 ages 3 and up


"There were lots of them,
they were hairy,
they were wet,
they were too big.


There was no room for them.
But the capybaras couldn’t go home

because hunting season had begun."

Love the reds! The endpapers are red; the roof on the chicken house is red; the combs on the chickens' heads are red; the hunters' ball caps are red. The attention of young readers is captured immediately. 

Quite a lot is happening. Inside that hen house, the eggs are laid in clean, hay-lined nests ... except for one. The chickens leave their nests to peck about in the chicken yard. They are well-fed, content and comfortable with the lives they lead. Occasionally a chicken is removed from their flock, along with all the eggs the farmer collects. It is their way of life until the capybaras arrive.

Discussion follows with the rooster and hens, and decisions are made. The chickens have never seen them before, and they don't like them. They make the determination that whatever they are, they are not welcome. The capybaras may have no choice but to stay, but the chickens will make the rules. 

1. Don't make any noise. 
2. Don't come out of the water.
3. Don't come near the food. 
4. Don't question the rules.

Pretty cut and dried, until two of the little ones break the rules by becoming friends. They spend happy time together until they are discovered, and a mother hen quickly puts a quick stop to any fraternization. When the farmer's snarling dog threatens the chick, its friend comes to the rescue and a new understanding between the two species ensues. 

When hunting season ends with hunters returning home empty-handed, the farmer discovers that his chickens have disappeared. Only readers will know what has happened ... and what happens next! 
Absolutely wonderful! 

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Every Home Needs An Elephant, written by Jane Heinrichs. Orca Book Publishers, 2021. $10.95 ages 8 and up


"I didn't want to look behind me. 
I already knew what the major 
general was looking at. The 
elephant. Or maybe the wizzygig
intercom system that featured a 
cuckoo clock? Or the barometer
that told the weather with real 
clouds and sunshine in a glass box?

Not many families would consider bringing home an elephant as a pet, would they? Yet, that is exactly what Sarah and her distracted dad do when they shop for groceries one day. It's half price, and it needs a home. Sarah cannot resist; her father agrees that a pet might be exactly what his daughter needs. Her mother is rarely home, and often has no time for Sarah when she is. She is always busy planning and organizing. 

Getting an elephant into an upstairs apartment is no easy task. It is tough to get Mr. Smith (said elephant) in the door, then up the stairs, and finally through another door without a lot of mess and mayhem. Nothing is safe from his bulk. When he proves allergic to the neighbor's cat, and is petrified of a tiny mouse, Sarah realizes that they have some issues to figure out. Many of Sarah's plans go awry. 

Mr. Smith is good at a few things. He loves flowers and is gifted at floral arranging. He is also what Sarah needs; he is a friend and he keeps her company. He is the reason that Sarah meets and makes a new friend. To everyone's surprise, Sarah's mother finally realizes that she might be causing some distress for her daughter. She begins to spend more time at home, and even lets go of some of her endless organization for the family. Perhaps an elephant was exactly what they needed! 

It's easy to see from the description up to this point that this is an emotional story that has humor, an unusual premise, and careful observation of family dynamics. It moves quickly, and its inviting illustrations add to the appeal for middle graders who enjoy a touch of fantasy. 

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Trillions of Trees: A Counting and Planting Book, written and illustrated by Kurt Cyrus. Henry Holt, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2021. $26.99 ages 3 and up


"A county park! The perfect place! 
(We asked permission, just in case.)
Along the trails and all around - 
another hundred in the ground!

The note on the blurb at the back of this follow-up book to Billions of Bricks (2016) states: "Working with his family, friends and neighbors, Kurt has planted thousands of trees in public places and in his own small woodland."

This entertaining and educational book is partially due to that community spirit and concern for the environment, I'm quite sure. With many books to his credit, Mr. Cyrus knows what appeals to his audience. Young readers will appreciate the humor found in this story that begins with a surprising miscommunication. 

After a quick peek at the Polly's Plant Pavilion Spring catalog, Lizzie knows just what she wants ... a trillium. She makes the call; the nursery owner is frazzled, but takes her order for a trillion trees! Wow! He is surprised, and accommodating. The first thousand will be delivered ASAP!

Their arrival stuns, as one might expect. Up to the task, the family pitches in to plant 100 trees in their yard, ant then on town streets, in a park, in an orchard, as a windbreak for farming ... and on they go, planting every delivered tree. They plant all named species in perfect places. They work tirelessly and when they are done, there is no gas in the car. Home they walk. What's that up ahead? Oh, no!  

Full of energetic rhymes and a good deal of hard work, children might just be inspired to try a little tree planting with their own families. The illustrations are full of rich color and important details. They give perspective to the many different landscapes that benefit from tree planting and their value to our environment.                                                                      

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre, written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Carolrhoda Books, Thomas Allen & Son. 2021. $ 23.99 ages 9 and up


"But in 1921, not everyone in Tulsa was pleased
with these signs of Black wealth - undeniable proof 
that African Americans could achieve
just as much, 
if not more than, whites. 

All it took was one elevator ride,
one seventeen-year-old white elevator operator
accusing a nineteen-year-old Black shoeshine man
of assault for simmering hatred to boil over.

In the early 20th century, Tulsa was growing because of oil. African Americans, at that time, were working to create their own communities while also dealing with unending racism. They built their community to serve those who were not served in the white part of the city. Greenwood was a very prosperous community and became known as 'Black Wall Street'. The description of its successes is uplifting and truly amazing. 

Many in the white community were jealous of and angry about these accomplishments. All it took to put an end to Greenwood as it had been was one white teenager accusing another black teenager with assault. Tenison and hatred boiled over; a group of thirty armed Black men went to the jail. They were hoping to save the boy from lynching, and were met by a mob of two thousand armed whites. People were killed, rumors ran rampant, and the end result was the destruction of the city itself. 

"Once upon a time in Greenwood,  

up to three hundred Black people, 
including Dr. Jackson, were killed. 

Hundreds more were injured.
More than eight thousand people 

were left homeless.
And hundreds of businesses 

and other establishments
were reduced to ash.

It was a story untold and uninvestigated for seventy-five years. Today, with the story told, changes can happen that will hopefully move people away from hatred toward hope. Sensitive, with just enough information and description for middle grade readers, this is a story that provides insight into past history. Sharing it is necessary to ensure nothing like it ever happens again. Notes from both author and illustrator provide context and a close look at this page in a troubled history. One hundred years have passed; it's time for everyone to know the truth. 

Floyd Cooper's untimely death at 65, after years of recounting chapters of history not taught in school, came after the publication of this exceptional book. I will leave you with his own words and those of his wife. 

“Everything I knew about this tragedy came from Grandpa,” Mr. Cooper wrote in a personal note in “Unspeakable.” “Not a single teacher at school ever spoke of it.”

To work on the project, Mr. Cooper shut himself inside his studio and drew feverishly for months. He emerged with illustrations that brought the past back to life. 

“It happened in the place where he was born,” his wife said. “His family was involved in what happened. It was his history. It became his last book. He put everything he had into that book.”