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Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Crocodile Hungry, written by Eija Sumner and illustrated by John Martz. tundra, Penguin Random House. 2022. $24.99 ages 2 and up




I would give anything to read this book out loud to young kids. It is the perfect kind of book to make them giggle with glee as it is read, and so much fun for the reader as well! 

It's evident from page one that the animals in his vicinity are a touch worried about Crocodile's presence. They keep a fitting distance as Crocodile walks past them baring his own concerned face. Takes but a turn of the page to learn Crocodile is HUNGRY and having trouble finding something to eat. 

         TOO HARD TO OPEN. 



What a dilemma ... and it doesn't get better as Crocodile does his best to find a place that will allow him to assuage the hunger that is causing distress. He frightens everyone at the farmers' market, at the grocery store, and in the community garden, leaving chaos and mayhem in his wake. 

Poor guy! He goes from hungry to hangry, and then to great sadness. Oh, those crocodile tears! The result is an enticing pond for a flamboyance of flamingos. Will he find what he needs here? You will have to read this terrific book to find the answer to that question. 

John Martz uses ink, paper and a computer to bring the brightly-colored artwork and hilarious scenarios to the reader's attention. The crocodile's expressive face and the many funny details presented will lead to stops and discussion, and wishes for a repeat reading. Just what you want when you read to little ones.   

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

A Garden of Creatures, written by Sheila Heti and illustrated by Esme Shapiro. Tundra, Penguin Random House. 2022. $24.99 ages 5 and up

"The little bunny started to cry.
"When someone dies, we miss them."
The cat agreed. "I think missing 
someone is a way of keeping them close."
The bunny stopped crying, and she soon
fell asleep. The cat curled up closely
against her."

There is comfort in the unconditional support of a good friend in times of trouble. There are three creatures living in the garden when this story begins - a cat, a little bunny, and an older bunny. Too quickly the older bunny dies. He is buried in a place of prominence. After dealing with the death, the young bunny has a dream where their old friend seems to be alive. Upon awakening, the little one is consumed with by questions which need answers.

He wonders why every creature who lives must die. Where has their friend gone? The cat offers the reassurance that everyone asks the same questions, and wonders what happens. The bunny continues to consider the questions before realizing something very important. 

A friend who dies hasn’t left....
They become the garden and we live in them

The words and tone are comforting, while the lush illustrations bring calm and comfort. In a final spread, readers can see the cat and little bunny cradled in the arms of their dear old friend. This is a tender way to consider loss and the uncertainties that arise when a loved one dies. In the end, the little one understands that missing a loved one is just a way of holding them close in your heart. Their old bunny friend will always have a place in the garden that surrounds them and gives them peace. 
There are no quick answers; only ways to help each other live with loss knowing the loved one will always be part of the world we continue to live in.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Totally Random Questions: Volumes 3 and 4. By Melina Gerosa Bellows. Bright Matter Books, Penguin Random House. 2022. $11.99 all ages



True or false:
Only female mosquitoes bite. 



In MLB, how many times is a baseball used for 
pitches before it is taken out of the game? 

a. 1 time
b. 7 times
c. 18 times

ANSWER b: 7 times

I think that the covers themselves are all kids need to see to have them pick up these books and spend ages reading and finding answers to the strange and bizarre questions asked and answered in the two newest additions to a very popular series. 

I have only provided the answers. The rest of the information is provided at the turn of the page.  For the mosquito true or false, the answer is explained and there is also an Instant Genius point made and a Now You Know sidebar to add further data. It is the same for the question about baseballs.  

If kids have a question, these books may provide an answer. Or spark another question ... there is so much here to learn. You will know exactly those kids who are always wanting to know more, and learn more about their world. They LOVE books like this! 

How long does it take a spider to spin a web? 

What is the difference between jam and jelly? 

Is it true that you can fry an egg on a sidewalk? 

What was the earliest form of chewing gum made from? 

Who would win in a smelling contest? 

You know you want to know the answers. Kids will, too! 

Sure to be in some child's hands whenever they are available, these are books that will be favorites for many! Just wait until they start telling their friends and parents about their 'instant genius' status because they are readers! 

Sunday, August 28, 2022

I's The B'y: The Beloved Folk Song, illustrated by Lauren Soloy. Greystone Kids. $22.95 ages 4 and up

"Sods and rinds to cover your flake, 
Cake and tea for supper, 
Codfish in the spring o' the year
Fried in maggoty butter.

"Hip yer partner, Sally Tibbo! 
Hip yer partner, Sally Brown! 
Fogo, Twillingate, Moreton's Harbour, 
All around the circle!

No matter what class I taught, this song was always in our repertoire! It is so much fun to sing. The words tripped over our tongues after much practice, and often lead to questions about the places the song described and the new words we were learning. 

The song is a celebration of Newfoundland culture in music and fun! Its spirit reflects the island itself, and the fishing traditions of its people. Ms. Soloy has created cheerful artwork to accompany lively details that mirror the joyous lifestyle visitors find so charming. The endpapers are flush with bold color, seagulls and fishing boats. The title page sports a map that illustrates the places in the song that visitors will want to see while they are there. Take a close look and readers are sure to find the recognizable and important images that hold attention and offer fodder for further discussion. The musicians are expressive and raucous, and fleet of foot.  

I have been to Newfoundland and would love to make a return visit. It is a unique and remarkable place. There is much to see when you are there, and wonderful, interesting people to honor. End notes add explanations for images found in the detailed illustrations. It won't be long after sharing this wonderful book before readers will be heard singing its chorus. 

"Hip yer partner, Sally Tibbo! 
Hip yer partner, Sally Brown! 
Fogo, Twillingate, Moreton's Harbour, 
All around the circle!

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Apple Crush, written and illustrated by Lucy Knisley. Random House Graphic, Penguin Random House. 2022. $17.99 ages 8 and up .


"All the parents were asked to come in
for career week and do a demonstration. 

I know. 
It's just such a BIG demonstration! 

We're the only ones in your class 
who live out on a farm. I think it'll 
be really interesting. 

And at least everyone will get some
cider out of it. 


In this sequel to Stepping Stones (2020), Jen is adjusting to middle school life while living at Peapod Farm with her mother and her boyfriend. Said boyfriend has two daughters who often spend weekends at the farm. Jen and his daughter Andy have found work helping at a pumpkin patch nearby, which also has a haunted hayride. Others work with them. One of them is Eddie, the owner's nephew. Jen and Eddie have things in common, but it is Andy who has a crush on him. 

Things become complicated, as so often happens in middle school. Andy's feelings for Eddie are romantic; Jen isn't at all interested in a romantic relationship. Still, feelings are complicated by many things including divorce, blended families, and new relationships. Jen is not a star student; she does, however, have a real talent for art and finds friends that way. When she stands up for Andy, following a spooky trick gone wrong, she realizes that others are experiencing their own troubles. 

As she so ably showed with her first tale about Peapod Farm, Lucy Knisley brings emotional characters to life in a graphic-novel that is lively and engaging. Readers will feel empathy for each character and their reactions to the events shared. Of interest for some readers will be a focus on farming, and making apple cider. It's an honest accounting of the range of emotions many middle graders feel.                                                                              

Friday, August 26, 2022

Professor Goose Debunks Goldilocks and the Three Bears, written by Paulette Bourgeois and illustrated by Alex Griffiths. Tundra, Penguin Random House. 2022. $18.99 ages 6 and up

"Some porridge was missing from her parents’
bowls, and her bowl was empty.
There was a long, curly blond hair in the empty bowl.
Papa’s and Mama’s chairs had been moved, and hers
was completely destroyed.
And a trail of muddy footprints went up the stairs
to the bedroom.

In this first book of a new series penned by Paulette Bourgeois, readers are introduced to Professor Marie Curious Goose who has a PhD in Very Important Science. She is an interesting one. While doing her research, Marie has discovered scientific inconsistencies in the writings of her Great-Aunt Mother Goose and others. Those works are concerning to Marie and she sets out to make sure that fans realize the mistakes made. 

She chooses Goldilocks and the Three Bears as the first fairy tale in need of scientific correction. Original in concept, the author augments the retelling with side panels that provide explanations for the notions Marie feels are debatable. From the reality of each of the porridges being too hot, too cold, and just right at the same time to why the baby bear's chair broke, she engages readers with the benefits of reading books with true science in mind. Baby bear proves that the scientific method is an apt way of working out problems faced. 

Text and art complement each other, with cartoon artwork showing expressive reactions and telling movement on the part of Marie to all that she finds mystifying about the original fairy tale's content. I will look forward to seeing the next book in the series. 

Following the tale, a craft project is provided for building a cardboard chair fit for use by a child's favorite teddy bear. My granddaughter will be all over that. She loves such projects!                                                                            

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Akpa's Journey, written by Mia Pelletier and illustrated by Kagan McLeod. Inhabit Media, 2022. $18.95 ages 7 and up

"One day, Akpa grew too large for his little egg.
He knew it was time to peck a hole through the
shell and peer outside. With one hard peck,
a tiny crack appeared, and a warm sliver of
golden light shone through. With a second peck
the crack grew wider, and the shell fell open
suddenly like a book.

I knew little about "the penguins of the Arctic"; now, I know a lot. That is thanks to Mia Pelletier's research, and her life experiences that come from living in the Arctic environment. It's what I love most about reading books that enlighten and encourage continued learning about unfamiliar material. 

Readers are introduced to Akpa, a tiny murre, while he is still in his shell and quite cozy. It's quiet all around him, and a parent is sheltering him from bad weather and dangerous egg thieves. There are many who would like to try a tasty egg: an Arctic fox, a hungry seagull, and a great white polar bear. Thanks to caring parent birds and an almost unreachable ledge, Akpa remains safe. 

The time comes to hatch, and Akpa is introduced to the wild roar of the murre colony. The sound is cacophonous! Akpa is aware there are many dangers to face. For now, his parents provide shelter, food, and advice. Akpa grows and thrives, and is finally ready to migrate to a warmer climate. The mother murre will fly ahead; the father will take to the sea with his young son. 

"Your mother will fly south, and I will swim with you. 
As your feathers grow, I will trade my worn summer 
feathers for fresh winter ones and, for a while, neither of
us will be able to fly. We will swim together. I will teach 
you how to fish and show you the way to our winter home.

That is exactly what they do. The journey is harrowing and often dangerous. They move on. Kagan McLeod creates magical images for the journey made. The two meet up with other animals of the Arctic as they move toward their destination. When the young murre is finally ready to leap into the air after initially leaping into the sea, the moment is captured in a final happy illustration. 

Following this, the author provides an endnote, a range map, and a glossary of Inuktut words. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Meet J. Armand Bombardier, writtne by Elizabeth MacLeod and illustrated by Mike Deas. Scholastic Canada, 2022. $18.99 ages 9 and up

 "The B7 changed how people lived. They could now 
travel in bad weather. Stores used it to make deliveries. 
Phone and electricity workers depended on the B7 to 
keep people connected. 

In 1937 Armand changed his garage's name from Garage
Bombardier to L'Auto-Neige Bombardier - Bombardier
Snowmobile. He created many jobs and hired people from the community. Business was good, but challenges were coming.

J. Armand grew up in a small village in Quebec - a village that was too often cut off from the outside world because winter storms and snowfall made it impossible to use the roads. He was an inventor from childhood, always looking for ways to create a vehicle that could drive through the snow that so often blanketed his village. 

"With every one, Armand made improvements and invented new parts. Each vehicle was a little 
better than the last. But none of them worked reliably.

In one alarming experiment for his parents, he took the family car apart, knowing that he could put it back together. He wanted to know how it worked. His passion was mechanics and that interest led to a move to Montreal where he learned all he could learn, studying science, technology and traction as he also made a living working in a garage. 

He returned home to open his own garage at 19. Armand worked hard. In the winter he continued his work on creating a successful vehicle for snow travel. As a married man with children, and after losing a young son to illness because of impassible roads, he became even more determined. He did not stop until his inventive dreams were finally realized with a variety of useful and needed machines. In the 1950s, engines were small enough to fulfill his lifelong dream - a Ski-Dog, accidentally advertised as a "Ski-Doo". The rest is history. 

"The Ski-Doo snowmobile was one of Armand's favourite inventions - it was fun to ride. Lots of people loved it. They bought them and joined clubs to set up Ski-Doo snowmobile trails and races."

In this tenth book in the Scholastic Canada Biography series, Liz MacLeod and Mike Deas do what they have so successfully done in previous books. Ms. MacLeod presents a life story in friendly, accessible text to tell readers about a successful and admirable Canadian. Mike Deas creates appealing and telling artwork that allows readers to see Armand as he works diligently to make life better for many.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Forever Truffle, written by Fanny Britt and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. Translated by Susan Ouriou. Groundwood Books, 2022. $24.99 ages 10 and up

"Nina, I want to tell you my heart loves you.
It would tell you itself, but I don't want my mom 
to get run over. So, my mouth is delivering the 
message. I love you, first because of the way you 
focus when you write and second because you 
smell like plants 'cause your dad's a florist.

Okay. Me, too. I love you. First because
you know Nina Simone who's got the same 
name as me and second because your pizza 
button always makes me hungry.

Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault gave us one of my favorite books 5 years ago, Louis Undercover (2017), It told the story of two boys and an alcoholic father. His struggle with drinking had a lasting effect on the family. 

This new book reintroduces readers to Louis' brother Truffle, a force to be reckoned with for his loving heart and consuming interest in rock music. Fanny Britt pens three stories about this wonderful character. whose birthday biker jacket sports a pizza pin. He vows never to remove that jacket. He is true to his word as the stories are told. 

Truffle, accompanied by friends Flo and Riad, tries his hand at forming an air guitar band he calls the Man-Eating Plants; tries to deal with his feelings for Nina by telling her the truth; and finally, attends his great-grandmother's funeral which leads to questions about death and other concerns. Truffle has no filter when it comes to expressing his opinions, asking questions pertinent to him, or speaking his truth. 

Louis can generally be counted on for help needed. Their scenes together are often heartwarming despite their differences. Louis is into “robotics, basketball and sarcasm”, none of which interest his younger brother. Still, he is helpful when advice is requested.

Isabelle Arsenault uses pencil, ink, and collage techniques to bring Truffle to the attention of readers. He is a character to admire. Backgrounds and dialogue are filled with pop culture wit and charm.                                                                                          

Monday, August 22, 2022

All Cats Welcome, written by Susin Nielsen and illustrated by Vivian Mineker. Simon & Schuster, 2022. $23.99 ages 4 and up


""Hello," said Leonard. "My name is Leonard."

"Hola," said the tortoiseshell cat. "Me llamo Mariposa."

Leonard did not understand the words. 
But he understood that he had a friend.

"Magnificent," said Leonard.
"Fabuloso," said Mariposa.

Leonard loves his human, While Leonard welcomes each day with what he thinks are human words, all his human hears is "meow". No matter. When his human leaves for work, Leonard begs him to stay. His human hears "meow". 

Life is lonely - until the day Leonard spies a new cat through the window of an apartment across the way. He tries to tell his human, who again hears "meow". The sighting leads Leonard to making a resourceful escape to the outside world and a happy meeting with said cat. They share a fun-filled day and mutual admiration. 

After consulting a map of NYC, Leonard sets himself up as a guide for his new friend. Their adventures are many. Seasons change, as do their activities, including visiting Mariposa's apartment to stay out of the cold. Upon her human's return, they are discovered and Leonard is unable to return home. His human is worried, as is Mariposa's human. 

What happens next is pure delight! Smiles and happiness abound for the story's four characters, and for the children who see and hear their story. Digital art is not only very appealing; it adds so much to the story in heartfelt, often wordless spreads. Kids will appreciate being able to accompany the feline friends as they fill their days with adventure - on their own together.                                                                             

Sunday, August 21, 2022

I Can''t Do What: Strange Laws and Rules From Around the World. Written by Heather Camlot and illustrated by Mike Deas. Red Deer Press, Thomas Allen & Son. 2022. $14.95 ages 9 and up


"ONCE UPON A TIME: No big screen for little 
people. In 1928, children under sixteen years old 
were banned from movie theatres in Quebec, 
Canada, after 78 people, most of them children, 
died during a fire in the city of Montreal's Laurier
Palace in 1927. The name of the movie: Get 'Em 
The ban remained in place until 1961.

That fact is highlighted in a sidebar from the Entertainment Interrupted section of this book that all kid readers who love facts will be happy to see in their classroom or school library. It is filled with the many laws and rules that have been put in place over the years in various parts of the world. 

Following the introduction which explains that laws are created "by the government to protect people's rights and freedoms and to maintain peace and order", and rules "are created by individuals or organizations and guide how to act in particular situations", the author divides her text into four sections. They are: People Problems, Sports Zone, Entertainment Interrupted and Kid Concerns. 

I went first to Kid Concerns. Kids will tell you they are often controlled by too many rules. Do they know they also have rights? Divided into SCHOOL and OUTDOOR FUN, I found many surprises. In many places around the world, schools are banning knapsacks for health and safety. In Louisiana, there is a written law that allows backpacks - "of the bulletproof kind"! Did you know that worldwide 132 million girls are not in school? The list goes on ...     

Well-researched and honestly presented in text made accessible to young readers, Ms. Camlot offers much to consider while providing both laughs and anger. How did they happen in the first place, and what can be done to change some of them? Historical information is clearly provided in sidebars. Quizzes follow each section to invite readers to test their memories. An answer key for each is provided, thankfully. 

In conclusion, the author encourages her readers to be curious about laws and rules: ask questions, think about how changes might be made, have discussions with friends, advocate for change if you think change is needed. Mike Deas' illustrations are appealing and add humorous context.  

A glossary, an author's note, acknowledgements, endnotes, and selected sources follow in back matter. 

Saturday, August 20, 2022

In The Clouds, written and illustrated by Elly MacKay. Tundra, Penguin Random House. 2022. #24.99 ages 4 and up

"Why are clouds so far away?

How do they float?

And where do they go when 
they disappear?

A cloudy day has a small girl wishing for something to do. When a small bird lands on the windowsill, she is keen to begin a conversation in hopes that the bird can answer some of her most pressing questions about clouds. In her imagination, they make friends and take a journey to the clouds. Now tiny, she rides on the bird's back, all the while asking the many questions she would like answered. 

The bird flies skyward with a tiny girl on its back. Together, they climb towards the clouds. As they go, she takes note of her surroundings in the sky and below them. Her queries are endless, and vary greatly. 

"And how do clouds carry the rain? 

Do you think islands float on water
like clouds float in the sky?"

While the bird does not answer her questions, she seems unconcerned and continues asking. By doing so, she encourages readers to look at the world from a different perspective as well. What questions might they have about the world they live in, and the sights they see? Upon their return to the window where their eventful journey began, she is looking at those clouds that so disturbed her earlier in a new light. 

"Aren't clouds WONDROUS?"

A warm ending is followed by answers to some of the questions asked, and a lovely illustration that classifies the types of clouds we see. 

Elly MacKay's light-filled spreads are inspiring and remarkable. The familiar, detailed dioramas are as wonderful as the clouds and scenes she so aptly portrays.                                                                              

Friday, August 19, 2022

Blanket, written and illustrated by Ruth Ohi. Groundwood, 2022. $18.99 ages 3 and up

"How much difference can a 
friend make on a gray day?

If you have that special friend, you will know just how much better you feel in their company. 

Cat wakes up to golden sunlight coming through the bedroom window. The birds are singing, the leaves and flowers shimmering. Cat is not feeling it. Sadness is the dominant feeling as Cat leaves the bed, removes the blue blanket and uses it as a place to hide. 

Dog enters the bedroom, takes note of the lump, and proceeds to read a book aloud. The lump moves closer and snuggles up. The two sit together until Dog is invited inside. The two share the space comfortably. Cat opens up about feelings that are overwhelming. 

Dog uses a small flashlight to entertain, then leaves for a moment. Cat worries until Dog is back, with an idea for making their space bigger. The two then use the flashlight to create shadow animals, providing fun and relaxation. Dog suggests moving out from under the blanket; Cat is unsure. When Dog departs, Cat is able to move beyond the blanket's full protection. Cat falls back to sleep on the blanket, and is surprised when Dog returns with a surprise ... a picnic and a shared look at a day made infinitely better in the presence of a dear friend. 

There are no words ... and words are unnecessary to tell this heartfelt tale. 

Expressive, deceptively simple images use generally bare backgrounds and effective mood color and expression to show what deep sadness is, and how a loving friend can make all the difference.                                                                              

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Annie's Cat Is Sad, written by Heather Smith and illustrated by Karen Obuhanych. Feiwel and Friends, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2022. $24.99 ages 4 and up

"By the way, I drank your cattuccino. 
I wasn't going to, but I'm glad I did. 
It made me feel warm. 

How about some TV? 
TV might cheer you up.

When Annie returns home at the end of her day, she looks for her cat Delilah as she walks through the door. Delilah is seemingly happy on her cat tree. Annie is quick to comment on Delilah's state: "You look sad". The cat is having none of it. She finds a new place under the couch, away from concerned eyes and comments. 

Annie badly wants to make her cat feel 'better'. She offers warm milk, then watching TV, and finally yoga. Do they work, or not? Delilah is not particularly amenable to any of Annie's suggestions. Annie shares some advice:

"Just when you think you've forgotten your bad day, you will remember it again."

It will become clear to readers that Annie is the sad one. Finally, she succumbs to her sadness rather than try to project it towards her much-loved pet. Delilah, as cats are not often wont to do, does her best to make Annie feel better. She is right there to offer cuddles and comfort. 

Ms. Obuhanych gives attention to Annie  and her emotions in mixed media artwork using collage, pencils and paint. I love Annie's gorgeous orange hair! 

Giving in to feeling what she is feeling in the moment is quietly shared and done in a very effecitive way. This book shows readers who find it hard to let others know how they are feeling that doing so can make a difference. It is sure to lead to important conversations at school and at home.                                                                           

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

A Rose Named Peace,: How Francis Meilland Created A Flower of Hope For a World at War, written by Barbara Carroll Roberts and illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline. Candlewick Press, Penguin Random House, 2022. $24.99 ages 9 and up


"But so many things went wrong.
Sudden frosts killed fragile seedlings.
Mildew and insects destroyed rows 
and rows of plants. Even Caddy, the 
family's dog, damaged the new roses
by tearing up an entire planting bed
to bury her bone.

Francis Meilland grew up a farm boy in the early 1900s in France. The family grew fruits, vegetables, and roses. Once Francis learned about cross-pollination, he made it his life's work to create a new rose, one he would be entirely responsible for offering to the world. His work was time-consuming and required much patience. Many of his roses were bought by other rose growers. None were exactly the one he was hoping to grow. Finally, after many years, he grew a rose with blooms that were shaded from ivory to yellow to an edge of deep pink, and measured 5 inches across.

When rose growers came from many countries to see his family's farm, that one made them stop and stare. No one had ever seen such a rose. It was called 3-35- 40 ('the third cross Francis had made in 1935 and the fortieth plant that had grown from the seeds of that cross'). He would send the visitors cuttings to try in their own gardens. 

Just as he was feeling successful after such a long time, WWII intervened. The people needed food; the Meilland family dug up the rose plants, burned them and set to growing vegetables only. Francis kept one tiny patch of rosebushes. Because of the war and its destruction, Francis had no idea what happened with the cuttings he had sent to other rose growers. 

Following the war, the family farm continued growing vegetables. When there was time, Francis tended his roses. It wasn't long until Francis received a letter from an American rose grower. Francis' rose was a rousing success; resilient and vigorous. It was growing everywhere, in all climates. The grower even suggested a name for the rose that Francis had worked so tirelessly to develop. He called it Peace, a sign of hope for peace wherever it was grown. 

The elegant watercolor illustrations are realistic and fascinating as Mr. Ibatoulline chronicles the contrasting settings of the gardens before the war, and after. His images look like photographs taken at the time, and invite careful observation through all the changes that occurred in Francis' lifetime. His illustrations show readers that working at a dream through good times and bad can have lasting worthwhile results.  

Back matter includes an afterword, the process for patenting a new rose, a glossary and a bibliography.                                                                       

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

City Streets Are for People, written by Andrea Curtis and illustrated by Emma Fitzgerald. Groundwood Books, 2022. $19.99 ages 10 and up

"Plus, boxing ourselves up inside cars makes 
us inactive and disconnected from one another. 
Traffic accidents are also the leading cause of 
death for kids and young adults. But it doesn't 
have to be this way. 

All over the world, people are reimagining
transit and their cities. We're taking over 
sidewalks to talk and dance, to eat and play. 
We're making room for bike lanes and 
electric scooters. We're building green 
transportation and reclaiming public 

City streets are for people!"

The 'ThinkCities' series is meant to recognize and discuss new ways to make city life better in respect to population growth and increased density, and the effects of climate change. The first two books, A Forest in the City (2020) and City of Water (2021), began the task set for suggesting changes that will affect those who live in any city. This new one looks at ways to move from place to place in our cities with less impact. Cars and trucks fill our city streets, and are harmful to humans and to the environment. Andrea Curtis knows we can make many changes, and she sets out to show us how. 

She begins in the early days when streets were meant for people, and pulled wagons. History tells us that public transportation became popular with the omnibus, that started and stopped where passengers needed to get on, and then off. Next came streetcars, followed by bicycles and smoother roads. Trains, subways and finally, in the early 1900s, cars were introduced. Whoa, did things get louder and even dangerous! Streets needed to be wider, and more space was needed for parking. 

Cities are bigger today, and the climate is suffering. Many world communities are passing laws that help to bring emissions down and get people moving on their own. There is so much material of interest in this wonderfully-researched book that will inform middle grade kids wanting to know more about the changes being made and that can be made. Ms. Curtis's conversational reporting of current data makes it very engaging for her readers.  

Emma FitzGerald sketches her images with energy and detail that shows people of all ages out walking, cycling, and finding ways to get from one place to another without a car. Perspectives change and entertain. 

"How we move around - to school and work and 
everywhere in between - plays a big role in whether
our cities run smoothly or are all tangled in traffic
and frustration. After all, the design of streets, 
sidewalks, bike lanes and transit hubs shapes 
every aspect of our lives.

A final spread is titled "I like to move it!" It offers ways to promote sustainable transportation and gives suggestions for how we can help make that happen. A glossary and a list of useful resources follow. 

Monday, August 15, 2022

Saving the Day: Garrett Morgan's Life-Changing Invention of the Traffic Signal, written by Karyn Parsons and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. Little, Brown and Company, Hachette. 2021. $23.99 ages 5 and up


"His mind churned and churned
With new ideas to invent.
Some drew attention. 
Some paid the rent. 

But Garrett didn't care about fame
Or about wealth.
What he wanted most 
Was to show he could help.

Have you ever considered how people stayed safe on city streets before there were street lights? As a familiar sight in our everyday world, they are just one more of those things we know have always been there. Not so. Have you even wondered who invented them?  This book will tell you. After seeing a car crash between a horse and carriage and a car, and being knocked over by a bicyclist, Garrett Morgan decided something must be done to make his world a safer place. 

In childhood, Garrett was a dreamer. His help on the farm was often more hindrance than help. On his own, he spent time imagining uses for the many discarded objects he found. One day, while daydreaming, he just missed being hit by a car. His parents were frightened to think what troubles he might face; they decided to send him to a tutor in the city to protect him from more trouble. His mother offered advice. 

"While Ruth's good at fishing,
And Will likes to bake, 
Lucille loves the stars
and the patterns they make. 

Frank's good with tools, 
Can fix anything. 
And Minnie's at her best
When she can sing. 

You, too, son, have something
That's all yours alone. 
Something to contribute 
That's just not yet known.

The bustle of the city was terrifying for a boy raised on the farm. Garrett did his studies, and got a job fixing sewing machines - a perfect setting for his active mind. New inventions made him happy. While out walking one day Garrett was witness to the crash that changed his life, and ours. 

Poetic quatrains make the text accessible for a young audience. Garrett's life story is told to help shed a light on the achievements of African Americans. Effective and engaging, it does exactly that. Mr. Chrsitie's artwork is created in gouache and then digitally collaged. It captures Garrett's life and emotions to great effect and provides a setting that brings the time period front and center. 

An author's note, an archived photo of Garrett (1950) and the patent for his traffic signal invention follow the story. Some readers will be inspired and will want to know more. That is the best learning that comes from reading about this accomplished man. 

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Don't Eat Bees! (Life Lessons From Chip the Dog), written by Dev Petty and illustrated by Mike Boldt. Doubleday Books for Young Readers. Penguin Random House. 2022. $23.99 ages 3 and up


"Do: Eat the giant bird they cook 
at Thanksgiving. Grab what you can
and run. It's a fun game. 
And you deserve a little fun. 
Remember all those papers you ate.

Bees? No."

If you are familiar with Dev Petty's work, you will know that she has some sense of humor. In Chip's guide to eating, she is right on track for creating books that have appeal for young readers. The fact that the narrator is a dog assures attention. When the subject is food and dogs, with humor mixed in, the book will be a favorite with little ones, and in early years classrooms. 

Chip sees himself as a very smart dog, and quickly lets readers know that he has enough life experience to make him so. He's quite eager to share that knowledge, before he offers his advice about food choices. Eat socks, not bees. Eat important papers, not bees. 

You get the picture. After a few additional suggestions, he is ready to show why you should not eat bees. It can be dangerous. He has learned his lesson. Remember, Chip is one smart dog. Or is he? 

Mike Boldt ups the humor with his zany characters, whose expressions are evident at every turn. Kids will hoot at seeing Chip with grandpa's dentures in his mouth, and after he eats a lemon ... one of the few foods on his don't eat list. Clever and entertaining, read aloud time is going to be lively. 

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Quiet, Please! Written and Illustrated by Russ Willms. Orca Book Publishers, 2022. $21.95 ages 4 and up

"Junior's brothers and sisters
were noisy together
and they were noisy 
on their own. 

Burt loved to burp! 
Loud burps, multiple burps, 
melodic burps and long burps!

Junior wants to read his book in a peaceful setting, with few distractions. After all, it is a book about a monster. His siblings are not prepared to take their band practice anywhere else. Always noisy, it is left to Junior to find another place for a relaxing read. 

Perhaps the pond ... nope! Along the quintet comes with loud singing voices and a reluctance to even acknowledge Junior's plea for quiet. Instead, they work on what makes each one of them unique. Burt is a master at burping. Readers are forced to listen to the noises that spring from his mouth. Zoey gargles to ease her sore throat, Dot thinks like a bird and practices every imaginable bird call, and Gerald is fluent in telling non-stop jokes. Whoops! Don't ignore Jerome. He loves to fart, and is very good at it. 

"You see why it was hard for Junior to find a quiet 
spot to get a little reading done.

His ideas for creating the ideal reading spot will have little ones giggling with delight. Nothing seems workable. He moves so far away from his brothers and sisters that he can no longer hear them. Little Jerome misses his big brother, and comes looking for him. That leads to Junior reading his book out loud, and attracting every sibling to sit and listen with full concentration. 

What results is the dream of every teacher and teacher librarian who take the time to read amazing books to the children in their schools. And for parents, too. 

Friday, August 12, 2022

Ffowers Are Pretty Weird, written by Rosemary Mosco and illustrated by Jacob Souva. tundra, Penguin Random House. 2022. $21.99 ages 7 and up


"If you hang out with flowers as much as I do, 
you start to learn some strange things. 

You see, flowers aren't just pretty ... 

They're pretty weird.

They're weird enough to make your four 
wings quiver. (If you're a bee, that is.) 

In this companion book to Butterflies Are Pretty ... GROSS!, the author turns her attention to flowers. The obvious narrator for a book about flowers is a bee. After all, bees love flowers for their color, and soft petals, and sweet nectar. Flowers can, however, be weird; this bee is here to prove to readers that there are many things that make them so. Some are very large, others are teeny. Some taste good, others are poisonous. 

The bee sets out to prove that what he is saying is the truth. Before moving forward to that visual proof, the reader is offered a chance to go no further. Should the reader want to move on and learn more, facts await. They are voiced. The bee wants to move on to even weirder flowers. These make the bee's six legs shiver. Here, the reader can choose to back out again, if there are any concerns about future content. 

"Some flowers live
in the sky. 

Twisted-leaved Air Plants grow 
on tall, tall trees. 

Hummingbirds spread their pollen. 

And some flowers live 
under the ground. 

Western Underground Orchids hide in the soil

Termites spread their pollen."

The information is plentiful, the design is just right for the target audience, and digital art adds close-up looks at the many plants presented. In back matter, the author adds further information, including the scientific name, where the flower grows and short blurbs about some of the 'strangest flowers in this book'. 

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Our Green City. written by Tanya Lloyd Kyi and illustrated by Colleen Larmour. Kids Can Press, 2022. $21.99 ages 4 and up


"These backyard famers feed their hens
and tend to their beehives. Their flower 
beds are bright and sweet, attracting bees,
birds, and butterflies.

Can you spot a special visitor sipping 
from the zinnias?

Our tour of this green city begins in the morning, when neighbors say hello to neighbors. In a green city, people take care of plants, animals, and each other. Each turn of the page offers a panoramic look at what is happening as the day passes. Early morning means families are making their way to school, to work, or off to play. Readers see the varieties of ways that people move about as they begin a new day. 

Next is a visit to a rain garden where a little girl and her dog splash following a morning shower. The scene moves from place to place letting readers see the many ways that cities can be created to ensure a more sustainable lifestyle for all who live there. 

The delightful and detailed watercolor and pen-and-ink drawings attract interest at every turn. There is so much to see! A bonus for little ones listening is the question asked to draw attention to the scene presented. Perspectives change as Ms. Larmour invites children into each new and fascinating scenario. Each spread encourages a close look at a city focusing on renewable energy and a better lifestyle. The outdoor classroom will make teachers and kids 'green' with envy for the activities and learning opportunities pictured.  

At the end of the day, readers are returned to the opening scene. The same families are settling in for a good night's sleep while giving thought to making the city an even better place to live. Positive and full of charm, kids will want to return to the book often, as there is much to see and consider. Hopeful and inspiring, it begs the question: "What can you do to make changes in your community?" 

Backmatter shares suggestions to try in your own backyard. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

The Sour Cherry Tree, written by Naseem Hrab and illustrated by Nahid Kazemi. Owlkids, 2021. $19.95 ages 5 and up


"Baba Borzog's favorite teacup is sitting 
on the kitchen counter next to his samovar. 
He liked hot Ceylon tea with a splash of 
rose water and a fig cookie. 

I don't really like fig cookies. But he always
gave me one, and I always took one because
we didn't share many words.

I don't know how this book got lost in my TBR pile; it did! I certainly don't want to miss telling you about it in hopes that you will look for it for your home or school. 

Our young female narrator wakes up one day after her baba borzog forgot to wake up, and bites her mother's toe. She wants to wake her, while also wishing she had been there yesterday to do the same thing for her beloved grandfather. Today is the day she will accompany her mother to his house. Once inside, she is awash with reminders and memories. No more jumping on his bed to awaken him; it doesn't feel at all the same. No mints in his pockets, only wrappers. His slippers are too big for her to wear safely, so she takes them off while coming down the stairs. 

"Baba Borzog spoke Farsi loudly but English quietly."

Though they did not speak each other's language, the two had no problem communicating the love they felt. 

The story takes a gentle look at loss and allows the narrator to speak freely about all she loved about her many visits with her grandfather. Nahid Kazemi is able to capture that same softness in her pastel images. As the story concludes with a final goodbye wave to Baba, the sour cherry tree becomes a focal point with its intense green that seems to signal hope, joy and new life.                                                                         

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Fresh Air, Clean Water: Our Right to a Healthy Environment. Written by Megan Clendenan and illustrated by Julie McLaughlin. Orca Book Publishers, 2022. $24.95 ages 10 and up


"I'm taking action on climate change 
because I have to. I can't live my life 
as normal when nothing about our 
climate is normal. I feel the effects 
of climate change every day, yet in 
comparison to the rest of the world
I have it good. For me, fighting for 
climate change is about fighting 
for human rights. 

                           Cecelia, 15, Toronto" 

Megan Clendenan is a proponent for making changes in the world that make lives better. In this book, she makes a clear plea for her readers to think about their right to a healthy environment. Each one of them has the right to clear air, clean water and healthy soil. In too many places, that is not the case. 

Four chapters focus on our shared earth, the power of words, cooperation, and creating change. She emphasizes the power that fresh air and nature have on our well-being. Patients housed in hospital  rooms with a window heal faster following surgery, if they can see the view. There are obvious problems that must be dealt with if we want a healthier lifestyle. Much of what happens to affect where we live has real consequences for humans as well. 

 Awareness has been growing that laws and regulations are needed to force countries to deal with the changes that are affecting the way we live and flourish. The world must come together to make needed changes, as worries grow. In the last chapter, she profiles young people who are forcing change with their demands for clean air, water and soil. They can, and will, bring change. 

Ms. Clendenan's text is clear and accessible for her middle grade audience. Personal stories are effective and encourage action. Fact boxes and sidebars are an integral part of the total text. Full-color artwork and captioned photographs add to the learning. Readers are asked to clearly consider what they can do to bring change. That is what the THINK series is meant to do. Readers are encouraged to listen, question, connect, and help make change for a better future. This is an excellent addition to the series. 

Here's a sobering thought:

An estimated 20 million people per year become climate migrants.

Despite many of the dire facts presented, readers will come away from the reading with hope that they can be part of the changes needed to bring a better future. When we are in it together, we can make a difference. 

Monday, August 8, 2022

A Blue Kind of Day, written by Rachel Tomlinson and illustrated by Tori-Jay Mordey. Kokila, Penguin Random House. 2022. $23.99 ages 4 and up


"They waited because feelings cannot be rushed. 
They waited because it was okay that Coen felt blue. 
They waited because they knew that Coen's 
blue feelings would not last forever. 

They waited until Coen was ready."

Blue is a color often associated with sadness. Coen is having a very blue day. His sadness is palpable in every move he makes as the morning begins. Hard to get out of bed, even harder to see his face in the mirror, and hard to quell the feelings of being trapped, tense and hurting. The only thing he can do is go back to bed. 

"Coen was never going to get out of bed ever again.

Mom does her best to encourage him. Coen digs deeper into his blankets. Dad invites him outside for a football toss. Coen pulls the blankets tighter. His sister jumps on his bed. Coen cannot find the words to let her know how awful it all feels. A joke, a funny face, a snuggly teddy - nothing helps. Coen turns away from them. 

His family is concerned. Mom sits patiently on his bed, saying nothing. The family sits in his room, silent and caring. When he is ready, Coen can appreciate the love and warmth that surrounds him. His blue feelings subside little bit by little bit. Hugs, smiles, and a story bring calm. With everyone's love and complete support, Coen is able to loosen his blanket and smile once more.

"And then he wondered what tomorrow might bring.

Childhood depression is challenging for the children themselves and for their families. Children don't often have the words to describe the overwhelming feelings they are experiencing. There are symptoms that may alert parents, and they are shared in an author's note. Ms. Tomlinson also offers guidance for ways to support a child through difficult times. 

Tori-Jay Mordey’s digital images are done in a palette of gentle blues and pinks to comfort and inspire empathy for Coen and his loving family. They are emotional and telling as Coen's day moves forward with needed support.  Changing perspectives add depth, and Coen's stuffed bear is an absolute delight.                                                                                

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Lizzy and the Cloud, written and illustrated by The Fan Brothers. Simon & Schuster, 2022. $21.99 ages 4 and up


"She named her cloud Milo. 
It seemed like a good name. 
Naming your cloud was the first
instruction in the manual. There were 
more steps than she had been expecting.

In an earlier time, Lizzy lives with her parents and loves a Saturday walk. The park is the perfect place, and the Cloud Seller the perfect vendor. Lizzy heads right over. Not many people pay him a visit. Lizzy is enchanted with his wares. There are sooo many! 

Lizzy pays her money and makes her choice - an ordinary cloud. The cloud is her companion on the return trip home. It comes with a care sheet. Following instructions, she names her cloud Milo. Five additional rules are included. Lizzy waters Milo daily, per instructions. Milo returns the favor, watering Lizzy's plant collection. Milo tolerates warm days; but prefers rainy ones. 

Through winter and spring, Milo expands. Lizzy's ceiling is covered. What happens if Milo continues growing? There are no clear instructions in her manual. When Milo pummels her room with a storm, the cloud seems sorry. Only then does Lizzy remember a very important rule when caring for clouds. 

"Never confine a cloud to a small space."

Problem solved. 

The artwork is dream-like, designed with pale colors and gray shades. It is magical, and thoughtful, and 
fascinating. It pulls at heartstrings when Lizzy must follow the care guide for what is best for her much-loved cloud. The details, as fans have come to expect from these remarkable artists, are exemplary. They invite close observation and imagination, offer scenes meant to promote discussion, and leave readers in awe.                                                                            

Saturday, August 6, 2022

And J.J. Slept, written by Loretta Garbutt and illustrated by Erika Rodriguez Medina. Kids Can Press, 2022. $21.99 ages 3 and up

"J.J. fussed. He kicked. 
He balled up his little 
fists and waved them 
in the air. 

Dad held him close, 
fed him and changed his 
diaper. Mom sang her 
best version of "Hush, 
Little Baby."
But, still J.J. would 
not sleep.

In this lively story of the adoption of a newborn baby, readers will meet his new family in quick order. Four siblings, parents and an exuberant pup are at the door, and filled with wonder at seeing J.J. The arrival of the baby does nothing to stem the action or the noise that filters through the house every moment of the day. 

The older children are busy, the household noises range from beeping, thundering, drumming, yelling, to the dog barking and more. All the while, J.J. sleeps. This is one very content baby, doing normal things and enjoying every bit of attention. No matter what is happening, he quickly settles.

When the weekend comes and the children are off at a variety of activities, Mom and Dad finally catch a break from the noise and chaos of a large family. J.J. is not pleased with the quiet; in fact, he is confused by it. He makes his parents aware in no uncertain terms. He cannot be comforted. They have no idea how to help him. 

As the door bangs open, the children return with their normal enthusiasm and commotion.  

""I'm home!" Harvey shuffle - hop - stepped 
his way inside.
"Listen to my new piece," Ada plunked 
herself down at the piano. 
Etta went on and on about her wagon
ride at the apple farm. 
CRASH! Sebastian knocked over the 
potted plant. "Sorry."

Can you guess what J.J. does? As pandemonium returns, J.J. closes his eyes and goes straight to sleep. 

A lively pace for the text, and warm, joyful digital images are sure to entertain young readers at story time. Anyone with a baby in the house will be able to share vignettes from their own experiences, and discussion will center on the many noises and disturbances that have no effect on a comfortable and content baby boy. 

Friday, August 5, 2022

Can You Believe It? How to Spot Fake News and Find the Facts, written by Joyce Grant and illustrated by Kathleen Marcotte. Kids Can Press, 2022. $19.99 ages 9 and up

"While fake news can be cheap and easy to 
publish, real news is expensive. You have to 
pay a news team to gather facts and check 
them. Also, lots of real news can seem kind 
of dry and boring. That's because the mission 
of a news organization is to give facts and 
information, not create excitement.

Isn't everyone concerned with internet safety these days? If we, as adults, have trouble figuring out what is real and what is fake in the news, how do we make sure that our kids have access to learning the truth? Kids are not going to read the newspaper. Knowing that, Joyce Grant sets out to help them (and us) become more media literate. 

The book's design presents an introduction, six chapters, a conclusion, and back matter. The introduction asks a question about four headlines. Which one is fake? She goes on to wonder why people write stories that are not true.

" ... fake news spreads faster than the truth. 
In fact, lies are 70 percent more likely to be 
shared on Twitter than real news ...

It's important to know the difference, and Ms. Grant spends the rest of the book helping her readers learn to spot real and fake news. Six chapters: Real or Fake, The Good Stuff, Whoops! Mistakes Happen, Not Quite Fake, Not Quite Real, Become An Investigator, and And Now the Good News! are sure to set readers on a path of discovery. 

She writes about responsible journalism; in print on-air, or online. She offers ways to research sources, spot bias and errors, understand advertising, how a bit of the truth makes a lie more believable, and how to investigate by always being skeptical. She uses appropriate amounts of text to keep her readers interested, but not overwhelmed. Sidebars, blocked text, highlighted headlines, even conversations that mimic screen grabs engage and enlighten readers.   

There is humor in the graphic illustrations, as there is in the text. The art adds context for more difficult concepts. This is a very important topic for middle grade classes. Sharing one chapter at a time, and providing time for student discussion and opinion will go a long way in helping kids learn what they need to know. Some concepts are not easy to digest; critical thinking is often encouraged. She also suggests skepticism and fact-checking before deciding if the information should be shared online.  

Should we believe everything we read online. Of course not! Taking time to find out why is a great use of time spent today and every day. What and who can you trust? This fine book puts readers on the road to knowing. 

Back matter features a glossary, an author's note, sources and an index. 

Here are a few quotes from an interview with Joyce Grant concerning TKN: 

We have now passed a decade producing kid-friendly news articles. The articles are written by me (Joyce Grant) and a small but incredibly dedicated group of professional journalists who volunteer their time.  We also write original and interesting “Think & Discuss” prompts for every article and ensure that the site is understandable for kids, and that it’s relevant for teachers and homeschool parents. 

Not only “teach kids the news,” but have them understand it, think critically about what they’re hearing, and then apply their knowledge to the real world. And then, maybe, go out and make a difference. Those kinds of critical thinking skills are more important that they have ever been. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

On Baba's Back, by marianne dubuc. Princeton Architectural Press, Raincoast. 2022. $14.95 ages 1 and up

“Oops! Koko pees
on Baba’s back.”

Koko and Baba are never apart. Koko does everything on Baba's back. When curiosity overwhelms at the sight of a lovely, flitting butterfly, Koko makes a run for it - alone. No need for worry. It is a successful adventure, and Koko makes a happy return as bedtime nears. Koko knows there is safety with Baba, and open arms and a strong back. 

Independence can be a difficult rite of passage for caregivers like Baba; patience and pride pay off with being able to watch the joyful result of letting go. Ms. Dubuc knows young children and shows that by giving Koko recognizable and childlike behaviors. It is a 'just-right' book little ones because of the repetitive text structure. 

The pencil and watercolor images will be familiar to fans of this fine artist. She creates a setting that is true to the Australian habitat, where koalas live. It is full of charm and worthy of repeated readings. The simplicity of the text is enhanced by that same restraint in creating the lovely illustrations. 

Don't miss the ladybug! 

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Itzel and the Ocelot, written and illustrated by Rachel Katstaller. Kids Can Press, 2022. $21.99 ages 5 and up


"That night, as her nana slept deeply, 
Itzel took her flute and left home in 
search of the river and the mysterious
giant snake. 

The full moon cast shadows teeming 
with threatening shapes.

Itzel felt her way through the trees
but then, all at once, 
she lost her footing and plunged down, 
tumbling and tumbling 
deep into the jungle.

Itzel loves to play her flute, and to listen to her nana's stories. In one difficult year, there is not enough rain to germinate the seeds that provide food for the two, as well as market produce. There will soon be nothing to eat. Itzel's favorite story is told of the awakening of a giant snake who brings the rainy season. The story is rarely told anymore, and the snake has disappeared. 

If the snake would return to 'the place where the water is born', perhaps the rains would come. Without her nana's knowledge, Itzel sets off in the night to find the snake. Her flute is her only companion. In the darkness, she falls deep into the jungle where she meets an ocelot. The ocelot is surprised to hear Itzel knows of the snake. Being thirsty in such a dry season, the ocelot decides to accompany the girl. Along the way, they meet an opossum, an agouti, a kinkajou, and more. All need water for many different reasons. 

None know where the water was born; at the end of their quest the riverbed is dry. All hope gone; Itzel plays her flute while tears run from the eyes of all searchers. With a lot of noise and the sight of the snake rising into the sky, water begins filling the riverbed. The water sends the travelers back downstream. Each creature finds their way back home. Finally, there is nana. Together, the three watch the nourishing and vital rain fall. 

Artwork rendered in 'colored pencils, acrylic paints and gouache' are bright and detailed, allowing readers to see Itzel's emotions at all times, and to live in a jungle setting that is home to so many. A glossary lists both Nawat and Spanish words from El Salvador. An author's note tells of the stories she has heard all her life, and invites readers to learn more.  

Monday, August 1, 2022

The Year We Learned To Fly, wrritten by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Rafael Lopez. Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin Random House,. 2022. $24.99 7 and up

"That was the autumn our rooms felt too big and lonely
with only us in them and the darkness coming on so
But while we hugged ourselves against the too-quiet 
of it all, we remembered that we didn't have to be stuck
anywhere anymore.

Being inside has no appeal on stormy August afternoon for the two children whose story is told here. Luckily, they have a grandmother who encourages them to close their eyes, use their imaginations, and take themselves to a better place. It works! They fly over a city suddenly changed. It is a special summer for them - a time when they learned to fly. 

If they are arguing about turns, or fighting about other unimportant things that make them mad, their grandmother reminds them:

"Lift your arms, 
close your eyes,
take a deep breath, 
and stop being mean about everything. 
Somebody somewhere at some point
was just as mad as you are now.

So they fly again, and lose all the anger they are feeling. The summer passes with thoughts of taking themselves away in times of trouble. The seasons pass. They no longer need their grandmother to remind them they have freedom to think, to dream, to imagine. They teach new friends to do what they do. 

Mixed-media artwork explodes with color and add real connection to the wise and eloquent text. The scenes are filled with energy and wonder through the seasons as the children face difficulties, and overcome them. 

An author's note relates the ways enslaved people used stories of freedom to lift out of the despair of bad times. Ms. Woodson also reveals that reading Virginia Hamilton's The People Could Fly helped her understand that she was flying through the words she wrote.  

A companion book to The Day You Begin (2018), it is equally reassuring.