BLACK IS A RAINBOW COLOR (Roaring Brook Press, 2020) is a vibrant, joyful celebration of black culture, heritage, and heroes. Written in lyrical text, the narrative subtly shifts from concrete black objects, like crayons and braids, to black culture and significant events in history. With well placed quotes and references throughout the text, Joy gives ingenious nods to black writers, artists, and poets who came before her. Both the text and the rich, dynamic art by Ekua Holmes brim with symbolism, making this the kind of book children will pour over time and again. For readers who want more, interesting backmatter explains references in the text and provides background.
I have read WHEN YOU NEED WINGS (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2020) to young kids, to middle school students, and to adults. In all these readings, I sensed my audience quiet down even before we reached the title page. I heard them listen, connect, and unwind. And time and again, I caught the eye of listeners whose faces said, "This is me!" The combination of Lita Judge's playful, yet emotive watercolor art, and her sparse, lyrical text connects with her audience's heart. WHEN YOU NEED WINGS reassures in a time when young readers need comfort. It affirms, strengthens, and builds confidence. And makes us reach deep for our own wings. Click here for the book trailer. To learn more about Lita Judge, visit her website at litajudge.me/
Every history, literature, and Bible teacher should have this graphic novel biography on their shelf! John Hendrix artfully tells the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the theologian who helped plan multiple plots to assassinate Hitler, his internal struggle with morality, and his heartache over the deterioration of his country. With powerful graphics, striking symbolism, and straight forward language Hendrix also tells of the bone-chilling rise of Adolf Hitler. Haunting illustrations, striking hand-lettering, and brilliant use of color help readers better understand the history, the conflict, and the connection between these two men. Often quoting Bonhoeffer directly, Hendrix further adds authenticity to this well-researched work. THE FAITHFUL SPY (Amulet Books 2019) contains interesting back matter for those curious to learn more. But mostly it reminds its readers to speak up for what is right and stand up for those being wronged, no matter the cost.
Lisa Jobe's adorable picture book debut CAN I KEEP IT? (Page Street Kids; 2019) transported me back to my childhood, when I watched my big brother set traps with cardboard boxes, sticks and string for ever-elusive birds. The repetitive structure, relatable content, and amazing paper cut-out illustrations make this a perfect book for the preschool crowd. In the classroom, it will come in handy for lessons regarding wild and tame animals. Children will love searching for the orange cat among the pages!
NINE MONTHS strikes the perfect balance between age-appropriate information about the development of a baby, and preparing an older sibling for the arrival of a new family member. The book features Jason Chin's fantastic, scientifically correct illustrations on each left hand page, coupled with a loving family preparing for the new baby on each right hand page. Economic language use, steady rhythm, and gentle rhyme make NINE MONTHS a comforting read to share with young children. However, life-size illustrations and informative back matter provide educational tie-ins that take this book well beyond the preschool crowd. NINE MONTHS was named a 2019 Boston Globe- Horn Book Non-Fiction Honor book. Visit 24 Carrot Writing for an interview with Miranda Paul. http://www.24carrotwriting.com/-blog/an-interview-with-author-miranda-paul
The poetry anthology HOOP KINGS (Candlewick 2004) is a must for any language-arts teacher's classroom. Snappy, rap-rhythm poems about basketball greats will have even the most reluctant student-poets sit up and take notice. Poems from this book can be used to teach concepts such as alliteration, metaphor, rhythm and typography with slam dunk material. Readers who enjoy Kwame Alexander's books, will love HOOP KINGS.
Middle Grade THE EMPEROR'S OSTRICH is a humorous, fantasy adventure about a milkmaid looking for her lost cow, but finding friends instead, and a spoiled emperor who learns what it means to govern. And an ostrich. Who finds a cow. Julie Berry masterfully weaves together a plot that is entertaining, unpredictable and completely satisfying. Young readers will revel in laugh-out-loud twists, unconventional language use, and endearing characters. This book is a great classroom read for 4th and 5th graders, with themes such as loyalty, perseverance and greed to discuss.