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Intermediate January 2019

August 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2018-2019 | 2018-2019 Intermediate | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | January - (Comments Off on Intermediate January 2019)

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Dairman, Tara. The Great Hibernation. Illustrated by Rebecca Green. Wendy Lamb Books / Random House, 2017. 260 pages (978–1–5247–1785–8)

Ages 7-10

During St. Polonius-on-the-Fjord’s annual Founder’s Day event, everyone over 12 years, 4 months, 6 days old must eat a slice of bear liver in honor of the North Sea village’s long-ago founders, who survived a cold winter after eating bear liver and falling asleep until spring. Twelve-year-old Jean, participating for the first time, spits her piece out when no one is looking. Hours later, every adult and teenager in town falls into a sleep from which no one can wake them—not a typical Founder’s Day occurrence despite the long-ago miracle. The town charter says children must do their parents’ jobs if the adults are incapacitated, so the kids step up. Jean is convinced the mayor’s son, Magnus, is up to no good when he announces plans to carry out the election to decide whether the town will build a thistleberry processing plant—something sure to change St. Polonius forever. Along with her younger brother, Micah, best friend Katrin (giving cutting edge haircuts at her mom’s salon), 8-year-old Axel (operating his dad’s snowplow), and Isara, who’s keeping everyone fed at his immigrant parents’ Thai restaurant, she investigates. Magnus, in turn, passes restrictive laws and deputizes other kids to keep Jean and her friends in check. The silliness is not without substance in this novel that takes political machinations to a not-unrecognizable extreme, but it’s the story’s over-the-top charm that wins the day.  ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Intermediate December 2018

August 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2018-2019 | 2018-2019 Intermediate | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | December - (Comments Off on Intermediate December 2018)

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Williams-Garcia,
Rita. Clayton Byrd Goes Underground. Amistad, 2017. 166  pages (978–0–06–221591–8)

Ages 8-12

Clayton Byrd loves playing the blues harp (harmonica) with his grandfather, Cool Papa Byrd, and other blues musicians in the park. Clayton is eagerly looking forward to the day he’ll finally get the nod from his grandfather to take a solo during one of their performances. When his grandfather dies suddenly, Clayton’s mother is too wrapped up in her own complicated feelings to be sensitive to her son’s grief and sells Cool Papa’s belongings. Struggling in the days that follow—he keeps falling asleep in class—Clayton finally skips school to go in search of the bluesmen in the park. On the subway, he’s mesmerized by a group of kids who beatbox and dance for money. Clayton can’t help but join in on his harmonica, and the boys net their biggest take of the day when they pass the hat. While Clayton likes the younger kids in the group, the oldest teen snatches the hat Clayton is wearing, the last thing Clayton has left from Cool Papa. Determined to get it back, Clayton sticks with the group, bending notes to create a melody matched to their hip-hop beat. A marvelous author’s note on the musical origins of blues and hip-hip and her appreciation for both concludes a story about love and grief and music and family and the importance of being heard. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Intermediate November 2018 (2)

August 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2018-2019 | 2018-2019 Intermediate | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | November - (Comments Off on Intermediate November 2018 (2))

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Bing, Xu.
Look! What Do You See? An Art Puzzle Book of American & Chinese Songs. Illustrated by Becca Stadtlander. Viking, 2017. 38 pages (978–0–451–47377–6)

Ages 8-12

Xu Bing has invented a writing system (called a “code” here) called Square Word Calligraphy that uses Roman letters and makes them look like Chinese calligraphy. This unusual and inventive book showcases his transliterated lyrics of several popular American folk songs (e.g., “Skip to My Lou,” “This Land Is Your Land”) and five popular Chinese children’s songs into Square Word Calligraphy. Each is accompanied by a detailed illustration that offers a subtle picture clue, and the challenge for readers is to use the picture clue to decode the song. Once you see the words, you can really begin to read the lines, even of the Chinese songs. The pleasure of decoding is addictive in this volume that features exceptional book-making. For children who love puzzles and decoding, it’ll be a rewarding challenge, and Chinese American children may have double the fun. In fact, in an introduction, the author addresses Chinese children directly, saying, “If you are from China, you might know these from camp or school sing-alongs.”  ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Intermediate November 2018 (1)

August 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2018-2019 | 2018-2019 Intermediate | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | November - (Comments Off on Intermediate November 2018 (1))


Barton, Chris.
Dazzle Ships: World War I and the Art of Confusion. Illustrated by Victo Ngai. Millbrook Press, 2017. 36 pages (978–1–5124–1014–3)

During World War I, more than 1,200 U.S. ships and twice as many British ships were camouflaged in dazzling geometric designs. The goal was to paint patterns that would create confusion regarding the direction in which ships were traveling when viewed by German submarines. The idea originated with Norman Wilkinson, a commander in the Royal Navy reserve. It was carried out in part by women artists in Britain and, when the United States began dazzling, the Women’s Reserve Camouflage Corps. Did the camouflage work? No one knows for sure. “But some insisted that at the very least, sailors on those ships just felt better knowing that something had been tried to keep them from getting torpedoed.” This fascinating bit of history is followed by an equally fascinating author’s note about his research and the decisions he made in crafting  the account. Likewise, bold, bedazzling mixed-media illustrations are followed by an intriguing illustrator’s note. A timeline with black-and-white photographs and suggestions for further reading complete the volume. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Intermediate October 2018

August 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2018-2019 | 2018-2019 Intermediate | October | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) - (Comments Off on Intermediate October 2018)

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Florence, Debbi Michiko.
Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen. Illustrated by Elizabet Vuković. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2017. 115 pages (978–0–374–30410–2)

Ages 6-9

Eight-year-old Japanese American Jasmine Toguchi makes her debut in an engaging and lively book for newly independent readers. Jasmine is determined to help make mochi for the New Year, even though she’s only 8 and family tradition says girls start when they’re 10. Tradition also says girls and women form the rice into balls after it’s been pounded by the men and boys. When she can’t convince her mom or Obaachan to let her help form the mochi, Jasmine appeals to her dad to help pound it, only to discover it’s a lot harder than she realized. After everything will she fail?  Jasmine’s terrific first-person voice is so believably 8, and so is her behavior. Her reactions to others are rooted in her emotions of the moment, leaving room for her to be surprised when people behave in unexpected ways, and room for her to consider what that means. The book includes occasional black-and-white spot illustrations. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Intermediate September 2018

August 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2018-2019 | 2018-2019 Intermediate | September | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) - (Comments Off on Intermediate September 2018)

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Barnes, Derrick. Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut. Illustrated by Gordon C. James. A Denene Millner Book / Bolden, 2017. 32 pages (978–1–57284–224–3)

Ages 6-10

A distinctive second-person narrative speaks directly to readers to honor an everyday experience—going to the barbershop for a haircut, a universal experience for boys, but specific here to African American boys. Barnes deftly uses hyperbole, exaggeration, and metaphor to instill the story with a sense of pride and a good deal of humor. It truly is an ode in the traditional sense, but so modern, too. Fresh and original turns of phrase appear on every page, celebrating an experience of joy and confidence, while the descriptions of other men (and their specific haircuts) in the shop place the boy firmly at the center of a community that pulls together as a strong extended family. Bold colors and broad brush strokes capture both the individuality of the men and boys in the shop, as well as the protagonist’s pride in his own fresh cut. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Primary Summer 2019 (3)

August 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2018-2019 | 2018-2019 Primary | Primary (Grades K-2) | Summer - (Comments Off on Primary Summer 2019 (3))

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Grey, Mini. Toys in Space. U.S. edition: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013. 32 pages (978–0–307-97812–7)

Ages 4-8

“That summer night, for the first time the toys were left outside. The sun went down, the sky grew dark, and, for the very first time … they saw THIS.” This being the dazzle of the stars in the sky. It’s overwhelming for some of them, and when Blue Rabbit asks for a story, WonderDoll spins a tale of a starry sky, and a spaceship, and a sad, glove-like alien called the Hoctopize who beams up seven toys left out in yard, hoping to find its lost Cuddles. Mini Grey’s warm, witty adventure features a cast of distinctive characters in a sweetly funny story. The seven toys left out in the yard are not only the characters in WonderDoll’s story, but provide an ongoing commentary about it. Dynamic illustrations incorporating panels and speech bubbles are an essential part of the humor.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Primary Summer 2019 (2)

August 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2018-2019 | 2018-2019 Primary | Primary (Grades K-2) | Summer - (Comments Off on Primary Summer 2019 (2))

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Sayre, April Pulley. Stars Beneath Your Bed. Illustrated by Ann Jonas. Greenwillow Books / HarperCollins, 2005. 24 pages (0-06-057189-6)

Ages 5-8

Poetry and science grace one another in a lyrical picture book about dust. Sayre’s narrative begins with reference to a fire-painted sky in the morning -— the result of dust in the atmosphere scattering light. It ends by describing the pink, orange and red palette of sunset -— also the result of dust. In between, Sayre examines many of the ways dust is created: dirt flies when we ride our bikes, when a meerkat digs, when cheetahs chase gazelles; cotton rubs off our jeans and becomes dust; so does the smoke from burning toast or the eyelash of seal. “Old dust stays around . . . That dusty film on your computer screen / might have muddied a dinosaur.” And there is dust that comes from outer space: “The dust beneath your bed might be from Mars . . . or a bit of the moon.” Who knew? Dust may be small, but Sayre invites readers to consider it as an extraordinary element in the grand scheme of nature. A short prose narrative at the end of the book provides additional scientific information about dust and expands on information referenced in the poetic text. Ann Jonas’ bright water-color illustrations are a simple, strong backdrop for the words. (MS) ©2005 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Primary Summer 2019 (1)

August 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2018-2019 | 2018-2019 Primary | Primary (Grades K-2) | Summer - (Comments Off on Primary Summer 2019 (1))

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Aston, Dianna Hutts. Moon Over Star. Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. Dial, 2008. 32 pages (978-0-8037-3107-3)

Ages 7-10

In the summer of1969, young Mae feels growing anticipation as the hour for the moon landing draws near. “A spaceship would land on the moon today, / And I dreamed that maybe one day, / I could go to the moon, too.” Mae and her cousins pretend to be the astronauts, and she is full of facts to share—about the moon being 240,000 miles away, and about President Kennedy’s declaration in 1961 that America would land on the moon. As the family gathers around the television to watch Neil Armstrong take the first steps on the moon, even Mae’s grandpa, who thinks money spent on the space program could do so much more good here on earth, seems impressed. “I reckon that’s something to remember,” he says. As for Mae, it’s something to inspire dreams. Dianna Hutts Aston’s poetic narrative is set against Jerry Pinkney’s stirring graphite, ink and watercolor illustrations in which scenes of African American Mae and her family are interspersed with the vision of her imagination and the astronauts’ experiences in space.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Primary May 2019 (2)

August 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2018-2019 | 2018-2019 Primary | Primary (Grades K-2) | May - (Comments Off on Primary May 2019 (2))

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Meisel, Paul.
My Awesome Summer by P. Mantis. Holiday House, 2017. 32  pages (978–0–8234–3671–2)

Ages 5-8

The eventful summer of the spunky P. Mantis begins on the sunny day of May 17 (“I was born today!”). The praying mantis’s sparse but entertaining log continues for the next five months as she records her growth spurts, ravenous appetite—on June 2 she eats two of her brothers—and impressive camouflage skills. As we read about P.’s adventures, we learn interesting tidbits about praying mantises. They can turn their heads to look behind themselves; they can fly (eventually); they shed their skin many times as they mature. In the end, after laying her own eggs on the plant where she was born, P. Mantis lies down for “a long nap.” Notes on the endpapers confirm what readers may have suspected: adult mantises do not survive the winter, but their short lives are indeed “awesome.”  ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Primary May 2019 (1)

August 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2018-2019 | 2018-2019 Primary | Primary (Grades K-2) | May - (Comments Off on Primary May 2019 (1))

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Cornwall, Gaia. Jabari Jumps. Candlewick Press, 2017. 32 pages (978–0–7636–7838–8)

Ages 3-7

A young African American boy is sure he’s ready to jump off the diving board at the pool … or is he? “‘Looks easy,’ Jabari said. But when his dad squeezed his hand, Jabari squeezed back.” Jabari starts up the ladder, only to come down again to take “a tiny rest” at his dad’s suggestion. “It’s okay to feel a little scared,” his dad tells him. “Sometimes if I feel a little scared, I take a deep breath and tell myself I am ready. And you know what? Sometimes it stops feeling scary and feels a little like a surprise.” Intrigued (“Jabari loved surprises”), Jabari decides to try again. Anxiety, anticipation, and accomplishment all take the stage in this sparkling picture book featuring a finely paced text and a warm father–son relationship. The mixed-media illustrations show a range of wonderful perspectives, including an overhead of Jabari’s toes hanging off the board just before he jumps, or, in his mind, flies. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Primary April 2019

August 1st, 2018 | Posted by schliesman in 2018-2019 | 2018-2019 Primary | Primary (Grades K-2) | April - (Comments Off on Primary April 2019)

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Garza, Cynthia Leonor. Lucía the Luchadora. Illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez. POW!, 2017. 32 pages (978–1–57687–827–9)

Ages 3-6

Lucía is a brave, active girl who wants to be a superhero. The boys on the playground tell her girls can’t be superheroes because they’re made of sugar and spice and everything nice. Abuela comes to the rescue when she gives Lucía her own luchadora mask and tells her all about the Mexican tradition of lucha libre. Lucía assumes the luchadora persona and—now disguised—impresses all the boys on the playground by doing the exact same things she had done as a superhero. The difference is that no one knows she’s a girl until she reveals herself, surprising all the doubters. A playful, well-told story with spirited illustrations delivers a strong feminist message. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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