Picture Books At The Library 171

At The Library Too

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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THE NIGHT BOX: When a boy opens the Night Box, darkness swoops out, taking light’s place, and night flows freely until morning comes to replace it again.

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TAKE YOUR OCTOPUS TO SCHOOL DAY: Tired of being second best, Sam is determined to “win” at show-and-tell, especially on Take Your Octopus To School Day.

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JOSIE’S LOST TOOTH: Josie finally loses a baby tooth, but when she for-real loses it, she needs a substitute tooth to leave for the Tooth Fairy.

SCAREDY BEAR: A brave little bunny goes in search of the scary creature known as the Big Hairy.

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GOOD MORNING, NEIGHBOR: A group of animals goes in search of the ingredients needed to make a cake.

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WILD ORCA: A girl named Mia hopes she will catch a glimpse of Granny, the oldest orca, during Orca Sing in the San Juan Islands.

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FAST ASLEEP IN A LITTLE VILLAGE IN ISRAEL: Various sounds keep Mrs. Strauss awake, but when the first rain of the season comes, it quiets everything else.

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NIGHT JOB: When the sun sets, a boy helps his dad clean the school.

 

 

Book Review MAXIMILLIAN VILLAINOUS: A Teacher And Writer’s Perspective by Laura Roettiger

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Everything about the book Maximillian Villainous (Running Press Kids, 2018) made me know it was going to be a hit at school. To be honest, I was excited to find this book at the library and I knew my enthusiasm would add to their interest. The title alone captured the imagination of the children who wanted to know more about this villainous monster. But wait, Max isn’t a villain! And right away, the author had us engaging with the main character.

The class of second and third graders may not know about the rule of three, expertly employed by author Margaret Chiu Greanias, but they sure appreciated the way it was woven into the story. The three tasks for Max: “1. Steal something 2. Make someone cry 3. Gain fame by being devious” are cleverly highlighted in the illustrations so that children focused on the list. We even compared it to the classroom rules, which was fun and another way to interact with the story. Of course, the students explained the tasks were the opposite of what they should be, demonstrating that the author and illustrator did a great job engaging the readers early in the story.

As a picture book writer, I’ve been studying different aspects of craft and I know how important page turns are. This book is a model of page turns done well. I’d like to mention two excellent examples. The first that attracted attention (read children needed to chime in with their predictions) involved the bunnies digging in the Sandman’s stash of magic sleeping dust. Many of the children knew what would come next. The other is when Max has an idea, complete with the villainous “Mua-ha-Ha!” This was definitely the class’s favorite part of the book (read everyone was making the sound and believed Max was turning into a villain like the rest of his family.) Well played, Margaret!

The illustrations (by Lesley Breen Withrow) in Maximillian Villainous are fantastic. They are colorful, full of wonderful detail, but not too busy, and whimsical, matching the tone of the story. Even the way the Illustrations were laid out on the pages and the use of signs and notes created a high level of interest for the children and for me.

This book definitely earns 5 stars from me because it’s got humor and heart on every page. Additionally, it allowed for a fun reading lesson learning about problem and solution in a story where they weren’t as obvious as in many books. This helped me know what the children understood and which ones needed more help. It is more proof that picture books are excellent vehicles for learning.

Laura R

Laura Roettiger is the author of the picture book Aliana Reaches for the Moon (Eifrig Publishing, 2019) She has enjoyed working with children ever since she was no longer considered a child herself. She was a reading specialist and elementary teacher in Chicago, IL before moving to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where she worked in Environmental Education and is now a mentor for reading and writing at a STEM school. Her superpower is encouraging curiosity in children and letting them know she believes in them. Laura has three children of her own, all of whom were led by curiosity and creativity into STEM-related professions. Laura is also a part of #PictureBookBuzz, a group of authors with books being released in 2019.

Find Laura on Twitter @ljrwritenow and at her website LauraRoettigerBooks.com.

Picture Books At The Library 170

At The Library Too

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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GIRAFFE PROBLEMS: A giraffe goes on and on about how awful his neck is until he meets another animal who needs his help.

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HOW TO BE A T. REX: When Sal grows up, she’s going to be a Tyrannosaurus Rex because being human can be a real drag.

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HEY, WALL: Armed with pencils, paints, dreams, and Grandma Addy’s memories of how beautiful the neighborhood once was, Angel and others paint the cold, empty wall.

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THIS IS A CIRCLE: Circles and squares are introduced as a most unusual group of friends sings, sails, huffs, and puffs. Fun!

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A DOG NAMED HAKU: During a Hindu festival in Kathmandu, Nepal, brothers Alu and Bhalu search for a dog they can honor with food and gratitude.

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ERASER: Eraser is tired of cleaning up everyone else’s mistakes and wants to create instead.

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AN UNLIKELY BALLERINA: A small, frail girl with wobbly legs and turned-out toes becomes the first Jewish prima ballerina assoluta in history.

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CROW NOT CROW: A girl accompanies her father for the first time on a birding expedition and learns how to identify several birds.

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THE REMEMBER BALLOONS: James has a bunch of balloons, each of which holds a special memory, but he notices that as his grandfather ages, he loses balloons, while James gains new ones.

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KITTEN AND THE NIGHT WATCHMAN: Being a night watchman is a lonely job, especially when you’re away from your family.

Laura’s Book Reviews: Catalina and the King’s Wall AND Mela and the Elephant

Please welcome author and teacher (and Frog on a Blog follower) Laura Roettiger! Laura is the author of the forthcoming picture book Aliana Reaches for the Moon. She’s also a mentor for reading and writing at a STEM school in Colorado. She likes to use books in pairs or threes to encourage her students to make connections by comparing and contrasting them.

Today, Laura shares two books that celebrate kindness in very different ways.

I love the idea of reviewing two or more books on the same theme together. And books on kindness are some of my favorites. But what makes Laura’s reviews really special is that she’s shared the books with her students and has based her reviews, partially, on their responses to the books. As she says, “It’s an authentic way to talk about the books.” I’m thrilled to have Laura as a reviewer on Frog on a Blog!


As a teacher and curriculum developer, I don’t think of books in isolation. We always ask our students to “make connections.” In the younger grades, we ask students to make text to text, text to self, and text to world connections.

As a picture book writer, I’ve been studying picture books this year. Many, I’ve discovered on this blog (Frog on a Blog)! I like to think of how books relate to each other or something happening in the classroom or larger world.

Two books I really enjoyed this year are Catalina and the King’s Wall (Eifrig Publishing, 2018) by Patty Costello (ill. by Diane Cojocaru), and Mela and the Elephant (Sleeping Bear Press, 2018) by Dow Phumiruk Ng (ill. by Ziyue Chen). On the surface, they are very different books; one is like a many layered cake, while the other is beautifully simple. I like sharing two seemingly different books and asking my students to find similarities.

Catalina, a baker, needs to outsmart the king who wants to build a wall to keep out foreigners. (Yes, there is a political undertone, and according to the author, this was the inspiration for her book.) Lucky for Catalina, the King has a sweet tooth and she is able to use this weakness to her advantage. The illustrations are vibrant and children will be charmed by the abundance of colors, baked goods, and a tiny mouse who can be found on each page. The lessons of inclusion and acceptance are woven throughout, but the overarching theme of kindness is what my second and third graders took note of.

Mela is a little girl who wants to go on an adventure down the river without her little brother. A simple, negative exchange between them at the beginning allows the reader to anticipate what will happen when Mela gets lost and needs help. This Thai folktale is a more obvious story of kindness, but is in no way preachy, and the students were easily able to relate to Mela. The illustrations are also charming, but simpler, to match the story.

Personally, I give each of these books 5 stars because they both work as a good combination of text and illustration, telling compelling stories that work for a variety of ages.

Laura RLaura Roettiger is the author of the picture book Aliana Reaches for the Moon (Eifrig Publishing, 2019) She has enjoyed working with children ever since she was no longer considered a child herself. She was a reading specialist and elementary teacher in Chicago, IL before moving to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where she worked in Environmental Education and is now a mentor for reading and writing at a STEM school. Her superpower is encouraging curiosity in children and letting them know she believes in them. Laura has three children of her own, all of whom were led by curiosity and creativity into STEM-related professions. Laura is also a part of #PictureBookBuzz, a group of authors with books being released in 2019.

Find Laura on Twitter @ljrwritenow and at her website LauraRoettigerBooks.com.

Keep an eye out for Aliana Reaches for the Moon, available February 19, 2019! 

Picture Books At The Library 169

At The Library Too

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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FRANKENBUNNY: After Spencer discovers his big brothers’ stories about Frankenbunny aren’t true, he hatches a plan to teach his brothers a lesson.

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HARRISON P. SPADER, PERSONAL SPACE INVADER: Harrison loves life and wants to share his joy with everyone, but first he needs to learn about personal space.

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GIRLS CAN DO ANYTHING: Every different type of girl is celebrated, because each girl is unique.

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THE ONLY WAY IS BADGER: Badger wants everyone to be more like him, and when they’re not, he sends them away to the other side of the wall.

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GRANDMOTHER’S VISIT: Grace receives one final visit from her grandmother after she’s passed away.

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BUSINESS PIG: One little pig is passed up for adoption, no matter how many charts he presents or resumes he hands out. Adorable!

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THIS IS MY EYE: Join a young girl as she explores the shapes, colors, patterns, people, and perspectives of her beloved city.

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THE BUNNY BAND: When Livinia the badger threatens to turn her garden thief into stew, the bunny pleads for his life, promising a rich reward if she lets him go.

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HOW TO FEED YOUR PARENTS: Matilda’s parents are picky eaters, so Matilda decides that if she wants to try something new, she’ll have to cook it herself.

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THANK YOU, OMU!: When the aroma of Omu’s homemade stew fills the air, her neighbors arrive, one by one, for a taste until all is gone except for her generous spirit.

Picture Books At The Library 168

At The Library Too

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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HENRI’S HATS: Henri does not know that his Grand-Papa has gone on grand adventures until he discovers a trunk full of the most amazing hats.

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HECTOR’S FAVORITE PLACE: Hector worries about everything that could go wrong if he left his house.

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HEY, HEY, HAY!: Celebrate farming, family, machines, and hard work while you learn how hay is made.

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ATTACK OF THE 50-FOOT FLUFFY: When Claire and her stuffed rabbit Fluffy become very, very angry, watch out!

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ELLA & MONKEY AT SEA: Ella and her best friend Monkey do not want to board a ship and leave behind their home in Holland.

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LENA’S SHOES ARE NERVOUS: Lena must find a way to convince her shoes not to be nervous about the first day of school.

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AND THERE WAS EVENING, AND THERE WAS MORNING: Tells the story of how God created the world, describing six days of work fashioning everything from seas and clouds to animals and people, to finally resting on Shabbat.

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THE DAY WAR CAME: A young girl, displaced by war, must fight for survival until help finally comes.

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MAPPING SAM: Where does Sam go when her people are tucked in bed and she slips out into the beckoning world?

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IF YOU’RE GOING TO A MARCH: A first introduction to what you’ll need and what you’ll see and do if you’re going to participate in a march.

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ADRIAN SIMCOX DOES NOT HAVE A HORSE: Chloe gets angry when her classmate Adrian claims to have a horse.

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THE DRESS AND THE GIRL: A girl loses her dress when she leaves her Greek island home and immigrates to America.

Picture Books At The library 167

At The Library Too

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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NEON LEON: Leon can’t change color like the other chameleons and longs for a place to blend in.

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WE LOVE DINOSAURS: Dinosaurs of all shapes, sizes, and colors are loved by kids.

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BULLY: When a selfish bullfrog takes over a lily pond, the other residents decide to unite and take action. Love the cover!

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STERLING, BEST DOG EVER: A little dog pretends to be a fork and other household things in order to find and keep a home. Adorable!

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BRAVE ENOUGH FOR TWO: With Hoot by her side, Olive sets off on an adventure, even though she’s not brave. Excellent art!

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TAKE A HIKE, MILES AND SPIKE: Miles and Spike take a hike through the forest, destroying the habitat as they go and rudely dismissing the forest creatures. Clever word play, and I like the colors!

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TINY LITTLE ROCKET: A rocket takes a trip through the solar system, past the sun, and narrowly misses a meteor before returning to Earth. Striking art!

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TESSA TAKES WING: Tessa plays and flies around her room while the rest of the family is asleep. Sweet!

 

Picture Books At The Library 166

At The Library Too

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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ANGEL IN BEIJING: A girl finds a white cat and takes her all over the city of Beijing on her bicycle.

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LUCY AND THE STRING: When Lucy sees a string and gives it a yank, she’s surprised by what she finds on the other end.

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HOW TO BE A LION: Leonard the lion and his friend Marianne the duck stand up for themselves against a pride of lion bullies.

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T. REX TIME MACHINE: When two hungry dinosaurs jump into a time machine, they’re transported to present day.

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NECK & NECK: Leopold the giraffe is the star of the zoo until a bobbing rival ruins everything. Funny!

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THE DRAGON AND THE NIBBLESOME KNIGHT: Mistaken identity allows two sworn enemies–a dragon and a knight–to become friends. Great art!

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A WEREWOLF NAMED OLIVER JAMES: One moonlit night, Oliver unexpectedly turns into a werewolf. Fun, and I like the use of color!

Picture Books At The Library 165

At The Library Too

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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A DOG NAMED DOUG: Doug digs miles underground, then takes a detour through the White House before digging some more. Fun and colorful!

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WHEN THE COUSINS CAME: Lila’s cousins do some things differently, but she loves when they come to visit.

 

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PRETTY KITTY: As more and more cats show up on his doorstep, an old man must decide whether or not to let them in.

 

 

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OFF & AWAY: When Jo’s father becomes ill and cannot deliver the messages in bottles, she takes on the job, even though she’s afraid of what lives in the ocean. Striking art!

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GINNY GOBLIN IS NOT ALLOWED TO OPEN THIS BOX: Ginny tries everything she can think of to reach and open a box that she’s not supposed to touch.

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MIXED: Red, Yellow, and Blue all lived in harmony until the day that Red declared that Reds are the best. Clever book combining colors and diversity!

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GOOD DOG: A little stray dog searches for a friend. Sweet!

 

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CAT WISHES: A snake grants a hungry cat three wishes after the cat spares its life.

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A BIG MOONCAKE FOR LITTLE STAR: Little Star creates the phases of the moon as she nibbles away at the mooncake. Clever!

 

Picture Books At The Library 164

At The Library Too

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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ON GULL BEACH: A boy chases after sea gulls as they play with a star fish.

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BIG BOX LITTLE BOX: A curious cat investigates every box it can find and makes a friend along the way.

SHORTY & CLEM BLAST OFF: Clem won’t let Shorty help him build his spaceship.

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LORETTA’S GIFT: Loretta tries hard to find the perfect gift for her new baby cousin.

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PICNIC WITH OLIVER: While on a picnic, Philbert gets caught in a storm and Oliver must make a daring rescue.

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HOW TO KNIT A MONSTER: After Mrs. Sheep insults Greta Goat’s knitting, Greta knits a wolf that swallows Mrs. Sheep whole.

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I FEEL TEAL: A girl experiences many feelings, represented by colors, during the course of her day. Nice art!

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STEGOTHESAURUS: Stegothesaurus has little in common with his fellow dinosaurs until he meets an allosaurus that’s as hungry for synonyms as he is. Super cute and clever!

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GO FISH!: Goose and friends have trouble catching a fish on their fishing trip. Cute!