New Release Spotlight: Sept. 10, 2019, Part III–Picture Books

This is the third and final New Release Spotlight for this week. Three NRSs in one week? Yes! September is such a huge release month, and this week was so juicy that I decided to split the Sept. 10th list into three parts. Today, we’re talking picture books, and there are loads of them!

Titles with a * by them received two or more starred professional reviews.

Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border by Mitali Perkins (Author) and Sara Palacios (Illustrator)

It’s almost time for Christmas, and Maria is traveling with her mother and younger brother, Juan, to visit their grandmother on the border of California and Mexico.

For the few minutes they can share together along the fence, Maria and her brother plan to exchange stories and Christmas gifts with the grandmother they haven’t seen in years. But when Juan’s gift is too big to fit through the slats in the fence, Maria has a brilliant idea. She makes it into a kite that soars over the top of the iron bars.

PAGES: 40
RECOMMENDED FOR: PreS-Grade 3
GENRE: picture book
THEMES: border wall, separated families, Christmas
READALIKES: Visiting Day (Woodson), Dreamers (Morales), The Journey (Sanna)
STARS AND AWARDS: Publishers Weekly starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Cartoon drawings emphasize the resilience of Abuela and her family as they navigate the border landscape, the impenetrable wall, and a situation that feels unfathomable-but is, unfortunately, all too based in reality.” (Publishers Weekly starred review, 27 May 2019)

Just Because by Mac Barnett (Author) and Isabelle Arsenault (Illustrator)

Why is the ocean blue? What is the rain? What happened to the dinosaurs? It might be time for bed, but one child is too full of questions about the world to go to sleep just yet. Little ones and their parents will be charmed and delighted as a patient father offers up increasingly creative responses to his child’s nighttime wonderings. Any child who has ever asked “Why?” –and any parent who has attempted an explanation–will recognize themselves in this sweet storybook for dreamers who are looking for answers beyond “Just because.”

PAGES: 40
RECOMMENDED FOR: PreS-Grade 5
GENRE: picture book
THEMES: curiosity, bedtime
READALIKES: Ginny Goblin Is Not Allowed to Open This Box (Goodner), City Moon (Cole)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Charming, playful, and extraordinary imaginings will galvanize young minds to find inspired answers to their own questions.” (Kirkus starred review, 1 Jul 2019)

*Mother Goose of Pudding Lane by Chris Raschka (Author) and Vladimir Radunsky (Illustrator)

In 1692, Elizabeth Foster married a widower with ten children. His name was Isaac Goose, and after they married, Elizabeth became Mother Goose. She and Isaac had four more children together, and to help her care for such a big and boisterous family, Mother Goose sang songs and lullabies and made up rhymes and poems. Her nursery rhymes and stories were published at a print shop on Pudding Lane in Boston, though no copies of her book exist today. In a book featuring some of Mother Goose’s best-loved works, Vladimir Radunsky’s bright and humorous illustrations and Chris Raschka’s rhyming poems tell the little-known story of the Goose children, Isaac, and Elizabeth herself — the Mother Goose of Pudding Lane.

PAGES: 48
RECOMMENDED FOR: PreS-Grade 3
GENRE: picture book biography
THEMES: nursery rhymes, songs
READALIKES: Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White (Sweet), Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear (Mattick)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred, Publishers Weekly starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Happily, instead of concentrating on nostalgia, the longtime collaborators pursue the verses’ unadulterated silliness, creating a strange and wonderful effect.” (Publishers Weekly starred review, 27 May 2019)

*The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad (Author) and Hatem Aly (Illustrator)

With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It’s the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it’s her older sister Asiya’s first day of hijab–a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong.

PAGES: 40
RECOMMENDED FOR: PreS-Grade 5
GENRE: picture book
THEMES: hijab, bullying, first day of school, Islam customs
READALIKES: Under My Hijab (Khan), Mommy’s Khimar (Thomkins-Bigelow)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred, Publishers Weekly starred, SLJ starred, Booklist starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “This story, as both window and mirror, inevitably educates, but more important, it encourages pride in and respect for hijab through a tale of two sisters, their bond strengthened by faith.” (Booklist starred review, 1 Sep 2019)

Rabbit and the Motorbike by Kate Hoefler (Author) and Sarah Jacoby (Illustrator)

Rabbit isn’t sure he’ll ever be brave enough to go on an adventure. He’s a homebody who lives in a quiet field of wheat he dreams of leaving every night. His world is enlarged by his friend Dog and Dog’s tales of motorbike adventures. But one day, Dog is gone, and with him, go the stories Rabbit loves so much. Dare Rabbit pick up the motorbike and live his own story?

PAGES: 48
RECOMMENDED FOR: PreS-Grade 2
GENRE: picture book
THEMES: courage, independence
READALIKES: Brave Molly (Boynton-Hughes), The King Who Banned the Dark (Haworth-Booth)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred, Booklist starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Graceful text and evocative illustrations combine in this story about the rewards of facing fears and trying something new.” (Kirkus starred review, 15 Jul 2019)

Snow Globe Wishes by Erin Dealey (Author) and Claire Shorrock (Illustrator)

As the worst snow storm of the year rolls in, one family hunkers down together in a cozy blanket fort for the night. A little girl makes a wish on a snow globe and, in the morning, the sun rises on a winter wonderland–beckoning all outside. And what if, on this snow-filled day, families shake their busy lives and everyone goes out to play?

PAGES: 32
RECOMMENDED FOR: PreS-Grade 3
GENRE: picture book
THEMES: snow days, family
READALIKES: Snow (Shulevitz), Snow (Rylant)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “The muted colors, simple, childlike renderings, and happy characters make this book about a snowstorm feel warm and cozy—think hygge in picture-book form.” (Kirkus starred review, 1 Sep 2019)

Betty Builds It by Julie Hampton

Betty could build just about anything. Whatever she needs, she can make it for herself. But with a screen as her parental unit and her baby brother Toby who can’t do much, Betty longs for a friend–so she builds one! While Toby struggles to get his sister’s attention, Betty continues to build and build, until finally she realizes what she was looking for was beside her the whole time.

PAGES: 32
RECOMMENDED FOR: PreS-Grade 3
GENRE: picture book
THEMES: STEAM, robots, building, friendship
READALIKES: The Most Magnificent Thing (Spires), Rosie Revere, Engineer (Beaty)
STARS AND AWARDS: none

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A subdued palette of gray, peach, and green fails to create an energetic atmosphere, and the story’s language is rather stilted. Despite these drawbacks, a female character with robotic engineering skills will be a welcome addition in many classrooms and library collections. You go girl—use those mechanical skills.” (Kirkus, 1 Jul 2019)

Dasher: How a Brave Little Doe Changed Christmas Forever by Matt Tavares

Dasher is an adventurous young reindeer with a wish in her heart. She spends her days with her family under the hot sun in a traveling circus, but she longs for a different life–one where there is snow beneath her hooves and the North Star above her head. One day, when the opportunity arises, Dasher seizes her destiny and takes off in pursuit of the life she wants to live. It’s not long before she meets a nice man in a red suit with a horse-drawn sleigh–a man named Santa. And soon, with the help of a powerful Christmas wish, nothing will be the same.

PAGES: 40
RECOMMENDED FOR: PreS-Grade 3
GENRE: picture book
THEMES: Christmas, reindeer
READALIKES: Olive, the Other Reindeer (Walsh), The Reindeer Wish (Evert)
STARS AND AWARDS: none

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Gorgeous illustrations make this one sure to fly off shelves “like the down of a thistle.” (Kirkus, 1 Sep 2019)

Fairy Science by Ashley Spires

All the fairies in Pixieville believe in magic–except Esther. She believes in science. When a forest tree stops growing, all the fairies are stumped–including Esther. But not for long! Esther knows that science can get to the root of the problem–and its solution!

PAGES: 40
RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades K-3
GENRE: picture book
THEMES: STEAM, fairies, science, trees
READALIKES: The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do (Spires)
STARS AND AWARDS: none

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Throughout the book, actual scientific principles are introduced to young readers in a way that’s both holistic and fun, and the backmatter includes a seed-germination experiment.” (Kirkus, 1 Jul 2019)

Me and the Sky: Captain Beverley Bass, Pioneering Pilot by Beverley Bass (Author), Cynthia Williams (Author), and Joanie Stone (Illustrator)

When Beverley Bass was a young girl in the late 1950s, she told her parents she wanted to fly planes–and they told her that girls couldn’t be pilots. Still, they encouraged her, and brought her to a nearby airport to watch the planes take off and land.

After decades of refusing to take no for an answer, in 1986 Beverley became the first female pilot promoted to captain by American Airlines and led the first all-female crewed flight shortly thereafter. Her revolutionary career became even more newsworthy when she was forced to land in the remote town of Gander, Newfoundland, on September 11, 2001, due to US airspace closures. After several days there, she flew her crew and passengers safely home.

PAGES: 40
RECOMMENDED FOR: PreS-Grade 3
GENRE: picture book biography
THEMES: gender roles, feminism, pilots, 9/11
READALIKES: Fly (Clement), Lighter than Air: Sophie Blanchard, the First Woman Pilot (Smith)
STARS AND AWARDS: none

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A solid account of breaking through gender barriers. Readers can easily imagine the thrill and the challenge of mastering the increasingly complex technology of larger and larger commercial jetliners.” (SLJ XPress, 26 Jul 2019)

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