New Release Spotlight: September 17, 2019, Part III (Picture Books)

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Part III of this week’s New Release Spotlight includes eight picture books. This was another list that I narrowed down from around 30 new releases this week, so you can be sure that this list represents the best of the best.

My favorite book on this list is going to have to be the wordless picture book Stormy: A Story About Finding a Forever Home by Guojing. I love wordless picture books for teaching inferencing with middle schoolers, and I’m a huge sucker for homeless dog stories. That scruffy little pup on the front cover just looks so sweet and pitiful and scared. I want to take him home, too!

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

Survival by Anna Claybourne (Author) and Louise McNaught (Artist)

From the rainforest to the savannah to the depths of the ocean, animal life in every continent and habitat has been affected by human activity.

Louise McNaught’s powerful animal portraits bring to life 20 stunning creatures and their fight for survival. Discover the dangers they face, the action being taken to protect them, and their vital importance on Earth.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Grades PreS-Grade 7
THEMES: endangered species, ecosystems
READALIKES: Actual Size (Jenkins), Animal Ark: Celebrating our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures (Alexander)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Despite the spare title and black endpapers, it’s not all doom and gloom in this large, square, gorgeously illustrated picture book.” (Kirkus, 1 Aug 2019)

At the Mountain’s Base by Traci Sorell (Author) and Weshoyot Alvitre (Illustrator)

A family, separated by duty and distance, waits for a loved one to return home in this lyrical picture book celebrating the bonds of a Cherokee family and the bravery of history-making women pilots.

At the mountain’s base sits a cabin under an old hickory tree. And in that cabin lives a family–loving, weaving, cooking, and singing. The strength in their song sustains them through trials on the ground and in the sky, as they wait for their loved one, a pilot, to return from war.

THEMES: Native Americans, WWII, female pilots,
READALIKES: Good Night Captain Mama: Buenas Noches Capitán Mamá (Tiscareno-Sato), Journey Home: A Thank You to American Veterans (Meyer)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Accessible to a wide range of young audiences and military families, this picture book is also a unique and specific recognition of the strength and courage of Indigenous women. A first-purchase for any library.” (SLJ starred review, 1 Sep 2019)

*Fly! by Mark Teague

Mama bird thinks it’s time for Baby bird’s first flight, but Baby bird has other ideas in this humorous wordless picture book from New York Times bestselling author-illustrator Mark Teague.

It’s a big day up in the tree that Mama bird shares with her baby. Mama bird thinks Baby bird is finally ready to leave the nest and learn to fly so he can migrate south with the rest of their flock. But Baby bird isn’t so sure. Can’t his mother keep bringing him worms in their nest? Can’t he migrate in a hot air balloon instead? Or perhaps a car?

THEMES: wordless picture book, parents, flying, birds
READALIKES: Bluebird (Staake)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred, Booklist starred, Publishers Weekly starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Robins, like humans, share all aspects of parenting, and it is commendable that the art depicts this parent as male.” (Kirkus starred review, 1 Jul 2019)

The Hundred-Year Barn by Patricia MacLachlan (Author) and Kenard Pak (Illustrator)

One hundred years ago, a little boy watched his family and community come together to build a grand red barn. This barn become his refuge and home-a place to play with friends and farm animals alike. As seasons passed, the barn weathered many storms. The boy left and returned a young man, to help on the farm and to care for the barn again. The barn has stood for one hundred years, and it will stand for a hundred more: a symbol of peace, stability, caring and community.

THEMES: barns, rural life, growing up
READALIKES: A Home in the Barn (Brown)
STARS AND AWARDS: Publishers Weekly starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “MacLachlan and Pak invite readers into the rhythms of the small family farm and important moments, small and great, over a century of its life.” (Publishers Weekly starred review, 20 May 2019)

Octopus Stew by Eric Velasquez

Text in English with some Spanish. On fold-out pages. Story made be read with or without contents on fold-out. The octopus Grandma’s cooking has grown to titanic proportions. ” Tenga cuidado! ” Ramsy shouts. “Be careful!”But it’s too late. The octopus traps grandma! Ramsey uses both art and intellect to free her.

Then the story takes a surprising twist. And it can be read two ways. Open the fold-out pages to find Ramsy telling a story to his family. Keep the pages folded, and Ramsy’s octopus adventure is real.

THEMES: storytelling, cooking, African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans
READALIKES: The Talking Eggs (San Souci), Drawn Together (Le)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A delightful modern tall tale sure to entertain and inspire readers to share (and embroider) their own stories.” (Kirkus, 15 Jul 2019)

*Stormy: A Story About Finding a Forever Home by Guojing

In this wordless picture book, a woman visits a park and discovers a pup hiding under a bench–scruffy, scared, and alone. With gentle coaxing, the woman tries to befriend the animal, but the dog is too scared to let her near. Day after day, the woman tries–and day after day, the dog runs away. With perseverance and patience–and help from an enticing tennis ball–a tentative friendship begins. But it’s not until a raging storm forces the two together that a joyous and satisfying friendship takes hold.

THEMES: wordless picture book, dogs, friendship
READALIKES: Spencer’s New Pet (Sima), Dog on a Digger (Prendergast)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred, Kirkus starred, Publishers Weekly starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “The narrative is conveyed so capably through the compelling illustrations that not a word is needed. A touching tale about the strong emotional connection between dog and human.” (Kirkus starred review, 15 Jun 2019)

The Tale of the Tiger Slippers by Jan Brett

Set in India, this reimagining of the classic Middle Eastern folk tale “Abu Kassem’s Slippers” features a poor tiger cub who is a very hard worker. His mother weaves him slippers to protect his feet from stones and thorns, and they allowed him to prosper–first making bricks, then building houses, and eventually becoming very wealthy. He continues to wear them until someone questions why such a prominent person would wear such worn shoes. Feeling embarrassed, Tiger tries to get rid of the slippers, but fate keeps bringing them back.

Finally, Tiger sends them to his uncle, who weeps with pride when he sees the slippers his sister made and his nephew used to accomplish so much. He sets off right away to visit them, bringing the slippers along. Tiger can’t believe the slippers are back again, but his little cub gives him an idea- honor the slippers by building a special place for them, to remind him of how far he’s come.

THEMES: India, folktales
READALIKES: Pattan’s Pumpkin: An Indian Flood Story (Soundar)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Gemstones and intricate patterns adorn Brett’s signature sidebar art and borders, capping off this visual extravaganza, whose pièce de résistance is a peacock fanning dazzling plumage. A richly imagined tale of love, diligence, and kindness rewarded.” (Publishers Weekly, 1 Jul 2019)

*Who Wet My Pants? by Bob Shea (Author), Zachariah O’Hora (Illustrator)

Reuben the bear’s got donuts for everyone in his scout troop, but his friends are all staring at something else: there’s a wet spot on Reuben’s pants, and it’s in a specific area. “WHO WET MY PANTS?” he shouts, and a blame game starts. His buddies try to reassure him there was no crime. Just an accident. It could happen to anyone! But as all the clues begin to point in Reuben’s own direction as the culprit, Reuben must come to terms with the truth.

Who Wet My Pants? isn’t a potty-training book. It’s a witty and wise story about embarrassment and anger, empathy and acceptance, and ultimately…forgiveness.

THEMES: potty accidents, shifting blame
READALIKES: I Didn’t Do It! (Ross)
STARS AND AWARDS: Booklist starred, Kirkus starred, Publishers Weekly starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Luckily for Reuben, his empathetic friends treat him with kindness, and forgiveness ultimately leaks from the pages. It is not an accident that there is more here than meets the eye.” (Kirkus starred review, 1 Jun 2019)


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