New Release Spotlight: October 8, 2019 (Part III, Picture Books)

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Gorgeous picture books this week! If you are looking for YA or middle grade books for this week, scroll to the bottom to see the links.

As always, titles with a * received two or more starred professional reviews.

Charcoal Boys by Roger Mello (Author, Illustrator) and Daniel Hahn (Translator)

Originally published in Sao Paulo by Companhia das Letrinhas in 2009 under title: Carvoeirinhos. While making a mud house for her hornet egg, a wasp follows a human child throughout his day as he works in a Brazilian charcoal mine.

This is a darker picture book that is better for older readers rather than storytime with the littles.Booklist starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: Grades 3-6
  • Themes: child labor, poverty, Brazil, wasps, charcoal mining, picture book for older readers

Snow Leopard: Ghost of the Mountains by Justin Anderson (Author) and Patrick Benson (Illustrator)

The people who live among the high peaks of the Himalayas tell stories of a mysterious animal called the gray ghost. To see one, you’d have to be very lucky indeed. Join a zoologist in the Himalayan mountains as he searches for the elusive creature. With her pale gold and silver-gray coat painted with black rosettes, she blends so well into the boulders, it’s no wonder she’s thought of as a ghost of the mountains. But the fortunate few who spot her are rewarded with a sight they will never forget.

I’m not sure if this is technically nonfiction. It sounds like nonfiction, but the first-person narration may not necessarily be the author (who is indeed a zoologist).

  • Genre(s): picture book (nonfiction?)
  • Recommended for: Grades K-4
  • Themes: natural history, Himalaya Mountains, snow leopards, endangered animals

Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom by Teresa Robeson (Author), Rebecca Huang (Illustrator)

When Wu Chien Shiung was born in China 100 years ago, girls did not attend school. But her parents named their daughter “Courageous Hero” and encouraged her love of science. This biography follows Wu as she battles sexism at home and racism in the United States of America to become what Newsweek magazine called the “Queen of Physics” for her work on how atoms split.

Booklist starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book biography
  • Recommended for: Grades K-4
  • Themes: physics, women in science, Chinese-Americans, feminism, traditional gender roles, girl power, racism, discrimination

The Pear Tree by Luli Gray (Author) and Madelyn Goodnight (Illustrator)

In this folktale retold, Esperanza gives her very last pear to a beggar and is rewarded with the best pear crop she’s ever had–and the power to ensnare anyone she wants in her tree. When Senor Death comes for her, Esperanza tricks him into climbing her tree, where he becomes stuck, unable to come down and do his work. From that point on, no one dies. But when Esperanza learns that her friend in the next town is suffering terribly, she realizes that the end of death doesn’t mean the end of suffering and agrees to let Senor Death down from her tree.

  • Genre(s): picture book, folktale
  • Recommended for: Grades 1-5
  • Themes: death, kindness, mercy, Hispanic-Americans

The Hike by Alison Farrell

Three girls and their dog set off on a hike in the Pacific Northwest woods, something they say is their favorite thing to do. Along the way, they run, draw, spot wildlife, and generally enjoy their natural surroundings. The narrative is written by-hand, just as the girls might have done it.

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 4
  • Themes: nature, friendship, Pacific Northwest, trees, wildlife

Instructions Not Included: How a Team of Women Coded the Future by Tami Lewis Brown (Author), Debbie Loren Dunn (Author), and Chelsea Beck (Illustrator)

Not so long ago, math problems had to be solved with pencil and paper, mail delivered by postman, and files were stored in paper folders and metal cabinets. But three women, Betty Snyder, Jean Jennings, and Kay McNulty knew there could be a better way. During World War II, people hoped ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), one of the earliest computers, could help with the war effort. With little guidance, no instructions, and barely any access to the machine itself, Betty, Jean, and Kay used mathematics, electrical engineering, logic, and common sense to command a computer as large as a room and create the modern world.

Booklist starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book biography
  • Recommended for: Grades 1-4
  • Themes: women in science, computer science, computers, WWII, math, logic, engineering, STEAM, traditional gender roles, feminism, discrimination

*Birdsong by Julie Flett

When a young girl moves from the country to a small town, she feels lonely and out of place. But soon she meets an elderly woman next door, who shares her love of arts and crafts. Can the girl navigate the changing seasons and failing health of her new friend?

Kirkus and SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: moving, friendship, aging, arts and crafts, seasons, Cree, indigenous peoples

The Favorite Book by Bethanie Deeney Murguia

Have you ever thought about how your favorite things became your favorites in the first place? Sometimes picking a favorite can be easy: you know from the moment you see it. And sometimes, selecting one can take a little longer as you consider all the options. The choice is yours: you can have many favorites or none at all. You might even find that your favorite changes. From colors to animals to the perfect hat, there are so many things to love…and even help you learn a little about yourself in the process.

Kirkus starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: preferences, choices, rhyming books




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  • I enjoy all of your book review so much. I use them as a guideline to order my books. Thanks for all your hard work reviewing so I don’t have to. lol


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