School Library Journal Book Reviews

School Library Journal Starred Books

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Max and Marla Are Going on a Trip
Written & illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
“Tender and humorous . . . The underlying message to adjust some of our screen-centric habits in order to appreciate the natural world with open eyes and reverence is a plain truth with value for readers of all ages.”
Published Jun 16, 2020
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

From the #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator of She Persisted comes a Max and Marla story about being present and appreciating the world around us.

School is out for the summer, and Max and Marla are off to Australia! Max has always wanted to see koalas, after all. He makes sure to pack his camera for the trip, so that he can capture every moment and remember this vacation. Off they head by air and by sea, with Max looking for just the perfect shot along the way. But when he keeps missing the amazing sights while focusing his lens, Marla knows that she needs to step in.

In this final story in the Max and Marla quartet, the two friends learn that being together and enjoying their trip makes for the best memories after all!

Our Favorite Day of the Year
Written by A. E. Ali & illustrated by Rahele Jomepour Bell
Starred Review
"VERDICT A comforting story that will help build bridges among children of different backgrounds and faiths." - School Library Journal
Published May 1, 2020
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A heartwarming picture book following a group of boys from different backgrounds throughout the school year as they become the best of friends.

Musa’s feeling nervous about his first day of school. He’s not used to being away from home and he doesn’t know any of the other kids in his class. And when he meets classmates Moisés, Mo, and Kevin, Musa isn’t sure they’ll have much in common. But over the course of the year, the four boys learn more about each other, the holidays they celebrate, their favorite foods, and what they like about school. The more they share with each other, the closer they become, until Musa can’t imagine any better friends.

In this charming story of friendship and celebrating differences, young readers can discover how entering a new friendship with an open mind and sharing parts of yourself brings people together. And the calendar of holidays at the end of the book will delight children as they identify special events they can celebrate with friends throughout the year.

Like the Moon Loves the Sky
Written by Hena Khan & illustrated by Saffa Khan
"A book for Muslim families to introduce religious traditions to young children and for non-Muslim families who wish to teach diversity and religious acceptance."
Published Feb 1, 2020
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

A lyrical and heartwarming celebration of a mother’s love for her children by the award-winning author of Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns.

In this moving picture book, author Hena Khan shares her wishes for her children: “Inshallah you find wonder in birds as they fly. Inshallah you are loved, like the moon loves the sky.” With vibrant illustrations and prose inspired by the Quran, this charming picture book is a heartfelt and universal celebration of a parent’s unconditional love.

• A reassuring bedtime read-aloud for mothers and their children. • A perfect book for sharing Muslim family traditions and for families teaching diversity and religious acceptance. • Hena Khan’s books have been widely acclaimed, winning awards and honors from the ALA, Parent’s Choice, and many others.

For families who have read and loved Under My Hijab, Yo Soy Muslim, and Mommy’s Khimar.

A sweet and lovely bedtime book to help let children know they are loved and precious.

The Boy Who Thought Outside the Box: The Story of Video Game Inventor Ralph Baer (People Who Shaped Our World)
Written by Marcie Wessels & illustrated by Beatriz Castro
"A gentle introduction to a passionate inventor’s incredible impact on our culture. Young gamers will get a kick out of their beloved systems’ humble beginnings."
Published Feb 1, 2020
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

Crazy about Wii, Nintendo, X-Box, and PlayStation? Meet the inventor whose work made them all possible: Ralph Baer, creator of the first home video game system!

Today, the video game industry keeps growing, with ever more platforms available to fans. But how did the very first system come about? This picture-book biography of Ralph Baer, whose family fled Nazi Germany for the US, introduces kids to a great inventor AND the birth of the first home console. Using wartime technology, Baer thought outside the box and transformed the television into a vehicle for gaming; Baer’s invention, the Odyssey, is a precursor to the Atari gaming system. Today, interactive systems like Wii and PlayStation are descendants of Ralph’s innovative “Brown Box,” making this award-winning inventor the true “Father of Video Games.”

Free for You and Me: What Our First Amendment Means
Written by Christy Mihaly & illustrated by Manu Montoya
VERDICT A nice addition to library collections that target second and third graders.
Published Feb 1, 2020
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

It’s a free country! But what does that mean? Find out the five liberties protected by the First Amendment. Vivid examples from history and everyday life demonstrate the meaning of freedom of religion, speech, and the press, and the rights to assemble peacefully and to petition the government.

Alice Across America: The Story of the First Women's Cross-Country Road Trip
Written by Sarah Glenn Marsh & illustrated by Gilbert Ford
Starred Review
"Historical details about cars, roadways, and gender bias are incorporated throughout the story and enhance the plot . . . A fun and fascinating story that includes many favorites: cars, strong women, and little-known historical facts. A must-have for a school or public library collection."
Published Feb 1, 2020
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

Writer Sarah Glenn Marsh and illustrator Gilbert Ford’s Alice Across America is a nonfiction picture book account of maverick Alice Ramsey, the first woman to drive a car across America in 1909.

When Alice Ramsey was little, she loved to ride horses. As she grew up, more people were driving cars. From the moment Alice slid behind the wheel, she was crazy about cars. So when the Maxwell-Briscoe Company challenged her to drive one of their new cars across the country as a promotional ploy to prove that even a lady could do it, Alice daringly accepted. With several women by her side, these brazen drivers sustained many hardships over the course of a remarkable two-month journey and far surpassed all expectations.

With a clever blend of women’s history, technological history, and American roading geography, this is a celebration of unstoppable women making strides in twentieth-century America.

Christy Ottaviano Books

Beehive
Written & illustrated by Jorey Hurley
"This is a must-buy for all libraries. It’s an appealing introduction to science, ecosystems, and how even the smallest of creatures can matter enormously to our lives."
Published Jan 1, 2020
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Acclaimed author Jorey Hurley shows us how bees make and store honey in this bold and graphic picture book that includes informative backmatter on the process.

With just one word on each page and the vivid illustrations Joey Hurley is known for, Beehive showcases the cycle of bees making honey. Detailed backmatter further explains this fascinating natural process.

A Way with Wild Things
Written by Larissa Theule & illustrated by Sara Palacios
"Young readers will be encouraged to explore nature and find their confidence in this lovely picture book."
Published Jan 1, 2020
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Poppy’s not flashy, but she stands out in her own way. This charming book about a girl who loves nature celebrates quieter kids.

Poppy Ann Fields loves bugs—sitting in the grass singing with cicadas, carrying on conversations with ladybugs—and feels much more at home outside with six-legged friends than with other people. Inside, Poppy prefers to disappear into the background. Some might call her a wallflower.

But when Grandma Phyllis turns 100, Poppy must go to the party. She wears a dress that blends into the garden setting, so she’s almost invisible, until a very special bug lands on Grandma Phyllis’s cake. Poppy can’t resist popping out to see it. Soon, the rest of the party guests notice this beautiful wild thing—Poppy and the dragonfly!

With a gently poetic text from newcomer Larissa Theule and wildly charming illustrations by Sara Palacios, this story shows that sometimes a wallflower is actually a wildflower.

Sootypaws: A Cinderella Story
Written & illustrated by Maggie Rudy
Recommend this refreshing adaptation to fans of fairy tales and those who appreciate picture hunts and visual artistry.
Published Jan 1, 2020
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In this Cinderella retelling, Sootypaws the mouse lives with her stepmother and sisters, who are rats in all senses of the word. But with a little help from her woodland friends, Sootypaws finds her way to the ball to meet her prince—and the two decide to ditch the castle. In the end, Sootypaws and the prince kick off their shoes and run barefoot into the meadow, where all the animals welcome them and they live mousily ever after.

Bonnie & Ben Rhyme Again
Written by Mem Fox & illustrated by Judy Horacek
"Lighthearted fun for nursery rhyme–themed storytimes and one-on-one sharing."
Published Dec 1, 2019
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-8

Come along as a pair of rhyme-loving siblings take a walk and are inspired to recite their favorite nursery rhymes to the world around them in this sweet and funny read-aloud.

Bonnie and Ben are two rambunctious siblings who love to rhyme. One day, on a walk with their friend Skinny Doug, they recite beloved nursery rhymes for each new thing they encounter. When they reach a hill, they recite “Jack and Jill.” When they see a sheep, they recount the story of “Little Bo Peep.” The nursery rhyme characters join them on their lively walk until, with a last “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” the pair arrive home and snuggle into bed.



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