Your son, daughter, relative or friend may be entering a new phase of school or life by leaving kindergarten, elementary, middle or high school – or completing their college education. Here are some outstanding new books that will not only entertain, but enlighten their way to their new lives. The first three books are good for ages eight through adult. The rest are picture books and are good for all ages.
Wonder, by R. J. Palacio, is probably my favorite fiction book of the year so far! And I’m placing it in this review because of the important life lessons it teaches: acceptance, friendship and most of all kindness. Ten-year-old August leaves home-schooling and enters public school for the first time. He’s afraid of how everyone in the school is going to react to his face. He was born with an extreme defect that has deformed his face. But as you learn about him and his quick humor and intelligence, through his eyes and others close to him, you grow to love and admire him. And eventually, so does the entire school. This book begs for discussion and is a perfect read-aloud. It’s a wonder!
Better Than a Lemonade Stand! Small Business Ideas for Kids, by Daryl Bernstein, and sparsely illustrated by Rob Husberg, is packed with ways for kids to make some extra money. But more than just making money, included are the necessary ingredients to help their enterprises to be successful. There is advice on advertising, managing the finances, supplies needed and much more. This is a hands-on book that will help prepare kids for their money-making future.
So, You Want to be a Writer? How to Write, Get Published and Maybe Even Make it Big!, by Vicki Hambleton and Cathleen Greenwood, demonstrates the hard work to not only write something worthy of being published, but then attempting and hopefully getting it published. There are genres to explore and the book lists possible topics to write about. There are helpful hints to get past “writers block” and even sample letters and queries to send to publishing companies. This is a hands-on book that kids will easily digest and teachers especially will love!
Chloe and the Lion, by Mac Barnett, and cleverly illustrated by Adam Rex, is a most clever rendition demonstrating the importance of collaboration and compromise. When young Chloe finds herself lost in the forest, she is surprised by a ? This is when the author and the illustrator have a disagreement on if it should be a lion or dragon and the real fun and humor begins as you read how these two entities come together at the end of the book. The book is illustrated with a combination of clay, paint, different media, photo shop and photography. This book is a delight!
You Choose, by Pippa Goodhart, and wonderfully illustrated by Nick Sharratt, is an interactive over-sized picture book packed with visual items to choose from. Each page has a subject asking questions such as where would you travel, live and eat. This clever book encourages speech and language development, independent thinking and decision making.
The Little House, by Virginia Lee Burton, is a classic and won the Caldecott Medal 70 years ago. This reissue includes a CD but also showcases the original beautifully. The story is about a sweet little house in a rural setting that becomes encroached upon with tall buildings when the city grows and envelopes her. She soon becomes forgotten and in disrepair until an off-spring of the original owner discovers the now sad-looking house and relocates her back to the country – where she belongs. There is much to learn about life, and simplicity, in this sweet allegory. The wonderfully drawn end-pages culminate the story!
Born and Bred in the Great Depression, by Johan Winter and Kimberly Bulcken Root, reminds kids of the importance of history and what we learn from past experiences. In this book, the author’s father grew up during the Great Depression, along with his 7 siblings all living in a tiny house. The glorious pictures are painted with a wash of watercolor and in the inside covers it has actual photos of Winter’s grandfather and family. The story demonstrates the value of family working together to make ends meet.
More, by I. C. Springman, and beautifully painted with acrylic and colored pencils by Brian Lies, is a story that teaches that less is more when mice teach a hoarding magpie to simplify and cleanup his life. The sparsity of text and picture displays the meaningful message that less is best.
You Will Be My Friend!, by Peter Brown, is a funny story about how young Lucy decides to find a new friend today. But it’s much harder than she thought it would be as she attempts to scrub down a skunk and yelling at a flock of flamingoes during her search. When she finally finds a friend, you learn much. And, if you happen to have missed the lessons learned, the author’s back flap reemphasizes the points. Brown used a combination of mixed-media as well as wood construction. This book is brilliant!
And finally, How Do You Feel?, by Anthony Browne, emphasizes in a very simple book the importance to know and identify your own feelings. This is especially true as kids grow up. The pictures are bright and made with watercolor and gouache.