Book reviews: Kids Who Are Changing the World, by Sheila Sweeny Higginson, illustrated by Alyssa Peterson

Higginson, Sheila Sweeny. Kids Who Are Changing the World. Illustrator Alyssa Peterson. (Ready to Read series, level 3). Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2019. $17.99. ISBN 9781534432154. 47p. Ages 6-9. P7Q8.

Kids Who Are Changing the World is an informative book describing the inspirational stories of four children who make an extraordinary impact on our world. The reader follows Jahkil Jackson, 10 years old, as he created ‘blessing bags’ for homeless people; Natalie Hampton, a 7th grader, as she combated bullying by creating an app, Sit With Us, to connect isolated or bullied students; Gitanjali Rao, 11 years old, as she built a device that detected lead in water; and Joris Hutchison, 6 years old, as he helped save and nurture the cheetah population in Africa. Readers also encounter important historical figures and the positive inventions that have positively impacted our world. The story ends with a scientific look at how the act of kindness creates a healthy reaction in our bodies.

Verdict: This will be an inspirational addition for any 1st grade-3rd grade classroom or library.

April 2019 review by Marcy Doyle.

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Book review: Flamingo Keeper, by Debbi Michiko Florence, illustrated by Elizabet Vukovic

Florence, Debbi Michiko. Flamingo Keeper. (Jasmine Toguchi series, book 4). Illustrated by Elizabet Vukovic. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2018. $5.99. ISBN 9780374308377. 112 pages. Ages 6-9. P7 Q7

What is the best pet in the world? A flamingo of course! Jasmine and her sister, Sophie receive Daruma dolls from their grandmother who lives in Japan. The girls are not excited about the dolls until they hear that if you color one of the eyes and make a wish, the wish will come true. Once the wish comes true, you can color the other eye. Jasmine wishes for a flamingo. When she talks to her grandmother via the computer, she realizes that the doll does not exactly grant wishes, it helps you set a goal and then you have to work for the goal. Jasmine does all her chores and researches flamingos in hopes of getting her very own pet flamingo. Through Jasmine’s journey to acquire a flamingo, her bond with her sister deepens and she realizes flexibility is important. Florence intertwines Japanese words and culture into this chapter book, which is the fourth book in the Jasmine Toguchi series. Each book in the series recaps what we have already learned about Japanese culture and adds to it. The illustrations are simple line drawings that go along with the text. The end of the book contains an Author’s note explaining the history of the Daruma, Japanese doll. It also includes instructions to make your own Daruma.

Verdict. Rich in Japanese culture, fun and relatable, this chapter book encourages one to set goals and work to complete the goal. It also helps children be able to adjust their expectations when situations do not work out exactly as planned. I recommend this book for elementary school and public libraries. It received the Chicago public library best book of 2018 award.

February 2019 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Rainbow: A First Book of Pride, by Michael Genhart, illustrated by Anne Passhier

Genhart, Michael. Rainbow: A First Book of Pride. Illus. by Anne Passhier. Magination Press, 2019. $17.99. unp. ISBN 978-1-4338-3087-7. Ages 3-6. P8Q8

The author of Love Is Love reinforces his message about the beauty of families with same-gender parents in this explanation of the six colors of the rainbow flag representing the six colors: life, healing, light, nature, harmony, and spirit. Bold colors in a graphic design show diversity of ethnicity and activities in everyday life beginning with two men taking their infant from what might be a hospital and then the joy of older children with their parents.

Verdict: This reaffirming look at rainbow families emphasizes their love and identity. An easy reader for beginners because of few words and a learning tool for colors.

February 2019 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: I Like My Car, by Michael Robertson

Robertson, Michael. I Like My Car. Holiday House Publishing, 2018. $15.99. ISBN 9780823439515. Unpaged. Ages 4-6. P6 Q7

Full of colorful, large illustrations, and repetitious text, “I like my __ car.” Each page shows a whimsical animal in an oversized car. There is a large amount of space around the text so it stands out. Readers can look at the color of the car to help them decode the text if needed. Arrows on signs show the directions the cars are traveling. On the last page, all the cars and animal drivers are included. Glossy pages with many different colors makes reading fun. In the I like to read series.  Guided B reading level, which is K-1. End pages have colorful, cartoon type car related illustrations.

Vedict: For children who are learning to read and who like cars, this book is fun. Since the book is repetitious, adult readers may tire of the book quickly. It is meant for children as they are learning to read.

November 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Peanut Butter’s First Day of School, by Terry Border

Border, Terry. Peanut Butter’s First Day of School. Penguin Young Readers, 2018. $14.99. ISBN 9781524784850. 32 pages. Ages 6-8. P7 Q6

It is common to feel anxiety about the first day of school. Peanut Butter is wondering what he should do to get ready for the first day of school, so he asks his friends for advice. Each of his friends has a different idea, but none of the ideas work for Peanut Butter.  On the first day of school, Peanut Butter spends the day with his friends. At the end of the day, they walk home together. If this is the first book you have read about Peanut Butter, you may enjoy the story and realistic food illustrations. However, if you have read Peanut Butter and Cupcake, you will be disappointed. The illustrations are repeated straight from Peanut Butter and Cupcake and Milk Goes to School.  This book is a Level 2 progressing reader.

Verdict: If you have not read Peanut Butter and Cupcake and Milk Goes to School, I recommend this book. The themes of friendship, celebrating individuality and including others along with the food illustrations will appeal to children. However, if you have read Border’s other books, the illustrations repeat and this volume is not worth purchasing. I was expecting new illustrations that matched the story.

June 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: A First Book of the Sea, by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Emily Sutton

Davies, Nicola. A First Book of the Sea. Illustrated by Emily Sutton. Candlewick Press, 2018. $22.00. ISBN 9780763698829. 107 pgs. Ages 3-7. P8Q8

This is a wonderful book about the sea for young readers. It covers many sea related topics, which are broken up into four main categories- Down by the Shore, Journeys, Under the Sea, and Wonders. Several spreads deal with the terrible problem of plastic pollution and its effects. Some of the text rhymes and some does not, but all of it is poetic and lovely, and full of good information too. The watercolor artwork is beautiful- there is a lot of contrast, gorgeous color and rich detail. I loved the spread with the various types of ship sails and the border of sailor’s knots, all labeled.

VERDICT: I think all libraries in our area should have this book. Elementary schools will find it useful in the classroom, and parents will love reading it to their young children.

November 2018 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: A Prickly Problem, by Jacqueline Kelly, illustrated by Jennifer L. Meyer

Kelly, Jacqueline. A Prickly Problem. Illus. by Jennifer L. Meyer. [Calpurnia Tate Girl Vet series]. Holt, 2018. $15.99. 104p. ISBN 978-1-62779-875-4. Ages 7-9. P8Q9

The author of The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, a Newbery Honor Book, and The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate has made her popular protagonist accessible to younger readers in the Girl Vet chapter book series. Set in Texas during the turn of the 20th century, Callie gets involved in a variety of adventures, in this case a problem with the beloved but rowdy family dog that won’t take “no” from a prickly porcupine. The veterinarian is available for the dog’s first encounter, but Callie is alone for the second.

Verdict: A fun, quick read about a highly likeable character who loves education and the grandfather who helps her find it on the family’s ranch. Black and white drawings add to the understanding. Other books in the series: Skunked!, Counting Sheep, and Who Gives a Hoot? 

April/May 2018 review by Nel Ward.