Book review: Saturday Is Swimming Day, by Hyewon Yum

Yum, Hyewon. Saturday is Swimming Day. Candlewick Press, 2018. $16.99. ISBN 9780763691172. Unp. Ages 3-7. P7 Q7.

A small girl is taking swimming lessons. Every Saturday her stomach hurts as she anticipates her lesson. At first, her anxiety prevents her from actually getting in the water. However, she is given the opportunity to slowly gain confidence with her new pastime and the stomachache dissipates. Watery paints add texture to bright pencil illustrations of an inclusive cast of family member and swim students. The story teaches trust and patience to both children and the adults who support them in their new endeavors.

Verdict: Young readers will identify with the main character’s discomfort at trying something new. Adults should take a cue from the unobtrusive adults who encourage her to face her fears. This is a great resource for a child who is starting something new—especially swimming.

September 2018 review by Lillian Curanzy.

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Book review: Dog on a Digger, by Kate Prendergast

Prendergast, Kate. Dog on a Digger. Candlewick Press, 2018. $16.99. ISBN 9781536200416. Unp. Ages 2-7. P8 Q9

Dog on a Digger is a beautifully illustrated, textless story about teamwork and friendship. A dog and its human work on a building site. Their constructive day goes awry after lunch when dog’s young friend goes missing. The story is told through panels of pencil illustration—mostly monochrome—with touches of bright yellow and muted blue. Prendergast is quite skillful at depicting sound and emotion with line and texture.

Verdict: I recommend this book to children who appreciate dogs and/or construction equipment. Its lack of text allows young readers to lend their own words to the story or enjoy the creativity of the pleasing illustrations.

September 2018 review by Lillian Curanzy.

Book review: Exploring Space: from Galileo to the Mars Rover and Beyond, by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Stephen Biesty

Jenkins, Martin. Exploring Space: from Galileo to the Mars Rover and Beyond. Illus. Stephen Biesty. Candlewick Press, 2017. 59 pgs. Includes glossary and index. $17.99. ISBN: 978-0-7636-8931-5. Gr. 5+. P8 Q9

This oversized volume on space is one that I will gladly include in my middle school library. Jenkins has divided the book into sections: The solar system, astronomy, going into space and then returning, survival in space, aliens, crowded skies and the future of space. You are taken on a journey through time and space. The material that is presented is age appropriate and is not dry. It instead intrigued me. Biesty’s illustrations include clear, intricate drawings of cross-sections and cut-away sections of spacecraft and satellites.

Verdict: This book needs to be included in every middle and high school library. It will be a great addition to space collections.

June 2018 review by Carol Bernardi.

Book review: I’m a Duck, by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand

Bunting, Eve. I’m a Duck. Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand. Candlewick Press, 2018. $15.99. ISBN 9780763680329. Unpaged. Ages 3-6. P7Q8

A duck afraid to swim stars in this rhyming picture book. An egg has rolled from the nest, and mother duck dives into the pond to rescue it. Once hatched, the little duck is afraid of the water. The story features several pond friends who offer encouragement and confidence to little duck. Finally, with the backing of friends and family little duck conquers his fear and jumps in! Full color pages beautifully illustrate the pond setting.

VERDICT: I recommend this book for both home and classroom. It would be a great book for young ones not only learning how to swim, but overcoming any fear.

May 2018 review by Denyse Marsh.

Book review: Albert’s Tree, by Jenni Desmond

Desmond, Jenni. Albert’s Tree. Candlewick Press, 2016. $15.99. ISBN 9780763696887. Unpaged. Ages 3-8. P7Q7

Do you have a favorite tree? Well, Albert, a bear, does, and after a long winter’s nap he can’t wait to get back to it. However, something is different. Albert’s tree is crying. This sweet story follows Albert and his forest friends as they try to cheer the tree up. When nothing works, Albert is ready to try one last idea, he hugs his tree. In the calm the hug brings, Albert gets a big surprise: it’s not the tree that is crying, it is an owl in the tree. The two become friends, which makes the tree twice as good.

VERDICT: I can see this book being used in a classroom to talk about friends, and how friends can come in all shapes and sizes.

May 2018 review by Denyse Marsh.

Book review: Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor, and Loki, by Kevin Crossley-Holland, illustrated by Jeffrey Alan Love

Crossley-Holland, Kevin. Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor, and Loki. Illustrated by Jeffrey Alan Love. Candlewick Press, 2017. $27.99  ISBN: 0763695009. 225p.  Gr. 4-8. P4 Q8

Writing at a level that even young children can comprehend, Crossley-Holland has written yet another great book, retelling Viking folklore.  Love’s acrylic and ink illustrations add drama and help clarify the text and make the characters even creepier.  Contains a dictionary of terms.

VERDICT: Norse Myths are pretty odd to begin with and this book – which at times is disjointed and convoluted – pays homage to the weird.  Teachers would find this book helpful, however, for quickly summarizing some of the myths and the illustrations are engaging enough to make this a book preteens would like.

June 2018 review by Liz Fox.

[Editor’s note: Stark black and white illustrations add to the grim atmosphere and power of these Norse myths retold from the post-Christian Prose Edda.  Comparing this retelling with Neil Gaiman’s recently released Norse Myths finds this work more violent and lacking much of the humor often found in the stories, while Gaiman’s more conversational storytelling softened the raw power of the myths. Both titles are highly recommended for school and public library collections.]

Book review: Sail Away Dragon, by Barbara Joosse, illustrated by Randy Cecil

Joosse, Barbara. Sail Away Dragon. illus. Randy Cecil. Candlewick Press, 2017. unp. $15.99. ISBN: 978-0-7636-7313-0. Gr. K+. P9 Q8

This is the third book that the author Joose has written about the adventures of girl and the dragon. I have not read the other books but this one I loved. Girl and dragon both have the same dream which starts a new adventure for them. Dragon becomes a boat and he the girl sail away to “Far-Est Far Away.” On the journey they meet many different friends who join them on their journey.  The text itself is lyrical and funny as girl and dragon sail away for a year and day and has a whimsical tone as well. The illustrations are done in oils with a foggy misty feel, almost as if it this were a dream.

Verdict: This is an adventure that will draw the reader in. I have reread it many times.

July 2018 review by Carol Bernardi.