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Sleuth & Solve: Spooky: Decode Mind-Twisting Mysteries Inspired by Classic Creepy Characters: What Will You Find?
Published: August 24, 2021 by Chronicle

Summary: Test your wits in this creepy collection of horror-themed mini-mysteries, a follow-up to Sleuth & Solve!

How does one boy discover the lair of Frankenstein’s monster? What is the identity of the werewolf who torments an isolated village? And how do two sisters escape the vengeful Loch Ness Monster?

Welcome to the world of Sleuth & Solve: Spooky, where creepy clues are hidden in every detail and clever twists put your wits to the test. These mind-bending mini-mysteries inspired by classic creepy characters feature familiar fiends as well as terrifying new tales of ghosts, witches, and more! Solving this suite of spooky puzzles takes keen observation, strong logic, and lots of creative thinking. Play solo or with friends, collecting points as you crack each compelling case, decode the solution using a clever cryptograph, and reveal whose sleuthing skills reign supreme!

SCARY STORIES ARE IRRESISTIBLE: From monster-themed birthday parties to Dungeons & Dragons, Stranger Things, and Monsters, Inc., it’s clear that readers of all ages have a perennial predilection for all things monstrous and scary. These tales are perfect for reading alone or together, under the covers or in the dark, around the crackling of a campfire . . . as long as you can crack the case before it’s too late. BOO!

EVERYONE LOVES A GOOD MYSTERY: From Encyclopedia Brown to Sherlock Holmes to Clue, mysteries transfix, engage, and entertain! Following the previous two books in the Sleuth & Solve series, this latest smart, age-appropriate take on mysteries for kids will quickly become a family favorite.

A-GAME-IN-A-BOOK: This engaging narrative formula incorporates both a game (players earn points for discerning each answer) and an opportunity to decrypt and decode the clever solutions to each puzzle, adding opportunities for interactivity and upping the stakes of the reading experience.

REINFORCES LOGICAL REASONING SKILLS: These clever mysteries are solved by way of deduction, inference, and logical reasoning, all of which are critical thinking skills crucial to young readers’ intellectual development both in and outside of the classroom.

IDEAL FOR RELUCTANT READERS: With a comic-esque style, unique narrative approach, quirky scenarios, and a compelling mystery/”scary stories” theme, this book packs loads of reluctant reader appeal.

ReviewThis is a great book for elementary and middle schoolers (or kids/adults of all ages!). I did it with my sons, and they both had a great time decoding the riddles and figuring out the puzzles. We spread out the reading of this book across many days, and we did a section each day. It made for a delightful, connected experience. This is a book that offers so many things at once. It includes a mystery that begs to be solved and a really neat cryptograph (that kids can write secret messages outside of the reading of the book!). The author offers advice for making the reading even spookier (reading at night with a flashlight!). After reading this one, we want to check out the other Sleuth & Solve stories!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This is a fantastic book to have at a table in the classroom for fast finishers. Kids will be engrossed in decoding the riddles! They don’t need to read/decode them all at once, so this offers many opportunities for working on these while waiting for peers to finish working.

Discussion Questions: Which was your favorite riddle to solve? Who was your favorite character? Which story was your favorite? What creative text features did the author use in this book?

We Flagged: 

Read This If You Love: Spooky stories; Activity Books; Brain-teasers; Decoding; Riddles

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**Thank you to Eva at Chronicle for providing a copy for review**

 
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Sofia is a 10-year-old brilliant reader who aspires to be a book reviewer, who started with us when she was 8 years old. On select Saturdays, Sofia shares her favorite books with kids! She is one of the most well-read elementary schoolers that we know, so she is highly qualified for this role!

Dear readers,

Whether you are a cat fan or not this funny graphic novel will make it into your hearts. Presenting… Katie the Catsitter by Stephanie Yue and Colleen AF Venable! This amazing book will make you want to read it every single day! This book is recommended for ages 8-12.

Katie’s friends are going to camp and are always talking about how many hours are left until camp starts. Katie is not going to camp because she does not have enough money to. Then she gets an idea to get money! She puts up a poster in her apartment hallway saying that she can help watering plants, carrying grocery bags, that kind of stuff. But after she kills a lot of plants and accidentally breaks an egg carton in a shopping bag she starts to doubt that she will have enough money to go to camp. Just when Katie has given up, a nice lady comes to her with a job, cat sitting. Katie loves cats, but when Katie agrees to the job she has no idea what a handful the cats are! The cats are super intelligent, they do not use a litterbox, they use a real toilet! The weirdest part is that they all have talents! Not just any talents though, Potato is a yoga instructor, Jolie is a computer hacker, Jack Slayer is a getaway driver and, best of all, DJ Bootie Butler is a DJ with mad beats! With 217 of these crazy and not to mention mischievous cats to take care of, how will Katie survive and save enough money for camp! Oh and when you are reading brace yourself for more crazy action as the book goes on!

This book is one of my all time favorites because of all of the action that happens in the story. So many things are not what they seem and that makes this book super exciting! This is the best book any kid could wish for! The illustrations are also sooooooo cute! I love how the illustrations are filled with all sorts of beautiful colors! The illustrator did a beautiful job coloring this in. This book is easily one of the best graphic novels I have ever read and probably ever will read! I can not wait for the second book in the series called Katie the Catsitter Best Friends for Never! Enjoy!

**Thanks so much, Sofia! We are so glad you loved it!**

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It Fell From the Sky
By the Fan Brothers
Published: September 28, 2021 by Simon & Schuster

Summary: From the creators of the critically acclaimed The Night Gardener and Ocean Meets Sky comes a whimsical and elegantly illustrated picture book about community, art, the importance of giving back—and the wonder that fell from the sky.

It fell from the sky on a Thursday.

None of the insects know where it came from, or what it is. Some say it’s an egg. Others, a gumdrop. But whatever it is, it fell near Spider’s house, so he’s convinced it belongs to him.

Spider builds a wonderous display so that insects from far and wide can come look at the marvel. Spider has their best interests at heart. So what if he has to charge a small fee? So what if the lines are long? So what if no one can even see the wonder anymore?

But what will Spider do after everyone stops showing up?

Review: I cannot get enough of this book. I just want to hug it every time I see it. The story and illustrations work in a way that is simply magical. Their talent is simply remarkable. When an object falls from the sky (“A marble!” -My 7-year-old), the insects are convinced it must be from another world. Spider decides to develop a display and invites the insects far and wide. They merely need to pay a leaf to see the object. But spider learns an important lesson—one that serves as a good reminder to all of us. I loved this book and expect it to see some awards. It dazzled me.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers might to ask students to choose an object to examine from a different perspective than their own. They could write their own picture books.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How do the creators of the book use color to enhance their story?
  • How do the creators of the story use personification to teach a lesson?
  • What do we learn from this story? What does the spider teach us?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: The Night Gardener by The Fan Brothers; What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada; What Do You Do With a Chance? by Kobi Yamada; What Do You Do With a Problem? by Kobi Yamada; Magic Candies by Heena Baek; The Caiman by María Eugenia Manrique; Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett; Hug Machine by Scott Campbell

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Beth from Simon & Schuster for Providing a Copy for Review!**

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Magic Candies
Author: Heena Baek
Translator: Sophie Bowman
Published: September 1, 2021 by Amazon Crossing Kids

Summary: A quirky story about finding your voice, from internationally acclaimed author Heena Baek.

Tong Tong could never have imagined what everyone around him was thinking. But when he gets hold of some magic candies, suddenly there are voices everywhere. He can hear how his couch feels, what upsets his dog, that his demanding dad loves him. He even gets to catch up with his dead grandmother. It turns out, these voices in Tong Tong’s life have A LOT to say! Is Tong Tong ready to hear it?

At turns funny, weird, and heartfelt, this imaginative picture book from award-winning Korean author Heena Baek will take readers along on Tong Tong’s journey as he goes from lonely to brave.

★“Show-stopping spreads by Baek, similar to art by Red Nose Studio, feature molded, emotive figures in meticulously constructed scenery with miniature furniture, photographed under dramatic lighting—an effect startlingly close to animation. It’s a fully realized world that considers discerning meaning and making friends, while offering artwork that lingers in the memory.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)

“The enhanced artwork establishes depth and perspective…depictions of facial expressions are skillful and endearing, and the interplay between text and illustrations will cause readers to linger and ponder. An enigmatic, quirky representation of an active imagination in search of understanding and companionship.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Deeply touching, funny, and incredibly odd, this is the kind of picture book that gets you excited about picture books all over again…Magic Candies is so remarkable…a book that is both about giving voice to the voiceless and finding your own.” —Betsy Bird, School Library Journal

Heena Baek is an acclaimed picture book author and illustrator from South Korea. She won the 2020 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, a huge international award honoring the body of work of children’s book creators. She studied educational technology at Ewha Womans University and animation at the California Institute of the Arts. Utilizing her diverse animation production experience, Heena creates powerful and interesting picture books, often sculpting characters and building sets. She is the author and illustrator of a number of picture books, many of which have been translated and have received awards from South Korea and internationally. Follow her on Twitter @heenastory. On Instagram: @baekheena

Sophie Bowman is a PhD student at the University of Toronto, studying Korean literature. She was awarded the ICF Literature Translation Fellowship at Ewha Womans University. In 2015, she won the Korea Times Modern Korean Literature Translation Award grand prize for poetry with her translations of Jin Eun-young and co-translated Kim Bo-Young’s I’m Waiting for You and Other Stories. Follow her on Twitter @SophieOrbital.

Review: I was fortunate to receive this book about a month ago, and I have read it at least one hundred times to my children. They just can’t get enough of the quirkiness, and neither can I. After my very first reading, I immediately flipped to the first page to read it again. It’s a really neat book that sparks readers’ imaginations. The kids and I love to debate about which sculpture/illustration is our favorite. This book reminds me why I love picture books so much. It’s difficult to describe, but it offers a sense of magic for me. The main character’s words and actions bring out so many emotions for me. I felt simultaneous humor and sadness when he speaks to his grandmother through bubble gum under the table, for instance. The book is such a fascinating concept, and the author/illustrator is incredibly talented.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers might to ask students to use clay to sculpt and write a missing spread with a different colored candy in the book.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How does the author make the narrator come alive?
  • How does the candies differ? Evolve?
  • What is the dog’s name? Why is this interesting?
  • What does this book teach you about being human?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: The Caiman by María Eugenia Manrique; Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett; Hug Machine by Scott Campbell; Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin

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**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for Providing a Copy for Review!**

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Happy August 10th! That means it is time to share some favorite picture books!

This year, I want to share some favorite fairy tale or nursery rhyme inspired picture books.
(As with most lists, I may have cheated a bit to include more than 10 books, but they all are worth being on the list!)

Bethan Woollvin’s Fairy Tale books

Josh Funk & Edwardian Taylor’s It’s Not a Fairy Tale books

Chicken Little: The Real and Totally True Tale by Sam Wedelich

Eduardo Guadardo, elite Sheep by Anthony Pearson, Illustrated by Jennifer E. Morris

Princess and the Pit Stop by Tom Angleberger, Illustrated by Dan Santat

Deborah Underwood’s Interstellar Cinderella and Reading Beauty

Susan Middleton Elya’s Little Roja Riding Hood (illustrated by Susan Guevara) and La Princesa and the Pea (illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal)

Jon Sciezska’s The True Story of the Three Little Pigs (illustrated by Lane Smith); The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (illustrated by Lane Smith); and The Frog Prince, Continued (illustrated by Steve Johnson)

The Very Impatient Caterpillar and The Little Butterfly that Could by Ross Burach

The Little Red Fort by Brenda Maier, Illustrated by Sonia Sanchez

Happy reading!!!!

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Juan Hormiga
Author & Illustrator: Gustavo Roldán
Translator: Robert Croll
Published Originally in 2013, Translated and Published May 4th, 2021 by Elsewhere Editions

Summary: Juan Hormiga, the greatest storyteller of his entire anthill, loves to recount his fearless grandfather’s adventures. When Juan and his fellow ants gather around for story time, he hypnotizes all with tales of his grandfather’s many exploits – including his escape from an eagle’s talons and the time he leapt from a tree with just a leaf for a parachute. When he’s through telling these tales, Juan loves to cozy up for a nice long nap. He’s such a serious napper that he takes up to ten siestas every day! Though well loved by his ant friends, Juan decides telling tales and sleeping aren’t quite enough for him – it’s time to set off on his own adventure. With whimsical, irresistible illustrations, Juan Hormiga affirms the joys of sharing stories, and of creating your own out in the world.

About the Author: Gustavo Roldán was born in Argentina in 1965. His illustrations are widely published, and he has been exhibiting his work since 1985. His books have been published in numerous countries including Mexico, Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, Brazil, South Korea, and Switzerland and have earned him recognition from A.L.I.J.A., the Prix Octogone, and inclusion in the White Ravens catalogue created by the Jugendbibliothek. His other books include El señor G and Historias de conejo y elefante, both published internationally. He currently lives in Barcelona, where he is a contributor to several publishing houses.

About the Translator: Robert Croll is a writer, translator, musician, and visual artist from Asheville, North Carolina. He first came to translation during his undergraduate studies at Amherst College, where he focused on Julio Cortázar’s short fiction. His translations include The Diaries of Emilio Renzi by Ricardo Piglia, published by Restless Books.

Review: From the first couple of pages when Juan Hormiga napped his way around the spread and showed his curiosity, I fell in love with this little ant. He may not fit what we normally think of when we think of ants, but he is an example of the importance of different types of people in a community: every time Juan Hormiga speaks to tell a story, all of the other ants stop and listen because that is the power of a good story. This message is also one that made my heart happy as I read it.

I also loved that there was no shunning or pushes to be different involved in the story. The ants loved Juan Hormiga for who he was and utilized him for his strengths.

Author Rivka Galchen called Juan Hormiga “magnificent and silly and tender all at once–a perfect book,” and I can attest that all is there: magnificent in the message and stories, silliness in the illustrations and conversation, and tender in the love for each other.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Students will love hearing this book read out loud, and it will lend itself nicely to a creative writing activity where students can create their own adventures for Juan Hormiga’s grandfather–what other adventures did he go on?

Discussion Questions: 

  • How is Juan Hormiga different from his fellow ants?
  • Why is Juan Hormiga so important to his colony even though he doesn’t do the same labor the other ants do?
  • The author shared that this book was inspired by nights when his family camped in the mountains and his mother told them stories. How do you see this inspiration in the story?
  • What do you think the author is trying to portray about the power of storytelling?
  • How do you think the ants feel when they find Juan in the willow tree?

Flagged Passages: 


Read This If You Love: Little Fox by Edward van de Vendel, Lucy by Randy Cecil, Normal Norman by Tara Lazar

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Elsewhere Editions for providing a copy for review!**

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Sofia is an 9-year-old brilliant reader who aspires to be a book reviewer. On select Saturdays, Sofia shares her favorite books with kids! She is one of the most well-read elementary schoolers that we know, so she is highly qualified for this role!

Dear readers,

Introducing Princesses Wear Pants by Savannah Guthrie! This is one of my favorite picture books and my little sister agrees. Princesses Wear Pants is a colorful picture book which every kid will love! This book is recommended for ages 3-12.

In this book there is a princess named Penny. The princess wears dresses and tiaras but she also has a closet of all kinds of pants. She wears pants for things like workouts and tending a garden. Then the royal ball comes up! Penny goes to the ball at first with a fancy shirt and pants but a person named Grand Lady Busyboots tells her that princesses don’t wear pants. Penny goes home to change but with a secret pair of pants underneath her dress. When she arrives at the ball for the second time she forgets all her worries but then her royal cat is seen hanging on the side of a tower trying not to fall. The princess throws off her dress and dives in the water around the tower. To everyone’s surprise the princess had put on her bathing suit underneath her clothing! You should read the book so you know what happens to the cat and the princess! 

I love this book so much because of the beautiful illustrations! I got this book as a gift a few years ago and have read it countless times since. This is an amazing book to give as a gift. This is a cute and powerful story which tells about the importance of wearing pants! There is a sequel which I have on my NEED TO READ list. I really hope you and your family members love this book as much as I do!

**Thanks so much, Sofia, for this wonderful review!**