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Code Breaker, Spy Hunter: How Elizebeth Friedman Changed the Course of Two World Wars
Author: Laurie Wallmark
Illustrator: Brooke Smart
Anticipated Publication: March 2, 2021 by Harry N. Abrams

Goodreads Summary: Decode the story of Elizebeth Friedman, the cryptologist who took down gangsters and Nazi spies.

In this picture book biography, young readers will learn all about Elizebeth Friedman (1892-1980), a brilliant American code breaker who smashed Nazi spy rings, took down gangsters, and created the CIA’s first cryptology unit. Her story came to light when her secret papers were finally declassified in 2015. From thwarting notorious rumrunners with only paper and pencil to counter-spying into the minds and activities of&; Nazis, Elizebeth held a pivotal role in the early days of US cryptology. No code was too challenging for her to crack, and Elizebeth’s work undoubtedly saved thousands of lives. Extensive back matter includes explanations of codes and ciphers, further information on cryptology, a bibliography, a timeline of Elizebeth&;s life, plus secret messages for young readers to decode.

About the Creators: 

Award-winning author Laurie Wallmark has written picture-book biographies of women in STEM fields ranging from computer science to mathematics, astronomy to code breaking. Her books have earned multiple starred reviews, been chosen as Junior Library Guild Selections, and received awards such as Outstanding Science Trade Book, Cook Prize Honor, and Parents’; Choice Gold Medal. She is a former software engineer and computer science professor. She lives in Ringoes, New Jersey. You can find her at lauriewallmark.com. On Twitter: @lauriewallmark, Facebook: @lauriewallmarkauthor, Instagram: @lauriewallmark

Brooke Smart loves telling stories through her illustrations, especially stories about brave women from history. She has always loved to read, and growing up she could be found nightly falling asleep with a book on her chest. Illustrating books as a professional artist is a lifelong dream come true. She is living the busy, tired, happy, wonderful dream in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband, their three kids, and their naughty cat named Sunshine. Learn more about her at brooke-smart.com. Instagram: @bookesmartillustration

Ricki’s Review: This book is packed with information! I wasn’t familiar with this Women in STEM series, and now I feel like I need to get all of the books! The book has a great complexity—from the way in which the story is told in an engaging way that draw readers in to the way the illustrations and text are laid on the page. Typically, I give books away after I read and review them, but I am going to have a hard time parting with this one. Elizebeth Friedman’s bravery is simply awe-inspiring. She is a true heroine who needs to be named more frequently in history. Get this book. You truly won’t be disappointed.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book begs to be read in literature circles with other books about heroes/heroines, women in STEM, or powerful people in history. It would ignite powerful conversations about the characteristics of historical and contemporary heroes and heroines.

Check out the Code Breaker, Spy Hunter book page, where you’ll find a trailer, cool activity sheets, and more!

Discussion Questions: 

  • What is one intentional choice the author made in telling this story?
  • What are the qualities of a hero? Who are some historical and contemporary heroes who inspire you?
  • What are some of the pivotal moments in Friedman’s life story? How did she change the world for the better?

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Other Books by Laurie Wallmark: Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code; Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine; Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life: Hollywood Legend and Brilliant Inventor; Numbers in Motion: Sophie Kowalevski, Queen of Mathematics

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**Thank you go Barbara at Blue Slip Media for providing a copy for review!**

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The Stuff Between the Stars: How Vera Rubin Discovered MOST of the Universe
Author: Sandra Nickel
Illustrator: Aimée Sicuro
Publishing March 2nd, 2021 by Abrams Books for Young Readers

Summary: An inspired biographical picture book about a female astronomer who makes huge discoveries about the mysteries of the night sky and changed the way we look at the universe.

Vera Rubin was one of the astronomers who discovered and named dark matter, the thing that keeps the universe hanging together. Throughout her career she was never taken seriously as a scientist because she was one of the only female astronomers at that time, but she didn’t let that stop her. She made groundbreaking and incredibly significant discoveries that scientists have only recently been able to really appreciate—and she changed the way that we look at the universe. A stunning portrait of a little-known trailblazer, The Stuff Between the Stars tells Vera’s story and inspires the youngest readers who are just starting to look up at the stars.

About the Creators: 

Sandra Nickel says that story ideas are everywhere; you just have to reach out and grab them.  She holds an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her first book, Nacho’s Nachos: The Story Behind the World’s Favorite Snack, was a Golden Kite Award finalist. Sandra lives in Chexbres, Switzerland, where she blogs about children’s book writers and illustrators at whatwason.com. To learn more, visit https://sandranickel.com/.

Twitter:  @senickel
Facebook: @sandranickelbooks
Instagram: @sandranickelbooks

Aimée Sicuro is an illustrator, picture book maker, and surface pattern designer who received a BFA in Illustration from Columbus College of Art and Design. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and young sons. Visit her website to learn more.

Twitter: @aimeesicuro
Instagram: @aimeesicuro

Praise: 

“This engaging biography will appeal to budding scientists, particularly those with a penchant for sky searching.” – Kirkus Reviews

“A truly beautiful story of perseverance and passion.” – Booklist

Review: I love learning about amazing women. At the same time, I think it is so sad that these same women aren’t already being taught in schools. Whenever dark matter is discussed, why isn’t Vera Rubin’s story delved into?! It should be. She was someone that should be admired and learned from. Her grit to overcome the blatant sexism in her field is just so tough to even wrap your brain around. These female pioneers deserve all of the name yelling from the hill tops we can give them. 

For that reason, I am so thankful for this book. I did not know about Vera Rubin. Nickel’s story did a wonderful job of intertwining Rubin’s personal story, professional story, and pure passion into a narrative that taught me about her and about space. I also loved the illustrations and the design of the book. Sicuro’s use of darkness and light & spacing were so thoughtful, and I loved the mix between the realistic and the scientific in illustrations. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Add in Stuff Between Stars to your Amazing Women in Science text set then use the text set in a lit circle to discover and explore the amazing women scientists picture book biographies that are out there for kids! (Although there still aren’t enough, but it is vastly improving!)

I also think that this book really pushes the idea of passion projects. Everyone dismissed Vera and didn’t nurture her love of science and astronomy. Yes, she overcame, thankfully, but just imagine if just one teacher had told her to just learn everything she could and truly nurtured that love?! Let’s aim to be that educator more!

Post will soon be updated with the curriculum guide for this book!

Discussion Questions:

  • How did others’ criticisms affect Vera? 
  • In the 3rd spread below, how did the author use color to bring across the author’s point? 
  • What challenges did Vera overcome to still become an infamous astronomer? 
  • Why do you think Vera’s work is less known than other astronomers? 
  • Why did Vera have to be so blunt about wanting the job at the Carnegie Institute? What would have probably happened if she was not? 

Watch for: In Celebration of Women’s History Month, Publishers Weekly will be featuring Sandra Nickel and Laurie Wallmark. We talk about science, curiosity, and the importance of picture books about women in STEM. Look for our ‘In Conversation’ on March 8.

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Book Trailer: 

Read This If You Love: The Leaf Detective by Heather LangMarjory Saves the Everglades by Sandra Neil WallaceHidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, Shark Lady by Jess KeatingGrace Hopper by Laurie WallmarkAda’s Ideas by Fiona RobinsonWho Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? by Tanya Lee StoneMe…Jane by Patrick McDonnell  

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**Thank you to Abrams Books for Young Readers for providing a copy for giveaway!**

 

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This year, Trent and I read over 425 books together!!
(And that doesn’t even count the books he read at school, on his own on Epic, or on his own during our family reading time 😲)
You can checkout our Goodreads bookshelf to see all of the books we read.

I am so proud of this little reader I have in my household, and I am happy to share some of his favorite reads as a 6 year old. Here are the books he chose as his favorites when we scrolled through all of the books he’s read this year. [These books are in order of how we read them this year.] All of these books were chosen by Trent and the quote is why he likes it:

Leo: A Ghost Story

Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Christian Robinson

“I like that I don’t know why the girl sees him and everyone else does not. It is a mystery book.”

Dragons love tacos collection 2 books set by adam rubin

Dragons Love Tacos series by Adam Rubin, Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

“It is really funny when they eat the tacos and go ACCCK with their fire. And in the other book it is funny that they have to time travel to find more tacos.”

Battle Bunny

Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka & Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Matthew Myers

“When the authors wrote it they made it so a boy got it for his birthday and his grandma let him have it and it’s funny that he changed it into BATTLE BUNNY dun dun duuuuun!”

Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast series by Josh Funk, Illustrated by Brendan Kearney

“I like all of them. It is funny that there are different worlds: first, the freezer and the fridge and the other parts. And I like that it rhymes.”

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The Typewriter by Bill Thomson

“I like it because when they type a thing it comes to life. I like the illustrations because they are very good illustrations.”

We are in a Book! (Elephant & Piggie, #13)

We Are In a Book by Mo Willems

“It is funny that they talk to me. And they know they are in a book. And Gerald is like OH NO! PAGE 49! NOW 50! AND THE BOOK ENDS AT 53! It is really funny.”

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One Lonely Fish by Andy Mansfield, Illustrated by Thomas Flintham

“I like it because I like how the numbers count on and the fish get bigger and bigger and the biggest fish you cannot even see his eyes or whole body.”

Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas

Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas by Aaron Blabey

“Brian is like TRY ONE OF MY FRUITS and then everyone else is like NO, WE PREFER BUTTS! In the end, they try the fruit and think it is pretty good, but say, ‘We still prefer butts.'”

Please Say Please!: Penguin's Guide to Manners

Please Say Please: Penguin’s Guide to Manners by Margery Cuyler, Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand

“Because the Penguin wants everyone to have table manners. HIPPO, YOUR NAPKIN IS NOT A HAT. And when they all leave, the penguin says they all need to say, ‘Please open the door.'”

Harold & Hog Pretend For Real! (Elephant & Piggie Like Reading!, #6)

Harold and Hog Pretend for Real by Dan Santat

“They try to be Piggie and Gerald. And Piggie and Gerald try to be Harold and Hog. And I like how Harold and Hog look like old versions of Piggie and Gerald.”

The Bad Guys series (we’ve read 1-4) by Aaron Blabey

“I like the Piranha, Shark, and the Wolf. I like all the Bad Guys because they are pretty funny.”

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Billy Twitters and his Blue Whale Problem by Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Adam Rex

“He brings a huge blue whale home! It’s so funny that he tries to take care of him, and he’s too big for the house.”

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Rules of the House by Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Matt Myers

“I like it because the boy’s sister doesn’t do the rules. Like, the haunted house says don’t open the red door, and SHE OPENS THE RED DOOR.”

The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot!

The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot by Scott Magoon

“I like it because the Bigfoot is funny.”

I Really Like Slop! (Elephant & Piggie, #24)

I Really Like Slop! by Mo Willems

“It is funny that Piggie makes slop and Gerald is like BLECK but he tries to pretend he loves it. But then Piggie says, ‘Have more since you like it.’ I actually like the whole series because it has a lot of kindness.”

Jack at the Zoo

Jack at the Zoo by Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Greg Pizzoli

“It is really funny that he gets replaced with the koala.”

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We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, Illustrated by Michaela Goade

“I like that the they’re trying to protect the water from the black snake pipe.”

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Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy & Theresa Howell, Illustrated by Rafael López

“I like that they makes the whole neighborhood become full of art.”

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Harriet Gets Carried Away by Jessie Sima

“I like it because while she’s in her penguin outfit on her birthday, it’s funny that the penguins are trying to take her and that they think she’s the king of the penguins. It is just so funny.”

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Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

“I like that she is named after her great great grandmother and everyone else.”

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My Book (Not Yours) by Ben Sanders

“It’s funny because the sloth says it is his book but the fox takes over dun dun duuuun.”

The Box Turtle

The Box Turtle by Vanessa Roeder

“Since he doesn’t have a shell, I am sad he lost himself and he lost his shell. Now he tried everything and tried a box. I am sad for him. I’m better at the end though.”

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Find Fergus by Mike Boldt

“It is funny that we have to find him. And in the end it is really hard to find to find all of the animals and you had to find certain stuff.”

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The Misadventures of Toni Macaroni in The Mad Scientist by Cetonia Weston Roy, Illustrated by Chasity Hampton

“Is there a second one out yet? I want to read another one.”

Welcome to Bobville: City of Bobs

Welcome to Bobville: City of Bobs by Jonah Winter, Illustrated by Bob Staake

“Well, there’s 1 good news and 2 bad news of it. Well, the first bad news is that I don’t like that everyone does the same thing: they go to sleep at the same time, they do the same thing at the same time, they think everything the same. I’m also sad that he doesn’t fit in. But I’m glad that he finds a home place.”

Nellie Nutgraf - The Double Best Reporter in History

Nellie Nutgraf series by Tom Angleberger, Illustrated by Gillian Reid

“Well, I like that it shows a bunch of history. It is kind of like a fake book, it didn’t happen in real life, but it has history in it that’s real.”

Lost on the Titanic (Out of Time Book 1)

Out of Time series by Jessica Rinker, Illustrated by Bethany Stancliffe

“I like it because it is also fictional history. It tells you about the Titanic. I liked that there was magic in it, too.”

Superbuns!

Superbuns by Diane Kredensor

“I like that she’s being kind.”

Where's My Turtle?

Where’s My Turtle? by Barbara Bottner, Illustrated by Brooke Boynton Hughes

“I like it because I like finding the turtle, like in the garden and in his room. It’s fun. I’m sad that the turtle is lost, but I like that he finds him.”

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My Favorite Book in the Whole Wide World by Malcolm Mitchell, Illustrated by Michael Robertson

“I like it because I like that he’s happy. I’m happy for him.”

I Am Not a Penguin: A Pangolin's Lament

I Am Not a Penguin: A Pangolin’s Lament by Liz Wong

“He’s a PANGOLIN! I like that they think he’s a penguin and then at the end a penguin comes, and everyone says FINALLY A PENGUIN.”

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This Way, Charlie by Caron Levis, Illustrated by Charles Santoso

“Well, I’m sad that he got blind, but I’m happy that he made a friend.”

The Way Home (Owly #1)

Owly: The Way Home by Andy Runton

“I like that he’s taking care of the blue jay guys, and I like wormy. Wormy is sometimes funny.”

The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby (Super Diaper Baby, #1)

The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby #1 by Dav Pilkey

“I like that he can talk on his first day alive, and he’s like, ‘Hey dudes!'”

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Fox & Chick: The Quiet Boat Ride and Other Stories by Sergio Ruzzier

“Fox says it has to be a quiet boat ride, but Chick keeps on saying stuff: CAN I BE THE CAPTAIN OF THIS SHIP?! And it isn’t even a ship, it is a row boat! The one with the sunset is also very funny because Chick keeps asking things like: DO I NEED MY HAMMER?! and DO I NEED GOGGLES?! But he doesn’t need anything!”

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The Rock from the Sky by Jon Klassen

“It’s funny the two characters talk to each other and they came closer and closer and there’s an asteroid coming.”

The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, Illustrated by Patricia Castelao

“I like all of the characters like Ruby, Ivan, Mack, Julia, every body.”

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Spencer’s New Pet by Jessie Sima

“You get confused the first time you read it. Because you think Spencer’s the boy but he’s actually a balloon, and the dog is Spencer, and the boy is the pet. It is very funny.”

Trent says, “Thank you for stopping by!”

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Past “Trent’s Favorite Books” Posts

Kellee and Trent’s Favorite Picture Books: First Three Months

Trent and Kellee’s Favorite Picture Books: Three to Six Months

Trent and Kellee’s Favorite Picture Books: Six to Nine Months

Trent and Kellee’s Favorite Books: Nine to Twelve Months

A First Year Full of Books: Trent’s Journey Through Books
**Check this one out if you haven’t–it is one of my favorite posts ever!**

Trent’s Favorite Books: One to Two Years Old

Ten of Trent’s Favorite Books as of His Third Birthday

Ten(ish) of Trent’s Favorite Books as of His Fourth Birthday

Trent’s Favorite Reads as of His Fifth Birthday

Trent’s Favorite Reads as of His 6th Birthday

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The Leaf Detective: How Margaret Lowman Uncovered Secrets in the Rainforest
Author: Heather Lang
Illustrator: Jana Christy
Published February 9th, 2021 by Calkins Creek

Summary: Meg Lowman was determined to investigate the marvelous, undiscovered world of the rainforest treetops. Meg’s perseverance and creativity allowed her to achieve this goal, but when this fantastic ecosystem started to disappear, Meg needed to act quickly.

Meg Lowman was always fascinated by the natural world above her head. The colors, the branches, and, most of all, the leaves and mysterious organisms living there. As a scientist, Meg set out to climb up and investigate the rain forest tree canopies– and to be the first scientist to do so. But she encountered challenge after challenge. Male teachers would not let her into their classrooms, the high canopy was difficult to get to, and worst of all, people were logging and clearing the forests. Meg never gave up or gave in. She studied, invented, and persevered, not only creating a future for herself as a scientist, but making sure that the rainforests had a future as well. Working closely with Meg Lowman, author Heather Lang and artist Jana Christy beautifully capture Meg’s world in the treetops.

About the Creators: 

Heather Lang loves to write about real women who overcame extraordinary obstacles and never gave up on their dreams. Her award-winning picture book biographies include Fearless Flyer: Ruth Law and Her Flying Machine.

Jana Christy currently lives in the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts. She is the illustrator of various titles, including I’m the Big One Now!: Poems about Growing Up. Visit janachristy.wixsite.com/illustrations.

Review: Heather Lang does an amazing job of the layering in this book ensuring to include many different aspects of Margaret (Meg) Lowman’s life including her passion for the environment, challenges of being a woman in the sciences in 1970s and the barriers that came with the institutional sexism, and someone wanting to be innovative yet being shut down left and right.

The narrative of the story is written in beautiful verses mixed with direct quotes from Lowman and extra side bar notes that includes facts and information that help drive the biography. And finally the illustrations, filled with vibrant blues and greens, bring the story and setting to life for the reader.

The back matter includes an author note sharing about Lang’s interest in Lowman and about meeting and interviewing her, and it includes photos of Lowman and Lang! This shows the reader Lang’s research methods and how the quote throughout the book are primary sources.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: 

Publisher-provided Educator Guide:

Flagged Passages: 

View two spreads from the book by visiting the publisher’s page:

Book Trailer: 

Read This If You Love: Marjory Saves the Everglades by Sandra Neil Wallace, The Blue Giant by Katie Cottle, Over and Under series by Kate Messner, Swimming with Sharks by Heather Lang, Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell, The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau by Dan Yaccarino, The Tree Lady by Joseph H. Hopkins

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Don’t miss the other stops on the tour!

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**Thank you to Boyds Mills & Kane for providing a copy for review and giveaway!**

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Sloth Wasn’t Sleepy
Author: Kate Messner
Illustrator: Valentina Toro
Published: January 12, 2021 by Sounds True

Goodreads Summary: For any child having trouble getting to sleep, the most lovable animal in the rain forest is here to help.

One night at bedtime, Sloth wasn’t sleepy.
“What if I worry when I try to fall asleep?” Sloth said.
“Ah … worries,” Mama said. “We will have to let them go.”

A tough day, a bad dream, a scary noise … these are just a few of the things that can keep kids wide awake and frightened after dark. But Mama Sloth knows the secrets for calming worried minds and getting to sleep—and as she shares them with her daughter, young readers will learn valuable relaxation skills that last a lifetime.

Sloth Wasn’t Sleepy does more than provide a sweet bedtime story—kids will join Sloth to learn mindfulness practices such as “shrinking down” fears in their mind and calming their body through breath and simple visualizations. Kate Messner’s beautiful book helps parents and kids relax into dreamland with a sense of peace, safety, and belonging.

Ricki’s Review: This book is simply magical. Since moving to Colorado, I have understood the value of mindfulness. My kids do meditation at night, and it has really helped their sleep. This book is going to be so helpful to facilitate the process. The charming illustrations drew my attention immediately, and my kids were giggling as we read the book. The words feel carefully and intentionally placed, and they soothed me, as the reader, too! I plan to gift this book to my younger sons’ teachers to use before naptime.

Kellee’s Review: My son is definitely afflicted with a large imagination, specifically when it comes to bedtimes and fears. Reading about Sloth’s worries and her mom’s advice on how to overcome this anxiety is something I will definitely be bringing up whenever these fears erupt at bedtime. I think many kids will find solace in these routines that Mama Sloth set up for Sloth in the story–between the relaxing onomatopoeias, the deep breathing, and the visualization, the story definitely brings a calm over the reader. And to add to this feeling is the adorable and cool-colored illustrations that just tie it all together.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Implicit in this book is a description of anxiety. A common manifestation of anxiety comes with nighttime worrying. I’d love to use this book in literature circles centered around mental health, or in a way that allows children to think about the ways in which they negotiate feelings of worry and anxiety.

Discussion Questions: 

  • What interrupts Sloth’s desire to rest?
  • How does Sloth work to go to sleep?
  • How can you adjust your own habits to improve your sleep?
  • What worries do you have? Shrink them, lay it on a leaf, and set it free.
  • When else could you use a breathing technique like the one Mama Sloth taught Sloth?

We Flagged: “‘Sometimes,” Mama said, “I like to pretend I’m a tree. Drinking up breath from my roots to my crown, from my toes to the top of my head. Would you like to try that, too?'”

You can also check out:

Read This If You Loved: Sloth Wasn’t Sleepy by Frann Preston-Gannon; Sparky by Jenny Offill, “Slowly, Slowly, Slowly” Said the Sloth by Eric Carle, Dinosaur Farm by Frann Preston Gannon

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Samantha at Sounds True for providing copies for review!**

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Who Loves the Dragon?
Author: Bianca Schulze
Illustrator: Samara Hardy
Publishing February 16, 2021 by Clever Publishing

Summary: In this interactive follow-up to Don’t Wake the Dragon, our beloved Dragon is wide-awake and preparing to celebrate one of the kingdom’s most important events of the year: the annual Friendship Festival! It’s a time for everyone to gather and have fun, all honoring their meaningful friendships. But on the day of the feast, the cooks are called away to cater to the Queen and the knights must report for special duty in the Enchanted Forest. With everyone gone, Dragon is upset and worried that this year’s Friendship Festival is doomed. Could they be planning something special for her? And in the meantime, can you help cheer her up? With colorful and humorous illustrations throughout, this read-aloud picture book encourages kids to interact with the text on every page. Young readers will love waving to characters, blowing kisses, dancing, and more on this fun ride alongside Dragon and her adorable friends in this delightful story that will beg to be read again and again.

About the Author: Bianca Schulze is the founder and editor of The Children’s Book Review – a resource devoted to children’s literature and literacy. Bianca is also the bestselling author of 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up, an Amazon “Book of the Month” in 2016. She is a reader, reviewer, mother, and children’s book lover. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, Bianca now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.

About the Illustrator: Samara Hardyis the illustrator of Don’t Wake the Dragon and Who Loves the Dragon?. An experienced illustrator and designer, she has created artwork for clients across the globe for greetings cards, stationery, homewares, children’s books, and much more. She lives in Surrey, England.

About the Publisher: Clever Publishing was founded in 2010 with the purpose of changing children’s lives for the better. We create a world full of fascinating experiences for families through our books, games, sets, and series. Focusing on Pre-school and Edutainment, we’ve developed a wide range of innovative formats with modern teaching techniques. Kids love to read, touch, and play while learning, so our program includes products for all ages, including box sets; board books; puzzle books; learning flash cards; interactive coloring, activity, and word play formats; and boards games for the entire family. Our dream team – more than 100 employees worldwide – have a comprehensive understanding and knowledge of children’s books. With this expertise, we present products that are fun, entertaining, and vibrant. We are modern and educational and strive to always emphasize the importance of first experiences. We connect to the needs of busy parents and aim to enrich the time spent with their children. Our goal is to make children – as well as their parents happy!

Review: Interactive books are a favorite in our household, and the Dragon books do not disappoint in getting the reader involved with the story. In the second Dragon book, the Dragon is so sad because the friendship festival is happening, but none of her friends are around. Luckily, the reader is there to make her day better!

The activities the reader does with the dragon are great because they are all things that could be used in real situations of sadness or loneliness such as counting to ten slowly, positive words, and exercise.

On top of the fun story and interactive aspect, the illustrations are delightful! So colorful and full of life! I truly hope there are more Dragon books in our future!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Who Loves the Dragon? activity booklet –> Download for free and print here

Discussion Questions: 

  • What do you do when you are feeling upset?
  • What type of dance did you dance for Dragon?
  • What friends would you bring to the Friendship Festival?
  • Put your hand on your heart and tell yourself something kind about yourself–something you love about yourself.
  • What is your favorite joke?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Dragon books; Interactive books such as There’s a Dragon in Your Book by Tom Fletcher, Don’t Push the Buttonby Bill Cotter, I Say Ooh You Say Aah by John Kane, and Push Here by Hervé Tullet

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to the author and publisher for providing a copy for review!**

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First Day of Unicorn School
Author: Jess Hernandez
Illustrator: Mariano Epelbaum
Published January 1st, 2021 by Capstone Publishing

Summary: Milly is incredibly excited to go to Unicorn School, a school that accepts only the best and the brightest. There’s only one problem: she isn’t a unicorn! She’s a donkey in a party hat. Milly first feels uncomfortable but eventually learns that she and the others at the school have more in common than it might have seemed.

About the Author: Jess Hernandez is a writer, librarian, teacher, and all-around word girl. When not being used as a human canvas for baby food art, she writes books for kids. Her debut book, FIRST DAY OF UNICORN SCHOOL, illustrated by Mariano Epelbaum, came out in Jan. 1, 2021 from Capstone. Sometimes she writes essays, poems, and short stories for grown-ups, too. Jess lives in a very small, very LOUD house in Washington with her husband, their three children, a blind Labrador, and seven chickens.

Review: This book is so relatable! Everyone has those first day jitters when they are about to start at a new school, no matter how excited they are, so Milly and the reader will definitely have something in common. And just like Milly, the reader probably realized that although everyone is different at their school, they all are awesome and fit in in their own way at school.

In addition to the story, I really liked the fun colors of the illustrations, and Milly is so expressive!

Trent’s Review: I really liked it because I love animals and it was funny when they all revealed the truth showing their fake unicorn horns and manes. In the end, Milly found the truth everyone and the school became for all animals, so Milly fit in.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: As an educator, Jess created extension activities to go with First Day of Unicorn School!

Coloring Pages

Lesson Plans

And Jess does online visits with schools or groups! https://www.jesshernandezwrites.com/school-visits

Discussion Questions: 

  • What was Milly so worried about when she first got to the school?
  • Why did Milly want to go to unicorn school?
  • How did the author use word play when having the different animals speak?
  • Why did Milly turn around right before she almost left the school?
  • Have students draw their own “unicorn” (any animal with a fake horn and hair!)
  • How were all the animals at the school the same? Different?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey, Kevin the Unicorn by Jessika Von Innerebner, Danbi Leads the School Parade by Anna Kim, Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten by Laura Purdie Salas

Recommended For: 

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Signature

**Thank you to the author and Capstone for providing a copy for review!**

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