Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks. ~ Dr. Seuss

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The Invisible Boy

The Invisible Boy
by Trudy Ludwig (Author), Patrice Barton (Illustrator)


Brian feels invisible. His teacher hardly notices him as she is busy with other more noisy kids of the class. At lunch, he sits alone to eat his food. At recess his friends don’t include him any games they play. So Brian finds something he can do all by himself. He draws. He does it at recess and in the class exercises. He gets lost in his little world of pirates and space aliens and superheroes.

The Invisible Boy invisible

One day a new boy Justin joins his class. Brian hopes desperately that Justin and he could be friends. Justin is different too. He eats a Korean dish called Bulgogi and promptly gets laughed and teased at by others. Feeling sorry for the new boy, Brian sends him a small note with a neat drawing of himself eating Bulgogi. It says “Justin, I thought the bulgogi looked good. Brian.”

The Invisible Boy note

Later that day, Justin and Brian get together for a class project and they do a great job at it too. It seems to Brian finally, that he is no longer “invisible”!

The Invisible Boy Justin project

What at first seems to be a simple story about bullying and classroom dynamics is really a wonderfully narrated and brilliantly illustrated picture book. Ludwig’s story tells of how simple acts of kindness and inclusiveness can help children to flourish.

Barton cleverly uses pencil sketch illustration to work through the emotions that Brian is feeling. One notices in the beginning of the story that Brian is colored and sketched in shades of gray, whereas the rest of the world around him are colored in bright colors, thus, highlighting the “invisibility” theme of the story. But as the story moves and Brian starts to feel more comfortable and included, color seems to creep into Brian. Finally he is revealed in full color.

What I liked the most is the how perfect this book is as a read aloud in a classroom. During our session, kids immediately noticed the graphic difference between Brian and the rest if the kids. Kids (surprisingly) immediately could tell what “The Invisible Boy” title really meant (that he is not really invisible, just not noticed). And as the story progressed there were strong empathetic comments shared by the kids.

Ludwig and Barton’s “The invisible Boy” is a great addition to any school library. There is a page full of Questions for Discussions for parents and teachers alike. On a final note, the author includes recommended reading for both adults and kids.

A truly poignant book on classroom relationships. This one is a MUST READ!

Find it here: Library, Amazon

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Xander’s Panda Party

Xander’s Panda Party
by Linda Sue Park (Author), Matt Phelan (Illustrator)

How to host the Perfect Party!

Panda planned to throw a party. He makes invitations and decides to send them to all his “Bear” friends at the zoo. But Koala objects! She is not a bear.. can she still come to Xander panda’s party?

Xander's Panda Party Invitation to Bears


Xander's Panda Party Koala

Xander was not sure what to do? So he thinks really hard. Finally Xander decides to expand his guest list Smile And invite more animals!

Xander's Panda Party inside

However, Rhino has a slight problem. He won’t come without his bird. Well, Xander does not want to disappoint and feels really blue. What to do? He thinks and thinks some more. Then he has a brilliant idea! And makes fresh NEW invitations. Its time to invite ALL birds and ALL mammals at the zoo to his party Smile

With the help of his new friend Amanda Salamander, Xander arranges a fun party for everyone at the zoo. The party is in full swing when a truck arrives. At the back, there is a large wooden crate. Who could it possibly be? Smile

There is SO much going on this lovely picture book Xanders Panda Party. The verse rhymes but without a childish feel so that it keeps older kids reading. As a matter of fact the language introduces wonderful new combinations of rhymes.

“Xander felt a little blue.

He chewed bamboo, a stalk or two.

He fidgeted and paced the floor, then scratched an itch and paced some more.

Finally, a firm decision: Xander’s brand-new party vision!”


“From her tree Koala hollered, ‘Xander, I am not a bear.’ 

Xander didn’t understand her.

‘Koala Bear, you’re not a bear?’

He stared at her in consternation.
‘Sorry for the complication.

I know I’m called Koala Bear.but I am not a bear, I swear.

I am a marsupial. Marsupials –we’re rather rare.

Will I not be welcome there?'”

Apart from the unique rhyme for verse, Xanders Panda Party has a hidden learning agenda. Remember the technique of sorting, grouping, classifying and ordering? Through clever story telling, Linda Sue Park introduces the idea of grouping animals in various ways.

Yet another theme is the theme of inclusion. While Xander ponders over who to invite, one is engaged in the idea that all animals tall and small, feathered or not, are invited and included in Xander’s party.

Clever execution, wonderful learning, and absolutely wonderful/engaging art work! This picture books is a perfect 10!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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Newbery Medal 2014

Newbery Medal 2014


The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.




2014 Medal Winner

Flora and Ulysses


Flora & Ulysses

by Kate DiCamillo (Author), K.G. Campbell (Illustrator)

Comic book fan and natural-born cynic Flora Belle Buckman and Ulysses, a flying, superhero, poetry-writing squirrel, join forces to overcome Ulysses’ arch-nemesis, Flora’s mother and encounter a quirky cast of characters. Through poignant, laugh-out-loud episodes, this homage to comic books is a testament to the power of love.

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

2014 Honor Books

Doll Bones


Doll Bones

by Holly Black (Author), Eliza Wheeler (Illustrator)


In this distinctive coming-of-age tale, best friends Zach, Poppy and Alice set out on a life-altering quest driven by the presence of a sinister bone china doll who haunts their dreams and waking hours. Black explores complex questions of sto-rytelling, imagination and changing friendships in this superbly haunting narrative.


The Year of Billy Miller


The Year of Billy Miller


by Kevin Henkes (Author, Illustrator)


Seven-year-old Billy Miller starts second grade with a bump on his head and a lot of worries, but during the year he develops better relationships with his teacher, his little sister, and his parents, and celebrates a quiet triumph of his own


One Came Home


One Came Home


by Amy Timberlake (Author)


In 1871 Wisconsin, love, betrayal, grief and violence spur 13-year-old Georgie on a gripping adventure full of hardship, heartbreak and terror. As she tries to solve the mystery of her sister’s disappearance, Georgie and her brash, humorous voice pull readers along on her journey of self-discovery.






by Vince Vawter (Author)


Little Man, a sensitive and resilient 11-year-old boy who stutters, ventures beyond the familiar and finds his voice while taking over his best friend’s paper route. Set in the summer heat of 1959 Memphis, “Paperboy” is a moving coming-of-age novel.

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Caldecott Medal 2014

Caldecott Medal 2014



The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.



2014 Medal Winner



by Brian Floca (Author, Illustrator)


The book was written by Brian Floca and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.
All aboard! Accompany a family on an unforgettable weeklong train trip from Omaha to Sacramento in 1869. Brian Floca’s dramatic watercolor, ink, acrylic and gouache illustrations incorporate meticulously-researched portraits of the train, the travelers and the crew as they traverse the American landscape on the new transcontinental railroad.
Find it here: LibraryAmazon
2014 Honor Books


by Aaron Becker (Author, Illustrator)

Finding a magical red crayon, a bored and lonely girl draws a new door on her bedroom wall that leads her to a wondrous but perilous new world. Her drab, sepia-toned, humdrum reality gives way to sumptuous, lushly-hued watercolor and pen and ink landscapes

Flora and Flamingo

Flora and Flamingo

by Molly Idle (Author, Illustrator)


The budding relationship between an awkward young girl and a graceful flamingo is revealed through carefully orchestrated flaps. The minimalist setting, limited color palette, use of white space and page turns create a timeless and joyful visual experience.  The call-and-response of this balletic duet is cinematic and comedic.
Mr Wuffles

Mr Wuffles

by David Wiesner (Author, Illustrator)


Mr. Wuffles finds a new toy that is actually a tiny spaceship in this nearly wordless science fiction tale of epic and miniature proportions. Crisp watercolor and India ink illustrations shine in an innovative graphic novel, picture book hybrid featuring hidden worlds, alien languages and one peeved cat.
Find it here: Library, Amazon

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Look Up! Henrietta Leavitt Pioneering Woman Astronomer

Look Up! Henrietta Leavitt Pioneering Woman Astronomer
by Robert Burleigh (Author), Raul Colon (Illustrator)

When there is a will..

Little Henrietta Leavitt loved to gaze up at the stars. Night after night, she would sit on her porch and wonder “How high is the sky?” Its vastness, its wonderful bigness fascinated her. She wanted to know everything about the sky.

So when she grew up, she decided to study Astronomy. Most of her classmates and teachers were male. But this didn’t bother Henrietta. She wanted to follow what she loved. 

After Henrietta graduated, she found a job working in an observatory. The observatory was the place where people came to study stars. But Henrietta’s job was to work alongside other women in a small room for long hours recording and measuring and calculating. Their job was to work, not think. But Henrietta had other ideas. 

Each day, after her regular work, Henrietta peered through her magnifying glass at the tiny star dots on the photographs taken. What did she see? What were the stars saying?

Look Up Henreitta Leavitt Looking

Henrietta quickly learned new words, read about great astronomers such as Galileo and Copernicus. She looked at the stars for many long hours. She could still see them when she closed her eyes!

Look Up Henreitta Leavitt Eyes Closed

Day after day after day she looked and looked and looked. Until slowly she started to see something different between those tiny star dots. She found that some very bright stars blinked more slowly than the less bright stars! What could this mean? So she started making a careful chart. Patiently she kept working, checking and observing until she was sure that she had found a pattern!

And when she laid out her ideas and theories to the head astronomer, he was amazed! “Yes, I am an astronomer!” she thought to herself. It was indeed a breakthrough!

Look Up Henreitta Leavitt Astronomer

This is the amazing true story of the life and work of Henrietta Leavitt. In the age where women were expected to “work, not think” Henrietta in her quite confident manner, found a way to work as an astronomer would. Her breakthrough lead to some spectacular discoveries such as measuring distances beyond our Milky Way galaxy!

Through soft, warm and glowing illustrations, the author/ illustrator duo does an excellent job of capturing the beauty of the sky as well as gentle character of Henrietta. This lovely picture book is a great read for any girl or boy who feels challenged or limited in what they seek out to do.

This is an excellent picture book biography for inspiring young minds!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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Penguin Cha-Cha

Penguin Cha-Cha
by Kristi Valiant (Author, Illustrator)

Tap-tap Cha-Cha-Cha!

At the Romping Chomping Park and Zoo, there is much to see. Julia loves to visit as often as she could. Most of all she loved to visit the Zoo on the weekends. That’s when she would get to watch all the performances.

One Saturday, Julia watched the dancers move and groove. She watched them whirl and twirl. She watched them hip-hop and boogie-bop! But wait! Julia’s eyes catch a little flipper swiping away a feather costume backstage!

“Just what are those fishy penguins up to?” Julia thinks to herself as she decides to follow them to the Penguin Cove.

Penguin Cha Cha Following

At first Julia sees nothing. No clothes. No scarves. No costumes! So she spies on them from high up. And what does she see?

Penguin Cha Cha twirling

The penguins! They are whirling and twirling, moving and swinging! They are dancing! So Julia grabs a dance hat and runs to the Penguin Cove. “Lets dance!” she shouts.

But these naughty creatures don’t lift a flipper. They just stare at her! But when no one was around, they danced and swirled!

Julia decided that maybe they are shy. So she dresses up as a penguin to try and make her way as a penguin in the Penguin Cove. Still, the penguins don’t dance.

So penguin decides to get a dance partner. Still no luck!

Penguin Cha Cha Not Listening

Julia is disappointed. She is about to give up. But the next day, she comes up with another idea. This time she knows that the penguin won’t be able to resist!

This is a lovely picture book, colorfully illustrated, well narrated and most of all a great read-aloud. Kids and adults will love the swinging, dancing, feet tapping rhythm of the Penguin Cha Cha.

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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The Big Wet Balloon

The Big Wet Balloon
By Liniers (Author, Illustrator)

A (car)Toon Book

 The Big Wet Balloon is a “toon” story inspired by Linier’s two daughters Matilda and Clementine. In this story, Matilda the older sister introduces to her younger sister Clementine the joys of rain on a Saturday.

Big Wet Balloon Excited about Saturday

Matilda is excited about Saturday. She is excited about all the fun things that she can do with Clementine on Saturday. She enumerates all the things that they could do together, which includes things like having a picnic and picking flowers. Little Clementine who can only repeat a few words that her sister speaks, is excited too. Until the two see that it’s pouring outside!

Big Wet Balloon Wet Day

Little Clementine is not very sure about the day being fun anymore. She doesn’t like getting wet. So Matilda shows her how fun it could be even when there is pouring rain!

Big Wet Balloon Enjoying the rain2

Finally Clementine gets the hang of it Smile and there is lots of fun to be had. Suddenly, the rain stops and a beautiful rainbow sparkles through the clouds. Matilda and Clementine look at it in awe. Matilda then decides that she needs to give something “colorful” to the rainbow and fetches Clementine’s Balloon. She lets the big wet balloon loose into the sky. Clementine runs after her balloon in order to retrieve it.. but its gone!

The story concludes on a happy note of course. Almost as if the author Linier wanted it to finish as a happy ending. But despite what I felt as a small flaw, the toon book was superbly done.

I loved the beautiful color palette, the expressive thought bubbles (adorable babbles from Clementine!) and the pacing of the story line. This was a great comic book for beginning toon readers either as a self-read or to read together.

Linier has an excellent back page guide on “How to read comics with kids”. The most useful tip to me was how to use your finger to show place in the text but not to cover the picture underneath it.

An excellent starter comic book for younger kids. Highly recommend this one from Liniers and can’t wait to find more!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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By Donna Jo Napoli (Author), Jim LaMarche (Illustrator) 

Whimsical and Unique!

Albert wakes up every day to the sounds of the neighborhood happenings. The dog barking, people walking and children giggling. Some are good sounds and some are not. Every day Albert sticks his hand out to check the weather. Every day he decides that the weather is either “too cold” or “too wet” or “too hot”. It’s never just “right” for Albert to go out for a walk. So he sits back down at his table and enjoys drinking his juice and reading his newspaper.

 Albert checking weather

One day, as usual, Albert sticks his hand out of his window. And in the next instant, a twig lands in his palm! He looks up in surprise and finds a cardinal flying by and dropping twig after twig right into his open palm. Soon there are two cardinals, a bright red male and a brown yellow female, BOTH dropping twigs in an attempt to build a nest! Before Albert could realize it, the two birds had fluttered and fussed, poked and pulled at the twigs and the female has settled right in.

 Albert nest in hand

Albert stares at the scene, and feels completely lost! Thus follows a strange, perplexing story of Albert and his conundrum as the two birds leave him stranded right at the window. Author Napoli does an incredible job of telling the story of recluse Albert and how the little “situation” leaves Albert thinking differently about life outside his own little “nest”.

Albert eggs in the nest

The warm and wonderful illustrations of by Jim LaMarche brings a certain depth to the story telling. We loved the large sized full page illustrations. These make for a great read aloud too. Jim LaMarche’s pencil illustrations visually describes each scene vividly.

This is an astounding tale. What makes this book such a great read is the incredibility of the situation and how the author gently, without preaching, and with great skill works her way to a really happy ending. We loved this story at the very first read. Napoli takes tough themes such as freedom and incapacity and explains them simply. A must read for all seasons!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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