What Do You Do With An Idea?

A child has an idea, then struggles with acceptance. The idea follows him around, and Unknownwhen he trusts his conscience, he realizes he feels happier. So he plays with the idea, and it grows. He builds it a new house, and finally, when the idea is ready, it changes the world. Besom’s playful illustrations gradually grow from black and white to colourful, inspiring us all to nurture those ideas.

What Do You Do With An Idea? written by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mae Besom makes an abstract concept tangible.

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Little Red Writing

9780811878692_little-red-writing_largeThere are never enough fractured fairy tales out there, and Little Red Writing by Jean Holub and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is more fractured than most. After all, it’s set in “Pencilvania School” and Little Red is a pencil, and the wolf is “Wolf 3000: the grumpiest, growliest, grindingest pencil sharpener ever made!” Little Red has to save Principal Granny, and everyone else, from being sharpened to smithereens. Great text, unique illustrations with lots of secrets to find and a story to admire.

Find story activities here.

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It’s A Tiger

bk_tigerEverywhere you turn, there’s a tiger! Ah, run!

Exciting and fun to read, David LaRochelle and Jeremy Tankard‘s It’s A Tiger! makes the expected unexpected every time. The childlike tiger is delightful and not too fierce, especially when we find out what the tiger really wants…and the story comes full circle with a little twist.

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If You Plant a Seed

With very few words and gorgeous paintings, Kadir Nelson tells a beautiful story of mediumsharing and bounty. A bunny and a mouse plant a small garden, and are all set to eat the produce when the birds show up. A fight ends only by sharing, and when the birds share back, a garden bigger and more lush than ever is made.

If You Plant a Seed shows us the value of compassion and working together.

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Little Roja Riding Hood

bc_rojaWe needed a modernized version of the classic fairy tale, and Little Roja Riding Hood is a funny, bilingual take. Even non-Spanish speakers will love the text, because all of the Spanish words are worked expertly into the rhyming text (a bonus to help with pronunciation). A glossary is provided, also.

As for the story, no woodcutter is needed to save the day: Abeula and Roja can take care of Wolf, and at the end, they install a security system to prevent the fiasco from happening again.

Written by Susan Middleton Elya and illustrated by Susan Guevara.

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Separate Is Never Equal

I knew about Brown v. Board of Education, but I did not know about Mendez v. Westminster.

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by 9781419710544Duncan Tonatiuh is a gorgeously illustrated non-fiction picture book about a girl’s experience in the 1940s California school system. Many unfairnesses are shown, including the sign posted by the public swimming pool: “No dogs or Mexicans allowed,” and in the back are photos of the Mexican school and the neighbourhood school. Sylvia and her family won the right to attend Westminster public school, seven years before the more famous case desegregated schools in the entire United States.

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Open Mic

Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices, edited by Mitali Perkins, includes 0763658669.medstories by Mitali Perkins, Gene Luen Yang, Francisco X. Stork and more. Each of the ten stories for teens explore race and culture–all with humour. Perkins’ introduction sets the tone, and offers important insights about humour, “especially in a tension-filled arena like race”.

This book is an important read, and a fun one.

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My Chinatown: One Year in Poems

My Chinatown: One Year in Poems tells a child’s story of Chinatown in New York, and 0060291907missing his Hong Kong home. Each spread shows one poem and one illustration, both by Kam Mak. The journey this child makes begins in winter, and he’s missing home. As he travels through the seasons, he finds more to enjoy in Chinatown, and ends on an excited note.

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The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend

In a world where every child has an imaginary friend, there is one imaginary friend who 020115 ALA Midwinterdoesn’t have a child. Follow Beekle as he does the unimaginable and searches for his very own friend. Dan Santat‘s Caldecott winning The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend is a sweet story of friendship and longing, and the ending is perfect.

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The Crossover

I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel-in-verse with this sort of pace and feel to it. Usually novels-in-verse are on the quieter side, but this book changes the whole genre. There’s 9780544107717movement and depth. After reading it, I know exactly why Kwame Alexander just won the Newbery for The Crossover.

Everything about The Crossover just fits, from the title to the language (and the font and the layout–read only the first poem, “Dribbling” and you’ll know exactly what I mean), and oh, those characters. I’ll give you a tidbit, but only that, because you have to go read it yourself: Josh Bell and his twin brother are middle-school basketball kings who practice daily with their dad, a former basketball-pro. Josh’s troubles begin when his twin brother falls for a girl and his mom grounds him from playing ball.

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