Vol 2 Issue 11 November 2022

Just as bears find a cozy spot to hibernate, we too enjoy a cozy spot to spend our cooler autumn and winter days. Finding the perfect spot is easier when we take all our favorites with us, whether that's your favorite socks, blanket, or drink. But don't forget a book! Even cozy spaces become adventures when you bring a book along.


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ChildrensLit Notable Reviews

It's Christmas Everywhere: Celebrations From Around the World
By: Hannah Barnaby
Illustrated by: João Fazenda
Publisher: Phaidon
ISBN: 9781838665395
Reviewer: Shelley Oakley

What a fun addition to any home library, and sure to be displayed each Christmas for years of Christmas joy! Told from the point of view of a pine tree that feels plain and wishes to be a Christmas tree, the tree counts down the ten days before Christmas. Each day brings a new guest to the bare tree. Each new guest comes from a different country, bringing a traditional Christmas adornment or gift from their country. Each adornment builds to create the perfect Christmas tree. This book can be read in several ways- read the left side only, which is the rhyming, counting text; read the right side only, which educates the reader on different country-based Christmas customs; or read the book front to back, associating each represented child with their country. Sharing newer traditions, such as China's modern tradition of apple giving, and lesser known (to Americans) traditions, such as Greeks decorating boats and using them to collect treats as they go caroling on Christmas Eve, make this a positively exceptional book. The global focus helps children understand how our cultures are the same yet different, fostering inclusion, diversity, and an interest in people and places different from one's own. Each child adding something special to the tree stresses the personal touch that each child can add to holiday traditions. The book's shape and vibrant colors are a holiday feast for the reader. A magnet inside the front and back book covers creates a sturdy free-standing, 3D Christmas tree that will surely be a favorite family decoration for years to come. Rhyming text, a Christmas countdown, and various other ways to count through the illustrations make it a fun book to share with toddlers. It's also great as a gift for Christmas lovers of all ages. With a focus on non-religious Christmas traditions, this book is accessible to all, making it perfect for all homes, schools, and libraries. This a beautiful book to add to your family or classroom's Christmas reading. Highly recommended.

The Lost Wonderland Diaries: Secrets of the Looking Glass
By: Scott J. Savage
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
ISBN: 9781639930449
Reviewer: Shirley Nelson

In this second volume of "The Lost Wonderland Diaries" series, Celia experiences her first loss during a chess tournament. On that same day, she and Tyrus meet Deanne, a strange new girl who claims she has a job for them. Soon, they realize that she is an emissary who will take them back to Wonderland. They suspect she has come from the Looking Glass world and has stolen the Lewis Carroll diaries. They follow her to the mirror exhibit at the museum and are appalled when she reveals herself as the Bandersnatch. Tyrus and Cecilia follow her through a mirror and find themselves in another world as their own mirror images or better halves. The adventures that follow will fascinate young readers. Celia and Tyrus once again meet with characters from Carroll's novels as they fight to save Wonderland. The inclusion of many allusions to the game of chess may inspire readers to learn that game.

Odder
By: Katherine Applegate
Illustrated by: Charles Santoso
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
ISBN: 9781250147424
Reviewer: Megan Honeycutt

Who can resist a book with an adorable sea otter on the cover? After all, "they are, it's been said, the champions of cute: those eyes like a doe's, the expressive whiskers, the gold medal aquatic gymnastics." Readers will instantly be attracted to the design of this book and the story within! Written in free verse by an award-winning author, this title is a great selection for introducing young readers to the style of free verse. It also contains occasional black-and-white illustrations. This is a story of survival that was inspired by an otter that was rescued and taken to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The main character, named "Odder," has the personality of a free spirit. Her story contains themes of taking care of the planet, bravery, and sacrifice. Readers will be gripped by the story as it alternates between the points of view of an otter and a shark. Descriptive details will have readers feeling as though they are swimming in the sea beside the characters, "[a] slough is heaven for an otter—placid and swampy, with easy pickings. Just a few feet down and voila: your meal." This middle grade title is sure to be hit with readers and a future award winner!

Hotel for Bugs
By: Suzy Senior
Illustrated by: Leire Martin
Publisher: Tiger Tales
ISBN: 9781680102703
Reviewer: Kasey Giard

Families of bugs gather to celebrate the grand opening of a new bug hotel. They explore the whole place, thrilling at the comfy furniture, delicious buffet, and amazing spa. When a slug slides through the open doors and asks for a room, the manager refuses. This is a hotel for insects only, she tells him. As the disheartened slug slips away, the other insects speak up. They point out their differences to the manager. One has ears on her knees. Another has a bad smell. Someone else has blue blood. If all the insects all are still welcome in spite of their differences, why can't the slug be welcome, too? A fun, enthusiastic story told in upbeat rhymes, this book follows the opening of a new hotel for bugs. After one potential guest is refused for being too different, the others challenge the manager's rules by reminding her that each guest has something unusual or unique about them. The insects cheer for one another's unique qualities, some visible and others not so noticeable from the outside. Though the story centers on this conflict, the vibrant illustrations and celebratory feel of the story keep the story positive and encouraging. Recommended for preschool and early elementary-aged readers.

The Math Kids: A Knotty Problem
By: David Cole
Illustrated by: Shannon O'Toole
Publisher: Common Deer Press
ISBN: 9781988761732
Reviewer: Hiawatha Smith

What do you do when there is a problem that cannot be solved? Such is the dilemma for four friends named Jordan, Justin, Stephanie, and Catherine. Members of their school's advanced math group, they have been preparing all year to win the school district math competition. But what can they do when Stephanie's soccer team makes it to the soccer tournament occurring on the same day as the math competition? And how will they solve other obstacles they face? This newest addition to the "Math Kids" series provides direct connections to previous texts and adventures of this group of kids. The book's twenty-one chapters include black-and-white illustrations sporadically, adding some context and visuals to enhance the words on the pages. Each chapter has math problems integrated, which the group members work to solve together. The book's appendix includes the solutions to the math problems in the book. The author wastes no time getting to the overarching problem in the first chapter, then uses subsequent chapters to expand background information and explore each group member's perspectives. Additionally, it identifies another problem of bigger impact to the fifth-grade friends. As the group strives to navigate the problems it faces, the text highlights many real-world lessons for young readers, including challenges with family, friendship, and growing up. Last, the text also includes advocacy as these friends show great courage in going before the school board to try to solve their problem. Recommended for elementary math classrooms and libraries.

Not Just About Food
By: Carol Sonenklar and Tabitha Moriarty
Publisher: Twenty-First Century Books ™
ISBN: 9781541588943
Reviewer: Kate Kupiec

Over several short chapters, Sonenklar discusses the prevalence of eating disorders, their history in medicine, various types of eating disorders and what might cause them to emerge for an individual, and effects and treatments. The many warnings about overall harm to an individual's health as a result of an eating disorder might feel terrifying or alienating to someone already scared amidst their own battle. A chapter about how eating disorders affect the body is followed by one with brief introductions to the various forms of support towards recovery. However, this treatment chapter is followed by a recovery chapter that discusses chronic effects and ends in a way that might be less uplifting for someone in the thick of their own battle but unsure of where to turn. Furthermore, the book falls short of including relatable, lived experiences, and no citations are provided for the statistics and research provided in the text. The book as a whole is inclusive and diverse in text and photos. While the photos and inset text blocks help break up the chapters for ease of reading, the photos do not always add to the book. Finally, a glossary, an index, and a list of further resources help complete the book as a resource. This is a well-intentioned book that contributes to the emerging and necessary mental health conversation. It is written in a manner that is accessible for teen readers, but the subject matter is glossed over quickly, making the book a good primer but one that might not be useful in the thick of suffering by readers who are searching for self-understanding or answers about how to reach out for help and find healing. As a result, this is probably a more beneficial read for those trying to understand someone they care about with an eating disorder than someone affected by one themselves.

Victory. Stand!: Raising My Fist for Justice
By: Tommie Smith, Derrick Barnes, and Dawud Anyabwile
Publisher: Norton Young Readers
ISBN: 9781324003908
Reviewer: Kasey Giard

On October 16, 1968, Tommie Smith won the gold medal for the two-hundred-meter sprint at the Olympics in Mexico City. As he stood on the winner's podium, he and his bronze medal-winning teammate John Carlos raised black-gloved fists in a silent protest against the treatment of people of color in the United States. The courageous act resulted in death threats and being forced to leave the Olympics. His protest didn't begin on the Olympic winner's podium, however. It began long before, borne out of witnessing cruelty, discrimination, and prejudice against Black Americans. For the first time, Tommie Smith shares the story of his life with young readers in this moving graphic novel. The story begins with the 1968 Olympics, at the start of the race Smith would win. Sliced in between flashes of that race, readers learn of Smith's childhood, his closeness with his family, and his college experiences. At each phase, racism and prejudice cast a deep shadow. Stark, emotive panels show the hardship and danger of being Black in Texas in the 1950s. Though it took years, the tide of history eventually turned, and Tommie Smith was honored for his courage and commitment to justice. This graphic novel doesn't flinch from some of history's ugly moments and focuses the story on victory and the continual pursuit of justice. It is, altogether, a triumph. Recommended for middle school and high school readers.

The Bird Feeder
By: Andrew Larsen
Illustrated by: Dorothy Leung
Publisher: Kids Can Press
ISBN: 9781525304835
Reviewer: Greg Romaneck

Death comes to everyone and to all families. As a natural part of existence, death bears with it a progression to an unknown and unknowable dimension that can be terrifying to anyone, and in particular to children. Handling death in a respectful and loving way is a tremendously challenging task for writers, and in particular for those who serve a young audience. In “The Bird Feeder," readers will encounter a story about the death of a grandparent that hits the mark in terms of addressing such a potentially wrenching subject in a kind, dignified, and loving manner. In this beautifully illustrated picture book, readers will meet an unnamed little girl who loves her grandma. Grandma, who is ill, has come to live with the little girl and her family due to her health. Grandma loves birds, and the little girl hangs a bird feeder just outside her grandmother's window. Day by day, grandma and the little girl spend time together watching as the beautiful birds come to the feeder. Grandma's favorite bird is the cardinal, whose lovely red feathers shine out in the morning sun. As time passes, grandma's health wanes but she and her granddaughter spend wonderful hours together watching the daily activities that unfold at the bird feeder. Eventually, grandma must go to a hospice care center where, once again, the little girl hangs a bird feeder just outside her window. Just as time passes in its endless cycle, so too does grandma, leaving behind both sadness and joy in the form of memories of her. In the end, the little girl grieves the death of her grandma but also cherishes the time they spent together watching the birds at the bird feeder that they both loved so much. Death comes into the little girl's life and takes a loved one away but also leaves behind trace elements of goodness in the form of her dear memories that linger and soothe the pain. Told with kindness, dignity, and empathy, "The Bird Feeder" is a wonderful book that tells a difficult but necessary story and does so in a compassionate and uplifting manner.

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Curriculum & Books

Hibernation

Classroom lessons and storytimes focusing on hibernation are great for any time of the year. And fortunately, there are many humorous picture books and middle grade books to choose from, even those that put adults into hibernation. These five award nominees or winners are just a few to choose from. Curriculum tools such as discussion, teaching, and activity guides, and/or reviews for all books listed are available in the Children's Literature Comprehensive Database, www.clcd.com.

Don't Call Me Fuzzybutt
By: Robin Newman
Illustrated by: Susan Batori
Awards: Independent Publisher Book Award (IPPY), 2022, Bronze, Children's Picture Books (7 & Under); Cybils Awards, 2021, Nominee, Fiction Picture Book

As Bear settles into his bed for hibernation, Woodpecker, shocked to discover his cherished homes are missing, follows the trail of debris right to Bear's new front door, where a feisty exchange of name-calling and neighborhood gossip ensues.

Baby Bear's Not Hibernating
By: Lynn Plourde
Illustrated by: Teri Weidner
Awards: Maine Literary Award, 2017, Winner, Children's Book

A black bear cub decides to spend the winter with his friends Moose, Owl, and Hare rather than hibernating, but soon his watchful father must rescue him. Includes facts about black bears.

Honey
By: David Ezra Stein
Awards: Charlotte Zolotow Award, 2019, Honor Book

After a long winter sleep, Bear wakes up with one thing in mind--honey! But it's too soon for honey, so he must wait. Fortunately, the world around him is also waking up, reminding Bear of other things he loves and allowing him to take pleasure in the passage of time.

Wake Up, Baby Bear!
By: Lynn Plourde
Illustrated by: Teri Weidner
Awards: INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards, 2018, Finalist, Picture Book

Baby Bear is so exhausted from staying up too late in the fall that now he cannot wake up in the spring, but a few well-placed pecks from a mother robin does the trick, and Baby Bear finally awakes just in time to do a little babysitting himself. Includes multiple choice questions and answers about black bears.

The Great Hibernation
By: Tara Dairman
Awards: Cybils Awards, 2017, Nominee, Elementary and Middle Grade(Speculative Fiction )

In the tiny northern town of St. Polonius, everyone over twelve falls asleep after the traditional tasting of the Sacred Bear Liver at the Founders' Day Festival, leaving the children in charge, including Jean, who tries to solve the mystery.

ChildrensLit Highlights

Children's Literature's Awards Scholarship recipients were announced at the Alliance of Independent Author's Reach More Readers Self-Publishing Advice Conference on Oct. 30. Winners were authors Papa Paws and Valinora Troy. Each winner received $100 to be used towards award entry fees. Learn more about author Papa Paws at www.papaandpaws.com. Learn more about author Valinora Troy at https://valinoratroy.com/books/.
December is just a few weeks away, and Children's Literature will share its selections for the Children's Literature 25 Books of Christmas starting December 1. Countdown with us on our Facebook and Twitter pages.
Want to read more Children's Literature reviews? Each month, Children's Literature reviews hundreds of books. We spotlight different reviews on different online platforms- our website, www.childrenslit.com, and our social media pages (Facebook and Twitter). All Children's Literature reviews, past and present, are housed in the Children's Literature Comprehensive Database (CLCD), www.clcd.com.


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