This Norwegian import may not be best for very squeamish readers, but it is an inclusive and inventive gateway to begin...

SAMIRA AND THE SKELETONS

When Samira learns that everyone has a skeleton, she can’t stop picturing friends and family as walking jumbles of bones.

Normally Samira loves school. But when her teacher begins talking about skeletons—even worse, says that Samira has one inside of her—Samira gets spooked. As Samira slowly begins to comprehend her teacher’s lesson, Kuhn deftly lightens Samira’s dark brown skin until readers are able to see her bones—along with the bones of everyone else around her. Suddenly, Samira is surrounded by skeletons. Even her best friend, Frida, is one! Luckily, Samira’s mom has a cunning solution. If skeletons scare Samira so much, why not just take hers out? (Her operating tools of choice are scissors, a cheese grater, a rolling pin, and a plunger.) With imagined worms, jellyfish, and other invertebrates slithering around, neither Samira nor her skeleton will stand for that! Samira quickly finds Frida, and they run around the playground, in full acceptance of their not-so-spooky insides. That is, until they learn about…muscles. Kuhn’s light-lined, childlike style is a neat match for the ever-so-slightly ghoulish proceedings, her bigheaded children easily morphing into big-skulled skeletons.

This Norwegian import may not be best for very squeamish readers, but it is an inclusive and inventive gateway to begin lessons on the body. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5463-6

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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Embedded in this heartwarming story of doing the right thing is a deft examination of the pressures of income inequality on...

A BIKE LIKE SERGIO'S

Continuing from their acclaimed Those Shoes (2007), Boelts and Jones entwine conversations on money, motives, and morality.

This second collaboration between author and illustrator is set within an urban multicultural streetscape, where brown-skinned protagonist Ruben wishes for a bike like his friend Sergio’s. He wishes, but Ruben knows too well the pressure his family feels to prioritize the essentials. While Sergio buys a pack of football cards from Sonny’s Grocery, Ruben must buy the bread his mom wants. A familiar lady drops what Ruben believes to be a $1 bill, but picking it up, to his shock, he discovers $100! Is this Ruben’s chance to get himself the bike of his dreams? In a fateful twist, Ruben loses track of the C-note and is sent into a panic. After finally finding it nestled deep in a backpack pocket, he comes to a sense of moral clarity: “I remember how it was for me when that money that was hers—then mine—was gone.” When he returns the bill to her, the lady offers Ruben her blessing, leaving him with double-dipped emotions, “happy and mixed up, full and empty.” Readers will be pleased that there’s no reward for Ruben’s choice of integrity beyond the priceless love and warmth of a family’s care and pride.

Embedded in this heartwarming story of doing the right thing is a deft examination of the pressures of income inequality on children. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6649-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Thank you, Gerald and Piggie. We’ll miss you

THE THANK YOU BOOK

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Piggie is “one lucky pig,” and she’s determined to make sure she thanks “everyone who is important to” her in this, the final Elephant & Piggie book.

Gerald is sure his friend will forget someone—“someone important”—but Piggie assures him, “It will be a THANK-O-RAMA!” Piggie proceeds to thank the Squirrels for their great ideas, Snake for playing ball, and the Pigeon “for never giving up.” Piggie thanks and thanks: “I am a thanking machine!” She thanks character after character, even the Flies (“Any time, dude!”), as Gerald continues to interject that she’ll forget “someone VERY important.” Finally Piggie runs out of thanks, and by this time Gerald is steamed. “I goofed,” Piggie says in itty-bitty type, before lavishing thanks on Gerald. But that’s not whom Piggie forgot to thank! A classic Willems tantrum later, Gerald reveals the “someone important”: “Our reader.” Of course. “We could not be ‘us’ without you,” says Gerald, earnestly looking out from the page, and Piggie chimes in, “You are the best!” As Elephant & Piggie books go, this isn’t one of the strongest, but it is a validating valediction to fans of the two characters, who have won Willems two Geisel Medals and five Honors. Yes, Gerald and Piggie have ushered countless readers into literacy, but as they rightly note, reading is a collaborative act.

Thank you, Gerald and Piggie. We’ll miss you . (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7828-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2016

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