Monday, November 4, 2019

Children's Books Reviews

“A detail-rich picture book.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Straightforward and inviting.” —School Library Journal

From award-winning author Lesa Cline-Ransome and acclaimed illustrator Raúl Colón comes the sensitive, informative, and inspiring picture book biography of the remarkable mathematician Katherine Johnson, one of the NASA “human computers” whose work was critical to the first US space launch.

Before John Glenn orbited the Earth or astronauts walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used their knowledge, pencils, adding machines, and writing paper to calculate the orbital mechanics needed to launch spacecraft. Katherine Johnson was one of these mathematicians who used trajectories and complex equations to chart the space program. Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws were in place in the early 1950s, Katherine worked analyzing data at the NACA (later NASA) Langley laboratory.

In 1962, as NASA prepared for the orbital mission of John Glenn, Katherine Johnson was called upon and John Glenn said “get the girl” (Katherine Johnson) to run the numbers by hand to chart the complexity of the orbital flight. He knew that his flight couldn’t work without her unique skills.

President Barack Obama awarded Katherine Johnson the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 and her incredible life inspired the Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures. Get to know this incredible and inspirational woman with this beautifully illustrated picture book from an award-winning duo.

Available from Simon Schuster

I was very impressed with Katherine Johnson and this children's story of her accomplishments.  There is a lot to think about with Katherine's story and this author does a great job of making the complex issues of the time understandable to young people.  I was cheering for her and so very proud of her.

The pictures are engaging and will have you talking about parts of the story that aren't in the words.  At the end of the book, there is a page of additional information about this impressive individual.  This is a great story that will help children understand the times as well as the spirit of determination and excellence.

Great book. 

From Academy Award–winning actress Lupita Nyong’o comes a powerful, moving picture book about colorism, self-esteem, and learning that true beauty comes from within.

Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.

In this stunning debut picture book, actress Lupita Nyong’o creates a whimsical and heartwarming story to inspire children to see their own unique beauty. fferently.

Available from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

This is a favorite read.  I was so impressed with this story.  Young girls can be so hard on themselves for not being what others around them are.  Sulwe has sisters and family with much lighter skin.  She wants the same.  Why was she born with midnight skin?  She prays for it to change.  Her mother tells her she is beautiful.  But she doesn't see it until she learns the story of day and night.  Then she accepts her darker skin and sees the beauty inside her.  

What I really loved was the page at the end where the author explains that this story is very much based on her experience as a child.  It took her years to come to terms with the shade of her skin.  But she finally did.  I think it's such a wonderful story for children who have something about them that they wish was like everyone else.  

This one is the best of the group and a great story for children.

Debut picture book author Blair Thornburgh and award-winning illustrator Scott Campbell put their heads together to celebrate one of the most important bones in your body: the skull!

You probably don’t think much about skulls.
So what’s the big deal about them?

Well, every head
of every person
you’ve ever seen
has a skull inside.

And that includes YOU!

This smart, skull-positive story cheerfully dispels any fears kids might have about their skeletons, flipping our view of skulls from a spooky symbol to a fascinating, cool, and crucial part of our bodies.

Available from Atheneum Books for Young Readers

If you think skulls look scary, then this is the right book for you.  It's a great little story about how important the skull is.  It explains why it looks the way it does and how it helps protect your brain.  It includes a fact sheet at the end that gives a lot of extra information.

The pictures have a watercolor feel to them.  They do a good job of helping a child understand the function of a skull and how they are not scary at all.

It's a good read for those science minded kids too.

“Teague proves that a picture can be worth a thousand words—and almost as many laughs.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Engaging illustrations and the baby bird’s wild ideas will entertain audiences of all ages.” —Booklist (starred review)

“Funny, feathery finesse.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Mama bird thinks it’s time for Baby bird’s first flight, but Baby bird has other ideas in this humorous wordless picture book from New York Times bestselling author-illustrator Mark Teague.

It’s a big day up in the tree that Mama bird shares with her baby. Mama bird thinks Baby bird is finally ready to leave the nest and learn to fly so he can migrate south with the rest of their flock. But Baby bird isn’t so sure. Can’t his mother keep bringing him worms in their nest? Can’t he migrate in a hot air balloon instead? Or perhaps a car?

This silly wordless picture book will keep young readers giggling as Baby bird figures out that he must flap his wings and learn to fly—whether he likes it or not!

What a silly little story.  Baby bird needs to learn to fly so he can migrate south, or so his mother thinks.  He sees things differently.  There must be an easier way?  Baby birds imaginative ideas about how he can migrate without learning to fly are fun and giggle worthy.

Love the gorgeous pictures and the great story.  This is one that could have you and your child filling in all kinds of words in this wordless story.

Roly Poly the polar bear gets a little brother he did not ask for, in this charming story about sibling rivalry and the bonds of family from the beloved picture book creators of Time for Bed, Mem Fox and Jane Dyer.
Roly Poly the polar bear loves being an only child. His bed is only his. The fish he catches are only his. And he doesn’t have to share his toy walrus tooth with anyone. But then along comes baby Monty. Roly Poly did not ask for a little brother and he certainly does not want one now! What is Roly Poly to do when Monty starts making him share his bed and fish and walrus tooth? 

This is a cute story about little bear that wakes up one morning to discover he has a little brother.  He never asked for this and wants nothing to do with it.  But he discovers that he wants his little brother after all. 

It's a cute story that could help an older child accept a new baby.  The pictures hare charming and simple.  I enjoyed Roly Poly.

One night, when Ethan reaches under his bed for a toy truck, he finds this note instead: “Monsters! Meet here for final test.” Ethan is sure his parents are trying to trick him into staying under the covers, until he sees five colorful sets of eyes blinking at him from beneath the bed. Soon, a colorful parade of quirky, squeaky little monsters compete to become Ethan’s monster. But only the little green monster, Gabe, has the perfect blend of stomach-rumbling and snorting needed to get Ethan into bed and keep him there so he falls asleep—which as everyone knows, is the real reason for monsters under beds. With its perfect balance of giggles and shivers, this silly-spooky prequel to the award-winning I Need My Monster and Hey, That’s MY Monster! will keep young readers entertained.

Available from Flashlight Press

What an adorable story.  Which monster can keep this little boy in bed and keep him there until he's asleep?  Only the right monster will do.  There are attempts and there are failures but Gabe is the only one to get things right.  Even after trucks, snacks and midnight escapes, Gabe finds a way to get him back in bed.  He's definitely the right monster for this little one.

I loved the pictures the best.  They are so bright and bold.  From really green ooze to red eyes and fun stars, the images just made the story come alive.  Can't wait to read this one to my grandson.



  1. Sulwe sounds like such a beautiful, inspiring story. Thanks for sharing these!

    Anika |

  2. I like Sulwe. So beautiful. 😍