Book Review

Swarm of Bees by Lemony Snicket

Swarm of Bees book cover: illustration of a boy depicted as all yellow with black stripes on his shirt pulling a red wagon with bees followingYou are so angry! What will you do? 
 
“You can’t sting the cat!” Shouts the narrator - A swarm of angry bees have taken over the town creating chaos everywhere they go as they follow a little boy who looks just like them.  But why does the little boy have a wagon full of tomatoes? Splat! In Lemony Snicket’s latest picture book, we learn that anger is an emotion we should not let take over. But the damage has been done to this peaceful town. Who will the bees try to stink next? 
 
Anger is an emotion all young readers have to learn to live with and find ways to overcome it.  I love how Snicket tackles the subject with simple yet a powerful story that ends in love and comfort. The illustrator Rilla Alexander helps the story flow with primary colors done in a rubber stamp, ink and collage format allowing everything to come to life. If you enjoy Eric Carle’s The Grouchy Ladybug or David Shannon’s No David!, then you will connect with Swarm of Bees.  Ages 4-8.
 
 
Jorge, Kids World

Brave Molly by Brooke Boynton-Hughes

Brave Molly book cover: illustrated african american girl in a red hoodie stands in the middle of a large shadowThis wordless picture book follows Molly as she wrestles with her anxieties - physically respresented
by a shadowy monster that follows her everywhere. She can't seem to say or do the right thing with her
peers and is constantly aware of this shadowy presence. She stands up to the endless harrassment of her
negative emotions and bravely faces her fears. A lovely book to help kids be brave and stand up for
themselves... even against themselves. For children ages 4-8.

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Katy Jacob, Kids World

Guts by Raina Telgemeier

Guts book cover: an emoji face with tongue sticking out and worried eyes“I was a nervous kid. Self-conscious. Shy. Quiet… Most of the time.”

In this highly anticipated graphic novel, Raina is experiencing a lot of stress from multiple fronts. Her anxiety changes the way she perceives every day moments: eating, using the school restroom, spending time with friends, etc. Unfortunately, her anxiousness comes with physical symptoms such as IBS, which exacerbates the stress of getting through the school day- if she even is able to attend school. Slowly, Raina regains control of her runaway thoughts and emotional spikes with the assistance of a therapist.

Bullying behavior at school is on display here, and the fear of being targeted is very poignant. Though the bully plot is perhaps a bit too neatly wrapped up by the end, the concept of coping with anxiety and not curing anxiety is deftly handled.

Fans of Telgemeier’s Smile and Sisters will find a lot to enjoy here. Those in upper elementary school who appreciated the social constructs of Palacio’s Wonder and Hunt’s Fish in a Tree may also find this graphic novel worth a read.

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Celeste, Kids World

Sweety by Andrea Zuill

Sweety book cover: an illustrated mole rat in a yellow dress sits alone on a wooden bench“Occasionally Sweety did things that others had a hard time comprehending. Like the day she gave her book report through interpretive dance.”

Have you ever danced to the beat of your own drum? Have hobbies that some may find weird or just different?

Sweety is an awkward mole rat. She likes to interpretive dance, look for various fungi, and read all sorts of books. But she doesn’t have many friends. Not a lot of the other mole rats like to look at fungi, you see. And they don’t quite understand the meaning of interpretive dance.

But after her beloved and equally awkward Aunt Ruth comes to visit, Sweety realizes that she doesn’t have to change who she is to have friends. Just be who you are and the friends will find you.

It’s a perfect book for preschool to lower elementary readers who need a boost of self-confidence (or to look at cute naked mole rats!)

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Victoria, Kids World

True Tales of Rescue: Sweet Senior Pups by Kama Einhorn

True Talesof Rescue: Sweet Senior Pups book cover: a black and gray haired dog on coverThere’s plenty of heartbreak involved in any sanctuary’s story, but there’s also good news. People who help animals are everywhere.

So many books tell you about your new puppy. How to pick the perfect pup, how to train it, and how to care for it while it grows…but what about when your loyal dog get older and have a grey ‘sugar face’? Join Mino, Jack, and Buffy, three senior dogs that take you on a tour of Senior Dog Sanctuary of Maryland. Meet their friends, hear their true stories of rescue, and learn how you can help!

Sweet Senior Pups is a book about love, healing, and helping. So many senior dogs need help are ready for loving homes. This book teaches us all how to care for them from ‘sugar face’ tip to waggly happy tail. Learn how to adopt them, make them special treats, how to play new games and generally helping them enjoy their life until they get to that ‘rainbow bridge’ in the sky. Sweet Senior pups is a must read for any dog owner, and a good basis for children of all ages to be completely educated about the complete responsibility of caring for their furry family member from beginning to end.

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Naomi, Kids World

New Kid by Jerry Craft

New Kid book cover: illustration of boy in blue hoody and backpack over shoulder. A pencil is in one hand and a open notebook in the other"They say that there are animals that will chew off their own leg to get out of a trap. I never understood that...until now."

Jordan Banks is in the 7th grade and loves drawing cartoons about his life. But rather than attending art school, his parents are sending him to a fancy private school renowned for its academics. As one of the few students of color, he soon finds himself lost between his neighborhood life in Washington Heights and his new upscale life at Riverdale Academy Day School.

Author & Illustrator Jerry Craft’s funny illustrations deftly contrast with the novel’s more sobering themes of bullying, income inequality and microagressions. New Kid always maintains its sense of humor which is what makes it the perfect graphic novel for kids ages 10-14.

Kids who like authors Raina Telgemeier or Jason Reynolds will love New Kid. It’s also a great read-a-like for other graphic novels such as Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sells or Real Friends by Shannon Hale.

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Brooke, Kids World

Don't Let the Penguin Drive the Batmobile by Jacob Lambert

MAD presents Don't Let the Penguin Drive the Batmobile book cover: illustration of the batman villain, Penguin“I WANT TO DRIVE THE BATMOBILE!!!”
 
The arch villain Penguin really wants to drive the Batmobile, but the readers of this book have been entrusted by the Caped Crusader himself to make sure that doesn’t happen. Special pop-ins of various characters (good guys and villains alike) from the Batman universe encourage the reader to stand firm.
 
Like Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems, this MAD parody invites readers to interact with the book’s text by going off script and shouting “No!” at the pages. In particular, young superhero fans and Pigeon fans ranging from 2 years old to early elementary schoolers will find a lot here to enjoy especially if their adult reader puts some “whine” into Penguin’s pleading. Go ahead, grab a reading partner, and remember, Batman is counting on you to not let Penguin drive the Batmobile.
 
 
Celeste, Kids World

Chasma Knights by Boya Sun and Kate Reed Petty

Chasma Knights book cover: illustrated“What do you want with all these toys? After all…everyone in the whole Chasma knows Neon Knights can’t catalyze.”
 
Beryl is a Neon Knight living on Chasma Ring 7, and it’s not easy being one. Looked down on being different for not having the same abilities as the other Knights in the Chasma, Beryl tries to keep to herself and occupy her time in her secret workshop. One day her path crosses with Coro, an Oxygen Knight who just happens to be one of the strongest of the Knights in the Chasma. Together with imagination and invention, both their worlds will change.
 
Lots of lessons to be learned here. From friendship, persistence, recycling, and being true to yourself, Chasma Knights is a quick but impactful read for Grades 1-3. Gentle but insightful, Beryl is a good role model for all readers, especially for young girls interested in STEM activities.
 
 
Naomi, Kids World

Out of Left Field by Ellen Klages

Out of Left Field Book Cover: Illusration of a girl on a picther's mound"Girls in this family don't go down without a fight."

Katy Gordon loves one thing more than anything in the whole wide world...baseball. A chance encounter with a Little League scout lands her a spot on a team but all too soon her dreams come crashing down around her when she is kicked off of the team for being a girl. With grit and determination Katy embarks on a long road to prove to Little League that girls can play baseball too. It's 1957, space exploration is starting, the civil rights movement is growing, with all of this change shouldn't Little League let girls play baseball?

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Tiffany, Kids World

All That Trash by Meghan McCarthy

All that trash book cover: features an illustration of a large pile of garbage"Wherever this stuff goes, it's going to be somebody else's problem."

1987, the year of trash, specifically New York's trash. New York's landfills were at their limit, so Lowell Harrelson, the owner of the National Waste Contractors in Alabama offered a solution. 3,186 tons of trash was loaded on to the Mobro 4000 barge and tugged all the way to North Carolina. North Carolina wanted nothing to do with the massive amount of garbage so there the barge lingered, going in circles in the Gulf of Mexico. But no one wanted the trash! What were they to do with it all? Burry it and build an island? Contaminate the ocean? This non-fiction picture book nicely summarizes an unique event in the 80s. It can be a fun independent read for those in 2nd-4th grade who are interested in historical events, or even used as a tale of caution and bring to attention how much trash humans produce.

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Gilly, Kids World

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