Animal Picturebooks About Friendship: Yak and Dove by Kyo Maclear

A Unique Short Story Set-Up: One of many great animal picturebooks about friendship, Maclear’s Yak and Dove does not disappoint. Told in three different short stories, children fight and love along with Yak and Dove.  Similarly to Shireen’s, Yeti and the Bird, Yak and Dove are unlikely friends.  They must learn to embrace their seemingly large differences in the most endearing way. Laugh out loud as Yak and Dove begin their story by contemplating what it would be like if they were twins.  Concluding in an obvious fight of opposites, their feud carries over to a second story. Above all, Yak wants a new friend who values fine music and furriness.  Does he have that respectful relationship with Dove?  Realistically Yak must learn to appreciate the friend he already has.   True to Maclear’s Beautiful Style: By the third story, the plot takes a calmer change of pace.  Yak and…

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Book Review: Where Will I Live? by Rosemary McCarney

The Heart of Where Will I Live?: Looking for books about refugees for kids? Where Will I Live? is an extremely timely nonfiction title for kindergarten to third graders about refugees fleeing their homes for safety and a better life. Readers learn how refugees travel: walk, run, ride on the backs of trucks, and trek through the desert. McCarney describes where they are running to geographically and structurally, which is sometimes unknown. Will they live under a staircase, along the travelled roads, or in a tent? Even the climate makes a difference.  Each question or set of questions is paired with a picture and its respective country. Refugees are not just one culture, religion, group, or ethnicity. After all of this dangerous and indeterminate traveling, McCarney ends with the notion of hope. Maybe someone will welcome these children and their families into their homes, communities, neighborhoods, and countries. Lets have hope for friends,…

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Book Review: Zoo Zen- A Yoga Story for Kids

Geared toward pre-k to third grade, join Lyla as she embarks on a yoga journey with the help of the zoo animals. Each pose is paired with brightly colored mixed media illustrations and numbers as the story also reinforces counting. The animals gently encourage Lyla and give her practical tips to make the most of each pose. Small details, such as Lyla’s hair falling loose, warm this instructional story and make Lyla relatable to any young reader. The story ends with a page of smaller text explaining to parents how the poses work, which is a great aid just in case the illustrations are not enough. The rhyming adds to the cadence and flow of story, making this a relaxing and informative read. If only my yoga instructor was a dolphin. I would like to thank NetGalley and Sounds True Publishing for providing me with a free ARC in exchange…

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Review: Spork by Kyo Maclear

Spork is the hybrid of a mother spoon and a father fork. This marriage is rare in the utensil world, as cutlery remains segregated.   With his points and roundness in conflict with each other, Spork does not fit in with the other spoons or forks. He attempts to artificially change his appearance but fails. Useless and lonely, Spork contemplates his existence on the dinner table. One day, a messy creature struggles to use the other utensils, and Spork seizes the opportunity to shine.   Unafraid, he rushes in to save the meal. This “messy thing” turns out to be a baby, and Spork is just what this infant needs—a little bit of everything—to eat. Maclear notes that she too is a “Spork,” coming from a biracial household with a British father and Japanese mother. A story about interracial relations and fitting in, Spork is a unique way to explain acceptance, differences,…

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Review: Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt by Ben Clanton

Although comprised of five short stories, the overlying theme is that Narwhal wants to be a superhero and must determine his super ability. Paired with his loyal jellyfish sidekick, this waffle-loving Narwhal saves a shooting star from being grounded, combats bullying, and learns that sometimes superpowers are more than just magical tricks. The kind-hearted duo’s adventures are creative and wholesome. A great early reader graphic novel for first to fourth graders, Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt is the second in the series. Adorable and funny with upbeat blue, white, yellow, and gray-colored illustrations, the plot is laced with positive messages and witty, comical puns. This title is a super endearing and engaging read. I would like to thank NetGalley and Tundra Books/Penguin Random House Canada for providing me with a free ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review. Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt (A Narwhal and Jelly Book…

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Book Review: All Birds Have Anxiety by Kathy Hoopmann

A kindergarten to third grade nonfiction read, All Birds Have Anxiety describes the debilitating and all-pervasive nature of severe anxiety, juxtaposing emotions with beautiful yet telling pictures of birds. Hoopmann explains how everyone feels anxiety at some point in their lives and why certain anxiety can be good for achieving goals and working harder and faster when needed. Unfortunately, others have more anxiety, even when everything is going well, that prohibits everyday functioning. Negative and even frightening anxiety, as Hoopmann writes, is when nothing gets done, we want to be left alone, we cancel plans, and we feel as though everything is out of control. There are coping mechanisms such as cuddling with a pet, exercise, eating well, and going for walks, and Hoopmann ends on an optimistic note with a variety of solutions. Medication and therapy are not discussed. As other critics have mentioned, the text in All Birds…

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