My workplace is unconventional – we don’t do “departments.” I personally love it. I get to work with everyone – all library users and all staff! So, though I went into my job knowing very little about Children’s Literature I have been learning more and more every day.
One of our favorite reading clubs at the library is what we call the Kids Choice Book Club. Younger ones sign up to read the Monarch Books and slightly older kids read from both the Rebecca Caudill and Blue Stem book lists.
Unsurprisingly, the Monarch books are much easier for me – and most of the staff – to get through. Since the list was released a couple weeks ago I have been racing some staff members to see who can finish the books first. (I won today!)
Even though they are short enough to flick through, I thought I would give a little review/impression of each Monarch book. To make it not such a wall of text I will review 10 now and save 10 for next week!
Ben Franklin’s Big Splash: The Mostly True Story of His First Invention by Barb Rosenstock (2014)
A nice enough story about one of Benjamin Franklin’s early inventions. It was news to me that Franklin invented one of the first forms of swim aids. This book wasn’t bed but I don’t know that it’s anything to write home about. 3/5 stars
Don’t Throw It to Mo! by David A. Adler (2015)
This was a very cute easy reader for more than just your little sports fans. A simple story of an unconventional hero succeeding because his friends and teammates don’t see his differences (height) as a disadvantage. Mo is shorter than other boys his age and the opposing team think Mo isn’t a threat at all. Little do they know… 3.5/5 stars
Glow: Animals with Their Own Night-Lights by W. H. Beck (2015)
I love (not sarcasm) when they include non-fiction books on these kinds of lists. And wow – what a cool find! This book would never have crossed my radar without the help of this list. A very didactic and fun list of facts about animals was bio-luminescence. Super easy and understandable facts that I think kids will really enjoy. 3.5/5 stars
Humphrey’s Playful Puppy Problem by Betty G. Birney (2014)
This book was almost my downfall. I forget that every year the Monarch list includes a lengthy book or two. This one felt waaayy long to me. Don’t get me wrong – I love hamsters and puppies and school science experiments – but this bad boy was nearly 100 pages. (Yes, there are pictures. BUT STILL!) It is something I can see the kids really enjoying but as the longest one I don’t think it will get as much love. 3/5 stars
I’m Trying to Love Spiders by Bethany Barton (2015)
Another fun non-fiction read. I hate spiders (like most small children). This book provides simple facts about spiders in the hopes of making spiders a little more friendly. An interactive book almost like Press Here but with funny squished bugs and encouragement for littles. 3.5/5 stars
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena (2015)
I read this book for the first time after it was awarded the 2016 Newbery Medal. What a great book! A touching story about a young man and his grandma riding the bus. Along the way the boy questions why his family doesn’t have some luxury items that others have. His grandma teaches him about the beauty of routine and being thankful for the things they do have. 5/5 stars
Lion Lessons by Jon Agee (2016)
Ever wondered what it takes to be a lion? This boy learns firsthand from a real, certified lion. Steps one through six prove pretty difficult. How will he graduate with his Lion Diploma? A great read-aloud book that is certain to make the kids laugh. Lion Lessons is perfect for lion and cat lovers alike. 4/5 stars
Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina (2015)
One of my co-workers read this book only because I wouldn’t stop “awww”-ing during it and she wanted to see what all the fuss was about. When Mia’a abuela comes to live with Mia’s family she knows very little English. Mia wishes her abuela could read her stories so she begins to teach her English. In the process, Mia learns Spanish! Great and appropraite book for our current culutral climate. 4/5 stars
Maya’s Blanket/La Manta de Maya by Monica Brown (2015)
Speaking of learning Spanish – this book! A beautiful bilingual book that uses Spanish words in a way similar to a nonfiction book (using the word in one sentence and then clarifying the meaning in the next). I love how this book was written. The plot is less engaging than the actually process of storytelling. Boiled down it was repurposing Maya’s favorite blanket.
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy (2016)
Do you often find yourself thinking how you and everyone else can make the world a better place? Why not start with art? Mira, a wonderful young artists, helps to inspire the colorful transformation of her city. This one is based on the Urban Art Trail in San Diego, CA. Beautiful illustrations and super uplifting read. 5/5 stars