Summertime Sleepers: Animals that Estivate. Melissa Stewart. Illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen. 2021. [April] 40 pages. [Source: Review copy] First sentence: Yawn, stretch, blink! As warm weather spreads across the land, hibernating animals spring to ...
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"Young Readers" - 5 new articles

  1. 21. Summertime Sleepers
  2. 20. Ten Animals In Antarctica
  3. 19. Ten Beautiful Things
  4. 18. A Thousand White Butterflies
  5. 17. Mission Multiverse
  6. More Recent Articles

21. Summertime Sleepers

Summertime Sleepers: Animals that Estivate. Melissa Stewart. Illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen. 2021. [April] 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Yawn, stretch, blink! As warm weather spreads across the land, hibernating animals spring to life. But soon another group of animals searches for shelter. They settle into cool, snug spots and sink into a summertime sleep called estivation.

Premise/plot: Summertime Sleepers is a nonfiction picture book perfect for elementary age readers. Chances are you've heard--and read--plenty of books about hibernating animals: both fiction and nonfiction. Everyone knows about hibernation. But did you know that some animals sleep during the summer?!?! This nonfiction picture book highlights those animals that estivate! 

Some of the animals include: convergent ladybugs, mourning cloak butterflies, land snails, Christmas island red crabs, African lungfishes, Mangrove killifishes, California tiger salamanders, pixie frogs, spotted turtles, leopard geckos, desert hedgehogs, and yellow-bellied marmots.

My thoughts: Every generation gets better nonfiction in my opinion. This one is PACKED with information. And it delivers that information in a handful of ways. There is a primary narrative that tells a whole story. But there are also sidebars to provide further information. (Though these sidebars aren't in boxes, they are set apart from the primary narrative, and are in a smaller font.) Each animal is also highlighted in a sketch pad illustration with even more details. Some animals are shown in their actual size. But when they aren't shown in their actual size, there's a hint as to how big or how little they are.

The book concludes with several pages of back matter. (More about animals that estivate, estivation versus hibernation, continue your exploration, author's note, illustrator's note, selected sources). 

I really appreciate books that pack in as many I DIDN'T KNOW THAT FACTS as possible in forty pages. 

© 2021 Becky Laney of Young Readers


20. Ten Animals In Antarctica

Ten Animals in Antarctica. Moira Court. 2021. [January] 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, driest continent in the world. 

Premise/plot: Ten Animals in Antarctica is a nonfiction concept book for little ones. It features numbers (1-10) and stars animals from (you guessed it) Antarctica. 

After a brief introduction (for little ones) to the continent of Antarctica, the focus zooms in on counting various animals who make the frozen continent their home: leopard seals, emperor penguins, elephant seals, whales, snow petrels, orcas, flying squids, krills, etc. 

My thoughts: Why not a counting book with Antarctic animals stealing the show? Why not give pigs, cows, cats, dogs, and the like a break? 

There will always be a need for counting books though counting books don't make for the most thrilling reads for adult readers. What I would have appreciated--but didn't see in the ARC at least (ARC being Advanced Reader's Copy)--is some back matter. Perhaps a spread (in tinier print, of course) where animal facts (two or three sentences per animal) can be shared. I always find these to be interesting--even if they aren't necessarily part of the routine read aloud experience.

© 2021 Becky Laney of Young Readers


19. Ten Beautiful Things

Ten Beautiful Things. Molly Beth Griffin. 2021. [January] 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Lily ran her finger across the Iowa map. An X marked Gram's house on an empty patch of land. Lily's new home.

Premise/plot: On her way to her new home, Lily's grandmother challenges her [encourages her] to try to find TEN beautiful things along the way. At first Lily feels the complaints sitting queasy on her stomach--but soon even she is joining in the game of looking on the bright side and seeing beauty in unexpected places.

My thoughts: LOVELY. That's the first word that comes to mind when I think about this book. Of course, I could just as easily go with BEAUTIFUL. I loved the emotional journey of this one. It is so easy to suppress emotions instead of actually living in them and feeling them, to find other ways of dealing with the pain and discomfort of change [or loss] other than facing them straight on. This book's approach to life is so wonderful. The writing hits me--as an adult reader--right in the heart. 

The illustrations were perfectly perfectly perfect.

I loved, loved, love the writing: 








On they drove. Almost there. Not far now. When they'd been almost there for a long time, Gram braked, eased the car down a crumbling driveway, and parked in front of the farmhouse. "Here we be," she said, through the drum of the rain. "Home." "But we only made it to nine," Lily said, slumping in her seat. "Nope. Ten, easy." Gram came around with the umbrella, and Lily stepped out of the car. "We're ten," Gram said. Lily sank into her familiar hug. None of this was easy. Maybe it would never be easy. But she belonged with Gram now. She belonged here now. This place wasn't empty, and neither was she.

© 2021 Becky Laney of Young Readers


18. A Thousand White Butterflies

A Thousand White Butterflies Jessica Betancourt-Perez and Karen Lynn Williams. Illustrated by Gina Maldonado. 2021. [January] 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Outside the window, the United States is cold and gray. The trees without leaves are lonely. Like me. I miss Papa, who is still in Colombia, waiting for permission to travel. My friends are there, too.

Premise/plot: Isabella is new to the United States and is hoping to make some new friends on what would have been her first day at school. However the weather intervenes--for better or worse. Will Isabella make a new friend (on this snow day) anyway? 

My thoughts: The narrative is a blend of English and Spanish. It was easy to relate to Isabella. She wears her heart on her sleeve; the book is packed with emotion: sadness, loneliness, hope, disappointment, joy, love, and even peace. Things may be different here than in Columbia--but there is still plenty to be thankful for and enjoy. 

I enjoyed this one. It was so descriptive.

Everything is white, so white. Mariposa wings dance in the sky. It looks like a thousand white butterflies.

© 2021 Becky Laney of Young Readers


17. Mission Multiverse

Mission Multiverse. Rebecca Caprara. 2021. [May] 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Dev Khatri's rules for surviving middle school were pretty simple: Don't speak up. Don't act out. Don't get your butt kicked.

Premise/plot: Mission Multiverse is a middle grade science fiction novel. There are a handful of young heroes and heroines--classmates, band mates--who, for better or worse--find themselves separated from their classmates during a tour of NASA on a school field trip. They stumble into a frightening, out-of-this-world experience and they might just be the key to saving earth (or Dimension 14 as its called). 

Dev, Lewis, Tessa, Maeve, and Isaiah--these are our main (human) characters.

My thoughts: Mission Multiverse is a premise-driven middle grade novel. The premise being multiverses, parallel universes, multi-dimensions, aliens, etc. For those readers that enjoy science fiction and action, this one offers plenty. It feels very much like a first in the series book as opposed to a stand alone novel. If this is all we ever get, then there is no resolution. (Surely it's the start of a new series.) 

Earth is in great danger--just thirty days away from THE END. Can these five representatives save Earth? Can they uncover the plots and schemes of the VILLAIN who's out to destroy Earth?

There is some world-building. We're not given a clear date--but I'm assuming that if Earth is THIS Earth, it's far in the future. If it's an alternate universe Earth--one of the author's imagination--then the dating doesn't truly matter. But things work differently on this Earth--for better or worse.

This does have a problem-novel feel to it as well. I think one of the agendas is climate change and the environment.

© 2021 Becky Laney of Young Readers


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