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Pattan’s Pumpkin

Written by Chitra Sounder
Illustrated by Frané Lessac

Great flood stories, as well as new beginning stories, are almost universally present in cultures throughout the world. This great twist on the flood comes directly from the Irula people of southern India.

In this version, a man named Pattan is growing a pumpkin, which turns out to be so large that even the elephants can’t see over the top. The original story had a bottle gourd, but the author changed it to the more familiar pumpkin. When the rains begin, Pattan harvests the pumpkin and hollows it out with the help of his wife, Kanni, and all the animals. They ride inside the pumpkin as a sort of ark, along with grain, seeds and herbs. Kanni sings lullabies to the baby animals to soothe and help pass the time. When the rain stops, they come to rest on the plains. The Irula people trace their ancestry to Pattan and Kanni, They still raise pumpkins to this day.

The author has deep roots in India and brings that flavor to the story. The illustrations have a folk art feel that goes well with this legend.

This is a great text for exploration of cultures in a classroom or just as a bedtime story to think about how other cultures might tell the story of Noah.

  • Pattans PumpkinTitle: Pattan’s Pumpkin
  • Author: Chitra Sounder
  • Illustrator: Frané Lessac
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 3
  • Genre: Folk legend
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-9274-2

Home in the Rain

Written and Illustrated by Bob Graham

This quiet little picture book is packed with love.

Francie and her (very) pregnant mother are visiting Grandma while Daddy is away at sea. As they prepare to make the long drive home, a rain storm begins. Amid terrible traffic, Francie watches the wildlife. A baby rabbit dives for cover. A field mouse hides under blackberries as a kestrel hunts for it. Fishermen are as wet as the fish. A family of ducks ignore the water on their backs. She amuses herself by writing names in the foggy windows. They stop to eat lunch and use the time to discuss a name for the soon-to-be new sister. Continuing, they stop again for gas. Suddenly, Mom is inspired to name the baby Grace, a magical moment nearly missed by the reader.

Their little car, now full of courage, bumped off down the road, the windows rolled down and wind rushing through.

The reader gets to meet Daddy on the very last page.

Detailed watercolor drawings adorn the pages and show Francie’s actions throughout. For example, it’s wonderful how the road signs clearly point toward Francie’s house.

This is perfect for bedtime or independent reading and is a must-have for families separated by the miles but not by the caring.

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  • Title: Home in the Rain
  • Author/Illustrator: Bob Graham
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 2
  • Genre: Picture book, Family
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-9269-8

The Day I Ran Away

Written by Holly L. Niner
Illustrated by Isabella Ongaro

Two words: sweet and adorable. Both the story and the illustrations. Told mostly through dialogue, the words are sparse but meaningful. The illustrations give a lot of meaning to the girl’s actions.

A young, very independent girl is having a bad day, at least what seems like a bad day to her. She can’t wear her favorite shirt and she’s out of her favorite cereal. She goes to her room to color and colors her shirt instead. In a heap of trouble, she announces she’s running away. Mom packs her sandwich for her, then she remembers she’s not allowed to cross the street. So she runs away to the back yard with her pop up tent, her dog, her stuffed animals, and coloring pages. The run away session is so successful, she vows to repeat it.

The story shows how a little solitude can be a good thing, especially if we have a loving family to return to, or one that would like to run away with you. 

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  • The Day I Ran AwayTitle: The Day I Ran Away
  • Author: Holly L. Niner
  • Illustrator: Isabella Ongaro
  • Published: Flashlight Press, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: K to 2
  • Genre: Picture book, Fiction
  • ISBN: 978-1936261898
  • Extras: Website activity pages

Pig the Pug

Written and Illustrated by Aaron Blabey       

Pig is a greedy pug dog. He has lots of toys, but won’t share any of them with Trevor, the little wiener dog.  It is hard to say if Trevor is a neighbor or another member of the family. Either way, Pig isn’t about to let him play.

The bouncy rhyming text will engage kindergarten readers as well as grade one independent readers to guess what might happen next. They will all be scared when Pig falls out the window, but might decide characters generally get what is coming to them. The humorous ending brings satisfaction and closure to the story. It also gives teachers, parents and librarians a chance to discuss with the children if Pig will act differently toward Trevor, and others, in the future.

This will also, undoubtedly, make the children return to the library in search of the other books about this silly pug. Funny books make the struggle of reading fun, too.

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  • Pig the PugTitle:  Pig the Pug
  • Author/Illustrator:  Aaron Blabey
  • Publisher:  Scholastic, 2017
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format:  Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-1-338-11245-0
  • Genre: Picture Book
  • Grade level: PreK to 1


Written by Mac Barnett
Illustrated by Jon Klassen

Silliness abounds in the latest collaboration between two masters of humor.

What if Triangle were a being as well as a shape? And what if Triangle went to visit another being, Square? Like I said, silliness. Triangle sets out to play a sneaky trick on his friend Square. He goes past many shapes on the way, some of which don’t even have names. Once the trick is played, Square feels the urge to reciprocate. That’s when things turn dark.

Simple yet profound illustrations grace every page. Of course Triangle and Square each need expressive eyes and stick-like legs. Triangle naturally has a triangle shaped house with triangle shaped doors. Squares are square.

The humor and shape ideas are universal and well worth anyone’s time.

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  • TriangleTitle: Triangle
  • Author: Mac Barnett
  • Illustrator: Jon Klassen
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 48 pages
  • Grade Level: K to 4
  • Genre: Picture book, Wordplay, Humor
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-9603-0

Stanley’s Store

Written and Illustrated by William Bee

            Stanley, the loveable hamster, is back with his own store. He even drives a delivery truck. Large, bold colored pictures allow children to pick out the various shapes of cheeses. Fruits and vegetables are easy to recognize and name.

            Funny events take place as displays get tipped over and hot bread is removed from the oven.

            Parents, teachers and librarians will enjoy introducing this book to young readers in a read aloud setting. Teachers can use the book for teaching vocabulary, sequencing of events as well as matching text to the illustrations. Parents can use the illustrations to discuss healthy choices in foods as one shopper has all cookies and candies while another has fruits and vegetables.

            The hardcover book is padded which makes it safer and more enticing for the youngest readers.

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  • Stanleys StoreTitle:  Stanley’s Store
  • Author/Illustrator:  William Bee
  • Publisher:  Peachtree, 2017
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format:  Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-1-56145-868-4
  • Genre: Picture Book
  • Grade level: PreK to 1

Zebra on the Go

Written by Jill Nogales

            Under the circus big top, the accident occurs. The zebra steps on the lion’s toe. The roaring lion scares the zebra who takes off out of the tent and all through the town.  Children will have fun trying to find the zebra hiding on the merry-go-round in an almost hidden picture kind of illustration.

            Lots of action, short bouncy rhyming phrases lead the parade through the town. By the time the lion starts sinking under the water, everyone knows who will save the day. The show that began in the circus tent ends at the wharf with the crowd applauding it all.

            Teachers, librarians and parents will love this read aloud, and soon will repeat it without ever turning the pages. Children will love pouring over the vibrant watercolors to study all the details and expressions.

           This story is sure to become a favorite in no time!

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  • Zebra on the GoTitle:  Zebra on the Go
  • Author:  Jill Nogales
  • Illustrator:  Lorraine Rocha
  • Publisher:  Peachtree Publishers, 2017
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format:  Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-1-56145-911-7
  • Genre: Picture Book
  • Grade level: PreK to 3

Tide Pool Secrets

Written and Illustrated by Narelle Oliver

            Lift the flap books hold intrigue and joy for young readers sharing a couch with an older reader. This book will bring about giggles as well as maybe a screech or two. Some of the animals are a little surprising and seem to jump right out of the illustration.

            The watercolors are carefully matched to produce the camouflage used by dwellers in tide pools. Adding to the fun of the flaps is the almost hidden picture quality of the illustrations. Which, after all, is the point. But a point made while providing great fun as well as solid information to young readers.

            Kindergarten, grade one teachers, and librarians can use this book to introduce life in the oceans. Parents can use it as an introduction to the trip they are planning to the seashore. Curriculum standards will be met in literature, science, art, and differentiating between fact and fiction. It is a gem children will enjoy going through over, and over again to find the hidden animals. The flap is used wisely to show how the animal appears when it is in hiding versus how it looks when the coast is clear.

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  • Tide Pool SecretsTitle:  Tide Pool Secrets
  • Author/Illustrator:  Narelle Oliver
  • Publisher:  Candlewick Press, 2017
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format:  Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-0-7636-9159-2
  • Genre: Nonfiction Picture Book
  • Grade level:  PreK to 2
  • Extras: End pages show detailed up close illustrations of the sea creatures from the main body of the book with more information about each.

Penguin Day: A Family Story

Written and Illustrated by Nic Bishop

Another penguin book? This, though, is `a story for our littlest people about how a penguin family spends its day. It is very matter-of-fact. First they do this, then they do that, which is exactly what young children wonder about. It is also what is used to teach sequencing and retelling a story in order. Teachers and librarians will use this to fulfill language arts standards, as well as for an enjoyable story time that may be doubling as an introduction to the next science unit.

Beautiful photographs illustrate what each sentence is saying. As it is a book with few words and large white font. Some will mistake it as a beginning reader. Not so. The words are multi-syllabic and not a beginning visual vocabulary. Thus, the suggested age range from preschool through grade three.

Parents can use it as a fun bedtime read leading into a discussion about the child’s own day.

It can be a good addition to any library or home collection, but not if you are overloaded with penguin books already.

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  •  Penguin DayTitle:  Penguin Day: A Family Story
  • Author/Illustrator: Nic Bishop
  • Publisher:  Scholastic, 2017
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format:  Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN:  978-0-545-20636-5
  • Genre: Nonfiction
  • Grade level: PreK to 3
  • Extras: Author’s Note with more detailed science data

The Tree: An Environmental Fable

Written and Illustrated by Neal Layton

A tree is a home. A home for birds in their nest. A home for squirrels in their nest. A home for owls in their hollow. A home for rabbits in their burrow under the roots. Told in very simple language, the story is one that a first grader can easily read on their own. Of course, teachers and parents will want to read it with the kids the first time just to discuss all the implications.

Two humans decide to build a home at the location of a tree, not realizing that their plans would seriously disrupt or destroy the lives of many other creatures. When they come to that realization, they are able to find a way for everyone to live in harmony.

The Tree makes the idea of environmental responsibility personal. The humans in the story realize that the animals need their homes and might have emotions too. They do their best to fulfill their own needs while helping the animals and the tree itself. Sharing is the key, and kids can understand this.

This is heartwarming and beautiful book.  

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  • Title: The Tree: An Environmental Fable
  • Author/Illustrator: Neal Layton
  • Published: Candlewick Publishing, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 1
  • Genre: Picture book, Nature, Creative nonfiction
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-8952-0
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