I Am the Rain

Written and Illustrated by John Paterson

With whimsical and lyrical text and vibrant illustrations, the author explores the water cycle. Water is personified and goes through more forms than the reader may have considered. It begins, “Sometimes I’m the rain cloud and sometimes I’m the rain” as a young girl watches out a window, immediately drawing in the reader. From waterfalls to ocean waves to mountain snows, this little book investigates them all. It also points out the importance water plays for life. From comets to Mars, water is everywhere.

Learning about the natural world is always a great pursuit, but this book makes it fun. And the reader might also learn a little from the poetic text. The explore more sections are extremely helpful in suggesting activities for further exploration.

  • I Am the RainTitle: I Am the Rain
  • Author/Illustrator: John Paterson
  • Published: Dawn Publications, 2018
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Paperback, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 3
  • Genre: Picture Book, Nonfiction, Nature, Water Cycle
  • ISBN: 978-1-58469-616-2
  • Extra: Explore More – for Kids, Explore More – for Parents and Teachers, More Books about Water

The Tiptoeing Tiger

Written and Illustrated by Philippa Leathers

Nearly every kid can identify with the feeling of powerlessness because of their size and age. Little tiger sees how “sleek, silent, and totally terrifying” large tigers can be. He wants to be all that. So he practices. The boar can hear him a mile away and is not terrified. The elephant finds him much too small. The monkeys just laugh at him. When he sneaks up on a frog, he sees his reflection and finally scares someone – himself.

The illustrations show an adorable tiger cub in action – tiptoeing around and being as sneaky as possible. Small touches of humor add to the enjoyment – like the deer, bird, and mice who are not at all frightened. When big brother walks through, even the snakes scurry away.

This is probably most effective as a read aloud, so kids can sneak along with Little Tiger and discuss the positive things Little Tiger has going for him. Even as independent reading, it’s a lot of fun.

  • Tiptoeing TigerTitle: The Tiptoeing Tiger
  • Author/Illustrator: Philippa Leathers
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2018
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 2
  • Genre: Picture Book, Humor, On Being Small
  • SBN: 978-0-7636-8843-1

Izzy Gizmo

Written by Pip Jones
Illustrated by Sara Ogilvie

One great thing about this delightful new book is that the illustrations are at least as wonderful as the text. First graders can glean a lot from the story even without being able to read. And the words are amazing, playful, and rich.

Izzy (Izabelle) is a natural born inventor ala Rube Goldberg. She “ carried her tool bag wherever she went, in case she discovered a thing to be mended or a gadget to tweak to make it more splendid.” She builds wonderful contraptions, artfully illustrated, like Tea-Mendus and the Beard-Tastic, but none of them works quite as intended. When she witnesses a crow get injured, she does everything she can to help it fly again. She takes it to the vet and builds several artificial flying machines, all the while pilfering parts wherever she sees them. Through several attempts, she fails but keeps trying. Eventually, she prevails, only to find out she has work to do replacing the parts she pilfered.

The reader is guaranteed to have a smile on the face with every page. You can’t help but cheer for Izzy.

  • IzzyTitle: Izzy Gizmo
  • Author: Pip Jones
  • Illustrator: Sara Ogilvie
  • Published: Peachtree Publishers, 2018
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: 1 to 3
  • Genre: Fiction, Humor, Perseverance
  • ISBN: 978-1-68263-021-1

In the Snow

Written by Elizabeth Spurr
Illustrated by Manelle Oliphant

The text in the “In the Weather” series is simple enough for many first graders to read independently, but the lyrical rhyming also makes In the Snow fun for reading aloud with a group. The illustrations are also a treasure, of course.

A little girl, her mother, and her dog find a lot to keep them busy out on a winter day. They slide, draw in the snow, build a snowman, play on a sled, and make snow angels. It all looks like fun, and then it’s time to go.

Whether looking for creative activities or just a fun story, readers should enjoy In the Snow.

  • In the SnowTitle: In the Snow
  • Author: Elizabeth Spurr
  • Illustrator: Manelle Oliphant
  • Published: Peachtree Publishers, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 22 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK Up
  • Genre: Board Book, Weather
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-855-4

How Does My Home Work?

Written by Chris Butterworth
Illustrated by Lucia Gaggliotti

Even very young children have a rudimentary understanding of the way things work. You flip a switch and a light comes on. You turn a faucet handle and you get water to drink. You turn a knob on the stove and you can cook.

This clever new book goes a little deeper so that kids can better understand what really makes these things work. The author presents topics without being didactic and keeps the readers entertained too. The pages on electricity include many of the current and alternative sources for the energy. Illustrations skillfully include simple diagrams of electrical grids and numerous examples of how electricity is used. The pages on water are very detailed in showing how we get clean water. The illustrations even show readers how toilets and faucets work. Natural gas production is skillfully explored, but the author doesn’t go into its consumption as much.

This would be great in a classroom for kids to explore the world around them or as a sidelight to a safety or conservation unit. Kids can identify how many things depend on electricity, water, or natural gas.

  • How Does My Home WorkTitle: How Does My Home Work?
  • Author: Chris Butterworth
  • Illustrator:  Lucia Gaggliotti
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska                                                     
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: K to 3
  • Genre: Nonfiction, Everyday Items
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-9594-1


Written by Julia Denos
Illustrated by E.B. Goodale

Windows provides a new and unique way to view the world around us. As kids learns about their environment, their view is necessarily limited by what they can see and what they’re told. This simple story shows them how they can gather information from even that limited view.

A young child heads out to walk a dog as dusk/sunset sets in over a neighborhood. Lights come on as people continue their daily routines. A raccoon starts its nightly foraging. One apartment hosts a party. A mother cares for an infant. A bodega is open. A barber shop is closed. Two windows are connected by a tin can telephone. There are dancers, players, exercisers, readers, cooks, and fish. There are dreamers, huggers, and pets. And some windows are dark or abandoned. But the best window is at home.

Sparse text describes the walk, while detailed illustrations gives it life. Even the end papers and dust cover add detail to the world. The dust cover has a special patina where the glass for the windows would be.

Recommended as a read aloud so child and adult can discuss all the many details and speculate on what else they might see on a walk.

  • WindowsTitle: Windows
  • Author: Julia Denos
  • Illustrator: E.B. Goodale
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 2
  • Genre: Fiction
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-9035-9

Kiss! Kiss! Yuck! Yuck!

Written by Kyle Mewburn
Illustrated by Ali Teo & John O’Reilly

Universal issue that may or may not be a real issue. Everyone can identify and sympathize with Andy. In fact, this story is originally from New Zealand.

Andy has a problem. His Auntie Elsie visits. Often. And she insists on kissing him twice on each cheek as a greeting. He tries to duck the kisses, but she gets him every time. He hides under the bed. She lures him out with a truck. He hides in the chicken coop. She lures him out by talking about the chickens. He hides in a tree. She can climb. The real problem comes when Auntie Elsie doesn’t. Hiding from her has become such a part of his routine that Andy is at a loss when she doesn’t show up. She’s broken her leg and needs time to heal. When she finally does come back, he’s so happy to see her that he does the kissing.

Adorable mixed media illustrations complete the hilarity of this cute book in its current reprinting. Perfect for reading aloud or as independent reading.

  • Kiss! Kiss!Title: Kiss! Kiss! Yuck! Yuck!
  • Author: Kyle Mewburn
  • Illustrators: Ali Teo & John O’Reilly
  • Published: Peachtree Publishers, 20
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Paperback, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 1
  • Genre: Fiction, Humor, Family
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-759-5

Lion vs. Rabbit

Written and Illustrated by Alex Latimer

When is a rabbit not a rabbit? When it’s ten rabbits!

Lion is mean to everyone. But no one wants to tell him to cut it out. Bear loses a boxing match to him. Moose loses a sword fight. Tiger loses at arm wrestling. Rabbit shows up and finds the contests he can win at. Rabbit is better at marshmallow eating, quizzes, hopping, art, and running. But Rabbit is using a trick. What is he doing? Lion becomes very, very nice.

Cartoon-like illustrations add to the hilarity, and many clues – written and visual – help the reader figure out how Rabbit beats Lion. On many pages, an extra pair of rabbit ears appear away from the action. And the brainy rabbit is the only one wearing glasses.

Kids will recognize all of lion’s antics in what he does to the other animals: wedgies, silly notes, stealing lunch money. Great little book about bullying without the violence. Warning: Lots of humor here

  • Lion vs RabbitTitle: Lion vs. Rabbit
  • Author/Illustrator: Alex Latimer
  • Published: Peachtree Publishers, 2013
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Paperback, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 3
  • Genre: Fiction, Humor
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-898-1

Giant Pants

Written and Illustrated by Mark Fearing

Silly, fun, and hilarious, this new read aloud explores what to do when you can’t find your pants. Getting dressed in the morning, Belbum, a giant, is unable to find his only pair of pants. He looks everywhere – his bedroom, his kitchen, and his backyard. Angry and frustrated, he sets out to seek help from his friends. A cyclops offers a toga. Not a good idea. A gnome offers his extra pair. Not stretchy enough. A unicorn is not much help either. So Belbum heads for the village, pantsless. The townsfolk are terrified, but the tailor makes him a new pair and some spares. He leaves the extras with his friends, just in case. Arriving back home, he naturally finds his old pants.

Lively illustrations show not only the giant’s embarrassment but also the reactions of his friends and the townspeople. The feel is that of a fairy tale. Includes gorgeous end papers with a complete map of the giant’s world.

Best as an amusing bedtime story with interaction between child and adult or in a group setting.

  • Giant PantsTitle: Giant Pants
  • Author/Illustrator: Mark Fearing
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 2
  • Genre: Fiction, Friendship
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-8984-1

Red & Lulu






Sweet story of a pair of cardinals that inhabit a Norway spruce somewhere in America. The birds, Red and Lulu, enjoy the holiday season each year. They love the decorations and the singing around the tree. Their happy life is interrupted when men come to cut down the tree they live in and cart it off to New York City. Lulu is still in the tree, and Red sets off to find her. Eventually, they reunite and enjoy Christmas once again in a new setting.  

There is a lot to love is this adorable new book. The story is heartwarming and informative. The illustrations are beautiful, informative, and highlight the magical feel of the story. Interestingly, the book lists credits for both the Empire State Building and the New York Public Library. Times Square and the George Washington Bridge are among the other identifiable sights.

The story is also about the long standing tradition of the decorated tree at Rockefeller Plaza. Though the author hints that cardinals are monogamous, talking about this tidbit might add a bit more credence to the story. Great as a read aloud or for independent reading.

  • Red & LuluTitle: Red & Lulu
  • Author/Illustrated: Matt Tavares
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 2
  • Genre: Fiction, Family, Holiday
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-7733-6
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