Neighborhood Sharks

Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands, written and illustrated by Katherine Roy, was a nominee for the 2016-17 South Carolina Children’s Book Award.

Neighborhood Sharks is a perfect fit for young (and not-so-young) shark enthusiasts. This book tells readers about the great white sharks that hunt just thirty miles from San Francisco.

Each fall, great whites circle the Farallon Islands, an area off-limits to all humans except the scientists who study these massive predators, and search for energy-rich elephant seals. The shark’s biology makes it uniquely suited to prey on these seals and continue the food chain that is so important to the ocean’s ecosystem.

Author/illustrator Katherine Roy depicts the sharks’ feeding cycle and biology in vivid, stunning paintings that make readers want to know more. Sources and suggestions for further reading at the end of the book provide readers with options to do just that.

Neighborhood Sharks is a great addition to studies of animals, the food chain, and the impact animals can have on the ecosystem. This book definitely has a place in school libraries, public libraries, and classrooms.

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Breaking News: Bear Alert

Breaking News: Bear Alert by David Biedrzycki was a nominee for the 16-17 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

Breaking News: Bear Alert brings to mind the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

While two bears are having a good time in the city (and the media and townspeople are freaking out), burglars are at large in the background. Little do they know that bears and burglars are about to collide while the world watches!

The most entertaining aspect of this book is picking out the many bear-related (and often hilarious) details in the illustrations. Readers who enjoy word (and picture) play will definitely enjoy this book. They’ll delight in picking out all of the “beary” fun on each page, including a sometimes difficult-to-find bear print.

Older readers may like this charming book more that little ones. There’s just so much to see, and so much that may go over the heads of the youngest readers. Some examples include: on-camera interviews with G. Adams, Teddy Bahr, Chris Robbin, Mrs. Locks, and Stan and Jan B.; locations like Baloo Balloons, Smokey’s BBQ, Pooh Street, and Teddy’s Diner; food and costumes that bring to mind favored childhood stories; and so much more!

Be a Star, Wonder Woman!

Be a Star, Wonder Woman!, written by Michael Dahl and vibrantly illustrated by Omar Lozano, shows readers that there’s quite a bit in common between a young girl starting school and everyone’s favorite Amazonian princess.

While this little girl is encouraging two new friends to share, Wonder Woman is restoring peace in the city. Just as the girl must be brave as she attempts to conquer a rope ladder, Wonder Woman must do the same when battling one of her worst enemies. And both the little girl and Wonder Woman need to know that it’s okay to admit when they need help. After all, even the most courageous hero needs a friend now and then.

This little girl is learning that she has everything she needs to be a hero, just like Wonder Woman!


This awesome book is great for Wonder Woman fans (like myself) and those looking for an inspirational book for children–girls or boys–starting school. I not only plan to add this book to my school library, but I also have every intention of purchasing a copy for my niece who starts kindergarten in the fall.

Be a Star, Wonder Woman! emphasizes some of the most important things that a child (or adult) should strive to be: prepared, kind, brave, honest, strong, and heroic. It doesn’t really take much to exhibit these traits. Not all of us can be Wonder Woman, but everyone can be a hero in her/his own way.

Pardon Me!

Pardon Me! by Daniel Miyares was a nominee for the 2016-17 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

A little yellow bird sits alone on a rock in a swamp. He won’t be alone for long, though. One by one, a heron, a frog, and a turtle politely ask to join him. The little bird really just wants to be left alone, but he begrudgingly allows the others a bit of space. That changes when a fox comes along…

The little bird finally snaps. He wants everyone to leave him alone! He doesn’t realize, however, that the fox is┬átrying to give him a very important warning. Being grumpy could land this little yellow bird into a huge heap of trouble!

Pardon Me!, while not ideal for read-alouds, is sure to charm fans of I Want My Hat Back, This Is Not My Hat, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, and other books with rather unexpected endings. It is a very quick, surprising read that will delight young and older readers alike. The illustrations are vibrant and beautifully capture the overall mood of the book.

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla, written by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by G. Brian Karas, was a nominee for the 2016-17 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

This wonderful book introduces young readers to the moving story of Ivan, a gorilla who was captured by poachers as a baby and sold to be an attraction in a shopping mall. Eventually, Ivan, with the help of concerned citizens and animal welfare activists, was moved to Zoo Atlanta where he lived out the rest of his days.

Those who’ve read Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan already know much of Ivan’s story. This picture book both gives a closer look at Ivan’s early years and serves as a springboard for reading more about Ivan and how gorillas and other animals are treated around the world.

Ivan is an excellent book for read-alouds with children who are learning about animals and those who are beginning to think about issues like animal rights and habitats.

The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do

Lou can do almost anything. She can be an adventurer, run really fast, build fortresses with her friends, and rescue animals. Lou is pretty sure she’ll have a thrilling job one day; she may even be a pirate.

But when her friends want to make the tree outside into their own personal pirate ship, Lou isn’t so sure about this adventure. She’s never climbed a tree before, and she doesn’t exactly want to start now. She tries to get her friends to reconsider this plan, and, when that doesn’t work, she comes up with any excuse she can think of to stay out of that tree.

Eventually, though, Lou realizes that maybe it could be fun to climb the tree and join her friends. Can she possibly get up there without actually having to climb? Probably not. It looks like she’ll have to learn to climb. It won’t be easy, but Lou is a determined young lady. She may not achieve her goal right away, but she’ll keep trying.


The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do, beautifully written and illustrated by Ashley Spires, is a wonderful book for anyone, child or adult, who’s ever been afraid of doing something. In Lou’s case, of course, it’s climbing trees, and she goes through some very realistic thought processes in trying to avoid this task. (I totally get it. I’ve never climbed a tree in my life, and I don’t intend to start now.) Substitute anything fearful for Lou’s issue with climbing trees, and all readers will be able to relate.

This book, which comes out on May 2nd, is perfect for emphasizing concepts like courage, perseverance, encouragement, compassion, handling failure or challenges, and using one’s imagination. It is a must-add to any library that serves children.

Here Comes the Easter Cat

Here Comes the Easter Cat, written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Claudia Rueda, was a nominee for the 2016-17 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

Cat thinks it’s time to give the Easter Bunny a bit of competition. While the Easter Bunny is hopping around delivering eggs, Cat will hop on his motorcycle and give boys and girls some chocolate. He’s not prepared, though, for just how tiring all his preparation is. Cat is ready for a nap.

Imagine Cat’s surprise when he learns that the Easter Bunny doesn’t get naps. He has to do all that work with no rest? Well, that simply will not do. When the exhausted Easter Bunny comes by to deliver eggs to Cat, Cat takes it upon himself to help his tired new friend.

Will Cat give up his plans for Easter domination? Or does he now have even loftier ambitions? Find out when you read Here Comes the Easter Cat!


I’ll be reading this book aloud to my K5 students this week ahead of our Spring break/Easter holiday. I hope they find it as charming as I do, and I hope it tells them a little about being kind, problem-solving, and, yes, having lofty ambitions.

Here Comes the Easter Cat may lead young (and older) readers to explore even more “substitutes” for holiday or other famous figures. What if, instead of Cupid on Valentine’s Day, we had a porcupine or something? The possibilities are as endless as the imagination.

If you’d like to promote this book to your young readers, feel free to use the book trailer below: