Sleeping Bear Books' picuture books!

Sleeping Bear Press kindly sent a package of review copies of their picture books of 2018 for distribution at Kidlitcon 2019 last month, but sadly the package ended up in the shrubbery next to the door I don't use, so I didn't see them until after the fact.  I've mailed them off to folks who follow the Kidlitcon twitter account, but also wanted to spotlight them here by way of a thank you and an apology to Sleeping Bear for not checking the shrubberies….

The Hanukkah Hamster, by Michelle Markel, illustrated by Andre Ceolin

It's December in the city, and Edgar, a young cab driver, is busy taking holiday shoppers to and fro.  One evening he finds a little hamster in the back of the cab, and is charmed.  Little Chickpea becomes his friend, and is company each night Edgar when lights the candles on the menorah, thinking of his home back in Israel.  But Edgar did the right think, and reported the hamster to lost and found--will his new friend be claimed by its rightful owner?  The happy ending is just right for this sweet and poignant story, and Chickpea is cute as all get out!

Aim for the Skies: Jerrie Mock and Joan Merriam Smith's Race to Complete Amelia Earhart's Quest, by Aimme Bissonette, illustrated by Doris Ettlinger

Jerrie and Joan both loved flying.  In 1964 they independently decided to complete Amelia Earhart's dream of flying around the world alone.  When the press found out, they made it race--which of the two would be the first woman to achieve what Amelia hadn't been able to do?  After careful planning, they took off...and the reader sees all the difficulties and dangers they faced as they flew around the world.  It's an inspirational and exciting story of adventure, and a nice geography lesson, with a bonus backmatter section of social history and additional details.

Kindergarrrten Bus, by Mike Ornstein, illustrated by Kevin M. Barry.

The Jolly Roger Bus company has a new driver--a pirate!  He and his parrot welcome their new shipmates on the first day of kindergarten, and though the little kids are apprehensive, he encourages them to be brave and tough, as is the pirate way.  But when the seas get rough (potholes), and Polly the parrot flies out an open window, the pirate bus driver breaks down.  Now it's up to the kids to encourage him to stay strong, and though he doesn't feel brave at all, they share the lesson that they've learned from their own parents that it's ok to be scared, and to keep doing what you have to do.  So it's off to school, all encouraging each other (and Polly comes back at the end!).  A funny book about facing fears that will hearten young kids!

Hannah's Tall Order: an A to Z Sandwich, by Linda Vander Heyden, illustrated by Kayla Harren

Hannah's a loyal customer of  McDougal's sandwich shop, but not necessarily the most welcome one, because boy can she eat!  When she orders an A-Z sandwich, it's the toughest order yet...Hannah has a list of all the alphabetical foods she wants on it!  And so Mr. McDougal slices and dices everything from avocados to zucchini, creating a towering masterpiece with some dubious ingredients (marshmallow fluff, for instance)--but oh no!  He had to make it on white bread, not the wheat bread she wanted...Written in lively rhyme with detailed illustrations of the towering sandwich growing, it's a fun foody adventure for the young!

Four Seasons of Fun, by Pamela Duncan Edwards, illustrated by Sylvie Daigneault

Here's a celebration of all the ways kids can enjoy the each season! Rhyming couplets tell of flying kites and exploring pond life  on through summer and fall to building snowmen and painting pine cones in winter.  Most of the activities take place out doors, so parents might well welcome this encouragement to get the kids outside.  The illustrations have a sweetly old-fashioned feel to them (reminding me a bit of the Little Golden Books of my own childhood); though there are a few more white kids than not, there's diversity in the range of kids shown.

Junk: a Spectacular Tale of Trash, by Nicholas Day, illustrated by Tom Disbury

Sylvia Samantha Wright is very good at finding trash treasures to take home with her in her little red wagon.  Every day of the week she finds something new.  She  isn't sure what she's going to do with all her finds (from empty paint pots to a box of discarded party hats), but an elderly neighbor reassures her that the part before you know is the best part.  And when the town's water tower begins to leak, setting in motion a cascade of catastrophe (including animals escaping from the zoo!), Sylvia is able to step in an fix things with the help of her junk!  This fun story celebrates creative thinking, and (possible warning) might inspire kids to fill the family garage with found treasures of their own for future projects!

A Tuba Christmas, by Helen L. Wilbur and Mary Reaves Uhles

Ava's family all makes music, and now it's time for Ava to choose what instrument she wants to learn so she can play with them in the family holiday concert.  But the family is dismayed when Ava chooses the tuba.  And they are dismayed as well by the ghastly noises she makes on it when she's starting out.  On top of that, the kids at school make fun of her.  Her teacher, though, is supportive, and at the end Ava gets to play in the coolest holiday concert of all--a tuba Christmas!  The tuba ensemble includes some diverse musicians, and Ava's teacher is a young black man.  I enjoyed this one lots--it should inspire young readers to follow their dreams!

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