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Borreguita and the Coyote

By: Verna Aardema
Formats: Trade Paperback
Imprint: Dragonfly Books
ISBN: 9780679889366
1998-01-20 - $7.99

What's a little lamb to do about a fierce coyote that wants to eat her? Why, trick him, of course...and and trick him again...and trick him one more time! Here's a lively retelling of a Mexican folk tale by master story teller Verna Aardema, illustrated in bold, winning colors by Petra Mathers.

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Stay out of this blog, or you might get CHOMPED!
August 04, 2015

Stay out of this blog, or you might get CHOMPED!

We wouldn’t want to spoil the delightful end of Jory John and Bob Shea’s first picture book collaboration, but you already know it features a Chomp monster, who definitely doesn’t want you to turn the page.

This little monster has a sweet tooth, and no inclination towards sharing. Sounds like a few picture book readers we might know.

There are a few times during the school day where sharing may become important. Free play time, trips to the water fountain, snack time, choosing the kickball with the most bounce.

Our little Chomp monster isn’t quite the exemplar for teaching young readers to share, but I WILL CHOMP YOU is a great jumping off point for talking about this important social skill.

EXAMPLE (spoiler alert!):

Chomp doesn’t want to share the cakes at the end of the book because he wants to chomp them all to himself.

While young readers have a good concept of “mine” vs “yours” this book is a great way to introduce the pleasure of giving. Chomp learns his lesson when he gets a tummy ache from too many cakes. Opportunities in class where it might be better to share than to keep to yourself might include independent reading. Two students can share a picture book, holding it together, and helping each other with difficult words. In fact, we have the perfect recommendation…

Add I WILL CHOMP YOU by Jory John and Bob Shea to your collection. This is one book we can’t wait to share.

Three stars for FDR and the American Crisis by Albert Marrin
January 12, 2015

Three stars for FDR and the American Crisis by Albert Marrin

★ “The ‘American Crisis,’ as defined by Marrin, is the razed landscape of post–Roaring Twenties strife, headlined by the 1929 Wall Street Crash, the Dust Bowl, and the Great Depression, which only the Second World War—not the ballyhooed New Deal—could fix. It’s a massive, thorny slab of history, but Marrin’s superpower is crystalline clarity. He begins with the young, privileged FDR, raised from a lineage made rich off of whale fat and opium. If that odd fact made you perk your head, just wait: Marrin spikes his prose with keep-you-reading bits of esoterica (Depression-era mothers abandoning babies at animal shelters, German dogs taught to bark ‘Mein Führer.’ FDR, portrayed as a booming, brilliant sexist convinced of his myth before it was even written, becomes president as if preordained, and Marrin briskly depicts the courage he instilled within the populace in his first 100 days. His shining legacy—government’s expanded role in providing a social safety net—is contrasted with a murkier view of his wartime stewardship. Was he suckered by Stalin? Did he do all he could to help the Jews? In contrast to Marrin’s more concentrated works, such as Flesh and Blood So Cheap (2011), this strays from its protagonist for long stretches, and that will challenge readers. The payoff, though, is fantastic: frequent, illuminating photos; unimpeachable sourcing; and a breathtaking historical synthesis.” —Daniel Kraus, Booklist

★ “A comprehensive examination of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency and its legacy. For Marrin, Roosevelt’s influence was such that ‘we need to know about the thirty-second president because we cannot understand our world today without understanding his role in shaping it.’ Marrin explores FDR’s early years of privilege, the complex relationships Roosevelt had with his mother and his wife, Eleanor, and his seemingly inevitable march to a life in politics. Roosevelt’s charm and ability to sway individuals and crowds are described in detail. FDR’s strong actions after assuming the presidency during the Great Depression were not without criticism, and Marrin acknowledges them, but the electorate remained supportive enough to elect him four times. This well-researched and highly detailed examination of FDR and his presidency provides insight for readers generations removed from the events. Every aspect of the story is included. Marrin artfully weaves the elements of FDR’s personality and home life with events occurring in the country and on the world stage. Colorful descriptions of other important leaders and clear storytelling contribute to a lively narrative; the generous inclusion of archival images makes for a handsome package. Students of the period will be captivated. (source notes, further reading; index and photo credits not seen) (Biography. 12–18)” —Kirkus Reviews

★ “Marrin blends biography and history in this masterly overview of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s leadership in two of the most dangerous crises of the 20th century. His outstanding writing draws on primary sources and includes ample background and detail about Roosevelt’s personal and public lives and lengthy descriptions of the people and events that defined his presidency. Marrin is highly objective about Roosevelt, portraying him as neither saint nor villain. He explains how Roosevelt’s upbringing and class, battle with polio, and ever-present political instincts influenced his decisions and gave him the confidence to confront often-intractable dilemmas, relieve suffering during the Great Depression, and wage World War II. However, Marrin also discusses some of the negative results of FDR’s choices, including the continuation of Jim Crow and his reluctance to support anti-lynching laws, the exclusion of Jewish refugees and a tepid response to the Holocaust, and a tragic miscalculation of his ability to influence Joseph Stalin’s postwar aggression in Eastern Europe. The author includes some of his own memories of FDR and concludes that the man deserves his historical rating as a great president. High-quality black-and-white photos in a clean layout enhance the text, and documentation is meticulous. This book far surpasses most extant titles about Roosevelt and provides a more nuanced evaluation of his life and presidency than titles such as Sudipta Bardhan-Quallin’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt: A National Hero (Sterling, 2007). It will help readers better understand one of our most fascinating and influential presidents, and it deserves a place in all secondary collections.” —Mary Mueller, Rolla Public Schools, MO, School Library Journal

Two Stars for Like Water on Stone by Dana Walrath
December 03, 2014

Two Stars for Like Water on Stone by Dana Walrath

★ “Thirteen-year-old Armenian twins Shahen and his sister, Sosi, live in the 1914 Ottoman Empire with their loving parents; younger sister, Mariam; and older brothers Misak and Kevorg. A Christian like the rest of their family, their 19-year-old sister, Anahid, is married to Asan, a Kurd, and is expecting a baby.
Life is pleasant in their mixed religious community where their family makes its living as millers. However, when the cruel and hateful leaders of the Ottoman Empire decide at the start of World War I that the Armenians are ‘traitors’ and should be eliminated, genocide ensues. Anahid is hidden by her in-laws at the risk of their own lives. Forced to leave their parents and brothers behind to certain death, Shahen, Sosi, and little Mariam barely escape and make a harrowing journey across the mountains, hoping for rescue and to somehow reach their uncle who lives in America. As Ardziv, an eagle, soars above, he adds a note of magical realism and a sense of omnipresent poetic narration to the authentic voices of the family members as he witnesses their joys, shock, and heartbreak. This beautiful, yet at times brutally vivid, historical verse novel will bring this horrifying, tragic period to life for astute, mature readers who enjoy books in this format or genre such as The Surrender Tree by Margarita Engle (Holt, 2008) and Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (Philomel, 2011). A cast of characters and author note with historical background are thoughtfully included.”—Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, CO, School Library Journal

★ “Divided into four devastating sections spanning five years, Walrath’s debut vividly renders the atrocities of the Armenian genocide in the early twentieth century, using multiple first-person narratives in delicate verse. After years of living peacefully as Christians with neighboring Muslims, Papa refuses to accept the worsening political realities his son, Shahen, recognizes until it’s too late: ‘Papa so thick, / so certain, / so simple. / He lost three sons / in one day: / my brothers / to soldiers, / and me / to a scarf and dress.’ Shahen, dressed as a girl, escapes into the mountains with his sisters Sosi and Mariam, guiding them through scenes of carnage as they leave behind their parents, family, and friends: ‘“I’ve got you. / Hold on. / Keep them closed.”. . . Up the bank / past the bodies, / heaps of them, / bloated, / cut open. / “Just hold on. / Keep them closed.”’  Ardziv, a compassionate eagle watching over the family and following the children, adds a touch of magical realism that softens the devastating images. A shocking tale of a bleak moment in history, told with stunning beauty. —Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency, Publishers Weekly

July 18, 2014


★ The tragic Romanovs, last imperial family of Russia, have long held tremendous fascination. The interest generated by this family is intense, from debates about Duchess Anastasia and her survival to the discovery of their pathetic mass graves. A significant number of post-Glasnost Russian citizens consider the Romanovs holy to the extent that the Russian Orthodox Church has canonized them. This well-researched and well-annotated book provides information not only on the history of these famous figures but also on the Russian people living at the time and on the social conditions that contributed to the family’s demise. The narrative alternates between a straightforward recounting of the Romanovs’ lives and primary source narratives of peasants’ lives. The contrast is compelling and enhances understanding of how the divide between the extremely rich and the very poor can lead directly to violent and dramatic political change. While the description and snippets on the serfs and factory workers are workmanlike, the pictures painted of the reclusive and insular Romanovs is striking. Unsuited to the positions in which they found themselves, Nicholas and Alexandra raised their children in a bubble, inadequately educating them and providing them only slight exposure to society. The informative text illuminates their inability to understand the social conditions in Russia and the impact it might have had on them. This is both a sobering work, and the account of the discovery of their bones and the aftermath is at once fascinating and distressing. A solid resource and good recreational reading for high school students.–School Library Journal, starred

★ History comes to vivid life in Fleming’s sweeping story of the dramatic decline and fall of the House of Romanov. Her account provides not only intimate portraits of Tsar Nicholas, his wife, Alexandra, and the five Romanov children but also a beautifully realized examination of the context of their lives—Russia in a state of increasing social unrest and turmoil. The latter aspect is realized in part through generous excerpts from letters, diaries, memoirs, and more that are seamlessly interspersed throughout the narrative. All underscore the incredible disparity between the glittering lives of the Romanovs and the desperately impoverished ones of the peasant population. Instead of attempting to reform this, Nicholas simply refused to acknowledge its presence, rousing himself only long enough to order savage repression of the occasional uprising. Fleming shows that the hapless tsar was ill equipped to discharge his duties, increasingly relying on Alexandra for guidance; unfortunately, at the same time, she was increasingly reliant on the counsel of the evil monk Rasputin. The end, when it came, was swift and—for the Romanovs, who were brutally murdered—terrible. Compulsively readable, Fleming’s artful work of narrative history is beautifully researched and documented. For readers who regard history as dull, Fleming’s extraordinary book is proof positive that, on the contrary, it is endlessly fascinating, absorbing as any novel, and the stuff of an altogether memorable reading experience. –Booklist, starred

★ It’s an astounding and complex story, and Fleming lays it neatly out for readers unfamiliar with the context. Czar Nicholas II was ill-prepared in experience and temperament to step into his legendary father’s footsteps. Nicholas’ beloved wife (and granddaughter of Queen Victoria), Alexandra, was socially insecure, becoming increasingly so as she gave birth to four daughters in a country that required a male heir. When Alexei was born with hemophilia, the desperate monarchs hid his condition and turned to the disruptive, self-proclaimed holy man Rasputin. Excerpts from contemporary accounts make it clear how years of oppression and deprivation made the population ripe for revolutionary fervor, while a costly war took its toll on a poorly trained and ill-equipped military. The secretive deaths and burials of the Romanovs fed rumors and speculation for decades until modern technology and new information solved the mysteries. Award-winning author Fleming crafts an exciting narrative from this complicated history and its intriguing personalities. It is full of rich details about the Romanovs, insights into figures such as Vladimir Lenin and firsthand accounts from ordinary Russians affected by the tumultuous events. A variety of photographs adds a solid visual dimension, while the meticulous research supports but never upstages the tale.
A remarkable human story, told with clarity and confidence. (bibliography, Web resources, source notes, picture credits, index) – Kirkus Reviews, starred

★ Making vibrant use of primary sources that emerged since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Fleming (Amelia Lost) brings to life the last imperial family of Russia. Writing with a strong point of view based on diary entries, personal letters, and other firsthand accounts, she enriches their well-known story with vivid details. The narrative begins in February 1903 (with some flashbacks to the meeting of tsar Nicholas and German-born tsarina Alexandra) and also features primary sources from peasants and factory workers—including an excerpt from Maxim Gorky’s 1913 memoir—that help to affectingly trace the increasingly deplorable conditions and growing discontent that led to the Russian Revolution; key figures such as Rasputin and Lenin are profiled in some depth. Fleming’s fulsome portraits of Nicholas and Alexandra, along with her depiction of their devoted relationship, highlight the role their personalities played in their downfall, as well as that of their beloved country. A wonderful introduction to this era in Russian history and a great read for those already familiar with it. – Publishers Weekly, starred

★ Her focus here is not just the Romanovs, the last imperial family of Russia, but the Revolutionary leaders and common people as well. She cogently and sympathetically demonstrates how each group was the product of its circumstances, then how they all moved inexorably toward the tragic yet fascinating conclusion. Each member of the Romanov family emerges from these pages as a fully realized individual, but their portraits are balanced with vignettes that illuminate the lives of ordinary people, giving the book a bracing context missing from Massie’s Nicholas and Alexandra, still the standard popular history. The epic, sweeping narrative seamlessly incorporates scholarly authority, primary sources, appropriate historical speculation, and a keen eye for the most telling details. Moreover, the juxtaposition of the supremely privileged lifestyle of Russian nobility with the meager subsistence of peasants, factory workers, and soldiers creates a narrative tension that builds toward the horrifying climax. Front and back matter include a map, genealogy, bibliography, and source notes, while two sixteen-page inserts contain numerous captioned photographs. – The Horn Book, starred

Peek Inside: TOYS IN SPACE by Mini Grey
May 14, 2013

Peek Inside: TOYS IN SPACE by Mini Grey

This month we’re ecstatic to be sharing an inside look at Mini Grey’s new picture book, Toys in Space. We’ve been huge fans of Mini’s quirky work from the start–so much so that when her editor, Allison Wortche, presented this title for the first time we had to restrain ourselves from cheering and interrupting the meeting (true story!).  From her Traction Man series to Three By the Sea, Mini’s wildly imaginative tales are overflowing laugh-out-loud humor, but all are underscored by real, heartfelt emotion that resonates with kids and adults alike. No surprise, then, that this author-illustrator double threat has racked up over a dozen starred reviews and has been named to countless best-of and state award master lists.

Toys in Space takes place one summer night when a group of toys are left outside for the first time by mistake. The Wonderdoll, the wind-up robot, the thoughtful green dinosaur, and the rest of their rag-tag group can only gaze up at the stars, watching as one seems to grow bigger and brighter than the rest. Pretty soon, the toys discover it’s no star at all, but the spaceship of a lonely alien (who looks suspiciously like a garden glove!) who’s in need of some help, and a few friends. At it’s heart, the story is a silly (not-too-scary!) story about losing–and reuniting with–a beloved toy. Really, it’s the perfect book for any child that loved the Toy Story movies.

Here are a few of our favorite spreads (click to expand each image for a closer look):


 All Illustrations © 2012 by Mini Grey and should not be reproduced anywhere without permission.

And, bonus!  You can also view the adorable book trailer:


What do you guys think?  Toys in Space releases today, May 14th, and is available wherever books are sold.