Two Brothers, Four Hands: The Artists Alberto and Diego Giacometti by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Hadley Hooper

Published by Neal Porter Books

Image result for two brothers four hands amazon

Image result for two brothers four hands hadley hooper

Summary:  The two brothers in the title are Alberto and Diego Giacometti, and their four hands created two different types of art.  Alberto loved art from an early age, and pursued it with a passion, moving from Switzerland to Paris to become the proverbial starving artist at a young age.  Diego had no such passion, spending much of his time outdoors with animals, and having occasional scrapes with the law until his exasperated mother shipped him off to Paris to join his brother.  There, he learned how to help Alberto by creating models for his sculptures and casting them when they were finished. After World War II, Alberto’s art became well-known, but Diego stayed in the background.  After Alberto died in 1966, Diego dealt with his grief by pouring his energies into his own work, crafting metal sculptures and furniture that incorporated the animals he loved, and built his own following over the next two decades.  Includes an in-depth look at Alberto Giacometti’s sculpture Walking Man, an extensive timeline, photos, and a bibliography.  64 pages; grades 3-7.

Pros:  A fascinating look at two very different brothers and how they helped each other create their own unique art.  The beautiful paint and ink illustrations help bring the story to life. The authors have received multiple Sibert honors, and may get another one for this book.

Cons:  Reviews I read started the recommended age at kindergarten, but this is definitely a book for older kids.  Nothing inappropriate; it’s just a longer book with subject matter that will be appreciated more by upper elementary and middle school students.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

I Am Farmer: Growing an Environmental Movement in Cameroon by Baptiste and Miranda Paul, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon

Published by Millbrook Press

Image result for i am farmer miranda paul amazon

Image result for i am farmer elizabeth zunon

Summary:  Growing up in Cameroon, Tantoh was sometimes laughed at for asking too many questions in school.  He loved nature, especially learning how to grow plants. His classmates gave him the nickname Farmer, meant to be an insult, but Tantoh embraced the title.  He purposely failed an exam that could have led to a well-paying office job so he could spend all his time outside growing crops. After studying agriculture in Cameroon and the U.S., Tantoh helped transform Cameroon by focusing on clean water and community gardens.  He founded the organization Save Your Future Association to build community, protect the environment, and promote education.  Includes an authors’ note with additional information about Farmer Tantoh, and photos and African proverbs on both the front and back endpapers.  32 pages; ages 7-11.

Pros:  As the authors write about Tantoh in their note: “His story is a reminder of many things–being true to your passion, using resources wisely, and never forgetting your roots.”  It’s an inspirational tale about one person making a big difference for many others.

Cons:  This is not likely to be a book most kids will pick up without some adult guidance.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

I wrote a book!

Remember the book A Wonderful Year by Nick Bruel?  Me neither.  It was the first book I reviewed on this blog on February 20, 2015, and I don’t think I’ve looked at it since.

Three days later I posted a review for The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, a book I still book talk many times a year and count among my favorite books of all times.

That’s the way it goes with reading.  Some books are just more memorable than others.

So when I realized that I’ve published almost 1,400 reviews, I decided it was time to do some weeding.  In a week or so, I’m going to take down the reviews from 2015 and 2016.  In preparation for this,  I’ve gone through all the books I’ve written about and picked out the ones I feel have stood the test of time.

I’ve compiled them into a book called Hit the Books: The Best of Kids Book A Day, 2015-2018.  There are about 150 books included; each entry has the summary I wrote on my blog and why it was included on the list.  They’re divided into eight sections: picture books, early readers, early chapter books, middle grade fiction, graphic novels, poetry, biography, and nonfiction.

I also put together ten lists of “Read-Alikes” from the books I’ve reviewed on the blog.  So if you have a fan of Diary of A Wimpy Kid or Raina Telgemeier, you can get some ideas for other books they might want to try.

Let me know if you find this book helpful.  Who knows, I may put together a second edition in another year or two!

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

Her Fearless Run by Kim Chaffee, illustrated by Ellen Rooney

Published by Page Street Kids

Image result for her fearless run amazon

Summary:  Growing up in the 1950’s, Kathrine Switzer loved to run at a time when girls weren’t encouraged to pursue athletics.  At Lynchburg College, she was recruited for the men’s track team. When she transferred to Syracuse University, she was no longer allowed to compete, but she still worked out with the men.  Their coach had run the Boston Marathon many times, and Kathrine decided she wanted to try it. Registering as “K. V. Switzer”, she became the first officially registered woman to complete the race (Bobbi Gibb entered as a “bandit”, running the Boston Marathon in 1966).  When asked by reporters why she had done it, she replied simply, “I like to run. Women deserve to run too.” Includes an author’s note, a note about women and the Boston Marathon, and a bibliography. 40 pages; grades K-5.

Pros:  It’s a compelling sports story, and Kathrine comes across as down-to-earth and someone who young readers will relate to.  

Cons:  Bobbi Gibb is mentioned in the women and the Boston Marathon note as someone who completed the marathon “after hiding in the bushes and slipping into the race”, which discounts her achievement as somewhat sneaky.  This is misleading…read a more complete account of her story in last year’s Girl Running.

If you would like to read this book on Amazon, click here.

 

Daring Dozen: The Twelve Who Walked on the Moon by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Alan Marks, with an afterword by Alan Bean, fourth man on the moon

Published by Charlesbridge

Image result for daring dozen

Image result for daring dozen

Summary:  Everyone knows the names Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the first men to walk on the moon, but maybe not Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt, the last men to do so.  In between were eight more who traveled to the moon between 1969 and 1972. This book has a few pages about each of the Apollo missions, 8 through 17, the astronauts who traveled on them, and what they accomplished on each trip.  The back matter includes an afterword by astronaut Alan Bean; a timeline to the moon from 1958-1972; additional information about the space vehicles used; and a page on each mission with photos, facts, and a summary paragraph.  48 pages; grades K-5.

Pros:  A fascinating look at the men who were well-known in their time, but tend to be forgotten today.  The author reminds readers of the courage it took, and the danger that accompanied all the missions.  She ends the timeline with the present, stating that lunar missions are currently being planned, and that kids may some day walk on the moon.

Cons:  There’s not much background given on the Apollo missions; page 1 begins with Apollo 11’s lunar module approaching the moon.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

 

 

Gloria Takes a Stand: How Gloria Steinem Listened, Wrote, and Changed the World by Jessica M. Rinker, illustrated by Daria Peoples-Riley

Published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Image result for gloria takes a stand amazon

Image result for gloria takes a stand jessica rinker

Summary:  From the time she was a young girl, Gloria Steinem enjoyed learning more about the world around her.  After graduating from Smith College, she became a journalist, but grew frustrated when she was assigned articles about celebrities and scandals.  In 1971, she and Dorothy Pitman Hughes started Ms. magazine, the first magazine owned and written by women, that allowed her to write the kinds of articles she wanted.  She also became known as a speaker during a time that women were advocating for equal rights. Although girls today grow up in a much different world from the one Gloria experienced, she continues to work for equal rights for all.  Includes author’s and illustrator’s notes, a timeline of U.S. women’s history, and a bibliography. 48 pages; grades 2-5.

Pros:  An interesting look at a woman who has worked for equal rights for more than half a century.  The Ms. magazine covers on the endpapers are a fun way to see some of the other women who have been influential in this area.

Cons:  The text was somewhat rambling; I think the story could have been told in 32-40 pages.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

 

Smile: How Young Charlie Chaplin Taught the World to Laugh (And Cry) by Gary Golio, illustrated by Ed Young

Published by Candlewick

Image result for smile charlie chaplin ed young amazon

Image result for smile charlie chaplin ed young golio

Summary: Charlie Chaplin’s life is chronicled from his impoverished childhood in London up to his creation of his iconic Little Tramp character in the early days of his movie career.  In spare text, Golio tells how the young Charlie enjoyed his mother’s stories and sometimes earned a few pennies singing and dancing in the city streets. An illness forced his mother and her two young sons into the poorhouse.  When they got out, Charlie was able to help his family when he joined a theater troupe at the age of nine. His stage career continued into adulthood, when he was spotted by Hollywood filmmaker Mack Sennett. Charlie made a movie with Sennett…it was funny, but the director wanted something even funnier.  Rummaging through the prop room, the actor found baggy pants, a small topcoat, and a bowler hat, and the Little Tramp was born. Includes an afterword, additional facts about Chaplin, and resources for further information. 48 pages; grades 2-6.

Pros:  Caldecott Medalist Ed Young has created intriguing collage illustrations that complement the brief, poetic narrative of Charlie Chaplin’s life.  Readers will enjoy the flip animation of the Little Tramp that appears in the lower right corners of the pages.

Cons:  Kids may not know who Charlie Chaplin is.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.