Ruth Objects: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Eric Velasquez

Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

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Summary:  Part of the Big Words series, this biography of Ruth Bader Ginsburg traces her life from her childhood in Brooklyn, New York to her present career as a Supreme Court justice.  From the days when her beloved mother (who died two days before Ruth’s high school graduation) encouraged her to learn and to think for herself to her arguments for gender equality on behalf of women and men, Ruth’s path has prepared her for her role as beloved Supreme Court justice.  Each page has at least one quote from Ginsburg to accompany the text and large, full-color illustrations.  Includes a timeline, author’s and illustrator’s notes, and a bibliography. 48 pages; grades K-5.

Pros:  Another beautiful picture book biography of Ruth Bader Ginsburg to put on the shelf next to I Dissent by Debbie Levy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of RBG vs. Inequality by Jonah Winter (which I could have sworn I reviewed, but apparently didn’t).  The quotes and illustrations make all the books in this series excellent resources.

Cons:  It would be nice to see some picture books about the other two women on the Supreme Court.  Sonia Sotomayor has written her own, but there’s very little for kids on Elena Kagan.

Happy birthday to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who turns 87 today!  Long may you reign.

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Three Billy Goats Buenos by Susan Middleton Elya, illustrated by Miguel Ordóñez

Published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

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Image result for three billy goats buenos

Summary:  The familiar story of the three billy goats gruff is told in rhyming text with a few dozen Spanish words incorporated into the story.  A glossary of the Spanish words appears at the beginning of the book so readers can refer back to it. The story is simple, but includes a twist when the biggest goat discovers the troll has a thorn stuck in her toe.  His sympathy brings a few tears to the troll’s eyes, and the goats work together to remove the thorn and apply some soothing herbs. There’s a happy ending for all four of the new amigos.  32 pages; ages 3-8.

Pros:  Susan Middleton Elya has produced another winning retelling of a familiar folktale that incorporates Spanish words and culture.  The rhyming text and simple, geometrical illustrations will make this an appealing choice for even the youngest readers.

Cons:  I didn’t care for the illustrations as much Juana Martinez-Neal’s in La Princesa and the Pea.

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Mother Jones and Her Army of Children by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

Published by Schwartz & Wade

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Summary:  Mother Jones tells her story, beginning with some of the things that have made her mad: conditions for coal miners in West Virginia, factory workers getting shot at for protesting for fair pay, and young children working ten-hour days in Philadelphia factories.  It was these last that inspired her to set out with 100 children on July 7, 1903, determined to march from Philadelphia to New York City, and then on to Theodore Roosevelt’s “fancy-schmancy” Long Island summer home to speak with the president himself. They traveled 100 miles in the hot summer sun, demonstrating in towns as they went.  By the time they reached New York, many of the kids had given up and gone home, but 37 of them marched in a torchlight parade up Fourth Avenue. After a trip to Coney Island, Mother Jones sent most of the children home, approaching the Roosevelt mansion with just three of the boys and two other men. They were turned away at the gate, but the Children’s Crusade had shone a spotlight on child labor, and laws began to change.  Includes an author’s note, four photos, and a bibliography. 40 pages; grades 2-5.

Pros:  An inspiring story that will show kids the power of some unlikely people:  a 66-year-old woman and 100 poor children taken from factories. The text does a masterful job of using Mother Jones’s voice and incorporating many of her quotes into the story.  The author’s note gives full credit to Mother Jones for being instrumental in changing labor laws for both children and adults.

Cons:  Theodore Roosevelt certainly doesn’t come off too well in this story.

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Run, Sea Turtle, Run: A Hatchling’s Journey by Stephen R. Swinburne, photographs by Guillaume Feuillet

Published by Millbrook Press

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Image result for run sea turtle run swinburne

Summary:  A leatherback sea turtle tells of her journey from the time she hatches out of an egg until she reaches the water.  Close-up photos show the turtle and her siblings as they emerge from their nest and race for the water. A Google search tells me that only one in 1,000 baby turtles make it to the sea, but happily we are spared seeing what happens to this turtle’s brothers and sisters.  The last page shows a fully grown leatherback emerging from the waves: “Someday I will come back to this same beach. I will lay eggs of my own.” Includes a page of information on the sea turtle life cycle; how you can help sea turtles; a link to a YouTube video of Stephen Swinburne singing a song about sea turtles (which didn’t work, but I found it by searching on YouTube); and books and websites for additional research.  32 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  Preschoolers will love the photos of turtles and enjoy learning about them from the simple text.  The extra material at the end would make this a good research resource for primary grades.

Cons:  This book is only available with a library binding, which costs $27.99 on Amazon and $21.99 on Follett. 

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Alice Across America: The Story of the First Women’s Cross-Country Road Trip by Sarah Glenn Marsh, illustrations by Gilbert Ford

Published by Henry Holt and Co.

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Summary:  Alice Ramsay fell in love with driving the minute she slid behind the wheel of her first car.  She enjoyed it so much that she entered a two-day endurance run to test her driving skills. After the first day, a publicist for carmaker Maxwell-Briscoe asked Alice if she’d be interested in driving from New York to California to show the public that their cars were so safe and well built that even a woman could drive one across the country.  Alice agreed, inviting three friends along. Two months and 4,000 miles later the four women pulled into San Francisco, having endured muddy roads, flat tires, potholes, and a bedbug-infested hotel. Alice lived to be 96 years old, enjoying driving and the distinction of being the first woman to drive across America. Includes additional information on Alice and the history of cars; several photos; a map on the endpapers showing the route; and a selected bibliography.  48 pages; grades 1-5.

Pros:  A fun and informative story of cars, cross-country driving and four adventurous women.  The back matter would make this a great choice for research.

Cons:  It would have been nice to incorporate the map into the illustrations more rather than having to refer to the endpapers.

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Old Rock (Is Not Boring) by Deb Pilutti

Published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

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Image result for old rock is not boring amazon

Summary:  Tall Pine, Spotted Beetle, and Hummingbird all think Old Rock must be bored, sitting in the same spot day after day.  But Old Rock has been around, and he has a lot more interesting stories to tell than his friends could have guessed. For instance, Hummingbird is not the only one who has flown.  When Old Rock erupted out of a volcano, he soared through the air into the world. He’s also seen dinosaurs, traveled in a glacier, and somersaulted down a mountain. Now he enjoys spending his days in the field, visited by his friends, who conclude that it’s a nice spot and that Old Rock is definitely not boring.  Includes a timeline of Old Rock’s adventures, going back 18 billion years. 40 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  A delightful story that can be appreciated on many levels: geological history, intergenerational sharing, or simply enjoying the present moment.  

Cons:  Tall Pine hardly seems in a position to give Old Rock a hard time about staying in the same spot all the time.

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Agent Lion by David Soman and Jacky Davis

Published by HarperCollins

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Summary:  Agent Lion is at home “working”, when he gets a call from Ms. Chief from Headquarters.  Ms Flamingo’s cat is missing, and it’s up to Agent Lion to find him. The agent is on the case, traveling “the absolutely most direct route”, shown as a circuitous path through town that takes two hours.  When he finally arrives, he looks in the most likely hiding places, like the living room, bathroom, and refrigerator (well, he was actually looking for jelly donuts in the refrigerator). His witness interrogation results in Ms. Flamingo firing him, but she invites him to have a cup of tea before he leaves.  While she is in the kitchen, Agent Lion sits on the couch feeling terrible. He rearranges some of the pillows on the couch, only to have one purr at him. Agent Lion has solved the case! Jelly donuts all around! 40 pages; ages 4-8.  

Pros:  The creators of Ladybug Girl have come up with a new character that is sure to tickle kids’ funny bones.  It’s also a good introduction to mysteries, introducing vocabulary like detective, clues, and witnesses.

Cons:  The cat looks dead when he’s lying on Agent Lion’s lap.

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