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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Storytime: New & Notable Picture Books (41)

This week's Storytime features aerial ABCs, a town's new bridge, the invention of a new alphabet, a curious young scientist, and the inspiring Jane Goodall!

ABC: The Alphabet from the Sky
By Benedikt GroB & Joey Lee
Ages 3-5, Available Now

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Geographer and designer duo Benedikt Gross and Joey Lee have taken the alphabet to new heights—literally! Using satellite imagery and computer technology, the pair has discovered "accidental letters" all over the world: in roads, rivers, buildings, lakes, and more. Take a journey around the Earth in 26 letters with this special book.

From a young age, seeing the world from above has never ceased to fascinate me. Maybe it was the fact that my family never flew or that everything looked so very different - and orderly! - from above. This ABC book invites kids to search bird's-eye images of cities and towns across the United States, searching for buildings, roads, and bodies of water that are shaped like letters of the alphabet. A fun introduction to the alphabet and technology; it'd be fun to look up Google Earth pictures of familiar places after reading!

From ABC: The Alphabet from the Sky. Penguin, 2016.

Tinyville Town Gets to Work!
Written & Illustrated by Brian Biggs
Ages 3-5, Available Now

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Tinyville Town is a growing, thriving city full of interesting people. The townsfolk can’t wait to show readers around!

In Tinyville Town Gets to Work!, we see the evolution of a construction project to solve a problem. When there is a traffic jam on the Tinyville Town bridge, the residents decide to work together to build a new one. By following the hard work of the engineers and construction workers, readers will get to meet many different people in the town while watching the exciting new bridge take shape. The large picture book format and Biggs’s bright art brilliantly show the bridge, which was extensively researched to make it authentic for readers.

Every town has a bridge, and a trip over Tinyville’s new one will be fun for kids time and time again.

The new Tinyville Town series feels a lot like a Richard Scarry for a new generation (though, Scarry's books are still, from what I can tell, well-loved). In this first hardcover picture book, which released simultaneously with two board books, each about a different community helper profession, the mayor of Tinyville must enlist the help of an engineer and city planner to provide a new, safer bridge for the town. I appreciated the diversity of the characters and roles represented in this first Tinyville Town book.

From Tinyville Town Gets to Work! Abrams, 2016.

Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille
Written by Jen Bryant; Illustrated by Boris Kulikov
Ages 6-8, Available Now

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An inspiring picture-book biography of Louis Braille—a blind boy so determined to read that he invented his own alphabet.

Louis Braille was just five years old when he lost his sight. He was a clever boy, determined to live like everyone else, and what he wanted more than anything was to be able to read.

Even at the school for the blind in Paris, there were no books for him.

And so he invented his own alphabet—a whole new system for writing that could be read by touch. A system so ingenious that it is still used by the blind community today.

Having been completely ignorant to the story of Louis Braille before reading this picture book, I must say that his story is remarkable. The amount of persistence it must have taken from someone so young to defy expectations and remain determined with so little support is truly inspiring. Kulikov's illustrations are beautifully done; I especially enjoyed his take on how Braille experienced the world once his vision was lost.

From Six Dots. Knopf, 2016.

Ada Twist, Scientist
Written by Andrea Beaty; Illustrated by David Roberts
Ages 5-7, Available Now


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Like her classmates, builder Iggy and inventor Rosie, scientist Ada, a character of color, has a boundless imagination and has always been hopelessly curious. Why are there pointy things stuck to a rose? Why are there hairs growing inside your nose? When her house fills with a horrific, toe-curling smell, Ada knows it’s up to her to find the source. What would you do with a problem like this? Not afraid of failure, Ada embarks on a fact-finding mission and conducts scientific experiments, all in the name of discovery. But, this time, her experiments lead to even more stink and get her into trouble!

Ada Twist is such a smart, curious, determined character - I adore her! A scientist from the start, Ada is constantly wondering about and questioning the world around her. Who? What? Why? Where? When? Her sense of wonder is infectious. A fantastic addition to Beaty & Roberts' growing series. 
From Ada Twist, Scientist. Abrams, 2016.

I Am Jane Goodall
Written by Brad Meltzer; Illustrated by Chris Eliopoulos
Ages 5-8, Available Now

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We can all be heroes. That’s the inspiring message of this New York Times bestselling picture book biography series from historian and author Brad Meltzer. Learn all about Jane Goodall, the chimpanzee scientist.
Each picture book in this series is a biography of a significant historical figure, told in a simple, conversational, vivacious way, and always focusing on a character trait that makes the person a role model for kids. The heroes are depicted as children throughout, telling their life stories in first-person present tense, which keeps the books playful and accessible to young children. And each book ends with a line of encouragement, a direct quote, photos, a timeline, and a source list. This tenth book in the series features Jane Goodall, the scientist and conservationist who is famous for her work with chimpanzees.

I think this is my favorite in the Ordinary People Change the World series (so far!). A beautiful reminder of the power of passion and persistence. I love that Goodall pursued her goals, never backing down from the challenges she faced, including gender prejudice and lack of support for her methods. Also, it is seriously awesome that, because she could not travel to Africa without a female companion, her mother accompanied her!

From I Am Jane Goodall. Penguin, 2016.


Love any of the books featured this week? Let me know in the comments!


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