From KIRKUS Dedicated to the notion that there is always something more awesome to attempt. A kid lets their mind wander to its natural limits. If, for example, “trains are cool,” and if “watching a train is very cool,” and if “riding on a train is even cooler,” then “conducting a train through the mountains” must be “CHUGGA CHUGGA AWESOME!” This pattern is replicated with a wide variety of other heavy-duty machines. Operating an excavator? “DIG INTO AWESOME!” Piloting a plane? “PREPARE FOR AWESOME!” The child, who has pale skin, like parents and sibling, and straight, dark hair, imagines operating subway trains, monster trucks, boats, and rockets. (Background characters are racially diverse; the woman-of-color co-pilot is a nice touch.) Finally the kid looks out the window of a camper. “Campers are cool. Wait! Are campers cool?” They sure are, and this is one family adventure the kid can actually take outside of the imagination. Detlefsen’s text delights in drilling into just how much fun each of the activities featured could be. Meanwhile, the colorful, cartoon artwork meticulously works to render every “awesome” encounter in its natural, amazing extreme. From the blinding array of instruments in the cockpit of an airplane to the sight of tiny cars being crushed beneath monster wheels, there’s a jolt of adrenaline cooked into every page. The transportation-obsessed have found a new tale to pore over. Hyperbole taken to the utmost thanks to the bottomless well of transportation enthusiasm.
From PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY Detlefsen (Catkwondo) and Neubecker (Little Smokey) fuel their transportation picture book by going full throttle on that ultimate kid fantasy: “What if I were behind the wheel?” Standing on a subway platform, a child acknowledges that watching people is “fairly fascinating” and that riding the train is “definitely fascinating.” But “operating the subway far below the bustle of the big city”? “Stand clear for awesome!” More good-better-best vignettes follow, each culminating in an appropriately over-the-top superlative: captaining an ocean liner is “Aye Aye Awesome!” while driving a monster truck is “Crushingly Awesome!” But lest readers come away thinking dreamy life is the ne plus ultra, the book ends with the kid realizing that being a passenger on a family cross-country camper trip is pretty great, too. The text’s playful formula and outdoor-voice decibel level makes it a readaloud natural, but it’s Neubecker’s gift for portraying incredibly detailed situations, chock-full of visual humor, that will render this book awesome for vehicle enthusiasts.
From SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL VERDICT A pleasant additional purchase to expand collections on this perennially popular topic.
Hana, Dul, Set... CATKWONDO!
From KIRKUS A kitten claws her way to success in catkwondo.
“Observe the new student. She is eager. She is energetic.” She is also a gray, green-eyed kitten excited to break boards. Her sabeomnim, an elderly orange cat, gently guides her to take “One step at a time. In taekwondo, you must prepare both body and mind.” Despite the kitty’s excited first kicks and punches, she is unbalanced and lands on her bum with a “kerplunk!” Perfection does not come right away. Through practice at both the dojo and home, the kitten’s skills grow as she learns the patterns of movement and techniques. Her fellow furry felines of all stripes and colors also aid her in her journey, eventually helping her earn a yellow belt and pounce on her initial goal of breaking a board in half. Korean and taekwondo terms are seamlessly incorporated in the narrative, which is followed by a glossary. The terse sentences are often punctuated with bright onomatopoeia in display type, accompanied by action-packed images. Hunting draws each cat with an oversized round head and huge, circular eyes against a backdrop of bright, contrasting colors, giving the book an energetic tone. In addition to the comic portrayal of cats, the plot lays bare the tenacity and hard work required to achieve a goal. A lighthearted introduction to the Korean martial art—this lively kitty entertains. (glossary) (Picture book 4-7)
Everyone into the pool for 1, 2, 3, JUMP!
From THE BULLETIN OF THE CENTER FOR CHILDREN'S BOOKS In this cheerful guide, an unseen narrator uses direct address to help the young protagonist through her first swim lesson. There is, of course, the suit (but not the gray three-piece with the top hat); then the cap (but not the jaunty baseball cap with the brim); and finally, goggles. Now, into the water. Well, maybe not yet—even after being assured that she will not freeze into a kidsicle and that there are no sea creatures, alligators, or sharks in sight, our girl just isn’t ready. The promise of flippers, however, finally gets her to take the leap, much to the enthusiastic cheers of her fellow pool-goers. Valentine’s buoyant illustrations deftly capture the playful milieu of the pool, from the sweet old ladies doing water aerobics to the excited kiddos jumping in with abandon, and the girl’s imaginings are made real in the art, with alligators, sea monsters, and mermaids all making an appearance. Dappled shades of teal and sky blue give the water both depth and movement while more solid pops of color can be found in swim caps, toys, and bathing suits; the girl’s trepidation is evident as oversized goggles magnify her already wide-eyed expression, and her triumphant plunge will surely garner cheers from viewers. Pair this with Cornwall’s Jabari Jumps (BCCB 5/17) for an encouraging primer before kiddos head off to make their big splash.
From KIRKUS Playful encouragement for new swimmers. A splash!
From SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL VERDICT A great way to encourage children to both explore the world around them and incorporate new activities into their daily lives. Dive right in.
RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE is the 2019 American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture Book of the Year and the Ag in the Classroom Book of the Year for several states, including Lisl's home state of Wisconsin!
From KIRKUS In this farm-themed picture book, children learn the sources of the foods they eat. Framed around children’s mealtimes, this cheery picture book by Detlefsen (If You Had a Jetpack, 2018, etc.) and from the publishing arm of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture pays tribute to farmers and farming. Illustrated with idyllic scenes of farmers at work and a diverse mix of children, the book begins with a little girl about to eat her pancake breakfast. The stories of farmers, her mother tells her, are “right here on your table,” and “Right this very minute,” farmers are in orchards testing juice oranges for ripeness, readying a field for planting wheat, and collecting maple sap for syrup.
An age-appropriate informational picture book offering a sunny celebration of farming.
Reviews are soaring for IF YOU HAD A JETPACK!
From KIRKUS A whimsical story that challenges readers to dream, create, and share their fun with everyone.
From SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL In addition to fostering a sense of curiosity and invention, this book encourages a spirit of kindness, as many of the protagonist's imaginary adventures involve him helping others. VERDICT An energetic, crowd-pleasing read-aloud that can be revisited again and again.
From THE BULLETIN OF THE CENTER FOR CHILDREN'S BOOKS Graduates of the Numeroff books and Loomis’ Astro Bunnies (BCCB 2/01) can swoop right on to this slightly more frenetic adventure.
From BOOKLIST This vivid picture book will leave kids longing for jetpacks, while taking off on their own flights of fancy.
Check out what reviewers have to say about TIME FOR CRANBERRIES:
From KIRKUS The author, who lives on a marsh, calls this a love letter to the cranberry-growing community, but it is also an enlightening, joyful celebration of a little-explored agricultural endeavor.
From SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL VERDICT A charming depiction of a small family business that helps children understand the origins of their food.
From BOOKLIST A fine choice for young children who wonder how their food gets from farm to table. From HORN BOOK From the flooding of the cranberry marshes to the booming, corralling, suctioning, cleaning, and delivering, details of the harvest throughout are educational and informative.
From PUBLISHERS WEEKLY Debut author Detlefsen (who lives on a Wisconsin cranberry marsh herself) vividly details each step, introducing terminology like "booming"... and "corralling," which involves putting on waders and gathering the berries "into one big bunch called the pot." (When Sam slips, his father assures him, "I always say you're not a cranberry grower until you fall in.")