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Come along with SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE, words by R.E.M., illustrated by Paul Hoppe & Shinyeon Moon (Picturebook review)

book cover of Shiny Happy People; song lyrics by R.E.M.; illustrations by Paul Hoppe with Shinyeon Moon. Published by LyricPop / Akashic Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A journey, a reunion!

At the train station crowded with animals, a young fox spots his rabbit friend:
“Meet me in the crowd, people, people. Throw your love around, love me, love me”

Biking back to Rabbit’s house, the pair are “Shiny happy people laughing” under blue skies until angry Dad Rabbit points at the “no foxes allowed” sign, and the illustrations grow red and chaotic, even as the lyrics call “Everyone around, love them, love them”…

Fox has brought a gift that Rabbit’s brother likes and the parents try to ignore: “Put it in your heart where tomorrow shines”

When Dad Rabbit yells at him for trying to please them, here come some carnivores to defend Fox – oh no!

But the youngsters take control of the conflict: “WHOA! HERE WE GO!” and calm down both groups.

The lyrics “Shiny happy people holding hands, shiny happy people laughing” repeat for several pages as the grownups begin enjoying their time together, following Fox and Rabbit’s lead.

This well-loved R.E.M. song (with its Tiananmen Square uprising connection) is elevated by the storyline of friendship, acceptance, and joy through illustrations by Paul Hoppe and Shinyeon Moon.

Sing along with this new addition to LyricPop’s story-song picture books, just published on 22 November 2022.

What song should LyricPop turn into a picture book next?
**kmm

Book info: Shiny Happy People / song lyrics by R.E.M.; illustrations by Paul Hoppe with Shinyeon Moon. LyricPop / Akashic Books, 2022. [lyrics info] [artist Paul] [artist Shinyeon] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Always leave THE FIRST BLADE OF SWEETGRASS, Grandmother says, by Suzanne Greenlaw, Gabriel Frey, Nancy Baker (Picturebook review)

book cover of The First Blade of Sweetgrass: a Native American Story / Suzanne Greenlaw & Gabriel Frey; illustrated by Nancy Baker.  Published by Tilbury House Publishers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Musquon’s first trip to the salt marsh with Grandmother to gather sweetgrass!

But in an ocean of grasses, how will the young girl know which kind to pick?

Grandmother patiently shows her the emerald green grass with a purple bottom and reminds Musquon that her ancestors are here with them, where so many have carefully picked sweetgrass for basketmaking and spiritual medicine.

Musquon breathes the salty air, remembering that Grandmother learned as a small girl in this same marsh to pass over the first blade of sweetgrass she finds: “If we never pick the first blade, we will never pick the last one.”

Soon she will learn how to braid sweetgrass and help Grandmother make baskets as the Wakenabi people have done for countless generations.

The authors note the cultural significance of sweetgrass for First Nations’ peoples in their home state of Maine and beyond, as well as a glossary of Passamaquoddy-Maliseet words used in the story including Musquon (“blue sky”) who shares a name with one of their daughters. Watch an interview with the authors here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7weayTgxwgk

What gifts of the natural world are important to you?

**kmm

Book info: The First Blade of Sweetgrass: a Native American Story / Suzanne Greenlaw & Gabriel Frey; illustrated by Nancy Baker. Tilbury House Publishers, 2021. [author & illustrator interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

H = he’s been HORNSWOGGLED! A Wacky Words Whodunit, by Josh Crute & Jenn Harney (Picture book review) #A2Z

book cover of Hornswoggled! A Wacky Words Whodunit, by Josh Crute; illustrated by Jenn Harney. Published by Page Street Kids | recommended on BooksYALove.com

One morning, Deer wakes up and realizes that something isn’t right.

Looking into the mirror, he discovers that he’s been hornswoggled!

He runs out to tell his friends about it, but at every stop, the thief has gotten there first.

The bison has been buffaloed, and the rooster cries “Poppycock” as they discover that their favorite things have been swiped!

So much robbery! So many strange words! Luckily, a helpful armadillo tells readers what the wacky words mean as the animal friends try to solve the mystery.

Grow your expressive vocabulary with this “wacky words whodunit” as you enjoy the many clever details of its lively illustrations. Ask for Hornswoggled at your local library or independent bookstore today!

What’s your favorite unusual exclamation?
**kmm

Book info: Hornswoggled! A Wacky Words Whodunit / Josh Crute; illustrated by Jenn Harney. Page Street Kids, 2021. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Climb aboard the DREAM WEAVER train! by Gary Wright & Rob Sayegh Jr. (Picture book review)

book cover of Dream Weaver - words by Gary Wright, art by Rob Sayegh Jr. Published by Akashic Books / Lyricpop | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Bad day?
Boring day?
Dream it away!

A young Black boy is crying as he sleeps. Even his toy lion looks so sad.

But here comes the dream weaver train to take away his worries – all aboard!

“Oo-hoo Dream Weaver
I believe you can get me through the night”

The toy lion drives the train through sky and forest and outer space as the boy looks back at his bad day and looks forward to future fun.

“Oo-hoo Dream Weaver
I believe we can reach the morning light”

Grown-ups may sing out the Gary Wright hit song as they turn the pages, and young bookworms will enjoy the catchy repeated chorus and vivid collage-style illustrations by the artist of Let the Good Times Roll (recommended here).

Another fun book from LyricPop, an imprint that matches well-known song lyrics with fresh new art to produce picture books that everyone will love (whether you know the song or not)!

What books or songs do you turn to at the end of a bad day?
**kmm

Book info: Dream Weaver / words by Gary Wright, art by Rob Sayegh Jr. Akashic Books / Lyricpop, 2021 [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

This summer could be the best ever for THE ISLANDERS! by Mary Alice Monroe & Angela May (MG book review)

Book cover of The Islanders, by Mary Alice Monroe & Angela May. Published by Aladdin/ Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

No videogames or wi-fi?
Driving a golf cart! Or a boat?!
Maybe summer will be okay…

As a military kid, twelve-year-old Jake knows that staying with his grandma Honey will help Mom as she’s at the Army hospital with Dad, but having no internet or cellphone (don’t ask) will be terrible.

Luckily, two kids his age are on Dewees Island for the summer: Macon, a facts-spouting Black guy from Atlanta, whose mom is on bed rest waiting for her baby to arrive, and nature-fanatic Lovie, who drives her own boat over from Isle of Palms every day to stay with her aunt.

Honey doesn’t seem herself after Jake’s granddad died a while ago, and her house on stilts needs lots of care. Dad grew up here, roaming these woods and beaches, learning to drive a boat, leaving his nature journal and favorite books in the loft bedroom where Jake is staying.

Doing chores for Honey still leaves Jake plenty of time to explore the South Carolina coastal island with Lovie and Macon. Lots of lessons too – driving the golf cart, learning his way around a boat, recognizing loggerhead turtle tracks, avoiding alligators.

An incident gets the three friends assigned to Dawn Patrol, checking the beaches early, early every morning for new turtle nests that the licensed specialists verify and encircle with warning tape.

Jake sketches in his own nature journal, writes illustrated letters to Dad, and listens to the worries that Lovie and Macon confide.

Can Jake earn his boating license before summer ends?
How can they keep predators away from the turtle nests?
How fast can Dad recover from the IED explosion?

Sometimes the island seems like paradise, other times it’s not. For these three friends, this will be a summer to remember! First in a new series, followed by Search for Treasure in June 2022.

What’s your favorite summer-with-friends memory?
**kmm

Book info: The Islanders (Islanders, book 1) / Mary Alice Monroe & Angela May. Aladdin/ Simon & Schuster, 2021. [author site] [co-author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

A GLASSHOUSE OF STARS, safe or mysterious? by Shirley Marr (MG book review)

A long journey,
an empty house,
so many changes to face!

The trip from their small rural island to the New Land was planned by Uncle, but he died before they reached his huge city.

Now Meixing has her very own room on the second floor of the tall Big Scary house with all its windows like eyes looking out and a top floor with no stairway up – did its round window wink at her again?

Oh, she does meet Uncle in the greenhouse hidden in the overgrown backyard – how? There he helps the girl plant seeds that sprout as she watches, shows her the wonderful orange trees that he wrote about when he invited her family to live with him, ignores the pink snake behind him…

Ba Ba seeks any kind of work, driving their rattletrap car on traffic-filled streets, as Ma Ma prepares for the new baby to arrive, both hampered by their limited English,.

A kindly neighbor who speaks a different home language brings baby clothes and a uniform for the school that Meixing will attend with her grumpy son Kevin who gets in trouble for not doing his homework.

Meixing has trouble understanding everyone, so she’s glad when they get special English reading and writing classes with Ms. Jardine.

A classmate steals Meixing’s ring – whose story will be believed?
An accident leaves Meixing and Ma Ma alone in the too-big house – what now?
Visiting relatives say this house is haunted – maybe its ghosts are friendly?

The greenhouse and Big Scary begin to share their secrets with Meixing in this magical realism for middle grades, based on the author’s childhood immigration to Australia, written in second-person voice.

What place has spoken to you and revealed its secrets?
**kmm

Book info: A Glasshouse of Stars / Shirley Marr. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

It’s Mardi Gras! Let’s go TO CARNIVAL: a Celebration in Saint Lucia! by Baptiste Paul & Jana Glatt (Picture Book review)

book cover of To Carnival: a Celebration in Saint Lucia! by Baptiste Paul; art by Jana Glatt. Published by Barefoot Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The music, the parade, the food – little Melba loves so much about Carnival that she can hardly sleep the night before!

Oh, no! How could her family leave for the morning parade without her?

As she hurries to the bus stop, the young girl meets a steel pan drummer heading to town, too. Oh, there goes the bus!

When they stop to help her friend Kelwin get his kite down from a tree, the bus passes them by again…

Hurrying to town, the group grows as birds and animals of Saint Lucia join them.

Will they get there in time to see the parade?

The author’s childhood memories of this Caribbean island come alive with vibrant images by the Brazilian illustrator. This title is also available in Spanish and French!

Find Creole word pronunciations and meanings at the end of the book, as well as more about Carnival – celebrated in many nations leading up to Mardi Gras (that’s today!) and other times as locally chosen.

What costume would you wear to join in the Carnival parade?
**kmm

Book info: To Carnival: a Celebration in Saint Lucia! / Baptiste Paul; art by Jana Glatt. Barefoot Books, 2021. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

CARRY ME HOME, family comes first, always! by Janet Fox (MG book review)

book cover of Carry Me Home, by Janet Fox. Published by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Living in their car,
keeping sister safe –
staying strong… how long?

Lulu likes this small Montana town with its library and food bank and laundromat. The twelve year old and little sister Serena go to school, and Dad has found work. But no one knows they’re living in their car or that Mama died back in Texas.

Thankful for the coats given out as cold weather comes in, Lulu stays quiet at school even though snooty Deana’s friends make fun of her out of style clothes. Lively classmate Jack gives Lulu his milk at lunch every day and asks her to try out for the school musical. Serena learns to fold origami paper cranes, just like in the book that Lulu’s class read.

One morning, Dad leaves before the girls wake up and doesn’t come home that night, or the next…

Serena and Lulu can’t tell anyone, or Social Services will separate them, like they tried to when Aunt Ruth got tired of keeping the girls when Daddy left after Mama died – but he came back then, so he’ll come back now, right?

Daddy’s wallet in the car has enough money for a week’s RV park rent and a bit more – what will they do when that runs out?

Lulu auditions for the musical – what if rehearsals run longer than Serena’s afterschool care hours?

Early fall snow means Lulu can’t cook outside – how will they stay warm all night in the car without eating a hot dinner?

As she folds paper cranes to grant her wish that Daddy will come back soon, Lulu does her best to keep up with what she and Serena need to get by… alone.

What services for homeless families does your town have?
**kmm

Book Info: Carry Me Home / Janet Fox. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Yes, let the GOOD TIMES ROLL! words by Ric Ocasek, art by Rob Sayegh Jr. (Picture Book review)

book cover of Good Times Roll / lyrics by Ric Ocasek; illustrated by Rob Sayegh Jr. Published by Akashic Books/ LyricPop | recommended on BooksYALove.com

One small gray cat,
one big ball of red yarn,
music sends them dancing!

“Let the good times roll.
Let them knock you around.”

The Cars’ famous rock and roll anthem sends cat and yarn racing across and around and over the pages.

“Let the stories be told.
Let them say what they want.”

The unraveling red yarn creates costumes and landscapes as the gray cat meets an orange cat, and they frolic through the song and its memorable chorus.

“Let the good times roll!”

Perfect for reading along as you and your favorite picture book fan listen to the recorded song, fun to read together even if you don’t know the song (yet) .

Another immensely enjoyable addition to the LyricPop series of medium-format picture books that mesh well-known song lyrics with innovative illustration styles.

Yes, picture books are everybody books!

What song would you like to see transformed into a book?
**kmm

Book info: Good Times Roll / lyrics by Ric Ocasek; illustrated by Rob Sayegh Jr. Akashic Books/ LyricPop, 2021. [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Parents fighting, STUNTBOY, IN THE MEANTIME tries to cope, by Jason Reynolds, art by Raul the Third (MG book review)

book cover of Stuntboy, In the Meantime, by  Jason Reynolds; drawings by Raul the Third. Published by Atheneum BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Bully stops him after school,
Mom and Dad splitting up,
it’s giving him the Frets!!

Portico loves living in his city apartment building where the Black fen year old knows everyone, with GranGran just down the hall and their cat called A New Name Every Day.

He loves watching Super Space Warriors on TV with best friend Zola and can’t stand trash-talking mean kid Herbert who picks on them every day after school.

His Frets get worse when his folks start arguing about who gets what when they move (Mom up 1 floor, Dad down 1) that they shoo Portico out “in the mean time” to do something with Zola.

She helps Portico get over those anxiety Frets by meditating, so he chooses to be the superhero of his own life – Stuntboy in the MeanTime!

His superpower is keeping other superheroes safe so they can save the world, using special moves like Plaster Blaster, Truck Wheel, and Untied Glide; he practices by helping his neighbors (except Herbert).

Will Mom and Dad ever stop fighting about stuff?
Why does Herbert try to spoil everything?
What would the Super Space Warriors do?

Don’t miss this epic illustrated collaboration by the author of many books for teens and tweens including Look Both Ways (my recommendation here) and the illustrator of Lowriders in Space (recommended here).

When have family troubles made you feel pulled in two directions?
**kmm

Book info: Stuntboy, In the Meantime / Jason Reynolds; drawings by Raul the Third; color by Elaine Bay. Caitlyn Dlouhy/ Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.