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Michelle's Reviews

The Chicken House by Doreen Cronin

Hardboiled dog detective J.J. and his chicken companions are back, this time in a leveled reader that provides an enticing gateway to the more complex J.J. Tully Mysteries and Chicken Squad chapter books that we have loved for years. One-part whodunnit, one-part Goldilocks, this simple story is propelled by Gilpin’s expressive illustrations, Cronin’s clever word choices, and Sugar’s skills as the bespectacled chicken ringleader. Where’d those chickens go this time? Cuddle up with this book and find out. —Michelle

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The Chicken House: Ready-to-Read Level 2 (The Chicken Squad) Cover Image
By Doreen Cronin, Stephen Gilpin (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781534487055
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon Spotlight - August 31st, 2021

Tomatoes for Neela Written by Padma Lakshmi

Distinguished chef and activist Padma Lakshmi celebrates the joy of sharing recipes through the generations, while also quietly detailing the tomato’s journey from its origin in the Andes Mountains. Once again, the gorgeous paint and pencil illustrations of award-winning Juana Martinez-Neal breathe life into the story, turning cooking and canning day into a dance in the kitchen. This lovely picture book arrives at the peak of tomato season, just in time to try the endnote recipe “Paati’s Tomato Sauce” with your own multigenerational family. —Michelle


Tomatoes for Neela Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593202708
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking Books for Young Readers - August 31st, 2021

This Is Ruby Written by Sara O’Leary Illustrated by Alea Marley

Ruby likes an awful lot of things, and that’s the delight of this book. We are the fortunate ones; we hear her ruminations as she goes back and forth in time to imagine dinosaurs and her parents’ first meet-up, and we see the crazy antics the future may hold. For this second outing, This Is Sadie author Sara O’Leary has teamed up with illustrator Alea Markey, who shows us wildly colorful glimpses of Barbados, her childhood home. Meet Ruby! — Michelle

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This Is Ruby Cover Image
By Sara O'Leary, Alea Marley (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780735263611
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tundra Books - May 25th, 2021

Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations, Book 1) by B. B. Alston

The mysterious delivery of a suitcase triggered to open at midnight launches our hero Amari into Junior Agent try-outs at the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, and us readers into an intricate all-new magical system. The racism and classism faced by Amari in middle school have parallels in this fantastical world created by #ownvoices debut author B. B. Alston, but Amari has been training for these challenges her whole life. Quick, read this first book in a new trilogy! —Michelle

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Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062975164
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Balzer + Bray - January 19th, 2021

Zonia’s Rain Forest by Juana Martinez-Neal

The opening line “Zonia lives with those she loves in the rain forest” whispers a simple definition of family and home that permeates this story. During her morning check-ins with the animals, Zonia discovers a clearcut patch. Zonia not only springs into action but implores us all to take responsibility for safeguarding this precious land. Martinez-Neal’s deeply textured paintings on banana-bark paper beckon us, and endnotes introduce us to the Asháninka people, the largest indigenous group in the Peruvian Amazon. —Michelle

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Zonia's Rain Forest Cover Image
ISBN: 9781536208450
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Candlewick - March 30th, 2021

Skunk and Badger, Book 1 Written by Amy Timberlake Illustrated by Jon Klassen

Badger’s Important Rock Work must take a backseat when Skunk knocks on the door of his brownstone. Yet Skunk is much more than an unwelcome distraction, and by morning has served up the first of many antidotes to Badger’s solitary grumpiness. Odd-couple stories! It’s so easy to identify with the traits of one while yearning to be more like the other. Klassen’s earthy illustrations supply the details in this frolicking tale to read aloud or together, with more adventures promised. — Michelle

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Skunk and Badger (Skunk and Badger 1) Cover Image
By Amy Timberlake, Jon Klassen (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781643750057
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Algonquin Young Readers - September 15th, 2020

Swashby and the Sea Written by Beth Ferry Illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

Retired Captain Swashby lives quietly by the sea with his trusty boat El Recluso for company. That is, until a bright-eyed girl and her granny arrive with a bucketful of beach fun. Swashby knows in his bones that “the sea provide[s] exactly the right thing at exactly the right time” and that’s just how this tale unfolds, one “fiddled-with” gift after another. Sink into the velvety, ocean-colored pastels but don’t be lulled into thinking you already know this story!

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Swashby and the Sea Cover Image
By Beth Ferry, Juana Martinez-Neal (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780544707375
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Clarion Books - May 5th, 2020

What About Worms!? (Elephant & Piggie Like Reading!) by Ryan T. Higgins and Mo Willems

What in the world could be worse than worms? Worrying about worms! When is the worry worthwhile? Any time it’s wrapped up in a new addition to the Elephant & Piggie canon. Fans of Mo Willems’s original early reader series will get a big kick out of Tiger and his wormy escapades along with the delightful wordplay from Elephant & Piggie themselves in the opening and closing pages.

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What About Worms!? (Elephant & Piggie Like Reading!) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781368045735
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hyperion Books for Children - May 19th, 2020

King & Kayla and the Case of the Unhappy Neighbor Written by Dori Hillestad Butler Illustrated by Nancy Meyers

Amateur detectives King (a big friendly dog) and Kayla (his girl) are back, serving up clue after clue as they get to the root of a recent neighborhood mystery. Kayla and her friend Jillian make keen observations, carry out experiments, and analyze data, but they’re always a paw-step behind our intrepid narrator King and his dog buddies. For fans of Nate the Great and Cam Jansen, this early chapter book gives a delightful taste of both kid and dog reasoning.

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King & Kayla and the Case of the Unhappy Neighbor Cover Image
ISBN: 9781682630563
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Peachtree Publishing Company - March 1st, 2020

Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk

From the author of Wolf Hollow and Beyond the Bright Sea comes a fresh take on an old story: one family’s struggle to survive during the Great Depression. Through young Ellie’s eyes, we see both the hardship and the great freedoms that her family’s move to Echo Mountain presents. Ellie’s resilience, cleverness, and profound honesty keep us rooting for her from beginning to end. This novel made me believe that I was running up and down the mountain alongside her.

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Echo Mountain Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525555568
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Dutton Books for Young Readers - April 21st, 2020


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