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Melissa by Alex Gino, 195 pp, RL 4

  M e l i s s a by Alex Gino Purchased from Barnes & Noble In September of 2015, I reviewed Gino's debut book. A groundbreaking novel about a transgender child, the book went on to win the 2016 Stonewall Book Award in the newly created Children's category. Now, almost seven years later, Gino and their book prove groundbreaking again as the author and publisher officially change the title. In July of 2021, Gino shared a post on their blog, writing, "I made a mistake when I named my first published middle grade novel. A big mistake. I used a name for my main character that she doesn't like for herself (i.e. George, the title of the book) instead of her actual name. My main character's name is Melissa, and I apologize to her, to the larger trans community, and to all of my readers for the error. I'm sorry." Sharing the many factors that influenced the original title choice, Gino goes on to tell readers that they officially have Gino's permission to c

Aaron Slater, Illustrator by Andrea Beaty & David Roberts

  Aaron Slater, Illustrator  by Andrea Beaty & David Roberts Review Copy from Abrams Kids With Aaron Slater, Illustrator , Beaty and Roberts add a fifth (and possibly my favorite...) title to their incredible series of picture books featuring protagonists who overcome challenges as they pursue their passions. Beaty, with her unparalleled gift for writing in verse, and Roberts, with his talent for bringing colors, patterns, and cultural references to the page (as well as endearing characters), have partnered to create a world built on a foundation of creativity, curiosity, empathy, compassion and perseverance.  It is amazing to think that, in those first illustrations of Miss Lila Greer's class, as seen in Iggy Peck, Architect , published fourteen years ago, all of  The Questioneers  are there, waiting for their stories to be told. And, what is especially impressive and worth noting each and every time I review a book in this series (that now consists of picture, project and cha

The Longest Letsgoboy by Derick Wilder, illustrated by Cátia Chien

The Longest Letsgoboy  by Derick Wilder , illustrated by Cátia Chien review copy from Chronicle Books   As with my review of Shaw Harris' Have You Ever Seen a Flower , I have to begin this review by telling you that Chien expertly employs a neon tangerine color in her illustrations that is a vital aspect of the emotional tone of The Longest Letsgoboy  and it just does not translate in the images seen here. Next, I have to confess that this was a pretty hard book for me to read and review because the longest letsgoboy is imminent for my beloved canine. A stray I lured in from the street with a pack of hot dogs ten years ago, my big, black bear of a dog has slowed down considerably, but he always manages to haul himself up from his bed when he hears, "Let's go boy!" Wilder tells this story from the cheerful perspective of a dog heading out on his final walk through the woods with his girl. His language is musical and descriptive, as the dog has his own names for the thi

Waffles and Pancakes: Planetary-Yum (A CatStronauts Kitten Adventure) by Drew Brockington, 64 pp, RL 2

  Waffles and Pancakes: Planetary-Yum  A CatStronauts Kitten Adventure  by Drew Brockington Review Copy Drew Brockington launched his fantastic CatStronauts series in 2017, and in 2018 I reviewed the first four books in the series, which were hugely popular with kids at the elementary school where I was the librarian. Brockington's hilarious graphic novels stand out for the portrayal of space travel, the preparation that goes into a launch from Earth into orbit and even a bit of NASA history. To all this, Brockington adds sassy (and hungry) cats and fantastic cat puns administered in just the right doses. This first Kitten Adventure travels back in time to features everyone's favorite, Waffles, along with sister Pancake, in their youth. As with  CatStronauts , Brockington's blend of science and humor, along with a dash of smart safety protocols for kittens (and kids) pairs perfectly with his chunky illustrations style and exaggerated, exuberant and humorous expressions on

Mel the Chosen by Rachele Aragno, translated by Carla Roncalli Di Montorio, interior design and lettering by Patrick Crotty, 208 pp, RL 3

Mel the Chosen by   Rachele Aragno translated by Carla Roncalli Di Montorio interior design and lettering by Patrick Crotty  Review Copy from RHGraphic Mel the Chosen is a visual delight for all lovers of the fantastical and the magical. Immersed in Aragno's luminous watercolor world populated with curious characters, felt like I was wandering through Wonderland by way of Roald Dahl, with a dash of the fantastic world building of artist, author (and personal favorite) Chris Riddell . Aragno's graphic novel creates a world that is easy to fall into, if not always easy to navigate, with the illustrations carrying the weight of the story telling. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, it is easy to get swept away in the world of Here&Now and the many paths to wander within. When Mel hears her parents talking about having to move yet again, she is more than frustrated. Fed up with adults continually making decisions that upend her life, she doesn't think twice when she s

Book Buddies 1: Ivy Lost and Found by Cynthia Lord, illustrations by Stephanie Graegin, 68 pp, RL 2

  Book Buddies 1: Ivy Lost and Found   by Cynthia Lord illustrations by Stephanie Graegin Review Copy from Candlewick Press Book Buddies hits a sweet spot for me - both the kid reader I was and the adult who wants to put great books into the hands of young readers. As a kid, I loved reading books that had dolls as characters. As an adult, I love books that offer moments of social-emotional learning for young readers and this book has both. AND it has stellar illustrations by Graegin! The series title refers to all the dolls and stuffed animals librarian Annie has added to her library for readers to check out. Along with Lilyanna, a doll in princess garb, a stuffed owl, a black bear, a flying squirrel, a mother chicken and her chick and a tiny mouse in an acorn cap (a Christmas ornament named Marco Polo, who is the star of the next book in this series!) As Ivy Lost and Found begins, readers learn that Ivy was a gift to Anne when she was a girl. Newly rediscovered, Ivy has been retriev