Book Review Tuesday

Lots of great books this week! Read the book reviews below, and learn more about my favorite reads:

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Above the Rim: How Elgin Baylor Changed Basketball by Jen Bryant (biography)
Gr. 2-4. Learn about the life of the extraordinary Elgin Baylor, an incredible and innovative basketball player that helped shape the NBA and combatted racism with a one-man protest after not being permitted to stay in any hotels or eat in any restaurants in the segregated south.

Wow, this was a particularly stellar picture book biography! Great artwork and a well-framed story with high appeal.


Fair and Square by Heather Ayris Burnell (reader)
Gr. 1-2. Another excellent Unicorn and Yeti beginning reader. I can’t get enough of these–the vocabulary and simple sentence structure are on point, the illustrations are adorable, and the stories even teach simple concepts. This title focuses on shapes, being creative in your own way, and different ways to think about fair and equal.

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Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez (teen)
Gr. 8+. Camila doesn’t just love fútbol–she is good at playing. Not just good, incredible. On the field, she is La Furia, destined to leave Argentina and play on an international team. But in Argentina, women are not expected to play sports. A few years ago it would have been illegal for her to play at all. Now, she plays in secret, tiptoeing around her abusive, short-tempered father. But when Camila has a chance to play in a game where her ability could catch the eye of a coach, she needs her parents’ permission. How can she make her dream happen?

This one was a little too long for me. I liked the moments of action. Surprisingly to me, this included the futbol games. But most everything in between practices and games felt like it drug on. While Camila’s story at home felt like a strong arc, her romance with Diego felt a bit predictable, down to the end result. I see a definite audience for this strong, feminist story, but I don’t think I am it. I will still be recommending this, but I may not be personally looking for a sequel.

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If You’re Scary and You Know It! by Carole Gerber (board book)
Toddler-PreS. A “spooky” version of the song If You’re Happy and You Know It. The illustrations are cute and appropriate, with the only reference to Halloween in the last spread’s Trick or Treat–which could be skipped if this was to be adapted for a holiday-less storytime.

The author does a great job reimagining the tune, though I wish the lyrics were as repetitious as the original song. Generally, kids seem to like to sing along to books like these, and that simply isn’t the structure here. While the verses keep to the beat and tune, almost every line in each lyric is different. The first and last lines of each verse do end with clear actions, good for an energetic crowd.

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Never Touch a Snake! by Rosie Greening (board book)
Baby-Toddler. Always a fan of these sensory board books. This book’s internal story showcases animals as circus performers (clown, acrobat, etc.). Not my favorite, but the sensory elements and bright illustrations still work well for the intended age.

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Raven Squawk, Orca Squeak by Roy Henry Vickers (board book)
Baby-Toddler. A gorgeous board book with lightly textured illustrations by Indigenous artist Roy Henry Vickers. Rhythmic text emphasizes the sounds found on the West Coast of Canada: thunder booming, big waves crashing, paddles swooshing, ravens squawking, orcas squeaking, and more. Add this one to your board book collection.


Slime for Dinner by Geronimo Stilton and Tom Angleberger (graphic novel)
Gr. 2-4. Lots of laughs and bad puns as Geronimo Stilton’s adventures continue in the Tom Angleberger graphic novel adaptation. Geronimo and friends are invited to a mystery dinner at Cacklefur Castle, competing to win a special trip. Geronimo doesn’t want to go to the dinner, and he really doesn’t want to win, but Thea pulls him into the spooky (and slimy!) fun, especially when the fake-mystery turns into a quest for a family heirloom that was really stolen.

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A Thousand White Butterflies by Jessica Betancourt-Perez (picture book)
Gr. K-1. Isabella, her Mama, and her Abuelita just moved from Colombia to the United States. Her Papa, and all her friends, are back home. Isabella is nervous but a little excited for her first day at her new school–when her very first day is cancelled due to too much snow.

A sweet first-day-of-school story filled with lots of emotions and an adorable start to a new friendship. Plenty of Spanish words interspersed throughout with a glossary in the back. A great addition to your library collection.

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Wheels by Sally Sutton (picture book)
Toddler-PreS. “Wheels go fast. Wheels go slow. Shout what’s coming if you know!” Read a hint and use the pictures to guess what vehicle is coming next.

Oh that was fun! A definite storytime read, though this is sorely lacking in diverse characters. Some words don’t entirely align with words most commonly used in the U.S. — words like “motorbike” for motorcycle. The repetition will make this a winner in a toddler or preschool program though!

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