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Sunday Book Review, on a quiet November morning

November 19th, 2023

Summer 2021 + throwbacks

(Baby me with Dad, 1964, family photo files)

Hello, kids and kittens, what’s up?

This week:

Alex Willan’s “Elves are the Worst!” is a comical and fun new picture book (Simon & Schuster, 2023, all ages, $18.99). Willan, the author and illustrator, brings us a unique twist on what the world of elves looks like. Wait, what’s Gilbert the Goblin doing here? And wait, again… because there’s a “worst” series? Yes! “Unicorns are the Worst!,” “Yetis are the Worst!” and “Dragons are the Worst!” Check them out.


Author Zoe Tokushige and illustrator Jennifer Naalchigar bring us the newest in the awesome and hilarious Airi Sano series: “Airi Sano Prankmaster General: Public Enemy Number One” (Philomel, 2023, ages 3rd grade and up, 273 pages, $14.99). I love this kid, she’s a lot of fun, and her friends and family are, too.

This one isn’t skedded for release until Feb. 27, 2024, but keep an eye out for “Hooray for She, He, Ze, and They!” (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2024, all ages, $18.99.) Learn about the importance and happiness of pronouns with writer Lindz Amer (they/them) and and illustrator Kip Alizadeh (they/them). Joyous and timely story, super-cool illustrations and an empowering message.

“Our Italian Christmas Eve” is a new picture book about food, family and love. Siblings Danielle Sedita and Francesco Sedita wrote the story, with plenty of love and care, and sweet art by Luciano Lozano. (Viking Books for Young Readers, 2023, all ages, $18.99.) (Includes a cheesecake recipe!)

So… bon appetit! And happy happy holidays. Love, peace, and Bobby Sherman!


Book review #1,247

November 14th, 2023
2022 Photo by Rawley; reprint with permission only, please) Yeah, I have no idea how many book reviews I’ve actually written. Is it a thousand? More? Less? I don’t always remember to tag them. But I’ve been at this awhile so there you have it. We’re in the hundreds now, I bet. Up this week: The “She Persisted” series is based on the picture book series by Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger. The latest book, written by Laurel Goodluck, with drawings by Gillian Flint, is about Congressperson Deb Haaland. (Philomel, 2023, ages 6 and up, 67 pages, $6.99.) Haaland is a member of the Laguna Pueblo Nation, one of the first Native women to be elected to Congress and also a military kid (dad was a Marine; mom was Navy). She is now President Biden’s Secretary of the Interior! OK, that’s all pretty cool. Check out the other books about Haaland, too, including “What Your Ribbon Skirt Means to Me.” Biographies are pretty great, and autobiographies, too. This series is well worth reading, and keep the picture books in mind, too. “Holy Night and Little Star: A Story for Christmas” is a gorgeous new picture book by author Mitali Perkins, with stunning illustrations by Khoa Lee (Waterbrook/Penguin Random House, 2023, all ages, 40 pages, $15.99). “He determines the number of the stars; He gives to all of them their names.” — Psalm 147:4 The story of the birth of Jesus is told from the star’s point of view. Awww… love it. Yes, I’m ready for holiday books. So moving right along we have… “Merry Christmas, Red Truck” is a new board book by Kersten Hamilton, with illustrations by Valeria Petrone (Viking/Penguin Random House, 2023, ages baby and up, $8.99). Sooooo cute. Only why is it always a female getting rescued and a male tow truck driver? A switch-up would have been nice, but this is a happy little book and mom gets home safe and sound. Two thumbs up. I am not trying to love germs, they kind of stress me out, but I do appreciate this new picture book by author-illustrator Bethany Barton. “I’m Trying to Love Germs” is a new release that will change the way you look at… everything. Yikes. (Viking/Penguin Random House, 2023, all ages, $18.99.) The writer describes herself as an “artist, author, illustrator, mommy, wife, and perpetual optimist.” Great description. She puts together very cool STEM books, and when she’s not doing that? She is a prop master (shows include “The Muppets Mayhem” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi”). Now that, my friends, is a well-rounded human being. Talk soon! WM

YA novels make me happy

November 12th, 2023
Winter 2021-2022

(Photo by Nancy Ellen Rawley; do not reprint without permission, thank you)

Good afternoon, my lovely readers. That photo is from a couple of years ago. Am I looking forward to the snow? Only if I get to stay home, ha. I’ve been reading grown-up books lately, what a treat! And I have some cool young adult books to delve into next. All would make great holiday gifts, I’m just saying.

On the nightstand this week:

“Walkin’ the Dog,” skedded for release March 12, 2024 (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, ages 8 and up, $17.99). This new novel from Chris Lynch, an author who lives in Boston and Scotland, is pretty fun and insightful, too. Louis has been homeschooled, and is not sure about what public high school will be like. He accidentally starts a dog-walking business, landing new canine and human friends along the way.

“Your Pal Fred: Low Power,” the sequel to “Your Pal Fred,” is another cool graphic novel from writer/illustrator Michael Rex (Viking, 2023, ages 7 and up, $22.99). Rex, a New Jersey guy, has written and/or illustrated more than 40 (forty!) children’s books, including the Fangbone series.

“Beneath the Swirling Sky,” presented by the Restorationists Series, is a cool read from Carolyn Leiloglou (Waterbrook & Multnomah, 2023, ages 8 and older). Vincent wants to be done with art, then he and his little sis, Lili, get stuck spending spring break with their uncle, who is an art conservator… of sorts… and his second-cousin. Lili disappears — into one of the paintings! — and things get crazy.

The Lia Park series continues with “Lia Park and the Heavenly Heirlooms,” by Jenna Yoon (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, 2023, ages 8 and up).┬áLia is now 12, and she and her best friend, Joon, are full-time students at International Magic Academy. Fans of the Harry Potter and Aru Shah series will love this one, and will have fun learning about Korean and Korean mythology. (I reviewed this earlier this year, too. Highly recommend.)

I geek out on authors — I think you already know this — especially when retired or former librarians and teachers take a dive into writing books for kids. Yeah, it makes me do the happy dance. Author Jessica Kim’s (“Stand up, Yumi Chung!”) bio says that before she became an author, she studied education at UC Berkeley. She taught 3rd, 4th and 5th grades in public schools. A woman after my own heart; those have always been my favorite grades to teach, too. “Make a Move, Sunny Park!” is her new novel and it’s a lot of fun.

Sunny, a 7th grader at Ranchito Mesa Middle School, loves K-pop, her granny, shrimp chips, and her BFF, Bailey. Sometimes things change. Thoughtful story about friendship and middle school life.

“The Bravest Warrior in Nefaria,” by Adi Alsaid, takes on loneliness, life and friendship (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, 2023, ages 8 and up). The cover art is beautiful, and the story sounds funny and intriguing. Alsaid’s other YA books include “North of Happy” and “Come on In: 15 Stories About Immigration and Finding Home.”

“Looking Up,” by Stephen Pastis (the creator of one of my favorite comic strips, “Pearls Before Swine”) introduces us to Saint, a girl growing up on the poor side of town, who takes on gentrification when the neighborhood toy store is threatened. (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, 2023, all ages, $13.99.)

Bon appetit!