Review of Houses with a Story, by Seiji Yoshida

Houses with a Story

A Dragon’s Den, a Ghostly Mansion, a Library of Lost Books, and 30 More Amazing Places to Explore

by Seiji Yoshida
translated by Jan Mitsuko Cash

Amulet Books, 2023. Originally published in Japan in 2020. 124 pages.
Review written February 26, 2024, from a library book.
Starred Review
2024 Mildred L. Batchelder Award Winner

When this book came in to the library we had quite a discussion with the Cataloging department about where it should be shelved. The houses and buildings pictured are clearly imaginary — but they’re given serious treatment. Pictures and diagrams show how they’re built, with details pointed out on each spread. The book doesn’t tell a story, but it suggests a multiplicity of stories. Someone looking for a novel wouldn’t find it in this book, and in size and style it fits much better with nonfiction. And yet all the buildings are fictional. What to do?

And our head cataloger came to the rescue. It turns out there’s a specific call number — 720.22 — for the architecture of imaginary buildings. Perfect!

I had already dipped into it with delight, and then this book won the Mildred L. Batchelder Award, which is given to books originally published in another country in a language other than English. The award is given to the publisher to encourage them to find international gems like this one.

And the book is so much fun! Most of the imaginary buildings are presented along with their inhabitants, and you get hints of their stories and their lifestyles. On one side of each spread is an exterior view of the building in its landscape. The other side shows a cutaway interior view, with an introduction and arrows to details. There’s often a floor plan as well. Some of the places are “Mischievous Bridge Tower Keeper,” “World-Weary Astronomer’s Residence,” “Reserved Mechanic’s Cottage,” “An Eccentric Botanist’s Laboratory,” “Methodical Witch’s House,” and “Forgotten Orphan’s Castle.” Here’s the short introductory text for that last one:

This old castle has watched over the land through several centuries. Following the loss of its original inhabitants, a lord and lady, the castle was left abandoned and became the target of robbers. Rumor has it an orphan has recently taken up residence there. The lord and lady of the castle had a young child who died, so it is also said that the orphan is actually a ghost.

There are more notes at the back about each place, including where and when it’s intended to be, at least if it’s supposed to be in our world at all.

Check out this book and take some time to pore through it. This book can send your imagination flying. Here’s how the author puts it in his Foreword:

You may find houses that feel as though they’ve come straight from certain books you’ve read in the past, while other abodes may be so peculiar that you’ve never encountered anything like them before, even in your own imagination. The tale you weave for each house is entirely up to you, and nothing would give me greater pleasure than you finding yourself immersed in a wonderful story.

abramsbooks.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Nonfiction/houses_with_a_story.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of How Can I Help You? by Laura Sims

How Can I Help You?

by Laura Sims
read by Carlotta Brentan and Maggi-Meg Reed

Books on Tape, 2023. 7 hours, 38 minutes.
Review written January 26, 2024, from a library eaudiobook

I was completely delighted with the premise of this book — a psychopath gets a job as a circulation aide in a small-town public library. Margo used to be a nurse, but after a few too many unexpected deaths, she fled her most recent hospital and got a job at the nice, peaceful library.

And it’s all going well until their new reference librarian, Patricia, shows up. Patricia didn’t want to be a librarian — she wanted to be a writer. But her book wasn’t finding an agent and she packed it up and vowed to give up writing.

Those two lives begin to get entangled when a patron dies in the ladies’ restroom. Was she dead before Margo got there? Nobody questions that. But Patricia walked in on Margo doing something odd. And later she learns that Margo was once a nurse — and finds a story that gets her writing again. She swears she’s just making up her story….

Now, did I get some satisfaction about some annoying library patrons getting a comeuppance? I plead the fifth. The author did portray some common behaviors in library patrons that might well drive a psychopath to murder.

Some details about working in a library didn’t quite ring true for me, the most notable being that I don’t think the only reference librarian in a library, no matter how small, could get away with intense writing time with notebook and pen. It’s up there with folks who believe librarians get to read all day. (Wouldn’t it be nice if we could write a novel!) There also was no staff entrance and no desks in a staff room (Where did they keep their purses?) except the library branch manager who for some odd reason never worked on the public desk — not even before they hired the reference librarian. And there were more little things — but as for annoying patrons, they nailed it! And that is probably what was most important in this story.

Now, the plot did kind of go over the edge. But hey, she was a psychopathic killer, so the author wasn’t going for ordinary. And I must admit, I thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

This book isn’t so much a mystery as a thriller, set in a small-town library. I hope you won’t worry about me when I say listening to it was a lot of fun.

laurasims.net

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Fiction/how_can_i_help_you.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of 100 Mighty Dragons All Named Broccoli, by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Lian Cho

100 Mighty Dragons All Named Broccoli

written by David LaRochelle
illustrated by Lian Cho

Dial Books for Young Readers, 2023. 36 pages.
Review written January 29, 2024, from a library book
Starred Review
2024 Mathical Book Prize Honor Book, Grades K-2

This book has grown on me as I read it multiple times for the Mathical Book Prize. First, I didn’t like that you don’t see all 100 dragons on the first page. But then I noted they’re spread out over the title spread and the first page, and the 100 different dragons are each given a distinctive appearance, so you can follow each dragon for however long they last with the group through the rest of the book.

It’s not really a counting book… but come to think of it, early elementary kids don’t really need a counting book. They’re ready for slightly more sophisticated operations and number sense, and this book delivers, in a delightfully silly package.

Here’s how the book begins:

High on a mountain near a deep dark cave lived 100 mighty dragons.
They were all named Broccoli.

One blustery autumn day a tremendous wind blew half the dragons away.

This left. . .

50 mighty dragons, all named Broccoli.

10 dragons sailed away on a cruise ship and became professional surfers in Hawaii.

This left. . .

40 mighty dragons, all named Broccoli.

The oldest dragon and the youngest dragon took a train to New York City and started their own heavy metal band.

This left. . .

So, yes, it’s a counting down book, but it doesn’t change by the same number each time. You have to think a little bit if you want to follow along. Sometimes you have to observe. (“All the dragons wearing sunglasses flew to France.”) And just when kids think they have the pattern down — some dragons come back.

So this is a book that reinforces some basic math, but it’s not about math, it’s about these silly dragons and what they’ll do next.

And at the end, there are 100 new baby dragons — and they are not all named Broccoli. In fact, each baby dragon is pictured, with its name. It reminds me very much of Dr. Seuss’s silly story “Too Many Daves,” but there were just 23 Daves.

And although we’re giving this book a Mathical Book Prize Honor for Kindergarten through 2nd grade, preschoolers will enjoy it, too. They might not be able to do all the math yet, but being exposed to math never hurt anybody, and kids who love detailed illustrations will get hours of fun out of looking at the pictures of these mighty dragons. A whole lot of silly fun!

davidlarochelle.com
liancho.com
penguin.com/kids

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/100_mighty_dragons_all_named_broccoli.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of A Quantum Life, by Hakeem Oluseyi and Joshua Horwitz

A Quantum Life

(Adapted for Young Adults)

My Unlikely Journey from the Streets to the Stars

by Hakeem Oluseyi and Joshua Horwitz

Delacorte Press, 2023. 333 pages.
Review written January 14, 2024, from a library book
Starred Review
2024 Mathical Book Prize Winner, 9th-12th grades

I usually read nonfiction fairly slowly, a chapter at a time, interspersing with novels. I managed to start this book that way, but it didn’t last long. I took one break from it, but when I picked it up again, I couldn’t stop. The novels could wait.

This book tells the story of Hakeem Oluseyi, who began his life as James Plummer Jr., and who progressed to be a renowned astrophysicist. His road to get there was not easy. There were times reading this book when I was almost afraid to turn the page, and I’d have to remind myself that the book flap said he indeed became an astrophysicist.

Here’s how he describes his childhood in the Prologue:

As a bookish kid, I was an easy target in Watts, Houston’s Third Ward, and the Ninth Ward of New Orleans. My gangbanger older cousins taught me the rules of the street by the time I was six: who you could look at in the eyes and who you couldn’t, how to tell if the dude walking toward you was Crip or Blood, friend or foe. I developed a sixth sense, what I thought of as my “dark vision,” that let me see all the dirt in my hood: where a deal was going down and where the undercover heat was hiding. The scariest time was after sunset, when the predators came out in force.

I was intrigued by the wider universe, including the night sky. But I couldn’t see many stars from the streets where I grew up, what with the big-city lights and the smog. And for the sake of my own survival, I didn’t want to be caught staring off into space. Celestial navigation wasn’t going to help me find my way home without getting beat up or shaken down. By my early teens, I’d adopted a thug persona, walking and talking tough, carrying a gun for protection. But I never joined a gang, and no matter how hard I’d tried to straddle the gangsta-nerd divide, I was still mostly a science geek playacting a thug.

This was a Black kid with a very unstable housing situation growing up — changing schools frequently and not having reliable adults in his life. Yet this same kid taught himself quantum mechanics by reading the encyclopedia and had a prodigious memory and strong curiosity.

And here’s a spoiler that’s not really a spoiler: This kid from a drug-using family was the first in his family to graduate from high school and went on to get a PhD in Physics.

He had help along the way and got into some tight spots, but he did it. And that story is both riveting and inspiring.

I was happy to be part of the committee that gave the 2024 Mathical Book Prize for books for high school to this outstanding book.

GetUnderlined.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Teen_Nonfiction/quantum_life.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Elf Dog and Owl Head, by M. T. Anderson

Elf Dog & Owl Head

by M. T. Anderson
illustrated by Junyi Wu

Candlewick Press, 2023. 232 pages.
Review written February 21, 2024, from a library book.
Starred Review
2024 Newbery Honor Book

Oh, I loved this book so much! It reminded me of the Edward Eager magic-filled books I read and loved as a kid.

But this is a modern take on magic. Clay is stuck doing school at home because of a global pandemic. Everyone in his family is getting on each other’s nerves. But his house is next to the woods. He goes out walking in the woods, thinking how stupid it is to carry a Frisbee by himself, when he sees a white dog with strange red ears. The reader knows she is a dog from the hunting pack of the Kingdom Under the Mountain, who didn’t go back to her den under the mountain quickly enough. But Clay only knows that she enjoys catching the Frisbee.

Clay notices right away that something’s off about the dog. When she fetches, she seems to use some kind of teleporting magic. When she follows him home, the family puts out notices, but no one seems to be missing a white dog with red ears. She settles in and finds that she likes playing with the boy instead of working all the time, and she likes sleeping on his bed instead of in a den.

And so Clay’s magical adventures begin. It turns out that his elf dog can easily take paths between worlds and take Clay to magical places he’s never seen before — with some interesting magical consequences. He even makes a new friend from a village in a parallel world — a boy with an owl head.

Clay has two sisters — one older teen sister and one younger tag-along sister. Even his sisters get some adventures. In fact, I especially like the older sister DiRossi’s encounters with magic. When she meets a depressed giant, the author makes gentle fun of her teenage angst in a way I thought was hilarious while also being spot-on. But a scene later in the book gives even DiRossi a nice dose of magical wonder and joy.

So this is a book about magical adventures, playful and joyful. Sometimes things go wrong, and they have to fix them. And there’s quite a bit of danger at the end.

It’s also a book about family and friendship and the magical bond between a boy and his dog.

I love that the Newbery committee this year chose some books that are fully children’s books, not even “middle grade” books — though middle graders will enjoy it, too. But Clay’s concerns are a kid’s concerns, with none of that burgeoning middle grade awareness of the opposite sex. And it’s refreshing that these younger kids get such distinguished books, too.

I said that I hope the Newbery winner, The Eyes and the Impossible, will get read in classrooms across America. I wish that for this book, too. But what this book really made me think of was back in the day when my husband and I read books at bedtime to our two kids, who were six and a half years apart. We looked for books with a wide age range to appeal to them both — and this book makes me wish for those days again, because this kind of family story with magic would have exactly filled the bill.

Oh, and spoiler alert: It’s an award-winning book with a dog on the cover — Yet no animals die!

candlewick.com
mt-anderson.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/elf_dog_and_owl_head.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of A Promised Land, by Barack Obama

A Promised Land

by Barack Obama
read by the Author

Random House Audio, 2020. 29 hours, 10 minutes.
Review written January 20, 2024, from a library eaudiobook.
Starred Review

Okay, when I heard about this book, I preordered my own copy — and then, with one thing and another, I never did get the big fat book read. So finally, after finishing my Morris Award reading, I placed a hold on the eaudiobook version. I enjoy listening to Barack Obama speak anyway — the president who spoke in full, articulate sentences.

There isn’t anyone out there who doesn’t have an opinion of Barack Obama. If you already hate him, you won’t want to read this book anyway. If you’re a fan, let me encourage you that it’s well worth reading. Let me tell you about what you’ll find here.

Yes, it’s long. It covers from his start in Illinois politics to the point in his first term as president when the Seal Team killed Osama bin Laden. Yes, he goes into great detail — but a lot of that is to give attention to the many people who helped along the way. He gives the stories of probably hundreds of other people he met along the way who influenced his thinking or whose stories touched his heart, as well as the stories and qualifications of many people who worked with him — from the butler at the White House to his chief of staff. He appreciates the people around him and gives them credit for all the ways they helped.

Some ways I appreciate Barack Obama anew after reading this book:

He doesn’t blame others for his mistakes. That was an attitude he tried to build into his White House from the start. He gives others credit for good things, but doesn’t blame others for bad things. Yes, he talks about many situations where he had to give up some things he wanted in order to get bills passed. But he took responsibility for the decisions he made.

He genuinely wants to help people have better lives. I got the same impression from reading Elizabeth Warren’s book and Katie Porter’s book. It’s not something you can fake when you write a whole book. That was exactly why it hurt him to have to compromise to get some bills passed, but ultimately, he wanted to bring some people some help instead of bringing nobody perfect help. It struck me that Ronald Reagan did the whole country a disservice when he mocked the line “I’m from the government; I’m here to help.” Because if government isn’t here to help people, then what is government for? Obama talks about how as a community organizer, he talked with people who were struggling after a factory shut down, or people who weren’t able to pay for the healthcare that would save their lives. And he went into politics because he wanted to be able to do something about the systemic problems that caused that.

He doesn’t take human life lightly. He regularly attended soldiers’ remains being returned. He visited soldiers in the hospital. He agonized over choices as president of whether to send more troops and what steps to take — all because of the price of human lives.

He listened to people. He had his office send him a selection of letters every week. He’d answer them. Some he’d visit. And he can still tell some of those stories today.

I was also reminded just how bad the recession was that Geroge W. Bush left him with. And all the work he did to mitigate its effects. And the worry about H1N1 and how he believes working to protect the nation from that helped them when ebola threatened.
Also, how Obamacare almost didn’t get passed and how glad I am that pre-existing conditions are now covered. He knew the bill as it ended up wasn’t perfect – may we continue to improve it! – but it is so much better than what was in place before.

Okay, there’s lots in this book — 29 hours of it! If the things I like about Obama sound like criticism of his successor — well, yes, the contrast is big and I’m still sad about some of the things that got reversed, but glad for another person of integrity in the White House now. May we elect people who seek to make lives better for the many, and not just to get power for themselves. This book is an eye-opening look at the astonishing amount of work that goes into being president of the United States.

barackobama.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/promised_land.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of The Q, by Amy Tintera

The Q

by Amy Tintera

Crown, 2022. 343 pages.
Review written February 9, 2024, from a library book
Starred Review
2023 Cybils Finalist, Young Adult Speculative Fiction

The premise of this book set in the not-too-distant future is that the entire city of Austin, Texas, was quarantined for a deadly virus with a 40 percent mortality rate. Eventually, they built a wall around the Q to keep people from escaping. Twenty years later, there is still no vaccine because the virus mutates too quickly and antibodies don’t help, though people inside have developed artificial organs that are keeping everyone alive. The Q seceded from the United States and is ruled inside by two rival gangs, each with their own territory.

Into this scenario, Lennon Pierce falls from the sky.

It’s election year, and Lennon is the son of one of the candidates for U.S. President. His Dad has been speaking up for the Q, trying to come up with helpful solutions, while the incumbent president is talking about nuking the whole thing, including the people inside. So someone kidnaps Lennon, takes him up in a helicopter, and drops him into the Q with a parachute.

Lennon lands in the south, in Lopez territory, and unfortunately, the only exit from the Q lies in the north, in Spencer territory. Fortunately, folks in the south have developed a temporary vaccine for the virus, and they give Lennon a shot of it right away. The US government knows about the vaccine and tells Lennon he can leave if he gets out within 72 hours.

Unfortunately, Lennon arrives just in time for an attempted takeover and a power vacuum in the south. A much-needed shipment of supplies is being held up by the north, so Maisie Rojas, teen daughter of the former Lopez enforcer, decides to go with Lennon to the north. She’ll get him to the gate, and he’ll help her recover the shipment. Unfortunately, the new would-be-leader of the Lopez clan would rather just fight — and hold Lennon as a hostage. Not to mention that folks in the north aren’t exactly open to letting people walk through their territory.

What follows is a heart-racing adventure. This was a book that was hard to put down. When I almost had it finished while waiting at the doctor’s office, I absolutely had to take the book to work and finish on my lunch break. Yes, there’s plenty of violence, in a place that has a wild West vibe. There’s also a nuanced romance — though of course if all goes according to plan, they’ll never see each other again after Lennon escapes from the Q.

Now, mind you, I don’t actually believe the book’s premise is possible. In the age of jet travel, I find it hard to believe that you could ever confine a virus to one city. Somebody would have left the city long before they figured out the virus existed and exactly who had been exposed. But that’s just background, and once I glossed over my disbelief in that, I was completely invested in the situation Lennon and Maisie faced.

Based on the Acknowledgments at the back, the author started this book before the Covid-19 pandemic and never thought it would get published once that pandemic hit. I think reading it today does make the setting more believable — at least that the government would try such a solution, even if I don’t think it would actually work.

Some favorite moments: Finding out why Lennon got arrested three times in the past. Maisie learning to trust in her own abilities as a leader.

I read this book because it’s a Cybils Finalist for Young Adult Speculative Fiction. And I’m happy to say that the panel did a great job picking this book. Read it for a thrill ride that’s also full of sweet moments.

amytintera.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Teens/q.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of A Journey Under the Sea, by Craig Foster and Ross Frylinck

A Journey Under the Sea

by Craig Foster and Ross Frylinck

Clarion Books, 2022. 52 pages.
Review written March 9, 2023, from a library book
Starred Review

The stars of this picture book are the large-format undersea photographs. Every spread is filled with color and light and undersea life.

All the pictures are taken off the coast of South Africa, and the story is a loose one of what you might find if you go for a dive. We see some animals good at camouflage, like an octopus and cuttlefish, as well as some predators like a cow shark and some pyjama sharks.

This isn’t really a book full of facts for doing reports (though there are plenty of facts). It’s a book to leaf through and wonder at. The enormous pictures will make you feel like you know what it’s like to be at the bottom of the sea in the kelp forest.

harpercollinschildrens.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Nonfiction/journey_under_the_sea.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi, by Shannon Chakraborty

The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi

by Shannon Chakraborty
read by Lameece Issaq and Amin El Gamal

HarperAudio, 2023. 17 hours.
Review written 2/4/24 from a library eaudiobook.
Starred Review

Oh, I enjoyed this book so much! First, I have to say that it was refreshing to read a book written for adults where the protagonist is fully an adult. Amina Al-Sirafi is a retired pirate captain, but now she lives in a remote location with her mother and her 10-year-old daughter.

But then a rich old lady tracks Amina down and blackmails her into finding the lady’s granddaughter who was kidnapped by a Frank (the Muslim world’s name for Christians in medieval times). Amina suspects it wasn’t exactly a kidnapping, but when she learns the teenage girl is the daughter of her former crewman who died in bad circumstances, Amina feels she should take the job for his sake.

This means rounding up her ship and her crew. And that alone requires swashbuckling adventure, as the man she left her ship with has gotten into a bit of trouble. When Amina realizes magical forces are involved, she tries to back out of the deal, but her daughter’s very life is at stake from the blackmailing schemer.

The rest of the book includes dramatic adventures on the Indian Ocean, with both natural and supernatural dangers. You can see from the cover this includes a sea monster. There are dark magical forces at work, and it turns out that Amina needs to save not only the girl but the world as well. On her team, she has a wonderfully varied crew, each with prodigious skills, and her latest husband even shows up with his own set of magical talents.

Recently a couple of my friends started reading Fourth Wing, and both told me it felt like a Young Adult novel. Both times I answered that they must not have gotten to the sex part yet. With that book, the sexy parts felt like the main reason it was marketed as a book for adults. So I appreciated that in this book, the adventurer herself is a middle-aged (well, maybe 40s) mom. Yes, there’s some mind-blowing sex, but she respects her faith and only has married sex — and she closes the door on the reader when it happens, leaving the details to our imaginations.

The book is steeped in history I’d known nothing about, told from the perspective of a faithful Muslim with a checkered past. The adventures get bigger and more magical as the story goes on. Great fun.

sachakraborty.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Fiction/adventures_of_amina_al_sirafi.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Eclipse, by Andy Rash

Eclipse

by Andy Rash

Scholastic Press, 2023. 36 pages.
Review written January 30, 2024, from a library book
Starred Review

There’s still time! If you can get hold of this picture book before the April 8, 2024, total solar eclipse, do it! But be warned: Your child may want to go on a trip to see it.

If you are already planning a trip to see the total solar eclipse, or if you are lucky enough to live in the zone of totality, this book is the perfect way to introduce the ideas to your child and explain what it’s all about. Even if you’ll only see a partial eclipse, this story will help make things clear.

This picture book is a fictional story about a boy and his dad going to see the total solar eclipse of 2017, based on the author’s own trip with his son. In the book, the boy does the planning — figuring out where to go camping to see the eclipse, getting eclipse glasses, and the wonder and joy of experiencing the eclipse. It talks about the crickets chirping and the crescent-shaped shadows before and after totality. It even mentions the traffic on the way home.

There are maps on the endpapers. The one in front shows the path of totality for the 2017 eclipse, and then the back shows paths for many upcoming eclipses. But it looks like if you miss the 2024 eclipse, the next ones in the continental U.S. are in the 2040s. Still, the book talks about how they made memories with this trip, so it still works as a book about a special father-son outing.

For a child-friendly explanation of what an eclipse is all about, heavy on the experience, light on the science, this book is perfect.

scholastic.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/eclipse.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?