My poor Pickle. He’s one of the only kids in his kindergarten class who has yet to lose a tooth. Some of his classmates have lost not one, but mouthfuls of teeth! In our house, though, we don’t even have a teeny-tiny wiggle. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Not gonna lie — it totally bums him out sometimes, and he’ll stand in front of the mirror to examine whether any of them are finally wiggly. Thank goodness for Josie’s Lost Tooth, an adorable and oh-so-authentic new book by Jennifer K. Mann! It couldn’t have come into our lives at a more perfect time.
In Josie’s Lost Tooth, Josie was always the kid in her grade to do everything first, but not anymore. Poor Josie is the only one who hasn’t lost a tooth. But, alas! One day, she feels a wiggly one! With every move she makes, she thinks it will be the move to knock that tooth right out. But nothing, absolutely nothing, works, until Josie plays sharks on the playground with Richard, and she trips and falls. And that trip? It does just the trick and knocks Josie’s tooth right out of her mouth. Her stumble does such a good job, in fact, that Josie can’t find her lost tooth anywhere! Whatever will she leave the tooth fairy now? Shark loving Richard comes to the rescue -- but I can’t tell you anymore without spoiling the story!
Having a kiddo in the exact same position as Josie while we read this book made us love Josie’s Lost Tooth and it’s authentic main character so very, very much. Why? Because Josie’s Lost Tooth is one of those special books that speaks directly to kids without being didactic or preachy. It made Pickle feel so understood, so much more OK with the fact that he still hasn’t hit the milestone that so many of his friends have, and because of this he just loved it. He was mesmerized! Even better? The way Richard helps Josie when she can’t find her tooth, coming up with an awesome and incredibly thoughtful alternative to Josie’s plight. Richard’s action is such a touching addition to the story. It is simple yet gracious, setting a powerful example that generosity will always move mountains and kindness will forever be cool. Josie’s Lost Tooth gets two trunks up from our team, both for helping little ones who struggle with feeling left behind, and for simultaneously showing them that kindness rocks!
Did you like this post? We are so glad! Check out these fantastic lists - we think you will love them too! Favorite Books About Friendship, Favorite Books About Love, and Favorite Books for Raising Kind Kids. You will also enjoy this grouping of books about doing good deeds!
Want the book? Get it here! Josie’s Lost Teeth, by Jennifer K. Mann. HEE received a review copy of this book from the publisher, but all opinions expressed herein are entirely our own.
If you are looking for a fabulous book for any child questioning his or her identity, an LGBQT story, or a thought-provoking read about one tween’s journey to understanding and finding herself, you must check out Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, by Ashley Herring Blake, stat.
My goodness, can these middle grade books get any better? Where were these phenomenal stories when I was a young girl? I remember when I was 12 years old, and my home in Miami was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew. It was a pivotal year in my life- I had just become a Bat Mitzvah, I was struggling to figure out if I would ever become a graceful teenager and not just a gawky teen, I longed to know if boys would ever look my way, and I wondered if my community would ever get put back together after suffering from total destruction. So many questions, so much angst— and so few stories to help me feel less alone and less confused.
Though my longings were not quite the same, I wish I’d had a book like Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World! Ivy Aberdeen’s angst hit all the right notes and resonated so very deeply. In this story, Ivy’s home is flattened by a tornado that rages through her town. All she manages to save is her pillow which contains her most precious possessions inside a thin case - fancy markers and a journal filled up with drawings, many of which contain illustrations of her and an unidentifiable girl. While staying in a school gym with other displaced persons after the storm, Ivy’s notebook goes missing. When her pictures start turning up in her locker, together with notes encouraging her to be true to herself and come clean with who she is at her core, Ivy begins to hope that the mysterious letters are coming from a girl on whom she has secretly developed a crush. Will Ivy let go of her fears and embrace who she is meant to be?
Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World will be a valuable window book for some and a mirror book for so many others. Ivy fears being unlike those around her- being shunned for wanting something so different than her friends and her big sister. After all, when Ivy’s sister and her best friend stop speaking and Ivy believes it’s because her sister’s friend has come out of the closet, Ivy fears her sister will totally disown her, too. Though the yearnings expressed in Ivy’s story may certainly be different for some tweens, the burning desire to understand who you are at your core, to not just accept those things that make us unique but love them too, is simply universal. We have all experienced, in unique ways and to varying degrees, the unsettling and anxiety-provoking fear that comes hand in hand with feeling so wholly different from those around us.
Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World gave me chills, and it is a book of incredible importance that has an especially significant place in every library, every classroom, and every child’s bookshelf. I am so grateful to the fabulous kidlit authors that continually place these notable books into children’s hands around the globe. There is nothing like a book to make you feel less alone and more understood.
What did you think about Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World? Let us know on our Facebook page, and make sure to follow us there! If you liked this post, make sure to check out our Favorite Middle Grade Books of 2018. We think you will also love these books about tweens discovering themselves: Front Desk, Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, and Brown Girl Dreaming.
Want the book? Get it here! Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, by Ashley Herring Blake. *This is an affiliate link.
If you have never read a story by Kate DiCamillo, prepare to get swept away by magic. If you are already a fan of Kate’s work, then prepare yourself for another mesmerizing character and another extraordinary story. From the second you open the first page of Louisiana’s Way Home, you are so clearly in the hands of a brilliant storyteller. DiCamillo simply plucks you off of the couch/bed/chair where you are curled up reading and drops you squarely in the middle of her world. That’s how vivid Louisiana’s Way Home is- that’s how magical each and every page.
Louisiana’s Way Home is a companion book to Raymie Nightingale. In it, we revisit one of the three girlfriends, Louisiana Elefante, of circus family fame. But our story begins not in Florida, and instead with Louisiana and her granny on the run - they have left Florida in the middle of the night and are driving straight up to Georgia, where they must stop when Granny suffers from a horrific tooth ache. And so it is that the pair winds up at a motel, and when Granny up and leaves again - this time without her granddaughter - Louisiana fears she is destined for only goodbyes. There is a curse on her head, after all. When Louisiana learns a painful secret, her past unravels before her eyes and she must decide what she wants — and who she wants to be.
“I want you to know something, Louisiana. We all, at some point, have to decide who we want to be in this world. It is a decision we make for ourselves. You are being forced to make this decision at an early age, but that does not mean that you cannot do it well and wisely.” Tears. Streaming down my cheeks. These characters, this voice. These decisions. Standing at a crossroads is tough- no matter the age. But when we reach this point, we have big choices to make. We have to decide if we want to forgive, and if so, how? We have to decide if we want to move forward, and if so, how? Most importantly, we have to strive to believe in love, compassion and generosity. Because without that steadfast belief, we may truly lose our way home. Louisiana’s Way Home is a beauty; perfectly paced, impeccably plotted, and the most compelling hero’s journey i’ve read in some time. I savored every word and every character, and I am already eagerly anticipating the third installment in this trio of books. TWO TRUNKS UP!
Want the book? Get it here! Louisiana’s Way Home, by Kate DiCamillo. *This is an affiliate link. HEE received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher, but all opinions contained herein are entirely our own.
A song. A harmony. A refrain. It's amazing how music can stir the soul, touch a heart, and keep us connected to loved ones both while they are living and long after they are gone. So it is in Rita Williams-Garcia's beautiful new novel, Clayton Byrd Goes Underground, a poignant story of love and loss, steeped in music, that details one boys struggle to cope with the sudden death of his beloved grandfather.
In Clayton Byrd Goes Underground, Clayton, a young musician, idolizes his grandfather, Cool Papa Byrd. Cool Papa is a true bluesman, but Clayton's mother doesn't approve of Cool Papa's music -- or his lifestyle. When Cool Papa suddenly dies, Clayton's grief is unbearable and is compounded by his mother's seeming indifference. Thus, he runs away one day, on a mission to find and join Cool Papa's fellow bluesmen. The result is an emotionally resonant journey, not to be missed, as Clayton learns not just about life, but himself too.
Williams-Garcia has created yet another noteworthy novel that has already been short-listed for the National Book Award. In Clayton Byrd Goes Underground, the author masterfully creates vivid scenes with sensory details so rich they transport the reader right into the pages of the settings she creates. The relationships between her characters are nuanced and real, highlighting the challenges that exist between some family members and the closeness shared between others. The book explores life & death, music, family, and even jealousy with such authenticity, resulting in middle grade literature at its finest. Two enthusiastic trunks up from our team.
Want the book? Get it here! Clayton Byrd Goes Underground, by Rita Williams-Garcia. *This is an affialite link.
What is life? Growth? And what do these concepts even mean? These are challenging questions for any child to answer- and even for some of us adults, too. Life, a new emotive beauty by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Brendan Wenzel, seeks to answer these questions. The result is a moving meditation celebrating life's many wonders, both big and small.
Life begins small. And it grows and grows. But as life grows, things begin to change. Change can be intimidating, even frightening at times, but Rylant's prose and Wenzel's illustrations remind us that change happens in the natural world, just as it happens to us. With change comes adversity, both for animals and humans alike, but even when challenge strikes, there will always be a path to lead you in a promising new direction.
Life resonated with me so very deeply, and my big one loved it too. It is another stunner, both for kids and adults alike, and it is a perfect book to read to children grappling with the notion of growing up. The sentiment is one to treasure, and I was struck by the simple way Rylant addresses how wondrous it can be to wake on a new day in the midst of our toughest challenges. Even when your world is changing-- even when it feels like the ground has been ripped from beneath your feet, "it is worth waking up in the morning to see what might happen." What a beauty -- and so very, very timely. Two trunks up!!
Want the book? Get it here! Life, by Cynthia Rylant. *This is an affiliate link. HEE received a review copy of this book; however, all opinions expressed herein are our own.
Looking for amazing books to share with your children and students about family diversity and alternative family structures? This is one of our very favorites, one that has a special place in our hearts and home. Check it out!Read More
*This post contains affiliate links.
I remember when my best friend moved away the summer before ninth grade. Her family only moved an hour north of Miami, but still. It felt like I had a black hole in my life, occupying everything she no longer did and resting on the couch next to me where she should have been lounging. It was hard enough to grapple with her absence from my daily life then, as a teenager. I can't even imagine how I would have handled this if I had been a much younger child.
I think this is one of the reasons I fell in love with Life Without Nico, by Andrea Maturana, with illustrations by Francisco Javier Olea. In this beautiful story, Maia and Nico are best friends who play together constantly, only to have their worlds shattered when Nico and his family have to move away for a couple of years. Maia is sad, lonely and bored, but eventually life moves on and she does the only thing she can-- she makes a new friend and even discovers a new hobby. Suddenly, though, it's time for Nico to come home. Does Maia still have a place for him in her life?
Life Without Nico tenderly explains the process of loss and recovery to young children, something that can be so challenging for parents and teachers alike to discuss. With a light touch - including an illustrative representation of a dark hole accompanying Maia in Nico's absence - Maturana and Olea make this tough concept both tangible and relatable. Even more, it allows kids to understand that with time, the devastating nature of loss begins to lose its initial sting. Life, after all, goes on. This book can serve as a starting point for numerous discussions (including loss, heartbreak, recovery), and it so beautifully illustrates the resilience of children. Remember that song from childhood, "make new friends, but keep the old-- one is silver and the other gold"? That is this book.
Want the book? Get it here! Life Without Nico, by Andrea Maturana
What is your favorite book for introducing a new baby into the family? This is probably the question I am asked most frequently, and, surprisingly, I never really had a great answer. There were books I really enjoyed on this topic, but there were never any I loved. The New Small Person, by Lauren Child, just changed that, and it will now be my go to book recommendation for any family expecting a second baby.
Being an only child, Elmore Green is accustomed to life as the center of his parents' world. But when the new small person arrives - stealing attention from their parents, licking Elmore's jelly beans, and knocking over Elmore's things- Elmore is less than thrilled. Elmore wishes this new small person could just go back to where he came from, and what follows is a pitch perfect story of Elmore's evolving relationship with this new baby.
I love the way Child so deftly handles Elmore's emotional transformation once his brother arrives. It's one many of us have seen-- watching first hand as our older child struggles to find his new place in the family, all the while grappling with feelings of jealousy, anger and even indifference before they become loving protectors of their new baby siblings. Elmore works through these emotions so organically and in such a relatable way, that even young kids will be able to identify with Elmore's challenges. And the pay off- the way in which Elmore's little brother comes to his rescue, which is the catalyst to Elmore's gradual acceptance of his baby brother- is so sweet and emotionally resonant without being saccharine. Child just nails the evolution of the sibling relationship - and I couldn't be more excited to have finally found the perfect book on this topic.
Want the book? Get it here! The New Small Person, by Lauren Child. *This is an affiliate link.