Staff Picks Grades K-2

November 2018

How to Code a Sandcastle
by Josh Funk

On the last day of summer vacation, a girl named Pearl programs a robot (Pascal) to help her build sand castles. Her robot breaks down the full task building the sand castle into small problems: finding a place to build via specific instructions, gathering sand via a sequence (and more efficiently with a loop), and decorating the castle via an IF-THEN-ELSE statement. Computer science terms are introduced without feeling too much like lessons. This story is an accessible introduction to coding rules that also easily entertains.

Sylvia Long’s Big Book for Small Children
by Sylvia Long

This is a collection of folktales, nursery rhymes, songs, and simple concepts paired with ink-and-watercolor illustrations by the creator of Sylvia Long's Mother Goose. The majority of the book focuses on simple nursery rhymes, songs, and concepts, such as the alphabet, counting, colors, shapes, transportation, opposites, and things "I can do." Three recipes are also included, such as porridge at the end of "The Three Bears," so adults can extend activities with children after reading.

Prince & Knight
by Daniel Haack

Haack and Lewis have created a fairy tale in rhyme about a prince who is looking for a partner. The king and queen help their son meet many young ladies in the kingdom, but he is not interested in any of them. After much deliberation, he decides to leave the kingdom to consider his future. While he is gone, a dragon threatens the royal family and villagers. The prince and knight defeat the dragon and realize they are perfect for one another. The king and queen are so happy their son has found true love. This is an illuminating fairy tale for young readers to be able to see that not every prince would like to marry a princess.

The Manic Panic
by Richa Jha

In this import from India, a family becomes unplugged and discovers that virtual reality can be happily found outside. A familiar, relatable opening household scene shows Dad in the kitchen following a recipe on his tablet, while Mom stretches out on the sofa, working on her laptop. Mayhem ensues when the Internet suddenly stops working. While the grown-ups are panicking without internet access, the little girl protagonist is "BRIMMING with ideas and plans for things to do." Ananth's cartoon illustrations show the family enjoying low-tech activities outdoors together, like riding bicycles, playing soccer, and picnicking in the park. Children will enjoy the role reversal.

What Happens Next
by Susan Hughes

A bully is making a girl's life miserable and no one seems to care. "Why I Don't Want to Go to School Today: Bully B. What Her Friends Do: Laugh. What Everyone Else Does: Nothing." The bully often calls her a "weirdo" and shoves her. The narrator must find little bursts of happiness in her life at home with her mother and her dog, Sparky. But, she thinks, "everything would be better if Bully B. was on another star, far, far away." The girl's mother tries to explain why the bully acts the way she does and to empower her daughter to take charge of the situation. When the child decides to confront the bully on the playground, the result is something that neither one expects.

Do not lick this book* : *it's full of germs
by Idan Ben-Barak and Julian Frost

Why not? Because "IT'S FULL OF GERMS." Of course, Ben-Barak rightly notes, so is everything else from your socks to the top of Mount Everest. Just to demonstrate, he invites readers to undertake an exploratory adventure (only partly imaginary): First touch a certain seemingly blank spot on the page to pick up a microbe named Min, then in turn touch teeth, shirt, and navel to pick up Rae, Dennis, and Jake. In the process, readers watch crews of other microbes digging cavities, spreading "lovely filth," and chowing down on huge rafts of dead skin. Science at its best: informative and gross.

Building Books
by Megan Wagner Lloyd

Katie loves everything about building with blocks. Her brother Owen feels the same way about books. One day at school, the siblings get into an argument about which is better, building or reading. The school librarian offers each of them a stack of books-one for Katie to read and one for Owen to shelve. Left to their own devices, Katie begins building bridges and towers out of her books, and her brother begins to read. But when Katie's castle topples, she becomes absorbed in an engineering book and then another about cities, and so on. In the meantime, Owen, daunted at the task of shelving so many books, begins to build. The pair uses most of the books on the shelves to not only read together but to create something fantastic.

The Dreamer
by Il Sung Na

Dreaming of flight, a mint-green pig plans, fails, perseveres, and triumphs. "Once, there was a pig who admired birds." Wishing he could fly south with them, he gets to work. After many attempts fail, the pig finds new inspiration, and a trio of animal friends comes to assist. As the pig continues to dream and observe the last spread ends with the opening line further experiments and rich adventures seem inevitable. Na's spare, gentle text, whimsical pictures, and stick-to-it message are sure to engage young readers who've got dreams of their own.

What Can a Citizen Do?
by Dave Eggers

Citizenship is a hotly contested issue around the globe, with worldwide events, and sometimes crises, involving refugees hoping for relocation and maybe even future citizenship. It may be hard for young children to grasp at times the abstract concept of citizenry. Through simple words placed upon two-page spreads, Eggers displays how citizens, even young ones (and even a bear!), can contribute to society. This is a book that adults will take something away from in the midst of our current divisive politics. The main message: a citizen cannot forget the world is more than you.

Room For the Baby
by Michelle Edwards

Everyone is thrilled that there's going to be a new baby, but where will the child sleep? Mom's sewing room would be perfect, but it is full to the brim with worn-out clothes, leftover yarn and boxes of odds and ends donated by neighbors who know Mom is a master at recycling and repurposing. As months pass, filled with weekly Sabbath celebrations and Jewish holiday traditions, Mom and all the neighbors are busy, happily sewing, knitting and crafting, making diapers, baby clothes and mittens for anyone who expresses a need. The whole family gets into the act and the sewing room is gradually transformed into a beautiful room for the baby, who receives a joyous welcome.