Y is for Yet: A Growth Mindset Alphabet by author Shannon Anderson and illustrator Jake Souva

Reading Age: 4 – 8 years

Reading Level: Preschool – 3

Publisher: Free Spirit Publishing

Publication Date: August 24, 2020

In this alphabet picture book, children learn to view the positive that can come from difficult situations. For example, C for Challenges reminds readers that even difficult things can be accomplished. N for Notice asks readers to observe what works and what does not. So many children could benefit from listening to or reading this book including children older than 8 years. The illustrations are upbeat and match the book’s messages.

Max and the Tag-Along Moon by Floyd Cooper

Reading Age: 3 – 7

Grade Level: Preschool – 2

Publisher: Puffin Books

Publication Date: March 15, 2015

Upon leaving his grandpa’s house, Max notices the moon. Grandpa assures Max that the moon will always shine for him. On the long car ride home, Max watches the moon. When the moon hides behind clouds, Max feels alone. The moon will not always shine for him. Once Max climbs into bed, the moon brightly shines again and Max is satisfied. This story resonates with many. Who has not followed the moon as a child? Mr. Cooper’s illustrations are beautiful. His talent will be missed.

Chairs on Strike by Jennifer Jones

Reading Age: Baby – 12 years

Publisher: Random Source

Publication Date: June 28, 2021

Chairs come to life and rebel against students’ negative actions in this rhyming picture book. They are tired of smelly feet, getting broken legs and being dragged around to name a few abuses. So the chairs write up their gripes, leave the notes on the teacher’s desk then exit the classroom. When students return to class the next day, they have nothing to sit on. Students get tired of standing and write apologies to the chairs which encourages the chairs to return. This book surely provokes laughter and shines a light on improper use of chairs.

Tomatoes for Neela by author Padma Lakshmi and illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal

Reading Age: 3 – 7 years

Grade Level: Preschool – 2

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: August 31, 2021

Neela likes cooking with her mother who learned to cook from Neela’s grandmother. Neela’s mother taught Neela about different types of tomatoes at the farmer’s market. They create tomato sauce, save jars of it to eat during winter and to share with her grandmother when she visits from India. At times a lot of information is shown pictorially with labels attached that will appeal to older and younger readers. The illustrator weaves facts into this children’s book in a visually pleasing way. For example, information about heirloom tomatoes show Neela’s happy face peeking through the vines. History about the origins of tomatoes is also within the story. At the end of this picture book are fun facts about tomatoes, information about farm workers, an author’s note and two recipes.

Jump Up Time: A Trinidad Carnival Story by author Lynn Joseph and illustrator Linda Saport

Grade Level: 1 – 2

Publisher: Clarion Books

Publication Date: September 1, 1998

Christine is old enough to participate in the Children’s Carnival in Trinidad this year but her sister, Lily, is a year too young. The family is involved in creating Christine’s hummingbird costume and Lily is jealous. On the day of the Children’s Carnival, Christine is nervous but Lily is supportive and Christine has a successful experience which she shares with Lily. A good story representing sibling relationships and family working together. My Book Eyes enjoyed reading about the materials and work needed to create the costume as well as research needed to choose a costume that represents Trinidad. Words such as mauby, fried bake, salt fish, play mas, soca, and calypso let the reader know that he or she is experiencing Caribbean culture in this picture book. Illustrations are brightly colored.

Pigskins to Paintbrushes: The Story of Football-Playing Artist Ernie Barnes by Don Tate

Reading Age: 6 – 10 years

Grade Level: 1 – 5

Publisher: Harry N. Abrams

Publication Date: August 17, 2021

As a child in the 1930s, Ernest Barnes made art when boys were supposed to play sports. Societal pressure pushed him into sports where he eventually excelled but the road was not easy. After an injury, he retired from football and devoted the rest of his life to being a successful artist. My Book Eyes found this picture book biography inspirational because the story tells and shows through illustrations Ernest’s struggles and triumphs as he grew up. Because Ernest became involved in different arts and sports, there is a positive message to get involved and find your talents. Textured patterns and varied views are attractive in illustrations. An afterword, author’s note and bibliography are included.

Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon by author Pat Zhang and illustrator Charlene Chua

Reading Age: 4 – 8 years

Grade Level: Preschool – 3

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: December 15, 2020

One day a teacher reads a story about dragons to her students. Afterwards it is the students’ turns to create dragons using craft materials. Amy’s dragon looks different from the ones seen in the story and Amy’s classmates make comments. Amy tries to make dragons that please her friends but don’t feel right to her. Craft time ends and Amy is disappointed. When she arrives home, Amy’s grandmother tells stories of Eastern dragons to Amy and her friends. The next day, Amy shares her dragon creation with her class. Included in the back of this book is a dragon activity and information about Eastern and Western dragons. The Illustrations show details to discuss about culture, differences and feelings.

Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon was selected by Jumpstart Read for the Record 2021 to be read nationally on October 28, 2021. https://www.jstart.org/read-for-the-record/