Alaina and the Great Play by author Eloise Greenfield and illustrator Colin Bootman

Reading Age: 5 -7 years

Grade Level: Kindergarten – 2

Publisher: Alazar Press

Publication Date: May 10, 2021

In this picture book, Alaina, a kindergarten student, is selected to say a line at the end of a second grade’s stage performance at school. Readers and viewers follow her feelings throughout the day as she gets closer to her debut. Happy about the students’ performance, Alaina gets caught up in the moment and decides to show her talents in addition to giving her announcement when her turn comes. My Book Eyes was surprised and let out a laugh. Illustrations are realistic and show characters’ personalities.

Eloise Greenfield was a talented writer. She was well-respected and made several contributions to the children’s book world. My Book Eyes had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Greenfield at a book signing. She will be missed.

When a Dragon Goes to School by author Caryl Hart and illustrator Rosalind Beardshaw

Reading Age: 3 – 6 years

Grade Level: Preschool – 4

Publisher: Magination Press

Publication Date: August 3, 2021

Through a dragon’s deeds, children learn what is and is not appropriate at school. Tasks include: hanging up a coat, greeting the teacher, sitting with others, mealtime, sharing, helping, using school materials, and leaving at the end of the day. Throughout this rhyming picture book, the author asks a question about a dragon’s negative behavior. The response is always, “Why, no! Dragon’s don’t do that!” The author then gives the acceptable behavior. Children will love chiming in with the repeated phrase. In the illustrations, opposite behaviors are easily understood.

Flying High: The Story of Gymnastics Champion Simone Biles by author Michelle Meadows and illustrator Ebony Glenn

Reading Age: 4 – 8 years

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

Publication Date: December 29, 2020

This inspirational rhyming picture book educates readers about Simone Biles’ climb from foster care to renowned athlete. Her life, with disappointments and successes, impresses upon listeners to get up after stumbles and stay focused on goals. Illustrations are breathtaking and capture power, courage and beauty of Simone’s maneuvers. Additional information included in the back of the book called: 1. Going For The Gold: Simone Biles’ Olympic Journey 2. Roundoff: Fast Facts About Simone and 3. Selected Sources.

Blueberry Cake by Sarah Dillard

Reading Age: 3 – 8 years

Grade Level: Preschool – 3

Publisher: Aladdin

Publication Date: July 13, 2021

A cub wants his mother to make blueberry cake. His job is to pick blueberries and bring them home so his mother can prepare the treat. Being energetic, cub runs, plays, chases a butterfly, picks blueberries, drops blueberries, picks flowers and arrives home without the blueberries. His mother cannot make the cake. Cub still has a job to do. He makes a second trip to the blueberries and surprises his mother. Reciprocally, his mother prepares blueberry cake. This picture book is told in 35 words using only 7 different words. Children learning to read will be able to read this book independently in a short amount of time due to repeated words and sequenced illustrations. A note from the author enlightens the audience about her experience with blueberry cake. A recipe included adds a hands on experience to this book.

The Noisy Classroom by author Angela Shante and illustrator Alison Hawkins

Publisher:West Margin Press

Publication Date: May 5. 2020

This picture book begins at the end of the school year with a second grader concerned about going to third grade where she will be in Ms. Johnson’s noisy classroom. This student is accustomed to being quiet, sitting in rows and walking in straight lines. Over the summer the student is so dismayed that she discusses with her parents moving to another continent to avoid being in the noisy classroom. The new school year begins and the inevitable happens. The student is now in Ms. Johnson’s third grade class. Ms. Johnson keeps students alert and active by including songs, games and movement in her classes learning and routines. What is dreaded in the beginning is treasured in the end. All the students seemed to adapt to this new teacher’s style however if a student was having difficulties adjusting to this classroom, Ms. Johnson seemed resourceful enough to make accommodations. Illustrations match the story’s sentiments and are attractive.

Oliver’s Lollipop by author Allison Wortche and illustrator Andres Landazabal

Reading Age: 3 – 7 years

Grade Level: Preschool – 2

Publisher: Philomel

Publication Date: May 4, 2021

On Oliver’s birthday his parents take him and his little brother to the zoo. At the zoo entrance stands a vendor selling treats. Oliver is attracted to a lollipop so his parents purchase it and tell him he cannot eat it before dinner. Oliver being a child cannot get the lollipop off of his mind as he carries it throughout the zoo. He misses out on all of the zoo attractions and activities until his lollipop gets taken away from him. Once this event happens, Oliver is able to enjoy his birthday zoo trip with his family. Illustrations capture characters’ moods, place and time of day appropriately. This picture book can be interpreted in different ways. For people responsible for young children, it serves as a reminder to parents and teachers taking class trips to save souvenir and/or treat buying until the end of the trip or until parents/teachers are ready for the children to eat/ interact with the treat or souvenir. This book could be read to children before going on a trip coupled with a discussion.

Super STEAM Activity Book: Launch Learning with Fun Mazes, Dot-to-Dots, Search-the-Page Puzzles, and More! by Mandisa Watts

Reading Age: 3 – 5 years

Publisher: Rockridge Press

Publication Date: June 8, 2021

Children learn science. technology, engineering, art and math by participating in fun activities that sharpen cognitive, perceptual and motor skills. Each task is designed to address STEAM ideas at preschoolers and kindergarteners levels of understanding. Children will learn to pay attention to details, complete mazes, sequence, copy designs, connect the dots to name a few.

Sheepish (Wolf Under Cover) by Helen Yoon

Reading Age: 3 – 7 years

Grade Level: Preschool – 2

Publisher: Candlewick

Publication Date: January 12, 2021

A fox schemes to make a herd of sheep his meals. Cloaked in a sheep’s outfit, wolf is allowed to become part of the sheep’s daily routines which includes exercising, chores, reading and games. Readers will enjoy seeing wolf think about the many ways he will make sheep cuisine. Sheep’s ability to kill with kindness thwarts wolf’s plans and ends this picture book on a happy and surprising note. Fun to look at anthropomorphized animals in this story.

Dork Diaries 14: Tales from a Not-So-Best Friend Forever by Rachel Renee Russell

Reading Age: 9-13 years

Grade Level: 4-8

Publisher: Aladdin; Illustrated edition

Publication Date: October 22, 2019

It is summer and middle grader Nikki Maxwell and her friends plan to be the opening act for a popular music group called Bad Boyz as they tour cities around the country. The story infuses quizzes about the four members of Bad Boyz so that readers understand the personalities and traits of the members. Unfortunately Nikki’s rival, McKenzie, plans to inject herself into this experience any way that she can. Nikki’s histrionic personality is well depicted in text and illustrations which at times will have readers laughing and at other times have readers’ eyes zooming through pages to find out how cliffhangers end. As the story unfolds the audience learns that there is more to Nikki than her dramatic personality. My Book Eyes enjoyed the pedal boat escapade. This middle grade chapter book is a fun read that ends on a happy note.

I Love Dad with the Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Age Range: 3 years – 5 years

Publisher: World of Eric Carle

Publication Date: February 27, 2018

The Very Hungry Caterpillar journeys from one father child pair to another in this picture book. The audience learns why dads are loved. The words are sparse but well chosen. Only one to six words appear on two page spreads which makes this a great read for young audiences. Mr. Carle’s vivid collage designs on white background are eye-catching.

My Book Eyes remembers seeing Mr. Carle at a book signing at Barnes and Noble in New York City. He drew such a large and diverse crowd. The book signing line seemed never ending. He will be missed.