By Judy Schachner
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2017
Picture Book, ages 4 – 8, grades PK – 2
Additional formats: Kindle
“Sarabella had no time for small talk. In fact, she never talked much at all…because she was too busy thinking.”
Sarabella is a dreamer. Her days are filled with fascinating thoughts dancing through her imagination—doodles of poodles, painted ponies racing across the sky, a garden growing animals, and even a bear with a good head for numbers. Her family, daydreamers themselves, see no issue with Sarabella’s way of thinking. Yet, there are times Sarabella’s imagination prevents her from concentrating on other important things, such as her schoolwork.
But one Friday, Mr. Fantozzi, Sarabella’s teacher, sends the class home with the following task:
“A Penny for Your Thoughts: Draw a picture of your favorite daydreams.”
Sarabella is immediately excited by the assignment, but upon returning home, she realizes the challenge in trying to fit all of her ideas onto a piece of paper. With the help of an imagined whale, that suggests “to share it, you’ve just got to wear it,” Sarabella comes up with a solution. With only a brown paper bag and a few craft supplies, Sarabella creates a her thinking cap, “a spectacular collection of doodles and daydreams right on top of her head.”
With whimsical mixed-media collages, Judy Schachner brings us a heartwarming story of a little girl with a big imagination. Sarabella’s Thinking Cap shows the reader the value imagination and sends the message that creativity should be cultivated and nurtured. -JD
by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings,
Illustrated by Shelagh McNichols
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2014
Picture book, Memoir
ISBN-10: 0803741073/ ISBN-13: 978-0803741072
Additional formats: E-book
Honors: ALA’s Rainbow List
This is the story of Jazz Jennings, a girl who loves pink and silver and green. A girl who likes to dance and sing and do back flips. A girl who likes to pretend she’s a pop star or a mermaid. A strong girl who was born with the body of a boy. I Am Jazz recounts the early childhood experience of Jazz Jennings, a teen advocate and co-founder of the Transkids Purple Rainbow Foundation, who felt like a girl born into a boy’s body from the time she was two-years-old.
“Pretending I was a boy felt like a lie,” Jazz writes. At first, her parents are confused when Jazz tells them of her feelings. But when the family meets a doctor who teaches them the word “transgender,” everything starts to change.
“Be who you are. We love you no matter what,” are words every child deserves to hear. I Am Jazz is a perfect title to discuss concepts such as acceptance and belonging and will make an important addition to the family or school library. – Gigi
by Abby Hanlon
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2014
Chapter book, ages 5 – 8
Additional formats: paperback
Golden Kite honor title, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators
You’ll recognize Dory.
She’s that youngest child who is always begging to play no matter how much her brother and sister try to keep her away. She’s the one who eats napkins, the one who acts like a dog for a whole day, the one who won’t go to bed and who sees villains where no one else does, the who asks questions— a lot of annoying questions.
Abby Hanlon, author of Ralph Tells a Story (Two Lions, 2012), has created a pest that you can’t help but root for because she is one hundred percent enthusiasm and imagination. It would be easy to leave the story at slapstick, but in Hanlon’s able hands, we get more. Sprinkled into the hilarious scenarios are also the quiet moments of hurt and love we see in families. Dory is a handful, but one that no one can resist. ~MM
By Sheila Turnage
Middle Grade fiction, Ages 10 and up
Dial Books, 2012
additional formats: e-book, audio
Newbery Honor *Edgar Award Finalist * E.B. White Read-Aloud Honor *New York Times bestseller
Moses “Mo” LoBeau, Sheila Turnage’s protagonist in the hooting, hilarious, and heartfelt Three Times Lucky, is one of my favorites. A wisteria-vine-variety Girl of Summer. Like the vine we so know and love in the south, Mo is a strong, persistent, fragrant star of the garden. Star of the café, too. Heck, star of the whole darn town where she lives.
Our girl Mo arrived in Tupelo Landing, NC when she was but a babe, set upon the flood waters to ride out a hurricane atop a floating billboard. The Colonel was also out in that storm and wrecked his car just in time to see and save the floating infant, whom he named Moses on the spot. The Colonel and Mo, together with Café proprietor Miss Lana, live together in a small house behind the Café, where they make an eccentric but loving family.
Mo’s life mission is to locate and reunite with her “Upstream Mother,” the one who abandoned her in the hurricane. The whole town assists Mo in this effort by casting message-filled bottles into rivers, creeks, and streams throughout the Carolinas as folks travel around the region. But the mystery of Mo’s maternity isn’t the only puzzle stumping the good folks of Tupelo Landing. Nope. The town curmudgeon, Mr. Jesse, turns up dead, and it seems that Mo and her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, have some ‘splaining to do, seeing as how they recently borrowed Mr. Jesse’s boat and returned it in time to collect the $10 reward. (Well, they needed some pocket money because Dale’s big brother and aspiring NASCAR driver, Lavender, who Mo vows to marry one day when she’s older, recruited Dale and Mo to run the flags at his big race. Running flags can make a kid hungry. Race food costs money.) Soon enough, everybody learns that Dale’s foot prints have been identified at the murder scene. To protect her best friend, Mo takes charge of the investigation (unofficially) and discovers vital information. The mystery of Mr. Jesse’s death is just the beginning of the murder, kidnapping, heist, and con that storms through Tupelo Landing.
Sheila Turnage delivers a phenomenal, insightful and really, really funny character in Mo LoBeau. Mo’s a girl who faces down life’s storms (literally!) with the mightiest of weapons: a wry sense of humor, a pencil and a private diary, and a town full of good friends. GA