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Each year, we publish a partner list to Booklist’s Books for Youth Editors’ Choice selections. “Lasting Connections” highlights our top 30 choices for K–8 classrooms, all published in the previous year and selected for their natural connections across the curriculum and to the Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards.
The Boy Who Dreamed of Infinity: A Tale of the Genius Ramanujan. By Amy Alznauer. Illus. by Daniel Miyares. 48p. Candlewick (9780763690489). K–Gr. 3. 510.92.
Born in South India, Ramanujan did not speak for three years, but when his grandfather counted out loud to him, the child found his voice and began asking questions. While arithmetic in school seemed rigid, rote, and unappealing, his mind soared with creative dreams about numbers. At 15, Ramanujan worked his way through a college math book and then began to fill notebooks with his ideas and theories. Later, he set off for Cambridge University to collaborate with a noted mathematician. The story ends with the comment that, 100 years later, people are still searching Ramanujan’s notebooks “in wonderment.” The perceptive text offers anecdotes that enable readers to see many sides of Ramanujan, portraying him as a genius who, driven to pursue his passion, produced work of lasting value.
Seven Golden Rings: A Tale of Music and Math. By Rajani LaRocca. Illus. by Archana Sreenivasan. 40p. Lee & Low (9781885008978). Gr. 1–4.
This charming folk tale from India doubles as a tricky introduction to binary reasoning. Bhagat and his mother are starving. In desperation, Bhagat’s mother gives him their last money, a chain of seven golden rings, and off he goes to enter the rajah’s singing contest. He must wait for his turn, and the innkeeper demands one gold ring per night—in advance. How can Bhagat divide the chain so that the innkeeper won’t take the whole thing the first night? Though Bhagat fails to win, the innkeeper’s wife tells the court about his math skills and informs the rajah that he should manage the kingdom’s finances. Bhagat’s ultimate mathematical solution is explained via the vivid, full-page digital illustrations, and back matter provides further details about base 2 computation.
Brother’s Keeper. By Julie Lee. 320p. Holiday (9780823444946). Gr. 3–7.
Life in North Korea for 12-year-old Sora and her family has been hard since Communist Russians “liberated” it from Japanese rule. When war erupts, Sora’s family flees toward the freedom of South Korea. But soon, she and Youngsoo become separated from their parents, who are seemingly killed in an explosion. Sora and her brother continue their journey alone to Busan on the southern coast of South Korea, which is still in American hands. Sora transforms from a precocious girl into a courageous and intelligent hero. Lee captures Sora’s internal journey alongside the physical one and in the process details the struggles of a refugee from the ground level. Even after Sora arrives at her destination, her battles do not end, as she still must combat social norms. An important book that contextualizes a part of history few younger readers are taught in school.
Cast Away: Poems for Our Time. By Naomi Shihab Nye. 176p. Greenwillow (9780062907691). Gr. 3–6. 811.
What is trash? Do we expand the definition to include people we consider less than ourselves? How many of us “cast away” with little thought of consequences? In these poignant poems, Young People’s Poet Laureate Nye challenges readers, no matter their age, to consider their definition of trash and their responses to it. A staunch advocate for cleaning up the world, beginning with the spaces immediately around us, she uses language to challenges readers to become activists and gain deeper awareness of their surroundings, crafting powerful object lessons with every poem. She reminds students to look at poverty in new ways, to consider the food they toss, and to reflect upon the plastic that has created an island in the Pacific Ocean. The humorous, witty, serious, and even politically charged poems here will leave readers conscious of our precarious environment.
If You Come to Earth. By Sophie Blackall. Illus. by the author. 80p. Chronicle (9781452137797). PreS–Gr. 2.
A young boy from Earth sends a message to the cosmos: “Dear Visitor from Outer Space, / If you come to Earth, / here’s what you need to know.” With ink-and-watercolor art that is vivid, delicate, and precise, Blackall composes intricate spreads that express the vast diversity of the planet, ranging from wider scopes (the solar system, land, and sea) to closer up (homes, transportation, families, bodies, food, and animals). The boy describes people communicating with words, sign language, Braille, art, and music. The sense is that if you are on Earth, you belong, though the boy also acknowledges that bad things happen here. Nonetheless, he thinks visitors would find his world beautiful. Two-time Caldecott winner Blackall pairs her accomplished artwork with a shareable story children will want to read and a message that resonates.
The Paper Boat: A Refugee Story. By Thao Lam. Illus. by the author. 40p. Owlkids (9781771473637). Gr. 1–3.
In an author’s note, Lam likens refugees to ants: migratory, collaborative, adaptable, and resilient. Here, she captures these shared traits with simplicity and depth, using a limited palette of precise cut-paper collages in sequential panels—and not a single word. The story recalls her mother’s escape from the Vietcong. Before a girl and her mother board a boat to safety, they fold the paper that contained their meal into another little boat. A small colony of ants climbs in and takes float. The ants’ peril at sea mirrors that of human refugees until, eventually, both ants and people are safe. The author’s ability to capture emotions in the expressions and gestures of ants is breathtaking, and students will admire Lam’s craft even while being immersed in emotions. A tender tribute to the author’s parents and to all refugees who survive and thrive despite enormous odds.
See the Cat: Three Stories about a Dog. By David LaRochelle. Illus. by Mike Wohnoutka. 64p. Candlewick (9781536204278). PreS–Gr. 2.
This beginning reader starts out innocently enough, directing readers to “See the Cat.” A dog named Max, the only character in sight, politely points out in his speech balloon, “I am not a cat. I am a dog.” As the text elaborates on the cat’s appearance and actions, the conflict between words and images quickly escalates. Meanwhile, Max’s demeanor shifts from dignified to annoyed to infuriated to apoplectic, until a green cat rides past him on a blue unicorn, leaving him sheepish and embarrassed. And that’s only the start. With short, simple words and a keen sense of comedic timing, LaRochelle sets up this battle of wits but leaves space for Wohnoutka to work his magic. Using the predictability of traditional “easy reader” books as a springboard to laugh-out-loud moments, this book is a rewarding choice for kids tackling the not-so-easy task of learning to read.
Swashby and the Sea. By Beth Ferry. Illus. by Juana Martinez-Neal. 2020. 32p. HMH (9780544707375). PreS–Gr. 2.
Captain Swashby retires to a little seaside house, enjoying the serenity until a lively little girl and her amiable granny move in next door. Suddenly grumpy, Swashby hides when they ring the doorbell and feeds their gift of cookies to the gulls. He even writes a message in the wet sand: NO TRESPASSING. But the sea fiddles with it, erasing a few letters. The girl reads only “SING,” and so she does. After he writes “PLEASE GO AWAY,” the sea fiddles again, leaving PL–AY for the girl to read, and so she does. But when the sea carries the child away from the shore, Swashby dives in, brings her back, and, upon reflection, forges a friendship with his new neighbors. This lightly linguistic picture book offers a cantankerous but lovable character in Captain Swashby and a mysterious, well-intentioned, mischievous one in the sea.
Twins. By Varian Johnson. Illus. by Shannon Wright. 256p. Scholastic/Graphix (9781338236170). Gr. 3–6. 741.5.
Maureen is a straight-A student lacking in self-confidence. Her identical twin, Francine, is outgoing and popular, though she sometimes feels like “the dumb one.” They’ve always been inseparable—until sixth grade. Francine begins to branch off socially, catching Maureen off guard, and as the tension between them builds—thanks to a series of miscommunications and unveiled secrets—their insecurities flare, and they end up running against each other for student-council president. This graphic novel richly develops Maureen and Francine’s strong family life and complex feelings of betrayal as they both struggle with how to be more individual while still supporting one another. In the end, only one sister can win the election, but they both succeed, thanks to each other’s support. A beautiful reflection on sisterhood and coming-of-age that will speak to middle-grade students coming into their own.
111 Trees: How One Village Celebrates the Birth of Every Girl. By Rina Singh. Illus. by Marianne Ferrer. 36p. Kids Can (9781525301209). Gr. 1–3. 305.420954.
The notion of planting 111 trees for every baby girl born in his Indian village came to Sundar Paliwal after a lifetime of struggle and personal tragedy, and this beautiful, poignant book tells of his path from boyhood to village head. Growing up, Sundar cherished time alone with his mother. As an adult, he taught his children to love and respect nature. And as a worker in the marble mines, he stood his ground when he witnessed the damage being done to the land. To honor his daughter, he ordered the villagers to come around to the idea of planting trees when girls are born. This is the true story of radical ideas coming to fruition through collaboration, persistence, and gradual change, as well as an homage to trees, girls, and a planet that is sure to return the favor when we care for it.
Above the Rim: How Elgin Baylor Changed Basketball. By Jen Bryant. Illus. by Frank Morrison. 40p. Abrams (9781419741081). Gr. 2–5. 796.323092.
When Elgin Baylor was a child in Washington, D.C., Black players weren’t allowed on public basketball courts. But when he was 14, a hoop went up in a nearby field, and he developed an elegant, airborne playing style all his own. After college, he joined the Minnesota Lakers for the 1958–59 season and experienced incidents of casual racism on the road. But soon the NBA announced that its teams would not patronize restaurants or hotels that practiced discrimination. After an exceptional season, Baylor was named the NBA Rookie of the Year. The text mentions milestones of the civil rights movement within the story and celebrates Baylor’s principled stand against segregation as well as his notable basketball skills. Strong storytelling and riveting artwork make this a memorable and useful picture book.
Black Is a Rainbow Color. By Angela Joy. Illus. by Ekua Holmes. 40p. Roaring Brook (9781626726314). K–Gr. 3.
A beautifully told and illustrated celebration of African American people and ethnology, Black Is a Rainbow Color thoughtfully explores what the Black experience means to a child. Starting with the young narrator’s personal experience with the color black then moving toward historical and cultural events, each line emphasizes the positive connotations of the word. Accentuating these efforts are Holmes’ gorgeous illustrations, which manifest the many ways people of African descent can be beautiful. After the rhyming text, Joy supplies historical and cultural notes (including descriptions of how each page spread relates to a specific segment of Black history and a time line of the words used to describe Black people since the first enslaved people arrived in colonial America), a song list featuring deliberately chosen celebratory music from throughout the decades, and three poems. All provide context for the people depicted within and for the mores of each era.
Consent (for Kids!): Boundaries, Respect, and Being in Charge of YOU. By Rachel Brian. Illus. by the author. 64p. Little, Brown (9780316457736). Gr. 2–5. 176.5.
This illustrated adaptation of (and expansion on) Brian’s viral video “Consent for Kids” guides readers through understanding consent and navigating various uncomfortable or confusing social situations involving their bodies. Stressing the concept of bodily autonomy, Brian lays out unambiguous rules for both giving and receiving consent, especially in regard to personal boundaries. She covers how to know when consent is or isn’t given (directly or indirectly); how people abuse power to pressure others; how clothing communicates (it cannot give consent); having the right to change your mind; identifying unhealthy and healthy relationships; and how, when someone betrays your trust, it is not your fault. Lessons are related through lighthearted cartoons, making this difficult topic approachable, easily consumable, and even fun. Brian closes by offering resources to help those in need. Amusing, edifying, and empowering, this should be required reading for all consenting, corporeal human beings.
Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box. By Evette Dionne. 176p. Viking (9780451481542). Gr. 5–8. 324.6.
In 1904, the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs (NACWC) established the motto “lifting as we climb.” Though the NACWC’s goals included suffrage for Black women, the vote was just one piece of the puzzle; they saw it as a tool they could use to improve the lives of all African Americans. It’s from this movement that Dionne, a culture writer, editor, and former teacher, takes the title of her book, which traces Black women’s fight for voting rights in America. Dionne highlights how the stories of Black women have routinely been systemically buried, demonstrating, despite the interconnectedness of social movements, how few of these narratives are taught in history classrooms today. An essential work for middle-grade students that helps to fill a gaping void.
Loretta Little Looks Back: Three Voices Go Tell It. By Andrea Davis Pinkney. Illus. by Brian Pinkney. 224p. Little, Brown (9780316536776). Gr. 5–8.
This series of dramatic monologues spotlights three fictional members of the Little family, whose experiences are based on the collective voices of African Americans living in the American South from the 1920s to the late 1960s. Twelve-year-old Loretta recounts growing up as a sharecropper’s daughter in the 1920s; foundling Roland, raised as a much younger sibling by Loretta, recalls the difficulties of adhering to Jim Crow laws; daughter Aggie’s soliloquies, set in the 1960s, highlight her participation in voter registration drives. Pinkney’s writing sings, rich with metaphor, lyricism, and touches of magic. The choice of oral storytelling is inspired, both for its cultural significance and because it allows readers to empathize with these events. Stage notes, free-verse poems, and black-and-white spot art introduce most monologues, effectively representing the characters and emphasizing their resilience. Generous back matter concludes this timely and important read.
Nana Akua Goes to School. By Tricia Elam Walker. Illus. by April Harrison. 40p. Random/Schwartz & Wade (9780525581130). PreS–Gr. 3.
Zura worries that her classmates might laugh at her grandmother because of the traditional marks on her face, placed there in childhood to designate her tribal family in Ghana and to symbolize beauty and confidence. But on Grandparents Day, Nana Akua explains the traditional Adinkra symbols on Zura’s quilt, invites everyone to choose one, and paints them on each person’s face. Fine for reading aloud to groups, this large-format book (Booklist’s 2020 Top of the List—Picture Book) provides ample space for the richly colorful mixed-media collages. Harrison’s depictions of 20 Adinkra symbols, accompanied by their meanings, appear on the endpapers. Walker’s well-constructed, graceful narrative, rooted in Ghanaian tradition, will engage the many children who can relate to Zura’s worries, her grandmother’s warmth and wisdom, and the story’s reassuring ending. This beautiful picture book offers a helpful perspective on cultural differences within a heartening family story.
‘Ohana Means Family. By Ilima Loomis. Illus. by Kenard Pak. 40p. Holiday/Neal Porter (9780823443260). PreS–Gr. 2.
Poi is made from kalo and served at an ‘ohana’s lūʻau. For cultural insiders, this is an immediately recognizable affirmation of a beloved tradition, but everyone else will need to pay close attention. The importance of this native Hawaiian tradition is revealed through Loomis’ and Pak’s textual and visual re-creations. Family is one of many interconnected parts—plant, planet, human, the elements—each as important as the other. Pak’s lovely, stylized watercolors bring readers close enough to see droplets on the roots of the kalo and then zoom out to see the whole sun-kissed island. Loomis writes in a gentle rhyme, and readers will soon be murmuring along in sync. Back matter explains the historical and cultural significance of kalo and poi. Helpful for showing the youngest students how to honor culture without cliché.
Once upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices. Ed. by S. K. Ali and Aisha Saeed. Illus. by Sara Alfageeh. 272p. Abrams/Amulet (9781419740831). Gr. 4–7.
For Muslims, there’s no better time to gather with family and reflect upon the joy of giving than during Eid-ul-Fitr (which celebrates the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting) or Eid-ul-Adha (the feast of sacrifice, which is connected to the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca). Here, Ali and Saeed have gathered a roster of Muslim authors to highlight the diversity within Islam and to explore the meaning of and otherworldly feelings associated with Eid. Useful in individual segments or as one cohesive whole, this special anthology about family traditions, sharing meals, giving presents, and delighting in the cultural uniqueness of people all over the world isn’t just for those who celebrate Eid; it’s for all who want to share and learn about the holidays.
The Teachers March! How Selma’s Teachers Changed History. By Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace. Illus. by Charly Palmer. 44p. Boyds Mills & Kane/Calkins Creek (9781629794525). Gr. 3–5. 323.
This is the true story of the Reverend F. D. Reese, who taught high school science—as well as freedom and equality. He led by example, organizing marches in Selma to push for voting rights for African Americans. Seeking a more powerful angle, he decided that if the schoolteachers of Selma marched together, they could make a noticeable statement. The narrative provides an unvarnished view of the deep levels of racism and violence that permeated society and aimed to thwart civil rights activism in the 1960s. The Wallaces pack their account with well-researched details so that readers get to know Reverend Reese and others as people as well as activists, and Palmer’s vibrant acrylic paintings intensify the urgency of the moment. This stunningly powerful book by a team of award-winning creators should be part of every classroom library and teacher-preparation program.
We Are Water Protectors. By Carole Lindstrom. Illus. by Michaela Goade. 40p. Roaring Brook (9781250203557). K–Gr. 2.
An Indigenous girl explains why water is sacred before she speaks of polluting oil pipelines that course through the earth. She then rallies her people to defend their village and their planet. Written in response to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, famously protested by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and others, these pages carry grief, but it is overshadowed by hope in what is an unapologetic call to action. While the text draws on specific cultural beliefs, its argument is universal: “We are stewards of the Earth.” Back matter includes notes from both author and illustrator, and the final page offers a pledge that readers may choose to recite, sign, and date to affirm their commitment to the cause. A beautiful tribute and powerful manifesto.
When Stars Are Scattered. By Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed. Illus. by Victoria Jamieson and Iman Geddy. 264p. Dial (9780525553915). Gr. 6–8. 741.5.
Omar Mohamed was a child when soldiers attacked his village in Somalia. Separated from his parents, he and his younger brother, Hassan, eventually made their way to Dadaab, a crowded refugee camp in Kenya where he now spends his days scrambling for food and taking care of Hassan, who is nonverbal and suffers from debilitating seizures. A chance to attend school is a dream come true, but the opportunity weighs heavily on Omar; school is a selfish choice when you have no parents and a brother who needs constant looking after. While Mohamed’s story is riveting in its own right, the illustrations of this graphic novel add warmth and depth to the tale. Jamieson respectfully captures the many significant moments in Mohamed’s life with charming detail, empathetically conveying them to students.
All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team. By Christina Soontornvat. 288p. Candlewick (9781536209457). Gr. 5–8. 959.
In summer 2018, the eyes of the world were on Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand, where the coach and 12 members of a boys’ soccer team, the Wild Boars, became trapped in a flooding cavern. Through a chronological narrative as thrilling as any fiction, Soontornvat recounts the 18-day rescue, which involved an international coalition of thousands, led—and this is key—by Thai civilians, soldiers, and engineers. The staggering scope of contributions is organized with perfect clarity, integrated seamlessly into the tale. As readers are guided through all the factoring risks, scientific technologies, and rescue strategies, they will get to know several key players, whose interactions are contextualized by precisely timed asides illuminating Thai culture, all critical to understanding the complexities of the operation. A singular tale that captures the importance of STEM education, the beauty of Thailand, and the best of humanity. Booklist’s 2020 Top of the List—Nonfiction.
Butterflies Belong Here: A Story of One Idea, Thirty Kids, and a World of Butterflies. By Deborah Hopkinson. Illus. by Meilo So. 68p. Chronicle (9781452176802). K–Gr. 3.
After her family moves to the U.S. from Mexico, a girl learns English at school, but she feels shy and reluctant to speak in class. Fascinated by butterflies’ migration to and from Mexico and alarmed by their dwindling numbers, she researches monarchs and wants to help them. After some encouraging words from her school librarian, she presents a monarch report to her classmates. This leads to a long-term, school-wide initiative: creating a garden of milkweed and nectar-rich flowers as a way station for migrating monarchs. Within the thoughtful narrative, four double-page spreads provide detailed information about monarchs. Well-integrated into the appealing story, they focus on the butterflies, their life cycle, and their amazing 3,000-mile migration. The back matter includes resources and practical ideas for readers inspired to create their own monarch way stations. This beautiful picture book unites fact and fiction while quietly promoting environmental activism.
Condor Comeback. By Sy Montgomery. Illus. by Tianne Strombeck. 96p. HMH (9780544816534). Gr. 5–8. 598.9.
The California condor, a four-foot-tall bird with a wingspan well over nine feet, has lived in North America for 2.6 million years. Declared critically endangered in the 1980s, when their population dwindled to 22, this species of vulture became extinct in the wild. But in zoos, their numbers gradually began to increase, as conservation programs housed and cared for the remaining birds, identified threats to their survival, and began reintroducing them to the wild. Sibert-winning Montgomery whisks students along on her meetings with scientists and researchers as she learns about their efforts to identify and mitigate dangers to condors. Throughout this handsome volume, Strombeck’s exceptionally clear, beautifully composed photos show condors in their mountainous habitats; chicks in their nests; and researchers working in their offices and labs, outdoors, and at a local school, where they educate kids about condor conservation.
Feel the Fog. By April Pulley Sayre. Illus. by the author. 2020. 40p. Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane (9781534437609). PreS–Gr. 3. 551.57.
Some children’s science books explain natural phenomena, while others inspire a sense of wonder; in this introduction to fog, Sayre combines the two. The poetic text works seamlessly with the photos to guide readers through the scenes while pointing out the distinctive features of fog, such as its movement and the way it affects perception by muffling sounds and dimming colors. The large-format volume showcases Sayre’s riveting photos, whether transporting readers to foggy mountains and forests or focusing attention on droplets of dew condensed on a spider’s web. For curious readers, two appended pages provide clear, succinct explanations of fog, water vapor, condensation, and related topics. From the photos to the poetry to the science, everything about the book is spare, elegant, and accessible to primary-grade children.
Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera. By Candace Fleming. Illus. by Eric Rohmann. 40p. Holiday/Neal Porter (9780823442850). Gr. 1–4. 595.79.
Glorious illustrations and engaging text combine to present readers with an unusually effective up-close look at the life of a honeybee. The present-tense text employs simple, straightforward sentences to describe her day-to-day development, with every page ending with the question “Is she going to fly now?” The answer remains “No!” for the first 25 days, until, finally, in a glorious four-page foldout, she soars away over a meadow. Ten days later, her time is up, and she peacefully curls up on the forest floor just as another honeybee is born. The vivid illustrations include minute details and align perfectly with the text, showing the honeybee hard at work at various tasks. Back matter includes a physical diagram, ways humans can help bees, facts, trivia, and additional resources. Whether used to support inquiry projects or as a stunning story-time selection, this offering will captivate students.
How We Got to the Moon: The People, Technology, and Daring Feats of Science behind Humanity’s Greatest Adventure. By John Rocco. Illus. by the author. 264p. Crown (9780525647423). Gr. 5–8. 629.45.
Books about the moon landing abound, but there’s nothing as masterful as this gorgeously and heavily illustrated account by Caldecott Honor–winner Rocco. Beginning with background knowledge on the Space Race and NASA’s mission to send a man to the moon, Rocco draws readers in with present-tense narration and information chunked into digestible parts, allowing better accessibility and natural stopping places to absorb the detailed descriptions. Visuals, infographics, and a few interspersed experiments help explain the science and engineering at work. Throughout the chapters, Rocco recognizes some of the 400,000-plus individuals it took to get 3 men to the moon. Acknowledging the predominance of white men at the time, he also profiles numerous groundbreaking women, like African American human computer Katherine Johnson. A triumphant undertaking that places readers in the historic moment.
Jumbo: The Making of the Boeing 747. By Chris Gall. Illus. by the author. 2020. 48p. Roaring Brook, $19.99 (9781250155801). K–Gr. 3. 629.
From the striking jacket art to the appended fast facts, this handsome volume delivers a good deal of information about the world’s first jumbo jet, the Boeing 747. When it debuted in 1970, the 747 was significantly larger than existing airplanes. Its design entailed innovation, and its assembly required a gigantic facility. Boeing constructed a building so tall that clouds formed above its rafters. Even today, it’s the biggest building (by volume) on earth. While Gall’s text explains aspects of how the plane was built, his nicely composed, sometimes-riveting digital pictures help students understand the technical aspects of flight. In the appended author’s note, Gall describes building, testing, and flying his own small plane, and his hands-on knowledge lends authority to the main text.
Oil. By Jonah Winter. Illus. by Jeanette Winter. 2020. 40p. Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane (9781534430778). K–Gr. 3. 363.738.
On March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground off the coast of Alaska, spilling 11 million gallons of oil across 11,000 square miles of ocean. Jonah Winter recounts this incident in simple, straightforward text: thick, hot oil is pumped from deep underground into gigantic pipelines that cross miles of pristine wilderness to a port where it is transferred onto enormous ships. When one tanker wrecks, crude oil gushes into the water, killing wildlife and spreading over miles of ocean and shoreline. Jeanette Winter’s simple, uncluttered art depicts both the machinery of the oil industry and the natural beauty of the Alaskan Arctic and northwest reaches of the Pacific. Concluding with an author’s note, suggested readings, and a final spread that reminds readers that some of the spill remains uncontained, this is an accessible and important contribution to environmental science.
The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story. By Tina Cho. Illus. by Jess X. Snow. 48p. Penguin/Kokila, $17.99 (9781984814869). K–Gr. 3.
This beautifully illustrated picture book is set on Jeju Island in South Korea, home of the haenyeo, legendary women divers who hunt for deep-sea delicacies. Young Dayeon wants to dive, just like Grandma, but is afraid of getting water up her nose or being eaten by some scary underwater creature. Grandma is patient, and just like her mother taught her, teaches Dayeon breath control and how to stay safe in the ocean as they gradually venture out farther and deeper. Back matter explains the origins of the haenyeo and what their lives are like today. A sweet tale about family tradition, trust, and confidence, this will also support STEM units on weather and tides, sea life, and ecology (the haenyeo are model conservationists). Engaging and filled with alluring illustrations, it’s also a wonderful choice for a read-aloud.
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