Bloom (The Overthrow)

The invasion begins–but not as you’d expect. It begins with rain. Rain that carries seeds. Seeds that sprout–overnight, everywhere. These new plants take over crop fields, twine up houses, and burrow below streets. They bloom–and release toxic pollens. They bloom–and form Venus flytrap-like pods that swallow animals and people. They bloom everywhere, unstoppable.

Bon Voyage, Mister Rodriguez

Every afternoon at four o’clock, Mister Rodriguez steps out of a narrow laneway and strolls through the street. The village children watch him go, ever more curious about the enigmatic old man with the bushy white mustache. Some say they’ve seen him float above the ground. Others say he played a piano without touching a single key. The truth, though, is more beautiful than any of the children could have imagined.

The Honey Jar

The Honey Jar retells the ancient stories Rigoberta Menchú’s grandparents told her when she was a little girl, and we can imagine her listening to them by the fire at night. These Mayan tales include natural phenomena narratives and animal stories. The underworld, the sky, the sun and moon, plants, people, animals, gods, and demigods are all players in these vibrant stories. Enchanting images by Domi draw on the Mayan landscape and the rich visual vocabulary that can be found in the weavings and crafts for which the Maya are renowned.

Jimena Perez Puede Volar

Ten-year-old Jimena loves El Salvador but when gangs threaten to force her to join, she and her mother immigrate to the United States, but are separated at the border.

With A Star In My Hand: Rubén Darío, Poetry Hero

A novel in verse about the life and work of Ruben Dario, a Nicaraguan poet who started life as an abandoned child and grew to become the father of a new literary movement. Includes historical notes.

What Grew In Larry’s Garden

Grace thinks Larry’s garden is one of the wonders of the world. In his tiny backyard next door to hers, Larry grows the most extraordinary vegetables. Grace loves helping him – watering and weeding, planting and pruning, hoeing and harvesting. And whenever there’s a problem – like bugs burrowing into the carrots or slugs chewing the lettuce – Grace and Larry solve it together. Grace soon learns that Larry has big plans for the vegetables in his special garden. And when that garden faces its biggest problem yet, Grace follows Larry’s example to find the perfect solution. Inspired by a real person, author Laura Alary has written a heartwarming story about how amazing things can grow when you tend your garden with kindness. In this case, Larry, a teacher, is helping to grow community. He has his students grow tomato plants that they then give away to their neighbors with personal notes. It offers a powerful lesson on the influence of generosity, while encouraging young children to become community activists in their own neighborhoods. This uplifting story fosters an appreciation for neighborhood and community at a time when that sentiment seems to be eroding. The book also contains an environmental message about harvesting your own vegetables and, with Kass Reich’s colorful illustrations, works beautifully for a life science exploration of growth and changes in plants. There are character education connections to caring, cooperation, empathy, kindness, perseverance and teamwork.

A Stopwatch From Grampa

Loretta Garbutt uses subtlety and sensitivity to explore the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) in this moving picture book story of loss. It features a gender-neutral main character (no first name or pronouns are given) making the story universally relatable. This is a perfect choice for fostering discussions with children about their emotions, particularly the feeling of loss. It also offers a poignant representation of an intergenerational relationship between a grandfather and grandchild. Carmen Mok’s expressive and thoughtful illustrations employ a limited color palette to convey the character’s emotional trajectory. There are curriculum applications here in social-emotional development as well as character education lessons in caring and resilience.

The Owl and the Two Rabbits

When two rabbit sisters ignore their parents’ warnings and decide to play outside on the open tundra, a hungry owl soon spots them and decides they will make a delicious meal. As a chase ensues, the sisters must act quickly, using the owl’s own greed against him in order to get away. A traditional Inuit story and cautionary tale, this book presents a centuries-old narrative for a new generation of readers.

Weekend Dad

This home is home because my dad is here, and it’s nothing like home because my mom isn’t here, thinks the boy in this story when he enters his dad’s new apartment for the first time. His dad moved out on Monday and now it’s Friday night, the start of his weekend with his dad. The boy and his dad follow their normal weekend routine — they eat eggs for breakfast, play cards and spend time at the park. And then they do the same things on Sunday. It is hard to say goodbye at the end of the weekend, but Dad gives his son a letter to remind him that, even if his dad can’t always be there, the boy is loved. Naseem Hrab has written a poignant yet hopeful story, strikingly illustrated in Frank Viva’s signature style, about what happens when parents separate, and the new reality of having two homes.

Sean Awesome: The Dog Next Door

Ms. Yellow and Mr. Wide is a wife and husband duo who created the Sean Awesome Series one cut-paper scene at a time. They live in the beautiful city of Vancouver and try very hard to be an awesome Mommy and Daddy to their real life son Sean. Inspired by her teaching experience and their own son, Ms. Yellow and Mr. Wide created Sean Awesome to share the joy and love of becoming a family. Ms. Yellow studied Literature and Education. She worked as an editor at WWD magazine. Later she spent many years working closely with children and parents as an Early Childhood Educator.