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Dreamers

Yuyi Morales. Holiday House/Porter, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4055-9

In warm, sparkling prose that moves easily from English to Spanish and back, Caldecott Honor artist Morales (Viva Frida) traces the journey that she and her small son took in 1994, when they immigrated from Mexico to the United States. (“My Story,” included after the text, supplies the details.) A woman and a child struggle to understand the rules as they explore San Francisco. (When the two play in a public fountain, a policeman approaches, hands on hips; “Ay!” the mother cries in dismay.) Then they discover the library: “Suspicious./ Improbable./ Unbelievable./ Surprising.” It’s a miraculous oasis—countless books to borrow, information about everything in the world. There, she says, “We learned to read,/ to speak,/ to write,/ and/ to make/ our voices heard.” As the languages blend, so do the images. Mexican motifs—a genial skeleton, a painted dog, embroidered flowers—dance through the pages, keeping mother and son company on their journey, and the library shelves swoop and curve, embracing them. (Readers will recognize favorite titles among the carefully painted book covers.) Many books about immigration describe the process of making new friends and fitting in; this one describes what it’s like to become a creative being in two languages, and to learn to love in both. “We are two languages./ We are lucha./ We are resilience./ We are hope.” A Spanish-language version will be published simultaneously. Ages 4–8. Agent: Charlotte Sheedy, Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/13/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Now Make This: 24 DIY Projects by Designers for Kids

Edited by Thomas Bärnthaler. Phaidon, $19.95 (120p) ISBN 978-0-7148-7530-9

Readers are invited to craft 24 projects invented and presented by international designers. The activities range in difficulty from paper animal masks to a simple stool made from wood planks. Some invite unbridled creativity, such as a sculpture made using building blocks and a range of other materials. The projects also emphasize how items that are often thrown away or recycled can be transformed into art and useful objects. Photographs and brief biographies of each designer provide a personal touch while, through the playful, inventive activities, Bärnthaler suggests that the creativity that designers carry with them throughout their careers begins with the boundless experience of childhood play. Ages 8–11. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 07/13/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Science Maker Book

Rob Beattie. QEB, $14.95 paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-68297-301-1

Beattie explores the science behind more than 40 activities that utilize common household items. A Mobius strip and invisible ink are among the “Mysterious Makes,” while “Noisy Makes” include a shoebox harp and a coat hanger bell. Readers can get their hands dirty in “Messy Makes” by crafting a vinegar volcano and drawing with chocolate as it transitions from a liquid to a solid. Beattie succinctly introduces each scientific concept behind the projects: “Adding soap increases the surface tension and makes the water more ‘elastic’ so that bubbles can form, trapping air inside.” An engaging and straightforward maker’s manual. Ages 8–11. (July)

Reviewed on 07/13/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Bug Lab for Kids: Family-Friendly Activities for Exploring the Amazing World of Beetles, Butterflies, Spiders, and Other Arthropods

John W. Guyton. Quarry, $22.99 paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-63159-354-3

Entomologist Guyton enthusiastically introduces readers to the basics of bug science through 43 labs. The units focus on finding, documenting, collecting, and preserving insects, with additional sections on taxonomy and names. Readers will learn how to make an insect net and measure a beetle’s strength by testing how many pennies it can pull, among other hands-on projects. Guyton doesn’t mince words when it comes to some of the finer aspects of collecting and preserving insects, with clear instructions on how to make kill jars. Bright photographs of living insects and pinned specimens, along with sidebars providing insight into “Bug Science,” give budding entomologists essential knowledge and tools for exploring the insect world. Ages 7–10. (June)

Reviewed on 07/13/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Junior Maker: Experiments to Try, Crafts to Create, and Lots to Learn!

DK. DK, $14.99 (80p) ISBN 978-1-4654-6844-4

Bright images welcome readers to a collection of experiments and craft activities surrounding basic concepts in the areas of space, nature, history, animals, and science. Space-themed projects include making button planets, marshmallow constellations, and potato-printed aliens. Cartoon figures, photos, and images of the completed projects keep the presentation lively, and facts about each of the topics are peppered throughout: “Some parts of the world only have two seasons; one rainy and one dry.” The broad range of project ideas in this maker’s primer ensure that readers of different skill levels can take part. Ages 6–8. (July)

Reviewed on 07/13/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Now You Know How It Works: Pictures and Answers for the Curious Mind

Valorie Fisher. Orchard, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-338-21545-8

This educational guide introduces the mechanics behind familiar objects, machines, and physical phenomena, utilizing a set of symbols presented in opening pages. Crisply presented models and charts demonstrate how a toilet, zipper, and whistle operate; how lift, weight, thrust, and drag allow a kite to fly; and how electricity flows through a lightbulb. Fisher integrates a playful element through the use of miniature objects and figures: in a spread devoted to garbage, a doll demonstrates using compost to fertilize a garden. Fisher introduces complex concepts concisely while gently suggesting to readers that there is a world of knowledge to be discovered in everyday things. Ages 4–6. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/13/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Toys and Play with Everyday Materials

Sudarshan Khanna et al., illus. by Priya Sunderam. Tara, $24.95 (112p) ISBN 978-93-83145-57-7

Toy researcher Khanna presents a range of simple yet clever toys for readers to make, which are based on those created by toy makers in India. Many of the projects require only paper and glue, including a noisemaking “Flute-hoot,” while others require slightly more skill and a small number of additional materials. Khanna integrates physics concepts—including centrifugal force and vibration—to describe the way that the toys work, while brief, cogent essays make a case for ephemeral, handmade toys that harness children’s curiosity and invite imaginative participation. Mixed-media collage art featuring children, animals, and playful designs enhances this unique and impassioned celebration of folk toy traditions. All ages. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 07/13/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Polka Dot Parade: A Book About Bill Cunningham

Deborah Blumenthal, illus. by Masha D’yans. Little Bee, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4998-0664-9

In keeping with Bill Cunningham’s singular fascination with the visual splendor of fashion, Blumenthal and D’yans offer a close-up on the photographer’s creative pursuits. With dynamic processions of swooshing colors, patterns, and fabrics, D’yans vividly conveys how Cunningham viewed New York City fashion through his eyes and lens. One figure wears a trailing cloak that features an inky landscape; elsewhere, moths and dragonflies emerge from a woman’s gown. Cunningham is portrayed as an impassioned observer who captured the beauty of his subjects in unguarded moments on the street, or from the handlebars of his beloved bicycle. Blumenthal peppers her prose with quotations from Cunningham that speak to his devotion to his art and his celebration of clothing as a true expression of human individuality. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 07/13/2018 | Details & Permalink

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How to Build a Hug: Temple Grandin and Her Amazing Squeeze Machine

Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville, illus. by Giselle Potter. Atheneum, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-5344-1097-8

Guglielmo and Tourville gently present the story behind Grandin’s “squeeze machine,” describing Grandin’s childhood love of building and design, as well as her sensitivities: “Temple did not like scratchy socks, whistling teakettles, bright lights, or smelly perfumes.” Hugs, in particular, she found unbearable. But, the authors explain, Grandin discovered that external pressure placed on her body made her feel secure. As an adult, Grandin observed how cows are placed in squeeze chutes to calm them during veterinary exams; this led Grandin to design her own “hug machine.” Potter’s warm illustrations feature human and animal figures that are reminiscent of folk art dolls while showing Grandin’s discomfort with outside stimulation. The authors avoid overt mention of autism in the story, but back matter elaborates on Grandin’s life, career, and contributions to autism awareness. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 07/13/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Turning Pages: My Life Story

Sonia Sotomayor, illus. by Lulu Delacre. Philomel, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-525-51408-4

Writing in eloquent first-person prose, Sotomayor relays her upbringing and path to the Supreme Court, emphasizing how reading books, “written both in Spanish and in English,” has remained at the center of her personal development. She begins her story as a child in the Bronx. After being diagnosed with diabetes, Sotomayor found strength in comic books; following her father’s death, her local library became a refuge. Sotomayor offers variations on this theme, describing books as “lenses,” “teachers,” a “life preserver,” and “mirrors of my own universe.” Finally, Sotomayor finds her way to law books, and to one of the most meaningful texts of her lifetime—the Constitution. Delacre’s work shows earnest admiration for the subject, and compositions make intriguing use of angle, shadow, and collage detail. A Spanish-language version will also be available. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/13/2018 | Details & Permalink

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