Ahuja, Nandini. Rise Up and Write It: With Real Mail, Posters, and More. Illus. by Anoosha Syed. HarperFestival, 01/2021. [30p.] $16.99. 978-0-06-302959-0.
This celebration of civic engagement encourages young readers to participate in their government. Six envelops offer examples of letters, petitions, and other writing children can send to their elected officials. Because of the format and the likelihood that the inserts will be lost, this is not ideal for library circulation.
This will be useful for classroom libraries, where teachers can use it to inspire writing activities for grades three through six. Although the format looks like a picture book, the activities seem best suited to the upper grades of elementary school.
Readers may be inspired to write their mayor or school board, write their local newspaper, make protest signs, circulate petitions, or engage in other civic activity. The narrative involves a girl named Farah Patel asking for a butterfly park to be built in her neighborhood. Sure to be useful when this is put in the right hands.
Cousins, Lucy. Happy Birthday, Maisy. Candlewick, 01/2021. [16p.] $14.99. 978-1-5362-1681-3.
With flaps and tabs, this simple birthday story focuses on Maisy, the little white rat that is now the main character in an animated TV series. The “Maisy” books began thirty years ago, introducing toddlers to simple concepts. Here, she celebrates her birthday with friends. The flaps and pull tabs are fairly sturdy but may not last very long in library circulation. Storytime copies are sure to be popular.
Henkes, Kevin. Lilly and Friends: A Picture Book Treasury. Greenwillow, 09/2020. 302p. $24.99. 978-0-06-299551-3.
Nine of Henkes’ joyous picture books are gathered into this collection which would make a nice birthday gift to a preschooler. All of the tales are unabridged, featuring all of the text and artwork of the originals, and in the same size. Some larger libraries may find this circulates although this won’t replace the individual books.
The stories all feature mice characters and are organized by the original publication date: A Weekend with Wendell (1986), Sheila Rae, the Brave (1987), Chester’s Way (1988), Julius, the Baby of the World (1990), Chrysanthemum (1991), Owen (1993), Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse (1996), Wemberly Worried (2000), and Lilly’s Big Day (2006). All of these have similar artwork, using a cartoonish style and pastel color scheme.
The stories have themes of self-esteem and emotions, encouraging the main characters to believe in themselves and be kind. Henkes has a unique ability to convey these messages without being didactic. The book ends with a section by Caroline Ward on how parents can use these stories to teach empathy and other aspects of social and emotional learning.
Patel, Param and Pinky Mukhi. I Am Grateful. Illus. by Devika Oza. Independently published, 05/2020, 46p. $8.95 (paper), 978-1693865121.
In their second picture book, mother and son authors celebrate children around the world and their ability to be grateful. Their previous book, We Are One (2017), focused on ethnic diversity. This is a nice companion picture book. The full color cartoon digital artwork depicts children of various ethnicities, shown next to distinctive landmarks including the Eiffel Tower and Sydney Opera House, and each describes something they are grateful for. The book concludes with a map and list of the landmarks. Parents often seek out books with a message, and this one if fairly subtle and embraces equity in a successful way.
Penny Peck, SJSU iSchool