Fresh starts: Book recommendations for a new season
Sponsored by Kern Literacy Council
by Callie Collins and LJ Radon
Aug 29, 2022
Fresh starts, first days and new experiences: Our September book reviews have something for everyone in the spirit of all-things new. Just as students are settling into their own back-to-school routines, these titles can help reinforce the constancy of change in our lives, sure as the seasons. A reflective selection for grown-ups is also included. Readers young and old will delight in a shared story with these suggestions. See below for four titles to peruse this September.

This Is a School

by John Schu, illustrated by Veronica Miller Jamison; $17.99; Candlewick; 4-8 years.

Librarian and author John Schu reveal how a school isn’t just a building; it is all the people who work and learn together. It is a place for discovery and asking questions; A place for sharing, for helping, and for community. It is a place of hope and healing, even when that community can’t be together in the same room. This cheerful story introduces children to the concept of school and celebrates teamwork, curiosity, friendship and the joy of learning with vibrant, colorful illustrations.

The Lost Package

by Richard Ho, illustrations by Jessica Lanan;; $18.99; 3-6 years.

A little package gets lost on the way to the airport. But with a little bit of luck--and a lot of serendipity--it might just find a new route to its destination... But just like other packages, it left the post office with hope. And unlike most packages, before it got to its…got…lost. Follow the heartwarming story of a package that gets lost, then found and a the discovery of a friendship tale that proves distance can't always keep us apart. A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Children's Book of 2021and A Kirkus Best Picture Book of 2021.

My First Day

by Phúng Nguyên Quang and Huỳnh Kim Liên Make Me a World Publishing; $17.99; 4-8 years. A visually stunning story of resilience and determination by an award-winning team.

No ordinary first journey, the rainy season has come to the Mekong Delta, and An, a Vietnamese boy, sets out alone in a wooden boat armed only with a single oar. On the way, he is confronted by giant crested waves, heavy rainfall and eerie forests where fear takes hold of him. Although daunted by the dark unknown, An realizes that he is not alone and continues to paddle. He knows it will all be worth it when he reaches his destination– one familiar to children all over the world.

Follow the Stars! What Happened on Mars?

by Tish Rabe Merriam & Webster Publishing; $9.99; 6-12 years.

Unscramble word puzzles, navigate letter mazes, and crack the codes in this fun and surprising mystery tale written in rollicking verse. Merriam and Webster visit the International Space Station to discover that the Mars rover has stopped working! The kid detectives blast off in a rocket to find out what happened. Packed with puzzles, mazes, riddles, and codes designed to challenge young minds, build vocabulary, and keep kids entertained for hours! Includes a full page of four-color stickers.

Please Don’t Laugh, We Lost a Giraffe!

by Tish Rabe Merriam & Webster Publishing; $9.99; 6-12 years.

Kid detectives Merriam and Webster can solve any mystery with a bit of help! Unscramble word puzzles, navigate letter mazes, and crack the codes to help solve this fun and surprising mystery tale written in rollicking verse. Merriam and Webster travel to a local wildlife refuge to discover some terrible news: their favorite giraffe, Zari, is missing! As the kid detectives set out to find the missing giraffe, they encounter animals along the way who also need your help. Can you piece together the clues and solve the word puzzles to help all the animals find their way home?

Paul Laurence Dunbar: The Life and Times of a Caged Bird

For Adults: "Paul Laurence Dunbar: The Life and Times of a Caged Bird," by Gene Andrew Jarrett ; Princeton University Press; $35.

Jarrett tells the story of how Dunbar, Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872–1906) was one of the first African American writers to garner interna-tional recognition in the wake of emancipation. Born during Reconstruction to formerly enslaved parents, he excelled against all odds to become an accomplished poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, and Broadway librettist. While audiences enjoyed his literary readings, Dunbar privately shouldered the burden of race and catering to minstrel stereo-types to earn fame and money.

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