Spring into Books
New titles for readers to enjoy:
Rot, the Cutest in the World
By Ben Clanton
Best for: Ages 4-8
Rot is not the “cutest in the world.” He is a mutant potato with mismatched eyes, a few strands of hair and a unibrow. What he lacks in physically adorable attributes, Rot makes up for with his confidence. So when he spies a sign for a Cutest in the World contest, he doesn’t hesitate to enter.
Clanton’s use of mixed media illustrations captures both Rot’s appeal and “ugliness.” The text goes even further, capturing Rot’s fellow competitors—a cuddly kitten and a fluffy bunny—in all their cruel ugliness. The competitors are so mean, Rot considers changing himself. This moment of weakness offers a chance to inject some humor in the illustrations. In the end, Rot finds himself just as he was—and that is enough for him.
What’s good: Rot’s engaging and heroic personality.
What’s bad: Twist ending leaves doubt on the judges’ verdict.
I Am Harriet Tubman
By Brad Meltzer
Illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
Best for: Ages 4-8
From a series titled People That Changed the World, this book focuses on the traits that made Harriet Tubman a hero. The text and illustrations are very accessible for young children, and during this time of the year when we remember the leaders that made our nation great, this book puts a special focus on African-American leaders. Harriet Tubman was one of the greatest, and Meltzer’s volume offers a small glimpse for young children into her heroism as an integral part of the Underground Railroad and the movement to abolish slavery in the United States.
What’s good: Conversational tone makes the book very accessible.
What’s bad: Oversimplifies Harriet Tubman’s challenge.
The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade
By Jordan Sonnenblick
Best for: Ages 9-12
Like Sonneblick’s teen fare, this tween novel deftly deals with family, friends and death. The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade follows Maverick, a young man who wants to make his middle school a better place. Sonnenblick offers humor and heartbreak in a tale that will draw young readers in before they know what’s happening. Whether dealing with a family crisis or school bully, this character is eminently relatable to tween readers who will find this book very accessible.
What’s good: Good blend of humor and emotional honesty for young readers.
What’s bad: Some young readers may find the pacing a little slow.