48 Booklist March 15, 2017 www.booklistreader.com
ing his way to a beach, where he dives right
into the surf. Before he knows it, he becomes
Water Boy, but washing back up on the
beach, where it’s hot, quickly turns him into
Vapor Boy, and he wafts up into the clouds.
In the clouds, he turns back into Water Boy,
but a summer thunderstorm turns him right
back into Ice Boy in the form of hail. Stein’s
offbeat, animated story makes lively work of
the water cycle with cartoonish, doodlelike
illustrations of the adventurous ice cube set
against aqueous backgrounds, and speech
balloons from Ice Boy and his friends add
humorous running commentary. A comical
caper with a stealthy dose of basic science
concepts. —Sarah Hunter
Liam Takes a Stand.
By Troy Wilson. Illus. by Josh Holinaty.
Mar. 2017. 32p. Owlkids, $16.95 (9781771471619).
Identical twins Lister and Lester are so busy
competing with each other that they have
no time to play with their younger brother,
Liam. When they open competing lemonade
stands, Liam offers to help but is rebuffed by
both as useless. Liam busies himself showing
how hard he can work at odd jobs around
the neighborhood. While the twins spend
all of their earnings on gimmicks to outdo
the other, Liam saves his money and opens
Liam’s Apple Avenue, where he sells delicious
juice and eventually puts the twins out of
business. They apologize to Liam, negotiate
a deal, and all ends well with the boys working, playing, and, yes, sometimes competing
with one another. The straightforward text is
enhanced by colorful, energetic cartoon-style
illustrations, never as over the top as the siblings’ projects themselves. Many readers will
find much to appreciate in this unique take
on sibling rivalry and competitiveness, and
recognize the new twist on the old adage,
“If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
Niko Draws a Feeling.
By Bob Raczka. Illus. by Simone Shin.
Apr. 2017. 32p. Carolrhoda, $17.99 (9781467798433).
Young Niko loves drawing pictures and
finds inspiration everywhere—like a mother
bird building her nest, or an ice-cream truck’s
“ring-a-linging.” Being inspired feels “like a
window opening in his brain,” which sends
his colored pencils in a flurry of swirls on
the page. However, from home to school, no
one seems to understand his pictures, even
after he explains them—like how his picture
of “the warm of the sun on my face,” a red-dish-orange scribblelike abstraction, depicts
just the warmth, not the sun or his face. He
feels somewhat disheartened, but when he
meets new neighbor Iris, who shares a feeling
evoked by one of Niko’s pictures, they bond
over his strange but, to them, recognizable
art. Colorful, simply composed mixed-media illustrations portray the multicultural
characters in familiar scenes and settings,
all the while incorporating Niko’s deeply
expressive, abstract drawings, which reflect
how he engages with the world around him.
While some elements may be esoteric for
younger children, they’ll likely find much
to relate to in this insightful and supportive celebration of creativity and imagination.
Olivia the Spy.
By Ian Falconer. Illus. by the author.
Apr. 2017. 40p. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy, $17.99
(9781481457958); e-book, $17.99 (9781481457965).
Falconer’s intrepid piglet returns for what
might be her greatest challenge to date:
blending in. While walking down the hall,
Olivia overhears her mother complaining
about what a handful her daughter is. Sure,
there was the exploding blender mishap, and
Olivia’s decision to wash her red socks with
her dad’s white shirts—but she’d made a
smoothie and done laundry by herself! Olivia
begins to wonder what else her mother has
been saying about her, and transforms herself
into a spy to find out. In a series of comic
illustrations, Falconer shows Olivia listen-
ing at keyholes and camouflaging herself to
blend in with the home decor. Unsurpris-
ingly, Olivia eventually hears something
upsetting and grows afraid that her parents
are planning to send her away. Not to wor-
ry, though: Olivia’s newest escapade has a
happy ending and some sensible advice re-
garding eavesdropping. As always, Falconer’s
charcoal-and-gouache illustrations capture
the dramatic flair of Olivia’s personality and
lively imagination. Funny and sweet, this
endearing new addition to the Olivia series
doesn’t disappoint. —Julia Smith
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Olivia is
beloved by young readers, who will swarm
or sneak to get their hands on a copy of this
On Duck Pond.
By Jane Yolen. Illus. by Bob
Apr. 2017. 32p. Cornell Lab, $15.95 (9781943645220).
When a flock of ducks descends on a quiet
pond, their raucous calls startle the other
animals, who scatter. The turtle dives into
the water, while the
frog leaps off his lily
pad, and the heron
flies to her nest. A
boy observes the
scene, watching as
the ducks move on,
the rippling waters
go still again, and the other animals return.
As he walks homeward, “An understanding
quickly dawned: / We’d shared a shock, and
now a bond. / And I was feeling very fond, /
Of everyone on old Duck Pond.” Written
with simplicity and subtle sensory cues,
BY DAVID A.
When We Were Alone
A quiet story…of love and resistance.…
— The Horn Book Magazine «review
An empowering and important story.