with warmth and verve. Short paragraphs in the appended Q&A sec-
tion, accompanied by photos, comment upon the causes of the Civil
War; Lincoln’s views on slavery; and his death, and his legacy. A con-
cise, lively presidential biography. —Carolyn Phelan
By Gwendolyn Hooks. Illus. by Shirley Ng-Benitez.
Mar. 2017. 32p. Lee & Low, $14.95 (9781620143438). K–Gr. 2.
This title, coded for emergent readers, is part of the Dive into Reading line of early chapter books, and features a smiling group of racially
diverse, neighborhood friends. Henry dreams of being a rock star, but
practicing his drums in the apartment disturbs his mother as she tries
to work. So he goes outside, where he plays lively rhythms to which
his friends dance in a game of freeze dance. Later, when she’s finished
her work, Henry and his mom dance in the living room until it is time
for bed. This is a sweet, simple story of an ordinary day that needs no
adornment. Ng-Benitez’s watercolor illustrations bring it to life with
expression, color, and movement. Instructions for how to make your
own drum will be a big hit, too. —Amina Chaudhri
Otis the Very Large Dog.
By Claudia Harrington. Illus. by Anoosha Syed.
2017. 32p. Magic Wagon/Calico Kid, $18.95 (9781624021879); e-book, $33.95
(9781624022470). PreS–Gr. 2.
In this easy reader, Hank’s bike is damaged, and he has to pay for a
new one, so he decides to pet sit. He misspells his name on the sign
he paints advertising his services, by writing an o instead of an a—
“Honk”—so drivers honk instead of stopping. Then his friend Ben
asks Hank to pet sit his huge dog, Otis. When Otis refuses to eat,
Hank and his neighbor Jane discover Otis has a bad tooth. They know
Otis hates the vet, so they plan to pull out the tooth themselves, until
Hank’s mom intervenes. This has diverse secondary characters and uses
word repetition to reinforce comprehension. The plot and accompanying illustrations don’t always match or make sense. Funny and sweet,
but sometimes misses the mark. —Sharon Rawlins
Phones Keep Us Connected.
By Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld. Illus. by Kasia
Mar. 2017. 40p. Harper, $17.99 (9780062386687). 621.385. Gr. 1–3.
Pointing out how easy it is to connect with a friend over a phone,
Zoehfeld takes readers back to a time before
the technology had been invented and briefly
discusses vocal cords, vibrations, and sound
waves. After providing detailed instructions
for making a string telephone using paper
cups (illustrating the possibility of carrying
sound over a wire), the discussion turns to
the invention of the telegraph, the telephone,
and radio, all leading up to the cell phone used today. An excellent
hands-on activity page challenges readers to experiment with im-
proving their original string telephones and suggests a few ideas to
try. Featuring a diverse crew of characters, the upbeat digital illustra-
tions are attractive and, equally important, very helpful in showing
hard-to-visualize concepts such as how early phones worked, the paths
of cell-phone signals, and the interior components of a cell phone.
Geared to younger children than most books on the topic, this vol-
ume from the reliable Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science series offers a
well-explained, informative presentation on the telephone’s historical
development as well as how cell phones work. —Carolyn Phelan
Wallace and Grace Take the Case.
By Heather Alexander. Illus. by Laura Zarrin.
May 2017. 80p. Bloomsbury, $9.99 (9781619639881). K–Gr. 2.
As the sun begins to set, Wallace and Grace of the Night Owl Detective Agency awaken to a brand-new mystery. A distraught rabbit is
convinced a ghost is haunting his favorite vegetable patch, and he needs
someone to banish it. Though the prospect of facing a ghost is scary, Wallace and Grace investigate and gather clues, eventually discovering that
the garden specter is far from frightening. Part of the Read & Bloom line
of early chapter books, this gentle mystery supports newly independent
readers, with short sentences, repetition, in-text definitions, and color
illustrations. Bubbly Grace and keen-eyed Wallace make an ace detective
team that ably demonstrates the value of teamwork and friendship. This
first series installment publishes simultaneously with their second case,
Wallace and Grace and the Cupcake Caper. —Julia Smith
Wolfie & Fly.
By Cary Fagan. Illus. by Zoe Si.
2017. 96p. Tundra, $14.99 (9781101918203). Gr. 1–3.
Renata Wolfman doesn’t have any friends or siblings, and that’s
just the way she likes it. Typically, she spends her time reading and
building models or inventions, and on this day, she decides she needs
a big project. While in the midst of converting a refrigerator box into
a submarine, she is interrupted by her neighbor Livingston Flott,
who insists on hiding from his angry brother in
the Wolfmans’ house—much to Renata’s annoyance. Livingston buzzes with energy (hence his
nickname, Fly), and his amiable nature seems
impervious to Renata’s standoffish personality. After admiring her handiwork, Livingston suggests
that they take the sub on an imaginary voyage—
unfamiliar waters for Renata’s fact-focused mind.
Undeterred, he coaches Renata through the basics
of pretending, and soon the pair is immersed by ocean water and
wild adventure. This fun-filled early chapter book brims with personality as the curmudgeonly Renata opens herself up to friendship and
new experiences. Lively illustrations capture the kids’ imaginative antics, while the relatable story is accessibly written. Young readers will
enthusiastically embrace this entertaining odd couple. —Julia Smith