The White Cat and the Monk – Jo Ellen Bogart

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  • Age Range: 4 – 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool – 3
  • Lexile Measure: 660
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Groundwood Books (March 30, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1554987806
  • ISBN-13: 978-1554987801

EXCERPT from Brain Pickings interview:

“If you want to concentrate deeply on some problem, and especially some piece of writing or paper-work,” Muriel Spark counseled, “you should acquire a cat.” Long before the cat became a modern literary muse, a monk whose identity remains a mystery immortalized his beloved white cat named Pangur. Sometime in the ninth century, somewhere in present-day southern Germany, this solitary scholar penned a beautiful short poem in Old Irish, titled “Pangur Bán” — an ode to the parallel pleasures of man and feline as one pursues knowledge and the other prey, and to how their quiet companionship amplifies their respective joys.

The poem has been translated and adapted many times over the centuries (perhaps most famously by W.H. Auden), but nowhere more delightfully than in [this book] by writer Jo Ellen Bogart and illustrator Sydney Smith.


  • Short-listed for the Governor General’s Literary Awards, Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books
  • A New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book
  • Brain Pickings’ Best Children’s Books of 2016

Rationale for Inclusion: The White Cat and the Monk tells a tale of an ancient Irish poem about Pangor the cat,  bringing to children a culture and era children don’t often see in picture books. The monk works diligently over his holy manuscripts while the cat works diligently at catching a mouse. The monk sees his cat as a study in contentment, hard work, diligence, and devotion to the self. The artwork is mixed media, with beautiful hues of blue watercolor depicting movement. This picture book should be included in any children’s room because of how perfectly it captures a time long ago for children who may be curious about the history of books.

The White Cat and the Monk read aloud by ConnectPiaL:



The Mischievians – William Joyce

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  • Age Range: 5 – 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten – 3
  • Lexile Measure: 760L
  • Hardcover: 56 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (October 22, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442473479
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442473478


EXCERPT from Simon & Schuster:

Where’s my homework? Who took my other sock? What’s that in my belly button? The creators of the #1 New York Times bestselling and Academy Award–winning The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore have found the answers to these and other life mysteries…and no, it’s not your fault! Strange smells. Disappearing remotes. That itch you just can’t reach. It’s not your fault! It’s the Mischievians, an ancient race of global mischief-makers who do all the things that embarrass you. All the things that bug you. All the things that YOU get blamed for!

There is no cause for alarm (sorta). Come meet the Homework Eater, the fiend who steals your homework! See the Endroller, the villain who uses up ALL the toilet paper! Discover the Yawn Mower, the creature who makes you yawn at the worst possible time! And many, many more. Read on, and be free.

Rationale for Inclusion: So much of life and learning can be isolated to little moments of sharing smiles and laughter between children and adults. This picture book celebrates all of the little excuses we can make up in our imaginations to explain the strange things that happen around us–it’s not me, it’s a mischievian, causing mischief! The wonderful, in-depth ink and acrylic art shows some graphic and hilarious images of zany, silly, gross little creatures disappearing socks, eating homework, and being little trouble makers. What this book does best is provide an explosion of vocabulary for little ones, using words they wouldn’t ordinarily find in other children’s books, providing them with many early literacy opportunities.

Moonbot Studios book trailer:



The Day I Became A Bird – Ingrid Chabbert

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  • Age Range: 4 – 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool – 2
  • Lexile Measure: 360
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Kids Can Press (September 6, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1771386215
  • ISBN-13: 978-1771386210


EXCERPT from Kids Can Press:

The day he starts school, a young boy falls in love for the very first time. Sylvia sits in front of him at school, and he’s so in love with her, she’s all he can see. But sadly, Sylvia doesn’t see him. In fact, it seems the only thing Sylvia has eyes for is birds. “There are birds on her pants and dresses. She wears bird barrettes in her hair. She draws birds on her notebooks and folders. And when she speaks, her voice sounds like birdsong.” So in a bold attempt to get Sylvia’s attention, the boy decides to go to school dressed up as a bird. He endures the stares and giggles of his classmates, and a great deal of discomfort, but the boy doesn’t care. Because when it comes to love, sometimes you have no choice but to follow your heart and spread your wings.

In this sweetly funny picture book, Ingrid Chabbert perfectly captures the emotional essence of a child’s first love. The boy’s voice as narrator is realistic and endearing as he engagingly and honestly shares the wonder of his experience. With imagination and gentle humor, Guridi uses spare lines in mostly black and white drawings to tenderly express the poignant heart of the story. This book offers a terrific exploration of young children’s self-discovery and self-expression, as well as the early development of social skills. It makes a wonderful read-aloud to launch a classroom discussion about relationships and feelings.

Rationale for Inclusion: This book is a beautiful representation of how minimalism and greyscale can express so much. This little boy will overcome any situation to get the attentions of the girl of his dreams, going so far as to dress in a giant bird hat to get her attention. Her name being Sylvia reminds an adult reader of Sylvia Plath, surely, which evokes this double layer of meaning and poetry to the book. A great children’s book will reach both the child as well as the adult, and this book does a great job of piquing the interest of a child as well as adding layers of meaning for an adult. It’s one of my favorite books for its artistic style and beautiful symbolism.

Kids Can Press book trailer:



We Are Growing! – Laurie Keller

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  • Age Range: 6 – 8 years
  • Grade Level: 1 – 3
  • Lexile Measure: 120
  • Series: Elephant & Piggie Like Reading!
  • Hardcover: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (September 20, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1484726359
  • ISBN-13: 978-1484726358


EXCERPT from Publishers Weekly:

Keller (the Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut) teams up with Willems for one of two titles launching the Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! series; vignettes featuring Willems’s two pals bookend this story. “It is as exciting as watching grass grow,” Elephant tells Piggie, holding a copy of this book, “because it is watching grass grow!” Indeed, Keller whisks readers to a vast lawn, where blades of grass are growing, though not at the same speed or in the same way. An early bloomer turns boastful (“I know, I know. I made it look easy”), but as the others grow, they realize that they all stand out in various ways, whether they’re the tallest, curliest, or dandiest (in the case of a dandelion). But what’s that buzzing noise? Keller’s googly-eyed grasses brim with personality, her emphatic cartooning creates some wonderful slapstick moments, and raucous sound effects make the action of grass growing sound more like a five-car pileup. The underlying ideas—to stick to your strengths even when life (or a power mower) cuts you down, and that “We are all the something-est!”—are winners, much like the book itself.

Awards: Geisel Award 2017

Rationale for Inclusion: Keller’s hilarious and creative tale inspires children to grow in their own unique and individual ways. Each blade of grass grows in its own way–curly, straight, dipped or frayed, each blade develops its own personality from its growth. Children are always growing, just like these blades of grass, and its good to remind kids that we all grow in separate and unique ways–no two of us are the same, so it’s great to be proud of who we are, because we’re always the something-est! Award-winning authors and illustrators of Piggie and Elephant joins Keller for this amazing collaboration into the Piggie and Elephant catalog.

Murray Library reads We Are Growing!:



A Child of Books – Oliver Jeffers

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  • Age Range: 4 and up
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten – 12
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick (September 6, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763690775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763690779

EXCERPT from Candlewick Press:

A little girl sails her raft across a sea of words, arriving at the house of a small boy and calling him away on an adventure. Through forests of fairy tales and across mountains of make-believe, the two travel together on a fantastical journey that unlocks the boy’s imagination. Now a lifetime of magic and adventure lies ahead of him . . . but who will be next? Combining elegant images by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston’s typographical landscapes shaped from excerpts of children’s classics and lullabies, A Child of Books is a stunning prose poem on the rewards of reading and sharing stories—an immersive and unforgettable reading experience that readers will want to pass on to others.

New York Times best-selling author-illustrator Oliver Jeffers and fine artist Sam Winston deliver a lyrical picture book inspiring readers of all ages to create, to question, to explore, and to imagine.
Rationale for Inclusion: A Child of Books is one of the most beautiful picture books in an artistic sense that I have ever seen. It uses the words of great children’s books in history as a platform to build a world in which a little girl emerges from a book and guides a reader into the enchantment of literature. She reminds the reader, adult and child alike, that books can take you to far away places in your imagination. It uses a literal map to explain a figurative concept, and provides a realm for children to explore new ideas and concepts–from Alice’s Wonderland to the depths of Davey Jones locker, the scrawling literary references will provide so many intriguing introductions to literature for children.
Oliver Jeffers reads A Child of Books: