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Bedtime Report #5

I'm a wee bit behind because I took blogging time out to write about firefly and rain books! That said, we've been busily reading some other things.

Top pick of the week is Starboy: Inspired by the Life and Lyrics of David Bowie by Jami Gigot. We stumbled on this treasure in an independent children's bookstore called Carmichael's Kids in Louisville, Kentucky, and we're super-glad we did. The illustrations are fabulous, as you'd imagine, but the story text reads beautifully and delivers a universal message beyond mere biography. Though based on Bowie's life (and likely a must-have for fans and future fans), the book is not so much biographical as thematic. Anyone who wants to encourage children to discover and embrace their own magical way in the universe (or needs to remind themselves to do the same) should take a peek ...

The gorgeous art in the above segues nicely to the equally gorgeous art in the next: Vincent Can't Sleep: Van Gogh Paints the Night Sky by Barb Rosenstock and Mary GrandPré (who has several other vibrant and compelling works). Also inspired by the life of an artist but not purely biographical, Vincent has been one of our favorites for a while. We opened up his dreams again this week to inspire a few more of our own, and urge you to do the same. Check it out:

We didn't get to go camping as we'd planned recently, but we did go on a bit of an outdoor adventure this weekend, and we enjoyed a camping story along the way. Fatima's Great Outdoors by Ambreen Tariq and Stevie Lewis is a delightful immigrant family story that not only celebrates the joys of nature and togetherness and tradition but also explores the challenges of "belonging" and new things. The illustrations are bold and bright, and the text reads a little longer, like a traditional story rather than the often more abbreviated picture books of today.

By the way, if you're looking for more books about camping, check out some other titles I just collected in a list at

How about a meta-story? I love books that surprise my kids. When I read the title, my daughter pronounced that it wasn't going to be a good story if it was just about being a good story. By the end, she loved it, and admitted her error in jumping to conclusions. This Is a Good Story by Adam Lehrhaupt and Magali Le Huche proved her wrong and turned out to be a good story after all. We hope you think so, too! Pro tip: Read it like you mean it. (Also, I highly recommend it for teachers and such looking to explore the basics of story craft and to inspire their young writers. I wish I'd had this book a decade ago for my students.)

We ALWAYS love Peter Brown's books, and this week was no different. We so enjoyed a new title from him, Fred Gets Dressed, which might make me think he had been spying on my own children if so many kids weren't like this (when given the freedom to be so), that we also reread two other old favorites, Mr. Tiger Goes Wild and The Curious Garden, both of which Ana in The Wall and the Wild heartily endorses. Also, in the middle grade department, make sure you check out his Wild Robot books! The second one is on our soon-to-be-read stack.

The kids really enjoyed a nonfiction STEM title that packs some fun punches this week: Cells: An Owner's Handbook by Carolyn Fisher. This is another recommendation for classrooms as it provides a great way to introduce some basic biological concepts. It does mention ova and sperm for those of you who like to know before encountering such terms and concepts in kids' books, but it's a light mention grounded in simple fact that leaves gatekeepers the flexibility to address more as they will.

The last two touch on some big life topics in gentle and compelling ways. Sonya's Chickens by Phoebe Wahl and Evelyn del Rey Is Moving Away by Meg Medina and Sonia Sanchez each served as valuable conversation starters. The first touches on issues of loss and grief while also weaving in a brilliant thread of empathy. The second explores a different sort of loss and adjustment to change. We also adore Wahl's The Blue House, which provides an interesting companion read to Evelyn as it touches on a similar theme but in a very different way. There's a fabulous interview with Phoebe Wall here, and Meg Medina has some great middle grade novels, too, including Merci Suárez Changes Gears.

That's it for this week's bedtime report! Happy reading!

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