Challenging the ordinary through storytelling is a surefire way to hook readers. Take a familiar tale and tell it from a new perspective. Shine a light on what goes on after all of us humans go home for the day. Question what really makes the bad guy so bad, and offer room for empathy.
This week I'm sharing a collection of books that take the familiar storyline or set of characters and then turn things upside down. These books offer opportunity for readers to consider a different perspective (while also offering a fair number of giggles!).
Some of the most unique and enduring stories come from small, independent publishers in my experience. I often don't read these book on their release day or month (or sometimes even year. But as these stories find their way to me a few will inevitably take root and that's when I know it's my responsibility to share those stories with others.
Here's what I've been crushing on this week from small, independent publishers.
Check out previous Indie Crushes HERE.
INDIE CRUSHES - March 9th, 2019
Eduardo Guadardo, Elite Sheep
by Anthony Pearson and Jennifer E. Morris (Two Lions)
Eduardo Guadardo may look fluffy. He may look cute. But he's no little lamb. He's about to graduate from the FBI--that's the Fairytale Bureau of Investigations--as an Elite Sheep. He knows five forms of kung fu, and he can outfox the foxiest of foxes. In fact, he's so good they put him on his own case: to keep the farmer's daughter, Mary, safe from Wolf, Troll, and Witch. It's a job for somebody baaaaaaad--someone like a soon-to-be Elite Sheep. The thing is, protecting Mary isn't quite as easy as Eduardo expected...
This imaginary backstory for "Mary Had a Little Lamb" is hilarious, action-packed, and filled with subterfuge (that means pulling the wool over your eyes, for you civilians).
Inside the Villains
by Clotilde Perrin and Clotilde Perrin (Gecko Press)
An extraordinary lift-the-flaps book that reveals the secrets of the most famous fairy-tale villains--the giant, the wolf and the witch--with interactive flaps, a twist on well-known tales, and personality cards for each villain. Lift the flaps to see the diabolical thoughts inside the villains' heads, what hides beneath their disguises, or the victims of their last meals (now comfortably settled inside their stomachs ).
Read all about each villain on their personality card, which shows strengths and weaknesses, pastimes, physical characteristics, their best meal and--of course--their favorite books.
And if the wolf bites your fingers while you're reading, you can always pull his tail...
The Reptile Club
by Maureen Fergus and Elina Ellis (Kids Can Press)
There are lots of clubs for Rory to join at his new school, but none seem quite right for him. So when his parents suggest he start his own club about something he loves, Rory knows exactly what it will be: a Reptile Club! He's positive that there are other kids out there who share his passion. He sets up his first meeting and then waits and waits for students to show up. Just as he is about to give up, Rory hears whispering in the hallway and hurries over to see who it is. To his astonishment, it's not his schoolmates who have arrived to attend the first meeting, but a crocodile, an anaconda and a gecko!
Popular, award-winning author Maureen Fergus's playful picture book is perfect for story time, with its laugh-out-loud appeal and clever twist on the meaning of ?Reptile Club.? Loads of intriguing reptile facts are tucked into the story (for example, a gecko has to lick its eyeballs to keep them clean and moist!), making this an excellent choice for a life science lesson on the characteristics of reptiles. The details in Elina Ellis's lively, colorful illustrations encourage children to spend time examining each page. This is also a terrific book for a character education discussion about initiative, or for lessons on personal development and confidently pursuing one's own passions.
by Kelly Collier (Kids Can Press)
It's time for the annual Race-a-thon, and Steve the horse is excited! He knows he'll win. He wins every year! And no wonder, Steve's body is built for running. He's got a big chest for deep breaths, powerful hindquarters to propel him forward and the longest legs in the forest. But when he goes to sign up, Steve finds out the rules have changed, and his confidence starts to waver. Because this year, the Race-a-thon is going to be a relay race, which means all runners must compete in teams. And Steve's on a team with the slowest runners in the forest: Turtle, Duck and Snail! Is it possible that Steve could lose the Race-a-thon for the first time ever?
This delightful picture book story from Kelly Collier about the lovable --- if sometimes self-absorbed --- horse named Steve is laugh-out-loud funny. Every page features humorous and cleverly designed interplay between the illustrations and commentary, as well a few definitions (such as powerful hindquarters: ?That means strong bum muscles?) that provide vocabulary enrichment. The humor and the edge-of-the-seat description of the race make this a fantastic read-aloud pick. It also works as a great discussion starter on the topic of sportsmanship and on the character education skill of teamwork.
The Truth About My Unbelievable School . . .
by Davide Cali and Benjamin Chaud (Chronicle Books)
Beware of . . . this school?! Henry is taking his new classmate on a whirlwind tour of their school. Mysterious inventions lurk, the cafeteria requires ninja skills, and some teachers may be monsters! Is this fantastical school to be believed? Or is there an even more outrageous surprise in store? Celebrated international author-illustrator team Davide Cali and Benjamin Chaud—the duo behind Junior Library Guild selections I Didn't Do My Homework Because . . . and The Truth About My Unbelievable Summer . . . —are back with yet another rollicking tale about truth, lies, and . . . school!
by Dr. John Hutton and Doug Cenko (blue manatee press)
After the zookeeper goes to bed for the night, her animals decide it's the perfect time for a party! Lions and alligators, penguins and giraffes, creatures from all habitats sneak out for some late-night mischief. But when the party starts to get a little too wild, will the animals be caught in their tracks? Bouncy, rhyming, and filled with silly animal fun, Zzzookeeper is sure to become a new bedtime favorite.
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