XOXO Children’s Picture Books

a young child hugging a mailbox with a pink background.

February is the month of love! Below is a curated list of titles that are not specifically Valentine’s Day but more focused on the most popular ways to show affection – hugs and kisses! If you have read any of the titles below, I would love to hear what you thought of them!

porcupine on a blue backgroundI Need a Hug by Aaron Blabey
Porcupine wants something simple, a hug. After asking many other animals for a hug, Porcupine is told time after time no. Downtrodden and about to give up, Porcupine finds an unlikely friend.

This story is sweet and written in rhyme! You can share this title to teach empathy and inspire your young poets.

a young child hugging a mailbox with a pink background.The Hug Machine by Scott Campbell
The Hug Machine loves to give hugs, there is nothing that the Hug Machine will not hug. Yes, you can hug the Hug Machine, the Hug Machine is always open for business.

I enjoy sharing this title each year with young people. It is fun to spot the unlikely animals and objects that the Hug Machine hugs.

seal on a rock with a small birdSealed with a Kiss by Beth Ferry
Seal is new to the zoo after arriving from a zoo in France. While sitting in her enclosure, Seal is greeted by a little bird who plants a sweet peck on her cheek. After her snack of sardines, Seal sets out to greet the other zoo animals and give them each a smackeroo. Little does she realize, the sardines that she had for snack gave Seal terrible breath.

This story teaches compassion with a side of silly!

a grumpy cactus in a windowsill Nobody Hugs a Cactus by Carter Goodrich
Hank is a cactus who lives in a pot in the windowsill who enjoys his quiet life. Hank’s quiet life is interrupted by a coyote, a tumbleweed named Rosie, a tortoise, and more who cause Hank to get crankier and crankier. Finally, after being chastised for stepping on his lawn, a man tells Hank that he needs a hug. Hank scoffs at first but later decides that maybe a hug is just what he needs. Now who will hugs a cactus?

This is such a sweet book and I hope that you enjoy it as well!

birds hugging outsideDuck & Goose: Goose Needs a Hug by Tad Hills
Goose is feeling sad. Hoping to cheer up their friend, Goose’s friends perform a series of acts hoping to garner a smile.

Sometimes, all we need to do with our loved ones is to ask them what they need instead of assuming. What they say might surprise you!

Two kitties hugging in a heart. Hug Time by Patrick McDonnell
There once was a kitten who was so full of love who wanted nothing more than to hug the entire world. The dreamer makes a list and embarks on a quest that takes him to Africa to hug the unhuggable.

This book is perfect for the little lovebug in your house!

animals hugging one anotherGroup Hug by Jean Reidy
One little slug causes a series of adorable animal hugs.

Full of gorgeous artwork and adorable characters, this story is a treat!

 

 

dinosaur running Dinosaur Kisses by David Ezra Stein
Little Dina hatches from her egg and discovers the magic of the kiss. Trying desperately to kiss everything in sight, Dina struggles because it isn’t easy for a t-rex to give a kiss!

This silly book is sure to delight young readers.

We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez

“Because the world doesn’t care how much pain you are in, or what terrible thing has happened to you. It continues. Morning comes, whether you want it to or not.”
― Jenny Torres Sanchez, We Are Not From Here

I haven’t read a quote that epitomizes a book quite as well as the above quote does for Jenny Torres Sanchez’s newest young adult fiction title, We Are Not From Here. Pulga, Chico, and Pequeña don’t have much, but they have each other. The small town where they have grown up isn’t the best town, but they know what they are up against. When danger comes at the three, alone they are lost, but together they realize that the only option they have left is to run. The threats come right to their doors leaving them with no other option: they have to leave their families and their country. In a desperate bid to survive, Pulga, Chico, and Pequeña cross from Guatemala through Mexico along the route of La Bestia, surfing atop this deadly freight train that will deliver them to the United States if they are lucky enough to stay alive. All they have are each other, the bags on their backs, and the need to have a better life. Outrunning the darkness chasing them will be the hardest thing these three do in their lives.

This book is a painfully relevant and devastating read. It shook me to the core, yet had me unable to put the book down. Jenny Torres Sanchez discusses the lives of migrants at the United States southern border with vivid realism, not shying away from the devastating and deadly realities that many immigrant families face. She is brutally honest while telling this incredibly timely story.

This title is also available as a CD Audiobook and in Spanish.

Want to talk about We Are Not From Here with others? Join See YA! See YA is our adult book club with a teen book twist. See why so many teen books are being turned into movies and are taking over the best seller lists. Registration is not required. Books are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Eastern Avenue library. We meet the first Wednesday of the month at Eastern at 6:30pm.  Our next four months of books are listed below:

March 6 – We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez

April 3 – The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris

May 1 – Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

June 5 – The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White

Leap Day / Leap Year items

You would think with Leap Day coming only every four years, there would be more stories revolving around the rare event. I could only come up with four titles in our catalog. (Descriptions provided by publisher.)

Lucky Leap Day by Ann Marie Walker — During a whirlwind trip to Ireland, after one too many whiskeys, fledgling screenwriter Cara Kennedy gets caught up in the Irish tradition of women proposing on Leap Day. She wakes up the next morning with a hot guy in her bed and a tin foil ring. With a flight back to LA in four hours, the best thing they can do is figure things out along the way. In LA Finn Maguire spends the nights charming his new bride– and his days going on auditions. Is their marriage the real deal– or was he just after her Hollywood connections?

 

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Leap Year (DVD) – This movie from 2010 introduced me to the Irish tradition that allows women to propose to men on Leap Day. Anna (played by Amy Adams) follows Jeremy to Dublin to propose to him. But after landing on the wrong side of Ireland, she must enlist the help of Declan, a handsome and carefree local man, to get her across the country. Along the way, they discover that the road to love can take you to very unexpected places.

 

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Leap Day by Wendy Mass – This Young Adult novel features a heroine Josie on her fourth Leap birthday, when she turns sixteen. Josie has a number of momentous experiences, including taking her driver’s test, auditioning for a school play, and celebrating with her family and friends.

 

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A Different Dawn by Isabella Maldonado — When the FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program database detects two murder incidents “staged to look like double murder suicides,” FBI special agent Nina Guerrera investigates, in Maldonado’s captivating sequel to 2020’s The Cipher. The most recent occurred in Phoenix, Ariz., and the previous one happened four years before in Manhattan, both on February 29. FBI agents soon discover the existence of eight similar crimes at four-year intervals, all involving young couples with an infant or newborn child. As the agents get closer to finding commonalities among the murders and in particular the significance of leap day, things get personal for Nina as she uncovers clues to the crimes related to her entry into the foster system as a child. (Publishers Weekly review, 06/28/2021)

TV6 Book Club December Read Wrap-Up and Introduction to February Reads!

Woman sitting in a windowsill and looking out yonder.

In December, Morgan and I read The Fire by Night by Teresa Messineo to celebrate Thank a Soldier week December 24th– 30th. Here is what I have to say about the book:

Told in alternating viewpoints of 2 nurses serving in World War II, “The Fire by Night” tells in vivid detail the horrors of war. Jo stationed on the Western front in a makeshift hospital tent caring for six men alone and Kay, taken prisoner in the Pacific. Trying to survive while keeping others alive, the two women separated by war and bound by duty show the reader what a hero looks like.

I will not lie, there were many scenes in this book that were hard to read. This was very much a war book and not typically something that I would read. In the end, I am so grateful for the opportunity to dive in.

Our January plans were foiled for book club as our region received large amounts of snow. Below are our 4 options for February including our winning title! Feel free to check them out from Davenport Public Library!

a woman sitting in a martini glass

Mickey Chambers Shakes it Up by Charish Reid (in honor of Do a Grouch a Favor Day on February 16th)

Mickey Chambers is an expert at analyzing modern literature. But when it comes to figuring out her own story, she’s feeling a little lost. At thirty-three, she’s an adjunct instructor with a meager summer class schedule and too many medical bills, courtesy of her chronic illness. Picking up a bartending gig seems perfect. Sure, Mickey’s never done this before, but the gorgeous, grumpy bar owner, Diego Acosta, might be the perfect man to teach the teacher…if he wasn’t so stressed. – provided by Goodreads

 

 

pink cover four womenThe Most Likely Club by Elyssa Friedland (in honor of Galentine’s Day on February 13th)

In 1997, grunge is king, Titanic is a blockbuster (and Blockbuster still exists), and Thursday nights are for Friends. In Bellport, Connecticut, four best friends and high school seniors are ready to light the world on fire. Melissa Levin, Priya Chowdury, Tara Taylor, and Suki Hammer are going places.

Fast forward twenty-five years and nothing has gone according to plan as the women regroup at their dreaded high school reunion. When a forgotten classmate emerges at the reunion with a surprising announcement, the friends dig out the yearbook and rethink their younger selves. Is it too late to make their dreams come true? – provided by Goodreads

 

Man and woman on a fire escape passing a bookThe Neighbor Favor by Kristina Forest (in honor of Make a Friend Day on February 11th)

Lily is stuck in life and currently on the subway in 90+ degree heat. In a moment of delirium, she stumbles across a newly created website for the author of one of her favorite books. Before knowing what she is doing, Lily sends an email to the author through the website divulging her life and accidentally hits send before passing out.

Surprised beyond belief, the author writes back and a connection is formed. The pair exchange a series of emails until the author, Strick puts an end to them crushing Lily.

Flash forward, Lily is living with her sister and shares an elevator with her dreamy new neighbor. In hopes of scoring a date to her sister’s wedding, Lily enlists the neighbor to help her find a date. What she doesn’t realize is that she will in turn get so much more. -Brittany

 

red cover silhouette of a woman and a man*** February Pick!
The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory (In honor of National Wedding Month)

Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn’t normally do. But there’s something about Drew Nichols that’s too hard to resist.

On the eve of his ex’s wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend…

After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she’s the mayor’s chief of staff. Too bad they can’t stop thinking about the other…
– provided by Goodreads.

February’s Celebrity Book Club Picks

It’s a new month which means that Jenna Bush Hager and Reese Witherspoon have picked new books for their book clubs! Reminder that if you join Simply Held, you can choose to have their selections automatically put on hold for you.

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Jenna Bush Hager has selected Good Material by Dolly Alderton for her February pick.

Curious what Good Material is about? Check out the following description provided by the publisher.

Andy loves Jen. Jen loved Andy. And he can’t work out why she stopped.

Now he is. . .

Without a home

Waiting for his stand-up career to take off

Wondering why everyone else around him seems to have grown up while he wasn’t looking

Set adrift on the sea of heartbreak, Andy clings to the idea of solving the puzzle of his ruined relationship. Because if he can find the answer to that, then maybe Jen can find her way back to him. But Andy still has a lot to learn, not least his ex-girlfriend’s side of the story…

In this sharply funny and exquisitely relatable story of romantic disaster and friendship, Dolly Alderton offers up a love story with two endings, demonstrating once again why she is one of the most exciting writers today, and the true voice of a generation. – Knopf

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Reese Witherspoon has selected Redwood Court by DéLana R. A. Dameron for her February pick.

Curious what Redwood Court is about? Check out the following description provided by the publisher.

“Mika, you sit at our feet all these hours and days, hearing us tell our tales. You have all these stories inside you: all the stories everyone in our family knows and all the stories everyone in our family tells. You write ’em in your books and show everyone who we are.”

So begins award-winning poet DéLana R. A. Dameron’s debut novel, Redwood Court. The baby of the family, Mika Tabor spends much of her time in the care of loved ones, listening to their stories and witnessing their struggles. On Redwood Court, the cul-de-sac in the all-Black working-class suburb of Columbia, South Carolina, where her grandparents live, Mika learns important lessons from the people who raise her: her exhausted parents, who work long hours at multiple jobs while still making sure their kids experience the adventure of family vacations; her older sister, who in a house filled with Motown would rather listen to Alanis Morrisette; her retired grandparents, children of Jim Crow, who realized their own vision of success when they bought their house on the Court in the 1960s, imagining it filled with future generations; and the many neighbors who hold tight to the community they’ve built, committed to fostering joy and love in an America so insistent on seeing Black people stumble and fall.

With visceral clarity and powerful prose, Dameron reveals the devastation of being made to feel invisible and the transformative power of being seen. Redwood Court is a celebration of extraordinary, ordinary people striving to achieve their own American dreams. – The Dial Press

This title is also available in large print.

Join Simply Held to have Oprah, Jenna, and Reese’s adult selections automatically put on hold for you!

Lore Olympus: Volume One by Rachel Smythe

I have talked about my love for Greek mythology on the blog before, so when I found a WEBTOON about Greek mythology, I knew I would love it. Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe is a printed/published comic book series that began as a WEBTOON comic of the same name. As of this writing, there are five published volumes of Lore Olympus! (And all are owned by the Davenport Public Library and available for you to check out – the sixth is set to be published hopefully in May 2024!)

Lore Olympus: Volume One introduces readers to the messy, glitzy world of forbidden love, scandal, gossip, and wild parties in Olympus. The Greek pantheon is a wild group of gods and goddesses, spiraling out with numerous other family members. This retelling focuses on Hades and Persephone, putting a modern twist on a classic tale – the parts that occur in Olympus happen in modern times, while the parts that take place in the mortal realm happen in the original classic timeline(no cell phones etc. in the mortal realm).

Persephone was raised in the mortal realm, but her mother, Demeter, has allowed her to live in Olympus after she promises to train as a sacred virgin. Her roommate, Artemis, takes her to a party one night that changes her entire life. Persephone bumps into Hades, feeling a spark and tether to this God who is incredibly charming, yet misunderstood. The world of Olympus is new and confusing to her with the swirling mess of politics and relationships that govern day-to-day life. Figuring out who to trust is hard enough, let alone trying to figure out what’s happening with her powers and where she fits in amongst the established in Olympus.

I LOVE Greek mythology. So Much. This whole series is right up my alley. Hades and Persephone are adorable. The artwork is also especially beautiful. I highly recommend you read the other published volumes and check out the Lore Olympus WEBTOON if you wish.

FRIENDLY READS

The human experience of friendship is universal. While the nature of those friendships can change over the course of a lifetime, most people of all cultures and all ages have experienced at least one friendship during their life. Friendships in our early years are typically based on play and companionship. But, when we mature into adults, friendships tend to become more intimate as we share our struggles and successes in a trusting relationship.

There are certainly many benefits of having a friend. The risks or cost of not having a friend (or having difficulties with friendships) are also universal to all cultures. And, there are different kinds of friendship, including: same gender friendships, opposite or mixed gender friendships, group friendships, and friendships that lead to romance, among many. Check out some of these books where the story focuses on a particular friendship. See how the friendships influence the plot and how the events affect those friendships. During the month of February, look for the “Friendly Reads” book displays at Fairmount and Main for a wide selection. Below are a few titles to get you started. (Descriptions below from the publisher)

Best of Friends by Kamila Shamsie

“Zahra and Maryam have been best friends since childhood in Karachi, even though—or maybe because—they are unlike in nearly every way. Yet they never speak of the differences in their backgrounds or their values, not even after the fateful night when a moment of adolescent impulse upends their plans for the future.  Three decades later, Zahra and Maryam have grown into powerful women who have each cut a distinctive path through London. But when two troubling figures from their past resurface, they must finally confront their bedrock differences—and find out whether their friendship can survive. Thought-provoking, compassionate, and full of unexpected turns, Best of Friends offers a riveting take on an age-old question: Does principle or loyalty make for the better friend?”

 

You Can’t Stay Here Forever by Katherine Lin

“Just days after her young, handsome husband dies in a car accident, Ellie Huang discovers that he had a mistress—one of her own colleagues at a prestigious San Francisco law firm. Acting on impulse—or is it grief? rage? Probably all three—Ellie cashes in Ian’s life insurance policy for an extended stay at the luxurious Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Antibes, France. Accompanying her is her free-spirited best friend, Mable Chou. Ellie hopes that the five-star resort on the French Riviera, with its stunning clientele and floral-scented cocktails, will be a heady escape from the real world. And at first it is. She and Mable meet an intriguing couple, Fauna and Robbie, and as their poolside chats roll into wine-soaked dinners, the four become increasingly intimate. But the sunlit getaway soon turns into a reckoning for Ellie, as long-simmering tensions and uncomfortable truths swirl to the surface. Taking the reader from San Francisco to the gilded luxury of the south of France, You Can’t Stay Here Forever is a sharply funny and exciting debut that explores the slippery nature of marriage, the push and pull between friends, and the interplay of race and privilege, seen through the eyes of a young Asian American woman.”

 

The Caretaker by Ron Rash

“It’s 1951 in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Blackburn Gant, his life irrevocably altered by a childhood case of polio, seems condemned to spend his life among the dead as the sole caretaker of a hilltop cemetery. It suits his withdrawn personality, and the inexplicable occurrences that happen from time to time rattle him less than interaction with the living. But when his best and only friend, the kind but impulsive Jacob Hampton, is conscripted to serve overseas, Blackburn is charged with caring for Jacob’s wife, Naomi, as well.  Sixteen-year-old Naomi Clarke is an outcast in Blowing Rock, an outsider, poor and uneducated, who works as a seasonal maid in the town’s most elegant hotel. When Naomi eloped with Jacob a few months after her arrival, the marriage scandalized the community, most of all his wealthy parents who disinherited him. Shunned by the townsfolk for their differences and equally fearful that Jacob may never come home, Blackburn and Naomi grow closer and closer until a shattering development derails numerous lives. A tender examination of male friendship and rivalry as well as a riveting, page-turning novel of familial devotion, The Caretaker brilliantly depicts the human capacity for delusion and destruction all too often justified as acts of love.”

 

Black History Month Challenge 2024

Celebrate Black History Month! This month, learn more about Black history, celebrate Black authors and illustrators, and explore Black history through the arts. Log your reading and activities throughout the month to earn badges and tickets to enter into our prize drawings!

This reading challenge is live on Beanstack from February 1st, 2024 to March 2, 2024. Curious what you need to do? Sign up on Beanstack today either online or on the app!

 

Needs ideas about what to read? Try any of these Black history books

Juvenile Nonfiction

I am Ruby Bridges by Ruby Bridges

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford

Seeking Freedom: The Untold Story of Frances Monroe and the Ending of Slavery in America by Selene Castrovilla

Stamped (For Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X Kendi

Young, Gifted and Black, Too by Jamia Wilson

Young Adult Nonfiction

And We Rise: The Civil Rights Movement in Poems by Erica Martin

The Burning: Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 by Tim Madigan

Nearer My Freedom: The Interesting Life of Olaudah Equiano by himself by Lesley Younge

Revolution in Our Time: the Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People by Kekla Magoon

Stolen Justice: The Struggle for African American Voting Rights by Lawrence Goldstone

Adult Nonfiction

Black Ghost of Empire: The Long Death of Slavery and the Failure of Emancipation by Kris Manjapra

Black Rodeo: A History of the African American Western by Mia Mask

Driving the Green Book: A Road Trip through the Living History of Black Resistance by Alvin D. Hall

Invisible Generals: Rediscovering Family Legacy, and a Quest to Honor America’s first Black Generals by Doug Melville

Twice As Hard: The Stories of Black Women who Fought to Become Physicians from the Civil War to the 21st Century by Jasmine Brown

Online Reading Challenge – February

Welcome Readers!

This month the Online Reading Challenge travels back in time to the 1900s & 1910s. Our Main title for February is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. Here’s a quick summary from the publisher:

From the moment she entered the world, Francie Nolan needed to be made of stern stuff, for growing up in the Williamsburg slums of Brooklyn, New York demanded fortitude, precocity, and strength of spirit. Often scorned by neighbors for her family’s erratic and eccentric behavior—such as her father Johnny’s taste for alcohol and Aunt Sissy’s habit of marrying serially without the formality of divorce—no one, least of all Francie, could say that the Nolans’ life lacked drama. By turns overwhelming, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the Nolans’ daily experiences are raw with honestly and tenderly threaded with family connectedness.

Betty Smith has, in the pages of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, captured the joys of humble Williamsburg life—from “junk day” on Saturdays, when the children traded their weekly take for pennies, to the special excitement of holidays, bringing cause for celebration and revelry. Smith has created a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as deeply resonant moments of universal experience. Here is an American classic that “cuts right to the heart of life,” hails the New York Times. “If you miss A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, you will deny yourself a rich experience.” – HarperCollins

Looking for some other books set in the 1900s & 1910s? Try any of the following:

As always, check each of our locations for displays with lots more titles to choose from!

Online Reading Challenge – January Wrap-Up

Hello Fellow Challenge Readers!

How did your reading go this month? Did you read something set in the 1800s that you enjoyed? Share in the comments!

I read our main title: Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge.

Libertie follows the life of Libertie Sampson from the time she was a young child to when she is a grown woman. Libertie’s mother is Dr. Sampson, a woman raising her daughter by herself in a free Black community in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn. Dr. Sampson is a practicing physician and has visions of the two working together in the future. She plans for Libertie to go to medical school and then practicing together in their small community. As Libertie grows older however, she strains at the expectations her mother has placed on her. Libertie would rather do something with music over science, but still yearns to live an independent life like her mother. One major issue is Libertie is much darker than her light-skinned mother, who occasionally passes as white. Her future changes when she accepts a young man from Haiti’s marriage proposal. He promises that she will be his equal, but after the two arrive in Cuba, she discovers that is not the case. Libertie has to decide what she is willing to give up and what freedom really means to her.

The imagery in this book was gorgeous. I found myself wishing to transport myself to Haiti with Libertie and to visit Reconstruction-era Brooklyn with her mother. The descriptions of the scenery, the people, and the struggle for freedom pulled at my heart strings as readers watch lives change throughout the course of the novel.

This book is inspired by the life of one of the first Black female doctors in the state of New York, Dr. Susan Smith McKinney-Steward, and her daughter. Dr. McKinney-Steward was the third African American woman to earn a medical degree in the United States. As I was reading, I found myself wishing that this book focused less on Libertie and more on her mother. I wanted to love this title more than I actually did. The premise lured me in, but instead of focusing on Dr. Sampson, we instead focused on Libertie, who, in my mind, had few redeeming qualities.

I hope you enjoyed traveling to the 1800s with me! Next month, we are heading to the 1900s & 1910s.

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