Staff Picks for Children
Recommended by Liz at West Kendall Regional
Just in Time for New Year's!
By Karen Gray Ruelle
Emily and her brother Harry are determined to stay up until midnight on New Year’s Eve. Their parents agree to let them, if they can keep themselves awake. Emily and Harry have three days before New Year’s so they practice staying up later, but that only makes them more tired. On New Year’s Eve, Emily and Harry help ready the celebration by getting noisemakers, party hats, bubbly drinks and practicing the countdown. But by 9 p.m., they’re both getting sleepy and have to devise ingenious ways to stay up.
This early chapter book will appeal to children who want to stay up late on New Year’s Eve, and give some comfort to any disappointed children who fall asleep before the clock strikes midnight. The illustrations are great fun, particularly the depictions of the siblings’ attempts to stay awake with board games, alarm clocks and by counting stars.Check Availability
Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas
By Natasha Yim
A funny retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears features Goldy, a little girl with terrible luck. Hoping to improve her fortune, Goldy’s mother encourages her to bring some turnip cakes to their neighbors, notably Little Chan, a member of the panda family next door. Goldy does not get along with Little Chan, but her mother warns her that old arguments must be settled or she will have bad luck for the New Year. Goldy agrees to bring the cakes to the Chan house, but no one is home. When she opens the door and walks in, she trips and spills all of the cakes. Goldy goes into the kitchen to find a broom, spies three bowls of congee on the table, and of course tries them all until she finds one that is just right. The Chan family comes home to a mess and Goldy must find a way to fix her mistakes.
Lively pictures by Grace Zong bring humor to Goldy’s mischievous adventures. Her sincere apology and successful attempts to replace the congee and cakes makes her eventual friendship with Little Chan believable. The author’s note at the end provides more information on Chinese New Year’s traditions and a recipe for turnip cake.Check Availability
Lionel in the Winter
By Stephen Krensky
Unlike the rest of his family, Lionel loves winter. On New Year’s Eve, he and his sister Louise have a babysitter while their parents are out at a party. To distract the siblings from tooting on their noisemakers, the sitter tells them to try to make some New Year’s resolutions. Both Louise and Lionel end up with resolutions that tell each other what to do, from Louise’s wish for Lionel to always do what she tells him to and to hide from her friends, to Lionel’s resolution that Louise should share her good games with him and stop talking on the phone.
In four chapters, this easy to read book shares the joys of the winter season, including playing in the brisk cold, building a snowman and welcoming the New Year. This amusing introduction to the idea of resolutions may also inspire children to create their own for the New Year, while bright illustrations by Susanna Natti highlight the humor and warmth of Lionel's family.Check Availability
A New Year’s Reunion
By Yu Li-Qiong
This award-winning picture book tells the plight of many migrant workers in China who must live away from their families for most of the year. Maomao’s father is returning home after almost a year away, and she hardly recognizes the bearded man when he arrives. But soon Maomao and her father begin to get ready for New Year’s by visiting the barber shop, making sticky rice balls with a lucky coin inside, enjoying the fireworks and making New Year’s visits. During New Year’s week, Maomao helps her father fix up their house and plays in the snow, and she shows everyone her lucky coin. All too soon Maomao’s father must leave to go back to work, and Maomao gives him her lucky coin as he promises to return for the next New Year’s.
Heartfelt illustrations by Zhu Cheng‑Liang bring Maomao’s world to life, and the paintings are full of beautiful details of the village and Maomao’s family. A particularly poignant picture shows Maomao’s mother crying, but turning away from her husband and daughter to spare their feelings. The steadfast love of this family is inspirational.Check Availability
Shanté Keys and the New Year’s Peas
By Gail Piernas-Davenport
As Shanté’s family gathers for a New Year’s feast, Grandma realizes she has no black‑eyed peas, needed to make Hoppin’ John, a dish that will bring luck for the New Year. Grandma sends Shanté to her neighbors to find some, but no one has any. As Shanté goes from door to door, Grandma’s diverse neighbors share their own New Year’s traditions, and the food they believe will bring luck and happiness. As Shanté learns of these traditions, she issues each neighbor an invitation to come to Grandma’s house to try the Hoppin’ John. Finally, Shanté remembers to visit Auntie Marie, who has a huge bag of peas to share. The peas are done just in time for all of Grandma’s neighbors, who arrive for dinner as promised by Shanté.
Shanté is likable and determined, and her quest to find the black‑eyed peas keeps the reader guessing as to whether or not she will succeed. Cheerful illustrations by Marion Eldridge add to the fun, and an afterward includes more details on New Year’s traditions around the world, as well as a recipe for Hoppin’ John so readers can try making it themselves.Check Availability